Posts Tagged 'marketing'

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.

Technology is not the panacea – Part 2

The next part of the puzzle has to do with the traditional “market ethos” of “why break something that ain’t broken?” If you haven’t read the introduction to this series, you can catch it here (you might want to take a quick look at it before reading this thread)

One might argue, “let’s make things better” or “this is for their good”. But, asking someone to put in any more effort than what requires to keep things going doesn’t ring a bell of happiness in most people’s heads, it rings a bell of despair/alarm. (Obviously, I’m not referring to the market of “techno-enthusiasts” here)

They either know that you right, but don’t want to be the first adopters and hence, a ring of despair or they are alarmed that you are out to get them.

Take the case of school teachers, they all agree that technology could potentially improve the learning capability in students, but why should they be the learning scapegoats? Why, for the peanuts they earn, should they put in any kind of extra effort without a social/economic benefit to show for it (no extra pay, no climbing the hierarchy, no awards – you know, the works)? The prevailing majority attitude then becomes, let it happen independently. That shows for the success of many online tutoring services and several other direct to student technologies. One might ask, what about the success of the likes of Educomp, Everonn etc. – that, for me, is a subject of another post. I’m referring to technology from the teacher’s point of view in this example.

Lets take another example, the nation’s favorite for technology advancement – farmers! All the incubation labs in the country are buzzing with activity around creating technology innovation for farmers. What is the story on the other side though? Alarm bells start ringing in their heads when you talk of any new technology introduction. They think that you might have a trick or so up your sleeve and hence want them to use the technology that you are talking about. Call it lack of knowledge, their hand-to-mouth existence that precludes trial-n-error or “been-there-been-tricked” experiences.

All this results in the best of the technology interventions not being met with the kind of excitement or implemented with the kind of enthusiasm that was intended. What with all the effort that was put into creating the “cool technology wonder”? Be it the lowest cost laptop, the simplest digitally controlled water pump – if the team doesn’t make an equally gallant effort (as for creating product) into delving and unifying the product experience with the market ethos – it is bound to just remain “a newsworthy cool technology”, nothing more.

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?

When the light bulb went on

I had completely missed the implication of the second half of the statement, when Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”, until it struck me today. He had not done random experiments, he had done controlled and well-thought out experiments and figured out what works and what does not. That is the genius!

Many of us try mindlessly several times to do things, invest our time on building markets, converting customers, but doing it in a scientific manner, where even the fact that you failed adds to your knowledge and improves your chances of success is more important. Being flexible and open to the fact that your method or business model or idea is not perfect and that one needs to figure out a way of making it happen step by step thought out manner is a very interesting observation in entrepreneurship.

What do you think? Are we at least partially scientific in the way we try to get through our lives, in relationships that don’t work, with colleagues/bosses who we don’t get through to, with customers who don’t respond and new products that we try to launch in markets unexplored? How can we do better?

Delighting your customer

I’ve to acknowledge that in this world of “heavy” sales pitch and large budget marketing, we fail to notice people who provide us service quietly, efficiently and go out of their way to do a good job, yet don’t make a big fuss about it. We give these people repeat business because they are good at their work, but they don’t get written about or awarded or given accolades for helping make people like do better. I want to talk about a printer guy that I’ve been working, who has done an excellent job of delighting us. (I’ve to mention he is tardy and never keeps time, but this post is not about that!)

We are a startup and I don’t end up giving him large quantity orders. Orders range from 500-1500 pieces for print and at these quantities most (offset) printers refused to give me good rates. He on the other hand, the first time I worked with him, took up the job gladly, did it in reasonably good time and offered me a very good price for the order. The second time I worked with him, he gave me a substantial discount on a price that we had agreed upon (which was already a good price as per the market) and he did it again the third time round! I was surprised when I saw the bill.

I never had the time to thank him for this gesture and he never made a hue and cry about it either. I finally did it today and I’m giving him repeat business for sure. But, more importantly, I learnt a thing about “delighting one’s customer” without making a big fuss about it from him today. If you are good and you are giving your customers something of value, they will realize it without you having to do “heavy-duty” pitching.

This lesson is even more important because he doesn’t speak English or Hindi that well at all, at least not well enough to have a “misunderstanding-free” conversation and so much for the importance of learning “English” that we place in India. Anyway, I’m tending to believe more and more that in life it is really important to do one or two things really well and just get the rest of the things “right” enough, that defines success more than well-roundedness! What say guys?

Call taxis should introduce loyalty programs

I have had a chance to use call taxis on too many occasions in India now and day before yesterday as I was reaching Bangalore, I wanted to hire one so that I could get home without having to squabble with the auto fellows and not end up paying through my nose. So, I tried calling all the major ones. I noticed that many of them had introduced IVR (Interactive Voice Response Systems, the kind of ones that greet you when you dial toll-free numbers for customer service). I was aghast! Not only that I was thrown out of the system of a service that I’m a heavy user of, I ended up holding their call for more than 5 minutes before that happened.

I’ve a lot of reasons to be angry and a suggestion for them too…so here you go

The truth is, I loved the fact that when I called a human voice immediately answered with – “XYZ cabs, how can I help you?”, I mean it really showed that my query will get attended to immediately. IVR systems cost money to implement and do you no good if you cannot prioritize your queue with some form of pin code/loyalty number and leaves a spate of angry and dissatisfied customers! (Who will tell the call taxi owners this!)

That brings me to my idea, if the call taxis did want to do something hi-tech and advanced in marketing, they could launch some form of loyalty program that would guarantee stuff like “just 15-minute prior booking time”, “priority/emergency calling”. I’m sure people would even be willing to pay a premium for it. Although, offering it for free will get you the necessary customer sign-up and then you can prioritize your queue according to the value of the card holder. And, by the way, using the loyalty program doesn’t require the costly IVR implementation and will help them segment and serve the market better, while making more profits. What say people? All game for loyalty programs from call taxis?

Innovative Ad Formats, Irritating too!

Now when I’m watching TV I don’t know whether I’m actually watching a movie, its promo or an advertisement of a product (not even remotely related to the movie!). Not that I care, but in my mind there was a sense of separation between content and advertisement and slowly but surely, it seems to be fading, a step at a time.

While it is interesting to see innovative ad formats, for example Asian Paints doing an ad jig with Karthik calling Karthik actors and using the movies song too, it is equally irritating when I no longer know what I’m being fed. This is where most of the movie content is headed for sure, in-built advertisements. Product placements were not a new phenomena in the movie world but by pulling the actors, movie concept and song out of context ads are daring to create a grey world of their own. I’ve not even begun to talk about the risks involved if the movie were to flop, right?

What do you think? Is it a good idea to have ads revolving around a movie concept timed with its release and leveraging on its promotional activities?


Blog Stats

  • 27,244 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,280 other followers


%d bloggers like this: