"BTL spend is a critical, non-negotiable part of marketing budgets"

Super-specialisation is the key. In future, it will be all about what you can do best instead of spreading yourself too thin, says Vibgyor Brand Services’ CEO Ankur Kalra

e4m by Deepa Balasubramanian
Updated: Aug 1, 2013 8:21 AM
"BTL spend is a critical, non-negotiable part of marketing budgets"

While the brand message may get drowned in the clutter of brand advertising, BTL activations help create a greater engagement with consumers. BTL allows marketers to tailor their message in a personal manner, which is ultimately highly measurable.

In conversation with exchange4media, Ankur Kalra, CEO, Vibgyor Brand Services speaks about the effectiveness of BTL communication.

How crucial is BTL marketing for brands? What benefits do experiential activations offer?
The term ‘target group’ holds any real meaning only in BTL. While conventional advertising promises you the world, it is one big indiscriminate mass that you’re reaching out to, where focus on your target group is almost always lost. Even within ATL, a lot of emphasis is being placed on establishing an emotional connect with consumers instead of hard-selling a product. Be it Maggi’s ‘Meri Maggi story’ or Airtel’s ‘Har ek friend zaroori hota hai’, brands are looking to get involved in the everyday lives of their consumers and BTL helps do this best.

We’re living in times where BTL spend is a critical, non-negotiable part of marketing budgets. Big brands and corporates know that consumer experience or consumer engagement can be achieved only through BTL and are diverting marketing rupees to be connected with their consumers. An Ernst & Young report published by Event & Entertainment Management Association (EEMA), estimates that the BTL industry is growing at 25-30 per cent and will continue to grow exponentially over the next few years.

Experiential activations offer the benefit of engaging with consumers in such a way that it leaves them touched, moved and inspired. They don’t just communicate the core benefits of a product, but make the consumer try it, give their feedback on it and participate in the brand building process. The results of an experiential marketing campaign are visible and measurable in most cases. Brands can’t just talk down to customers, they need to be part of a conversation which is two way.

How have Indian consumers taken to BTL activities?
As experiential campaigns get more and more innovative, the ‘OMG’ factor has consumers hooked. These campaigns are increasingly being designed to give consumers experiences that amaze – be it a life size yacht in the middle of a mall for ITC or a 14-minute tour of New York City in Mumbai for Maybelline. Both these campaigns, conceptualised and executed by Vibgyor Brand Services, intended to provide a never before experience.

Do you think brand activations have a more lasting impact as compared to ATL marketing?
Brand activations are, by design, about creating memories and experiences. When brands get up close and personal with their consumers in ways they cannot forget, the impact is bound to be long lasting. When you experience something for yourself, the impact is undeniably lasting, that’s what gives brand activations an edge.

What are the things that brands need to keep in mind in order to engage the people?
The most important thing to keep in mind is the consumers you are doing the campaign for. Everything else is secondary. We never take our consumers for granted, but keep in mind their perception of the brand, how well it fits into their lives, when and where they will come across the activation so that everything falls in place. We look for the perfect window of opportunity when they’re in the right frame of mind to be jolted by a campaign and yet engage with it. Our single mantra for work is to excite. We’re fully involved in every aspect of the campaign and the result is always excitement – for us, for the consumers and for clients.

Where do you see Vibgyor five years down the line? How important will experiential marketing be in the coming years?
I see a lot of consolidation in the space, where the smaller players will cease to exist. The theory of survival of the fittest will come into play as only the best will survive and get bigger and better. Super-specialisation will hold the key – specialising in elevator branding, metro branding, it will be all about what you can do best instead of spreading yourself too thin and trying to do everything at one time. Agencies that understand and can leverage their strengths will be the ones to make it through.

Vibgyor has a one-point agenda – to reach out to our customers in the most engaging and exciting ways. We are ready and willing to experiment, in fact, that’s what gives us the competitive edge. We’re not afraid to go all out and innovate constantly, what we fear is doing the same old and getting irrelevant. We set our sights high and have a clear and focused goal – to be India’s top brand activation and event management companies and we’re right on track.

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