Monday 30 May 2011

Communicating Toll Free Number and Driving Listener Engagement with the Brand

I start this post with a small story:
I bought a house and told one person about it. Within no time 800 people on Facebook came to know about it, 102 people asked for a house warming party, I sent invitations to 99 people, and 77 turned up.
If you are still wondering what’s the story about, let me clear the suspense, It’s not about my house warming party. Rather if you read the story twice, you'll find that the story is about communication of a toll free number 1-800 102 9977 of a local real estate developer in Bangalore. Since it's a real estate developer, let us make certain assumptions:
1.      Average ticket size of the buyer for the service/products rendered by the advertiser will be upwards of INR 1 million.
2.      Objective of the advertiser is to communicate a new channel for customer contact, perhaps a lower cost channel for customer contact and an easier one to channelize the leads per location, type of space – commercial or residential/budget etc.
What I liked about this radio advertisement is:
1.      Admission by the advertiser that toll free numbers are hard to remember and probably if communicated as a story they may stick to listener's memory.
2.      Since the toll free numbers belong to a real estate developer, weaving a story around purchase of a house and tying it with the toll free number, is a good creative touch. So now I know that if I have to buy a house what the toll free number of this developer is.
To some extent the approach adopted by the advertiser resonates what Chip Heath and Dale Heath espouse in their book Made to Stick. The book details six principles of making an idea/fact/concept, stick to the minds of the consumers including Storytelling. The other five principles are Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concrete, Credibility, and Emotions (the mnemonic SUCCES will make it easier to remember).
So far so good, but people don’t listen to radio or watch television with their pencils and notepad in tow. This brings us to a basic question: Is radio the right medium to communicate the toll free number?
It's a fleeting 10 - 20 seconds brush with the listener. Should this small window be spent in making the listeners learn some arcane number or reinforce the brand? No doubt the advertiser may also reinforce the toll free number through print advertisements, where the advertiser will have a control on the font size, color or texture of the toll free number. But how long will the reader preserve the newspaper copy containing the advertised toll free number. Perhaps all this advertising will help the consumer remember the brand rather than the number and when the consumer is actually looking out for buying a space, the brand will be in the consideration set of the consumer. If at that time the consumer also remembers the contact number, it’s a bonus.
Radio as a medium pays dividend if the advertiser builds sufficient frequency. And to build frequency of communication one needs deep pockets. No doubt the advertiser has ensured that the campaign scores on frequency, that’s the reason I remembered the number J
But given the big ticket price of the service/product rendered by this advertiser, won’t it be a good idea to provide the listener something more to chew upon, perhaps a URL to download the mobile application or a website URL to learn more about the advertiser.
Since words are easier to remember than numbers, communicating both toll free number and the mobile application download URL or the website URL in the same 10 – 20 second spot will ensure that the listener remembers at least one of the two. In addition to radio, the advertiser can cross promote the mobile application download URL on the toll free number and the toll free number on the mobile application.
The mobile application can sport the following information/utility:
1.      Completed/on-going projects, their pictures, zoom in zoom out etc.
2.      Information about participating banks that provide loan for buying space in different projects. Perhaps a direct button that connects a call with the financial institution to learn about the financing options.
3.      Schedule a site visit/request call in by the developer after user input of broad interest areas.
4.      Location enabled services that guide the consumer to the actual project site.
Well in no manner this is an exhaustive list and can also incorporate features depending upon the life stage curve of the prospective customer. For people who have already bought a first space, the app. can additionally provide a list of plumbers, electricians, interior decorators etc. to justify continued usage of the mobile application. For first time buyers, it can provide for FAQs, tips on property selection, local registration etc.  
My assumption is that people like to take informed decisions, and if the advertiser itself can provide credible information without any bias towards its brand, it will strike a chord with the prospective customer.
Is it not the mantra followed by advertisers these days “We help you buy”? Right investments to prove prospective customers that it’s not a slogan but a business philosophy, will go a long way for the brand to occupy customer mindshare.
As always, I’ll await your thoughts and comments on this post, so if you have time, please drop a line.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Himanshu
    Congratulations on your blog and a great one to begin with.
    I agree with your contention that the advertiser might have been better served reinforcing brand rather than the number. I heard this ad a few times and every time the mention of Facebook gave an image that this was a youth brand !!, I didn't even realize it was a builder till i read your post. Guess my brain just switched off when i thought the ad was not relevant to me (no longer part of college going demographic :-()
    Brings up another question, is Facebook brand too synonymous with youth and so counter productive for brands targeting older demography?



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