5 misconceptions about Digital

In past 6 months I have been interacting with many folks and companies who want to build a strong digital presence. And this makes me thrill that more and more people want to grow digitally. But the problem is that most of them have many misconceptions about digital.

To clear some of this misconceptions, here I am sharing the list of 5 things – Digital is Not!

1. Digital is not just about Facebook

Digital is not Facebook

Yes Facebook is where all of us spend maximum time. But then going digital just doesn’t mean setting up a Facebook Page and getting likes.

2. I have a great looking website

Website without traffic is not useful

You have a new website, great! You have put the website address on your business card, email signature, letter head….but that’s not enough. Website needs traffic and you will have to do more than just printing the website address on your stationery.

3. Digital is Difficult

Digital is not difficult

Yes, it is not easy but everything new will always be difficult unless you are willing to learn. There are enough resources online to get you started.

4. Digital can be completely outsourced

Digital can't be outsourced

How can one expect somebody else to know your customers better than you. Digital agencies are required but then you also need to keep your skin in the game.

5. Digital is a futuristic thing

Digital is Today and not in future

Digital is no more a distant thing which will happen in future. It is already here and we better start paying attention to it.

There is no expert, no magic wand for digital. You will have to get into it, learn it and master it to rule it.

NavGujarat Samay fails to deliver on ‘Samay’

The launch of the latest entrant in the Gujarat newspaper industry – ‘NavGujarat Samay’ by Times group was eagerly awaited by the competitive newspaper as well as the readers. The wait was bit longer than expected as NavGujarat Samay (NGS) which was originally slated to get launched in October 2013 got launched only recently on 16th Jan 2014. But the smart thing NGS and Times group did in this time was to garner more and more subscriptions by a very lucrative offering of 5 month subscription at a peanut price of Rs.99/- + few freebies. This offer was too tempting for anybody to decline, especially when it is backed by a highly credible and experienced group like Times group. This created a perfect ‘BIG’ launch platform for NGS. And come January 2014 we were seeing city of Ahmedabad painted blue with the outdoors of NGS and its lion.

NavGujarat SamaySo till now out of 4Ps of Marketing – Product, Price, Promotion, Place (distribution), 2Ps of Price and Promotion were handled really well by NGS and Times group. On and after the launch was the real test of other 2Ps of Product and Place (distribution). My personal observation on the Product was that it was much below my expectation. The newness and freshness I was expecting from a product coming from the Times group was missing and it came across as a non-serious newspaper. But where NGS really faltered was the last P – Place (distribution), the most critical in the newspaper industry. However good product you have, attractive pricing it carries and all the promotions you do is worthless if your newspaper doesn’t get delivered on ‘samay’ to every household.

Soon after the launch I got many of my colleagues, friends and associates complaining about them not receiving the copy of NavGujarat Samay inspite of making cheque payments for the subscription long time back. I thought of inquiring more on this, to check if it was just with a limited group or is it the trend all over. This probe of mine took me to NavGujarat Samay’s facebook page http://www.facebook.com/NavGujaratSamay where on reading the reviews I found so many agitated customers complaining the same thing. Many of them have gone on to accuse NGS and Times Group of cheating them. And the worst that could happen is that the helpline no. which was set up at the time of subscription drive seems to remain non answered to subscribers complaints.

NGS_3NGS_1

NGS_5

NGS_2

NGS_4

NGS_6I am surprised that the largest media group of India which carries more than 175 years of experience can slip up like this with their new product in a highly competitive market. At the same time I hope that Times group will soon be able to solve this issue and curb this negative brand perception being created among the NGS subscribers.

(Till now on Brand Charcha I have been avoiding to make any media group or its offering as a matter of subject for any of my posts in here. This was a conscious decision considering I ‘was’ myself working with a media house till very recently. But now I am going on to a completely new path, a new journey in a new industry – ‘Pharma’ which has given me a self-permit to do ‘charcha’ on the Gujarat media brands also)

The Facebook Problem

Just two years back there was a scenario where brands, atleast the Gujarat’s based brands were not too sure or excited about being on Facebook, but now I see everybody wants to be there – ‘Facebook page to hovu j joiya’, which is good but what is frustrating is that hardly any of them are getting it right and even if some are then they are faltering away in sometime.

In this post I am sharing about two Facebook pages and the ‘problems’ I see with them

  1. Havmor – one of the most popular ice cream brands
  2. City Shor – started as a Facebook page providing recommendations on food, home decor, travel, fashion and later evolved to be an independent website

Havmor

3.9 years on Facebook and Havmor has managed to get 2.0 lac+ fans – probably the maximum for any of the Gujarat grown brands. So what’s the problem?

These two maps from Havmor’s website shows the spread of no.of outlets Havmor has in Ahmedabad and Mumbai.

Havmor_map

With such a heavy presence in Ahmedabad as compare to Mumbai, you surely expect Ahmedabad to have more Havmor customers than in Mumbai and the common sense co-relation would be that the similar trend is there on Facebook, with Havmor having more fans from Ahmedabad. But there is a doubtable surprise!

Havmore_Fb

This screenshot from Havmor Facebook page shows Mumbai as the most popular city. For a brand like Havmor which is a household name in a social media savvy city like Ahmedabad, isn’t this hard to believe?

City Shor

Launched on December 15, 2012 – City Shor captured the imagination of large number of FB Amdavadis for their very interesting reviews about ‘lesser known’  restaurants, shops, travel places. With this powerful and genuine content they managed to surge pass 1 lakh fans just under 7 months on July 12 – adding almost 14,000+ fans every month, pretty extra ordinary!

CS_1lakh

That’s the good part of City Shor story and now the ‘Problem’ –

Since July 12 to September 21st i.e 2 months and 10 days City Shor has managed to add just another 12,103 fans, bringing down the their monthly new fan base average by -30%. This is a reverse trend to what I have been observing wherein the pages which cross 1 lakh likes start seeing improvement in the average number of fans added every month – the social effect, but here it is declining. Neither is their engagement improving with just about 5% talking about the page.

CS_likes

So where is the problem?

  • Losing the niche – City Shor was loved for it gave Amdavadis a chance to explore the unexplored – stuff we didn’t knew about or haven’t seen before. But as the months passed we started seeing the content which was not so amusing- new dishes at Dominos, Balaji Wind Park photographs, to the  discounts at the big brand stores – all this people are advertising loud enough for us to be aware of them,  so seeing them at a platform which is for the unexplored was disappointing
  • From being Social to Unsocial – Off late we have seen too many ugly arguments between the fans and the City Shor admins for the disagreement on the reviews posted by them. Also they have been copying the movie reviews from other pages and the worst thing has been that they started deleting the comments and blocking people with whom they were not able to argue enough. On Social media the power is with people and you cannot afford to fight against them or suppress their voices.
  • Getting desperate – people have liked City Shor for the reviews believing that they are genuine and non commercial in nature.  But they have now started inviting ‘businesses’ to get their reviews done – how am I suppose to believe their reviews any more?

CS_business

Havmor seems to have ‘managed’ to generate likes but are they of any value to the brand? City Shor managed to generate great deal amount of engagement by providing solutions to the Amdavadis dire need to know and explore new stuff but as they started to diverge from what they started out to do, the engagement has fallen significantly.

The brands who are getting on to Facebook need to realise that it is not only about ‘likes’ on Facebook, but more importantly it is about engaging with your audiences by talking to them, listening to them and solving their problems every single day.

Even Wagh Bakri Gets It All Wrong

For us Gujaratis, tea means ‘ચા’ (cha) and ‘ચા’ means Wagh Bakri!

WB is one of the most favourite and preferred tea brands for Gujarati households. And the way the brand has been growing for over 100 years around the sutra of ‘hamesha rishta banaay’ has been simply brilliant.

I have been a big admirer of WB TVCs and print ads but two of the most recent campaigns have left me with lots of questions…putting them forward in this post

Wagh Bakri trying Tata Jaago Re?

Wagh Bakri had released these ads on the front page of Times of India, Sandesh and Divya Bhaskar, asking people to be sensitive in using their cell phones so as to ensure that other person is not unnecessarily disturbed.

Wagh Bakri SMS campaign

So when I first saw this ad, with that clip art mobile phone I thought of Wagh Bakri must be bringing some mobile app. Then I started to read the body copy and by the time I finished the essay type copy, I was like What? Why? What?

First of all I was just not able to find a connect between the Wagh Bakri tea and being sensitive towards using the cell phone. Then when I thought harder I came to a conclusion to that may be Wagh Bakri like Tata Tea is trying to build its own Jaago re kind of social cause campaign.  Even if that’s the intention then the execution is extremely poor for the reason stated below

  • Non-relevant theme of the ad – asking people to use text messaging over direct phone call – is that even an issue?  And even if it was ever then the trend has changed long time back with arrival of Blackberry messenger and then Watsapp (creative director of this campaign, needs technological upgrade)
  • It’s not a design, it is a DTP work – The theme of the ad is poor, but the design makes it worst (seems like Microsoft Word was used to design this). There surely could have been a much smarter and creative way of showcasing the message instead of writing a short essay on technology and cell phones.
  • Missing brand connection – putting a line at the end – ‘let us communicate effectively & with warmth over a cup of tea’ is nothing more than forced attempt to connect the cause with the brand. And in Gujarati copy, even that line is missing
  • Missed the social too – today would you want to ask for the feedback on facebook/twitter or on email?

Unfortunately this print ad seems like an amateur attempt by a mature brand like Wagh Bakri.

Wagh Bakri’s Wrong Label

After Ranjit innerwears, Astral Poly Technik we now have one Wagh Bakri joining the league of Gujarat grown brands to tie up with movies to promote their brand.

As a part of Wagh Bakri’s tie up with Once Upon a time in Mumbai Dobaara (OUTIMD), I have seen more than 25 co-branded hoardings across Ahmedabad  – seems WB promoting OUTIMD rather than OUTIMD promoting WB, that to at a very heavy cost!

WB OUTIMD

But the big question I have is why a brand like WB who has always maintained on not to associate with celebs have gone ahead and tied up on a movie which has two of their competitors brand ambassadors – Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha, faces of Red Label tea  (remember Akshay Kumar asking people to call up and convince Sonakshi that Red Label is tasty and healthy both)

More so ever there also doesn’t seems to be a logical connect of the WB brand with OUTIMD , however there have been attempts to justify the tie up as – “The perfect blend of kadak-meethi (strong and sweet) of our tea complies with the film’s tale of strong action and sweet relations. This movie is based on relations and our tagline suits the story the best.” (Source – http://bit.ly/14JmcgA). Seems somebody at WB got carried away by the excitement of associating up with OUTIMD so much that they probably forgot to check on who the starcast of the movie is.

But I give it to Wagh Bakri for always trying to do something new and keep their brand fresh and alive in the mind of people. And I hope that their next campaign will be more thoughtful…

More Spend, Less Sense

For last few days Ahmedabad city was splashed with many such ‘teaser’ outdoors where a brand claimed to be Rare, Unique and Uncommon.

asopalav_teaser

And then this is the campaign that got revealed later –

Asopalav ‘Sale’ 2013

Asopalav Sale - Rare

 

Asopalav Sale - Uncommon

My reaction to this campaign is in two parts

  1. As a consumer
  2. As a media buyer

As a consumer Asopalav did managed to get my attention with the teaser campaign, where I got really curious to know on what is that one of its kind – rare, unique and uncommon thing going to be. But when the campaign got revealed I was excited no more as it turned to be just another ‘Sale’ campaign. June is the time where every other brand puts up a sale and offers discount, so what’s so uncommon with Asopalav announcing the same? Probably I would have still not been so disappointed if this colourful Asopalav hoardings would have at least told me on what is that which will make their Sale ‘unique’? But there is just nothing in the follow-up communication, not even a mention of what discount is going to be offered, the only saving grace has been the dates of sale being mentioned in the designs. So what really makes Asopalav sale rare, unique and uncommon still remains a mystery for me.

As a media buyer my first question is does a sale campaign of a prominent brand like Asopalav require a teaser campaign?  Answer is ‘No’. Asopalav is one of the leading brand in its category having a big customer base who every year eagerly wait for the Asopalav Sale to be announced. The teasers are useful when there is a need to create interest in the minds and hearts of the consumer and for the Asopalav Sale there is enough interest already there. So all it needs is a straight forward message to be delivered to the consumers about discounts on offer which could have been done in a jargon-less manner and in one short campaign which would have also meant cost savings and better ROI for Asopalav.

It is always good to be creative with your campaigns but more importantly it should make sense to the consumer and for the business.

YouTube Video – Good Intention, Poor Execution

In past 3 years we have seen so many new B Schools opening up in Ahmedabad – United World Business School, Xcellon, SBS, TBS, ISBM, IBMR, ISBA, Amity. With so many options available to an aspiring MBA student, it has become necessity for the B Schools to heavily advertise in print, outdoors and radio so as to ensure that they become the most preferred choice of a student.

But what has been missing is any real effort by any of this colleges to target the students on social media. But I was pleasantly surprised when i saw a YouTube video link of Shanti Business School on my FB news feed (shared by a friend), and the thumbnail of two animated characters really got me inquisitive to see the video.

Original Video posted on Shanti Business School YouTube channel

After seeing the video I felt who is the creative genius behind this! (sarcasm intended)

I am appreciative of the fact that Shanti Business School tried something different in a form of witty and humorous YouTube video. But unfortunately the poor treatment of humor does more harm than benefit to the SBS brand.

3 things that makes this video poor

1. Poor Brand Positioning

  • ‘Is se to mahine ka aloo pyaaz bhi nahin niklega, aur upar se chor ka naam ka kalank lag jaayega’
  • ‘Ab hum gaajar nahin, gaajar ka halwa khaatein hain’

This kind of lines will surely will make people remember the video (the way I did) but leaves behind a non-positive and non-serious brand positioning and that’s the last thing you need as an educational institute.

2. Poor contextualization – My conclusion after seeing this video was that if a young person wants to make money and good living without being a daku or chor then he should pursue SBS executive education course. Why would you want to compare your TG with chor-daaku? And who would want to be a batch-mate with some gali ka gunda!

3. YouTube basics missing – video title like Shanti Business School – Executive PGDM is not going to take your video anywhere. Ideal video title for YouTube videos are one which will create curiosity, for eg: ‘How to earn your next promotion’

If you do all the effort in making a YouTube video, it is important that you do it well to create a positive impact on the brand. Always a good thing is to show a video to few people and take their feedback before uploading it on a public forum like YouTube.