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Marketing Communication Strategy: Crafting a Compelling Message for Your Audience

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A marketing communication strategy is the blueprint for interacting effectively with your target audience. It determines the ways in which you convey your brand values and why your product is so great.

Without marketing communications it's almost impossible to control how your brand is viewed. You might strike lucky and attract customers off the quality of your product or service alone. Or your brand might drift into obscurity because potential customers aren't being reached.

A marketing communications strategy is also central to creating a consistent voice and message across all forms of media. It informs critical decision-making about your marketing campaigns.

So, in order to do marketing communications right, you need to develop a robust strategy. From understanding your audience, to identifying the key messages and the best media channels to use, planning is what can make or break your marketing message.

This guide will take you through what a marketing communication strategy consists of.

Learn about setting clear objectives and employing a mix of tactics such as social media, email marketing, public relations, and advertising, to create a marketing communications plan. Ensure your messages are aligned and that your brand speaks with one coherent voice.

Discover how to deploy your strategy and refine it using a range of success metrics. Then, we'll show you some advance marketing communications tools that can take your strategy to the next level.

Understanding Marketing Communication

Marketing communication is a vital aspect of any business’s success. It involves numerous methods and tactics to share a brand’s messages with its target audience.

This guide looks at external communication and how brands speak to their customers, rather than internal communication between departments. With that in mind, it's important to understand what a marketing communications strategy defines.

Defining Marketing Communication Strategy

A marketing communication strategy determines how you communicate your value proposition to your customers. To boil it down, your strategy helps you tell your customers about how great you are.

It is crucial to align your company’s message with the appropriate channels to reach your desired audience.

An integrated marketing strategy involves comprehensive, encompassing messaging across multiple channels, and targets an audience’s interests in a synergistic way for maximum impact.

For example, the charity Macmillan Cancer Support used Cision to launch and monitor its World’s Biggest Coffee Morning campaign across multiple media platforms. By creating and deploying a holistic communications strategy, Macmillan were able to boost awareness of its campaign by 78% and increase donations.

Components of Marketing Communication Mix

A marketing strategy requires a communication mix that effectively covers your target audience. A local theatre may only have one or two communication channels to focus on for an upcoming performance. Yet a global soft drinks company might need to oversee scores of channels.

A marketing mix consists of various tools and approaches depending on the size of your business and the scale of your campaign. The core six are:

  • Advertising: Paid-for marketing presented via mediums like TV, print, radio, podcasts, online platforms, and social media.

  • Public Relations (PR): Building a favorable image through media interaction without direct payment.

  • Social Media Interaction: Bridging the divide between advertising and PR is social media interaction. You can present your brand however you like on social media and generate an organic following that then advocates for your brand.

  • Sales Promotion: Incentives to encourage sales, such as short-term promotions or long-term loyalty programs.

  • Direct Marketing: Directly engaging with potential customers through emails, calls, DMs, and face-to-face meet-ups.

  • Personal Selling: One-on-one interaction with customers for sales. This goes beyond marketing communication and direct to sale.

Each component should be leveraged according to your overall integrated marketing communications plan to ensure consistency and message reinforcement across all channels.

Importance of Integrated Marketing Communications

Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) ensures all forms of your marketing communication mix are carefully linked together.

Many medium and large companies use all the tools available in a marketing management platform to maintain consistency across integrated communications.

When you implement an IMC strategy, you solidify your brand’s presence by delivering consistent messaging across all marketing channels. You can stay on top of your marketing mix and manage it all in one place. This cohesive approach maximizes the impact of your communication efforts and helps build a strong, recognizable brand. It's also more cost-effective than operating marketing communications in silo.

Developing Your Strategy

The first step to creating a killer marketing communication strategy is to understand your current position. This encompasses:

  1. Creating the Correct Service or Product

  2. Identifying the Target Audience

  3. Crafting Your Marketing Message(s)

  4. Choosing the Right Communication Channels

By identifying and fine-tuning these four aspects, businesses can begin to plan towards an effective marketing communications strategy that correctly delivers customer alignment. Here's a little more about each aspect:

1. Creating the Correct Service or Product

It might sound obvious but it's easier to launch an effective marketing communication strategy if you have a good product or service. Ask yourself:

  • Why does your product or service stand out?

  • What's its USP?

  • Where will it be positioned in the market?

The research and development required to get a product ready for market is both labor intensive and costly. However, if you're ready to launch – or if you have a product that simply needs a better marketing strategy applied in order for it to fly – then it's time to start developing said strategy.

2. Identifying the Target Audience

All strategies begin with focusing on your product and your target audience. How do you position what you're selling in the best way to those who might buy or consumer it?

Begin by conducting market research to define the demographic, psychographic, and behavioral characteristics of your potential customers. You can use a tool like CisionOne to understand what your intended audience is interested in and how they consume media.

Your target market should be specific, as this guides the direction of your entire marketing plan.

For instance, if your product addresses a specific problem, pinpoint the target customer pain points to align your strategy effectively.

  • Demographics: Age, Gender, Income, Education

  • Psychographics: Lifestyle, Values, Interests

  • Behaviors: Purchasing habits, Brand interactions

3. Crafting Marketing Messages

Your marketing messages must resonate with your target customers and reflect your branding elements to establish a strong brand identity. Failure to do this means your targeted audience either won't see your messages, or won't be interested in them.

It's important to communicate your product or service's value clearly and persuasively. After all, you're trying to convince an audience to interact with you.

Address the what, why, and how: What is your offer, why it matters to the audience, and how it solves their problems.

  • What You Offer: What product or service are you providing to the market?

  • Value Proposition: Why your product is beneficial and what's its USP?

  • Solutions to Pain Points: How does your product alleviate specific problems for users or give customers something they don't already have?

Considering these three points will help you create core branding elements that can be used across your marketing communications strategy.

4. Choosing the Right Communication Channels

You know your product, your audience, and your messaging. Now it's time to choose effective communication channels and reach your audience.

Your communication plan should integrate various platforms, selecting those where your target groups are most active and responsive. It might be that your business is so localized that you only need one marketing channel. However, it's more likely that you will need to consider a range of options, which boil down to:

  • Online Channels: Social media, email, company website, press release distribution, podcasts

  • Offline Channels: Print media, billboards, TV, radio, events

Your marketing communications mix needs to fit your product or service, and reach your audience. Choosing the rich channels will enhance your overall strategy by providing multiple touchpoints for your customers.

Of course, choosing your channels is only the beginning. You'll also need to consider the timing and frequency of your communications, to maintain engagement without overwhelming your audience.

Executing the Marketing Communication Plan

To effectively execute your marketing communication plan, you’ll need to:

  1. Leverage various marketing channels

  2. Ensure integration of strategies across channels

  3. Monitor and measure success rigorously

You can use a marketing communication tool like CisionOne to plan and then oversee its execution. The idea is to house your strategy in one place and where cross-team collaboration is possible. Here's some more detail into those three steps to executing an integrated marketing communications strategy:

1. Leveraging Various Marketing Channels

It’s crucial to capitalize on a diverse array of marketing channels to reach your target audience. The work you did during the planning stage means you know what channels – be they online or offline – work for you.

Now it's time to understand each channel in better detail and figure out how to leverage their tools to deliver your effective marketing communication strategy.

This includes:

  • Digital marketing: Utilizing online ads such as pay-per-click (PPC) and search engine marketing (SEM). Look at how a search engine like Google facilitates brand exposure and how much it might cost.

  • Social media platforms: Engage with customers and prospects on platforms where they spend their time, ranging from Facebook and X, to LinkedIn, and Instagram. Leverage their share capabilities to expand your reach, and discover how to drive viewers back to your product.

  • Newspapers and TV: Create engaging print and TV commercial content that boosts your brand message even if it doesn't lead to direct sales. Consider why these non-digital forms of advertising are still important in today's digital-first world.

  • Customer Advocacy: Why do all the marketing communication yourself? Listen to how customers interact with your product and service, and how they advocate for your brand when taking to others.

2. Integrating Marketing Strategies Across Channels

Consistency is key. It's important to ensure that your marketing strategies are seamlessly integrated across all channels for coherent messaging and branding.

For example, soft drinks company Coca-Cola may choose to launch a new commercial campaign on the eve of the Olympic Games. If it is to achieve maximum reach then the campaign needs to run across the media spectrum.

You can do this through:

  • Brand Message: Synthesize your unique selling proposition (USP) across all platforms and stay on message every time you champion your brand.

  • Customer Engagement: Create campaigns that invoke consistent sales and engagement messages, whether it be through promotions or sparking online debate.

  • Multiple Channels: Adapt the core message to fit the context and strengths of each channel without losing the campaign’s integrity.

Failure to operate integrated marketing communication strategies usually means you're wasting time and money. By interconnecting your marketing mix you can stay on brand across various platforms in the most efficient way possible.

3. Monitoring and Measuring Success

You must establish success metrics early on to measure the impact of your marketing efforts against your marketing and business goals. Remember, it's not all about money. A marketing communication strategy encompasses a lot of metrics, from social impact and brand prominence, to reputation management and staying relevant with your target audience.

Tools to measure success include:

  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Track metrics such as conversion rates, engagement rates, and return on investment (ROI).

  • Customer Feedback: Use direct feedback from social media and other platforms to gauge customer engagement and satisfaction. Listen to how customers and audiences interact with your brand through tools like Brandwatch.

  • Real-Time Adjustments: Be prepared to make real-time adjustments to your campaigns based on the data you collect. This might be to improve your campaigns, or to enact a crisis management plan in the event of a PR disaster.

Ensure that you align each aspect of your execution with your defined goals. Also, remember to make data-driven decisions to maximize the effectiveness of your marketing communication plan.

Refining the Strategy

There's no point doing all the research to create a marketing communication strategy, implementing said strategy, only to then simply sit back and do nothing. Strategies need constant feedback and updating to ensure you grow with the market and stay ahead of trends.

By refining your marketing communication strategy you can strategically optimize your messaging to appeal to the same or perhaps a new target audience.

This process enhances your brand’s ability to resonate with both potential and existing customers, effectively conveying your value proposition.

Below is an outline of the three steps required to refine a communication strategy:

1. Analyzing Marketing Efforts

It's important to marketing activities as you go, and measure them against your established KPIs. Create a table to visually dissect which strategies yielded the highest ROI or increased brand image, or use a tool like CisionOne to see your strategy's effectiveness all in one place.

From here, you can begin to critically assess if your brand message and value proposition clearly reflect your outcomes. Is your communication strategy delivering the audience, impact and/or revenue that you require? Is it supporting your brand image? What channels are working great, and which ones are costing you too much time and effort for a small return?

It's worth running target market analyses alongside your marketing efforts as you go. This way you can be proactive to change rather than reactive at the end of marketing campaigns.

2. Adjusting to Market Feedback

Talking of proactivity, it's important to listen to market feedback. This could come through a tool like CisionOne that monitors mentions and reactions of your brand. Or you might use a platform like Brandwatch to hear what social media users think of you.

Gathering feedback is paramount to shaping your future marketing communication strategies. If your potential customers hated a recent campaign then perhaps it's time to change course.

Integrated marketing communication ensures that you adapt consistently across all channels by:

  • Utilizing direct customer feedback to adjust your value proposition.

  • Implementing changes to the decision making process based on customer behavior trends.

3. Optimizing Communication for Target Segments

Finally, you can begin to customize communication strategies for your distinct target audiences. This enables you to strengthen your marketing approach and avoid mistakes next time, saving you time and money.

You can deliver this optimized communication by:

  1. Taking a data-driven approach: Compile demographic and psychographic information to understand and profile every type of target customer.

  2. Tailoring the message: Crafting unique messages that align with the specific needs and preferences of each segment.

  3. Staying Consistent: Ensuring your brand message is coherent across different channels to maintain the integrity of brand image and increase brand image.

Advanced Marketing Communication Tactics

The above process outlines the basic steps for anyone tasked with creating a marketing communication strategy. From here you can begin to implement more advance techniques to ensure your communication strategy delivers every time.

It's these advanced techniques that help small-to-medium businesses expand and reach greater audiences, and for agencies to deliver better integrated marketing communication.

It's time to leverage a combination of direct communication, public relations, and content marketing to establish a compelling communication mix. Here's how it's done:

1. Employing Direct Marketing and Personal Selling

Businesses often choose marketing communication strategies that focus on indirect brand recognition. However, there's nothing wrong with getting your hands dirty and push for direct sales.

Direct marketing allows you to target specific segments of your customer base through personalized communication and skip the 'recognition' stage. This could take the form of direct mail, DMs, email campaigns, or telemarketing.

  • Direct Mail: Send tailored messages to a well-segmented audience to increase your response rates.

  • DM Marketing: Jump into the direct messages of users on social media platforms and speak to them one-on-one.

  • Personal Sales: Engage in face-to-face selling to convey your USP and build strong customer relationships.

  • Sales Promotions: Utilize limited-time offers to create urgency and encourage purchases.

By integrating these tools, you create a synergy that can effectively convey your right marketing message and unique value proposition.

2. Managing Public Relations and Brand Recognition

Effective public relations can enhance your brand's recognition and shape public perception. It often requires a dedicated PR manager to oversee healthy relationships with media and social platforms. PR can be very effective for your brand but also dangerous if a campaign goes wrong, so it needs to be done correctly as part of an integrated marketing communications strategy.

In your PR campaigns, focus on communicating the benefits and unique value proposition of your brand or product, to differentiate it from competitors.

Read our guide What Is Public Relations? The Real Meaning Of PR, Featuring Experts & Examples for a deeper dive into the world of PR.

3. Utilizing Content Marketing and Online Advertising

Content marketing and online ads often forms the crux of a business's digital presence. It's important to deploy digital marketing in a natural way that ensures your brand or product reaches target customers without feeling forced.

You can do this by:

  • Marketing Your Content: Developing valuable, relevant content that sits on your website or on other platforms. Make sure it resonates with your audience and reinforces your expertise.

  • Online Advertising: Invest in pay-per-click (PPC), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to increase visibility.

A mix of informative content and strategic ad placements will help your marketing communication strategy reach a broader audience. At the same time, it reinforces your unique selling proposition. Keep an eye on a few metrics to measure the success of this marketing communications strategy and refine your tactics over time.

Time to Create Your Marketing Communication Strategy

Remember, a marketing communication strategy is only as successful as the marketing teams behind it. Your 'team' could cross over a number of stakeholders as part of a wider marketing campaign. Or you may be a sole trader seeking to reach their target audience for the first time via a new marketing communications strategy.

No matter your situation, if you stick to a marketing plan and stay true to your business goals then you should start seeing positive results.

And if you want to see how CisionOne can help you in your marketing communication strategy, speak to one of our experts to find out more. 

Author Bio
 Marcelo Javelly
Marcelo Javelly
 SEO and Social Listening Specialist

Marcelo is an SEO and Social listening expert with 8+ years of experience across various industries and joined Cision in 2023. Based in Copenhagen, he is our in-house specialist for all things related to social listening.