Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Marketing: Identify the right channels of communication

Robert Gray writes in Marketing Magazine:

Generating high levels of response, conversion or brand engagement is never easy in direct marketing. Unquestionably, it is vital to pick the right channels. However, as channels have proliferated — mail, email, SMS, telemarketing— settling on the appropriate ones and giving them the optimum weighting is becoming more problematic.

“Consumers have preferences for different channels at different times of the day,” says Robert Keitch, Director, Media Channel Development Direct Marketing Association. “No one channel is going to do it for you — end of story. The days of having a simplistic mix are gone.”

It comes down to understanding who the customer is. ”Consumer habits are evolving; for example, people now spend more time interacting with the web or their mobiles than sitting passively in front of the TV. Richard Higginbotham, Head of Marketing, CDMS, a marketing services provider, believes many marketers have as yet failed to exploit this shift.

“Once the customer has been identified, successful multi-channel implementation allows the marketer to actually contact the customer through the channel he/ she prefers,” he says. “Ensuring customers are receiving communications through a medium to which they are responsive is key to producing customer satisfaction and improving RoI.”

There is plenty of evidence that a multichannel approach to direct marketing tends to deliver far better results than concentration on a single touch-point.

Channel selection plays a key role and should be based on an understanding of how the target audience wants to interact with a brand, coupled with knowledge of their stage in the buying cycle.

Growing importance of PR in education

The Times of India has carried an interesting report last week.

Kamini Mathai’s Chennai datelined report City schools get CEOs to market them says, “When it comes to vision, it’s time to call in CEOs. At least that’s what several ‘international’ schools in south are doing in their attempt to get more corporate. So, while principals focus on admissions, academics, results and school activities, the latest trend seems to be to hire CEOs to define organisation structure, do budgeting, financial planning, hiring and firing, advertising and marketing.”

Kamini quotes Harish K E, who has been CEO of Sadhbhavana World School in Kozhikode for the last four years, “Schools today have to follow the four Ps of marketing - product, price, positioning and promotion - just like with any other consumer goods, and that’s where CEOs can help. All the best practices of the corporate world are being brought into school management.”

So Indian international schools are quickly adopting global marketing practices. Following the global best practices, Indian schools and colleges could benefit from public relations focusing on objectives like attracting better students and faculty as also funding.

Way back in 2005, Anna Fazackerley wrote in Times Higher Education of the UK that some universities are spending tens of thousands of pounds on hiring consultants to advise them on public relations, marketing and branding. This was revealed by a Times Higher investigation … Among the big spenders are Leeds University, the University of Central England, Oxford University and Birmingham University.

According to a paper submitted to the Louisiana State University, “college-level presidents understood that educational public relations would be an important tool to guarantee the future success of the colleges. A successful public relations program contributes to the amount and caliber of students attending a university as well as the feelings of alumni toward the college.”

“The role of the public relations officer in the American college and university has undergone dramatic change as a result of several major trends,” writes Machael Radock who had worked as vice president for university relations at the University of Michigan. “These public relations officers have moved from the boiler room to the board room.”