“What is a marcom strategy and why do I need one for continuing education?” you might ask yourself. Sounds like a buzz word right? Marcom or marketing communications, is the branch of marketing that decides what messaging you’ll use, directed at whom, and on what channels you’ll place those messages. Marketing’s overall functions include: audience segmentation, demographic and psychographic research, and decisions on product, price, distribution, and promotion.
Marcom decides what your marketing message is going to be and where your messages are going to be placed. They determine where your audience is most likely to be reached, and what they need to know.
So, if your association is marketing continuing education (CE) to members and nonmembers, it’s going to need a marcom strategy based on detailed market research and a solid marketing plan.
Step 1: Define the message
If your association provides CE credits, you’re half way to your goal already. You know your members require these credits to maintain professional certifications. But, they can go elsewhere to obtain those credits, so based on who your members are and what they need, you have to come up with messaging that resonates with them giving them not just reasons to come to you, but solutions to their problems. What are their pain points? What frustrates them? Use this information to come up with a marketing message that demonstrates that you understand them and have the solution to their problems.
Step 2: Decide on which channels to use
Using your psychographic and demographic information, decide which channels your message is most likely to reach your target audience on. For example, you might use your email database to send an email blast to your members. If they’ve opted in, you can assume your marketing message will reach your target audience there. If your audience is older, you might consider print advertising like magazines and industry publications to get your message into their hands.
Step 3: Decide your approach
Will you take an integrated marketing approach essentially putting the same marketing message on all the channels you’ve chosen or will each channel have a different message to target different types of audiences? For example, will you use your blog to reach analytic types to show that you’re a thought leader in your industry? Will you use social media to reach younger demographics? If so, will you present the same message to them both? You might if your message is advertising a specific promotion, but what if your goal is simply awareness and brand recognition? No matter the approach, make sure you are staying true to the association’s brand standards maintaining logos, fonts, and general principles that define the association across all channels.
Step 4: Decide your budget and implementation strategies
No one likes the dreaded “B” word, but we all have to stick within our marketing budgets. So while you might wish you could afford place an ad in the Wall Street Journal, you have to consider where you can reach the most people for the least cost to produce the greatest ROI.
Additionally, you have to decide on a timeline and decide who is taking ownership of which marketing initiatives. Will you assign someone to create post cards to mail out to members announcing a new promotion? When is the best time to mail that? Will that be handled by an advertising team? What about your blog? Should advertising write the blog or should that come from a team of writers?
Ultimately your goal is to get people to buy, join, or otherwise look upon your association with favor, and your marcom strategy is the key to achieving those goals. So sit down with your marketing team and put your marketing plan to work by creating a marcom strategy for your CE initiatives.
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