Creating powerful, relevant and timely marketing communications can be a daunting process with no guarantee of success. Follow the five tips below when planning your next campaign in order to help stack the odds in your favour.

1. Does your communication solve your customer’s problem by offering relevant benefits?
The first thing you need to consider is what is the current problem/issue that your target audience are experiencing? It has to be a real problem that is causing them some level of dissatisfaction, otherwise they will show little interest in your proposed solution. You then have to present your solution to this problem: focussing on the benefits your product/ service can bring to the lives of your target audience – as opposed to just rattling off a list of product features. By focusing on a valid problem and showing how you can overcome it with meaningful benefits, your communications will have a much greater chance of ‘cutting through’ to your target audience.

2. Is it targeted at the right people?
You need to make sure that your communications are aimed at people who are experiencing the specific problem that your product can solve – ideally people who have already shown an interest in your product category. By trying to appeal to everyone using a single communications approach, the danger is that it will be so bland that you will end up appealing to no-one.

3. Does your communication contain a ‘big creative idea’?
It must attract the attention of your prospective customer (ie the ‘prospect’) by drawing their attention to either the problem they are encountering or the solution that you are offering them. The big creative idea brings the communication to life and adds human interest. It engages your audience by placing your benefit in the context of an interesting story.

4. How is your product/ service ‘positioned’ versus the competition?
What do your target audience already think about your product, the brand, what existing advertisers stand for and what you stand for? Your benefits should be expressed in relation to these recognized beliefs. You should be aiming to create a unique position for your product/ brand in the prospect’s mind, relative to that of your competitors (and to the category leader in particular). However, your audience will not be responsive to your message if you contradict their current beliefs, telling them that all their current perceptions are wrong!

5. Have you planned out the briefing process to your design agencies/ third-party suppliers?
Sufficient time should be allocated up front to writing an effective marketing communications brief – a good brief has a clear focus and flow, and is written with real flair. It inspires the agency, leaving no doubt as to what is required. It is advisable that the written brief is followed up with a face-to-face briefing session, where the agency should be encouraged to give you their honest views on your ‘problem/ benefit’ proposition, and you should be prepared to work with them to refine it where necessary. Precisely because they are not as close to your product as you are, they can often help ground your ideas in reality when necessary!

Rob Hardy is a marketing communications consultant and author of ‘Successful Marketing Communications’ – (available on Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks).