Digital marketing expert Ashish Thomas tells Dhaka Tribune in an exclusive interview.
The Chief of Marketing & Strategy at SSD-TECH stressed infrastructure development in a bid to expand digital marketing in Bangladesh. He shared his thoughts on the digital marketing recently.
Ashish has worked across multiple geographies and cultures in both large MNC’s and small and medium enterprises and still been working in the country for about 10 years.
DT: What do you think are the biggest challenges for Bangladesh to expand Digital Marketing as the country is going to be digital one day by day?
Ashish: I think the major challenge is infrastructure. And the biggest challenge to expand digital marketing is to have all the different players in the ecosystem to work together. The ideal situation is to bring all the stakeholders including government, business, advertisement agencies, media and technology players under a same platform to face all the challenges together in the way to make the dream true.
What should be the digital marketing strategy to draw people’s attention?
The basic problem is people don’t have thoughts. If you talk about billboards, you will see lots of billboards with beautiful ladies or men nicely dressed, but what are the connections those have with the product? May be, for attires those billboards are good. Someone may think that he or she wants to look like the model after buying those products but what happens to the other products? About digital advertisement you need to think, what adds value to the customers? May be you can give them free minutes or give you free Internet once they listen to the advertisement. I can give you an example from Africa where we asked people to participate in a survey and in return they were getting top up in their phones. Some people opt out and some were fine with it. It’s called permission-based marketing. If someone likes to pay attention, they will do because you added value for them in your advertisement.
What do you think is more effective for digital marketing? Is it Text, Photo or Video content?
Mostly in digital space, people love gimmicks. They come, spend times, get engaged and then happens the bonanza. Again, it depends on what you are marketing. Visuals are always good but depending on context. Text is used for doing a promotion. Text is used for doing a launch, doing a special offer, getting a new segment or giving very particular marketing message like, ‘I used to deliver a rose flavoured soap, now I am doing some other scent’. Photo was more for banners or out reaching media. Photo can be delivered to features phones but video needs smart phones. Again, what you are targeting matters the most. So in brief, I will say that all these three have different purposes and you need to define the purpose and add value accordingly.
Where should the digital marketers focus more? Is it Apps or Social media?
Again it depends. Marketers can’t ignore anything but at the same time it depends on what the product is and what the value is. So if it’s a mass-market product like shampoo, toothpaste, then it’s neither because the mass market is not on the social media or apps, they are just on phones. Then if you are looking at high end like premium clothing, premium handbags, or fashion jewelries etc, then you are targeting a certain segment, which has smart phone, you can reach through social media or apps. Even in the places where media or smart phones can’t reach, they have phones. That’s why we focus on SMS (Short Message Service) marketing or IVR (Interactive Voice Response).
So, in brief, the answer to your question can be- depends on which product and what it targets. The more mass the product, the more value you add and the more you get your sell.
As you talked about IVR or SMS marketing, do you think IVR or push message can bring boomerang effect? If a person gets IVR or SMS during their busy time and if they get disturbed, can it be a threat for the marketers?
You see, if you give somebody value, then it will never be a threat. And you see, ‘what is value’- that is the question we need to answer. So, what is value for 50% of the population is below 25 years away? What is the value if he needs better education, better job, and better opportunity? If you deliver that, it’s a clear value for the person, then why would a person say No, why would it show a boomerang effect? Same things happen to the farmers or the rural areas. What does Bkash do? The banking infrastructure did not exist in the life of those farmers. They just add value to their life and people bought it. So, first of all, you need to define value and then you need to deliver that value. Once you do that, money comes automatically.
Being a Digital Marketing expert, what will be your advice for the digital marketers?
I haven’t met many of them as yet but my advice to them is, “Don’t just copy what everybody does. You know, Facebook is doing this, it must be good, Google is doing so, Youtube is doing so... And I have to do it. Don’t do it. You better remember that everything that the West do, all are not good for my country to follow.”