There are three main strategies when it comes to your marketing communication plan, and they are the three Ps; push, pull and profile. From my experience these can be, and arguably should be, used as a blended communication strategy rather than just one – however, this can depend on a number of factors, which are mentioned below.
So what’s the difference between a push, pull and profile strategy?
A push strategy is a more direct form of communicating with your clients; it’s about ‘pushing’ your products to them with as little advertising as possible. An example of this would be direct selling and exhibitions where a great deal of personal selling is involved. This is a useful strategy for when there’s low brand loyalty, many good substitute products available, or perhaps for impulse buys. Other examples of push strategies include:
- Direct face to face selling
- Forging agreements with retailers to stock a product
- Making supply chain enhancements
- Promotion through packaging design
- In store displays
A pull strategy is a softer, but potentially more costly approach, where you encourage customer demand through advertising and promotions, such as free samples, coupons and competitions. This is a good strategy if product demand is high, customers use the brand as part of their purchase decision, or you can differentiate your product based on emotional feelings. Examples of push strategies include:
- Customer relationship management
- Promotion through mass media
- Referrals through word of mouth
- Discount and reduction campaigns
- Video success stories or brand stories
This is a very different strategy to the ‘push’ and ‘pull’ strategies; it’s about sustaining dialogue with your stakeholders and keeping them up to date with progress. This can take many forms, for example e-mails, newsletters and progress reports.
Other examples of profile strategies include:
- Conferences and meetings
- Social media presence including a membership group for stakeholders
- Milestone events and functions
- Sales kick off videos
A marketing communication has no prescriptive content; it depends on the overarching objectives of an organisation, the audiences they intend to reach, and the channels available to them – not forgetting their budget! But there are some tried and trusted methods of formulating plans, giving marketers an idea of how best to structure their strategies, and how to categorise their activities.
In this blog, we will look at some tried and trusted marketing methods, and how they can be categorised in terms of a plan.
Above The Line/Below The Line
Two forms of communication which are typically essential to an integrated marketing communication plan are ‘Above The Line’ and ‘Below The Line’. You will be familiar with many of the activities which fall under these brackets, but how do you categorise them? Let’s look at each type individually.
Above The Line
Above The Line refers to forms of marketing and communication – such as advertising – which are non-targeted in their nature, concentrating on a wide reach, rather than directly communicating with a specific demographic or target audience. Messaging is broad and is conveyed to anyone who reads it.
Typically, Above The Line communication refers to campaigns which are conducted in order to build a brand, as well as awareness around a particular product or service, informing the customer of the important details. This is in contrast to an approach which might focus more on securing direct conversions.
– TV: figures show that people in the Western world watch a large amount of TV, making it the perfect channel for Above The Line communication as the number of eyes that see the message is greatly important. Advertisements placed on TV have the potential to reach domestic and international audiences, depending on the nature of the TV channel itself. Marketers are able to use moving images to capture the imagination of viewers in all types of ways, adding to brand resonance.
– Radio: by the same token, radio also reaches wide audiences, and can also offer a lower price point than running an entire campaign on TV. Radio adverts also tend to be run at frequent intervals, meaning that marketers can expose listeners to messaging numerous times, and increase their chances of penetration. Like TV, radio campaigns can be run on a regional, national, and even international level.
– Print: even in the digital age, print media still has a wide reach, and from local to national publications, magazines and newspapers offer advertising slots which marketers can use for brand exposure and offers. Typically, print media can offer a slightly more targeted form of Above The Line advertising, thanks to the specific audiences which can be reached through certain publications, while some print platforms such as national newspapers offer a wide reach that is similar to TV and radio.
Benefits of Above The Line marketing
– a large reach which can encompass different regions and countries,
– large audiences, i.e. high numbers,
– connecting with audiences in creative visual or audio ways,
– a brand identity builder, both in terms of the numbers reached through Above The Line communication, and the ways in which advertising can be placed to align with certain media platforms, utilising the customer loyalty these platforms already possess.
Below The Line
While Above The Line advertising tends to be general in its approach, Below The Line can be described as very specific, with direct campaigns targeted specifically at different consumer groups. Below The Line communication can involve a lot of direct marketing strategies which are intended to produce conversions.
– Outdoor display advertising: display advertising outdoors can be targeted towards specific audiences at specific locations. It offers the advantage of constantly being on display, and varieties include billboards and banners.
– Direct mail: whether done by post or email, direct mail is an opportunity to personalise messaging for specific individuals, according to their profile or requirements.
– Sponsorship: sponsors can form partnerships with specific events or organisations, in order to enjoy targeted exposure in a defined space. Sponsorship offers a good opportunity for brand alignment through the identification of two synergistic brands (the sponsor and the organisation carrying the sponsorship) with mutual target audiences.
– Brand activation: brand activation techniques such as experiential marketing has increasingly become a common Below The Line activity. This can be anything from handing out free samples of a product to offering experiences to consumers, in the hope that they form an emotional connection with a brand.
– In store: using retail stores as a platform is another method of Below The Line communication, targeting customers when they are close to the point of sale for better impact.
– Corporate video: Using online video is a growing trend to express complex message quickly and easily. These can be advertised on sites like YouTube as preroll content or used at events and as more impactful marketing material (more on the different types of video for business here)
Benefits of Below The Line marketing
– precise targeting of what a customer wants based on their specific profile, giving you a higher chance of conversions
– Below The Line campaigns are controllably, offering you the chance to keep a close eye on every single activity, tracking the number of people that see it, and measuring their response
– When you can track and measure conversions, you stand more chance of being able to see your return on investment from a marketing campaign