Guest Column: Completing the full marketing circle: Sharad Gupta
Gupta explains how the right marketing mix can help brands achieve their targets
With the ever growing competition in today’s marketing domain, business set-ups need to significantly carve their own niche. They need to be different and try to cull out their own value propositions and uniqueness in their verticals. And to garner their share in the opportunity pie, businesses need a unique, yet rational, marketing strategy or go-to market engines.
The strength of any marketing strategy lies in the composition of its marketing mix-- the share of Above the Line, Below the Line, Through the Line or CRM, Activation or Trade Push, Experiential Marketing, Direct Marketing, PR, and the biggest of them all, Social Media Engagement.
Brands need to plan their marketing budget keeping in view the size of their business, geographies already covered or aspired, revenue and profit models, product life circles and vision for next five years.
Your marketing budget need not be more than 1-3% of your revenue and should be spent smartly and in a well-balanced fashion, within the right vehicles and through the right media. I have tried to create a proportion, based on critical elements that should be followed with a keen sense of your requirements. (Mind you, the circle represents an ideal composition but the proportions can still vary depending on your offerings, geographical spread & scale)
The 3Ms – Marketing, Mix, Model
Brands have been and will always be constrained on their marketing budgets and would thus try and manage the conventional media to give them the right returns on their investment and thereby completely miss the bigger picture of today’s marketing strengths. This is where smart investment comes into play.
My suggestion is that you get low on electronic as well as print Above the Line investment, as the mediums will occupy a large portion of your budget, cater to mass, create an overlap and still might not hit the targeted segment or audience with the desired action. Rather, integrate more activation and channel/distribution based programmes which will spread the gospel on your behalf to the targeted customer segment. In case of direct business, one can easily get visibility by participating in events like trade shows and exhibitions, along with organizing and hosting own events and customer connect capsules.
Today, customers are not bothered about what the brand says or does. What really impacts customers these days is how the brand makes them feel. Face-to-face interaction, buzz creation and then helping the customer connect with the brand’s usage or salience emotionally is what is described as experiential marketing. It is about connecting consumers with brands through live one-to-one experiences, thus, creating personal and relevant memories. So, one should aggressively practice Experiential Marketing or one-on-one marketing (showcase, demonstration and usage) with customers for an emotional connect and brand feel. This is reasonably effective and has the intricate power of getting viral, organically and in-organically.
Direct Marketing, generally done through direct mailers, EDMs, white papers, customer case studies and testimonies, brings out a lot of value and awareness for your product or service offerings and targets primarily the prospects, who in turn, have the capacity and interest to use the line of offerings. This is in-expensive, well directed and highly pervasive and covers almost the entire periphery of right suspects and prospects. Well directed Call-to-Actions and connect modes make it easier for the prospects to engage with you directly.
Needless to say, PR should be an integral constituent of your marketing mix as it is cost-friendly, credible and a potent medium to reach the target audience within the right circles, in right geographies, through relevant media channels, offline and online.
Brands, however big or small, have understood the imperative integration of PR in their go-to-marketing strategy and have been spending increasingly to tap this correctly in their spend composition. Common activities include speaking at conferences, winning industry awards, working with the press and employee communication. PR acts as a powerful tool to create a desired brand equity and salience.
In-film integration and personality brand mapping have also become a great way to position a brand to cater to a target group (TG) which relates to that personality. Today, more and more brands are using this medium and covering both, urban and rural audience, offline and online, at a very nominal cost in comparison to brand endorsements.
Over the years, varied forms of endorsing have surfaced, one of which is through a desired face. Brands, today, have formed barter associations among themselves and celebrities to increase the reach of their products/services and persuade the TG that admires the chosen celebrity to buy them. Magazine cover shoots are a perfect example of the same.
Basis my experience in the industry so far, my personal recommendation to companies is that they should get very active and targeted in respect with Social Media Engagement as this segment offers a plethora of platforms to reach out to the targets.
Facebook connects end customers and geographies instantly. LinkedIn forums and communities give a lot of B2B access and engagement. Twitter handles can connect the brand to millions of influencers and bloggers can push your offerings. YouTube has also become a strong parallel electronic channel and broadcasting engine for all audio visuals and product videos.
I feel that there is so much one can do in this particular field. But what all companies must ensure today is to get into Smart Marketing, which I like to call ‘Smarketing’. If they are able to get this marketing mix balanced, they will be able to leverage their marketing budgets well, engage with their customers effectively and push the brand salience with greater impact. This will, in turn, enable them to get the word spreading into the right circles and most importantly, bring favorable returns on their marketing investment.
The author is the Chief Communications Officer of Escorts Limited
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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