Advertising, in its original form, was intended to inform, persuade and remind consumers of products and services available in the marketplace. It was a one-way form of communication with the advertiser in complete control, pushing out the information the brand wanted shared. At the turn of the 20th Century, product orientation controlled marketing strategy with companies focusing on internal resources to build a product with no personalization available that would be advertised to the masses. As competition increased after World War II, companies began investing more in a sales orientation to reach out to masses on a more personal level. As the 1980’s and 90’s rolled around, the relationship marketing orientation became more popular. Brands started segmenting the population to identify and define a target audience allowing for more personalized products and services, with variations of prices to meet different target audiences, and delivered through multiple channels. Advertising started to become more relationship-based due to the proliferation of technology and the Internet.
When considering all the customer touch points available to marketers, one must keep in mind that IMC must consider the value of all touch points and incorporate tactics that will deliver the brand’s message at various points across multiple media at just the right time. Advertising is definitely part of the those touch points and should not be dismissed as valuable. If advertising tactics are developed to support nontraditional tactics – and visa versa – the chances of the customer hearing the brand’s message is increased and enhanced.
Technology continues to move people and brands forward and, as a result, advertising must also keep up in order be effective. Now that relationships are being formed between customers and brands, it is up to advertising to take the next step… engagement. Kumar and Gupta (2016) proclaimed that the future of advertising will require a focus on engagement with consumers. They posit that “advertising messages serve more as helpful and relevant tips to consumers as part of their decision process, rather than sponsored intrusions” (p. 313). As part of this strategic IMC plan, instead of trying to draw customers into a certain part of the purchase decision process, advertising communications must meet the customer at the place they are in the purchase decision process to provide them with the information they are seeking at that particular point in time.
So, don’t discount advertising just yet. Yes…. marketing communication is evolving and changing, and at a pace that is challenging to keep up with, I might add. But don’t disregard the TV commercial, radio spot and print ad as valuable in your IMC plan. Missing an opportunity to communicate with customers is missing an opportunity for a potential sale.
What are your thoughts about the value of advertising in today’s integrated marketing communication world?