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Creating a marketing plan requires assessing five constraints. These are known as the 5 Cs:
There are a number of consumer touch points in traditional communications. With traditional communications, unlike digital, these touch points tend to be more tangible.
One example would be direct marketing. It’s about being in a physical environment. And your marketing plan can even influence things like customer service or the retail environment.
Retail environment is so important. And it’s a massive opportunity to really push what your brand stands for. Think about some of the best retailers and the experience those brands deliver through their retail environment.
In the UK, think about brands like Topshop, for example, with their huge store right in the heart of London in Oxford Circus. Their marketeers are constantly planning change, which represents the brand. The brand Topshop stands for being at the cutting edge, and offering affordable fashion to its customers.
It’s not just your external customers who are important. Your internal customers are too!
This used to be very much about corporate to corporate communication. You wanted to be able to stand out maybe amongst the investor community by saying, “Hey, we’re doing things a little bit differently.”
But today, CSR is a huge part of what a brand stands for. Consider Unilever. A big part of their CSR policy was the environment, and that’s now a part of their purpose. And consumers are more and more influenced around the ethics of a business. Consider the Nestle milk scandal. Or more recently in the UK, Byron Burger, a burger chain. They were found to be helping out with the customs’ officers find people who may have been working illegally. As a result, people questioned their ethics. Campaigners went into Byron restaurants, completely disrupting things, and unleashing hordes of insects within the restaurants. Similarly, some start-ups like Deliveroo have faced problems. Zero-hour contracts have become a huge discussion point.
So companies really need to think about how they’re presenting ethics through their brand, through their CSR policy, and through their public relations.
What are the characteristics of traditional marketing?
Traditional communications is often a one-way conversation. Unless it’s around the customer experience (such as a customer talking in a retail environment or talking over the telephone to a customer service agent), traditional communication is broadcast style. As much as you want to shout at the television about an ad that you hate, that brand is not going to hear you! It’s a brand pushing out that message.
This is where brands essentially are trying to teach customers what they stand for. Remember, traditional communications is not a conversation, it can sometimes come across as very adult-to-child. It may not feel like a friend talking to you. Actually a lot of traditional communications can sometimes come across as being very deferential. They want consumers to be deferential. It’s because it’s a one-way conversation. They’re telling you what you should be doing.
Consider a television ad for a car, for example. Often, it’ll be around the lifestyle they want to imagine, and what it feels like to drive that car. They will talk about some of the features, particularly if they are key points of differentiation. Or it’s around a message. It’s broadcast.
As technology changes, traditional communications channels like television start targeting different segments, different audiences, with a different television advert. But, on the whole, these are generalized. You can’t really target radio beyond picking a station that you hope your consumer target audience listens to.
And it’s a general message. This is sometimes difficult when you have a brand that is trying to be different things to different audiences. This is a challenge many banks face. When banks are doing a television advert, they may be aiming at everyone, from someone who owns accounts or checking accounts or credit card with them, right through to a business owner or a chairman of a FTSE 100 or a NASDAQ business. And that brand has to speak to all those people.
Traditional communications repeat a message again and again, hoping that it will influence the customer, and they will recall that brand at a key moment. So it’s important to think when you’re building your marketing plan about what key message that is, and how easy it is to repeat. You can’t have something massively long. Consumers won’t remember. It has to be short and simple in order for that repetition to work.
Traditional communications have many strengths:
Traditional communications also align with company objectives, and they help contribute to wider business goals.
Traditional communications enable you to project consistent, coherent messages on an on-going basis. And that’s across three areas:
These are your executives. These are the heads of businesses talking to the rest of the staff, the rest of your colleagues. The tone of voice is critical. What you want is you want the heads of business to have character, to be individuals. But they need to stay on message because if they’re not, they affect your brand.
A classic example in the UK is a chief executive, Gerald Ratner. He owned a chain of jewelry stores called Ratner’s, and was called into a parliamentary committee to talk about retail. A member of parliament asked him whether he would shop at his own stores. And Gerald Ratner said on record in front of television cameras that he wouldn’t buy jewelry from his stores! That chain of jewelry stores went bust within about a year afterwards. He didn’t believe in his brand. And he said that in public.
So management communications are critical, both internally and externally.
We’ve already covered this subject earlier.
Being a brand guardian is a really important role within a business. There are so many tools now that allow individuals to openly communicate with all their other colleagues.
You have to make sure that everyone understands the tone of voice and what your brand stands for. Otherwise, the message becomes muddied. It can even become dangerous as other people start saying things. And the brand isn’t necessarily understood. And that will affect how people in your organization talk to your customers.
In this omni-channel environment, the brand consistency, both internally and externally, is key. It is a challenge balancing it and not coming across as if you’re just trying to kill off any messages, or you’re trying to stop your leaders from having personality. You need to allow that to shine through, but keep the consistency of the brand message. It’s crucial.Back to Top
John Makin-Shaw is the Head of Marketing at Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance. For over 15 years he has been designing, launching, and managing customer propositions for some of the UK’s biggest brands.
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ABOUT THIS DIGITAL MARKETING MODULE
This module introduces fundamental marketing principles and tools including the value proposition, the classic marketing mix, market research, the customer journey, communications planning, creative planning, media strategy, and amplifying brand performance. By referring to current and recent examples, it illustrates how digital technology and changing consumer behavior and lifestyles are altering the consumer decision-making process and disrupting traditional marketing models and strategies.