I’ve been a part of the nascent Indian Custom Media industry for a while now, and I can definitely tell that this is one of the fast growing sections in the media business. But things weren’t so flowery and sweet even five years ago. When I first found myself working on a custom media publication years ago, it was an unheard-of affair, and one that left a lot of my colleagues confused and wary. Back then Custom Media just wasn’t an Indian thing. We didn’t think we’d ever need it.

And in most of my meetings over the years, one of the most common questions I’ve always heard from a prospective client is “Why on earth would we have to print a custom publication or indulge in non-conventional activities when we’re perfectly happy with the proven full page advertisements we spend millions of rupees on?”

True, you say? Well, join the club. Not mine, but the one that’s left behind in the last century!

Most of us are completely oblivious to the changes in the world of media in the recent past. The sort of techniques and innovations that have hit the media industry just in the last year alone is mind-boggling. But this is not the time to elaborate on them, at least not today. Why talk about checkmates when we’re still learning to move the pawn? Personal blogs are personal. And I can’t talk about the changing tides of media while rambling about my drunken escapade at the same time.  So well, a new blog with all the works for any budding custom media enthusiast was on my mind for the New Year, and so I figured I’d better get to it.

Google “Custom Media” or “Custom Publishing India” and you’re sure to come up with tons of info about the definition of custom media. But are all of them helpful? I rather think not. Whatever the definition, the easiest way to come clean off the mumbo-jumbo is a simple line that clears the air. Custom Media is a way by which any organisation, big or small, can make a BIG difference to their company by incorporating media activities into their company core strategy. I’m sure you know about the commonly discussed media activities, the spanking new internet activities, the idiot box, the glossies, the broadsheets, and the radio. And we’ve also seen the same splashed with advertisements.

So that is a media activity, right? Right?! Wrong.

Well, you see, in the new world today, just an advertisement isn’t enough to get a consumer interested in you. We see big brands advertising all the time, in every medium, so much so that we get sick of it even before trying the product. That’s never a good sign for a company making the product. On the other hand, we have companies that don’t think they need to promote or advertise. They sit back in their big cushy leather recliners and scream “show me the money”. And if anyone asks them why they aren’t interested in advertising, they turn their nose up and scoff, “we’re so good, we don’t need advertising…”

Well, yeah right, now really….

And then we all know what happens. Another VC funded competitor springs up with well structured plans and fresh ideas, and then, bang! The old “I’m-so-good-I-scare-myself” company starts showing a stark reduction in their quarterly profits and soon, they’re all old and forgotten. Sometimes, in life, it’s our own arrogance and ignorance that shovels our downfall.

So over-advertising isn’t good. Not advertising isn’t good too, obviously. So let’s put our brains together. What’s the best path? Oh yeah, the Middle Path!

Well, that isn’t good too. Unfortunately, the middle path is actually the sad one. It can also be the worst of all paths here. The heavily advertised one can get hit below the belt because the consumer could get suffocated, or worse, it could be a bad product and news always spreads fast. The small budget advertiser may carve a niche for themselves, but that niche would last only as long as they’re the lonely one there. A new guy comes in and provides the same, while advertising cleverly at the same time, and he’d be the one going straight to the bank. Now back to the middle path. The sad thing about the middle path is that we get so used to seeing this product being advertised at regular intervals that we just don’t care anymore.

It’s like watching “Avatar” for the second or third time. The first time, you get all misty and drooly, and gasp oohs and aahs, but the second or third time, chances are, you’d be asleep midway. Trust me. Been there. Done that. Those 3D glasses are hypnotisers! Or it’s also like those Spraymint ads on Mtv. We’ve all seen that, but nobody cares. But I hope you’re getting the point here. By being a regular advertiser at regular intervals, people get so used to seeing you now and then, that well, they frankly don’t care about the product. It’s not worth a conversation anymore.

So if we get all of these together, it’s a startling revelation. Huge ad budgets aren’t good. Small budgets suck. And the middle path is just, well, sad. But this is exactly what most people still don’t understand. They just can’t seem to get that. Well, advertising and media activities do help, but they are way too inefficient. It’s just not worth it anymore. Especially when you can carefully plan a custom media activity for ten percent of an ad budget and see tenfold increase in profits!

That’s the power of Custom Media. And it’s not just for the big fish. Custom media and custom marketing strategies are a breath of fresh air to corporate houses all the way to the little budding entrepreneur. Anyone can use it and see the results for themselves. I’ll tell you more about how you can use it for your specific industry soon.

But then again, are you ready to remove the blindfold of traditional ideas and join the speeding bandwagon of Custom Media?