In an exclusive interview with EVENTFAQS, Jitendra Mirwani, Business Head, Lokmat Community Initiative (Lokmat Connect), discussed how Lokmat engages its audience in small towns and villages, and the importance of experiential marketing for a media house like Lokmat.
Highlight Lokmat's approach in keeping its readers engaged at various levels and elaborate on the importance of experiential marketing and its various formats through this engagement.
Lokmat is the largest selling newspaper in Maharashtra and, one of the reasons it is a leader is its close relations to the readers and the society they live in. To engage our readers, we have created various platforms within the group. Apart from Marathi, we have Lokmat in two other languages namely, Hindi and English. We also have our Marathi news channel IBN Lokmat, Lokmat epaper and Lokmat Connect.
Lokmat Connect is the experiential marketing division of the Lokmat Group. We are the solution enterprise that creates marketing and activation solutions for brands, products and services. This division is proficient in activation, MICE and intellectual properties. Lokmat Connect is one of the largest solution providers across Maharashtra with fully functional and professional in-house client servicing, operations and creative teams at 12 centers including Goa.
Our vision is to be able to integrate all media vehicles including print, outdoor, digital, electronic and social media with on-ground activations and create a 360 degree solution for our clients. Lokmat Connect includes our three properties - Yuva Nxt, Bal Vikas and Sakhi Manch - which are engaged for any brand specific activity wherein maximum benefit can be provided to these social initiatives and the purpose of the brand can also be fulfilled.
Lokmat Connect has, in most cases, created intellectual properties that have benefited the society at large. It may sound philosophical, but the orientation of our endeavours has been driven by creating a positive influence in all sections of society rather than profit. Lokmat Connect creates the highest levels of content for our sponsors and ensures maximum ROI through our reach.
How different or unique is Lokmat's activation strategy from other media brands?
Lokmat Connect's activation strategy is different in three unique ways.
Firstly, not all activations are defined by profit. We feel that there is a long standing commitment to those domiciled in Maharashtra and Goa. We are a delight to both our clients and target audience. We are very clear about the fact that the proposition to our members should benefit them in some way.
Secondly, Lokmat Connect is easily one of the biggest integrators of media in the country. Our clients are excited to partner with us because they realize that Lokmat Connect could bring print/TV/online/outdoor and additional partners to our on-ground activations with ease. Therefore, their ROI from every activity is far higher than working with any other agency.
Lastly, Lokmat Connect is the bank of everything that a Maharashtrian, an individual, youth, a woman, a family and their kids enjoy eating, buying and experiencing. We bring knowledge which benefits our clients or brands who want to associate with us. No other media house could give you a deeper understanding of this than us. Usually, we understand the objectives of our clients and approach it objectively to connect it with the right initiative. Other media brands simply do not have the scale of community platforms or local knowledge to support this.
What is the basic objective of creating activations for readers? Does this enhance readership/customer base or loyalty (or both)?
For media brands, it is important to be relevant. In the current scenario, reporting news is one end of the spectrum. On the other, readers or viewers expect analysis or expert opinions. The quality of both of the above, with the right packaging, creates loyalty. The same logic applies to activations. We have to be relevant in the geography defined. What we create has to be recognized by our reader or target audience as something he or she connects with.
We recently created a scholarship program for aspiring students for one of our clients. Their proposition was to sponsor select good students and give an opportunity to all to join their courses at a reasonable fee across Maharashtra. The entire scholarship program was developed by us and we created an inclusive plan where most students would avail of the benefits of the program and a few of them were sponsored completely. The response generated was overwhelming and we are planning to make it an annual property for our client.
With regards to an increasing customer base, we have programs but unless we integrate brand proposition in an acceptable format to our potential readers, it will simply not work.
Given the brand's regional approach, how are insights from smaller towns/villages used as concepts in activations/events?
One of our key value propositions is our understanding of the Maharashtrian and their behavioural, social and buying/spending habits. Not only Maharashtra but India lives in villages and small towns. Therefore, the insights define the success of any activation.
For example: Maher - The term refers to the coming back of women to their parents' house for the first time after marriage. They are pampered and taken care of exclusively. Vivel from ITC approached us and expected us to create connect with women in towns of Maharashtra who valued skin care, and tie it with an activity. Hence, we created Vivel Maher. Women were invited to a location where we gave them an afternoon of complete pampering. Games and activities were conducted. Traditional food and sweets were offered. Contests were held and gifts were handed out. They were allowed to freely discuss their relationships, experiences with their in-laws, etc.
The result of the activity was that we received calls from the attendees saying they had never experienced something like this before. Some of the women had tears in their eyes with the amount of pampering they experienced.
Another example was the Kotak Mutual Fund's Investor Education series. The bank wanted to approach towns in Maharashtra where there were high net worth individuals and wealthy businessmen, but their exposure to the mutual fund segment was limited. Our insight is that the HNIs in the Maharashtra hinterland are more conservative with their investment and trust government bonds/securities than private players.
We explained to Kotak Mutual Fund that if they had to make an impression, they would have to be one of their own. We created a team of experts from Kotak Mutual Fund (all from Maharashtra, speaking in Marathi) and created a forum where they would explain how they were themselves from small towns and weary of investing earlier in mutual funds, especially by private players, but have now grown their wealth manifold and are completely secure.
The result was that Kotak Mutual Fund received investments from the most unexpected areas of Maharashtra and we plan another leg of seminars in different towns.