Archive for the 'Branding' Category

Whacky book launch ideas!!!

I’ve this strange quirky feeling inside me at times that wants to take the way things are done mostly and put them upside down, shake them up a bit and change how they look – while trying to achieve the same goal! It gave birth to my new venture and you will be hearing about it soon on this blog – so keep reading. But now, about book launches.

Why book launches and why this itch to revamp them? Well, I was at a large book store yesterday and frankly, quite overwhelmed by the number of books and new titles out there. More importantly, a question stood out for me – how can someone stand out in this melee? Of course, after the launch you are one amongst the crowd, so the launch is critical – so here goes the list!

5 whacky ways to do book launches:

1. Get everybody to answer a puzzle of some kind through your promotional materials that gets solved only when they get to the venue of the launch (assuming there is one!) – of course, you will need to give away prizes!

2. Get a poll going on various social networks on some relevant topic and create awareness about the book – make it interesting

3. Create a controversy (now, this is controversial, if you ask me – but I’m just throwing ideas around)

4. Do activities to get people to experience the book (don’t read it yourself, it is the tried and tested way, right?)

5. Last but not the least, get the most unconventional location possible for the launch – based on your target segment, it could be anywhere from the pizza place to beauty parlors and honestly, they will appreciate the foot falls more than the book stores!

The art of “restrictive” gifting

Recently we received Pizza Hut gift vouchers from Airtel and Citibank. I generally don’t look at promo mailers. I was about to throw it when the picture of food caught my eye. I looked at it carefully, it said that we could get a medium “Tuscan singles” pizza free if we present the voucher. I had three such vouchers and wondered if we might just do a pizza today. Well, alas! turn the voucher around and there in fine print lies the art of “restrictive” gifting.

One cannot redeem multiple vouchers together, need to have a bill of Rs. 500 or more to be able to use the voucher and worst still – need to be a dine-in order to be able to use the voucher. Needless to say, I trashed the vouchers anyway. Why?

I don’t remember the last time I did a dine-in for pizzas. I don’t remember the last time my bill order went to Rs. 500 at a pizzeria (there are too many offers for meals for two floating around and we don’t do any pizza parties) and if I can’t use all my vouchers, then?

I understand that one of the reasons for launching the campaign must have been to push people to dine-in at pizza hut, raise the bill to Rs. 500 and come multiple times to redeem the multiple vouchers within the expiry date. But, isn’t it too much to ask for from me? What if, I’m not a big fan of Pizza Hut pizzas, then you need to induce trial and this is no way to do it. What if, I’m looking for the best value meal in pizzas, then you have just blown away your chance for a consideration.

Ok, I can go on and on. But the point I was trying to make is that the art of sending vouchers is not all about what you want it is all about figuring out why things are the way they are and then trying to address that through incentives (namely, vouchers – if that is the case). I’m sure to get into the mailers of Airtel customers and Citibank customers, they must have paid a bomb. What a sheer waste of money to do so on a “restrictive” gift that screams selfishness and lack of understanding of consumer behavior at its best.

Or do they really think consumers are that stupid that on the receipt of such a gift voucher they would go rushing to change their habits? Anybody listening from Pizza Hut’s marketing team?

Book Review: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Cover of "What Got You Here Won't Get You...

Cover via Amazon

As promised (though late) here is the book review of “What Got You here won’t get you there”  by Marshall Goldsmith. This is an interesting book and appeals to me at multiple levels. Not only does it help in self-improvement, it also lets us see other people in a different light by being able to identify behavior patterns mentioned.

The concepts in this book are not completely new but if you are attempting to figure out what you or someone else around you is doing that is holding you back (and trust me, we all know who/what this is at some level), this is a book that will help you place a finger on the specific issue and take you to the next level of resolving it.

Instead of going very generic, the book covers specific examples like…Ill-tempered boss, Boss playing favorites, having to second guessing the boss all the time, etc.

We might wonder why all examples are negative and why all the above are around bosses…well it is a CEO coaching book, so it is around high level executives and for some positive examples, look below:

1. Feed forward – seek help on your points of improvements from people who you know or even better people who you don’t know.

2. Creating your own PR – how people are not going to notice immediately that you are better or attempting to get better and how you need to create your own PR for the same

And, there is more. For people who are fond of learning from real examples and stories in the process of self-improvement – this is a book for you!

Consuming Information Digit-ally

RSS

Image via Wikipedia

Lately I’ve realized that I’m consuming almost all my information through my RSS feed reader – news, blogs, articles of any kind. I’ve not yet moved to e-books because, ahem – all e-book readers (when they are available) in India seem to be so bloody costly!

The fact is, I still travel with a book or two. But, reading the latest blog articles on my mobile from a set of people I follow and admire, always seems to win vs. the books from authors I barely have a connect with. This has serious consequences, in my mind, on what kind of information/news/articles are being read by people. Instead of passively consuming some randomly pushed plot as decided by a publisher and a writer, now I decide the twists in the plot.

Jokes aside, the middle man is being cut out by the power of the reader and it is not just the traditional content creators that are in trouble, as is touted by the “big banner demise stories of newspapers”.

The small and convenient size of the blog articles and the easy to read format also make them more appealing to me. Oh, not to mention, most of the people who blog are experts in their fields or are striving to be so and if you pick and choose right, you get loads of good and solid information in their respective fields of expertise that is current, handy and reliable. Also, many of them have managed to create brilliant communities around their blogs, so each and every blog post gets 100+ responses. Another way to get a feel of the various industry opinions and contradictory viewpoints. They, in a way, complete the posts and make the rugged and more comprehensive.

I’ve never been able to watch news without losing interest in the first 2 minutes, read a newspaper without falling asleep (except for some interesting articles, here and there) but leave me with my RSS feedreader and I’m glued forever.

What role does a marketeer play in this world where content producers directly communicate with the readers? What do you think?

The Sweet Deal in India

I read an interview by Perfetti’s MD in Business Line recently where he was talking about how difficult it was for them to convert the 50p price point and raise it to Re 1 and another article here on how the main issue with Indian market is price points (MRP), that the costlier, “stylized” chocolates are better sold in “malls” and that the Indian chocolate market is largely limited to children and has not been able to convert the adults.

I beg to differ with the concept that “price” is  an issue with sweets. The people (both adults and children) who crave for sweets don’t care about price, it falls under “crave” items. The problem with Indian scenario is that overall there is a dearth of options, lack of quality and absence of richness in the confectionery and chocolates category. In fact, there are no lollipops worth its salt (sweet) that an adult would buy (even if they craved for it), chewing gums are ok but now there are too many clones in the market (especially with the sugar-free version) and can I please get an eclair that does not get stuck in my teeth (I mean, I used to like eclairs before these cheap versions started flooding the market)?

Chocolates is another disaster story, for the price I pay mostly there isn’t even a bite-full to eat (things have changed slightly with Cadbury Silk in the mix and some imported German chocolates). I can do far better with most of the traditional Indian sweets in all their variety and richness right around the corner. Of course, not to mention that dark chocolates are more chocolate than dark (cocoa) and the difference in taste between the “Indian” and “Foreign” versions of “Kit-Kat”, “Ferrero Rocher” doesn’t make them taste any better (in fact, they are worse).

All of these “sweet” guys (Perfetti, Nestle, Nutrine, Parle) who are talking about price, placement and segment issues in India, my question to you is, what have you done to understand India and put together an honest, good quality product mix for us? We might be a disparate market, we might stand divided by caste, creed and religion but we stand united by our sweet tooth and reject products that lack in quality or range thrown at us and oh, yeah! no amount of advertising is going to make up for the fact that the products don’t stand up for themselves.

PS: I should give a special mention to Cadbury as they have always attempted to work towards this goal. They are having to run three separate ad campaigns – one each for dairy milk silk, temptations and the regular dairy milk. I can see what an uphill task it is for them in Indian market to stand up for quality when everyone else is gunning for costs!

What do you think? Any special chocolate stories to share?

Wants vs. Needs

I was listening to Melinda Gates at the TEDxChange talk aired on Sep 20th on the Millennium goals. It was wonderful to hear all the speakers, but one thing she said stuck in my head.

She was narrating the story of the reach & success of Coke and comparing it with the success of the Millennium Goals. She said, as she travelled all over the world trying to spread the message of a life without disease and misery, even where there was no electricity, education or sanitation facility, there was COKE. For quite some reason, coke had figured out the secret formula that eluded the best of the international efforts at alleviating poverty, disease and lack of education!

She pointed out that it could be broadly ascribed to three things – they are very data oriented, they  tap into local entrepreneurial culture and create incredible marketing campaigns. In short, make you aspire to something you don’t even need in the first place! However, for some reason, she said, “We don’t seem to think that we should make people want what they need” when it comes to poverty, education and disease eradication. This results in colossal wastage of the best laid out aid efforts in the poorest of countries. Since, we don’t craft the messages with “sufficient aspirational value” they don’t seem to get through to the people and she gave some very interesting examples (Go watch the talk for examples, I’m not giving them away :)).

This is so beautifully said that I can’t add anything to it except for the fact that, what “they need” is generally a “perception” from an outsider’s point of view, for them  it is something in their core – a “habit”, “culture”, “religion”, “chore” – that you want them to change and instead do this “other thing” which they are not familiar with. Why should they trust you? Why should they put in the extra effort?

Inspiring someone enough for them to “want” to do something is the best way to create a “need” – marketers figured this out way long ago. But making someone want what they need, while making it available is the best way to reach out and make a difference in the society, probably the most exalted job for marketing there is to be!

PS: Seth Godin wrote an article on the same topic in his blog recently –Needs don’t always lead to demand.

Blackberry boys (un)welcome change?

Truth be told the new Blackberry boys TV advertisement is cool (if you haven’t seen it, take a look here) and I love it.

You can clearly see that Vodafone is signaling (along with Blackberry) that it is not just for the “guys in suits” and the message is conveyed brilliantly. But, here is the million dollar question – it is a bold move and it takes Blackberry away from its corporate stronghold, is it a good strategy for Blackberry?

Even in the ad, you can clearly see the discomfort, confusion and alarm on the faces of the 5 “suited” people who were the only people in the frame originally. It could well be the case that Blackberry purchase decisions are made by “corporates” who don’t make it based on the image but on practical price-feature-network partnership parameters and Blackberry might pull off this brand extension exercise and come out all smiles (I hope that is what the research showed and hence they are doing this!).

If not, this could cost them their stronghold with the confused businessmen demanding to be given a choice of “iPhone/Blackberry/Nokia/Samsung” and the B2C market (in developing countries), being cost conscious that it is, opt for the local Blackberry rip offs instead!

It could well be that Blackberry has not seen the kind of traction with corporates in India that they generally see in other countries, in which case, this is a desperate move for them to expand their visibility and hence market share. Could they have done it with another brand name instead of extending the current one? What do you think?


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