How should brands steer conversations when times are tough

Published: April 24, 2020 7:57 AM

In the current circumstances, owing to the pandemic, it seems the digital medium is the one that remains efficient and effective

 The platforms that are leading consumption and are likely to continue growing are social media, OTT, gaming and search The platforms that are leading consumption and are likely to continue growing are social media, OTT, gaming and search

By Neena Dasgupta

Our world of transactions is bucketed simply between buyers and sellers, whether it was the time of barters or in times as modern as ours. Its premise is formed clearly on the platform of need and the willingness to pay for the need. With intense competition, the willingness to pay keeps shifting based on different variables. However, the one that does not change ever is the need; only its degree varies.

In good times and bad, each seller needs to ensure that they continue to communicate with the buyer(s). For if we keep the willingness to pay variable in mind, it follows only post consideration. And that requires building a relationship that allows for continued or growing market share and continuity in the conversation.

Keep talking

How should these conversations change when times are tough and the intent to spend or the willingness to pay is low? The relationship link needs to be fed with assurances and a sense of security. Each brand must do two primary things at this time: define their link or hook to strengthen the bonds — it needs to be something that goes beyond the service/ product and take the hue of serving; and define the medium where the conversation can take different shapes and form, and continue to travel through a neural network of individual connections. And in a way that it can be managed for the long term.

In the current circumstances, owing to the pandemic, it seems the digital medium is the one that remains efficient and effective. It’s important to, of course, understand digital consumption trends before the brand stitches a sustained communication plan.

If one were to explore the current trends, the platforms that are leading consumption and are likely to continue growing are social media (Instagram leads the lot currently), OTT (video and audio), gaming (emerging) and search (though underutilised, its relevance is significant). Augmented reality will be expected to gain traction across different sectors, and has the potential to change customer experience altogether. With significant investments driving voice, e-commerce businesses and brands will lead engagement with the next billion users to drive purchases.

It is imperative that these platforms are used in a plan by paying focussed attention to the content to be used, the ad message to be displayed, and using data to amplify the reach of the message further by retargeting. It’s also important to shift to a combination of a buying audience, content archetype and the environment allowing the best reach and engagement with prospects. I believe the digital trends today are directing us to think at the levels of engagement and outcome, both being aligned to long-term business objectives and not limited to short-term objectives of RoI.

What seems to have started as an outcome of the lockdown, will continue in large parts as a habit as soon as a new balance is found in business and life.

Wording it right

There are a few critical inputs required to keep consumer continuity in the digital medium.

Consumer segmentation: Each brand must focus on segmenting their consumers by their psychographics, and design content basis their content archetype.

Creative segmentation: The creatives must be designed for each segment and related audiences, ensuring the message is received in different formats, moods and context. What appeals to the brain is the beauty and relevance, and special attention must be given to both.

Analytical segmentation: Marketers must unify their entire connect initiative reporting on a single platform, allowing them to optimise by parameters such as content, creative, destination and audiences.

Audio integration: OTT audio must be an integral part of the communication process, given that this medium will continue engaging the consumer post the lockdown. Listening is the new watching.

Commercial consideration: Work with partners who bring business outcomes using the best technology and tools available to deliver pure results. Retainerships must be revisited at this time.

Crisis situations tend to lead us to curbing costs of communicating. However, it is this investment at this time that’s going to hold a brand/ organisation in good stead, because they will strengthen their connect, remain in contact and do so in a quiet environment where consumers are listening.

The author is CEO and director, Zirca Digital Solutions

Read Also: Croma’s Ritesh Ghosal on life beyond work

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