BTL Baatein: Sevantika Bhandari, DHFL… Powered by VISCOMM

22 Jul,2016

A veteran marketer with expertise in the financial domain, Sevantika Bhandari, Senior VP and Head Marketing, DHFL has over 14 years of experience in Brand Management, Product Strategy, International Marketing, Online Marketing and Customer Relationship Management. A bachelor in Economics Honours, Bhandari holds a Post Graduate Degree in Management from MDI.We present to you the ‘BTL Baatein’ of the week which is powered by VISCOMM with Anuka Roy speaking to her 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? And overall in the housing finance sector?

It is extremely important. Actually, both ATL and BTL go hand in hand. And, one is not important at the cost of the other. Having said that, engaging with the customer one on one can be clubbed in the larger segment of BTL as well, although one on one can be done digitally. It is extremely important, specifically, for financial services and more important for housing finance and home loan, simply because these products or these services are perceived to be extremely complex by the customer. Hence, a face to face interaction always demystifies and simplifies the offering for the customer. It is in the interest of the customer as well as the provider to engage at an one on one so called below the line level to improve the experience of the product.


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

As a housing finance company, DHFL undertakes the entire gamut of marketing activities. Some more than the other depending on the time of the year and some more than the other depending on the budgets available. But we interact with consumer wherever he is. We interact with the consumer inside his house by the way of our advertising, through digital, television and radio. As soon as he steps out we interact with him on transit medium with hoarding, press and newspapers. When he walks towards a large shopping area or a congregation of people, we engage with him on the ground with our people available in some form or the other undertaking the BTL activity. We engage with him on his mobile. We engage with him at a point of sale of his home with large building projects. So, the idea which is true for all marketers and true for DHFL as well is to engage with the customer wherever he or she is.  We also map all our activities according to that journey.


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

It is a combination actually. Whenever we start a plan, we never set out to say that this is who we will do it with. We always go with the agency, individual or entity, who will be able to perform best for the organisation and the customer.


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

Both serve a very different and unique purpose. And, I would recommend, while we all fall in to the trap of evaluating them individually, I think any organisation needs to have a joint strategy and your BTL becomes more effective if your ATL has worked. To give you an example, ATL drives large awareness, I am making generic statements but we use ATL to drive total awareness. The minute your consumers know more about you, your BTL will become more effective. So, while BTL may be more measurable and trackable in a business sense of the word, to get more output, it has to be a joint strategy, where both ATL and BTL do the work for you.


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 is all about sales and salience but it is first about salience and sales always follow. If you do not have salience, chances are you may not get sales led through consumer pull and word of mouth. So, everything we measure, of course you have measures now, newer age measures specifically in the advent of digital media, which is engagement, eyeballs fundamental belief is, it is also sales and salience. Newer measuring tools and newer media lead to more metrics but they do dovetail in to salience and sales.


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?

Everything is contextual to the brand and its place in the consumer’s life space. If a brand has an over matching place in a large gamut of consumers, chances are that the brand will benefit more from above the line. If a brand is a localised brand occupying a very specific space in the minds of the consumers, chances are BTL and/or digital is the way to go. So, it is all contextual and there is no one size fits all answer which can be given. It is the job of the marketer to understand the consumer and fit a strategy which is in line with the consumer and the brand objectives.


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