Month: July 2019

by Shweta Sinha Shweta Sinha No Comments

Omni-channel Strategy – What is it and why do you need it?

Don’t want an Omni-Channel strategy for your Brand Orchestration?

Sure, keep throwing good money after bad!

You cannot ignore omni-channel strategy

For the longest time, marketing and advertising were completely compatible bedfellows with the former guiding the latter, and the latter (format – Print, TVC) then instructing the selection of media. However, two concomitant events brought about a shift in this tried and tested trope; the digital eagle landed and changed the game, and brands started to give complete focus to customer-centricity.

Digital completely changed the way marketers looked at advertising. Now specific audience segments could be micro-targeted and impressions, exposure, reach, the frequency could tangibly be measured. Naturally, this brought about a complete revision in the metrics of performance measurement. What it also unfortunately did was that it made Digital seem like a separate strategic initiative rather than yet another platform to be integrated and married into the overarching business objectives for the brand.
Several marketers and brand custodians started viewing Digital as the marketing silver bullet. Slowly, due to the speed, agility, and perceived ‘cost-efficiency’ of the medium, brands started hyper-focusing on digital and experimenting with content that they thought worked best for the medium – irrespective of whether it fits with the larger brand narrative. Unlike earlier (where the same TVC got adapted to print, outdoor and sometimes even radio), now brand tonality and narratives started getting inconsistent across platforms and the personality of a lot of brands started to seem schizophrenic.

In response to this, traditional agencies tried to push back by pushing for more TVCs and traditional content, while simultaneously scrambling to speedily develop in-house digital capabilities as well. This was that dangerous tipping point when the entire focus now had started shifting towards media/platform-led strategy rather than brand/business/consumer-led approach. This began to get described as multi-channel marketing strategy, where multiple platforms and channels were deployed simultaneously as touch-points for the brand, but it was ultimately left to the consumer to decide how they’d prefer to engage with one or more of these channels.

It was only a matter of time when marketers realized that while this strategy was impactful at the moment, it wasn’t effective in the long run – it helped grab eyeballs but rarely managed to take a share of mind or wallet. It was then the customer was once again brought back into the equation and placed the square in the middle, and the brand’s overall strategy once again led the way for optimum selection of media mix and cohesive orchestration of the brand across channels! This was the birth of the Omni-channel approach!

In today’s world where the rapid rate of change in consumer behaviour and technology makes it extremely challenging to keep up, the omni-channel approach is amongst the most effective and future-forward approached to planning a brand’s orchestration. It has consumer-centricity and behaviour change at its core and doesn’t put the channel or medium before the consumer or brand. Therefore, not only does it aim for impact but also effectiveness, measured through the change of heart (behaviour change) as well as a share of the wallet!

The omni-channel approach focusses on creating a seamless ecosystem for the consumer to experience the brand, instead of allowing the consumer to randomly pick and choose the channel through which he/she could engage with the brand. It therefore not only takes into consideration advertising and communication but also last-mile conversion, ergo – all touch-points of actual brand-consumer engagement. In that, the omnichannel orchestration of a brand not only ensures consistency in tonality, personality, messaging and narrative across platforms, but ensures that the consumer’s engagement and purchase experience across channels also remains consistent and cohesive – be it online (mobile or laptop, website or app, Facebook or Instagram), or offline (at the flagship store, or an event, or at a franchisee).

The Omni-channel approach accurately takes into consideration the non-linear path-to-purchase of today’s consumer. It foresees that a customer could move from the actual store to the online store on his/her laptop, to an aggregator app on his mobile device for the same product, and thus the messaging and brand experience that he/she is exposed to across channels and media needs to be consistent and cohesive – allowing for his/her seamless transition across this ecosystem.
While this makes the Omni-channel approach seems like the new and upgraded silver bullet, it’s not exactly a walk in the park to adopt. Shifting to an omnichannel approach and effectively deploying it requires a complete shift in mindset and approach across all levels of the organization and also mandates a collaborative buy-in and cross-functional alignment across all the functional silos. It now has people chasing the same common objective and outcome rather than independent, inward-looking goals. This challenging of status quo requires time, effort, conviction, and vision from the senior management and department heads, who more often than not, are the most resistant to changing old ways of working.

Additionally, the organization must have the means to mine data across channels and then have a strong analytical team that knows how to make sense of the data and how to integrate it. Adopting and integrating a technology-led platform (often expensive) is usually a good start point. It will also require marketing teams and creative agencies to learn to start laying as much emphasis on context as it does on content. Else, the results will be far from optimal. Since the strategy places the consumer at its center, it also requires the brand to know its consumer, his mind-set, his behaviour, his ticks, far deeper and better than ever before, and integrate a robust CRM tool to ensure maximum effectiveness.
All of this often makes a marketer ask, “Is it even worth the hassle?” The simple reply to that is, “If you have the intent, the means, and the follow-through, the answer is an obvious resounding yes!

by admin admin No Comments

Content planning and single-minded brand territory

There are two kinds of conversations that are getting popular in the marketing & advertising world today:

  1. Brands need to be single-minded in their positioning & communication to survive in this post-digital world. 
  2. Content marketing, seasonal or always-on, should be aligned with the single-mindedness of the brand/brand territory in order to be effective & relevant. 

But a lot of brands & their custodians are of the view that this school of thought is a pigeon hole for what all can brand do in the digital world esp. when it comes to always-on strategy. 

However, we are of the view that this is like shooting in the dark and more often than not, you end up developing content that remains ineffective for the brand & the business. And any piece of communication that doesn’t move the business needle is equivalent to nil. 

So let’s discuss a few ways through which you can embed the heart & soul of the brand in your always-on content calendar. 

Before we do that, let’s get on the same page with the definition of ‘Always-on’: 

WHAT IT IS? 

‘Always-on’ is a brand communications approach which involves creating content that’s of real relevance to your customers, adding value in some way to their lives at the right time.

WHAT IT IS NOT?

Create and distribute content all of the time.

So how do you create an always-on strategy without getting pigeon-holed?

To demonstrate this better, let’s make up a brand called Supernova.

It’s a 2year old apparel brand for the unconventional bunch who take the path less trodden. The brand finds these people impressive / out-of-this-world for being brave to take the unconventional path of life and encourages them or helps them express themselves through their line of clothing.

It is a brand that is still in the process to make its mark in the fashion world and therefore doesn’t have any pre-existing associations with celebrity or fashion property. The only thing that is certain is that they are going to launch new collection in Q2, Q4 in 2020 and their collection has got a decent response in the market till date. 

Now let’s take the most common and also the most challenging type of brief for content strategy, which is to develop an always-on social media content strategy for Supernova, without losing the essence of the brand ‘For those who take the path less trodden’. 

Mandatory: Each and every piece of communication (be it a post, story, program, campaign, property, etc.) has to link back to ‘For those who take the path less trodden’. 

A few ways to develop an always-on content plan without junking brand core. 

  1. Brand-level communication: 
    It’s what we call ‘brand thematic’ communication, which is always essential for any brand, new or old, to keep communicating about what it stands for to generate relevance with new customers or keep the current audience hooked. It can be a continuous burst of the brand core idea for a few weeks (ideal is 4-6 weeks) in any form – posts, a video, an activation, etc.
    Demonstrating it on our example: Supernova 
    Given Supernova is a young brand, we will need to reach potential consumers who are already living an unconventional life and tell them what Supernova stands for and thereby, generate brand awareness among them.
    Ideal way is to do this campaign during the beginning of Q1 & Q3 as there isn’t much happening in Supernova’s marketing activity calendar around that time like launch of new collection. This can further be married with the important times for the category such as fashion week or some kind of relevant festival like Bravery day, etc.
  1. Campaign-level communication: 
    Communicate the next key phase of the brand in the market. It could be a new product range/ revised formulation/ new variant, etc. Anything new & tangible from the brand which consumers will have access to.
    Demonstrating it on our example: Supernova
    Supernova has new collection to be launched in Q2 and Q4. Hence, the theme of this collection, which will definitely stem from brand core, will become a central idea to develop the content around these quarters and the collection itself becomes your content idea.
  1. Pure content driven ideas which are anchored in brand & what it stands for:
    There are times when brands take a long pause in communication before they make their next move in the market. During such times, we are often asked to keep the brand buzz alive/be connected with consumers to stay on their TOM. This kind of brief has the most tendency for the brand content to go astray from the brand core. However, we must find a way for the content ideas that are anchored in the brand core, no matter what.
    A few ways to deal with such situations with the demonstration on Supernova:

    • Look at the consumer’s lifestyle, behaviour, etc. through the brand lens and pick up a content idea from there.
      For e.g.: Supernova can run a crowd-source campaign that asks people to come forward and tell the story of somebody who chose the life less trodden & give the best nominations a brand hamper or alike.
    • Go behind the scenes of the brand – employee stories, founder’s story, how the products are made.
      For e.g.: Supernova can do interviews with his fashion designers and explore the creative process of arriving at new collection or it can be company culture of Supernova.
    • Recurring idea like an annual brand property that runs every year to engage consumers.
      For e.g.: Super club: A brand club with invitation which allows you to meet & mingle with all other people like you who have taken the path less trodden. Every year the brand opens up a call to entry to be a part of this club. This, in itself, can become a content idea annually.

In the ideal world, ideas like above are always executed to solve a particular business challenge. However, in the absence of a defined business goal, it’s best advised to take an educated guess for the business goal as it helps to not go astray from the brand core. This will help you to discover that one interesting thing about your brand and amplify that. You can see the effectiveness of such content through its impact on the brand through scores such as brand awareness, brand recall, brand equity scores, etc. If you see a spike in these brand parameters when your content was running without any other significant marketing activity, it’s safe to assume that your content was effective and you can keep building on it.

Summing up the example of Supernova Tees for 2020. 

 

 

Content Planning with the help of a calendar

Content Calendar

 

Always-on content timeline for Supernova rooted in brand core, friends.

Until, next time!

by admin admin No Comments

Why brands need to ride the culture wave with ‘Memes’

Brand’s breathe culture to connect with their consumers on a deeper level. Especially in a country like India, understanding culture becomes extremely crucial for a brand to resonate with millions of diverse consumers. Culture evolves faster than humans do. But culture comes from humans, so in order to understand the culture better, we need to understand humans better. 

India’s culture since eons has been about the diverse geographies and the myriad of societies that existed in those geographic regions. You could draw it on a map and make safe assumptions of the kind of cultures that prevailed. As we progressed, more external variables started affecting culture. Anthropological studies were no longer unilinear. By the turn of the 20th century, it had become multilinear.  And in a densely populated, culturally diverse country like India, it was projected to evolve exponentially. Fast forward to present day, when India is riding the Jio way with Internet penetration superseding anything the world has ever seen. 

Digital is coming into our lives in a big way, Social Media is now an inseparable part of our lives. India’s culture is now not only native but global. Clustering it geographically is no longer possible. The abundance of data both offline and online is becoming more of a burden than a boon. India is a cultural tsunami wave and Brands are finding ways to ride it and survive it.

Brands equipped with cultural insights are building narratives that are relevant, authentic and real for their consumers. Brand positioning is crafted to adapt to various cultures across the country and the world. Most brands, however, are looking at Pop Culture to be a part of consumer conversations. These constructs of communication are highly replicative in nature.  It’s almost like surfing bigger waves in the ocean. The process is something like this – 

1.A pop culture trend surfaces in the consumer’s universe

2.People start talking about the trend

3.Brand(s) identify the trend through social listening or ethnography

4.The brand creates marketing communication or activation basis of the brand

5.If the exercise is a success, the trend is picked up by more trends and is perpetuated among the audiences repeatedly

6.Trend dies out as people move to other trends

7.Brands wait for the next trend

8.Repeat

Sometimes it gets out of hand. Zomato’s recent attempt to use the Pratfall Effect to its advantage is a great example of what brands shouldn’t do. P.S – Btw Zomato totally won this. Here’s a Twitter Thread where Karthik Srinivasan explains this succinctly

Memes and marketing - a twitter thread

Karthik on Twitter talking about anti-marketing

This process is roughly identical to Mimesis.

Fun fact – The term ‘Meme’ was coined from the word Memetics – the study of information and culture based on an analogy with Darwinian evolution (a study of Mimesis) – by Sir. Richard Dawkins in the 1976 book ‘The Selfish Gene’. 

We have been communicating in Memes before Memes went mainstream! The Interwebs in the late 2000s brought this form back through engaging and hilarious online posts that used it as a way to opine about the world around them, thus making them one of the most pivotal forms of human communication in the 21st Century. 

Viral Marketing and sensationalized terms for Social media marketing have its roots in memes. One of the key concepts of memetics is that memes are like small codes/packets of information or ideas spread between social groups when they subconsciously realize an underlying benefit of the meme. Whatever the language, whatever the tone, whatever the platform, if the fundamental code of the Meme is widely approved, it will spread. And that’s what makes it possible for the information to spread from one person to another, to another and the person in the middle doesn’t have to understand what it means. All they have to do is copy the sequence of codes (lingo, visuals, hook line in general cases) and the message will get through. Pop culture or mainstream culture – that Brands so eagerly want to be a part of – propagates through the simple act of sharing.

The early memes in culture weren’t particularly useful to propagate information. They were habits or actions that kept on getting emulated by people and transferred and shared across millions of people. With digitization taking over in a big way, memes (not just cliche ones) have greater power to influence masses. In fact, we saw this phenomenon live in action during the 2019 General Elections in India.

But as the saying goes, with greater power comes greater responsibility. People are walking, breathing propagators carrying memes in our minds that they spread without even realizing that they are doing so. This is how misinformation spread so quickly, like a virus, in the digital age. 

With increasing competition, the necessity of utility is arising. Harnessing Memes for good or bad is becoming crucial for leaders and trolls alike to control narratives in media. 

Brands have a big opportunity here. If a meme (code of information or idea) can be identified and utilized for building a positive, purpose-driven narrative around a social issue that the brand is passionate about, it can not only do good for itself and its consumers but can also become a central player in engineering major conversations around the issue at hand. 

That is what some of the biggest brands in the world are doing. They are latching onto to cultural waves when they are small, way before they have come gigantic tidal waves that shake up the seas. 

Burger King is an excellent example of a brand that has created opportunities for itself by being at the center of Pop culture by identifying these shifts in social and cultural narratives.

Check out this insightful but slightly off-center video on why Burger Kings gets it

 By closely understanding what the people are thinking, feeling and whispering about in their circles. This goes deeper than just Social Listening or Analytics. This requires an anthropological approach that scours through the Interwebs and the real-world to understand patterns and symbolism (both verbal and visual) that are affecting their consumers’ world and the ones that are at an intersection with the brand’s positioning or purpose. 

What is important to the notice here is that the source of the idea or information controls the crux of the narrative. 9 out of 10 times your consumer will be the source. Does your strategic endeavor need to find that 1 opportunity when it can identify a Meme and make itself go Viral?

So the next time you’re working on a brief that needs to go viral and needs to stand out among your competitors, think of what ‘Meme’ you can create. Dive into the world of your consumer and hunt for that seismic cultural wave that will break the Internet and break your business targets. 

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