For a company that wishes to launch a new product, or for a new company seeking notoriety, communication is the first tool available. However, communication is a whole art, a whole universe. Given what is at stake, it is important to know how to convey your messages to the right people through the right means: the famous communication channels. In the jargon, we talk about media and non-media but what is the difference? What is the most effective? For the uninitiated, it is very easy to get lost.
Determine your communication channel
Definition of a communication channel
In marketing, a communication channel is an approach used by a company to disseminate or exchange information. In other words, it is the system through which the message was sent in order to reach its target.
Identifying the target audience
Before even thinking about a communication channel, a company must first determine its target audience. Are they young people, active women, seniors… and only after that comes the choice of channel with all the action plans. It is clear that the same strategy does not work for different target groups. To facilitate this, it is recommended to create a communication map, i.e. a description of the target audiences with a list of the communication channels likely to interest them, in order to determine the best medium. Establishing a crossover table between the target audience and the communication channels is also possible.
Determining where to communicate
Depending on the target audience, the place of communication differs. Schools and universities are undoubtedly the perfect places to raise student awareness. In order to capture working people, businesses, restaurants and public transportation are among the places where one must be present. A less formal approach can also be used through social networks, shopping malls, etc. Obviously, the nature of the message or campaign must be taken into account.
In summary, identifying the real or virtual location and the precise moment when you are most likely to meet as many of your target audience as possible is of paramount importance.
Budgeting your communication
Communication, whether media or non-media, always involves budgetary constraints. Thus, before embarking on a campaign, it is essential to ask the following question: “Do I have the necessary financial means to support this campaign, via the selected communication channels? If the answer is no, then cheaper communication channels should be sought. Seeking outside support is another avenue to explore.
Introduction to media communication
Before the democratization of the Internet, i.e. before the 2000s, media communication was aimed globally at a group of people sharing the same interests. The most common means used were the press, billboards, cinema, television and radio. Nowadays, the web offers the possibility to personalize media communication: sending personal messages directly in email boxes, on social networks… The success is such that it has become the sixth advertising medium, and by far the most effective.
- Print Media
First, although increasingly abandoned in favour of digital media, the written press is still solicited by a good number of companies for their advertising campaigns. Convenience and accessibility are the main reasons, especially for older generations who have little or no understanding of how the Internet works, or those who do not have access to the web. By targeting a specific target audience, newspapers, magazines and journals remain very effective. It is the best support for a B to B communication, a product launch or any other event closely affecting a company.
Second, programs, commercial spaces… all means are good to be heard on the radio. With radio, determining where to communicate makes sense. Indeed, companies can use both a national radio and a regional radio to achieve their objectives, this is called geographic targeting in communication. Event announcements, product launches… in short all local actions can be conveyed via radio. Unfortunately, the negative point remains the absence of images, which means that the public quickly forgets what they have heard if the message has not been particularly striking.
Third, TV programmes and advertising pages play a major role in the delivery of a message. As a mass medium, it targets both the national and international markets through cable channels and satellites. It can also address a specific target, on theme channels. It is a support of choice in the presentation of a new product: mode of use… The major disadvantage of television is its high cost, hardly accessible to all companies.
Fourth, to target the 15-50 age group, cinema is a sure value. Advertising spaces in the cinema are generally efficient, particularly because the viewer has no choice: no remote control to change channels… Moreover, the size of the projection screen, the quality of sound and seats, inactivity… make audiences more receptive. However, its high cost as well as the heterogeneous nature of the public are its weak points.
Fifthly, the display. In the city, billboards are part of the landscape. Billboards offers multiple choices for businesses. Between the giant posters, the luminous panels, the markings on the ground… the possibilities are endless. Also in terms of places: highways, bus shelters, buildings… However, its cost and its limited field of action are its main handicaps. Indeed, they are only accessible to large companies. However, it remains a mass advertisement that reaches a wide audience.
Internet, Web media
In the digital age, the Internet is unquestionably the communication channel by excellence. Indeed, given the ever-increasing number of online press and advertising, community platforms (blogs, social networks, forums…), the phenomenon is confirmed. Any newspaper that hopes to have a large audience, or a brand that wants to make a name for itself or keep its notoriety must be present on the Internet. The strong point of the Internet is the saving of time.
In a few minutes, a brand can create a Google AdWords advertising campaign, a page on classic social networks (Facebook, Twitter…) to promote its products, communicate with its customers… and generally the space is affordable. But the Internet is not infallible. Its use requires the greatest vigilance, because at the slightest deviation (false advertising, promise not kept, etc.), it is the reputation of the company which is tainted.
Introduction to non-media
In 2013, nearly 2/3 of French companies used non-media communication for their campaign. This figure shows how important the direct approach is to optimize its advertising messages, since by definition non-media communication is direct marketing, where the company reaches its target audiences.
It is the cheapest communication channel, so SMEs and VSEs often use it. Traditional non-media includes:
- Direct marketing: The mail-order catalogue, Postal mail (by target or mass), etc.
- Alternative advertising communications
Traditional events: conferences, exhibitions, fairs…
Alternative events: street marketing, training, POS
Public relations: negotiations, press releases, conferences…
Direct contact: phone call, SMS, meeting, promotion…
Off web media
It is impossible for a company to have good communication without having recourse to the web. Communication channels outside web media include:
Personal platforms: intranet, internet site
Communication in parallel: newsletter, mailing, forum…
Analog communication: videoconferencing, chat…
Push & Pull Strategy
In a push or push marketing strategy, as its name suggests, one seeks to push a product towards the consumer. There is a kind of pressure on the customer here. Either it is direct or it goes through distribution channels. The company must deploy a whole arsenal to distinguish itself. Push marketing actions include the distribution of free samples, the sales force, events in shopping centres, on the street, emailing, etc.
The pull or pull marketing strategy is a concept where the consumer is attracted to the product. It’s a long-term job. If successful, the target will specifically search for the brand and make the purchase on their own. The methods commonly used are of course brand communication campaigns, advice blogs and the implementation of an efficient customer service, etc.
To get positive results quickly, it is recommended to combine push and pull marketing actions.
Multi-channel, cross-channel, omni-channel communication
Often confused, multi-channel, cross-channel and omni-channel qualifiers actually designate the most consistent way for a company to reach its target, via different communication channels.
The multichannel term appears with the digital channels. Basically, it is difficult to set up a logical multi-channel communication since it is necessary to process several channels and many tools. The main difficulty lies in centralizing the data of each customer using simultaneously or in turn several channels. To overcome this problem, the notion of cross-channel was born. It makes it possible to combine the various communication channels used by the company, by making sure that they are complementary. Thus, by knowing exactly what a customer is doing, the company can interact effectively with the customer.
The term omni-channel refers to the omnipresence of a customer on several channels, both online and offline. Therefore, it is necessary to know how to manage several channels, taking into account several terminals, in addition to a management in real time of the various actions of a consumer.
To have a unique profile of the same consumer who can be present on different channels, the main challenge consists in setting up basic actions that will perfectly interconnect with broadcasting techniques. The marketing datamart, personalization and recommendation engines among others are almost impossible to circumvent.
Integrated marketing communication
Integrated marketing communication or IMC is a new marketing approach that aims to integrate in a logical and rational way all the communication channels of a company. Thus, each channel works with the others to generate better results faster. Combining rapid return on investment with lasting reputation is the real objective.
To be effective, the IJC must be based on 4 major fundamentals:
- First, a focus on customer knowledge: customer behaviour is valuable information
- Secondly, a brand platform: one look, one voice, the company needs to define its DNA, to be faithful to it and to convey it everywhere.
- Third, measurement tools with relevant performance indicators
- Fourth, an innovative and synergistic organization where messages are coordinated around a single project.