During tough economic conditions, when companies tighten their purse strings and take very measured steps for marketing strategies, it is perhaps time to look for inspiration in unconventional places.
One such source is Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Dubbed by media as the ‘poster boy of Hindutva’, Modi has enjoyed his equal share of notoriety and tremendous adulation. But what cannot be ignored is his growing popularity, and if media reports are to be believed, the BJP Parliamentary Board is set to meet soon to formalise the decision to name Modi as the party’s Prime Ministerial nominee for the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections.
Carefully thought-through communication strategies have helped Modi expand his base. We, at exchange4media, think there are some valuable marketing lessons that can be learnt from Modi, especially to surge ahead during tough economic times.
Here is a look at them...
Be a constant innovator
Innovations need to be pulled out of the hat all the time. For instance, during a recent BJP rally in Hyderabad, people were charged an entry fee of Rs 5 to listen to Modi’s address. According to the Gujarat Chief Minister, with this the party is delivering a paradigm shift in the political landscape. The funds from the rally are being donated to the flood-ravaged state of Uttarakhand. But the BJP’s agenda is to prove the popularity of its front-runner for Prime Minister.
Marketing lesson: During difficult times, brands need to understand that innovations in pricing will attract consumers. They will remember the brand for what it did for them during the tough times and will be loyal in the long-run.
Strike when the iron is hot
When Modi’s proactive step to help evacuate 15,000 Gujaratis from flood-affected Uttarakhand in two days came under fire from various quarters, the news stunned many.
Media investigated to find out if it was true. According to various reports, the Gujarat Disaster Management Authority (GDMA) has become a professional institution, capable of responding to natural or man-made disasters. It has a 24x7 monitoring system and well-publicised helpline numbers known to Gujaratis – both in the country and abroad. Modi has succeeded in conveying to the citizens of Gujarat that the government is always there to serve them. That is why the first response of Gujaratis anywhere in the world is to contact the Chief Minister’s office if they are caught in a calamity.
Marketing lesson: Winning the trust of consumers should be the fundamental focus of brands. Brands shouldn’t turn their backs during crisis; in fact, they need to strategise aggressively to make sure that they are with the consumers all the time.
Be a digital expert
The role of digital in any marketing communication can no longer be ignored. The faster the brands get on to digital media, the better for them.
According to a report released by Blogworks, since January 2013, mentions of Narendra Modi have seen the highest and most consistent increase; for all other politicians, the shift in mentions has been fluctuating topically every month. Modi’s online mention is said to have increased by 126 per cent since then.
Modi is arguably one of the most tech-savvy Chief Ministers in India. He is the first Indian politician to have around 2,263,674 followers on micro-blogging site Twitter. He has at over 3,598,400 likes on his Facebook page. Early last year, he launched iPad and iPhone applications that lead to his blogs, speeches, books and images. He is all over Google+ Hangout, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube and many other social media platforms. In fact, his official website is one of the most organised political web properties. He has a dedicated digital media team that constantly updates content in his diverse digital network.
Last year, Modi claimed that for the first time in the world, an election campaign was being launched using 3D technology and telecast in four places simultaneously.
Marketing lesson: It is very necessary for brands to choose their media wisely. In the digital ecosystem, social media is relatively the cheapest communication vehicle. Brands should buckle up to create impressive impressions that will be value for money as well.
Create a direct rapport with the TG
According to various media reports, Modi is scaling up his campaign as the General Elections inch closer. Pulling out all stops to make the BJP's Mission 272-plus a reality - which is vital to his Prime Ministerial dream - Modi will hold mega rallies across the country over the next two months.
He recently also encouraged the massive crowd present at the Lal Bahadur Stadium in Hyderabad to say in US President Barack Obama style – ‘Yes we can’ and ‘Yes we’ll do’ – which the people happily responded to.
Marketing lesson: During difficult times, it is better for brands to take to on-ground activities for several reasons. Mass media vehicles might not always help in creating return on investments. Brands generate better results via on-ground activities.
Practice what you preach
Modi is considered to be a strong opinionated politician. His ‘Hindutva’ ideology has also fetched him extreme criticism and hate from some factions of the Indian society. Now, Modi is trying to alter his line of thought for the new generation, which involves calling himself a ‘Hindutva Nationalist’.
Marketing lesson: It is very difficult if a brand undergoes changes in its approach during tough times just to gain the attention of consumers. It is better that brands stick to their long running propositions instead.