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Click Asia Summit 2011: Pinstorm's Mahesh Murthy talks about the new rules of digital marketing

By Surina Sayal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Digital | January 24, 2011
The marketing model has been altered, with new rules for brands. Listen, react, plan and pro-act, says Murthy.

The second day of the Click Asia Summit 2011 had a lineup of erudite speakers and some engaging discussions. Mahesh Murthy, founder and CEO, Pinstorm, made a presentation on the new rules of digital marketing for brands.

He addressed the issue of 'buying fans' on the social media sites, a practice that many brands indulge in today. "It is not to 'buy fans', as many do, but the more important metric is 'engagement'. One should measure how much quality time is spent with one's brand," said Murthy.

He pointed out three types of engagements that can be measured -- unprompted, prompted and passive. Unprompted engagement is that in which people willingly, without any provocation, discuss the brand, while prompted engagement is when a specific message is sent out and have people discuss it. In passive engagement, a person is a mute spectator of the message, has heard it or seen it, so has tuned in, but chooses not to respond or communicate any further.

According to Murthy, the amount of engagement and the type of engagement once measured gives a brand an idea of the health of its community. He was quick to point out that when brands buy fans these numbers go down, because they obviously aren't discussing your brand. "For example, a number of brand pages even ask people to 'like' the page on Facebook. This means you are asking them to like it even before they know about it. This will never work to the benefit of that brand," said Murthy.

Digital is turning the industry inside out, he opined, adding that everyone has grown up learning the '4Ps' by Kotler. But now, the entire dynamics of brand building has changed and the 4Ps are becoming extinct.

"All the rules are new. It's a new world where perceptions are changing more rapidly than ever before and if you don't manage your brand in real time, it's a waste," said Murthy.

"People don't buy products, they buy brands," said he. Giving the example of a popular shoe brand, Murthy said, "A company may make its products with raw materials like cotton, rubber, plastic, but the final product has to translate into what the customer wants -- speed, determination, dedication, and fair play. And, the result is an iconic shoe brand.

Discussing new world marketing dynamics, he said that campaign periods have come down from three months to three weeks and even three days. "A client from Singapore contacted us saying they needed to see a presentation in a week, but we asked for more time. They said it had to run in the next two weeks. When we asked what the hurry was, they said the product itself was becoming obsolete in eight week's time, so they had to sell as much possible before that!"

Murthy also discussed the hugely popular Paul the Octopus, who became a rage during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. "Paul, the Octopus was the most talked about thing during the World Cup, even more than the teams and the players! But, surprisingly not a single brand leveraged this opportunity even though Paul rated high on Google search! The point is, if there is an opportunity, is your brand fast enough to take advantage of that?"

Murthy also pointed the flaws in tracking a brand online. "There's tracking and then there's tracking," he said adding, "For example, our tracking for ICICI Bank revealed over 8,00,000 discussions and references to the brand, but a popular UK software only pulled about 1/15th of this."

Murthy discussed another revelation. "Google Alerts pulls less than 0.5 per cent of your brand mentions. You should take the figure that Google Alerts gives you and multiply it by 200 to know how many times your brand was actually discussed," said he.

The new process starts with research, but live research, Murthy reiterates. "What we call active listening -- to everything." The new process continues with action, responding to consumer negatives first, integrating customer service into brand management.

The new process is not just about listening, but reacting as well. Just tracking is not enough. "Planning and analysis is as important," he said, "You have to know what people's perception of your brand is. The last step is to plan outbound deployment, having Facebook pages perhaps and managing conversations and communications. You continue doing this. It's like 'lather, rinse, repeat'."

Therefore, the new model is -- listen (customer service), react (corporate communications, brand marketing), plan and pro-act. Pro-act includes everything -- from brand marketing and product marketing to employer branding. "But, somewhere you have to bring all these departments together. If someone tells you something about your brand, you cannot say, 'You can't talk to me about this, as I handle only brand marketing, please talk to customer service'. A smart company will take that message and give it to customer service. Maybe a team should be put in place to connect all the processes."

Murthy also pointed out an interesting fact and how his agency deals with this. "Some brand customers are more active on weekends. Does that mean we don't talk to them because we don't work on weekends? Since some customers are more active on weekends, many companies deal on Mondays with what has been said about the brand from Friday evening, over Saturday and Sunday. Pinstorm is the only agency that is working in shifts, so we have some creative social media writers and others working in on Sundays too. We work 12x7, not 24x7. Today we're doing this, some day others will too."

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