Time to open up the marketing communications box and see what we have to work with. Other posts will go into how you pick tactics and deploy them, but it’s good to start with a basic list. Think of these as the tools in your toolbox or the weapons in your arsenal (if you prefer violent war metaphors).
There are many marketing communication tactics, and this is hardly a comprehensive list. In fact, almost any item on this list could be broken down into more detail, but it’s a start.
Also, I didn’t judge. It goes without saying that many of these tactics don’t apply to start-ups and some of them are legacy marketing tools that don’t apply to most businesses.
That said, it’s a list. Please jump in and add more in comments, and I’ll periodically revise the list.
Account Management – People assigned to farm existing customers provided some value-added service like strategic advice at the same time that the work to develop a relationship to drive more sales into the customer or to drive renewals.
Analyst Relations – Working with industry analyst groups like Gartner and Forrester to build an understanding of the category and product in order to drive inclusion in reports and consulting.
CRM – A tool like salesforce.com that keeps track of prospects, leads, customers and opportunities as they move through the customer acquisition process.
Custom Development/Services –Using professional services to pull a product into an account.
Direct Marketing (Print) – Sending print pieces, gifts, and other items to prospective customers using lists you rent or get through partnerships or build yourself.
Direct Marketing (Email) – Generating emails to prospective customers using lists that are rented or through partnerships with other companies or through lists you’ve built yourself.
Educational Content – Any content on your website that is designed to educate prospective customers about the value of your product. This includes product information, feature lists, product tours, customer case studies, testimonials, etc.
Executive Events – These could include breakfasts, golf trips, etc. that are designed to reach senior executives.
Field Sales – A sales team that is in the field and goes onsite directly with customers to work them through the sales process and close new business. They may hunt customers with their rolodex or handle leads.
Free Product – A free version of the product that customers can use, putting them in a good position to be sold upgrades to premium paid products.
Inbound Marketing/Content Marketing/SEO – Creating content and tools (like ROI calculators) on your website that is high value, key word rich, and indexed by search engines making it easily discoverable. Generally newsletters are also included in this category.
Inside Sales – A sales team that does not travel, but processes leads that are coming through other marketing mechanisms to help close them. Sales people move customers through the buying process including managing trials, generating quotes, and pushing deals to close.
Landing Pages – Creating pages on your website that are specifically designed to convert prospects in trials, registrations, etc. Landing pages are usually tied to other tactics.
Lead Nurturing – (Really should be called prospect nurturing) the process of remaining in touch with prospective customers through automated emails, information, etc. as they move closer to the point at which they are ready to buy.
Lead Scoring – A process of formally scoring prospects based on their profile (e.g. purchase time frame) and their behavior (e.g. time spent on website) in order to identify the best leads for sales.
Loyalty Programs – Rewards in a variety of forms for customers that show loyalty and repeat purchasing of a product.
Online Display Advertising – Banner ads, interactive ads, badges on blog sites like TechCrunch, etc.
Out of Home – Ads that are placed on bill boards the sides of buildings, bath room stalls, etc.
Print Advertising – Advertisements in publications, newspapers, and magazines as well as paid placement in catalogs like skymall etc.
Product Pilots – Working with customers to deploy pilot projects that are fully functional before they expand into larger deployments.
Product Trials – The ability for customers to trial products for a period of time before they need to buy the product. The goal is to get them hooked on the product.
Promotions – Contents, sweepstakes, discount coupons, sales, etc. that engage prospective customers in the brand and encourage them to buy.
Public Relations – Garnering press coverage including articles, mentions in blogs like TechCrunch, feature stories, customer case studies, mentions in trend articles, interviews, product reviews, etc.
Sales Collateral – Datasheets, demos, decks, etc. that the sales team can use to answer questions and give prospects to pass along internally to help through the sales process.
Sales Engineering – A person that is able to work with the sales team to put together custom product demos and prototypes as well as answer technical questions freeing the engineering team to code.
Search Engine Ads – Called Search Engine Marketing (SEM) ads that run along the search results I search engines and optionally distributed through networks to other websites. The most popular is Google AdWords (or AdSense the network approach).
Self-Service Sign-Up – The ability for customers to sign-up, put in a credit card and use the product without having to talk to sales.
Seminars – In person presentations of the product and information that would be useful to draw new customers.
Social Media – Creating and participating in online communities including building twitter followers, FaceBook fans, Linked-In followers, YouTube subscribers, podcast subscribers, participating in discussion groups and forums, and leveraging other peoples communities.
Sponsorships – Sponsoring sports events, exhibits, awards programs, and other programs that reach your target audience.
Telemarketing – Having an outbound calling team that is trying to identify prospects and leads building a database of prospects to target.
Telequalifers /Business Development Reps (BDRs) – A team that is responsible for qualifying prospective customers before they are passed on to a sales team.
Tradeshows – Exhibits sponsorships and pay to play workshops and presentations.
TV Advertising – This can include both 30 second spots as wells as infomercials that present the product in more depth.
Webinars – Online seminars often done with a media partner that has a list, which can be targeted to build an audience for the webinar. After the live webinar usually a recorded version is used for Inbound Marketing.
Website – For most companies the website is the most important marketing tool. A lot of other tactics leverage the website, but there are also specific tactics within website like internal adds, calls to action, promotions, etc.