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Digital has to become mainstream for brands to survive: Marketers

26-August-2011
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Digital has to become mainstream for brands to survive: Marketers

To address topics like the role of digital media versus traditional media and how digital can be leveraged by challenger brands, Futurist CMO Conference kicked off in Gurgaon at the Oberoi Hotel. Organised by Jessie Paul’s Paul Writer, the first day of the two-day event saw CMOs of major and emerging establishments share their points of view. Paul said that the objective of this first of its kind conference is to have marketers come together and talk about not just the importance of digital but various means by which they plan to incorporate it to their benefit. “Digital is more than just social media. And the ways it can be used is virtually limitless,” she said.

Paul gave the inaugural address and welcomed all the speakers and other dignitaries. The first panel discussion was ‘What are the big changes for marketers embracing innovative media in addition to legacy channels’ and the panel comprised Mohit Hira, CMO, Career Building Solutions, NIIT; Nita Kapoor, Executive Vice-President, Marketing and Corporate Affairs, Godfrey Phillips; Sanjeev Kapur, CMO, Citi India; and Rahul Saighal, CMO, Aircel.

Saighal stated that digital has to become mainstream if brands want to survive in today’s scenario. “Innovative marketing is very crucial and the key,” he said. “When these are pursued, sales will automatically follow.” Aircel had a hoarding where there was a real inflated rescue boat. When the floods ravaged areas in India, people actually took the boat down and used it. “This is an excellent example of innovative marketing,” he concluded.

Sanjeev Kapur talked about measurement of effectiveness of marketing through non-traditional media and how it is a pain area. “Explosion of such media is overwhelming and allocation of funds to such channels, and execution, is also a challenge,” he said. According to him, five years from now, marketing will become extensively data driven.

Nita Kapoor added here that digital was indeed the way forward, but it needn’t be beneficial for all businesses. Marketers have to work in a dynamic scenario. “Hindi newspapers outsell English dailies. When Dainik Jagran and Dainik Bhaskar came on to the scene, they blew the myth that English print is the preferred medium for advertisers,” she stated.

Asha Gupta, MD, Tupperware, India, spoke about how her company built a 100,000-strong workforce. She elaborated on the dynamics of direct selling and how they are different from retail selling. “The focus should be on the people and the product will sell itself,” she added. She also spoke about various features that are particular to direct selling. “It requires skill building, it must have enough earnings for people to be attracted to the business and it should offer rewards and recognition,” she stated. She added that when all of these come together, it gives confidence to the sellers, which are predominantly women. Jesse Paul added here that this is being done on social media platforms as well, the only differentiating factor being the product.

This was followed by a presentation by Mahesh Murthy, Founder, Pinstorm, on how the rules of brand engagement in the new online-offline world. He explained that there have been a number of brands that have emerged in the last ten years, like Facebook, Red Bull, that have spent nothing on advertising. They have instead relied on word of mouth. “In India, last year, number of internet users crossed number of DTH and satellite users. There is no TV property that can match an internet property,” he added. Murthy also said that, according to an IMRB study, youtube has grown 209 per cent year-on-year while Facebook has grown 615 per cent year-on-year. More importantly, both these are free for users. Therefore, it pays more to invest in unpaid media than in paid media. He ended with saying that the future is going to be about real time marketing. “Consumers are talking about your brand round the clock. The brands should listen and do something about it.”

Lakshmanan Narayan, Founder, Unmetric, talked about competitive social media intelligence for established brands. He talked about a tremendous opportunity which is untapped for companies on digital media. This was followed by Ajaay Gupta, MD, Capital Foods, talking about digital media as the secret weapon for challenger brands. He reiterated that in today’s scenario, it is about engaging the customer and not hard-selling the product. And, according to him, between all this, is the consumer.

Vikrant Chowdhary, General Manager, Software Solutions Group, IBM India & South Asia, presented on best practices for leveraging marketing automation and analytics. He explained that this is the age of the empowered customer as they have unlimited access to information and can instantly share it with the world. “Shifting of power from businesses to customers as customers are more vocal,” he added.

The last panel of the day saw Mohit Gupta, CMO, makemytrip.com, and Monappa N, Head – digital marketing, Citibank, discuss how to manage churn and profitability in a transparent market place. The session was moderated by Harjiv Singh, cofounder and CEO international, Gutenberg Communications. Gupta spoke about how all support verticals in makemytrip are tied back to the consumer and his experience. “This helps us to gain insight into what the consumer wants,” he added. Monappa reemphasised on the importance of developing constant ways of optimizing ways to reach out to the customers. “Time and effort should also be invested in SEO. It will give incremental returns for a long time to come,” he added. Gupta added by saying that SEO is a holy grail for any business hoping to have a digital footprint.

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