Engaging customers is the key
Engaging customers is the key

Marketing has grown bigger than what it has been perceived in past few years. Its time for retailers to understand the importance of marketing and not just splurge money on advertisements. Rita Clifton , Brand Expert shares her views with Gunjan Piplani on how retail can benefit with strong marketing strategies and plans.

Gunjan Piplani (GP): To derive maximum ROI on marketing what are the basic factors one has to take care of?

Rita Clifton (RC): The first component of marketing is creating a good brand. If you haven’t got a good brand, even best managed marketing programme will not work. If your substance is not right there won’t be the repeat purchase or service. When I talk about brand, I talk about a much organised idea, much organised principle behind a business. That means how you serve your customers, how you develop your products, what do all your stores and staff like, every aspect of your operations because in the end the brand is the most important sustainable asset you have in your organisation.  And if you are not building a brand together as a consistent idea, whether you’re directly controlling the business or whether you’re franchising, if you’re encouraging all of your people to build the brand together then you’re not making the best out of your asset and you’ll not get good return on investment.

GP: Customer engagement is one important component for retail business, how can it be enhanced?

RC: In case of customer engagement you don’t have to have great offers in first place. If you have great brand that people want to spend time with, want to engage with. So if you have a great proposition, then of course you can get fans, the people who will love your service, love your product like to talk about on the social network worldwide. Also, if you can have someone who is famous who loves your brand, loves your business then you can use her profile to extend your own. It’s a very cost effective advertisement. And the most expensive advertisements in the world will not make up for you having a bad product. An organisation like Ford in a very majestic way what they did on social media they gave or lent its cars to a whole variety of people and ask them to tweet and comment on facebook about the car, and of course by just giving the cars to the people and encouraging them to talk about is very transparent because they’re confident that it’s a good product. This is a low level investment for Ford and gives extraordinary ROI much better than promote cost advertisements.

GP: Do you think Indian branding has some specific traits which are appreciable?

RC: Would love to say  there are emerging high growth consumers making sure the stage of brand engagement with them, understanding entrepreneurial spirit among your B2B customers, there are new emerging entrepreneurs they want lots of freedom, but they want security that goes with strongly branded business. There’s a lots of difference between North and South India, and if you’re an international brand intending to come in India you need to find a right partner  to do business with a policy based on trust and common understanding of the high standard product and service delivery

GP: Where do the branding procedure in India lagging behind?

RC:  I think organizing idea behind a brand, not in India but in many  markets  around the world it’s lacking People think brand is about the low go and marketing is all about the brand, but truth is brand is about everything you do distinctively to build your business for the long term, how your people behave, how your product and services are developed, and marketing is about how you get your offers with right consumers and ideally those consumers who will champion your business and recommend your business to their network of organizations too. One challenge is about FDI, the complication of business structure which sometimes international companies find difficult to navigate through, besides there are lots informal economies in India, and too many fragmentations which pose a challenge against consistency. Despite India I having a diverse market there should be some consistence standard and quality standard. Local tailoring is definitely a particular challenge in the Indian market.

GP: What is the ideal investment, percentage share of revenue, in branding by the British retailers?

RC:  Brand investment is about everything you do in your orgainisation. You train your people and that is also brand investment, it’s not just HR investment, how you innovate is also part of brand investment. So when you’re talking about property, how good your stores are, how are you designing those stores are all about investment. It can be anything between 1 and 10%.

GP: Can you share a few inputs on IMC?

RC: It’s critically important because of the elements of marketing working together. That’s how your investment becomes more effective, more efficient. If you do lots of little different campaign you will cross your budget.

GP: How successful is the digital branding? Is it only to tap the GenX customers?

RC: Digital is very efficient because you can target more effectively, but in cyberspace it’s very difficult to breakthrough , but 140 million tweets happening a day, so it’s quite difficult to breakthrough in terms of profile, so you must have something very powerful to say, so it’s a challenge to make sure how you are get to find online. You have to optimize your website on the Google search, you have to optimize your relationship with customers and above all people are loving you and talking about you. That’s how you build up your profile. 

GP: How much attention digital branding draws from the customers, in terns of time they spend on it?

RC: You absolutely cannot generalize because it depends on who you are, what you’re saying and how much you’re spending on saying. When it comes to print media, you have to think how areyou going to capture the attention of the customer because people are bombarded with messages all the time, so in print media you have to be imaginative about the placing of the ad also when you are doing web advertisement you need to think about which associate brands or partners you are like to find your customers from, so you need go where your customers are and advertise there. Think which are the brands might they be using so advertise on such brands’ website. When you advertise make sure you do that in very simple, big, high profile way with a clear message.

Bulid your profile, build your presence and build your awareness try where you can optimize the awareness among a particular source of people.  Find out where the customers likely to be, what are they likely to be doing when you are attracting them for a particular product. For example, advertising in in-flight magazines when you targeting an international business person.

GP: What is the duration for print media? What should be the ideal combination, in ratio?

 RC: There’s no absolutely any formula for the combination of print and digital media campaign. Tell us something about the push and pull strategies. Can it be combined?

GP: What are the Pull and Push Strategies?

RC: In pull strategy obviously you need to make your brand as magnetic as you can. Game application of media is very important development getting the people involved.

Push strategy is all about going out and finding your customers who are likely to come to you. So push is about getting out there and presenting message in front of the potential customers you have. In push strategy you will see power of “free”, such as free offer, free game and free connection.

GP: One purpose of branding is to create impression. Can over branding cause irritation?

RC: Pushing the same stuff and making things so uniform can definitely make people irritated. So, you can’t over-brand if you do good branding, but may end up bore people with same messages. So, it all depends on how you are engaging customers.

 In luxury category branding has to be subtle, you don’t need to make everything obvious, you don’t want to have logos on everything.  You ensure that the environment of the store goes well with taste and style of the customers. They might not want to walk with a carrier bag with enormous “SALE” emblazoned on the side. So, you need to think about what is the style, what are the vibes the people are giving off.


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