Friday, November 29, 2013

CREATIVE COPYCATS

AAP – Aam Aadmi Party, the one name that is on everybody’s mind, has done things no one could have dreamed was possible. A spanking new party and it has already shaken up the whole political system and all the politicians too. It is an interesting case study for both politicians and corporates. When one looks at the political campaigning of AAP one finds close similarities with the Obama campaign of 2008. The scenario was similar. Back then no one gave Obama a second thought. It was Hillary Clinton who was the more popular  candidate. In India too no one gave Arvind Kejriwal a chance. Yes, he might win 2 or 3 seats was the popular opinion, but like Obama the man proved everyone wrong by not just winning more seats than Congress but defeating Sheila Dikshit, the almost invincible Chief Minister of Delhi. Kejriwal admits that he studied the Obama campaign very thoroughly and tried to use the same strategies to reach out to voters. Like Obama, who used the power of the youth to help him win, Arvind Kejriwal too used the young first-time voters to campaign for him. Like Obama he too used the power of the social media to create a large volunteer base and reach out to many people. Like Obama he too had the whole campaign planned out in the minutest of details (his were on excel sheets, while Obama spent millions on a software to track voters). Each polling booth was tracked and mapped and campaigned for with the ultimate goal being of getting 100% of the supporters of the party to the polling booth. In short, one can say Kejriwal did an Obama in India.

Obama showed the world how you could market a President like a box of breakfast cereal. Kejriwal too meticulously planned out a marketing campaign and built a new brand that the consumers would love. His USP (unique selling proposition) was not unique as Obama had used the same sentiments but was unique for Indians. No politician had ever spoken like this to its voters as him. He had a message that people loved ‘Aap (you) against the corrupt biggies’. He inspired people to vote for change – just like Obama. He positioned himself as the ‘common man’ which appealed to the electorate and his logo (jhaadoo i.e. broom), his packaging (Gandhi cap), his slogans (power to the common man) all were totally in sync with the positioning and made him stand out distinctly from other brands (read: Congress and BJP).

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

NEVER SAY NEVER, NEVER HEAR NEVER


Last month Wal-mart kicked off a reality television series for the web named ‘Get on the Shelf ‘. This series featured 20 finalists of Wal-mart’s contest by the same name. It’s aim being to encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship and help some lucky ones get a break. The public was given 3 days to vote for their favorite entrepreneur .The winner of each episode , that is the one with the highest votes would then be allowed to sell his goods on Walmart.com.  Out of these winners the ‘grand winner’ would be the one who would get the maximum pre-orders on walmart.com. This grand winner would then get the opportunity to sell his product inside the  Wal-Mart stores . It’s a dream for any brand, any businessman, to see their product on Wal-Mart store shelves, and this television series (for the web) will help someone’s this dream come true!

The key point here is – the winner will be the one who can ‘sell’ the most. In entrepreurship this is the key element. It is also an element that in spite of being so important is ignored by many. The fact remains that it does not matter how good your product is, rather what matters is how well you could ‘sell’ it. 

“Being an entrepreneur means being a salesman” – this was the key mantra for success that was given by Niklas Zennsrom more popularly known as the co-founder of Skype. He says the one who can sell is the one who will succeed in the game of entrepreneurship. In fact in spite of ‘salesmanship’ being such an important aspect of business not many b-schools till recently focused on this. It was the reverse . This was one aspect that was looked down upon. Not any more. A recent survey showed that people were keener to know how to start their own business and be their own boss. Students today are keener to do a ‘Masters in Entrepreneurship’ than a regular MBA (Forbes magazine). After all the success stories of this generation are companies like Twitter, Groupon, Facebook, Yelp, Instagram, Tumblr …. And the list goes on. What they all have in common is a young guy who knew how to ‘sell’ his dreams to others. It does not matter whether you have lots of money or no money –what matters here is whether you have a great idea –and more importantly the skill to sell that idea.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

BRANDING IN THE DIGITAL AGE

The way we communicate has changed today. Branding is a different game altogether. The strategy that was considered the right way to build a brand just a few years back is all wrong today. We, as marketers, were doing a great job all these years and then came Tim Berners-Lee and changed it all. He is the man who invented the ‘World Wide Web’. With more than 2 billion users the growth in the number of people using the Internet in 2013, as compared to 2000, has been 566%. Whoa! That’s humongous. It’s this Internet which has created a unique generation of consumers called the ‘Millennial’. People in the age group of 18-34 fall in this category. Why are they so important? Let’s look at a few quick facts. 75 million is the population of the Millennials in US alone. In countries like India and Bangladesh most of the population is around this age. What it translates into is a few simple facts. By 2022 at least 30% of all retail sales will be to this generation, and by 2025 about 75% of the total car sales will be to this generation, making this age group the most important consumers. They are the consumers of the future and as brand builders it’s critical for us to make them believe in our brands. However, this generation is very different from its parents. They live differently, decide differently, and hate being marketed to, making things very difficult for marketers. Gone are the days when you picked up a Lonely Planet or any other travel guide book to know about a new destination you wanted to travel to. Today, you just ‘google it’ and can know more about the place, and even see real time videos of the place. You read books on the Internet and buy them through Amazon. If you want to change your job you don’t go to a placement agency but to LinkedIn. If you want an education many prefer to go online than to a campus. In fact, even if you want to protest for a cause you do not need to go out on the streets rather you go to the Facebook page and ‘like’ it and voila you are a protester!

Reading, writing, travelling, protesting – you name it and it’s happening on the Internet. So, logically your brand building too should happen on the Internet.

Monday, August 26, 2013

I AM A PRODUCT!

At the risk of sounding extremely materialistic yet I always tell budding entrepreneurs and future leaders that an education in management teaches one among other things to become an expert in marketing products. It teaches one to understand the needs of the consumers and position the brand in such a manner that the consumer feels he / she needs the brand and goes and buys it. Most of the students of management are quick to learn this and by the time they graduate they are ready to impress the corporate world with their newly learnt skill of ‘marketing’. As david ogilvy once said “a great marketer can even sell snow to an eskimo”. Many management graduates pride themselves upon the fact that they can ‘market almost anything to anyone’, and most of them are actually pretty good at it too. So then all these so-called expert marketers must also be greatly successful in their careers?

Surprisingly that is not true. This is because these marketers learnt to market everything and anything but forgot to learn to market the most important thing and that is ‘marketing themselves’!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

BOLLYWOOD, HOLLYWOOD AND BRANDS

BOLLYWOOD, HOLLYWOOD AND BRANDS
Amitabh Bachchan made his debut in Hollywood with a small but well portrayed role in the film The Great Gatsby. If you have seen the film you too would have been mesmerized by the grandeur of it, but if you have seen it from a marketer’s point of view you would notice how intelligently the film has been made to include well-known brands. It’s actually overflowing with premium products. The top international designers Miu Miu and Prada for the movie designed more than 40 different cocktail gowns. Brooks Brothers designed the lead actor Leonardo Di- Caprio’s clothes. Mo√ęt & Chandon provided the champagne used in the film. The top-notch jewellery designer Tiffany & Co. created the jewellery.

However, this time it has been done differently. There may be no obvious close up shots that the brands need to depend on to be noticed in the film. This time the brands ‘invested’ in the movie too. Which implies that they have specially created products for the film and in their advertising and branding strategies would highlight this fact. Since these are all limited edition pieces the brands have a lot to benefit. Tiffany & Co., for example, has already got a list of clients who would want to buy these pieces as a ‘keepsakes’ since the designs are from an era long gone and a lot of people are there who would love to own something from that era.

Brooks Brothers have launched their own “The Gatsby Collection” which has suits inspired by the fashion of the 1920s. The brands in question will promote these new collections in their advertisements, which will benefit not just them but the movie too.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

DO YOU REALLY WANT IT!

Prof. Rajita Chaudhuri on 'DO YOU REALLY WANT IT!'
Michael Dell was in India recently. While addressing an audience he was asked, what is the secret of becoming a successful entrepreneur? His answer was something that surprised everyone. He said, “You need to be crazy!” If people call you crazy take it as a compliment for it means you are doing something that has never been done before! An entrepreneur is someone who dares to take risks, who dares to go off the beaten path. In fact, that is actually what success truly means. However, the irony is that it is success that prevents us from taking risks. Once we are successful we are too scared to change and do something different. Sticking to the same way of doing things seems to be the safest way to prevent failure. Take the case of a singer. Once his song becomes a hit he continues to make songs which are similar to the hit song, for fear that if he attempts something different it may not appeal to his fans. Same is the case with actors, painters, and even entrepreneurs! Once they find their ‘comfort zone’ seldom do they want to venture too far away from it?

However, a true business leader is one, who does not fear change, rather thrives on it! This is the only way to maintain your success, otherwise most often you may find yourself being left behind. Success comes not just when you do something different but when you continuously keep reinventing yourself. The ability to identify the changing needs with changing times is the key to long lasting and continuous success.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

DARE TO CHANGE THE RULES OF THE GAME?

DARE TO CHANGE THE RULES OF THE GAME?
The big players of TV are a little worried and it’s all because of a small company named Aereo, an upstart which wants to change the way we view television. No wonder all the big firms from NBC, ABC, CBS to Fox have all sued it but its CEO Chet Kanojia (who incidentally is a native of Bhopal) is not worried at all for he is absolutely sure of what he is doing. Aereo TV, simply put is an ‘online TV service’. The modus operandi of the company is simple. Kanojia has made very small antennas. Each user is assigned one antenna which grabs the broadcast-TV signals from the air and with the help of a software those signals are aired to the user. Not just this, the signal can be aired to any device which the user opts for – his mobile, his PC, or even his TV set. What this translates for the user is: a) he does not need to pay the hefty cable fees, and b) he can now watch his favourite TV programme anywhere. He could be stuck in traffic and watch it on his mobile, or in office on his PC. Kanojia saw a loophole in the copyright act and made the most of it, which is why in spite of his company being sued twice he seems undeterred and has in fact won both times. Not just that, today he is sitting on a funding of $38 million with the help of which he would spread his network, which is currently available only in New York, to 20 more cities.

Kanojia saw a gap in the system and filled it up with his service. According to him, everything will soon migrate to the Internet including TV. The youth today is more loyal to a TV programme and not a TV channel. He wanted the freedom to watch it whenever and wherever he pleased. Add to that the fact that he did not want to pay for the channels he did not watch, but under the current system he had to pay for a package. Aereo, on the other hand, gave him just what he wanted.

Whether Aereo really makes it big and becomes the next best thing is debatable and only time will tell. However, it has an important lesson for all to learn and that is ‘never fear to challenge the big players or the best ideas’. You may turn out to be a game changer.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

GO MOBILE!

GO MOBILE!
What do you do if you are a pizza parlour and the neighborhood where you are supposed to deliver your pizzas has people from over 200 nationalities who speak equally varied number of languages? Dubai based Red Tomato found a way to solve this problem – with the help of a fridge magnet. This magnet is connected with the bluetooth of the user’s mobile phone. He just presses the button, selects his choice of pizza online and orders it. Now it no more mattered which language you spoke; you always got the pizza you wanted. Deliveries increased by about 500%!

In 2011 IPL used the mobile phone to spread awareness about the cricket series. It used the SMS2.0 service. All those who used this app to send text messages were shown a banner ad of the series. While their message was being sent the banner ad became full screen where the user could see options like check the score, read more, download ringtones etc. The company received more than 16 lakh impressions and more than 35,000 ringtone downloads!

Lego has found a way to be relevant to the young generation and has found a way to compete with video games for market share. All you required was the special edition box of the Lego blocks, and the mobile app ‘The Life of George’ downloaded on your smartphone. The mobile app beams images which you have to make with your blocks within a time period specified by the app. With every successful attempt you move up levels. There are no estimates available of the sales figures, but it generated 294 million page impressions!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

THE LESS OBVIOUS RULES OF SUCCESS

THE LESS OBVIOUS RULES OF SUCCESS
A simple arithmetic question for you: ‘A bat and ball cost a dollar and ten cents. The bat costs a dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?’ If you answered ‘10 cents’ you also probably are not aware of the ‘less obvious rules of success’. I will try to discuss a few here – the most obvious ones at least. Just as the obvious answer that 90% of the readers gave was actually the wrong answer (the right answer is 5 cents for the ball and a dollar and five cents for the bat), similarly the rules of success are the ones we most often tend to overlook. Success comes from strange quarters and with strange reasons too. Decades ago, an interesting book “What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School” became a best seller. The author had then tried to show how the most obvious things are not being taught, the things that actually impact our careers. Even today, most people are not aware of many similar things.

IT’S NOT WHAT YOU SPEAK, RATHER WHAT YOU DON’T WHICH IS IMPORTANT!

A research by Classes and Careers revealed some interesting secrets about how to successfully crack interviews. While most of us will spend hours learning the important answers and pouring over the course and trying to mug up as much as possible, as many important points as possible, it’s the smart ones who do that little bit extra, which is the difference between success and failure. The biggest game changer in the interview process are the ‘non-verbal’ cues. It is not so much what you speak, rather what you don’t speak which creates the maximum impact. If you falter here it might cost you your job!

Friday, January 18, 2013

THE NEW ERA

THE NEW ERA
The New Year will, as always, bring with it a change. For marketers too it will be a year of looking at business, at consumers, at strategies, at investments, even at job profiles in a different manner.

IBM is in the business of computers. Well, so you thought, for it does much more now. This year, it is also in the business of selling what is known as ‘trend detection’ to marketers. The hottest trend in fashion, music, etc this year is predicted to be ‘the Steampunk movement’. Who predicted it? Yes, IBM! It developed a model using proprietary software that studied various conversations happening in various networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc for years and also in the numerous blogs, and discovered that “Steampunk” was being mentioned more and more frequently and hence predicted that this was a trend to stay. It has been proved right as the popularity of this trend is increasing. Even the fashion label Prada launched its new fashion line with ‘Steampunk’ as the theme. What started as a literary subgenera in the 1980s is today a hot selling fashion trend. Now, IBM is offering its services to brands where it can help them predict and identify new trends with the help of its new software and be better prepared for the future. It is no more the traditional computer manufacturer.

Think about it, the job of a singer is to sing well; and if he is popular, he gets to endorse brands. Not anymore! Will.i.am, the lead singer of the band The Black Eyed Peas, just proved it wrong. Unlike other rock stars, his brand endorsements are different. When Coke wanted to sign him up as their brand ambassador, he convinced them instead to start a new division ‘Ekocycle’ (look carefully it’s actually Coke spelt backwards) and endorse that. He had deeply studied the company profile and found that this was an idea which would benefit both him and Coke, something no brand ambassador is expected to do. Rather, it’s the reverse as brands study the profile of the star to see if he fits well with the brand! This new division would promote ‘recycling’, with each product being labelled, stating clearly how many bottles were recycled while manufacturing the product. For example, a pair of headphones uses three bottles. The idea was a huge success, and today Coke and Will.i.am divide the profits equally from this division. Not just this, Coke probably for a very long time, will not change its brand ambassador either and many companies would be lining up at Will’s door to sign him up. Will has proved that it pays to not just be the traditional brand endorser, but to go a step beyond. Soon gone would be the days of many things traditional, one of them being shopping!
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