• Who are you going to communicate with?
  • What are you going to say to them?
  • What you stand for?
  • What creative approach will you take?

A.      Target Audience

Your prospects, customers and other decision influencers are the target audience that you want to reach with your marketing communications. The development of a concise, accurate target audience profile is critical to a successful marketing communications plan. A simple starting point is to ask and answer a number of simple questions eg:

Who is the message to be aimed at?

  • Who is your market? (demographic: industry sector, age, sex, income, education, level and family situation)
  • Where are they located, where do they live? (geographic info)

Who will best help you achieve your goals?

  • Job functions involved in purchasing decision making process
  • Decision makers & levels of decision making influence

  PeopleWhat are they like?

  • Psychographics – personality, lifestyle, attitudes and values
  • Language & images used
  • Current behaviour
  • What are their current levels of awareness?
    • What are their levels of knowledge?
    • Motivations/barriers to hearing and believing/accepting the information
    • What benefits will customers seek from you – both practical and emotional?

How to reach them?

  • What do you know about the best ways to reach them?
  • What are their media habits ie preferred methods for receiving information? Are they magazine readers, web hounds, are they social media savvy ?

What is it that you want to change?

  • What do you want the target audience to know?
  • What do you want them to feel – what perception do you want to create?
  • What do you want them to do – what action do you want as a result?

Ambiguous descriptions such as the “general public” are less likely to lead to a successful communications than a tightly defined target. So, the more refined the target audience description, the more precise and effective your communication will be.

If you sell to several groups of customers or markets, state how they are different and state each of their distinct needs.

You should also include how your products or services uniquely meet their needs.

You can also have both primary and secondary target audiences to contend with too.

Primary Target Audience – key people or groups you communicate to directly.

Secondary Target Audience – people of less importance who you wish to receive the communications campaign messages, people who will also benefit from hearing the messages or people who influence your target audience now or in the future.

2 examples :

Primary and Secondary

B.      Branding

Another core element of how your company presents its face to the market is its brand.  But what is a brand?

A brand is the totality of what the product or service is about. For instance, Nike is associated with its logo and performance and quality.

Marketing Agency Manchester_smlMcDonald’s is a fast food outlet where you can go to get good value food at a reasonable price and is fun for the kids.

How does a company portray their brand to consumers?  It is important to understand that a brand is not a logo design, company colours or a strapline!

Your brand is the sum of :

  • your product/service and how they are delivered
  • your company’s personality – people
  • your company’s values
  • literally everything the company wants to be seen as

There are 3 essential components which make up your brand.

Corporate Identity

Corporate identity is the visual aspects of a company in its market including things like logos, design, and house style.

BrandBrand Identity

Brand identity is the total promise you make to your prospects and customers eg features and attributes, benefits, performance, quality, service support, and the values that the brand possesses.

Brand Image

Brand image however, is the totality of your prospects and customers perceptions about your company – this may not match with what you are trying to project. Your brand image is not in your control but can be influenced.

That’s why businesses have to work hard on providing their customers with an experience that will make them see and think is what they want them to.

Being on Brand

Being on brand mean that everything you present to the marketplace is in “synch” – which means being consistent with your logo and other visual elements of your identity, your key messages and the way words and images etc are used in all forms of communications.

C.      Messages & Content

Once your target audience has been profiled, you will need to develop messages/content which motivate them to buy!

They say it’s not how loud you shout, but what you shout that gets you noticed. And the key to gaining and retaining the attention of prospects and customers is to send clear, consistent messages in every way you communicate to them.

message in a bottleFrom what you have established about current and potential target markets, your company’s strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities plus threats from competitors, your positioning strategy needs to be articulated by marketing communications messages that will differentiate your company’s products/services from other brands and encourage sales ie why they should use you or buy from you?

You should strive to develop messages embedded in helpful content that will be consistent and compel your target audience to act in your favour.  Issues to consider, capture and develop include:

  • What are the main constituents of your product or service?
  • Are there different messages for different decision makers?
  • To what extent should appeals be rational eg functional, save money, health?
  • To what extent should appeals be emotional eg vanity, fear, pride?
  • Key points which differentiate you from your competitors – especially unique exclusive capabilities
  • Call to action – what do you want the audience to do next?


D.     Creative Approach

The creative approach you adopt to convey your messages, plays a vital role in any marketing communications campaign. It provides direction for the development of:

  • pallettetextual elements: straplines, headline and body copy
  • visual elements: colour, graphic design, typography, images
  • the suitability of different media to convey the messaging

Your creative approach should very clearly convey how your product or service should be presented to prospects and customers and your positioning versus competitors.

Here’s what it should contain:

  • The communications issue to be addressed
  • What outcome do you wish to happen from the communication activity undertaken?
  • From knowledge of your target audience, what information to convey, how to say it, and how to deliver it.
  • One idea that explains why your target audience should act as you desire.
  • Summarize the benefit the target audience can expect to receive.
  • Messages criteria which ensure your claims gain buy in from your target audience
  • Explain how your product or service is different from competitors
  • And how you want the target audience to think about your offering compared with your competitors
  • The “tone of voice” ie cultural aspects of how your message is conveyed and it’s design style
  • What you would like the target audience to do after they have been exposed to the communication.
  • What type of appeal (emotional, rational, moral) will feature in your campaign materials & web content?
  • Brand identity guidelines including do’s and don’ts relative to company house style etc

In the fourth article of the series we investigate “Which Communications Tools Should You Use”