Follow Your Heart. Lead Your Mind. You'll find a window everywhere.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Free Pitch for Free Ditch or Pitch Fee for Your Glee: THINK

Imagine… you have gone to watch a movie and then telling the person at the ticket counter, “I will buy the ticket, may be during interval, if I liked the plot at all.”

Think… you are about to be diagnosed by a specialist doctor and before that you are telling him, “Get me your prescription for free, if I am cured, I will come back and give your visit.”

Expect… you have boarded a flight without a ticket and while being caught telling the security personnel, “Let the airline take me safely to my destination first then only I will pay for the fare.”

The fact is in spite of several temptations to indulge in such imagination, thought and expectation none of us can do this, successfully, even for once in reality.

But, on the contrary, when it boils down to getting communications strategies, creative ideas and executions and innovative media plans, it seems “give me free” is the call of everyone and anyone whoever owns a brand or two or many in the gamut of marketing.

Strange! Yet a perennial and pathetic truth.

I honestly find it quite amusing, and to a great extent horribly bemusing, why an incumbent agency or a contending one needs to provide such services or bountiful of communications solutions to a brand owner for free as part of an a/c pitch!

If I get into the skin and try to understand the basics, I only realise that when a good brand is imperative for an agency to survive on and excel with… exactly in the same way a good agency – where this goodness should ideally be comprised of the agency’s domain knowledge; strategic acumen; creative skills; servicing quality; media innovations and network partnerships – is also very much important for a brand’s survival and excellence.

Therefore, the creation of ‘win-win’ situation got to be there from the word go, straightaway from a pitch presentation, instead of making it ‘no-win’ for an agency and ‘all-win’ for a brand owner.

The logic is very simple to get, practice and establish so as to ensure a balanced business environment for both agency and client.

Let me try to figure and flesh out… how a relationship happens between a client and an agency.

Interest… either client or agency shows the sign(s) of interest to get into a business alliance. Most of the times, it’s an agency that approaches first. Fair enough. As even if it does so, it doesn’t necessarily mean that as the receiver of agency’s interest, a client achieves a one-up position then and there by default. If one’s interest is reciprocated by the other, it’s automatically 1-1 but no way 1-0 or 0-1 situation.

Time… for every meeting, if client claims to have spent time, agency also has invested a lot on the same. As a matter of fact, an agency spends (read invests) much more time in order to prepare the right things for a client’s brand. And, if time is money to a client; time is mint to an agency, so no misuse of time should be conceded for nothing or free.

Ideas… when a client seeks ideas from an agency – incumbent or contending – that means he is looking for solution(s) for the problem(s) he’s incapable of solving on his own or in-house. (Here the word ‘incapable’ has not been used in any derogatory sense, so for anyone it’s no need to be hyper sensitive and ultra self-esteemed). Hence, he has to pay for the solution(s) because the solution(s) actually help(s) him become capable.

For instance, a guy wants to be father. So, to prove his capability as an eventual father, either he needs to marry or adopt a child or give troubles to some test tubes. Whatever he does, he can’t get things done for free. Be it marriage or adoption or test-tube baby formulation and germination, cost is involved at every stage. And if he pays the right price then only he might attain the fatherhood and thereafter he has to pay more and more… almost everyday because it takes more to be a father than bringing a child into the world, somehow.

Service… capability is nothing but ‘capping the ability’. Otherwise, there is always an element of risk that the ability might go haywire or astray. And, if it happens, no idea can be executed rightly, thus will result in a big zero for both client and agency. These essential executions are actually the manifestations of service, to be expected in future from an agency, which got to be of superlative standards from the very beginning off a pitch itself… entailing a good price tag.

Reward… as brand recall and equity and sales matter to client, to agency awards matter. Unless an agency is award-aholic and award-alcoholic, the best talents can’t be roped in to its system. Be it for strategy and servicing, or creative, or media, or production. As a result, no such brand recall and equity or sales will be guaranteed or generated and only ‘a whale in a well’ affair will continue for a brand. Where infinite number of agencies can be altered though through n number of pitches but the result will remain the same.

Responsibility… the best and the easiest way to show greatness and let others do the same is to bear and share responsibility, ideally from the outset. If a client wants an agency to shoulder the responsibility of delivering him the best of communication solutions in a pitch, he himself should also be game, to carry the onus of providing the agency with adequate amount of time, knowledge inputs and, most importantly, money for that pitch.

From a client, if pitch fee is offered to an agency, it in fact makes the agency doubly responsible to show its greatness rather tangibly… complementing the client’s greatness – already shown in tangible terms with utmost seriousness.

A client must understand that no pitch fee can make an agency rich or big. The fee might not even adequate for the outfit to sustain on even for two months. But, despite having the pitch fee, if the agency can’t deliver and live up to the expectation, its reputation comes under the scanner immediately. Thereby, fly-by-night agencies gradually compel to leave the turf and shy away from ‘everywhere-we-pitch-affection’ (read affliction). In the process, a clean and clear market can be evolved and developed wherein just quality agencies will perform and prevail. And that too, for each and every brand’s benefits.

So, it’s a matter of choice now: ‘Free Pitch for Free Ditch’ or ‘Pitch Fee for Your Glee’!

After all, all I can say is, “THINK.”

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Simple viral communications on web helped a furniture shop achieve a whopping ROI

‘48hours’ is the exclusive furniture shop owned by Sarda Plywood Industries Ltd. (SPIL) in Kolkata.

Since its inception, quite a few years back, the shop has never created any such stir in the market with its marketing communications.

No, not that there has ever been any shortage of communications in the form of print ads and hoardings; albeit nothing really clicked. Plus, there was no such metrics in place that could prove the efficiency of the campaigns done in those mainstream print and outdoor media; thus getting a better view of ROI has always been elusive.

In this situation, ‘48hours’ approached me to do something relevant so as to yield something from communications.

Of course it was a complex problem, which needed a simple solution.

The brief was, "Online traffic should know and recall the brand name of '48hours', which is otherwise not so known, and take some actions and visit the website of 48hours."

The target group (TG) was anyone / everyone - who spends time on web. The duration of campaign was 30 days. The allotted budget was Rs. 50,000/- only.

After putting a lot of thoughts, I chose the ‘viral’ route of communications. Decided to use the logo – that actually displays the brand name of 48hours – in such a way that people shouldn't understand it as a furniture shop in the first place; however take interest 'in the offerings i.e. benefits they can avail of and enjoy… in 48hours a day'. And in the process, feel like interacting with the piece(s) of communication and visit the landing page of 48hours’ website.

To implement this, media i.e. consumer touch point was chosen as - for its cost-effectiveness and huge number of online members.

Also, a matrimonial portal was taken into account because marriage and furniture are very easy to correlate with each other rather relevantly.

The total number of impressions i.e. online ads used from Feb. 01, 2011 to March 02, 2011 was 50,000.

The number of people hit the website of 48hours by clicking on those impressions was 713.

Hence, assuming that the number of people actually saw the ads i.e. impressions and came to know about the name n logo of 48hours - if even modest multiplication is done – was 713 X 5 (at least) = 3565.

So, the ROI (return on investment) came out as… cost: Rs. 50,000/-; effective value returned: cost i.e. Rs. 50K / total number of audience actually saw the impressions i.e. 3565 X total no. of audience who interacted with the impressions i.e. 713 = Rs. 10,000/-; ‘therefore communication success rate = 10K / 50K X 100 = 20%’.

With all humility intended, 20% is nothing but a whopping success rate in terms of ROI achieved by ‘48hours’ – The FRESH Furniture Hub!