Goafest 2015: Marketing Mantras from the Big Shots

By Sohini Sen , afaqs!, Goa | In Marketing | April 11, 2015
ZenithOptimedia's Guy Abraham, author Chetan Bhagat, Facebook's Neil Stewart, Jonny Stark from Razorfish and Ashish Hemrajani from Bookmyshow came together to discuss the way forward for brands and marketers.

Digital has changed the way we look at the world. While there are environmental changes in any industry, marketing especially seems to have been impacted by the growth of the digital medium. On day two of Goafest, the industry folk discussed, debated and tried to find out what exactly is changing in the marketing ecosystem, and what can one do to tackle the challenges.

Guy Abraham, global strategic planning director, ZenithOptimedia Worldwide

Guy Abraham

According to Guy Abraham, earned media has a direct co-relation with investments. Abraham suggested certain methods to follow in the digital age. Firstly, according to him, brands must have a connected form of storytelling. A narrative which is interesting and engrossing makes for a better campaign. Secondly, it is also important to have a call-to-action for the target audience. Lastly, brands must also have connected technology. These three things are going to be vitally important for brands going forward, Abraham said.

Abraham further added that, in the new age, companies and brands must mine insights from new sources. They must also find the difference between reported behaviour of the consumer and his actual behaviour. It is also important for brands to move to a content-based model.

Neil Stewart, head of agency, APAC, Facebook

Neil Stewart

Facebook's Neil Stewart started his discussion by explaining how quickly things can change in 10 years - incidentally, the same number of years that Goafest has been on for. Facebook, which in itself is 11-years-old now, has seen massive following in these many years. He was quick to point out that people now access information on their mobile phones, and that this is going to grow from here. According to data shared by Stewart, apps are most used by new phone buyers and, out of these, Facebook and Instagram are most widely used.

At Facebook, before the launch of a product, the product experience and consumer experience is checked before any advertising is done. Stewart was also of the opinion that the currency brands have used so far - the count of likes and followers - will not be viable any more. The future will be more about building brand awareness, increasing online sales, promoting an app or even launching a new product. It is also important to target specific and correct TG. Just as spam ads can drive people away, so can cramming too many factors into one ad.

Jonny Stark, senior vice president, APAC, Razorfish

Jonny Stark

Stark spoke about real-time marketing, and the problems it poses. He shared data showing over seven trillion ads being digitally shared in UK last year. However, out of these, the click through rate was less than one per cent. Consumer apathy is something that worries him, and he mentioned spamming as one of the root causes of that as well. Disguising the same message as not something interruptive will also not work, he stated.

Stark also gave examples of Guardian, Huffington post - both of whose editorial process are adapted to digital first, as well as of YouTube - which of course is user generated content. He urged brands to try and understand why people use the services of a YouTube or Facebook like platform, 24x7. Naming 3 Cs as the main ingredients to get better results, Stark spoke about Content, Community and Commerce. He enumerated some solutions for the challenges of the future. Firstly, he said, it is important to consider the usefulness of each item, medium or product. Secondly, brands must collaborate with consumers and treat them as humans, as against ad targets. Finally, providing a seamless experience will also be a much needed quality, he observed.

Ashish Hemrajani, CEO,

Ashish Hemrajani

Bookmyshow is, perhaps, one of the most popular websites among Indian consumers. However, according to Hemrajani, problems exist for users and consumers in every industry. It is imperative to find solutions and innovative methods to address these problems. He spoke about the push notifications of a very specific, targeted audience. For example, with the data Bookmyshow has got, it can provide offers to its consumers or even predict shows they might be interested in viewing. A vital observation by Hemrajani was that this digital data can be used both positively and negatively.

Bookmyshow, he informed, uses discovery, research, validation and AB testing to understand what the consumer needs - which becomes all the more important because the new 'instagramming', 'snapchatting' generation is very clear about what they want to spend their money or time on.

Chetan Bhagat, author, motivational speaker, youth icon

Chetan Bhagat

Chetan Bhagat was an unlikely guest at this year's Goafest. He shared his own strategy of marketing - for both his books and the brand 'Chetan Bhagat'. His strategy is a two-step process - to reach as many people as possible and then influence them towards a progressive society.

He spoke about how he knows his target audience - that of the mass English speakers or the ones who actually still think in their vernacular languages and talk in English, as opposed to the elite English. While good writing or even luck had favoured him for the popularity of his books, he scaled it up by tying up with movies. Most of his books have been adapted into hit Bollywood movies as well, and he has written the script for Hindi movie 'Kick'. While this may be seen as not furthering his literary career, it did reach out to the larger population who may or may not read books. His recent move to judge a reality TV show is also part of his strategy, as this will put a face to the name of Chetan Bhagat. The numerous talk shows and book releases in popular spots have given him the luxury of enjoying the benefits of a huge marketing plan, without actually spending a penny on advertising.

Bhagat is of the opinion that Twitter is the literature of the present. If one needs to reach out to the current generation, it should encompass all available platforms. He concluded the discussion with some success tips - one must lead the industry before planning any change. Second, he must broaden the view of competition. Third, it becomes important to reinvent - to thrill, excite and surprise. He also felt that passion in intent will show as long as there is humility. Balancing credibility with popularity and trying to stay relevant has been a challenge for him, as it will be a challenge for brands trying to find the perfect marketing mix.

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