BTL Baatein: Prakash Chari, Apollo White Dental… Powered by VISCOMM

23 Jul,2015

Prakash Chari currently works as the Head of Marketing at Apollo White Dental and has been with the company for more than two years. Chari has over 14 years of experience in sectors such as Management, Marketing, Branding, Corporate Communications and Business Development in diversified industries like Healthcare, IT Hardware, Textiles and Banking. His core strength lies in the areas such as Strategic Brand Positioning, initiation of M&A and JV, Marketing Communications and Media Planning. In an interview with Dyanne Coelho for BTL Baatein, he explains the niche dental healthcare segment and why BTL activations are as important in healthcare services as they are in consumer products.

 

For the benefit of our readers, tell us a little about Apollo White Dental

Apollo White Dental is a vertical of Apollo White Hospitals. It is a JV between Trivitron Healthcare and Apollo Hospitals. Trivitron Healthcare has got 30 percent stake and Apollo Hospitals has got 70 percent stake. We are present in 17 cities and we have centres across all the cities and there are around 76 centres as such. So there are three verticals, we have a dental spa, we have a dental clinic which is as good as your neighbourhood clinic and we also have an express model. So in our dental spa we try to redefine dentistry all together with painless treatments and the kind of ambience that one wouldn’t get elsewhere. For the dental spa, our target audience is the high-end society, the ones who drive Audis, BMWs and Mercs, etc. For the clinic, there is no specific bifurcation, everyone who has a tooth problem is our target audience and the express model is a part of Apollo Hospitals, it is within the hospital like you have a cardiac department, you now also have a dental department.

 

In your opinion what is the importance of BTL in the consumer services space?

I would say that ATL and BTL are both kind of in strings with each other. An organisation cannot run only on BTL, and an organisation cannot run only on ATL. We as a brand are present in the South predominantly and as far as a place like Delhi and Mumbai is concerned we’ve just entered the market there. So for our newer markets we need to focus more on ATL like newspaper ads, TV ads, radio ads, and whatever other possibility is available. But for a brand as an established one, it doesn’t require to spend huge amounts of money on ATL. One more thing is that when an ATL activity is planned, unless and until there is another strong BTL activity to go with it, the ATL also goes for a toss. I would say BTL nowadays is playing a major role, and most of the companies use BTL for the costing aspect and for the micro-level reach.

 

Are there any specific services at Apollo White Dental that you use BTL for?

When it comes to ATL, we are doing it in a lot of centres. Last year, we opened close to 40 centres, we’ve entered about 4-5 new markets. The new markets are where we use ATL more, in a big way. But otherwise what we do is we have different campaigns. We are not mass dental practitioners, given the fact that there are so many dentistry centres; we are focusing on high-end dental practice. Like we are talking about dental implants and high-end orthodontics.  Dental implants are something that everyone is switching to from dentures. So dental implants is something that we try to reach to the complete audience. So there could be a campaign for a couple of months only for Dental Implants or there could be a campaign for orthodontic placements. You have the months of April, May, June when schools are off. That’s when the kids will go to get their braces fixed. So we start campaigns as early as January, February where we approach the schools, probably go and give a presentation to the principal and go and get the audience over there, and our doctors go over there and educate and give out brochures, pamphlets, leaflets, and a whole amount of two or three months’ time is given for proper planning, and from April we start treating the patients.

 

How important is BTL to your overall marketing plan?

I would say about 75-80 percent of our activities is BTL in centres that are established. For a new market it would be 50:50. If you take a new market like Mumbai, Pune or Delhi, where Apollo has just entered a few months back, that is where more of ATL has to be done to establish the brand. But if you take a market like Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad where Apollo Hospitals have got a wonderful presence, there the focus is more on BTL activities. So in markets like Chennai, Bangalore Hyderbad, it would be 30:70 ATL:BTL and in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi it would be 50:50.

 

Can you give a broad idea of your spends pie of ATL v/s BTL?

Like I said in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, our spends on ATL:BTL would be 50:50, while in Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, our spends on ATL:BTL would be 30:70. Dentistry is such a field where it has to reach everyone. So you don’t expect a school child to go to a Times of India, so we have to give that personal attention.

 

In terms of generating results especially from consumers and in B2B, do you find BTL a more sureshot avenue than ATL?

Well it’s difficult to say. Of course, when it comes to BTL, there is direct contact with the consumers. Hence you have the proof point as far as the conversions are concerned and it is easy to measure BTL activities. So it always shows up technical results and points, however, when it comes to imagery as I said, and scale, ATL is equally important. So it will be unfair to say BTL is getting more results. BTL in the coming years has become more and more importantto create that experience for the consumer.

 

While sales and salience are good indicators of its success, what are the attributes you look at to measure the success of a BTL campaign?

It again depends on the category and what we want to do. In certain categories even the number of people contacted can be a measure of success. Because if it’s a new category, a new concept and you just want to create the awareness, then if you reach a certain number of contacts, then even that could be a success parameter. However for certain categories, we lay down specific targets and numbers of the number of people contacted and the conversions out of that. If you look at only sales, then a lot of BTL activities would be limited to shopfloor activations only. If you look at street plays, they will not deliver any sales for me, but it is about what is the type of awareness that has been created, how many people were able to witness what we wanted to communicate. That’s why BTL has evolved. Earlier, BTL was directly related to sales, now it is much more than that.

 

In terms of generating results especially from consumers and in B2B, do you find BTL a more sure shot avenue than ATL?

I would say for an established brand, BTL is a viable option. But for a brand which is yet to establish itself, you have to keep spending money on ATL.

 

While sales and salience are good indicators of its success, what are the attributes you look at to measure the success of a BTL campaign?

See the thing is anyactivity that doesn’t have a tracking mechanism is of no use. ATL is something that cannot be measured at all. Like if I spend about 250 lacs putting up a hoarding in one of the high streets in Mumbai and any walk-in comes in, I would certainly not know what is the ROI for the agency. But as far as BTL is concerned, the major advantage is when any activity is conducted, the kind of opportunity given to us in terms of collecting database  of lots of people is large. So if I ask a marketing guy, or promoter to collect names and phone numbers of people, though I may not have full information, at least the name and phone number is collected. BTL is something which is really measurable and different activities will also help out in analysing what is working out and what is not working out and accordingly we can keep doing few things and scrap a few things.

 

There are many organisations that often do new launches almost entirely on BTL aided with an outdoor and/or digital blitz? Your view on this. Given rising media costs, do you see BTL managing on its own, without ATL?

I would sayfor an established organisation spending 80 percent of your marketing budget on BTLand 20 percent on ATL is advisable and vice versa. BTL can certainly help in bringing in a good amount of success to the organisation as such. But of course ATL also has to play a role. You have a little bit of ATL here and there, because it helps with brand recall. And brand recall cannot necessarily happen with BTL, because the kind of targets for BTL is different.

 

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