Calling All Student Entrepreneurs: Tell Us About Your Startup

The State and Future Of Digital Marketing In Bangladesh With Khandaker Anwar Ehtesham, FVP & Head of Communications & Branding, Dhaka Bank

|
Jan 4, 2018
Thinkpool Small branded

The advertising industry is going through a major shift globally. We are seeing, for the first time in decades, the great unbundling of TV, thanks to Netflix and relentless pursuit of TV ad dollars by major social media networks, slow death of advertising as we knew it, a handful of alternatives to banner ads and more.

The Bangladesh market is no different. Over the past several years, from almost oblivion, digital has gained significant prominence and become a mainstream phenomenon. An increasing number of brands are now investing in digital platforms ranging from Facebook, local ad networks to youtube to other platforms.

The internet offers new opportunities and challenges for consumers as well as for marketers. To users, it offers the freedom to choose, which content they want to attend to, from an abundance of content, unlike TV world.

The central difference between internet and conventional media is in the mindset. The Internet represents an abundance mentality and freedom whereas traditional media is about scarcity. This is the central reality of this new world that changes many rules of the old. For instance, in digital audience decides what ads they want to attend to and when.

The way people consume entertainment and news has fundamentally changed. This calls for a deeper understanding of the medium not only to do well in digital but also to succeed in the conventional medium. Because the consumption habit of digital does influence the expectation from and consumption habit of traditional mediums.

We recently sat down with always thoughtful and wonderful Khandaker Anwar Ehtesham, FVP & Head of Communications & Branding, Dhaka Bank to know more about his take on digital marketing in the context of Bangladesh. You may read our long-form interview with Mr. Ehtesham from past year here.

We discussed a wide range of topics ranging from how he thinks about digital marketing, - “we are living in a time of great transformation. Digital technologies have changed the fabric of our lives at its core. From our personal life to how we communicate to how we consume entertainment, our lifestyle has been going through a relentless pace of changes” - to how he and his team at Dhaka Bank approach digital, Dhaka Bank’s investment in digital in 2017, his prediction for the industry in 2018 and how to master the medium to get best result - “in order to be effective, we have to understand digital in light of how it is changing not only how we communicate but also how we live. Unless we understand this reality, it will be a tall order to do meaningful work in digital platforms because when we treat digital as a mere communication channel, we miss the most important point how it is disrupting our lives.” I hope you enjoy the read. - Ruhul.

Being in the banking industry, we are experiencing this change from two ends: one in how we offer and deliver services to our users where digital is becoming increasingly important, and the other is how we communicate with and reach out to our customers.

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="15"]This story is made possible in part by our friends at Thinkpool, whose generosity enables us to publish premium stories online at no cost to our readers. Thinkpool helps brands to maintain seamless digital presence, please go to Thinkpool to know more.[/su_note]

Future Startup

How do you think about Digital Marketing in the context of Bangladesh? And also what are you doing in digital space at Dhaka Bank.

Khandaker Anwar Ehtesham

We are living in a time of great transformation. Digital technologies have changed the fabric of our lives at its core. From our personal life to how we communicate to how we consume entertainment, our lifestyle has been going through a relentless pace of changes. Time has particularly become fast paced. Things don’t take much longer to become obsolete. Today’s hot trends go out of fashion in a week.

The banking and overall service industry is not beyond this change. Digitization has been bringing profound changes to our businesses - how we deliver service, reach out to our customers and everything in between.

Being in the banking industry, we are experiencing this change from two ends: one in how we offer and deliver services to our users where digital is becoming increasingly important, and the other is how we communicate with and reach out to our customers.

The challenge for us is that banks naturally operate in a highly regulated environment that has promoted a kind of not so flexible culture within these organizations which is hard to change overnight. This is one of the major challenges because when you can’t change the mindset of your people that means you can’t essentially change your culture. And at the end of the day culture is the key. As Peter Drucker said many years ago ‘Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast’. If the mindset of people is not changing in our workplace, the change will not come. This change is happening, but it needs to change faster.

So one of our priorities is making many of our services available in digital platforms which we have been doing quite rigorously.

One the communication end, we have started our digital marketing journey focusing on building an engaging presence on Facebook where people spend a huge amount of time. That’s one of the things we have been trying to do.

At the same time, now a mere presence in any platform does not count, you have to be mindful of how you interact with your audience on these platforms.

We put equal importance on decoration part as well as on design and content that we share and whether our communication is adding value to our customers. For instance, on Facebook instead of mindlessly pushing our product campaigns alone, we try to communicate with our audience through other relevant contents that make sense to them as well as add value to us as a brand.

Currently, 60% of our posts on Facebook are directly related to our products and the rest 40% are informative or inspirational. We have two regular content series on Facebook: Financial Fun Facts and Words Worth Sharing that I believe help us to engage meaningfully with our customers.

The thesis is that if you use social media only for advertisements and promotions, your audience will get tired of seeing the same thing again and again. Rather if you offer an interesting mix of content, it will be more effective.

While we focus on social media platforms, we also understand that we need our own platform where people can go and know more about us. That’s where our website comes in because our users would go to our website after seeing the products and other communications.

We have tried to make our website comprehensive and easy to navigate. We have added tools like a digital calculator that shows whether you can actually avail a loan or not.

We have also invested in SEO optimization and applied other techniques so that people can easily find us out.

Our focus on digital platforms has always been to build awareness, engage with our customers and potential customers and build lasting relationships with them.

All of our efforts are concerted towards creating a superior experience for our customers, be it through our digital communication or digitizing our services and delivery process or introducing more technology in how we operate as a bank.

Similarly, when we do something we try to do it for a long-time and in a sustainable manner so that it brings a result for us in the long-term. That is why you have to sustain something if you want to get an outcome from it. In this case, our management is very supportive and they also believe in it. When we get involved in something we try to do it for a certain time period so that we can build a meaningful association with it. That’s our strategy for almost everything that we do.

We are living in a time of great transformation. Digital technologies have changed the fabric of our lives at its core. From our personal life to how we communicate to how we consume entertainment, our lifestyle has been going through a relentless pace of changes. Time has particularly become fast paced. Things don’t take much longer to become obsolete. Today’s hot trends go out of fashion in a week.

Future Startup

Can you please give us an idea about the distribution of your marketing budget, particularly what percentage of your total marketing budget goes to digital? What are the mediums and channels you are using when it comes to digital marketing?

Khandaker Anwar Ehtesham

Publications and print account for the biggest portion of our marketing budget. TV does not account much. Then there are outdoor communications such as billboard and others and then sponsorship, events and other promotional activities.

Currently, we spend 4-5% of our entire marketing budget in digital.

In terms of mediums and channels, of course, Facebook takes the largest share of all digital channels.

We are paying some attention to YouTube. Recently, we have taken Instagram into our consideration. We are not going big on Linkedin yet. However, we plan to invest in the platform as we go forward.

Apart from these, we are also investing in some of the digital media outlets that are relevant to our brands and where we believe we have a leverage to connect with our users in a meaningful way.

The challenge of digital, to my understanding, is creating a differentiated experience. As you know, digital is extremely crowded and as users, our attention is supremely fragmented. Thus the challenge for marketers is to find a way around these two limitations and create content that will offer a differentiated experience to users so that they can recall and remember you. In an over-crowded space, which social media platforms are, you have to curve a differentiated identity for yourself in the market. However, I think we sometimes run after quantity over quality.

Another tendency is viral everything. We are always trying to make things viral which I think is a misplaced priority. First of all, it is almost impossible to make every communication viral and the second, it is not important to make a video viral because as a brand you are not trying to reach all the people out there, rather you are trying to communicate your target audience meaningfully. If you can do that well, that’s enough.

We consider digital marketing as an independent medium which it is not. It is a mere channel extension with its distinct characteristics that we have to keep in mind while preparing a communication for the medium. Apart from that, you have to maintain consistency of your communication in digital as well. Your digital and offline communication should have perfect rhythm and harmony so that people can connect.

when we do something we try to do it for a long-time and in a sustainable manner so that it brings a result for us in the long-term. That is why you have to sustain something if you want to get an outcome from it. In this case, our management is very supportive and they also believe it. When we get involved in something we try to do it for a certain time period so that we can build a meaningful association with it. That’s our strategy for almost everything that we do.

Future Startup

How does your digital marketing operations work? What are you doing on digital platforms at Dhaka Bank?

Khandaker Anwar Ehtesham

I have already told you about some of the things we are doing in digital. On the operation side, we do some of the things in-house as well as collaborate with our creative partners.

Objectives and strategy - we do these in-house. We sit with the departments and teams and set the priorities. Once we are sure about what we want to achieve, we then work with our agencies to execute the plans and strategies. We prepare a flexible set of priorities and plans at the beginning of the year and execute accordingly. When there is a need for change, we do the needful since, as I already mentioned, our plans are quite flexible in nature.

The challenge of digital, to my understanding, is creating a differentiated experience. As you know, digital is extremely crowded and as users, our attention is supremely fragmented. Thus the challenge for marketers is to find a way around these two limitations and create content that will offer a differentiated experience to users so that they can recall and remember you. In an over-crowded space, which social media platforms are, you have to curve a differentiated identity for yourself in the market. However, I think we sometimes run after quantity over quality.

Future Startup

What are the major challenges you face when it comes to digital marketing?

Khandaker Anwar Ehtesham

There are two types of challenges: one is an internal challenge where we need to convince the decision makers and the team about things that we want to do on digital platforms.

Since the medium is relatively new for us, it still requires a lot of convincing before getting a digital marketing budget approved. On the other hand, if you are doing a newspaper ad, that’s easy to get. The internal challenge is the mindset.

Having said that, it is changing quite fast.

The other challenge is around expectation. Often since the medium is instantaneous, we expect an instantaneous result which causes both short-sightedness as well as failure.

Future Startup

Facebook has significantly reduced the organic reach in recent times. The social media giant has become expensive for brands and predictions are that it will be more so in the coming days. How do you deal with this particular challenge when you rely too much on Facebook in order to interact with your audience?

Khandaker Anwar Ehtesham

This is there and will be even more complex in the coming days. I think the only way out is to be extremely creative with your content. You have to make really differentiated content in order to engage your audience and get organic reach.

Since organic reach has become a challenging affair, it increases the importance of organic reach. Because it is scarce and hard to get.

We have at least some limitation when it comes to designing and executing creative contents on a social media platform. We tend to take the easier route whenever possible. For instance, copying without permission is a common thing. This not only detrimental to your brand alone, it also degrades the overall ecosystem.

Future Startup

A couple of major digital marketing trends that you think will go big in 2018.

Khandaker Anwar Ehtesham

We are more into tactics than strategy, meaning we are always running after short-term gains at the expense of long-term. This is detrimental, to say the least. There are so many ‘Me-too’ things happening on these platforms. I hope this reality will change given the growing difficulty around achieving success applying this method.

Digital marketing will mature further and people will add more mediums to their digital strategy mix, not only facebook. Up until now, digital marketing means facebook boosting to too many people. I expect this will change in 2018 and we will see diversity in channels and mediums and in the way of doing things.

You can also expect that people will rely more on analytics and data. This was not the case in 2017 and I think this is changing.

Non-celebrity influencer marketing will gain popularity. Celebrity endorsement is a thing now which I don’t think is that effective compared to the amount of investment you get to make. On the other hand, digital is a different world and there are celebrities as well. Influencer marketing is a big thing already in many markets and I expect it will go mainstream in Dhaka. This is a little tricky but it is likely to be effective.

There is a host of social media platforms and consumption pattern is different for each platform. I think before jumping on a platform, we need to understand how users consume the platform. For example, the reason and how you consume Facebook is not how you consumer or for why you consume other platforms. That’s true for Youtube as well. It becomes easier to develop a better strategy as well get a better result when you deeply understand these intricacies of individual platforms.

Our priority for 2018 will be doing things in a more sustainable manner instead of running after short-term gains. We will invest more in quality and do differentiated things in 2018.

We have at least some limitation when it comes to designing and executing creative contents on a social media platform. We tend to take the easier route whenever possible. For instance, copying without permission is a common thing. This not only detrimental to your brand alone, it also degrades the overall ecosystem.

Future Startup

Your tips for marketers and brand managers on digital marketing.

Khandaker Anwar Ehtesham

The first thing we need to understand is that digital is not something isolated and it is not only about marketing. It is a lifestyle. We uber from one place to another, we message to communicate, we Youtube or Netflix for entertainment and we Facebook for social life. Now, in order to be effective, we have to understand digital in light of how it is changing not only how we communicate but also how we live. Unless we understand this reality, it will be a tall order to do meaningful work on digital platforms because when we treat digital as a mere communication channel, we miss the most important point how it is disrupting our lives.

Understanding individual platforms independently and what makes that platform different and how people consume that platform is also critical. We need to spend more time in understanding the consumption pattern of a platform and try to measure how the customer will go on in the future.

The age of ad is over. It is about communication and doing so in a meaningful way that not only makes sense for you as a brand but also adds value to your users. Unless users see something for them in your communication, they would not attend.

And digital should not be treated as something separate in your overall communication strategy rather it should be treated as an extension and in accordance with other marketing and communication plans.

In our culture, BTL was the inception of marketing and it would always be there. You have to align and push all your activities in a consistent manner only then you will see the result.

Niche will become more powerful by the day and brand will have curve their niche as well.

There is a host of social media platforms and consumption pattern is different for each platform. I think before jumping on a platform, we need to understand how users consume the platform. For example, the reason and how you consume Facebook is not how you consumer or for why you consume other platforms. That’s true for Youtube as well. It becomes easier to develop a better strategy as well get a better result when you deeply understand these intricacies of individual platforms.

Future Startup

03 digital marketing plans for Dhaka Bank for 2018.

Khandaker Anwar Ehtesham

Creating more engaging content for our audience and finding ways to help and interact with our audience more meaningfully.

Number two: explore and utilize YouTube and LinkedIn. We want to know about these two platforms and increase our footprint there. We are planning to create a knowledge platform where an industry expert would come and share their insights and experience.

We will invest more in data and analytics and as well as a plan to collaborate with a few more digital media outlets in 2018.

The first thing we need to understand is that digital is not something isolated and it is not only about marketing. It is a lifestyle. We uber from one place to another, we message to communicate, we Youtube or Netflix for entertainment and we Facebook for social life. Now, in order to be effective, we have to understand digital in light of how it is changing not only how we communicate but also how we live. Unless we understand this reality, it will be a tall order to do meaningful work on digital platforms because when we treat digital as a mere communication channel, we miss the most important point how it is disrupting our lives.

[su_note note_color="#ffffff" text_color="#050a45" radius="15"]This story is made possible in part by our friends at Thinkpool, whose generosity enables us to publish premium stories online at no cost to our readers. Thinkpool helps brands to maintain seamless digital presence, please go to Thinkpool to know more.[/su_note]

Interview and Edited by Ruhul Kader, Transcription by Md. Tashnim


Register to read this article in full and more insight articles!

By registering, you will be signed-up for an account which gives you access to our premium stories published a few times a week and archives of all our premium stories. You will also receive a daily newsletter sent to your inbox. To unsubscribe, please visit the profile section in your account. We have a strong privacy policy. We will never share or sell your data to anyone.

What you get
In-depth actionable analysis

In-depth analysis on startup, business and technology scene in Bangladesh that you would not find anywhere else.
Daily and weekly newsletter
Get our daily and weekly newsletter with our most important stories directly to your inbox.
Join the conversion on this article and more on our public Telegram Group

About FS

Contact Us

Shares