What is MaRCOM?
Marcom or Marketing Communication are ways by which companies educate, inform, urge, and apprise consumers—directly or indirectly—about their products, solutions, and brands.
Marcom represents the voice of a company and its brands that enable it to have a dialogue and build relationships with consumers.
It helps companies to connect their brands with people, places, experiences, events, and emotions. It can even enable companies to showcase how a product works, its use cases, why is it used, who benefits from using them, and its value to the target audience.
Marcom vs. Marketing
The American Marketing Association defines marketing as “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
However, Marcom refers to the individual elements within the entire gamut of marketing. It includes advertising, sales promotion, events, public relations, online, mobile, social media, direct, and personal selling. In simple terms, marketing includes Marcom.
The Marcom Process
Marcom involves transmitting, receiving, and processing information. We defined the various elements of the Marcom process in one of our earlier blogs with a real-life example. It has two parties (sender and receiver), four functions (encoding, decoding, response, and feedback), and two communication tools (message and media). Anything that distorts the intended message is called noise.
Marketers need to be firmly aware of each aspect of the communications process to ensure that the target audience receives a consistent message.
Having a tightly integrated Marcom process helps the message cuts through noise and clutter to increase in market share, sales, and brand loyalty. An effective program integrates all marketing activities.
Steps in Marcom
The steps involved in Marcom are:
- Identify the target audience
- Set communication objectives
- Design the communications
- Select communication channels
- Establish the communication budget
We explain each step in Marcom below:
1. Identify the target audience
The target audience includes the potential buyers of a company’s products, present users, influencers, groups, or the general public. The composition of the target audience determines the message, mode, place, and form of communication. Here's a link to a quick guide on how to identify a target audience.
2. Set marcom objectives
What do companies expect to achieve from the Marcom process? Potential Marcom objectives include:
- Increased awareness - Making the target audience aware of the existence of the brand or product.
- Build brand loyalty - Enabling the target audience to recognize or recall the brand so that they make a purchase.
- Understand the product - Helping the target audience understand what the product is and how it solves a customer need.
- Conviction - Developing the perception of the product in the minds of the target audience.
3. Design communications
Designing Marcom requires answering three key questions:
- What to communicate? According to John C Maloney, Research & Development manager at Leo Burnett Company, consumers expect four different types of reward from using a product - rational, sensory, social, or ego satisfaction. So, the message should include the quality, economy, value of the product, or brand that meets their expectations.
- How to communicate? The core message should get translated into specific communication using a creative strategy. For example, the Snickers Super Bowl commercial that ran the tagline ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ made it the world’s leading sweet snack by showing how a person can be transformed by eating a Snickers candy bar.
- Who should communicate? Some companies prefer celebrities to convey the message, while some prefer ordinary people for a dash of realism and overcome consumer skepticism.
4. Select communication channels
Selecting the right Marcom channel can be either personal or non-personal.
Personal influence helps when the products are expensive or risky (such as stock recommendations). People often ask for recommendations for a good hotel, lawyer, doctor, accountant, a financial consultant to their friends. It is because they have confidence in the advice. Even a celebrity endorsing a brand can be a form of personal Marcom channel. A positive word of mouth can generate organic growth. Personal Marcom channels include online marketing, social media, personalized microsites, email marketing, etc.
Non-personal Marcom channels such as advertising, sales promotions, events, public relations are mass communication tools to spread the word around. Companies sponsor events, and charity shows to appeal to a wide variety of target audience.
Integration of personal and non-personal Marcom channels helps in maximizing the message. Opinion leaders and influencers first receive the message through non-personal channels, who then relay it to communities and groups in the target audience. Integrated marketing communication helps build momentum for a product and inform consumers and population groups that are not touched by mass media.
5. Establish Marcom budget
The budget for Marcom varies across companies. A B2C company such as Snickers may have 35% of its sales for Marcom, while a heavy industries company may allocate only 5% of its sales. There are four approaches to establishing the Marcom budget:
- Affordable method - Setting the budget that a company can afford.
- Percentage of sales method - Setting budgets based on a percentage of sales.
- Competitive parity method - This depends on how much a competitor is spending for their Marcom and base the budgets on it.
- Objective and task method - It includes setting the objectives, identifying the task involved, and evaluating the costs for it.
Features of the MARCOM mix
Each Marcom tool is unique and has its pros and cons. Let us now understand these tools and their characteristics.
- Advertising - Think Coca-Cola or Nike ads and how they convey the same message irrespective of where the target audience lives. It works best for geographically scattered target audiences, or if a specific product feature needs highlighting.
- Sales promotion - Contests, discounts, lucky draws, coupons, and offers allow target audiences to interact with the brand immediately. It gives them an incentive to use a product and experience its benefits.
- Events - Consumers attend events with a specific objective, i.e., to learn something new, to network, meet new customers, etc. It is a happy hunting ground for marketers to reach their target audience efficiently.
- Public relations - Public relations helps marketers reach target audiences who don’t have mass media touchpoints with brand/company/product.
- Online and Social Media - It can be informational or entertainment-based. Marketers can distribute content for online and social media swiftly and alter it based on responses.
- Mobile marketing - It is time-sensitive, location-specific, and helps in influencing purchase decisions.
- Email marketing - Mails can be personalized for recipients, branded content can be shared, and a call to action can be included to keep them interested.
- Personal selling - This helps in the later stages of the buying process and in B2B situations where relationships are meaningful. It enables building buyer conviction and solicits a response.
Factors to consider while selecting marcom mix
Businesses must consider factors to develop the most suitable Marcom like the type of product market, customer willingness, and product life cycle stage.
- Type of Product Market - B2C marketers tend to spend more on advertising, while B2B marketers spend more on personal selling., i.e., building relationships. A trained sales team can develop more enthusiasm in consumer-led markets by convincing dealers to stock more and increasing wallet share in existing accounts.
- Customer willingness - Advertising, online, social media, and public relations help in building awareness of a product and customer comprehension. Personal selling and personalized emails help in building conviction among potential customers, and sales promotion techniques help in closing a sale.
- Product Life Cycle - Marcom tools vary in their cost-effectiveness at different stages of the product life cycle. Advertising, social media, and events are most effective in the introduction stage of a product. During the growth stage, email and online marketing help in distributing the products more widely. In the maturity stage, personal selling becomes essential. Sales promotion techniques help in the decline stage.
Measuring Marcom ROI
Every Marcom plan must be measured for its effectiveness. Some marketers administer surveys to customers to know if they recall the message, when are they likely to recall it, what they felt about it, and how their attitude towards the brand before and after the Marcom campaign.
However, measuring the effectiveness of Marcom goes beyond surveys and questionnaires. As the Marcom mix uses a variety of content assets such as PDFs, videos, images, GIFs, PPTs to reach the target audience, measuring the ROI of Marcom is essential to know what is resonating with the target audience.
Here are the different metrics that are measured for the Marcom mix for the target audience:
- Views - The number of views for a content asset.
- Time spent - The amount of time spent on a content piece.
- Downloads - The number of times a content piece is downloaded.
- Page-level analytics - The time spent on each page of PDFs, MS Word documents, PPTs.
- Frame-level analytics - The viewership statistics for every frame of a video.
Besides, content aggregators can view analytics such as discovery, engagement, number of conversations, content popularity, and engagement.
Marcom can build brand equity for a company by creating a perception in the minds of customers, drive revenues, and impact shareholder value.
Marketers need to think about every touchpoint for a customer and how a brand positions itself, the importance of the marketing mix, and its timing. Having a coherent Marcom strategy can help build brand equity and create higher sales impact.