• Dennis Toh

Master the 5 Weapons of Marketing Communications




Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to get awareness for your personal brand, products or services? You’ve been trying again and again to blast your new offerings on your personal facebook page and no one seems to care about it. To break through the ever-changing media clutter seems like an impossible task.


People often think that their marketing and building business could be very simple and straightforward. Some students whom I have taught, even commented that as long as the products are good, customers would start flowing in!


This is a wrong mindset. Yes, given that the other 3 Ps ( Price, Product and Place) are right, one should ensure that the creation of the promotional tools is on-going and sustainable. You must have a long -term plan to ensure that your brand communicates with your customers consistently and effectively.


So let’s explore the 5 Promotional Weapons which you need to master.


I call them DAPPS.


D stands for Direct Marketing


Direct marketing is a form of communicating an offer, where organizations communicate directly to a pre-selected customer and supply a method for a direct response. Among practitioners, it is also known as direct response marketing. Most of the time, there’s no medium involved, unlike Advertising. Some of the most popular forms of direct marketing include Email, Telephone, Catalogue and SMS marketing.


The company may gain a few customers while merely annoying all of the other recipients. Junk mail, spam email, and texting all are forms of direct marketing that many people can't get rid of fast enough. However, direct marketing is the preferred advertising strategy for small local businesses, which can distribute hundreds of flyers, coupons, or menus for less than it would cost them to place an ad or make a commercial.


Most Popular form of Direct Marketing in Singapore currently:

1) SMS Marketing ( However Do note of the PDPA, Do not call registry clauses in Singapore)



A Stands for Advertising


This is the tool which most of us are familiar with. Based on Wikipedia’s definition, Advertising is a marketing communication that employs an openly sponsored, non-personal message to promote or sell a product, service or idea. What’s important is that advertisiing allows the control of message, so you can specially tailor your message to appeal to the subconscious of your audience.


Advertising is communicated through various mass media,including traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, television, radio, outdoor advertising or direct mail; and new media such as search results, blogs, social media, websites or text messages. In modern times, it includes advertising via influencers, instagrammers, youtubers and even tik tokers.

One downside of advertising is the erosion of trust people place on this discipline. Credibility is sliding as more sophisticated and educated customers start to see through advertising and commercial intention by the advertisers.


Most popular form of advertising in Singapore:

1) Advertisements on Youtube

2) Advertisments on Facebook and Instagram

3) Product Placements on Youtube Channels



P stands for Public Relations


This is my favourite topic as I have personally taught a lot of PR subjects and have managed public relations campaigns for many clients in the past. I also have many friends in the PR field who are still enjoying their work in this ever-changing industry.


This is also an area which most people are clueless about. What’s PR? Is it all about entertaining and networking?


I believe the keyword for PR is ‘stakeholder’. We need to understand the notion of stakeholders and how it matters to us. Stakeholders are essentially groups or parties that have an interest in a company and can either affect or be affected by the business. While advertising deals with only customer, PR on the other hand, deals with several stakeholders ; media, government, non-profit groups, community, competitors, customers, suppliers, employees, and the list goes on.


So what’s PR? Public relations (PR) is the practice of deliberately managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization (such as a business, government agency, or a nonprofit organization) and the public.


Some might still find this difficult to understand. Have you ever wondered why some people are constantly hogging the media limelight while some are not? The former group most likely understood PR and have used media relations to their advantage.


There’s a lot more to go for PR, but a key word for you. Just think of ‘Publicity’ for now.


Most popular forms of Public Relations activities in Singapore;

1) Media relations – Pitching stories to the media

2) Press launches and events to attract mefdia attention

3) Special Events like mass run, charitable work, stunts


P stands for Personal Selling

The other P, which concerns more high value selling or high-involvement products. Due to the 1 to 1 nature of the tool, Personal selling requires a dedicated Salesperson to approach the entire marketing and selling process.


It is not easy to be a salesman. In fact there are several steps in the sales process. One might think that lead generation is important. However, there’s many other skills like presentation, relationship building, closing, handling objections, etc.


Personal selling can be defined as "the process of person-to-person communication between a salesperson and a prospective customer, in which the former learns about the customer's needs and seeks to satisfy those needs by offering the customer the opportunity to buy something of value, such as a good or service.


Many of these industries are using a heavy personal selling approach; MLM Businesses, Insurance, Financial & Banking, Property, Car, B2B businesses.


S stands Sales Promotion


Sales promotion uses both media and non-media marketing communications for a pre-determined, limited time to increase consumer demand, stimulate market demand or improve product availability. Examples include contests, coupons, freebies, loss leaders, point of purchase displays, premiums, prizes, product samples, and rebates.


We always call this a short-term inducement of sales. Essentially, we are using price or freebies to trigger purchase. Sometimes, irrational customers will buy because of the discounts or freebies.


One of the drawbacks of Sales promotions would be Increased price sensitivity. Consumers wait for the promotion deals to be announced and then purchase the product. This is true even for brands where brand loyalty exists. Customers wait and time their purchases to coincide with promotional offers on their preferred brands. Thus, the routine sales at the market price are lost and the profit margin is reduced because of the discounts to be offered during sale-season.


If the promotions in a product category have been rare, the promotions could have a negative effect about its quality image. Consumers may start suspecting that perhaps the product has not been selling well, the quality of the product is true compared to the price or the product is likely to be discontinued because it has become outdated.


Most popular Sales Promotional activites in Singapore:


1) Discounts, Discounts, Discounts

2) Off Peak hour benefits and perks

3) Membership to increase loyalty with existing customers

4) Credit card tie-ups and promotions

5) Working with Grab / Fave App



So there you have it, the 5 important Marketing Communications Weapons everyone should master. Depending on the kind of business you are in, you should learn how to mix and match the tools. So remember, if you don’t start marketing, your competitors will.


In a downtime like this, it is essentially important to think about how you want to market your business. Don’t sit there and think that business is bad. Do something, and go out there and fight for your customers! I believe you will keep your business afloat during this difficult time.



Note: The writer has been a Marketing and PR consultant for many clients since 2011. He has managed The Influencer Network Communications, which is a boutique agency that helps clients and individuals get more publicity and eyeballs through online and offline methods. He is also the ex-owner of Feet Haven Reflexology, an award winning foot spa. He teaches communications subjects part-time at Curtin Singapore, MDIS and Temasek Polytechnic. He is also an actor,  model and financial consultant in Singapore.

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