Digital Marketing for the smart Brand Owner!
More often than not when people talk of Digital Marketing what they really mean is Digital Selling.
While the latter has its use, it is quite different from digital marketing. Confusing the two is mixing up short-term sales gains with long-term consumer gains.
The simplest way to understand Digital Marketing is to recognise it 'as the fountainhead of all activities in the digital space that make a consumer want a brand'. If you break this down you'll find that (1) It is focussed on the consumer, not on the seller. (2) It satisfies or creates consumers' wants (3) It consists of a whole slew of activities, not just e-commerce, and (4) While it is also about sales, it is inherently about the perception of the brand in the consumer's mind which in turn makes the consumer 'want' the brand.
Essentially sales results from satisfying consumer wants rather than from the seller's urgency to get business. If your objective is to quickly sell the products/services your brand offers, you are fulfilling your short-term sales goals and digital selling is a fine option. If however, you intend to treat the digital space like any other marketing opportunity, you need to defer to the fundamentals of marketing or you run the risk of undermining your brand value and eroding its salience.
So what would an actual Digital Marketing exercise be like?
Its focus would be to engage consumers in the digital space. To start with, that would mean easy access to your website from any device. In today's world this means primarily the mobile phone. Given that it is a very small visual area the brand strategist needs to do some serious prioritizing to present what the consumer would want in the opening screen. Most websites designed for larger visual areas like the laptop, use the space to 'tell all' about the site owner and the consumer is expected to find for herself what she wants! Simply re-rendering the voluminous website for a mobile phone will serve only to drive away any customer and not engage her. On the contrary,looking to create a 'mobile first' website could well help a brand or organisation define itself more precisely and succinctly from the consumer point of view. How this can become the cornerstone of a marketing strategy, we will presently see.
Once we see digital as the place where a brand is going to win its future customers, especially true in a country like India where 800 million people or 65% if its total population is under 35 years of age, the brand strategy will be very different. Traditional branding media like press, TV, outdoor etc could now play the role of sending people to the digital platform instead of directly trying to 'position' the brand. Let's look at an example. Let's take a very difficult category to market to youngsters, a Bank. Most youngsters think banking is for 'old' people; it is 'heavy', boring, confusing and only for accountants. It is a necessary evil since salary gets credited directly into the bank! However, it is the young who have high paying jobs, are net savvy and most capable of not just doing banking on the net but also managing all their investments through netbanking. If only they could be engaged!
Here's a Digital Marketing idea for such a result:
Let's say we release a small press ad that says,"Why you shouldn't bank with us if you are under 25." You sign off with www.xyzbank.com and the bank logo. You take the same message to the outdoor media. You make it into a 5 sec TV spot. Create web banners. Google Adwords. Generally a lot of noise on a low budget, since it is just one simple message. What will the effect be? (a) People, both above 25 and below 25, will get curious about the bank. So the bank's brand gets noticed and gains memorability. (b) An existing bank customer will feel excited that his bank is getting noticed. (c) Non-bank consumers, since the message says nothing more, will have to go to the only place where they can find out why under 25's shouldn't bank with xyz bank, the website. (d) Above 25 consumers, even if they are curious will do nothing about it if they are not net savvy; they may visit the site if they are. (e) Very few below 25 will not be net savvy; in any case the idea here is to market netbanking and those not net savvy are not a part of the TG.
Now we have used all media to create curiosity about the bank and drawn them to the one place where we want them to come, the website. This of course will have to be a mobile first website and the landing page will have just 2 buttons, one saying,"If you are under 25" and the other saying "If you are 25 or more". The second button when clicked will take one to the home page. The first button has now landed you a curious non-customer who has got interested in what xyzbank has up its sleeve! Notice that everyone knows that no self-respecting bank would turn down any customer, under 25 or over 90! They just want to find out what the game is.
Now you have the attention of the young under 25 or the not so young but net savvy over 25, ready to consume your story. Give them a convincing story now and you will have consumers who will have chosen you for what you represent. And in the digital arena you have all the space you need and all the tools you need at a fraction of what it will cost you in old world media. What's more, you can reach this customer over and over again since you have now mined the person. You can pummel him/her with all the ways in which they will love you! Digital sales will of course follow and it will be enduring since it is based on brand preference.
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