Now, that is settled, you have two worlds in the supply side – the industrial (read the old world) and the Digital (the new order). The narrative always distinguishes the one from the other, Digital economy, with all its net-based trappings is sharply differentiated from the old economy – the manufacturers, the small industries and so on. Even the stats released scream the same news, why even our Prime Minister talks about Digital India and Make in India, in different breaths..
That has to change, just as the old economy cannot tap newer opportunities without embracing the new tools of trade, the digital players, at some stage or the other, will have to start looking at the Brick and Mortar (BAM) realities. To read the two of them as separate is to miss an extremely critical conjunction where the sum of the parts (of each) can be dramatically more than the whole.
Look at Mumbai Police. Policing is an old school methodology.. particularly in India. However, in a space of three weeks, Mumbai Police dramatically transformed their entire messaging and its efficacy by combining old school techniques (enforcement drives, fines etc) with social media tools. They built and nurtured a community on Twitter, showed a human, and oftentimes, a humorous face, to their constituents and told the Mumbaikar to behave. They could have done that using hoardings or ads in newspapers, by choosing to tweet, they reached out to influencers and their followers, to spread the word and dramatically improved their messaging reach.
What does this mean for the average Indian manufacturer who probably has an apology for a website and has very little interest and understanding of digital media? To my mind, five things:
- Leverage your community: Digital companies have spent and are spending humongous cash to build their communities. You already have yours – your customers, prospects, suppliers et al. It is finite, perhaps smaller in number, but has a much larger monetizability. Consequently, it is much easier to get them together within your brand and start conversations with them to understand them better.
- Rational conversations: Your community, and your discussions, are much more appealing to a rationale than to an emotion. Here is your opportunity to start the conversation. Sure many of your constituents are not online or social. So what? You have to start somewhere, and earlier the better.
- Social interaction: You spend a significant amount of time and money to get to know your customers – dinners, conferences, meetings… Wouldn’t you like to supplement this by getting into a discussion with them on a daily, weekly or monthly basis? Are’nt there any issues that you always wanted to discuss – be it the coming budget or the interest rates or even the price of Narendra Modi’s outfit? Why would you wait till the elusive dinner to do that? Make it a continuum rather than a point discussion. Discover your constituency.
- Leverage the www: Your website doesn’t have to be a static broadcast tool. It can be dynamic. It can represent your brand, your products, your ethos, your chairman’s vision, the solutions, your team, your champion within your company, the unsung hero who needs to be recognized… it can be as dynamic as it gets, and certainly a lot more dynamic than your glossy brochure that you got printed last month! Think about it. So, build your web presence, but with a lot more content, text, audio, video, graphics. It is all out there to be leveraged.
- And finally, focus on the Content: The difference between one website and the other, is just the value of content and how it is shown. So don’t scrimp on the content, it is dynamic and needs to change, to reflect your company. There are real people, within your company and within your constituency.. leverage that reality.
So what happens if you do all of the above? At one level, there could be some minimal cosmetic changes. However, at another level, you start interacting with your constituents much faster, in a much more focused manner. Your prospects start seeing you as a real company, with real people, and not just as a faceless manufacturer of mechanical seals! The quality of your discussions goes up as does the quality of your BD, and sometimes in the near future, the velocity of your BD.
Digital is not just a ‘nice to have’ but a rapidly evolving ‘must have’. The power that B2B can provide to digital initiatives is enormous and can have a much quicker impact on the business than a consumer facing initiative.
When Make in India meets Digital India… magic happens!
Is the CEO and Founder of Trivone Digital Services, the agency which conceptualised and ran the Mumbai Police Social Media campaign. The views are personal.