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    ITL #239 Putting the idea first: channel agonistic firms of the future

    Written By: AMAN GUPTA

    Customers drive change! There is no denying that.

    Today, the consumer has evolved and is connected more than ever. And most brands have a direct linkage with the consumer through multiple mediums.
    This, automatically, is changing thinking on consumer behavior in defining future campaigns and driving business impacts.
    Businesses need to keep this well-connected consumer and his or her buying journey at the heart of the brand communication campaign. As a provider of content, the uniqueness of our trade lies in finding that one ‘IDEA FIRST’ that influences consumer behavior in the direction we want. A successful campaign begins with an articulated creative idea that forms the central theme of the campaign and is tied across all messages and communication channels to engage with the audience.
    At the same time, it is important that the communication campaign developed to promote this idea is channel or media agnostic, given the understanding that the audience in any industry will approach several mediums. Today, the scenario of having faith in a single channel is passé and the brand needs to engage with the prospects through multiple channels.
    There is a series of these mediums to be explored for an all-round 360-degree communication campaign: online, offline, social, digital, mobile, direct. These will only grow in numbers, complexity and interconnectivity in the times to come.

    Solving the puzzle
    As the ‘next gen’ communicator looks at solving the puzzle of which channel to use with limited resources, questions that need to be answered are:

    • What connects my content across multiple channels?
    • What will build engagement with my target audience?
    • What will drive the consumption and henceforth action?

    To answer all these questions, it is imperative for organizations like us to work on three parallel tracks to ensure that we bring TANGIBLE CHANGE and deliver measurable impact for the defined goals.

    • The power of ‘idea first’
    • Influencer Driven Engagement Approach (IDEA)
    • Operational efficiency

    Let’s go through each thematic track one by one.

    The power of ‘idea first’
    ‘Idea first’ should be the first step in the process of crafting any successful communication campaign. The creative idea is the central thought/theme that binds everything together, ensuring that the messages work across multiple channels and build ‘connect’ to engage with the audience. A recent excellent example of ‘idea first’ in action is Pepsi India’s #ReleaseThePressure work. This took the issue of parents pressurizing their children ahead of exam season and used it to build a campaign for its Mirinda brand.

    Influencer Driven Engagement Approach (IDEA)
    For any idea to be seeded well, we need to find our champions to advocate the IDEA. This is called engaging with ‘Influencers as messengers’. Recent studies have concluded that credibility is one of the key factors for a target audience to accept the information provided to them through multiple channels. It’s about believing in the messengers.

    Therefore, mapping, engaging and aligning relevant and credible messengers, especially in the case of sensitive issues, will be crucial to the success of the campaign. While in the past advertising firms have driven this through endorsements, in recent times public relations firms have started to explore the space with some excellent results by using innovative tools. For example: ‘I.D.E.A™’ is a tool that we at S.P.A.G. introduced with great success in 2014.

    Operational efficiency
    This for me is the lifeline for the success of any campaign. I call it ‘Balancing the Act’: Marketing communication experts agree that a fragmented marketing communications landscape requires marketers to adopt a multi-channel marketing strategy that engages customers through a wide variety of mediums but they also advocate for a balancing act that ensures equal attention to back-office operations (that is, marketing management, planning, automation, strategy, and monitoring) along with the customer facing aspects of engagement, content strategy and creative.
    The argument runs that with finite human, capital, and technology resources it is important to bring this balance for optimization, efficiency, and effectiveness. In such a scenario, investing in and aligning the right technology solutions will make it simple to manage brand consistency and regulatory compliance while allowing local market personalization and customization.
    We are in interesting times with the channel-agnostic consumer demanding a consistent brand experience across every possible touchpoint. This offers a huge opportunity to brands for engaging with consumers much earlier in the buying journey in the most innovative and creative manner.
    With the consumer getting more power, marketers cannot afford to lose any interaction moment. Campaigns of the future need to be built by putting the idea first.