Rolling the dice in advertising
How far will advertising take your company?
‘The purest taste of Quality’ screamed at me from giant billboards across Goa, accompanied by a picture of a few milk pouches in a fishing boat on a beach. The brand name was circled with orange drops. The pouches in the boat signified the arrival of the brand on Goan shores. Beyond that there was nothing to suggest why or what ‘purest’ meant . It could have been an advertisement for orange juice. The large orange drops surely did not signify pure milk. A classic example of advertisement money wasted.
At a recent GCCI seminar which included a business plan competition, four veterans discussed advertising and more at length. One reasoned, “half the advertising budget is wasted, till date we do not know which half.” This confusion is compounded for owners of small business. They generally have no time or inclination to take decisions on advertising. This is because they are either ignorant of the long term effect or genuinely believe they are not important.
How and how much should one spend on advertising ? The answer lies between word of mouth to over the top. No use advertising a great mango pickle, it is much better to brand it so that when you next launch a brinjal pickle you do not have to convince the customer all over again if he had a good experience with the mango pickle.
When choosing a brand name for water tanks manufactured by us, one possible option was a name easily recognised in Goa, for eg: PALM or SEASHELL. We chose SHAKTI, recognizable Pan India. Had we not taken the long term view then, today a branding execise would have been expensive and meant we are only at square one. Smaller companies run the risk of missing out on building a brand from day one.
The other aspect of advertising is drawing attention to product features. When we launched our tanks against established national players we had to get the customer to experience our product. One relatively economic method was to approach near complete constructions and show them our product. We requested them to check if any other product offered them better features.
As sales picked up and we realised where our strength lay, we put up two hoardings which were novel and eye catching. Rather than paint the tank on the hoarding we had a real product up there on one half of the hoarding, and on the other half, we listed out the brand’s three key features which were based on our door to door selling feedback.
We progressed to wall paintings and finally newspaper advertisements. We did try radio but did not follow up only because like all small businesses we got involved with production, finance etc. and left the advertising and brand building to later. The fact that creative advertising work by professionals is not a tangible benefit most small business owners find it hard to accept the pricing for services and eventually baulk at using professional help in this critical area.
The brand building possibilities offered by the internet are huge, apart from what is now traditional website exposure to highly interactive social networking sites. This is the future space where brands will be built.
All said and done a company that does not make its presence felt to its target customers is surely going to find the competition walk away with the customer. How much you spend is not important, what and how you communicate is.
Read the advertisements in the newspapers and on the internet and analyse a few, like was done at the start and decide if the advertisement is money well spent. Then apply this learning to your product and see if you can create a good advertisement for your product.