Yeah!!! Here's the piece I recently wrote for Business Standard's Brand Derby!!

 

How to get your brand noticed online 

Let’s say that you are a friend of mine and are keen to help me market a new mouth freshener candy that I plan to launch. 

We both agree that nothing works better than ‘direct consumer experience’; hence letting potential consumers taste my new candy would be the best way to generate word-of-mouth and potential sales in the long term. 

Since you are such a good friend, you agree to dress up in a rectangular coloured costume that resembles my new candy pack and stand in the center of the railway station with thousands of free samples to give away. The orange, blue, yellow and red costume screams, “Grab this candy – it’s FREE…!” 

Now, think for a minute: 

How many people will come up to you and ask for a free sample? 

If you are thinking ‘all’, then you are as naïve as a newborn chick. If you think a few hundred, you are a born optimist. 

The honest fact is that as 100 people walk past you, BARELY ONE OR TWO will come up to you. When 500 pass by, you will probably end up giving away free candy to 10 people. As you grow hot, frustrated, impatient and exasperated … you will most probably hand over only 100 pieces of my mouth freshener to the 5000 people who whiz past you. 

What I have described is not conjecture but the BEST ‘click through rate’ of 2 % of banners on online advertising (2% of 5000 = 100) and the challenge it proposes to enthusiastic advertisers! 

If you are thinking, “Online advertising means getting attention ‘coz I’m paying for it”, then you are sadly mistaken. The story might end up being, “Online advertising means learning humility because I paid for it”.

 image source

Here are some concepts I keep in mind, to ensure brands, products and ideas get noticed when exposed on online media:

1.     The creative should NEVER be better than the real thing 

It’s very easy to make great creatives for online campaigns given the inexpensive production tools at hand and the raw young talent available in the industry. The challenge is to make sure that the ‘super creative’ doesn't disappoint users when they encounter the real product!

As a gaming entrepreneur, I see that a lot! On mobile phones, there are plenty of jaw-dropping ads for games that seem too good to be true. But when I download the game, the experience is so disappointing that I delete the app in seconds. That's a lot of advertising money wasted for the brand and precious time wasted for me!

2.     Don't hire an agency. Hire yourself. 

Get your hands dirty and crawl under the chassis of facebook, twitter and google to understand how advertising works on their networks! Agencies first want to make sure their pockets are lined before making sure your interest is covered. That formula may work well in the ‘offline’ world where a candymaker may not know how to make a television commercial; but in the online world, he can directly be the advertiser. 

The reason is that as the brand owner, you will quickly get a pulse of what works, what doesn't and then turn on the volume for the right channel. So, DIY (Do It Yourself) with teeny-weeny budgets and blow up your real budgets on the networks that work!

3.     Go crazy with options! 

One of the best tricks I’ve learnt about getting the creative right is to try a zillion different renditions BEFORE the real campaign breaks and nail the one that works. I’m sure you are wondering, “How can you test a fake creative on live customers?” Well, the answer is that if you create banners of various art styles and put them up, all you need to measure is which one gets the most clicks! The landing page can easily say ‘Coming Soon’. 

It’s like me asking five of my friends (including you) to stand in five different costumes at the railway station to check which one attracts the most crowds while NOT giving any candy away. Doing it in the real world is tough (and could earn you a tight slap), but on the www it’s as easy as a click!

4.     Go for Video or for Simple Text

Have you seen the videos of a new mobile game called “Boom Beach”? If you haven’t, then catch a kid to show it you! The video ad quality is so awesome it looks as if it’s produced by Disney.

Video ads are smooth as silk on the desktop Internet and mobile phones work like a charm! If you already have TVCs, then make them web & mobile compatible and load them up! Your audience will see them in both places (offline & online) and will remember them better (if the creative is good).

If your product is a service that simply needs to be announced, then DON'T go all out and make super creative ads for super dull services. Simply buy text ads (you can buy plenty with the money saved) and spray them all over the web and mobile. A ‘text ad’ that says, “Cheapest Online Insurance here” makes more sense than a film about someone falling off a cliff, then wondering who will pay the bills and then having you enter the scene from the sky, etc, etc…

5. TV is LUCKY!

Naukri.com’s “Hari Sadu” TVC was just another ad to make consumers realise what Naukri.com was offering. But the creative turned out to be so funny and REAL that it became a craze and went far beyond its expected ROI. 

I see the same with the OLX “Bech De” ad. It’s so brilliantly executed that the message comes across instantly and ensures everyone remembers what OLX really does. 

Television is very expensive and usually wasteful, but if your pockets allow it, then it could be the biggest way to get instant Nirvana! 

Now, while I have said all this, I firmly believe that nothing creates more awareness than a great product that serves a great need. 

I mean when was the last time you saw an ad of Linkedin or Twitter or Facebook? 

Errr… I guess you still know and use these brands right?!

*********

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