BFSI VISION | Marketing


Girish VS

Managing Editor, BFSI Vision

Digital Marketing – Much Ado About Nothing

For a long time I have been watching the marketing space. Agreed, I am a professor of finance. I cannot but wonder at the current discourse among marketing professionals. The trend seems to be digital marketing. When I was doing my MBA, I was taught about marketing- how to identify my potential customer, how to target and position my message to maximize the effect. I was taught that there were multiple channels through which we can get our message across – print, radio, TV or movies. Radio was a digital medium. So was the TV – at that time we used analog signals for TV and digital for radio. We did not worry about the channel – we worried about the message.

I was intrigued. Has the basics of marketing changed? Have we now moved on to a plane where we are more interested about the channel and not the message? Will the channel impact the message? What do we mean by digital marketing? Someone told digital marketing included mobile and internet channels. OK. Great. So if I advertise using mobile or internet, or I use a digital medium, it is digital marketing. Does it change my message?

Every age has a preferred medium. There was a time when print was a better option. Then came TV. But we did not have print marketing or TV marketing. We focused on the message – not the channel. We focused on getting the right customer (yes there is a right customer for every bank!) to do business with us.

Today we talk of Facebook and twitter. I may be old fashioned – but I prefer to interact with a person in a bank – not a savings product. And therein lies the problem. We have made it impossible for our customers to interact with our staff. Our customers no longer walk in to our banks to transact. They cannot be contacted on their phones – they have the do not call feature enabled. E-mails get filtered by the spam filter. Snail mail is ignored. Now we say we will create a Facebook page and engage with customers. We seem to forget that people come to Facebook to socialize with people. Not products. We are looking at the wrong place. Think about it – in the midst of a conversation about a vacation, a bank product says hi!

Time for us to re-focus. Facebook is a tool by which a disgruntled customer can broadcast their disappointment to a large community. Rarely do positives reflect on face book product pages. The faster we realize that and tailor our marketing to focus on the message the better is it. Leave digital marketing to the digits.