Friday, October 14, 2011

The Customer doesn't care a #*>€ about frameworks and theories

Management is a science. Being a student of management, I know how important it is to understand the rules of the game in a logical, precise way. I treated management and marketing as a ' subject' and poured over laws and tables and graphs and models. Work taught me something that management as a subject did not. Actually could not. Work taught me that marketing has as its client the toughest species that exist on this planet. Who make decisions and outsmart the most brilliant of strategists. Who can make brands into icons and icons into nothingness at the click of a button. I have learnt that more than all laws and rules and tables, we need to learn from people themselves. And we need to play with the biggest factor that can actually influence the toughest of minds. Emotions. Seems like a subjective,soft aspect in the face of formidable matketing sciences. There is no law on emotions. There can't be. Emotions are spontaneous. Authentic. Straight from the heart. It is important to understand the role emotions play in marketing. And how we need to take that walk into the sabzi mandi or talk to Sunita from JaiHind college. Or even watch good old Doordarshan Maybe use that cake of Lifebouy And hangout in the park instead of a mall. We need to have the instinct and gut feel to understand the emotional forces and undercurrents. These forces can turn the tide for us and our brands.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sameness in IMC

Life and Brands are not mutually exclusive.
In fact, Life has a  storehouse of experiences and stories that brands can wean and glean from.

Am doing some research on Integrated Marketing Communication ( IMC) . The bog question that often arises in IMC is one message and how we can leverage that across channels for synergies. yes there can be some "tweakings" but the master communication idea ( read Television commercial in India) remains the big oak tree with all the other channels like digital, OOH branching out roots from this tree.

Looked at myself as a brand.
I am same yet not same all the time.
When I am at work, my get up, the way I walk and talk is different from my  weekends out with friends which is different from the annual visits home to my grandmother's, which si different when I am in my daughter's school and so on.
When I say different, it's not just the clothes- though nowadays we do have the ubiquitous kurtis that is the great leveller.
It's the way I interface and interact that is different for  different relationships.
I do that because I know that the best conversations happen when I have the other side in mind as well.
When I see, listen, observe rather than have a monologue.

Does this make me a different person for different interactions?
No. It actually enhances the "sameness".
The threads that make me who I am.

 That's the power of IMC.
Where we can make the sameness come alive in DIFFERENT ways.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Max Those Smiles

At the risk of sounding like a yoga guru or a lady in sabbatical mode, I firmly believe that a smile as the ultimate goal on a vision board is probably the best way to create leaps.

When we max that smile, we max out on  product offerings, brand positioning,  integrated communication and happiness for both the consumers and the brand custodians. Most importantly, for the sloggers on the shop floor.

Of course we can’t clown our way into work everyday.
Nor does this mean raining discounts and bonuses for consumers to win those smiles.
It does not in anyway imply a relaxed - I- don’t- care attitude towards work and life.

It starts off with ourselves. ( And I always try and draw parallels between work and life)
As workers, we postpone our smiles.
Till that smoke break.
Or the sandwich table.
Or worse still, for weekends.

As marketers, we strip the consumer down to bare basics.
Scrutinise empty shampoo sachets and sauce bottles in the bin.
Read and write about the changing woman and the metro man.
Talk about change.
More disposable income.
Children as influencers.
Youth as gamechangers.

What about a study on what makes them smile?
What is it about brands and life that creates a real life smiley?
What is the Smile Index of a nation? ( Yes there is a Happiness Index but maybe not used often enough)
What is the smile quotient of a brand?

We cluster Happiness Brands as a segment.
Stereotype them with images of families laughing together in parks and cars and holding hands.
Happiness is not a segment.
It is the end of the journey.

Maybe Maxing the Smile should be the yardstick of success for both team members as well as consumers.
It will definitely lead to maxing quite a few critical business parameters.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dabbling with Brand Journalism

Who would have thought that oneday, brands would don the garb of journalism and create conversations that stir culture...

Yes, Brand Journalism is here to stay. Loosely defined, it is the content and context, the conversations and "reportings", news and views, panels and images that  is not paid for advertisements and billboards.
A pull rather than push.
Talk "with" and talk "about" rather than talk "down"
Create content that people want to spend time with
That becomes social conversation currency.

Like today's journalism has taken on new shapes and curves, brands also stand the danger  of falling into the "Breaking News" rote.
Everytime there is a reprint of a pack, it cannot be treated as a breaking news. Turns off people.
Sensations are an effect and not a cause.

I was reading a blog by a very senior  person heading Brand Journalism in a global agency, that the three key things that make for good journalism are  being genuine,   speed and quick to respond. Holds  true for Brand Journalism as well.

Maybe we can put down some  basic of being a good journo...
a) Brand  content on what interests, rather pulsates the audience
b) Refrain from the temptation of passing on just about anything as "newsworthy".
c) Create engagement
d) Keep Talking...join conversations
e) Talk Headlines.
f) Be authentic. And as unbiased as possible.
g) The Power of Words
h) Do NOT see this an an extension of advertising or PR
i)Create debates
h)Do consumer interviews.
i) Employ a journalist on your rolls.
j)Be as factual as possible
k) Think Publishing, not Marketing

Finally, whatever be the brand, to be a good journalist, one needs that winning stroke.
A compelling story.

Watch out for more on this topic as I delve deeper into what could be the most powerful way of brand conversations...

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Welcome Guest

Was doing some thinking on globalisation of brands and communication. Read quite a few articles,  mused over paradoxes, right from  the late Theodore Levitt's book excerpts to No Logos by Naomi Klein.

I guess as a marketer and brand stakeholder, one of the best ways to understand how to make our brand a "welcome guest" and then gradually " a part of the family" is from real life itself.

Remember  Shahrukh in Dilwale Dulhaniya? Yes he was an NRI but the lesson lies in the way he befriended the Punjabi household and slowly inched his way into their home and heart.

The first lesson which we all follow as guests.
Do not force yourself onto the hosts. Try and understand their way of living, their habits, their behaviour.
Lesson  Two. Appreciate. Their customs, their hospitality, their family members.
Three. Celebrate. With them. Small and big moments.
Four. Try and make a difference to their lives. Small or not so small.  Make their lives a little better.
Five.  Avoid conflicts. But try and resolve conflicts that you see arising in the family.
Six. Do not demand time. But behave in a way that the family loves spending time with you.

And one fine day, the family realises that life has changed with you in the family. You have helped bring smiles, you have made life better.

That is the day you move from being a "guest" to "part of family".

Pretty much the same for brands, isn't it?