Why Integrated Media Plans Drive Retail Success

For marketers in today’s constantly connected digital world, no conversation is taken seriously if it doesn’t include something related to digital marketing strategies and tactics. After all, that’s pretty much all that’s left for retail marketers to work with if they want results, right?


The digital-only approach is a misconception that many companies and marketing professionals fall into, and it can wreak havoc on a campaign and deplete a budget in short order.

Of course, digital marketing is important. But the reality is that driving reach in retail requires the strategic interplay of many different tactics—including some you might have considered “dead”—with new options and vendors appearing every day. The reason behind this reality is simple:

Customers don’t hear about you for the first time via Instagram

That is to say, if a customer has never heard of your brand, or if they’re unfamiliar with who you are and what you represent, seeing a passing image in a long stream of passing images on an endless social media feed isn’t going to spark a sale. There’s simply too much information passing through every phone screen to expect digital to accomplish that difficult task on its own.

Other media options do a much better job of establishing that initial contact, forming the top of the conversion funnel for most retail brands, including:

  • TV
  • Radio
  • Print

That’s right, the “Big 3” that digital was supposed to put out of business are still alive, well and vital to a successful retail marketing campaign even today.

TV, radio and print do a better job of creating an emotional response

Consider how effectively a TV commercial can create desire in the mind of a consumer:

From a shiny black luxury sports car whipping around a slick asphalt oval to a beautifully stacked burger dripping ketchup, 30 seconds of stunning visuals, matched with the right music and voiceover, can produce actual physical hunger or other strong, emotional desire. It’s worked for decades. That’s an effect that your average Tweet or Pin can’t match.

Digital video advertising does have nearly the same impact as TV and radio when it comes to creating the customer’s craving for a product. However, it also contains built-in limitations including cost, reach, targeting and competition, making it more complex and a deeper commitment than most digital marketing tactics.

These tactics also translate better for mass distribution

There’s also the matter of creative bandwidth. While the same TV, radio or print ad can run essentially unchanged on thousands of channels nationwide, every digital channel has its own range of optimal formats. Message length, type and size of image, and means of engagement, as well as unique metrics, must be collected and analyzed to determine a campaign’s success. These requirements can make a large-scale, long-term growth campaign highly labor intensive on digital.

Carrying out a digital-only campaign that produces positive ROI requires an intimate understanding of your target market and their online and mobile habits—a subject that’s constantly evolving due to the ever-changing nature of digital platforms and devices. What works on one major social channel will have no effect on another, and may not even be an option on a third. TV, print and radio, on the other hand, have established formats and options that have remained essentially unchanged for decades, making them comfortable for the audience and predictable for the marketer.

Despite all this, digital is still a vital tray in the marketer’s toolbox

Don’t get the wrong idea when we’re discussing the limitations and challenges inherent in digital marketing. These days, under most circumstances, you’d be foolish to invest in a campaign that doesn’t include a digital element. The key is strategic balance, letting the strategy lead the way rather than the tactics.

Digital marketing, unfortunately, lends itself to a common human failing: “Shiny Object Syndrome.”

This is the tendency we all have to be distracted and enticed by the latest “shiny object” and suddenly decide we absolutely must have or use that thing, simply because it’s new and different. While social media channels like Facebook and Snapchat aren’t actually new anymore, they’re constantly evolving and keeping themselves relevant, which keeps them in that “shiny object” category for most people.

As a result, we have a lot of clients who come to us with decisions already made, certain that they have to be on Facebook, Snapchat or (enter the shiny new app of the day) when, in fact, that channel makes little or no sense for their brand or marketing goals. But convincing them that they’d be wasting time and money entering that shiny playing field can be difficult, to say the least.

The smarter, more profitable, choice is to begin with a thorough understanding of your marketing goals, your brand identity and your current assets, then use that information to determine which digital channels offer the best fit and most cost-effective path to success. That’s what we struggle to teach our clients.

And that’s the choice you’ll need to make as a retail marketer who wants to include a smart and effective mix of digital tactics into your marketing strategy.

So, what about next steps?

It’s very easy for retail marketers to waste time, effort and money chasing each new “shiny object” in digital if there isn’t a well-thought-out strategy leading the way.

Creating that strategy requires collecting and analyzing data to determine an optimal mix of channels and formats unique to each brand’s target market, brand authority and budget. Most retailer marketing departments don’t have the tools and know-how necessary to accomplish this, but Blue Onion Media does.

If you’re ready to streamline your retail marketing strategy by leveraging digital data, contact us today to discuss your options.