For all IT people who want to build a B2C brand someday!

My world is as far from the IT world as possible. I deal in consumer behaviour, emotions, expectations, and satisfaction, day in day out. I am supremely comfortable with the grey areas and value the power of subjectivity in life. In fact I believe that is where the differentiation lies and magic happens. It is what makes your brand more preferable and memorable than the others. And if you are an IT guy, you have probably lost interest in this article, already 🙂 You prefer words like deployment, turn around time, conversions, lead generation, analytics etc-Things that are very objective, black and white and easily measurable as well.

You love charts, graphs and pies, but when asked about 3 personality traits of your brand, you look at me like I am wasting your time :). So, it becomes our job at Barefoot to try to help find a middle ground and make IT guys more tuned with ground realities if they want to build a B2C brand. I hope this article helps all IT professionals out there to consider a different perspective!

Needless to say that this is based on my personal experiences of dealing with left brained people over the years. And that exceptions are always there!

Consumer Behaviour

We as end consumers seldom buy rationally. There are so many relative factors that change our decision every second. Things that are hard and sometimes impossible to measure or track. Anyone from the software background, who wants to build a brand needs to familiarize themselves with the subjectivity of how consumers behave and buy.

Eg: Myntra had stopped its website at one point and decided to only have the App. This was a bold yet catastrophic decision which they later reversed. Let’s assume that they saw that 90% sales conversions were coming from the App. And hence decided that perhaps website was really not needed. However, we all like the “Aur dikhao. Aur dikhao” mentality when we are surfing online for shopping. And what if the consumer was using the web for selecting and surfing, but using the app for making the final purchase? Now this insight is a fictional one, but yet explains my point. One cannot just look at sales or conversions to decide strategy. It has to come from a deeper knowledge of consumer behaviour and translating that into creative solutions and communication.

 The expert- Skill versus talent

Another inertia I see among IT guys is the acceptance of brand consultants as the experts in their field. They will easily trust, respect and pay performance marketing firms or development firms because everything they say is backed by data and timelines. The words “statistics” and “logic” are their favourite! It is black and white, not grey. Set in stone not free flowing and fluid.

Their definition of an expert is one who is given a task and delivers it with tangible/measurable benefits in the most efficient manner. Eg: A good coder who solves the problem in 1/5th the time. Or a data analytics person who shows patterns and trends with statistics and suggests a plan accordingly. The definition is therefore, very skill based and not so much talent based. Here lies the basic discomfort!

For eg: IT guys cannot fathom the idea of a psychiatrist being an expert. Why? Because where are the timelines for delivery or results? Where is the list of tasks that he will achieve each day? And how will I measure the result each month? How will I define the ways in which he will provide solutions? There are just way too many grey areas for them to handle! They would rather be in denial of having depression than consult a shrink, just for the fact that the results are so intangible. Just kidding! 🙂

The truth is, if the world ran only on tangibles, it would be a very predictable place! Sadly, that is not how the world or business works. A lot of it is irrational, impulsive, cultural and emotional. One has to take chances with creativity and be ready for the ambiguous and the INTANGIBLES.

Let’s take the example of the film industry. Do we consider “directors” as experts? Even though they make movies without any idea whether it will be a hit or not. Have we ever thought about that? Brand consultants here are like directors. Actors, music director and costume designers are like creative agencies, and the film promotion and distribution company is like the performance marketing agency. Can the latter yield results without the former? Also can the director ever predict the film to be a hit?

All he can do is direct a script based on his talent and knowledge of the audience, hire the best talent to tell the story, get the experts to distribute the film to minimize risk and then hope for the best. Once the data comes back to him, he can learn from it and try again, but once again with no guarantees because data doesn’t necessarily tell you why the film failed. That is just how creativity works! The distributor can only tell him where to place the movie, not what story to tell.

You can apply the same analogy to sports as well. And mind you, both film and sports industries are one of the biggest money spinners in the world! And both are based on zero guarantees! How shocking is that to you?!

The Metrics

This is by far the most contested point while dealing with IT guys. They come to us with the expectation of a direct impact on sales and leads. It is highly tactical in their minds. According to them, if we place a video online it should lead to sales, else it was a waste of time and money. But everything that brand consultants do is long-term and the strategy needs to be allowed time to brew and show long term results.

Brand building is not lead generation! It assists it. Let me give you an example to explain the difference:

A friend of mine was traveling on Indigo recently, and he saw my Signtist books in the catalogue. So, excitedly he posted a pic of that on FB and tagged me, telling me how proud he was. All his friends saw that post obviously, creating more awareness. I replied saying “Thanks. But did u tell the guy next to you to buy :)?”. He replied “I believe in brand building, not lead generation” 😀 Now do you see the difference?

His FB post may or may not lead to more sales for Signtist. But it sure created more awareness among his friends. And that is worth something to me.

If brand building was only about sales and conversions, Red bull would not be the highest watched / followed Instagram page in the world! Their revenues are 6.4 billion versus Coke at over 40.5 billion! Interestingly, Red bull’s measure of brand equity is at 8.7 billion ( higher than its sales). This difference of “2.3 billion” is a result of intangibles like trust, loyalty, life time value, culture, advocacy, recall, associated with brands. And those are not built through numbers and data analytics but through creativity and behavioral knowledge.

I am also a firm believer in results. And in practical creativity (ideas that are not in thin air but very much doable). But there needs to be a balance. Brand consultancy and creative advertising have an indirect impact on the following and therefore, these are the metrics to follow:

  • Enhanced brand image and awareness in the market
  • Increased market share versus competition
  • Increased revenues overall
  • Increased engagement and traffic
  • Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Enhanced brand culture

If one expects a direct impact then it goes into sales where we should also be getting incentive on each sale. But that is not the case. Our job is to bring traffic and create interest and hope for conversion. We know our work is subjective. An ad can be considered good by some and hated by others. Our job is to consider the following and make a strategy that is as scientific as one can make it for assured results:

  • Target Audience- profile and behaviour
  • Markets and competitors
  • Product or service
  • Business objective
  • Brand USP, philosophy, story, positioning, personality

B2B versus B2C

IT guys need to appreciate the difference between B2B and B2C marketing. The chart below explain it well and also tells you how strategy changes as a result of this. B2B consumers are the most rational. B2C quite the opposite. Also basis the involvement in the buying cycle, the marketing and branding needs change. Eg: an impulse purchase product like Chocolate needs to advertise and be visible a lot more than a water purifier brand. Even the design needs to be far more inviting and rich. The positioning will be more casual and mood based rather than need based etc etc. So there are a lot of factors!

Paying for Ideas

The inertia to pay for ideas is really really high among IT guys. Nobody is denying that execution is the key to everything. But unless you have new ideas, there will be no execution. B2C marketing requires constant ideation at every step. That inherently means taking a risk. There will be hits and misses. One must prepare for that. However, the calculated risk is where the expert consultants play. We know what will out-rightly not work! But a 100% guarantee of success is impossible.

Finally, most IT guys that I have come across are lacking in sense of humour. They take themselves way too seriously. So I do hope this article will be viewed in the right spirit and is useful to see the bigger picture for launching a B2C brand.

In conclusion, brands don’t stand the test of time with data analytics or performance marketing plans. They do it with their mastery and clarity over their brand philosophy, story, culture, positioning and personality. Which leads to ideas, innovations, clutter breaking communication and eventually higher sales, consumer preference, loyalty and delight.

Written by

Arpita Khadria

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