BTL Baatein: Bedraj Tripathy, Godrej Interio… Powered by VISCOMM

01 Jul,2016

Starting as an on-the-field sales professional, Bedraj Tripathy moved to the field of brand communications and then stepped into the corporate world. With over 20 years of experience, he has been managing and building many coveted brands around the world. He has a wide range of experience in retail, BFSI and technology, both in B2C and B2B segments. Currently he is working as AVP, Marketing, Godrej Interio (the furniture division of Godrej &Boyce Manufacturing Company Ltd). We present to you the ‘BTL Baatein’ of the week which is powered by VISCOMM with Anuka Roy speaking to him on Below The Line (BTL) advertising, the focus of the company and the balance between ATL (Above The Line) and BTL


How important is BTL activity to your overall marketing plan?

I think it is a very big part for me. When I say very big part, if I had a very small presence, whether it is retail or B2B, then that would have been the largest piece. For me reach is critical. 250 cities in retail, and I am present in 250 cities. So, 250 cities for me is a combination of ATL and BTL is what works the best. But what I do is I combine them together. So, it is not independent BTL and independent ATL. They work hand in hand with each other. That is really the crux of it. I do online, offline and BTL all of it together.


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

I think 45% would be BTL. Hence, it is a very large part for me. Normally, if I look at FMCG Company they would have 14-15% in BTL but for us it is critical. In our business, you do not have people who keep coming in to your stores just for browsing. They will come in if they have a need for furniture. And, as a brand we are not present in high footfall zones. So, you will not find Godrej Interio stores inside a mall. They are always kept independently outside.  The objective is to ensure that the people who have a need come in there. If people have a need and come in, I have got two reasons for BTL. One, I should be able to attract them to my stores to increase footfall and the right kind of people who are in need of furniture or looking for re-doing their homes or moving to new homes and two is, converting them. So, we at times very proudly say, 48% of our customers get converted. But the sad part is 52% do not get converted. The objective is always how I can convert that. BTL plays a very large role for me in getting new people and converting them. A smaller part which does not add up over here is, can I increase the average transaction value? Their lifetime value, I spend good enough time, money and effort but same customer on a BTL level I do not spend so much.


Can you also specify the range of activities that you undertake as part of the below-the-line advertising and promotion?

It can start from a very national campaign. Two large properties that we run nationally every year for the last 5 years, we do at a regional level and then we do at a local level. There are three layers that we work on BTL. If you look at all these BTLs, the whole objective is engagement. So, I can get people in to my store if they are engaged with me. I can get them to convert if they are engaged with me. So, our focus in any of these activities is purely engagement. I think it is like a brand mantra, ‘Engagement’. At the national level, there is one programme, which is possibly the largest in Asia, an engagement programme with users, ‘Upload and Transform’. We ask users to upload photographs of their homes and a small brief about what is the transformation they are looking for in that space. Then our architects tell us which homes are feasible and need transformation, we go and do it in 48 hours. The reason behind increasing the number of homes each year is, people who we are engaging is one part of it but people viewing that transformation. We have seen footfalls going up because of this programme. This year the whole focus of this programme is only customers. It is one of the largest pieces we are running and it is round the year.


The other part we are doing is a lot of families do not get the chance of transformation because of the volume. But it still does not matter, we should give them design. So, this year, we want to give almost 250 homes, actual designed homes. We will tell them how and who will implement it for them. The other one is we do an ATL and BTL combination. Typically, pre festive, is the ‘The great Indian furniture sale’. It is localized yet we look at it from a centralised level and it is large BTL activation we do.


We are launching one of our stores in Delhi, in a furniture market. You will naturally get footfalls in a furniture market, but how do you get the kind of people you want? So, we wanted people who are more youthful, we got stand-up comedians to perform and started an open mic over there. We have people walking in. It is free advertising, not on paper, at the store as a poster that is all that you are seeing and people see, remember and come back. We do simple things like rangoli, mehendi contests. For us, as a team the core part is to go out and identify what is critical.


Do you prefer to do this through BTL agencies directly or via your existing creative/media agency?

If there is a national campaign, we do use our existing media agencies as well as localised BTL agencies or a large BTL agency is implemented across. For me, it is not one or two stores at a national level; it is almost 250 cities and 850 stores. The lower contributing stores, I may not take in to account but then also we have about 800 stores. However, when you look at local ones, we find somebody who is strong in that space.


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

For us, look at it this way, you need footfalls and conversions. BTL independently or ATL independently, we have tried both. ATL gets footfalls may not be the volume of relevant footfall that you want. Only BTL gets you footfall but the average transaction value falls drastically. So, ATL gives the customers the confidence and BTL gives them that push to go in now. Hence, we do a combination of both.


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?

There are three aspects. Footfalls and conversions are the two things, if I am not looking at sales at all. Average transaction value for that number of conversions would give me my sales. It does not matter really. If I have got these two in place and I am doing a combination of both, I have always found my average transaction value going up. Hence, sales targets are achieved. Sales, I look at it as a really lag indicator. To see the success of the campaign, have I got enough footfalls and the right kind? These are the two indicators that I look at. For it to be successful, I need it to be implemented in the right way as well. We have seen wherever there is implementation gap, our number starts falling in footfalls as well as in conversions. That is one of the key things we measure, that is the whether the implementation is right.


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?

If we take the example of Planet M, which is 10 stores in five cities, for them it makes a lot of sense because focus is only 10 stores. It makes a lot of sense for them to only invest in BTL. But when you have widespread operations, BTL will always be more expensive. It is actual activation; you are physically meeting n number of people. For a smaller set of presence, it can make a lot of sense but for larger set of presence you have to do a combination. If you look at a mobile company, will have at least a million outlets, for them BTL may not make a large sense until and unless it is a launch. Yes, mass costs are going up but it is still cheaper. But the engagement that I can get from BTL, I can never get from mass. As a practice, it will keep growing.


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