Increasing sales with content marketing

All you want is to get enquiries from qualified leads which have a very high probability of converting into customers.

After you have put much thought on your product and other operational matters , the whole trick of the business is to be where your customers are, to get noticed and subsequently become a preferred brand of the customer. There are two ways of reaching out to customers and these are inbound marketing and outbound marketing. Inbound marketing is to attract potential customers through various strategies that would result in relevant enquiries. Outbound marketing on the contrary is when you establish a direct contact with the customer to seek business which could be via a personal meeting or direct phone calls etc.

Finding customers is an uphill task. The market is occupied by large number of competitors who have similar products as yours and equally high are the number of products of all kinds, trying to grab the consumer’s limited attention. All are vying for the same customer’s Mindspace. There must be a strong reason for the buyer to notice your marketing communication, after all customers have limited attention span and they too prioritize what to see and what to ignore. Let me talk about a very simple and yet prudent method of finding those  people out of the crowd, who will most likely buy your products, also called your target customer.

Attracting Strategies

Inbound marketing strategies that attract your target audience and buyer personas are tied to content creation and development. When using inbound strategies to engage your audience, ensure you’re communicating and dealing with leads and customers in a way that makes them want to build long-term relationships with you. Remember that a hard sales pitch is felt intrusive by your customers. They are looking for a solution each time they are buying a product or service. For example, consider furniture as your product. The customer is looking for a solution for comfort and aesthetics. Therefore, you need to address these issues in your communication. It is the needs of the customer that have to be put on top of everything. This is where the content plays a major role.

Content constitutes everything that you say to the customer via websites, brochures, blogs, whitepapers etc. If your content focusses truly on the aspirations and needs of your customer and tries to offer a solution or a helping hand  rather than hard selling your products, chances are that the customer will herself come to you and consider your products while making a purchase decision. In other words, it is the customer engagement that matters. For example, if you are a home décor company, a blog will be a great tool for you to engage customers. You can write about various facts about beautifying homes without giving any reference to your products and engage the customers in a discussion via the blog. There are chances that after reading couple of your blogs, which I assume will provide interesting information, the customer will herself visit your website and  make an enquiry about your products.

Website content is your first introduction to your customers. The first page has to convey maximum in few words. Remember the customer attention span is too short and therefore you need to be very clear about your Unique selling proposition (USP) which must be on top of your homepage. You must be very choosy about what aspects of your product/ service you need to put there and the words you choose. You must be able to peep into the customers mind and that of the competitor’s and then decide what you must communicate to the customer so that it resonates with their aspirations or needs. For example , a company producing high-end tea, instead of putting up the pictures of different teas along with their benefits on the home page might as well write content which connects with the target customer’s lifestyle because it is an expensive tea, which is not a need but can be a much sought-after product if linked with lifestyle. These are some things which a marketing agency can think for you.

Improving the quality of your content is pivotal to the success of your marketing campaigns. The quality of your content is relative to your audience’s profile. With a better understanding of your customer’s needs, you can offer content with higher resonance.

Typically, inbound marketing strategies are more cost effective and will generate a higher rate of return in the long term. These strategies include attracting qualified prospects, offering a more targeted approach and using helpful, relevant interactions and content to generate leads. According to Search Engine Journal, inbound leads cost 61% less than outbound leads. When asked which marketing tactic generates higher quality leads for the sales team, 59% of marketers surveyed replied inbound, 16% replied outbound and 26% accounted for self-sourced leads.

According to a HubSpot report, 53% of marketers say that creating blog content is their top inbound marketing priority. Without useful and valuable content, there is no way to keep and convert your leads. Your content needs to stand out and break through the clutter. Don’t just produce content to have something on your website – make sure it has a purpose.

To attract your audience members on a deeper level through inbound marketing, optimize all of this content with an SEO strategy. An SEO strategy will require you to target specific keywords and phrases related to your products or services, the challenges you solve for customers, and the ways you help target audience members. A content marketing agency uses various tools to identify the keywords and write an SEO friendly content. This will allow your content and information to organically appear on the search engine results page (SERP) for your target customers.

If you want to future-proof you’re marketing you should focus on two things: creating an incredible online presence that focuses on creating your own audience and providing them with an engaging content to convert them into your customers.

Personal Branding for success

Every year in India lacs of students qualify Grade 12th exams and  have to make a career choice which stays with them for the rest of their lives and determines their entitlement. However not everyone ends up finding their dream job. What happens to the rest?

Students are indeed competing for the limited resources and opportunities. The performance bars are moving  up every year and limited candidates are selected in reputed courses.  Students are studying harder and harder to make up to the raised bar, but there are still some who are left behind. In an interview in Times of India, at the back drop of Global Business Summit 2018 in New Delhi, Steve Woznaik said that in India kids have found a straight forward formula for success which is to study hard, get marks, join degree courses and earn high paying jobs. It is a structured formula, in which the creativity is lost because everyone is same, following the same path. Again, not everyone would be able to pursue this track. Not everyone can secure admission to a good Engineering college or a seat in medicine. The question then is, given this situation how should majority of the students deal with their career?

Personal branding is all about how you are seen by others and whether you have something tangible to offer so that the outside world is compelled to make a place for you. You will always hear one question from prospective employers, institutions and prospective business partners, “What is in it for me?” In other words, how will your unique characteristics benefit others so that you can command a place for yourself. What is it that you have to bring to the table? It is essentially about two things your skills and abilities and how you communicate your talent to the external world.

In a world where we see volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, VUCA as we call it, a constant updation of skills is essential to keep oneself relevant. Consider the example of the pandemic which we have been witnessing since the year 2020, industries such as hospitality, aviation, food delivery portals or cab aggregators faced the heat. These were the industries which were doing a roaring business. Industries such as  ecommerce, telecom companies, artificial intelligence and machine learning and digital transformation are the sectors that commanded sizeable share of GDP during this time. This indicates that some skills became obsolete suddenly which necessitated the acquisition of new skills.

Next thing about skills is that sometimes we are ignorant about our own exceptional qualities. I have in my speaking career seen hundreds of people who are at loss of words when you ask them to write down the positive characteristics of their personality where as it takes them no time to pen down their shortcomings . One day I was speaking to the senior executive of an ITES company where her team dealt with customer complaints. She had approached me for career counselling and mu usual question was about her positive side. At first, she couldn’t think about anything. On digging deeper, she said that the recent company data revealed that her department took 60% less time to resolve customer complaints compared to the company average and they also received fewer repeat calls from customers. I consider this as a remarkable achievement, considering how much efficiency she had brought in. Unfortunately, she was ignorant about her capability. This happens with most of us.

I personally believe that each one of us has certain abilities  which we do not recognize or appreciate. Many a times we underestimate ourselves and  fail to recognize  our strengths which could help us in getting ahead in our lives. If only we could take some time and make a mental note  and be consciously aware of our positive side, we could end up having a better opinion about our own self. I always push my audience to perform this exercise of listing down the good things about them. Nothing is small, even if you have helped an old man to cross the road that is also worth putting in the list because this reflects your empathy, which is a quality very much required by the world outside you. you are akin to a brand and you need to discover the compelling characteristics of you which could make you the first choice  of the recruiters and other opportunities.

Having listed your strengths, next thing is to have awareness about the world in general. The information which you possess about the latest happenings and anything that is relevant to your area of interest is the key differentiator of brand you. Keep yourself updated  through daily newspapers  and other sources of information. It is important that you know about the available opportunities and the skills and abilities required to be eligible for them. Next thing  is to do a self-assessment to see if you have in you whatever it takes to grab those opportunities. This is how you will find an answer to the question, “what is in it for me?” It is important to continuously enhance your skills  by taking up additional contemporary courses  and increase your knowledge about the fields that are of interest to you. The crux is that you need to find a niche for yourself.

By now you have built the brand you. The next important thing is to communicate about this brand to the world outside. Take a stock of how good you are at talking about yourself. Are you fluent in your language? Even if you know the language, are you comfortable with expressing yourself? Can you connect with others and build a rapport? Sometimes, we may have exceptional skills but we may be poor at communicating them, in that case it is as good as not having those skills. Remember that being able to communicate your uniqueness is as important as being unique.

Early interventions for promoting entrepreneurship and student start-ups

Strategies for encouraging youngsters to take up entrepreneurship are implementable at two levels namely,

  1. Building desirable attitudes amongst students by family and school.
  2. External ecosystem whose stakeholders are business entities, government and the academic institutions.

Entrepreneurial mind-set is acquired from the family at a very early stage. Youngsters from business families pick up an attitude and even skills from a very young age and later they either join their family businesses or else start on their own. One significant fact about such youngsters is that they do not possess risk aversion.

Right from the time of early education, children develop certain attitudes and behaviours which stay with them all through their lives. For example, risk taking, thinking innovatively and venturing into unknown, ability to develop passion, ability to communicate effectively and get along with varied types of people. There is a need to have an education system at the school level which encourages them to think and feel to be perceptive and analytical and develop original thinking.

The reason why I am focusing on the attitude part as a significant constituent of the strategy for entrepreneurship is because entrepreneurship is about being perceptive and analytical enough to take cues from the society and identify an opportunity. It is about picking up an unserved need or an unsolved problem and creating a solution. It is also about creating trust in others and building relationships and networks and subsequently leveraging on those connections through mutual learning, sharing of ideas and resources. Entrepreneurship is also about being optimistic, experimenting with new and unknown and being full of energy. Ideas which solve a real problem and benefit people/consumers can always raise money. We have seen that in good number of success stories both Indian and others.

The second level is the ecosystem which comprises of business entities, government and academic institutions. I would start with academic institutions. Setting up incubators not just in Business schools or engineering colleges but in all streams of courses may it be liberal arts or commerce etc. is essential. We have to change our mind-sets from thinking that only MBA or engineering students would look out for setting up businesses. Secondly, Incubators will help only if the courses are taught in   a manner that students are encouraged to apply what they learn or learn by doing. Students should be allowed exposure to the world of business through industry academia connect. Industry and Academics should not work in silos, there should be a collaboration between the two. That way we will also get over the problem of the industry not being able to find  the relevant skills in the freshers. The skill gap can be overcome in this manner.

Start-up India has a student mentorship program which is part of Canada India acceleration program which would enable collaborations between Canadian and Indian Institutions. Start-up India must include mentorship and incubation for aspiring student entrepreneurs and begin tie ups with educational institutions. This will facilitate an easy transition of a student into an entrepreneur. I would also say that banks who are so eager to sell so many loans to the retail customers should support the incubators in the academic institutions and run mentoring programs and later finance the entrepreneurial ventures.

Students possess energy, problem solving capability, analytical skills, new innovative ideas and many other qualities such as working hard and perseverance and social skills etc. However, what they lack is experience. If they find a mentor who can apprise them about how things are organized and how they have been working so far by sharing their experiences, I think students will be better equipped to take their decisions. The mentor can widen their perspective and offer them more pointers so that their decision making is balanced and practical.

Funding options for start-ups

According to the government statistics, India has the third largest start up ecosystem in the world. A YOY growth rate of 12- 15% is expected. In 2019 alone there were 13 new tech startups which means an average of 2-3 tech startups every day. In 2018, the startups created about 40,000 new jobs. Bangalore has been listed within world’s 20 leading startup cities in 2019 startup Genome. Private equity deal volume was $26.3 billion in 2018.These statistics are quite heartening.

Sources of funding are:

  1. Boot strapping
  2. Angel investors
  3. Crowd sourcing
  4. Government schemes
  5. VC Funding

You can raise funds via bootstrapping or angel investments at the pre seed stage. This is the ideation stage when your product has not yet gone into the market. Under bootstrapping you can put your personal resources to use and Angel investing refers to friends and family investing in your business.

One can approach VCs when the entrepreneur has at least prototype ready or has already pilot tested their product or service and are serving a small base of customers and now they need additional funding to scale up. Which means that initial funding is to be managed via bootstrapping or angel investors. Bank loans are difficult at this stage.

The manner in which VCs evaluate is this:

They look for ideas which solve a unique problem. If you look at Byjus, Ola in India, Zomato or Airbnb. They were all pioneers in their fields  , meeting an unmet need of the customers. The second important factor which VCs would see is whether your business is scalable. In all these examples which I just cited; the businesses were scalable. Which means that with   a certain fixed cost   one can increase the customer base without any major incremental cost. This means that the chances of a venture being profitable are higher. VCs obviously look for business ideas which they believe will be profitable.

Crowd funding through online platforms is an option which has come up in recent years. Online platforms such as  Ketto & Milap raise funds through their portals.

How to increase student enrolment in higher education?

What criteria do students adopt to choose an educational institution for higher education? There are more than 10,000 higher educational institutes in India. It has become essential to attract potential students with new cost-effective avenues. In my opinion two factors which lead to a good enrolment number in universities and colleges are;  firstly, the core product ( Service) which the educational institutions have to offer  and second is the marketing tactics used to reach out to the potential candidates.

By core product I mean the value proposition of the university. This refers to the courses offered , the pedagogy, infrastructure such as a well-stocked library, online or offline and the quality of teaching. Student placement is indeed the most important factor that determines enrolments and constitutes an essential part of the value offered by the institution. Placements are determined by the quality of the outgoing students. Quality of students depends on the quality of experience which students have on the campus. Alumni become the brand ambassadors of the institution. The word-of-mouth publicity is the most effective marketing tool for educational institutions, but it calls for sincere efforts by the institution to offer a superior student experience. Quality education can be ensured through a contemporary course curriculum which is relevant to the industry. In India there is a gap between what industry requires and what students learn through their education. Exceptional student experience can be created through superior quality of teaching. Education must be contemporary, supported with current know how and technology . The faculty must be updated at all times about the developments in their specific fields. The teaching load should take into account the time required for professional development of the teaching faculty, which is a valuable investment that reflects in superior teaching quality.

Appropriate marketing strategy is important for reaching out to the students in a market which is crowded with large number of players, each promising good quality education and placements. Visibility of the institution is a crucial factor and has to be addressed through marketing efforts. In a digital era, the institutions can directly reach the palm tops of their target customer, which sounds interesting to those who have witnessed a non-digital era when educational institutes appeared on the print media alone. However, mere accessibility is not a factor to be cheered because the digital space is overcrowded which makes it even more challenging to stand out.

It is important to understand how the youth consumes the information on the digital platforms. Current generation finds videos more interesting, they want to hear and  not read. They look for quick information and cannot wait, which makes it important to make use of technology for prompt interaction with the prospective students, to answer their queries. Gone are the days of heavy paper work and long application forms, the online and easy application process can help in attracting students. Institutions must make use of Social media for student engagement, SEO( search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) for being found on top of all the searches. Use of data analytics brings clarity about the quality of marketing efforts being made by highlighting factors such as the efficacy of various platforms in terms of their reach and engagement with the target customers. Data analytics enables the institutions to be better informed about whether their marketing dollars are well spent.

While marketing is essential for attracting students, it can not be effective in the absence of a sound  value proposition. If the quality of student experience is of low grade, the institution will gradually see a decline in enrolments, year after year and also a degradation in the quality of students they attract. This is a slow process which is triggered by the word-of-mouth publicity by the alumni who have had a first-hand experience of the institution.

Written by Rohini Vaishnavi ( Founder – R V Learning Foundation)

Giving a boost to campus placements.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is of the opinion that  India is staring at a 29 million skill-deficit by 2030. Accenture’s projection is that the skill gap in India will cause a loss of $1.97 trillion in terms of gross domestic product promised by investment in intelligent technologies over the 10 years if it is not controlled.

There are many factors that are attributed to causing the skill gap in India, however, experts  point out that while the basic concepts and principles are present in the college curriculum, there exists a gap in the teaching and learning pedagogy being followed. With 15 million youngsters entering the workforce each year, corporate India and research institutes seem to agree that 65-75% are not job ready or are unemployable. Research has it that the problem of the skill gap in India boils down to the low levels of youth employability across the country.

On one hand the gap exists in hard skills such as technology and know how and on the other hand the gap also exists in human skills. The skill gap in India has hit the IT sectors the most. According to IBM, at present, there is a shortage of at least three million cyber-security professionals in India. The shortcomings in soft skills such as communication, grooming, self-confidence , self-awareness, goal orientation, interpersonal skills and the lack of exposure to the industry are greatly responsible for no hiring from campuses in spite of the existence of the vacancies.

To address the skills shortage, recruiters are shifting their focus to hiring professionals with the ability to adapt to changing roles in flexible organizational structures. On a softer side, recruiters would be looking for graduates who are resilient, solution-oriented and innovative. This indicates that  the employment opportunity of individuals with relevant human skills which enable them to adapt , analyze, problem solve and have people skills, have better chances of being hired.

Even though the personality traits such as interpersonal skills , self-awareness, self-confidence and goal orientation are a part of one’s upbringing and are learnt by a person over a period of time, there are certain interventions such as counselling and training which can nudge certain latent attributes of one’s personality. Personality development programs can help in awakening an individual to self-awareness and realization of potential within. Right counselling enhances the self confidence in an individual by creating focus on personal strengths. Personal grooming and the do’s and don’ts of human-to-human interactions can be taught in workshops. Communication skills such as English language can be taught in classrooms.

Students and Institutes should focus on those industries for placements which are growing in the current situation .Medical science and bio sciences research is expected to see a heavy inflow of funds. Agricultural scientists and food technologists are also emerging careers. Big data and fin-tech are other high growth areas with handsome packages on account of scarce talent. Clearly, data science, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and other similar industries would be booming. They may even consider environment and sustainability as these have now become mainstream.”

There will be a change in the way companies hire. Recruiters will rely on robotic technology for the selection process to make it free from human error and bias. AI-powered software can also scrutinize job networks and envisage success rates by checking the online presence of the candidate. More and more companies will be opting for these programmes to meet the high standards. Therefore, students should be careful about their postings on the social media, because it also forms a part of their portfolio.

Those seeking jobs in difficult times need to focus beyond the normal, be flexible, upskill and be ready to negotiate, according to the industry, look at all that one can do to be more employable amid the economic instability. Upskilling and practicing patience is essential in the face of the pandemic that we are witnessing.

Written by Rohini Vaishnavi

Founder – R V Learning Foundation

Where Is My Voice In The Noisy World Of Social Media

By Rohini Vaishnavi

There is a lot of noise all over the social media platforms with everyone trying to showcase their talent and offerings, especially because of the pandemic. Speakers and listeners both are fatigued. Speakers are fatigued because they can’t woe the audience even if they make their pearls of wisdom available for free and the listeners have the obvious reasons for being exhausted. After all what all can they listen to?

Pandemic has caused drastic changes in the lifestyle especially work and sleep patterns which is leaving people exhausted. There is no demarcation between the work and private life. Scientifically, when we leave from office to get back home, there is a commute involved and during that time we are mentally winding down. Similarly the routines like family time in the evening, reading a book or watching a TV show send signals to the body which starts producing melatonin and preparing the body for sleep. Having lost the demarcation between work and the personal life, minds are in a constant state of activity which causes stress. Those who lost their jobs or fear losing jobs have obvious reasons to be stressed.

In the middle of all this, every business is trying to stay afloat may it be a big capitalist or a small hawker or a nearby Pizza outlet. Since there is no one outdoors, everyone is forced to be on the social media. When I look at platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram and twitter, I tend to lose my clarity of thinking because I am so carried away by everything that is there that I can’t tell how I spent an hour or half reading or watching things which may not even be relevant to me. After sometime I am surprised to see that the clock has taken quite a leap and this leaves me feeling guilty because I have more important tasks at hand on which I should have spent my time. After grasping so much information which was not really so important to me, I feel exhausted and obviously my productivity goes down. Suddenly I realize that it is time to cook dinner. After all there can be a flexibility in work timing for any other type of work except for cooking a meal. Being a women I cannot afford to be so engrossed in my work that I forget to cook a meal for my family. Day after day passes feeling guilty that perhaps I have not been able to do justice to household chores and nor have I been able to do justice to my official work. Such are the dilemmas which many of us are facing due to lost work and life demarcation.

Coming back to the noise on the social media which is deafening, I feel sad for all those who are constantly making noises and are still unheard, getting few viewers or likes and comments. I am also one of those who can be pitied. Imagine the stress of going back to social media handles to check how many people liked your post. This is another type of Social media anxiety, which certainly is not new but I should say it is more prevalent now than before.

You must be wondering, what am I trying to say? What is this article about? Is it about social media or about people’s lifestyle in pandemic? As I am writing, I am myself not aware but I can tell you how I started to write this article. I started with the intention of mapping my customers on the marketing funnel for my company’s services. As I am further working on developing content and marketing communication strategy it became necessary for me to think of meeting my customers where they are in their life stages so that I am able to address their genuine needs to offer them value. Should I expect the customer to come to me and listen to me whenever I am on the social media? Or should I try to be there when my consumer needs my services depending on their life stages and the circumstances of their lives. After all by offering my service to them, I am intending to be a part of their lives, how can I shy away from understanding the entire milieu in which they are spending their life? Therefore, while I set out to put some thought on my marketing communication strategy, this entire Pandora box opened in front of my eyes from where the things like, life style, stress, noise over social media, falling incomes and work life balance started to pour out before me. In the middle of all this, should I over burden those who I wish to serve or should I understand when, how and where do they really need my service so that I can make a positive impact on their lives?

The truth is that each one of us wishes to hear something that really takes away some burden from us or hands over a solution that addresses a need. Yet we feel overwhelmed by all the noise around us, excessive information and data in the form of written text, audio and video. My article is also gradually becoming a part of that noise which will find its place in someone’s trash folder. However, I do not wish to end up there hence it is important that I meet my customers when they need my service. Tracking my customer’s journey and the marketing funnel in tandem will enable me to know them better and make my offerings more relevant to them. I do not wish to burden them through over communication or by sneaking into their social media space un-invited. I want my product to address a genuine need and offer value.

Therefore, few things shall be key to my success first is a clear value proposition which is also distinct from the competition and second is to find a place where my customer is present and would also like to know more about my offerings and third and most important is to imagine the milieu in which the customer exists to be a part of that milieu as an asset.

Changing marketing Paradigm with changing customer expectations

By Rohini Vaishnavi

Marketing Strategist, Management Educator, Entrepreneur & Social worker

The need for social distancing & the low purchasing power of the consumers on account of COVID 19, has changed the business paradigm. This has induced changes in the purchase preferences of consumers and in the way they shop. Some of the changes may stay forever, changing the business processes and marketing tactics forever.The three major changes in the consumer behaviour are Changing rules of customer engagement, shift in the media consumption habits of consumers and shift from brand loyalty to value for money equation.

Changing Customer Engagement Model

Customer engagement model is bound to change as the human interaction has to be minimal. There is a need for reducing the customer touch points in the physical sense and hence, there has to be a difference between the traditional sales funnel and the new sales funnel facilitated by the digital transformation of the sales process. As the above diagram indicates that the digital transformation enables consideration, Intent to buy and evaluation online compared to the traditional model whereby awareness and interest was generated through media platforms.

Social selling replaces the cold calling with the use of social media platforms. Data analytics and big data helps in customer profiling. This data can help in the customer acquisition. Here the content marketing plays a great role whereby you share content with customers and initiate conversations and subsequently look for the right moment to join the conversation and take the conversation further with the relevant content so as to build trusted relationships.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning throw up relevant information which is customised to each customer and this can help greatly in influencing the customer and generating interest. Price comparison engines and ecommerce sights allow the customer to compare brands online, evaluate products and even purchase online wherever possible. This is how digital transformation has the potential to change the sales funnel and reduce the face to face contact.

Insurance companies have already started making use of digital transformation (Ref.Business standard, Mumbai edition dated June 20, 2020), the processes starting from customer acquisition to generating awareness and later servicing is being handled through apps by companies such as ICICI prudential. Agents are also being trained on educating the customers on the use of apps.

Consumers may avoid going to stores for a long time to come hence manufacturers are trying to tie up directly with online retailers. The local grocery stores in India are now trying to become digital savvy and buying from online sellers as the supply chain fell flat. So the new habits are being born. Now local grocery stores have discovered something new which they would never have discovered otherwise. The question now is that after the lock down, will they go back to their earlier ways or would they switch to online.

Customer engagement methods can be re drawn through digital transformation. Many companies are already practicing this but post COVID, companies will not be left with any option but to bring in technology to drive the sales process. Digital transformation requires people within the organization to accept the change and alter their thinking, behaviour and to rethink existing, structures and processes.

Many brands are dependent on touch and feel of their products, with social distancing as a new variable the entire marketing strategy for the product needs to be re thought. The product positioning and what they communicate to the consumer about why they are different from the rest will completely change now. It means that the entire brand personality and hence the USP will now need re – thinking.

There will be a tremendous shift towards tech driven shopping.Virtual trial rooms through augmented realty to try outfits without actually wearing them, Queing technology for pre-booking appointments in the stores for maintaining social distance while shopping, and identifying those who are not wearing masks in public places through cameras.

Omnichannel marketing is currently being used by companies such as Starbucks, Virgin Atlantic and Disney. However post Covid this is the need of the hour as this gives customer a uniform experience across all the digital platforms may it be the apps, website or any other platform. For example if you have a starbucks wallet and you run out of money in it, you can quickly reload it either on your phone or laptop and the information reaches the billing clerk in the real time about the wallet being charged. This leverages on data from various sources for improved customer experience. It enables the customer to pick up from where they had left irrespective of the platform that they are using. This is different from being multiple channel marketing because in the latter all the media platforms may not be integrated

Brand Loyalty Versus Value for Money

The Concept of premium is dwindling because consumers are holding on to the cash, saving it for future expenses. Consumers will now weigh the price value equation more closely. Therefore brands will have to be sensitive towards the voice of the consumers. The top end brands such as Tag Heur, Harley Davidson, Ralph Lauren , Orra and many others are luring customers with heavy discounts. These are the brands which resisted selling online in the normal time because it vitiated their elite image, however now they are using Omni channel marketing techniques.

According to Nielsen research, recent lock down witnessed a surge in the sale of private brands such as tasty treat and golden harvest. These brands grew at a double digit rate, around 25 – 30 % in the absence of leading national brands. The survey indicates that brand loyalty could diminish in the near future which will be replaced by right price and value equation which could help private labels expand their appeal.

Given all these changes, customer expectations are expected to change from brand loyalty to value for money. As consumers will move down on Maslow’s need hierarchy to a level where basic needs will be of utmost importance given that they would like to spend less, basis of loyalty may also change given that hygiene and social distancing will occupy an important place in the consumer’s mind. Whether it is a service such as hospitality or any of the products, this criteria will dominate the consumer’s mind.

An E & Y study says that at present consumers fall under four grids; 35 % of the consumers save & stockpile whereas 27 % have deeply cut their budgets, 11 % are hibernating and then spending and 26% are staying calm and carrying on. In future consumers are expected to fall under four categories where in 50 % consumers will optimistic, 19% will keep cutting spending, 29 % will save and 2 % will be unaffected.

Shift In Media Consumption Habits of Consumers

Today’s ads are reflective of the most searched trends in the country. Google trends in May first week suggests that most searched words were immunity booster. Therefore brands are resonating the same values in their promotions.Delmonte products are using the tag line “Boost your immunity with each step”. Wagh Bakri tea, Horlicks are promoting immunity boosting capability of their products. Companies like Dabur are harping on Vocal for local.

However, a caution needs to be exercised. It is fine to come up with a new product line that address the new issues such as that of immunity but merely changing the current brand’s positioning without any value addition to the product may prove opportunistic.

One thing that clearly stood out during this period is that the extent of video viewing increased greatly. Right from people learning the tips of gardening to an electrician learning more about his work, given they do not possess any formal degree. So we see a shift in the consumer behaviour in terms of the the viewing time spent by the consumer. This is an input to the marketers on the basis of which they can design their marketing campaigns.