Zindagi: A lesson in the art of selling

MUMBAI: “Selling is an Art. It is a complex, challenging, and for many, a very rewarding profession. Just like an artist, becoming an accomplished sales professional also takes time and experience. It is no different from any other profession. Yes, I am essentially saying that we are artists in our own right,” says the author of ‘Everyone's in Sales’, Todd Cohen.

And Zeel chief sales officer Ashish Sehgal is a master artist. He not only successfully sold the never-before-seen content to his clients, but sold it at a premium rate!

Zee Entertainment with its latest offering, Zindagi, carries forward its new philosophy 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam - The World is my family'. The channel, launched on 23 June, brings international content especially Pakistani shows to India.

To get advertisers on board, the channel and its chief sales head invited all stakeholders for a screening of the shows.

The process started by April end when the 100 plus stakeholders were shown the content which was to be aired on the channel for the next four months or so. Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru were the cities chosen for the road shows. “Without sounding boastful, the merit of the content made the task easy for us. The community liked what they were watching and hence, got hooked on to it,” says Sehgal.

The man and his team had no pre-set list of clients they wanted to approach. What they did was, called upon everyone to watch the content and then left it on them to come on board or not. Personal invitations were sent to the client base which suited the channels’ ‘premium’ content, giving them a new ‘premium mass’ category to advertise on.

What makes Zindagi a premium? With ‘Jodey Dilon Ko’ tagline, the channel aims to showcase real, friendly, vibrant and premium stories to engage and interact with its audience through diverse shows written by award-winning novelists and literary stalwarts. Scripted to be finite plots, these stories are first polished and then shot, unlike the Indian daily soap dramas that drag on forever. Each series, of an average of 20-25 episodes, are also shot in real life locations across the world, as opposed to closed studio sets.

Brands that wish to target the segment have the opportunity now to reach out to their core target group as no other GEC currently caters to the progressive mind-sets.

The channel not only searched for the right content which Zeel’s MD Punit Goenka felt would click with the audience, but also conducted in-depth research across cities in India to understand the consumer extensive demographic profiling for advertisers. All this, to give advertisers an opportunity to increase customer engagement.

The three main sponsors on board – Fogg, AskMe and Fortune (Edible oils and foods)  – have signed partnership packages which allow a brand to sign a deal for 45 days. The channel didn’t want to sell inventories the regular way and thus came up with special packages for advertisers. “This helps brands as well because they get the mileage they want from us,” highlights Sehgal while elaborating that the launch of the marketing campaign highlighted the names of the sponsors as well.

Apart from that, the channel also had other packages for spot buys which will help brands to exploit the curiosity generated. The idea here was to allow a brand to showcase its advertisement anytime and between any shows.

Post the 45-day period, once the ratings are clear, the partnership pattern will change. “We are working on innovative packages for our clients and will soon announce them,” adds Sehgal without revealing much.

However, according to various planners the channel which got the main three sponsors for 4 to 5 crore each, will sell its inventory at the rates charged by non-fictional shows on other GECs.

 “The packaging, content, fresh faces have all worked well for the new channel. Even the publicity and noise level it has created is ever-increasing. So, if they charge premium rates they are signaling the industry that it is premium and worth it,” says a planner while adding, “However, one will have to wait for the ratings and advertisers depend on it. If the ratings don’t show the problems will start. Let's wait and watch...”

The channel, however, is optimistic about its future and believes that the clients too will continue to come on board.

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