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Diploma in Business (Marketing)
Unit Number and Title
Unit 18 Advertisement and Promotion Business
The advertising and marketing communication process incorporates various techniques, which are used by companies to sell their products or services. Some of the techniques are, Above the Line (ATL), Below the Line (BTL) and Through the Line (TTL). Some of the factors associated with ATL are that, it entails the usage of media and channels to focus on larger masses and audiences; it involves communication strategies which focus on delivering the intended message to large section of the targeted crowd in least possible efforts. The metrics or measures to evaluate the effect or impact of these ATL communication techniques are very difficult due to the vastness of its nature.
Whereas, BTL communication strategies are the focused and niche oriented with the usage of media channels which deliver the intended message to highly localized set of targeted consumers or customers. The evaluation metrics for the efforts ensued during the BTL communication techniques is very well structured and easily calculable. BTL interaction gives the marketers ability to tailor their messaging in a highly personalized manner to its target audience.
Hereby, we take an example of Sony’s BTL activities and how they were integrated in their integrated promotional strategy
Since, BTL techniques are highly focused; they generate huge response in consumers where the recall value is not high and the consumers rely on current information, rather than pre-researched ones, for example “Touch and Feel” products, like mobile phones and accessories launched by Sony.
Another technique, which is generally involved by the companies like Sony, is of deployment of sales personnel at retail stores and other strategic places for any newly launched products like mobile phones, electronic gadgets etc. this ensures one on one relationship with consumer or client and helps in detailing out the features of the newly launched products and generate trials for it.
Since, BTL promotions also mean non-media promotions and are highly focused in consumer approach, FMCG and electronics giants like Sony are increasingly using this technique, marketers with limited budgets and urgency for gaining short term gains, directed towards consumers, are increasingly using it (Pallakoff, 2001).
Some of the other techniques, which are generally, implemented along with the usual ATL techniques too, i.e. in an integrated marketing communication (IMC) effort or integrated brand promotion (IBP) strategy involving both BTL and ATL are usage of personalized messages sent across to consumers in the form of mails, emails, tweets, chat messages etc. (Shukla, 2010).
Highly channelized technique, which has emerged nowadays in the BTL segment due to emergence of technology, is of “Mobile or Smartphone marketing”. This technology helps marketers from brands like Sony to focus on their targeted audiences, like youth and professionals, who are extremely mobile too, through the usage of Mobile Apps (applications) which can be of any generic utility nature, but ensures delivery of highly customized messages to the users about the company, i.e. Sony and its products (Ambler, 2003)
Cosmetics Giants like Revlon, Lakme, P&G and Unilever etc. have started using many above mentioned BTL techniques and have started devicing and implementing various integrated promotional strategies to pronmote their brand. The main focus of all these brands have been user engagement through promotional exercises. The engagement medium and platform has traditionally been marketplace, surveys or tradeshows, which is now shifting to Social Media and Online platform. All these companies have launched their comprehensive marketing tactics for Social Media and Online promotions, huge budgets have been allocated to it. Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Whatsapp, Websites, Blogs and E-Commerece etc. have all become their favorite hunting grounds. Mobility has become another key area of impetus. Mobile based Apps and online apps for using and applying all the cosmetics virtually, for all the clients have been some of the major gamechangers. Color combination and relative permutations on makeups (virtual) have become huge and instant hits with consumers these days of these companies.
For an organization like Sony, apart from the above mentioned below the line techniques (BTL), there are few other examples too, which they can use to garner sales in short term and impact on their consumers. The primary BTL techniques mentioned above in the case of Sony, during the present day (after the advent of the various ICT measures) period and based on the maximum impact generated are, Focused Sales personnel, Touch & Feel, Mailing/Emailing & messaging customized promotions and Mobile or Smartphone marketing. Some of the other techniques apart from these ones, which are highly channelized in their approach, cost less and generate maximum short term returns with customized impacts are as follows –
Rebates or Promotional pricings – Nowadays, companies like Sony on the launch of their new products like, Xperia series of Smartphone, make agreements and tie-ups with E-Commerce websites or retail companies and some exclusive retail chain companies and outlets to promote some promotional (competitive) pricing for their product before its launch and try to garner as much interest as possible from the consumers. The bookings are done by the consumers before the launch of the products, based on the only information available to them on internet and through brochures and pamphlets, because of the slightly lower price or extra discounts on a newly launched phone.
Coupons, Trade-ins and Loyalty programs – Similar to the above business strategy, Sony also tie-up with various financial instrument providing companies and banks etc. for providing some extra discounts to their loyal set of customers, who have add-on facilities of the agreeing financial institution like credit cards, debit cards and bank accounts with privileged membership. The partnering financial institution bears the extra discount cost or at-least guarantees certain number of pre-orders of the newly launched product in return of the discount offered to their customers, in terms of coupons, trade-ins and loyalty programs
Contests and Engagement exercises – These are the BTL techniques where consumers are directly involved in some sort of promotional activity by the company itself, like Sony sponsored contests and matches. These are events where some kind of game or contest is played involving consumers and the resultant winner is prized with the newly launched product, this whole activity garners a whole lot of media coverage and interest of other consumers
Demonstrations, Free Sampling/Trials, Personal appearances and Sponsorships – These are some of the last few techniques of BTL communication strategy involving various measures as cleared from their names. The most important among all these, is Sponsorship, which is a huge part of any company’s marketing or advertising budget like Sony’s. Giving sponsorship or financial awards and cash etc. to an event like sports match, live shows, movies, serials, college events and company events etc. is a massive exercise under the BTL activity and helps in highly focused depiction of company products, intentions, ideas, values and future strategies and hence generate a huge impact on targeted consumers (Smith, 2004)
Integrated advertising promotion Strategy is considered to be a cohesive approach using various media channels, like, digital, print, internet, etc. various communication techniques, like ATL, BTL and TTL etc. various marketing methods, various marketing communication processes etc.
An integrated approach to address the total target set of one’s own consumers, by companies like Sony for their any product, existing or new launch and which will also affect their sales, revenues, re-purchases, customer lifetime value, customer lifetime etc. incorporates multiple communication channels and strategies and come under IMC or IPS. To undertake this unified approach, any organization, for example, Sony, requires a handsome amount of money or cash as their budget, which is known as IMC Budget. The process of allocation of this budget to various tasks and de-structuring as per the combined IPS is known as Budgeting, this can be undertaken by the company itself, like Sony, or by any management consultant, who does all the report work for them beforehand like Accenture or Boston Consulting Group and finally the Full service advertising agencies like WPP, Publicis and Omnicom etc. Budgeting for any integrated promotional strategy involves a series or a number of steps like as follows –
Promotional plan is an integral part of a marketing plan holistically. Though it is an important document, it not only includes a company’s market evaluation, goals, direction and marketing result, it has complete breakdown and structure with chronological flowchart of efforts to be undertaken under the heading of positioning in the overall scheme of marketing things, i.e. STP A typical approach generally includes –
Taking an example of an automotive major, such as Audi or BMW, we can analyze in the following way, their marketing plan and steps followed in development of the plan for these companies and their products.
Considering the case of Sony, we have learnt about the various promotional techniques followed by them, i.e. above the line (ATL), below the line (BTL) and through the line (TTL) etc. and the development of a promotional strategy for them (the steps involved).
Now during the process of promotional strategy or a promotional plan, the main step is to identify the right ix of promotional set, i.e. deciding on all the possible set of advertisement channels and Medias. This process is done in consideration with certain factors like, last year’s promotional mix, ROI on different channels last year, developments over the past year, new upcoming and emerging technologies and interventions cropped up during the past one year and finally the current economic situation and financial constraints and overall budget available with the marketing team for allocation. In the case of Sony, we can very well deduce as per their previous year’s records and performances that –
For ATL techniques – They have always relied heavily on media based communication techniques targeted towards a large section of masses, with the usage of such processes their target audience set has always been huge. In all the countries of its operations, Sony’s annual budget on advertisements based on TV or Radio with billboards, Newspapers and magazines have been huge. This has clearly paid a rich dividend to them in past and hence should keep on having the larger chunk of their budgetary allocation, but the percentage increase from last year’s number shouldn’t be there, instead of increasing overall budgetary allocation for marketing department, i.e. because of incorporation of new upcoming methods of promotions.
For BTL techniques – Apart from all the techniques, discussed above in the BTL communication strategies that can be adopted by Sony, they should allocate the largest chunk of difference in last year’s and this year’s marketing budgetary allocation, i.e. the increase in their marketing budget from last year, should go only to new emerging BTL techniques of communication like Mobile marketing and Web based usage of marketing (Fill, 2002).
Sony’s marketing mix (Borden, 1964) for a product named, Xperia (Smartphone) and subsequent evaluation of campaign effectiveness can be ascertained as –
Pricing Policy – Wide range of pricing models available, the pricing is done based on geographies and product variants.
Distribution Policy – Distribution all across the countries of operations for Sony Corp. distribution channel comprising of locally selected models of vendors, retailers, wholesalers and distributors.
Communication Mix – It includes, branding, promotions, channel sales, tie-ups, merchandising and all other marketing activities. The advertisement and promotional strategies included a comprehensive ATL, BTL and TTL techniques being implemented by Sony and discussed above (Lavidge, 1961). The effectiveness of their campaign can be measured by following appropriate techniques –
Advertising and Brand promotion exercises are the integral part of the 4Ps or the marketing mix of an organization, which comes under their positioning efforts for their existing or newly launched products or services. An effective promotional planning, budgeting and implementation is very much essential for the success of any marketing campaign for any product or service of any organization. Hereby, in the case of Sony, we learned about their various efforts and strategies related with integrated marketing communication or integrated promotional strategy. It has been found to be very effective and rewarding for them as it has always met their ROI, Revenue and impact measurement on their consumers to create a super brand known as Sony.
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