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Guest Column: Brands must create active users united by shared ideas, interests and experiences: Sabia Gulati

08-July-2017
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Guest Column: Brands must create active users united by shared ideas, interests and experiences: Sabia Gulati


In recent times, communicating with consumers for brands has undergone massive change. It is an ever-evolving process with customer’s tastes changing dynamically, making the marketplace more complex and cluttered. Striking a regular conversation with them through integration of multiple channels has become vital to organisations. In this highly dominated world of social media, the campaign needs to be more effective with a powerful message so that it has recall. No longer is it enough to develop content solely to attract eyeballs. Now, you must create active users united by shared ideas, interests and experiences who become return customers for brands.





Today’s customer places a greater weight on direct motivations to buy or experience a product. Given that, the marketers are shifting from their traditional approach of just awareness creation to engagement and building relationships. Marketing personnel are increasingly working on cross-disciplinary terms to impact and delight customers who remain loyal to them for a longer period. This creates some kind of a brand association that is almost impossible to dilute with time.





To reap the benefits, a brand must understand the changing forces impacting its industry, the marketplace and customers. The traditional four P’s of marketing are the same but their implementation has become more personalised, native and technology driven. The age of social media has allowed for a new era where the target audience has instant access to information and has the freedom to express their opinion. As such, the whole strategy isn’t just developed around the brand representing itself but also for people’s perception. For e.g. in case of Madame Tussauds’, we are also strategising our communication for people to make them believe that it is an ‘attraction’ and is much more than just a perceived museum. Hence, creating effective content both in the form of words and in the shape of visuals is important as this is how the brand is perceived and received.





In addition, advent of social media marketing, which has become a great marketing discipline, we are also witnessing the trend of content co-creation (by brand and customers together). It has also increased the level of transparency between a brand and its consumers. They demand better engagement from brands and so marketers create carefully coordinated campaigns and conversations where a customer can have a genuine impression about the product. It is essential for a brand to create a story and if this fails, the brand fails.





Virtual reality, live video (visual story telling) and dedicated mobile strategy are some of the key tools for personalisation of communication with customers. Market analysts predict digital video consumption will replace television in the future and the return on its investment will make it worthwhile. Brands are investing on what truly engages with audiences, video being the most effective tool. Video content is enabling digital agencies to leverage their expertise and expand horizons by becoming content producers, curating personalised stories in the form of web series, live video streaming and micro experience videos.





Another trend which is in vogue is ‘influencer marketing’. Recent results show growth in influencer popularity and thus, influencer marketing has become one of the hottest tools for marketers. More brands are discovering the power of using effective storytellers who are bringing innovative customer engagement ideas and concepts in comparison to paid or owned media. A successful influencer creates engaging conversation for brands. Viral posts can generate millions of views for brands and earn incredible engagement from consumers. This is the fastest growing channel for customer acquisition and is cost effective too.





Marketing has always been a field that remains on the cutting edge from branding, customer service to constant dialogue in between. With the onset of new digital trends, companies are looking beyond traditional assumptions and theories. They are moving away from mass market ideas as relationships, partnerships and alliances are defining the marketing today. Companies are even customising the traditional marketing programmes and concepts to suit individuals and groups. These are also not being implemented in isolation but are amplified via modern communication methods. Marketers have moved towards a more integrated planning of digital and traditional activities. This is one of the ideal ways to function, because it helps in serving today’s complex consumer purchase behavior through multiple channels.





Going forward, things are becoming more interesting as brands now have more ways to stand out than ever before. The more our customer behaviour and expectations change, the more we must adjust the approach to successfully continue to reach and amaze them to grow a business.







The author is Sabia Gulati, Head Sales & Marketing, Merlin Entertainments India Pvt. Ltd.





Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com.

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