BT Group plc, doing business as BT (British Telecom), is one of the world's largest telecommunication services providers. It is the largest multinational telecommunication corporation in the United Kingdom. BT has business operations in more than 170 countries around the Globe and offers its services to all types of consumers; including households, small and medium enterprises, large business corporations, and public sector entities. Incorporated in 1980 (with Electric Telegraph Company, General Post Office, and Post Office Telecommunications as its predecessors), BT has become one of the largest, and the most innovative and competitive communication services provider in the world. It is headquartered in BT Centre, London, UK and operates with workforce strength of around 90,000 employees worldwide (BT PLC, 2013).
Products and Services:
The major products and services of the company include Phone services (Phone line & broadband packages, 08 & 09 numbers, Business phone lines, Conferencing, ISDN lines, VoIP (calls using broadband), Hosted VoIP, etc.); Broadband & internet (Standard, Superfast, BT net Leased Line, Broadband and phone line packages); IT services (for large businesses, cloud and data Centre solutions, IT Support Manager, BT PC Security, pricing calculator); Networking solutions (IP VPN services, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), Ethernet services, Structured cabling, etc.); Phone systems (BT Quantum, Avaya IP Office, Mitel 3300); Mobile (Handset and Tariff options); and websites & domains (BT Web hosting, BT eShop, and Online marketing solutions) (BT, 2013).
BT TV (DIGITAL TELEVISION SERVICE)
BT TV is an innovative digital television service offered by BT primarily for the household consumers. It comes with different TV packages and features; including 70 digital television and radio channels, catch-up TV including BBC iPlayer with record, pause, and rewind options. Optional features of the service include BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2, ESPN, and Sky Sports (vision + box) for sports lovers; Kids Extra (kinds channels like Disney, Boomerang, Cartoon Network, etc.), High-Definition (HD) Extra option for most favorite TV channels, Film & TV Box Sets (dramas, documentaries, and comedies), Box Office and Sky Movies for specified channels, and movies on demand option (BT, 2013).
BT TV COMMUNICATION APPROACHES
BT TV is one of the most liked and appreciated services of the BT Group worldwide. It not only comes with crystal clear display and innovative features, but also offers high level of customizability and convenience to the users. BT uses an aggressive approach to advertise its digital TV to the household consumers due to extremely stiff competition from other top telecommunication companies like Verizon (BT, 2013). The most widely used communication channels and marketing approaches for BT TV are discussed below:
i. Television Ads:
Television advertising is currently the most expensive marketing medium for BT TV. The company realizes that this channel reaches the broadest target audience in all small and large cities, towns, and rural areas as compared to all other communication mediums (BT, 2013; Sweney 2007).
ii. Newspaper Ads:
BT TV is promoted on all the major daily newspapers and weekly magazines in the local and international markets. Newspaper has also proved to be an effective marketing medium for BT TV due to its vast geographical reach and high level of readers' involvement. Unlike television ads, newspapers give more time to the readers to understand the primary message delivered by the marketer. For its digital television service, BT expends a huge amount on newspaper and magazine advertising (BT, 2013).
iii. Celebrity Endorsements:
BT has recently asked Robin van Persie (striker from Manchester United PLC) to be a part of its advertising campaigns. The company has taken the services of this sports celebrity to promote its BT TV sports on television campaigns, billboards and poster advertising, sports magazines, newspapers, and other marketing mediums (Howes 2013).
iv. Billboards and Posters:
Billboards and posters are among the most widely used marketing channels of the BT Group. For its digital television services, BT uses large size billboards with extremely high definition colored photographs -- mostly featuring celebrities from sports and showbiz. The purpose of this heavy advertisement is to promote new features in the digital television services; like addition of high-definition sports TV channels, innovative features, and day by day expanding geographical reach of the service (Bloomberg 2013).
v. E-Commerce and Internet Advertising:
The company uses various communication approaches for its digital television services on this huge platform. The use of comprehensive e-commerce website accompanied by expensive advertisements on third party marketing websites and social media networking sites has made the Internet platform highly effective in promoting BT TV in the local and international markets. The company's official website www.bt.com gives a comprehensive overview of all the products and services. The online ordering information, frequently asked questions (FAQs) section, and customer queries make this a very useful platform for the consumers from all aspects. BT advertises its digital television service on social media networking sites like YouTube, Facebook, twitter, etc. which are quite effective in delivering marketing messages to the youth and professional target audience (BT, 2013).
Besides all the aforementioned communication approaches, BT has a huge network of business associates and partners that provide its essential raw material, technological equipment, and IT related services to operate at the Global level. These strategic business partners also promote its services in potential areas in the local and international markets (BT PLC, 2013).
TARGETED CONSUMER SEGMENTS FOR BT TV
BT Television is offered primarily for the general household consumers. However, its potential target audience includes individuals (households), clubs, hotels, restaurants, discount shops, and consumer goods markets. BT offers a wide range of television and radio channels that explicitly meet the demands of all types of consumers. The channels range from sports, entertainment, comedy, music, movies, current affairs, informative, and documentaries -- thus, satisfying all age groups and social classes of the community in all geographical regions. The major targeted segments for BT TV are people with age groups between 6-15 (for Kids entertainment channels), 16-22 (for sports, movies, and music), and 23-onward (for sports, movies, music, documentaries, and current affairs). The BT TV equally targeted both genders and all income classes of the society. However, its major targeted segment is the people that belong to upper middle and high income groups due to its premium pricing strategies (BT, 2013).
COMMUNICATION APPEALS USED FOR BT TV
Communication appeals are those elements, components, or ingredients of marketing communication approaches that are used to attract potential consumers in a more effective and aggressive way. BT TV is promoted in such a way that it appears as the most innovative digital television service in front of the consumers. For example, the strongest communication appeal is the company's brand promise for BT TV. BT claims to be offering digital television service that comes with a crystal clear display, extreme enjoyment, and high level of customizability and convenience.
The second most widely used communication appeal is the competitiveness of BT TV over other digital TV brands. BT promises to deliver services that are unmatchable in the market. Now consumers can enjoy digital graphics and displays without any distortions and signal issues due to bad weather conditions or communication failure. Moreover, BT promises to keep its services innovative by installing the most advanced telecommunication systems, satellite systems, and fiber optic networking (BT, 2013).
There are a number of pros and cons of these communication appeals. First of all, the brand promises and marketing messages delivered by BT through different communication approaches have set the expectations of target consumers at a very high level. Any type of connection failure or technical mishap in the installed systems can disappoint these consumers. Secondly, there are various other telecommunication services providers in the market which also promise to be the most innovative companies in this particular service. Making the consumers believe on BT TV has become quite difficult for the company. Thirdly, despite a comprehensive e-commerce website being operated by the company, BT TV consumers still face difficulties while searching for different packages, subscription and monthly charges, and maintenance costs. This thing shows that BT advertisements are not effective enough to give detailed information to the target audience.
POSITIONING OF BT TV
BT has positioned its digital television services according to the creative brand positioning strategy which primarily focuses on bringing new and innovative features in the service. Instead of striving to outclass the competition from the market, this positioning strategy gives more emphasis on taking the first mover advantage. It can only be done if the company introduces new features in its existing products or services far before than its competitors. In this way, it gives the first mover advantage to the firm against its industry rivals.
In this case, BT has not gained first mover advantage in all the features of this service. The communication approaches and appeals used by BT to promote this (BT TV) service also reveal that it uses a combination of competitive positioning and creative positioning strategy in both local and international markets. Television advertisements, celebrity endorsements, billboards, posters, and social media marketing…