Step 12- Developing Full Proof Implementation plans
It has been our experience, that conducting a pilot campaign in one taluk, in one district, in one state, and expecting to learn lessons from it, is not realistic. To get meaningful results, both in terms of impact and in terms of sales, the pilot campaign must cover at least a few districts in a state, if not a whole state. The implementation plan must be as comprehensive as possible to ensure that all the elements to be checked out are included in the plan, before rolling out a rural campaign nationally.
A word of caution about the vendors you plan to use to implement a campaign; whether directly or through your rural specialist agency, remember that there are hundreds of small vendors in the country, masquerading as rural experts offering their services cheap. Many of them take advances and vanish midway through a campaign, or abandon the campaign because they are not able to retain their temporary staff. However, there are established vendors in each region with committed teams, who know the intricacies and laws of the region, whose services can be utilized for effective implementation of activities.
In any road show involving people, vehicle, equipment etc., there are bound to be problems. The quality and reputation of the vendor is assessed by how fast he/she is able to resolve a problem or fix a loophole. Your rural specialist agency can help you identify such people, monitor your campaign, and help in course corrections as and when specific problems arise. And for playing such a role, they surely deserve a fee!
Implementation of any rural campaign requires meticulous ground level planning and a thorough briefing and training of the field level people, for good execution. Give sufficient time for your agency to check out on all elements, before getting into the field. ‘Haste is waste’ is an age old saying. Remember this when you are trying to rush through a programme without being adequately prepared yourself.
Step 13 Providing Adequate Funds for Rural Marketing
To do all the activities outlined in earlier chapters, you need a decent budget. Your rural specialist will be able to give you the size of the budget, based on the specific tasks to be performed, and the region concerned. If you have only a limited budget, do not spread your resources thin by trying to look at too many markets. Look at one or two states and do a thorough job.
If you really believe that your company has a bright future in rural markets, or if you would like to target the rural market for better results, then do make the necessary investments today. In case you have an early mover advantage in relation to your competitors, then your investments in marketing will ensure that you reap rich rewards in the future. However, do not be impatient and expect miracles overnight, and equally do not lose hope easily at the first small setback.
In recent years, agencies have had to deal with the phenomenon of the ‘commercial department’ in the client’s organization; which has the final say in the approval of estimates from the agencies. After all the negotiations and bargaining with the marketing department, when the estimates go to the commercials for the final approval, the estimates are evaluated based on whether they are the lowest and not on the basis of the capability of the agencies giving the deliverables promised with the estimates. Sometimes this leads to all-round frustration and very often the campaign gets aborted because the agency which got the job because of the lower quote, cannot deliver on its promises.
Step 14 – Evaluating the Results
How do you measure the success of your rural campaign? This is a question which many companies ask and there are no standard answers. However, there are three areas where you can study the impact of your rural campaign.
a. Brand Awareness
b. Brand Conversion
c. Increase in sales
Ideally, you should do a benchmark study before the start of the campaign to check on specific parameters. Further, conduct post studies to find out if the desired objectives have been achieved . Do not judge a campaign, only by the cost per contact approach. Results vary depending on the task and support given to the efforts. And in assessing the cost per contact, remember to include the approximate number of eyeballs and ears that your campaign may be getting, while going around a village or enroute to a market.
Many companies do not have a system of archiving case studies in rural marketing–the lessons learnt from various efforts in the form of reports must be available for future brand managers so that past mistakes are not repeated. Or else, the experience gained by a manager on the job, is lost to the company, when he moves on to another job. This is particularly true of large professionally managed organizations.
‘Rural Marketing’ is a marriage, which to be successful, needs sustained efforts and long term investments in terms of company’s resources, to keep it going. If it is treated as a flirtation or a one-night stand, the results will be temporary and unsustainable.
(With this article the ‘14 Step Approach to Rural Marketing’ is concluded. The extracts featured only the principles. The book carries valuable data as appendices which will be very useful to any one planning rural marketing initiatives. A CD containing the video clips of the case studies discussed in the book comes free with the book titled ‘Don’t Flirt with Rural Marketing’ by RV Rajan, published by Productivity and Quality Publishing Private Limited, Chennai. The author is the former Chairman of Anugrah Madison Advertising P. Ltd)