Dealing direct - direct mail
Direct mail encompasses a number of different elements of the promotional mix, allowing the opportunity to communicate on a one-to-one basis; advertise products and services; provide tactical sales promotions and incentives to engage/purchase; and build relationships with a targeted audience. Direct mail is versatile for both small and large businesses. It can be a very useful way of reaching a mass audience with one message, for example, through email, or carefully targeting particular groups or individuals with bespoke messages.
Keeping the "relations" in "public relations"
Good PR is all about relationships - creating and maintaining lasting relationships with key stakeholders, including the media - on and offline - customers; potential customers; and other internal and external interest groups.
PR messages and relationship building can come through a number of different channels and touch points, including written reports and press releases, events and media briefings and social media. This is even more effective when messaging and relationship building efforts are also supported through online activity, such as social media and online content creation and distribution.
Savvy social skills
Social media fulfils a number of elements of the promotional mix in one handy package, as well as supporting other communications efforts, including PR, direct marketing, sales promotion and advertising. It can be targeted, personalised, or general, depending on the campaign and target audience. It actively supports building one-to-one relationships, from both a B2B and B2C perspective.
In my experience, it's a great way to create a sense of community and build relationships with like-minded individuals and potential customers. It also offers an unrivalled way to engage with others on particular topics, getting the conversations and two-way dialogue going on what matters to both your business and client base.
So, is any one of these communications methods better for private businesses than the other? Which has the strongest track record and how do they fare in comparison with other channels and techniques?
My take on these vital communications techniques is that they must all play their part in an integrated marketing strategy. Each should support the other through sustained, cohesive campaigns that tell stories to really engage the target audience. For example, social media is a great way to share stories, insights and messages, while getting a conversation going around the topics that matter the most.
It supports both direct marketing and PR activity: supporting the content and messaging from direct campaigns and bringing the key points to life; and it's also a great way to get important PR messages across in a way that engages media, customers and potential customers alike, rather than just sending out a press release. Social media activity should, in turn, be supported by relevant and equally engaging online content, with web pages reflecting the same messages and stories that are going out through social media, traditional PR and direct mail campaigns.
Making the most of your marketing budget
PR and social media are cost-effective ways to get messages across and build relationships across a wide range of stakeholders. Supported by carefully targeted direct mail and a strong online presence, this integrated approach becomes a powerful tool in the marketer's armoury.
By effectively using every channel at your disposal, and ensuring that all messaging is aligned and coordinated, businesses can maximise marketing budgets through integrated communications across sustained campaigns.
About the author
Rachael is a Chartered Marketer with over 10 years' experience in marketing, communications and business development.