Wednesday, 23 July 2014

First a disclaimer. I am not a digital expert or claim to know everything in this field. Maybe I know know very little of this medium. But I believe there is also a common sensical approach to Digital. This blog attempts a simplistic approach to digital. Please excuse my temerity to make a complicated medium seem simple.


In the last few years I have faced the Digital question quite often. Clients suddenly wake up and ask if they should do something in Digital. We do have a website and a Facebook page but what else can we do is the question? Or how much money should we allocate to Digital this year? And then there are some who are most reluctant to discuss Digital. We are growing nicely and see no reason to change our media and budgetary outlook.


The answer as always lies somewhere in the middle. In my mind there are three types of potential digital clients. But before that, yes, I think digital cannot be avoided. The question is not why digital but how digital. So let me try to address the same with the three types of Digital clients.


It all starts with the target group. Who is the communication trying to address?  If the target audience, be it the consumer or the customer falls in the young 15-35 demographics, then the sooner the advertiser gets into Digital the better it is. The next question then is what to do in digital. And how much of the budget to allocate on digital. I am not a media pundit to give exact answers for the same but that is exactly what the clients need to do then. Look hard at the TG numbers, their habit and attitudes. But I usually throw this back at the clients. Where does this youngster in your house gets the news from? Newspapers, TV or is it social media or news site apps and alerts? You have the answer.


The second group is the advertisers whose TG is females slightly older, say mothers or housewives….this is the tough one. Empirical evidence shows that this TG is till glued on to the idiot box. They do spend some time on social media but social media has not yet penetrated their lives. TV is still a good bet for them. But engagement with social media can start.


And the final group are the advertisers whose TG are the working people, the salaried class. This TG has more access to the Internet courtesy the office, they are more internet savvy and also early adapters. They are also the people who are the major customers for smart phones and hence apps. They live and breathe digital.


But wait, I fell into the digital trap. There is yet another type of digital user. The type who depends on SMS. Let's not forget SMS marketing is an effective digital tool if not used just as a mass message spamming tool. Most of the lower income group working class be it the driver or the manual labourer or the vegetable vendor or the plumber or electrician uses a basic phone and still communicates through SMS and missed calls.


For the first category of users the medium keeps evolving. These people are avid tweeters, e commerce evangelists, Facebook fans, apps, games and follow interest groups while also using SMS avidly. They also tire and get bored with repetitiveness soon. Indeed many of these are exiting FB as they feel that the medium is now dated and for their parents or elders! The key for this TG is to keep on refreshing your offering to them. Involve them and make them a part of your activity. Give them offers, promotions, contests. Or even make special content for them which then either goes viral or is interwoven across digital media platforms. A good example for this is how a relatively unknown movies was promoted. For this TG it is the involvement which is the key. What you need is a proper scientifically done digital media plan. Then depending upon how you want to involve them you may need SEO and SEM strategies.


The second group is the more tricky. Here the advertisers will be devoting a small portion of the money on digital. So the money should be well spent. How do you hook these people? They may not be twitter friendly but FB is their forte. In fact usually they have hooked on to the internet purely for FB. Or maybe sometimes also for e commerce. You may not need fancy SEO and SEM strategies. Don't just pay lip service, don't just get them to like your FB page. How do you make them come back? Usually FMCG brands fall in this category. And they treat FB page as web page. Put new content almost every day. Give interesting information about just not your product but also about what interests the TG. So a Horlicks FB page while talking about the brand benefits and it's various extensions and variants must also involve with health and nutrition advice. Maybe invite questions about children's health and nutrition. Maybe get a physician to be your page spokesperson.the trick again is to keep the TG involved.


The third group is the most dangerous. You have to keep them happy. They like the first group can get disillusioned and bored quickly. They have all the trademarks of the first group and more. They also use digital as a customer feedback forum. If they have any issues with your product/ brand or service or customer service they will not leave you. So it's important to treat digital as also a feedback medium. Be attentive, be quick in your turnaround times. Don't just depend on the digital medium. Call them, talk to them. And of course see to it that you remove the lacunae in your offering. Durables and service industry face the brunt of these consumers.


The fourth group is about being focused. The temptation here is to send bulk SMS. And hope that some will bite. And as getting bulk SMS numbers in lakhs is very cheap, clients do fall for it. One of the biggest culprit for the same is builder and property industry. But SMS can be used purposefully either by geographical definitions or even industry needs like banking or Reality TV shows or contests on mass media. Along with SMS Bluetooth is also an ignored media which has huge potential in closed circuits. Imagine going to a supermarket and getting a message via Bluetooth telling you about the offers of the day.


Is the above too simplistic? Maybe but this is for simple understanding of digital as a medium. The real exercise is in expanding and getting into the nitty gritty of the same. Now that's a task which I will leave for the digital experts.