We have seen a transition from push to pull marketing, with consumers sifting through myriad brand messages to pick ones that engage them in newer and more meaningful ways. Brands of the future need to come out of their comfort zone, move beyond conventional media and leverage all available tools on the Internet. The smarter brands are already innovating and integrating experiences by doing simple things like “Follow us on Twitter”, “Join us on Facebook” and so on.
Here are some things a brand can do to build itself into a long term player with serious market equity.
Make digital media an integral part of marketing: Many companies have a disparate social media strategy. Their online and offline initiatives don’t talk to each other. The key is to bring all online and social media efforts together into one integrated strategy that positively impacts the company’s bottomline. Brands do not require a standalone digital marketing strategy, but a brand strategy that plays across traditional and digital marketing. Successful brands believe in the power of the digital media and are working on developing a holistic integrated marketing communication solution rather than a piecemeal foray.
Co-opt social into digital: The digital medium is an exciting new world, where confident brands will deliver real connect. You can advertise in a social media environment, but the true return on investment comes from developing communities, creating content to be shared, talking and listening to consumers. It is critical for companies to understand the amazing power of the medium and marry it with the DNA of their brand. Great brands will always be the ones that have an inherent ability to anticipate needs, innovate and build unique business models.
Rich media is the way to go: Consumers are bombarded with information when they are online. A brand has to figure out how to capture consumers’ attention when they are online and directly engage with them. If you want an online presence that truly can’t be missed, rich media is the way to go. A point in case is the campaign for the movie ‘Jaane Tu..Ya Jaane Na’. Before the movie’s release, advertising had Imran Khan interact with the user on his desktop. In just two days, Facebook served total impressions to the tune of 6.1 million! No doubt, rich media is seen as one of the most effective online advertising tactics today.
Customise your messages: Brands need to realise that by not tailoring their message, they are wasting a prime opportunity for consumer engagement in the digital media. Each medium is different. Depending on your target audience, you should use the appropriate message to reach out to them. Customise your message on the basis of the site you are going to market it on. You can’t just run TV or print ads on the web. You need to customise your proposition, make it interactive and tell a compelling story for the user to initiate them into action. It’s important, now more than ever, to have a targeted message further your brand goals.
Narrowcast: The days of “spray-and-pray” campaigns are over. You need to take the guesswork out of your marketing campaigns and narrowcast your message, wherever possible, to receive the return on investment you deserve. Narrowcasting your message effectively differentiates your brand and ensures that the content is relevant to its intended audience.
Get the right audience fit: The digital medium is built on the fact ‘One size doesn’t fit all’. Social media has spoiled us in a way. We all want what we want, when we want it and we want it customised to our preferences. Consumers demand to be heard, acknowledged and treated as individuals. Brands need to listen to what’s out there, identify and understand their target audience. They need to “individualise” their brand’s approach, offerings and message.
Be Innovative: Brands need to realise that consumers are constantly being hit with marketing messages, and their message may be lost among the clutter. Innovation is the key in the digital space. Your message is important, equally important is how you convey it and conversely, how it is received. You need to stand out from the competition, which means moving beyond the standard banner ads. Your communication needs to be more interactive. You need to tell a compelling story that engages your audience. Think out-of-the-box and the world will be your oyster.
(Sanjay Trehan is Head, MSN India.)