About a decade or so ago, a brand and media manager’s work was really simple in working out a media plan which would cost-effectively reach the target group. The problem was that each medium worked in isolation and there was an optimistic presumption that extending a TV campaign in print, radio and outdoor would extend the longevity of the brand recall. There was no data to support the overlap in the consumer segment and that is the same problem that exists today as well.
Until today we do not have a single system that can create a holistic media plan which spans across all mediums. So either the brand is over-feeding someone who traverses across media or under-feeding others who do not. Reaching consumers through diverse media choices has always been disintegrated and even now, separate agencies work out isolated plans because there is no single consumer view across media. It has the benefits of optimizing budgets to a large extent while increasing efficiencies at the same time. In fact, this is a great business opportunity for an entrepreneur who can weave all medias through a single thread but it is easier said than done. The world is chasing it and solutions will surely emerge.
However, digitization has made one thing possible. And that is connecting media, though sequentially. There was a time some years back when print-mobile connected seemed to be working with QR codes, however that has since waned. IOT will propel this to the next level in times to come and truly leverage multi-dimensional connectedness across an infinite set of attributes to create a complex content-connected web. The handling of that data is, however, another story altogether.
While large innovations to connect TV and mobile are still to come, what has taken off reasonably well is leveraging the effect of BTL to digital. And that is purely due to the reason that BTL creates content, tons of content which are where the content starved digital medium laps it up. What makes the combination more potent is that BTL has the capacity to generate real-life real-people real-stories content which is what finds a lot of credibility and relatability in the digital medium. If leveraged well, it has the potential to contribute to brand image.
Content is one of the cornerstones of digital marketing and companies are investing heavily into it. However what they do not realize is that content is sitting with them. BTL is done selectively on a small scale but once geared up at large national level and integrated with digital, the content problem of any brand is solved by at least 50%. The problem is that BTL is the step child of the brand manager and does not get equal respect and importance in the communication mix. It is perceived as the last small extension to the campaign and not the core. Its connectedness with digital is under-valued and under-leveraged. It is never seen as a content generator but treated mostly in isolation to the digital medium. Partly to blame is the word ‘Below’ in BTL which automatically reduces its importance to make it inconsequential, diluted and out-of-radar. In fact, the term BTL was coined in 1954 as an accounting practice for agency payments and whilst it has become totally outdated now, the acronym still stands.
Any launch plan will allocate 50-60% to TV, 10-15% to digital, 5-10% to radio, 5-10% to production, ~5-10% to BTL and the leftover to internal communication. Save the money to content agencies and pump that into BTL and you have a content goldmine. BTL agencies also need to push this agenda to clients and themselves should now start to become more like digital agencies as well. In fact, every agency has to be a digital agency nowadays and these competencies need to get built fast into the BTL network else they will remain at the fag end of the budget allocation and remain inconsequential in the marketing chain. Similarly, at the client end, the BTL resources quality needs to be upped significantly to leverage this connectedness.
In the end, it would suffice to say that term BTL should be abolished and changed to something more respectable and of stature like (TMC – Targeted Marketing Campaigns) because that is what it achieves. The potential upside of TMC-DIGI is huge and it is high time marketers realize it and start allocating equal monies to TMC as digital.
Sumit Sehgal is the CMO at Intex Technologies and a marketing industry veteran with over 25 years of experience in the domain.
Sumit Sehgal, CMO, Intex Technologies talks about how until today brands did not have a single system that can create a holistic media plan which spans across all mediums.