‘So­cial me­dia is a bit of a shot in the dark right now’

Shankar Nath, Head - Mar­ket­ing and Di­rect, ICICI Lom­bard Gen­eral In­sur­ance shares his per­spec­tive on dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view

InformationWeek - - Interview -

As the man in-charge of lead­ing the mar­ket­ing ef­forts at the coun­try’s largest pri­vate sec­tor gen­eral in­surer, what is your sin­gle big­gest pri­or­ity right now and how it trans­lates into IT re­quire­ments? My num­ber one pri­or­ity is to es­tab­lish ICICI Lom­bard Gen­eral In­sur­ance as a dif­fer­en­ti­ated brand in this space. Over the years, gen­eral in­sur­ance has been per­ceived as a mar­ket­place with com­modi­tized of­fer­ings and there­fore my big­gest task is to find a way to dif­fer­en­ti­ate our­selves from the com­pe­ti­tion. I be­lieve that tech­nol­ogy will have a cru­cial role to play in achiev­ing this ob­jec­tive. . Also in terms of cre­at­ing a unique po­si­tion­ing for our prod­ucts, dig­i­tal chan­nels and emerg­ing tech­nol­ogy plat­forms such as so­cial me­dia need to be lever­aged more ag­gres­sively. While we are see­ing CMOs be­come in­creas­ingly aware of the dig­i­tal medi­ums, a lot of them are sim­ply dig­i­tiz­ing their off­line com­mu­ni­ca­tion and the way they in­ter­face the with cus­tomer. Surely, there is more to it than just that... Absolutely, there is much more to it. A lot of CMOs to­day a come from the off­line back­ground. Given their nat­u­ral com­fort with the off­line space, we see big off­line cam­paigns taken and sim­ply

For me so­cial me­dia is not an ac­qui­si­tion medium, it is a brand­ing medium.But at the same time none of us can ig­nore a medium where there is so much traf­fic and where peo­ple spend so much of their time”

Shankar Nath

Head - Mar­ket­ing and Di­rect, ICICI Lom­bard Gen­eral In­sur­ance

pushed on­line. The good news how­ever is that in the last one or two years, there is greater re­al­iza­tion among the CMO com­mu­nity that one needs to de­velop cus­tom­ized mes­sag­ing and con­tent for the on­line or the dig­i­tal plat­form and that force-fit­ting off­line con­tent onto a dig­i­tal chan­nel won’t yield much. So how are you deal­ing with this is­sue? We don’t treat dig­i­tal as a sec­ondary medium. We are putting a sig­nif­i­cant part of our mar­ket­ing dollars there. We have a spe­cific mar­ket­ing strat­egy for the Web. When it comes to sell­ing, Web also gives us greater flex­i­bil­ity in terms of tai­lor­ing the prod­ucts to meet the spe­cific needs through more per­mu­ta­tions and com­bi­na­tions. We are also bring­ing in a greater level of in­ter­ac­tiv­ity dur­ing the buy­ing process. Sim­i­larly, on the claims and ser­vic­ing side, we are try­ing to lever­age tech­nolo­gies such as mo­bile to make it eas­ier for the con­sumer to con­nect and in­ter­act with us.

So the use of the dig­i­tal medium cuts across the en­tire value chain. How are you us­ing so­cial me­dia in for th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties? I don’t think that so­cial me­dia has evolved to a stage where it can be used for trans­ac­tions. I think that it is a great brand build­ing tool and an en­gage­ment medium. Ex­pect­ing sales through so­cial me­dia, is a bit too much.

Hav­ing said that, you can’t af­ford to ig­nore this medium ei­ther. There­fore, you need to cre­ate en­gag­ing properties on this front. If you are too di­rect, just hard sell­ing your brand or prod­uct, then it might not work in your fa­vor. On the other hand, if you can cre­ate in­ter­est­ing sto­ries that can en­gage peo­ple, you stand to gain con­sid­er­ably. For ex­am­ple, as a gen­eral in­surer if I can do some­thing on road safety and build a story around it, my brand can get a sig­nif­i­cant mind­share and a re­call value. Can one eas­ily mea­sure the im­pact of a so­cial me­dia mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tive? Ex­cept for so­cial me­dia, all other dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tives on the web or on mo­bile can be as­sessed for im­pact. There are clear met­rics which can be used for this. That’s the beauty of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing. How­ever, so­cial me­dia mar­ket­ing is a dif­fer­ent beast al­to­gether. For me so­cial me­dia is not an ac­qui­si­tion medium, it is a brand­ing medium. At least that’s how I look at it.

But at the same time none of us can ig­nore a medium where there is so much traf­fic and where peo­ple spend so much of their time. It’s a bit of a shot in the dark right now.

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