Monday, October 29, 2007

Some spoof about viral marketing

While checking out some of the most famous viral campaigns, I found one of the most interesting snippet. Though FutureLab has covered the topic taking insights of Todd's campaign on "We didn't start the viral", but for me I have a bit different take on it.

First of all, one question that came into my mind is that does a company or an individual have to try to make it viral? Or it is vested in the hands of the target customers who somehow engage themselves to the viral message. Now for me I think that the latter one is more true than the former.

Sometimes it may happen that the viral message may get lost in between because of target customers may not be the key influencers. So what do we do about it? Three things should always be kept in mind while spreading the message.
  1. Make your campaign more engagement oriented to increase (if not manifold) the "customer engagement dimension" (CED).
  2. The good old "Delight & Excite Strategy" in the viral campaign.
  3. "Easing the spread of word" medium for better viral.




Friday, October 26, 2007

The love for color "Red" in Brand Logos

Have a look at the picture in the inset. What do you see? Now I know one thing for sure that what do you see the most. Its the Color "Red". Now the adoration for the color red is expressed in many ways to your loved ones or to not so loved ones :-(

Now some of the silly observations. Today in the afternoon while going through this logos, suddenly I realized that out of nearly 250+ famous brand logos here, approximately 110+ brands have the color red in some form or the other i.e. about 45%.

Now what does it convey about the companies which make this logos or for that matter the customers that in some way consume, use or receive the service (lemme know if I have covered all aspects of the product usage attribute).

Now some freebie takeaways from the brand logos above.
  • Red, Blue or White are often used in logos (especially in US) to project patriotic feelings.
  • Green is often used for products in the health segment foods.
  • Silver or Light Blue to reflect the diet food aspect.
  • More or less, all other brands showcases lower saturation and subdued tones primarily to communicate reliability,quality etc.
Now all said and done, why whopping 45% of top brands showcase the color "Red" then? This took me to the depths of this so-called mystery (If I may say so). I tried my luck from human psychology to physics. So now this is what I got.
  • Color is one of the important aspect of brand recognition in this cluttered mass media frenzied world.
  • My high school physics says that color red has the highest wavelength. So what's the fuss all about.
Now staying away from my physics, it's much more simple than that. Humans are very much attached to colors in some form. For example, try attaching colors to some emotions of yours. See how colors form a very distinct image in your mind. Now I spoke the word - "Mind"...I guess marketers have come to the picture...So color red with all the attributes will keep a distinct image in the mind of the customers. Though it should be always remembered that color should not be an integral constituent for logo design which may conflict with its functionality.

So case closed and mystery solved :-).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"Boys will be Boys"...So are marketers like *boys*??

I read an interesting article in CBSNews today.
"Consider, though, what 'boys will be boys' thinking implies about the true nature of boys. The answers typically are astonishingly negative: Boys are messy, immature and selfish; hormone-driven and insensitive; irresponsible and trouble-making; rebellious, rude, aggressive and disrespectful -- even violent, predatory and animal-like."
Now you must be thinking what the hell is the article's piece doing in this blog. Now think about the last marketing snippet or an overt ad campaign you have seen. Do you find a fit in the words above (Bold words). More often than not, the campaigns are idiotically crafted to prove their points as if customers are going to buy their products after seeing those ads. I have only two words for them- "Come'on Dude". It's not working anymore. Customers know that you are marketing.

So get out of that whole aura of "bossy marketing" thing. Feel the pulse of your customers. They don't need your flashy & jazzy campaigns. They want something which will make them feel more than satisfied. Though I know loyalty won't come by this means. But nowadays more and more companies are looking for that short terms gains in sales rather than long term truth. But marketers instead of being boyish can become a trusted friend and give customers a story to carry forward. Now I don't think companies will lose much on this.

Now how about this little Nike Story (link). See how loyalty can be earned.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"Brand Building" through the power of people

Now here's caution for some of the readers. If you are a staunch believer of democracy, then you may not like the conversation following next. Why I am being so sarcastic, you may ask? Actually time and again, we have seen one fact about brands travelling across those hallowed boardrooms to the hands of the customers i.e. they were built by the customers. Some name it brand, some "My own brand" or some call it their "lovemarks"(Term coined by Kevin Roberts-CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide).

Now explaining my hysteria about democracy for the readers is a simple yet very trivial fact. Actually marketers should keep the philosophy of democracy in the back of their minds while encountering customers more in a country like India. Oh, did I forget to tell you the principles- it's "By the people", "For the people", "Of the people". Now put customers in place of people (though they are the same kind). Now that's why I was cautioning because some democracy fanatic may think that yet another marketer is trying to play some kind of games. Yes that is true. But here it's more of a win-win situation for both companies & the customers.

Now think of any brand, and put it in the democracy framework of "By the customers", "For the customers" & "Of the customers". Now see how your brand shapes up. Now there may be resistance (more in a form of criticism for my above statement) of course. But there are innumerable examples of brands like Lijjat papad (conventional popadum) in India, Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, Hindustan Unilver's project Shakti in India etc.

So brand building should start from the periphery of your marketing strategy where you have to engage your customers in a way that value deliverance is the embedded keyword behind your core strategy whereas leveraging customers' value acceptance is given more priority.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Advertisement 2.0 - Creating user friendly online ads

Sometime back Google's CEO Eric Schmidt told Adage that Google Adsense may hit Facebook. He said -
"How will those developers get paid for those services? We would like to have our ads in those applications"
Now how about this one. Nielsen's report are pointing downward slide of online ads in august to september 2007. Now is this just a slight hint towards another tech recession. Now some suggest that it may just be a cyclical downturn.

Now I just can't help thinking (beacuse of Eric's statement) that one fine morning I will see some crappy ads on my facebook a/c, or for that matter my iGoogle or RSS feeds (though some is A-ok because I do understand the dynamics of business). Actually that's where open platform get on my nerves sometimes.

But where's the catch here. Firstly, all of us has seen many online ads (if you browse a bit) and its irrelevance to us most of the times. Though Google's Adsense has done some amount of work on that i.e. the relevance part. But still in social networking space, it won't suit my palate if I have been shown some crappy ads.

But I guess there is a way out of all these where the online advertisers and users (like me of course) can share a healthy cyberspace experience. Now 5 strategies for online advertisers can be like these-

1. Engage your users - Now how about this piece. If you see some ads reminding you to take bouquet of flowers from flowers.com (hypothetical) on your anniversary or your sweetheart's birthday (considering you forget trifle things like me). That would be kool (remember its social networking). Then I guess you can definitely score one point on that. So online advertisers should try to engage their target customers.

2. Relevancy - Segmenting users on their information likeness, online advertisers can give snippets of new information based on their likeness, though not forgetting their ad message through those information.

3. Compelling story telling through ads - Now everyone likes a compelling story. Isn't it? So if online advertisers can co-create a story (through ads of course), then users will definitely like to browse through it. CLICK CLICK!!!

4. Consistency - Now we have heard that word enough times I guess. Now more importantly, online advertisers have to be cautious about the consistency part of delivering their message.

5. Interactivity - Now what better way to communicate than making the ads more interactive. Online interactive ads make users are more prone to click. Isn't this what we are vying for?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

ooVoo- The *Aha* moment on conversational marketing

What's up with the internet going gung-ho on the letter "O". We have Yahoo,Google all with O's in their syllable. Now another one joining the "O" race is ooVoo. It's a revolutionary new way to communicate online using the power of internet and community building features. We have seen things like these, haven't we? Now what makes it so special.
Now some of the features which makes it all the more different is some of its breakthrough features like free real time video conversations on a video chat platform. Along with these, my moment of joy, you can interact upto 6 people at the same time on the same screen. Isn't it amazing? So bye-bye boring chat, welcome aboard real time multiple video conversations.

Footnote :-
  1. Press Release


  2. Download & Install "ooVoo"


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Email 2.0 versus Social Networking

There is a huge difference between network and networking with respect to social networking space. Network can be primarily defined as connecting with people-known or unknown whereas networking is within the boundaries of known people (be it in form of friends etc). Now the promise is very well delivered by all those social networking sites like myspace, facebook etc.

Now there is something which is left behind between all these. Or is it? Remember Web email services of the likes of Yahoo Inc, Microsoft Inc, or Google. Now we used to use these email services primarily for sending and receiving those boring and mundane messages. But nowadays it seems that these email providers are trying to run away with some of the thunders of social networking sites. They are adding features that allow users to perform certain sociable functions as connecting with friends and creating personal-profile pages for others to see.

So this is surely going to increase the competition between those old daddies of Web email services and new Gen Y social networking maestro's for loyalty of users and revenues from online advertisements.

But the question is who's going to win this. Now my take on this would be from my personal experience. Since I still use both these services to an equal amount, so I would take a fair and balance perspective on it.
  1. Most of the social networking sites provide us with IM service . So most of the users use it as an effective alternative email service. So email service providers don't have an edge.
  2. Social networking sites have given enough importance to the word "I" which email service providers haven't yet i.e. "I" is the new word in the Web 2.0 model.
  3. Since most of the email social services work effectively only when most of my friends are hooked onto same service provider, so tracking all my friends on a common platform becomes difficult (still there are reports that email service providers are trying to extend this service across all networks- but the bottleneck would be sharing users' personal info).
  4. Slowly and steadily, social networking sites are allowing its users to send messages to those stereotyped email addresses.
So after looking at these artifacts (pun intended), I guess by now most of you have made up your mind who's going to survive. Actually that's why most of the Web email service providers are vying for big social networking websites likes Yahoo & Microsoft trying to buy Facebook etc. It's more like insulating themselves from Web 2.0 (i.e. user generated content) wave which is taking the whole world into it's grip.

*Handvertising*- Yet another brick in the advertisment wall

Advertising has gone beyond television,print, internet or even those crazy ways how companies promote their products or service. Now how about this new innovative way. Do you remember the last time you entered a club and someone stamped your hands. So how about companies stamping their logos or promotional message on your hand. (As if I have been Apple'd or Microsoft'ied.)

Actually this new practice is being done. It's the brainchild of Handvertising, USA. Though it's patent is still pending, still ingenuity is overwhelming.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

RSS Simplified- How *RSS* can make your life easier

RSS (Really Simple Syndication)- For some it's internet simplified and for some its just some crappy internet geeky term. Now trust me it's not big a deal.Is it? Now some of those who are still unaware of the potential of RSS and its various apps, I have tried to simplify RSS. Now 10 questions about RSS for those inquisitive minds are-

    1. What is RSS?
    2. How does RSS work
    3. Who benefits from RSS?
    4. How do I use RSS?
    5. What can RSS help me do?
    6. Can I access RSS only through computer?
    7. What is RSS feed?
    8. Who publishes content in RSS?
    9. How do i "Subscribe" to a RSS?
    10. Is RSS substitute for an email?
Check out this link to clarify your doubts.

Now for a marketer (though I am not being biased towards marketers only), its really necessary to get updated about new information every second. So I guess this small little tool will definitely come in handy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Boost your "Ego" - Courtesy *Vanity Ring*

I know the name of the post sounds a bit crazy. But believe me the video down below is much more crazier. Now since I have been watching the tech space for quite some time, I personally have seen some weird to weirder gadgets. Now I got bowled over by this one at least.

Now the gadget pertains to more or less about "Ego Surfing" which is more of a thing of the past (Oh for those blissful ones, it is typing your name in search engine and seeing what appears).

Now the product in question is Vanity Ring. Basically its more of an electronic ring which shows the number of hits (in the search engine) for the person who wears it.Amazing..isn't it??

video

Monday, October 15, 2007

Google search costs 27 cents

Ever wondered about how much your single "googling" costs? Now the figure is something which most of us don't mind spending in usual hoolahoo's. But it's a fact now. The cost of googling is 27 cents . Unbelievable is it!!

Now the so called stats. According to ComScore research , people around the world searched about 67 billion times in a month (August 2007). Share of Google in that is about 37 billion individual searches. Now I am not a fin geek, but if we assume that the figure above is the average in a month, then about 444 billion searches are done in a year for Google. Now Google's financial results shows that 2/3 of their revenues comes from search and rest is from other means (likes of adsense, adwords etc). Now the figures may get a bit hazier. Google's valuation is $195 billion. Out of which (going by 2/3 principle of Google), i.e. about 64% is coming from searches i.e. about $124 billion. Now if you do some crappy calculations, then you will find that your each search is about 27 cents. Amazing!!

So each time, you google something, you are actually adding 27 cents to Google's valuation. (P.S.- Did you know that you can get all this calculations from google search too).

Now some of the points which we may have forgotten in between.
  1. How much does Google incur to provide all these- I guess not much because of the fact that marginal cost will diminish every time.
  2. Remember Kevin Roberts - Now he's the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi. He places Google in top rank of his concept called lovemarks i.e. Loyalty beyond reason. Now do I have to explain you further that where am I going.
  3. Noise of clicks- Now how about this: 31.5 million seconds of search clicks in a year i.e. about 14,000 searches every second @ 14 kilohertz. Yikes. Just think about the sound of all those clicks.
Now lastly, since you will see more & more google ads in any webpage and infact in any of your own personal google pages, so not only google capitalized on searches but also from others. So I have only two words for Google- Keep running!!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

FaceSpaceTwitRatiCkrKutUbe – Are we Online Zombies?

FaceSpaceTwitRatickrkutube - It is an acronym for Facebook, MySpace,Twitter, Technorati, Flickr, Orkut, Youtube. Now I could have written more social networks but my domain of social networking is more or less bounded within the contours of these mostly.

My usual day with the internet starts by checking responses from my friends (i.e. usual hi's & hello's) to the responses to my blog to usual twitting to keep my friends and fans upto date. Along with these checking my blog status in technorati to usual goofing around in youtube to checking my status in flickr. Also worth mentioning here is to keep myself update with the rss feeds & podcasts from my most liked bloggers and websites.

Now I can say one thing for sure i.e. I am a internet person. But more often than not i keep asking myself one question. Am I being played in the hands of these social networking sites? Now their promise of keeping me close to my friends and my foes (pun intended) at the same time is working well for them. But is social networking getting more integrated to our daily rountine?

Now some of the reasons why we like social networking sites are-
  1. Arm's length reach to our friends and foes.
  2. Maximum value delivered in terms of time and content.
  3. Requires less attention from the content developer to content reader.
Still the questions remains in an elusive form that who is controlling whom? Are we all online social zombies trying to connect through bits & bytes? Or there can be a definite cure to this?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Dove - From Evolution to Onslaught

Unilever does it again with its latest Dove's promotional campaign. If we remember carefully, "Dove's evolution" ad campaign; it was different from the rest of the traditional anti-aging campaign. Now they tried to break the myth by emphasizing that aging is natural. Time and again, skin care has become more of woman's prerogative. Thats why, the anti-aging market is about $13 billion worldwide approximately.

video

Now where's the catch then? The catch is thin as a line actually. When the whole world in unison is after looking young and good, Dove's strategy is to break the traditional myth of looking younger. Some may call it as just a fad. Actually there has been recent criticism from women alike whereas some have agreed that it comes as a breather.

video

If we highlight it clearly, we will find one very interesting point i.e. skin care is about fighting back. But clearly dove's recent "Onslaught" ad campaign also shows that women can do better than looking good- as I say "Glorifying the power of age".

But how much it will be taken in a positive manner is a debatable issue. Company's "Pro-Age" campaign more or less captures the same imagination.

Broadly speaking, Unilever's implicit strategy is "women can look better without trying hard". But some may say that it is an effort to pull back it's market share by being different from its competitor's like
P&G , L'Oreal etc.

All in all, what I feel from a marketer's perspective is that Unilever has played the right card with 2 success formula i.e. right targeting & ingenious story telling.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Twitter effect: MicroBlogging with 140

Microblogging seems to be the answer when people are on a go or especially when you are fighting against time to keep yourself active in social networking in real time. Now "need is the mother of invention" as people say. So Twitter Inc. came up with a concept called "Microblogging" with Twitter who's tagline says it all - "What are you doing". So updating to every second is possible. Now you can not only use IM or email but using mobile phone to update makes it Kooler (with capital K).

Now some critics comment it as just a fad. But I have more than a doubt to that. Since the news broke about Google buying Jaiku few days back fortifies my belief that Microblogging is here to stay. So people are twitting at every instant they get including me. Now a marketer can definitely take advantage of it.
  1. For a prolific blogger, updating your viewers becomes very easy if you are on a move.
  2. Sharing information in a jiffy makes it more convenient for the users to get the message across.
  3. Twittermail can email you automatically to any replies of your Tweets from your followers. So sharing becomes hassle free.
P.S. Oh if you are wondering about that 140 figure; its the number of characters you can type to tweet.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

ITC's foray into digital interactive media is successful

Yeah it's official- ITC's snack segment "Bingo" is a hit among the Indian consumers. Now the only reason I am writing this post is not only providing information about this specific product category but most importantly how Indian companies are going the digital way i.e. using digital interactive media as a crucial platform for new product promotion campaign in an easily prone commoditized Indian FMCG market.

Initially during the launch phase, ITC didn't target the product to any specific customer segment. But, by its name and its overall brand appeal, it can be easily understood that it was covertly targeted towards Indian urban youth. But ITC went one step ahead by promoting it's biggest ever brand launch using digital interactive media by launching its first ever interactive website for its product category.

Now I am great believer of Interactive medium for promotion
. But still the million dollar question remained more in an elusive form i.e. Is Indian customer ready for it? Now I have posted an article on how "Mass Advertising is dead" nowadays, so Bingo doesn't come as a surprise to me at least.

So ITC's foray into digital media promotion must have been an
example to those skeptics that usage of innovative ways of bringing your customer closer to your brand effectively is the need of the hour.

P.S. Excerpts from my personal experience of "Bingo" Brand launch.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

What “Semacode” idea holds for the future marketers

Time and again, some of my friends have asked me to write something in the retail space. Now I have been holding myself back personally for one reason i.e. for such a huge industry boom, I got to write something which is different because a lot have been written on this topic.

Now I have found something very interesting yet its promise of reaching those consumers is simply great. It’s called
“Semacode”. It has led to the interaction of outdoor ads with the real consumers. Actually, Gizmodo in its recent article about how H&M is using semacodes imprinted onto Billboard ads for clothes to allow consumers to purchase directly by just clicking a picture with their camera mobile phone holds a lot of promise.

Now, how it works you may ask? Black-and-white patterned boxes called Semacode bars will be placed on advertisements which carry coded information that will bring the shopper to the retailer's product catalog. You'll then be able to buy the clothes using your cellphone account or the amount will be added to your cell phone account (in some cases the amount may put a hole in your pocket if your spouse or girlfriend is spendthrift) .

Now that is the technology part which I guess, many of us including me didn’t get much actually (like what coded info are they talking about). Still from an inquisitive marketer’s point of view I see huge upsurge for the retail fanatics for a lot of reasons.

1. By connecting users from physical media to mobile content, the system creates new affordances, new ways to interact with the objects and media that surround us (including augmented reality, remote presence, social software and location tagging).

2. It is not only in retail but its reach can be far flung like tourism, games, etc. It can be used as an opportunity to improve the way people interact and communicate.

So above all, semacodes can actually provide maximum mobility and convenience for the customer who is on a go. Since nowadays we get less & less time happy shopping (though not taking the feminine side of the story who somehow gets enough time for shopping- actually I am in a process to understand how they do it), so the idea of semacode holds a great promise in the near future.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

2 words Marketers should never forget

Right from my childhood I have been taught to say two words when something is given to me (I believe everyone has been taught the same two words) – “Thank you”. It is a sort of appreciation from our side. Now why am I saying all these things in my blog which pertains to marketing? Its not that I am getting nostalgic or something! It’s just that somehow I find a deep relation between personality and marketing.

Saying “Thank you” reflects your humble and modest personality. Now think how many times we say thank you- it’s as if we have forgotten it totally!!!

Now
Michael Rubin immaculately demystified the success of social media by those exact words. Infact earlier to that, Church of the Customer highlighted the point from a firm’s point of view. But what about marketing par se. I mean can’t we apply the same principle for traditional brick and mortar business model. I believe we sure can.

So 3 principles which can make traditional marketing successful with two words (directly as well as indirectly) -

1. Since modern customers are sitting on a pile of information, so companies can’t dominate them. But definitely they can try being modest (another form of saying “Thank You”) by showcasing that customers are being given choices rather than companies alluring them by advertisements and crappy campaigns.

2. When a customer puts something negative about the company in the complaint boxes, then take that in your stride and keep a note of it and try fixing it. It’s another way of saying “Thank You” indirectly or else sent a note to the customer saying “We heard you”.

3. Another form of saying “Thank you” can be by showcasing those words on the product itself saying “Thank you for taking me”. This can give a good boost to those
Word-of-Mouth fanatics.

Sesame Street clip where Ernie sings about “thank you”

video

By all these, one of two things will happen for sure. Your customers will be empathetic towards you and did anyone mention about "Brand Loyalty".

Monday, October 01, 2007

5 sites every marketer should know

Time and again, information in the web is a big deal, at least for all those marketers who want to be updated with the latest marketing news & trends since there is too much information clutter. Now after due searches in the web for all those sites, I have pulled 5 websites which stand out from the rest of the crowd. I have categorized the best into website and weblog.

WEBSITE
1. MarketingProfs - This site pertains to marketing articles, online seminars, case studies, conferences etc.

2.MarketingSherpa- This site pertains to practical case studies and marketing know-hows.

3.WOMMA- This site is dedicated to word-of-mouth marketing means and ways.

4.Advertising Age- The site is a dedicated portal to advertising and its latest trends.

5.Trend Watching- Latest marketing trends and analysis.

WEBLOG
1.Rohit Bhargava- The blog is about marketing, PR and advertising strategies.

2.Seth Godin- Insights of a prominent author and a blogger.

3.FutureLab- Customer centric thoughts from the World’s Sharpest Minds in Marketing, Strategy, Innovation and Design.

4.
AdverBlog- Interactive marketing and other great advertising ideas.

5.
Steve Rubel- Blog on how technology is revolutionizing media and marketing.

Though this list is dynamic but these sites (in random order)
gives a indepth picture of marketing evolving over time.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Some spoof about viral marketing

While checking out some of the most famous viral campaigns, I found one of the most interesting snippet. Though FutureLab has covered the topic taking insights of Todd's campaign on "We didn't start the viral", but for me I have a bit different take on it.

First of all, one question that came into my mind is that does a company or an individual have to try to make it viral? Or it is vested in the hands of the target customers who somehow engage themselves to the viral message. Now for me I think that the latter one is more true than the former.

Sometimes it may happen that the viral message may get lost in between because of target customers may not be the key influencers. So what do we do about it? Three things should always be kept in mind while spreading the message.
  1. Make your campaign more engagement oriented to increase (if not manifold) the "customer engagement dimension" (CED).
  2. The good old "Delight & Excite Strategy" in the viral campaign.
  3. "Easing the spread of word" medium for better viral.




Friday, October 26, 2007

The love for color "Red" in Brand Logos

Have a look at the picture in the inset. What do you see? Now I know one thing for sure that what do you see the most. Its the Color "Red". Now the adoration for the color red is expressed in many ways to your loved ones or to not so loved ones :-(

Now some of the silly observations. Today in the afternoon while going through this logos, suddenly I realized that out of nearly 250+ famous brand logos here, approximately 110+ brands have the color red in some form or the other i.e. about 45%.

Now what does it convey about the companies which make this logos or for that matter the customers that in some way consume, use or receive the service (lemme know if I have covered all aspects of the product usage attribute).

Now some freebie takeaways from the brand logos above.
  • Red, Blue or White are often used in logos (especially in US) to project patriotic feelings.
  • Green is often used for products in the health segment foods.
  • Silver or Light Blue to reflect the diet food aspect.
  • More or less, all other brands showcases lower saturation and subdued tones primarily to communicate reliability,quality etc.
Now all said and done, why whopping 45% of top brands showcase the color "Red" then? This took me to the depths of this so-called mystery (If I may say so). I tried my luck from human psychology to physics. So now this is what I got.
  • Color is one of the important aspect of brand recognition in this cluttered mass media frenzied world.
  • My high school physics says that color red has the highest wavelength. So what's the fuss all about.
Now staying away from my physics, it's much more simple than that. Humans are very much attached to colors in some form. For example, try attaching colors to some emotions of yours. See how colors form a very distinct image in your mind. Now I spoke the word - "Mind"...I guess marketers have come to the picture...So color red with all the attributes will keep a distinct image in the mind of the customers. Though it should be always remembered that color should not be an integral constituent for logo design which may conflict with its functionality.

So case closed and mystery solved :-).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"Boys will be Boys"...So are marketers like *boys*??

I read an interesting article in CBSNews today.
"Consider, though, what 'boys will be boys' thinking implies about the true nature of boys. The answers typically are astonishingly negative: Boys are messy, immature and selfish; hormone-driven and insensitive; irresponsible and trouble-making; rebellious, rude, aggressive and disrespectful -- even violent, predatory and animal-like."
Now you must be thinking what the hell is the article's piece doing in this blog. Now think about the last marketing snippet or an overt ad campaign you have seen. Do you find a fit in the words above (Bold words). More often than not, the campaigns are idiotically crafted to prove their points as if customers are going to buy their products after seeing those ads. I have only two words for them- "Come'on Dude". It's not working anymore. Customers know that you are marketing.

So get out of that whole aura of "bossy marketing" thing. Feel the pulse of your customers. They don't need your flashy & jazzy campaigns. They want something which will make them feel more than satisfied. Though I know loyalty won't come by this means. But nowadays more and more companies are looking for that short terms gains in sales rather than long term truth. But marketers instead of being boyish can become a trusted friend and give customers a story to carry forward. Now I don't think companies will lose much on this.

Now how about this little Nike Story (link). See how loyalty can be earned.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"Brand Building" through the power of people

Now here's caution for some of the readers. If you are a staunch believer of democracy, then you may not like the conversation following next. Why I am being so sarcastic, you may ask? Actually time and again, we have seen one fact about brands travelling across those hallowed boardrooms to the hands of the customers i.e. they were built by the customers. Some name it brand, some "My own brand" or some call it their "lovemarks"(Term coined by Kevin Roberts-CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide).

Now explaining my hysteria about democracy for the readers is a simple yet very trivial fact. Actually marketers should keep the philosophy of democracy in the back of their minds while encountering customers more in a country like India. Oh, did I forget to tell you the principles- it's "By the people", "For the people", "Of the people". Now put customers in place of people (though they are the same kind). Now that's why I was cautioning because some democracy fanatic may think that yet another marketer is trying to play some kind of games. Yes that is true. But here it's more of a win-win situation for both companies & the customers.

Now think of any brand, and put it in the democracy framework of "By the customers", "For the customers" & "Of the customers". Now see how your brand shapes up. Now there may be resistance (more in a form of criticism for my above statement) of course. But there are innumerable examples of brands like Lijjat papad (conventional popadum) in India, Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, Hindustan Unilver's project Shakti in India etc.

So brand building should start from the periphery of your marketing strategy where you have to engage your customers in a way that value deliverance is the embedded keyword behind your core strategy whereas leveraging customers' value acceptance is given more priority.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Advertisement 2.0 - Creating user friendly online ads

Sometime back Google's CEO Eric Schmidt told Adage that Google Adsense may hit Facebook. He said -
"How will those developers get paid for those services? We would like to have our ads in those applications"
Now how about this one. Nielsen's report are pointing downward slide of online ads in august to september 2007. Now is this just a slight hint towards another tech recession. Now some suggest that it may just be a cyclical downturn.

Now I just can't help thinking (beacuse of Eric's statement) that one fine morning I will see some crappy ads on my facebook a/c, or for that matter my iGoogle or RSS feeds (though some is A-ok because I do understand the dynamics of business). Actually that's where open platform get on my nerves sometimes.

But where's the catch here. Firstly, all of us has seen many online ads (if you browse a bit) and its irrelevance to us most of the times. Though Google's Adsense has done some amount of work on that i.e. the relevance part. But still in social networking space, it won't suit my palate if I have been shown some crappy ads.

But I guess there is a way out of all these where the online advertisers and users (like me of course) can share a healthy cyberspace experience. Now 5 strategies for online advertisers can be like these-

1. Engage your users - Now how about this piece. If you see some ads reminding you to take bouquet of flowers from flowers.com (hypothetical) on your anniversary or your sweetheart's birthday (considering you forget trifle things like me). That would be kool (remember its social networking). Then I guess you can definitely score one point on that. So online advertisers should try to engage their target customers.

2. Relevancy - Segmenting users on their information likeness, online advertisers can give snippets of new information based on their likeness, though not forgetting their ad message through those information.

3. Compelling story telling through ads - Now everyone likes a compelling story. Isn't it? So if online advertisers can co-create a story (through ads of course), then users will definitely like to browse through it. CLICK CLICK!!!

4. Consistency - Now we have heard that word enough times I guess. Now more importantly, online advertisers have to be cautious about the consistency part of delivering their message.

5. Interactivity - Now what better way to communicate than making the ads more interactive. Online interactive ads make users are more prone to click. Isn't this what we are vying for?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

ooVoo- The *Aha* moment on conversational marketing

What's up with the internet going gung-ho on the letter "O". We have Yahoo,Google all with O's in their syllable. Now another one joining the "O" race is ooVoo. It's a revolutionary new way to communicate online using the power of internet and community building features. We have seen things like these, haven't we? Now what makes it so special.
Now some of the features which makes it all the more different is some of its breakthrough features like free real time video conversations on a video chat platform. Along with these, my moment of joy, you can interact upto 6 people at the same time on the same screen. Isn't it amazing? So bye-bye boring chat, welcome aboard real time multiple video conversations.

Footnote :-
  1. Press Release


  2. Download & Install "ooVoo"


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Email 2.0 versus Social Networking

There is a huge difference between network and networking with respect to social networking space. Network can be primarily defined as connecting with people-known or unknown whereas networking is within the boundaries of known people (be it in form of friends etc). Now the promise is very well delivered by all those social networking sites like myspace, facebook etc.

Now there is something which is left behind between all these. Or is it? Remember Web email services of the likes of Yahoo Inc, Microsoft Inc, or Google. Now we used to use these email services primarily for sending and receiving those boring and mundane messages. But nowadays it seems that these email providers are trying to run away with some of the thunders of social networking sites. They are adding features that allow users to perform certain sociable functions as connecting with friends and creating personal-profile pages for others to see.

So this is surely going to increase the competition between those old daddies of Web email services and new Gen Y social networking maestro's for loyalty of users and revenues from online advertisements.

But the question is who's going to win this. Now my take on this would be from my personal experience. Since I still use both these services to an equal amount, so I would take a fair and balance perspective on it.
  1. Most of the social networking sites provide us with IM service . So most of the users use it as an effective alternative email service. So email service providers don't have an edge.
  2. Social networking sites have given enough importance to the word "I" which email service providers haven't yet i.e. "I" is the new word in the Web 2.0 model.
  3. Since most of the email social services work effectively only when most of my friends are hooked onto same service provider, so tracking all my friends on a common platform becomes difficult (still there are reports that email service providers are trying to extend this service across all networks- but the bottleneck would be sharing users' personal info).
  4. Slowly and steadily, social networking sites are allowing its users to send messages to those stereotyped email addresses.
So after looking at these artifacts (pun intended), I guess by now most of you have made up your mind who's going to survive. Actually that's why most of the Web email service providers are vying for big social networking websites likes Yahoo & Microsoft trying to buy Facebook etc. It's more like insulating themselves from Web 2.0 (i.e. user generated content) wave which is taking the whole world into it's grip.

*Handvertising*- Yet another brick in the advertisment wall

Advertising has gone beyond television,print, internet or even those crazy ways how companies promote their products or service. Now how about this new innovative way. Do you remember the last time you entered a club and someone stamped your hands. So how about companies stamping their logos or promotional message on your hand. (As if I have been Apple'd or Microsoft'ied.)

Actually this new practice is being done. It's the brainchild of Handvertising, USA. Though it's patent is still pending, still ingenuity is overwhelming.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

RSS Simplified- How *RSS* can make your life easier

RSS (Really Simple Syndication)- For some it's internet simplified and for some its just some crappy internet geeky term. Now trust me it's not big a deal.Is it? Now some of those who are still unaware of the potential of RSS and its various apps, I have tried to simplify RSS. Now 10 questions about RSS for those inquisitive minds are-

    1. What is RSS?
    2. How does RSS work
    3. Who benefits from RSS?
    4. How do I use RSS?
    5. What can RSS help me do?
    6. Can I access RSS only through computer?
    7. What is RSS feed?
    8. Who publishes content in RSS?
    9. How do i "Subscribe" to a RSS?
    10. Is RSS substitute for an email?
Check out this link to clarify your doubts.

Now for a marketer (though I am not being biased towards marketers only), its really necessary to get updated about new information every second. So I guess this small little tool will definitely come in handy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Boost your "Ego" - Courtesy *Vanity Ring*

I know the name of the post sounds a bit crazy. But believe me the video down below is much more crazier. Now since I have been watching the tech space for quite some time, I personally have seen some weird to weirder gadgets. Now I got bowled over by this one at least.

Now the gadget pertains to more or less about "Ego Surfing" which is more of a thing of the past (Oh for those blissful ones, it is typing your name in search engine and seeing what appears).

Now the product in question is Vanity Ring. Basically its more of an electronic ring which shows the number of hits (in the search engine) for the person who wears it.Amazing..isn't it??

video

Monday, October 15, 2007

Google search costs 27 cents

Ever wondered about how much your single "googling" costs? Now the figure is something which most of us don't mind spending in usual hoolahoo's. But it's a fact now. The cost of googling is 27 cents . Unbelievable is it!!

Now the so called stats. According to ComScore research , people around the world searched about 67 billion times in a month (August 2007). Share of Google in that is about 37 billion individual searches. Now I am not a fin geek, but if we assume that the figure above is the average in a month, then about 444 billion searches are done in a year for Google. Now Google's financial results shows that 2/3 of their revenues comes from search and rest is from other means (likes of adsense, adwords etc). Now the figures may get a bit hazier. Google's valuation is $195 billion. Out of which (going by 2/3 principle of Google), i.e. about 64% is coming from searches i.e. about $124 billion. Now if you do some crappy calculations, then you will find that your each search is about 27 cents. Amazing!!

So each time, you google something, you are actually adding 27 cents to Google's valuation. (P.S.- Did you know that you can get all this calculations from google search too).

Now some of the points which we may have forgotten in between.
  1. How much does Google incur to provide all these- I guess not much because of the fact that marginal cost will diminish every time.
  2. Remember Kevin Roberts - Now he's the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi. He places Google in top rank of his concept called lovemarks i.e. Loyalty beyond reason. Now do I have to explain you further that where am I going.
  3. Noise of clicks- Now how about this: 31.5 million seconds of search clicks in a year i.e. about 14,000 searches every second @ 14 kilohertz. Yikes. Just think about the sound of all those clicks.
Now lastly, since you will see more & more google ads in any webpage and infact in any of your own personal google pages, so not only google capitalized on searches but also from others. So I have only two words for Google- Keep running!!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

FaceSpaceTwitRatiCkrKutUbe – Are we Online Zombies?

FaceSpaceTwitRatickrkutube - It is an acronym for Facebook, MySpace,Twitter, Technorati, Flickr, Orkut, Youtube. Now I could have written more social networks but my domain of social networking is more or less bounded within the contours of these mostly.

My usual day with the internet starts by checking responses from my friends (i.e. usual hi's & hello's) to the responses to my blog to usual twitting to keep my friends and fans upto date. Along with these checking my blog status in technorati to usual goofing around in youtube to checking my status in flickr. Also worth mentioning here is to keep myself update with the rss feeds & podcasts from my most liked bloggers and websites.

Now I can say one thing for sure i.e. I am a internet person. But more often than not i keep asking myself one question. Am I being played in the hands of these social networking sites? Now their promise of keeping me close to my friends and my foes (pun intended) at the same time is working well for them. But is social networking getting more integrated to our daily rountine?

Now some of the reasons why we like social networking sites are-
  1. Arm's length reach to our friends and foes.
  2. Maximum value delivered in terms of time and content.
  3. Requires less attention from the content developer to content reader.
Still the questions remains in an elusive form that who is controlling whom? Are we all online social zombies trying to connect through bits & bytes? Or there can be a definite cure to this?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Dove - From Evolution to Onslaught

Unilever does it again with its latest Dove's promotional campaign. If we remember carefully, "Dove's evolution" ad campaign; it was different from the rest of the traditional anti-aging campaign. Now they tried to break the myth by emphasizing that aging is natural. Time and again, skin care has become more of woman's prerogative. Thats why, the anti-aging market is about $13 billion worldwide approximately.

video

Now where's the catch then? The catch is thin as a line actually. When the whole world in unison is after looking young and good, Dove's strategy is to break the traditional myth of looking younger. Some may call it as just a fad. Actually there has been recent criticism from women alike whereas some have agreed that it comes as a breather.

video

If we highlight it clearly, we will find one very interesting point i.e. skin care is about fighting back. But clearly dove's recent "Onslaught" ad campaign also shows that women can do better than looking good- as I say "Glorifying the power of age".

But how much it will be taken in a positive manner is a debatable issue. Company's "Pro-Age" campaign more or less captures the same imagination.

Broadly speaking, Unilever's implicit strategy is "women can look better without trying hard". But some may say that it is an effort to pull back it's market share by being different from its competitor's like
P&G , L'Oreal etc.

All in all, what I feel from a marketer's perspective is that Unilever has played the right card with 2 success formula i.e. right targeting & ingenious story telling.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Twitter effect: MicroBlogging with 140

Microblogging seems to be the answer when people are on a go or especially when you are fighting against time to keep yourself active in social networking in real time. Now "need is the mother of invention" as people say. So Twitter Inc. came up with a concept called "Microblogging" with Twitter who's tagline says it all - "What are you doing". So updating to every second is possible. Now you can not only use IM or email but using mobile phone to update makes it Kooler (with capital K).

Now some critics comment it as just a fad. But I have more than a doubt to that. Since the news broke about Google buying Jaiku few days back fortifies my belief that Microblogging is here to stay. So people are twitting at every instant they get including me. Now a marketer can definitely take advantage of it.
  1. For a prolific blogger, updating your viewers becomes very easy if you are on a move.
  2. Sharing information in a jiffy makes it more convenient for the users to get the message across.
  3. Twittermail can email you automatically to any replies of your Tweets from your followers. So sharing becomes hassle free.
P.S. Oh if you are wondering about that 140 figure; its the number of characters you can type to tweet.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

ITC's foray into digital interactive media is successful

Yeah it's official- ITC's snack segment "Bingo" is a hit among the Indian consumers. Now the only reason I am writing this post is not only providing information about this specific product category but most importantly how Indian companies are going the digital way i.e. using digital interactive media as a crucial platform for new product promotion campaign in an easily prone commoditized Indian FMCG market.

Initially during the launch phase, ITC didn't target the product to any specific customer segment. But, by its name and its overall brand appeal, it can be easily understood that it was covertly targeted towards Indian urban youth. But ITC went one step ahead by promoting it's biggest ever brand launch using digital interactive media by launching its first ever interactive website for its product category.

Now I am great believer of Interactive medium for promotion
. But still the million dollar question remained more in an elusive form i.e. Is Indian customer ready for it? Now I have posted an article on how "Mass Advertising is dead" nowadays, so Bingo doesn't come as a surprise to me at least.

So ITC's foray into digital media promotion must have been an
example to those skeptics that usage of innovative ways of bringing your customer closer to your brand effectively is the need of the hour.

P.S. Excerpts from my personal experience of "Bingo" Brand launch.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

What “Semacode” idea holds for the future marketers

Time and again, some of my friends have asked me to write something in the retail space. Now I have been holding myself back personally for one reason i.e. for such a huge industry boom, I got to write something which is different because a lot have been written on this topic.

Now I have found something very interesting yet its promise of reaching those consumers is simply great. It’s called
“Semacode”. It has led to the interaction of outdoor ads with the real consumers. Actually, Gizmodo in its recent article about how H&M is using semacodes imprinted onto Billboard ads for clothes to allow consumers to purchase directly by just clicking a picture with their camera mobile phone holds a lot of promise.

Now, how it works you may ask? Black-and-white patterned boxes called Semacode bars will be placed on advertisements which carry coded information that will bring the shopper to the retailer's product catalog. You'll then be able to buy the clothes using your cellphone account or the amount will be added to your cell phone account (in some cases the amount may put a hole in your pocket if your spouse or girlfriend is spendthrift) .

Now that is the technology part which I guess, many of us including me didn’t get much actually (like what coded info are they talking about). Still from an inquisitive marketer’s point of view I see huge upsurge for the retail fanatics for a lot of reasons.

1. By connecting users from physical media to mobile content, the system creates new affordances, new ways to interact with the objects and media that surround us (including augmented reality, remote presence, social software and location tagging).

2. It is not only in retail but its reach can be far flung like tourism, games, etc. It can be used as an opportunity to improve the way people interact and communicate.

So above all, semacodes can actually provide maximum mobility and convenience for the customer who is on a go. Since nowadays we get less & less time happy shopping (though not taking the feminine side of the story who somehow gets enough time for shopping- actually I am in a process to understand how they do it), so the idea of semacode holds a great promise in the near future.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

2 words Marketers should never forget

Right from my childhood I have been taught to say two words when something is given to me (I believe everyone has been taught the same two words) – “Thank you”. It is a sort of appreciation from our side. Now why am I saying all these things in my blog which pertains to marketing? Its not that I am getting nostalgic or something! It’s just that somehow I find a deep relation between personality and marketing.

Saying “Thank you” reflects your humble and modest personality. Now think how many times we say thank you- it’s as if we have forgotten it totally!!!

Now
Michael Rubin immaculately demystified the success of social media by those exact words. Infact earlier to that, Church of the Customer highlighted the point from a firm’s point of view. But what about marketing par se. I mean can’t we apply the same principle for traditional brick and mortar business model. I believe we sure can.

So 3 principles which can make traditional marketing successful with two words (directly as well as indirectly) -

1. Since modern customers are sitting on a pile of information, so companies can’t dominate them. But definitely they can try being modest (another form of saying “Thank You”) by showcasing that customers are being given choices rather than companies alluring them by advertisements and crappy campaigns.

2. When a customer puts something negative about the company in the complaint boxes, then take that in your stride and keep a note of it and try fixing it. It’s another way of saying “Thank You” indirectly or else sent a note to the customer saying “We heard you”.

3. Another form of saying “Thank you” can be by showcasing those words on the product itself saying “Thank you for taking me”. This can give a good boost to those
Word-of-Mouth fanatics.

Sesame Street clip where Ernie sings about “thank you”

video

By all these, one of two things will happen for sure. Your customers will be empathetic towards you and did anyone mention about "Brand Loyalty".

Monday, October 01, 2007

5 sites every marketer should know

Time and again, information in the web is a big deal, at least for all those marketers who want to be updated with the latest marketing news & trends since there is too much information clutter. Now after due searches in the web for all those sites, I have pulled 5 websites which stand out from the rest of the crowd. I have categorized the best into website and weblog.

WEBSITE
1. MarketingProfs - This site pertains to marketing articles, online seminars, case studies, conferences etc.

2.MarketingSherpa- This site pertains to practical case studies and marketing know-hows.

3.WOMMA- This site is dedicated to word-of-mouth marketing means and ways.

4.Advertising Age- The site is a dedicated portal to advertising and its latest trends.

5.Trend Watching- Latest marketing trends and analysis.

WEBLOG
1.Rohit Bhargava- The blog is about marketing, PR and advertising strategies.

2.Seth Godin- Insights of a prominent author and a blogger.

3.FutureLab- Customer centric thoughts from the World’s Sharpest Minds in Marketing, Strategy, Innovation and Design.

4.
AdverBlog- Interactive marketing and other great advertising ideas.

5.
Steve Rubel- Blog on how technology is revolutionizing media and marketing.

Though this list is dynamic but these sites (in random order)
gives a indepth picture of marketing evolving over time.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Some spoof about viral marketing

While checking out some of the most famous viral campaigns, I found one of the most interesting snippet. Though FutureLab has covered the topic taking insights of Todd's campaign on "We didn't start the viral", but for me I have a bit different take on it.

First of all, one question that came into my mind is that does a company or an individual have to try to make it viral? Or it is vested in the hands of the target customers who somehow engage themselves to the viral message. Now for me I think that the latter one is more true than the former.

Sometimes it may happen that the viral message may get lost in between because of target customers may not be the key influencers. So what do we do about it? Three things should always be kept in mind while spreading the message.
  1. Make your campaign more engagement oriented to increase (if not manifold) the "customer engagement dimension" (CED).
  2. The good old "Delight & Excite Strategy" in the viral campaign.
  3. "Easing the spread of word" medium for better viral.




Friday, October 26, 2007

The love for color "Red" in Brand Logos

Have a look at the picture in the inset. What do you see? Now I know one thing for sure that what do you see the most. Its the Color "Red". Now the adoration for the color red is expressed in many ways to your loved ones or to not so loved ones :-(

Now some of the silly observations. Today in the afternoon while going through this logos, suddenly I realized that out of nearly 250+ famous brand logos here, approximately 110+ brands have the color red in some form or the other i.e. about 45%.

Now what does it convey about the companies which make this logos or for that matter the customers that in some way consume, use or receive the service (lemme know if I have covered all aspects of the product usage attribute).

Now some freebie takeaways from the brand logos above.
  • Red, Blue or White are often used in logos (especially in US) to project patriotic feelings.
  • Green is often used for products in the health segment foods.
  • Silver or Light Blue to reflect the diet food aspect.
  • More or less, all other brands showcases lower saturation and subdued tones primarily to communicate reliability,quality etc.
Now all said and done, why whopping 45% of top brands showcase the color "Red" then? This took me to the depths of this so-called mystery (If I may say so). I tried my luck from human psychology to physics. So now this is what I got.
  • Color is one of the important aspect of brand recognition in this cluttered mass media frenzied world.
  • My high school physics says that color red has the highest wavelength. So what's the fuss all about.
Now staying away from my physics, it's much more simple than that. Humans are very much attached to colors in some form. For example, try attaching colors to some emotions of yours. See how colors form a very distinct image in your mind. Now I spoke the word - "Mind"...I guess marketers have come to the picture...So color red with all the attributes will keep a distinct image in the mind of the customers. Though it should be always remembered that color should not be an integral constituent for logo design which may conflict with its functionality.

So case closed and mystery solved :-).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"Boys will be Boys"...So are marketers like *boys*??

I read an interesting article in CBSNews today.
"Consider, though, what 'boys will be boys' thinking implies about the true nature of boys. The answers typically are astonishingly negative: Boys are messy, immature and selfish; hormone-driven and insensitive; irresponsible and trouble-making; rebellious, rude, aggressive and disrespectful -- even violent, predatory and animal-like."
Now you must be thinking what the hell is the article's piece doing in this blog. Now think about the last marketing snippet or an overt ad campaign you have seen. Do you find a fit in the words above (Bold words). More often than not, the campaigns are idiotically crafted to prove their points as if customers are going to buy their products after seeing those ads. I have only two words for them- "Come'on Dude". It's not working anymore. Customers know that you are marketing.

So get out of that whole aura of "bossy marketing" thing. Feel the pulse of your customers. They don't need your flashy & jazzy campaigns. They want something which will make them feel more than satisfied. Though I know loyalty won't come by this means. But nowadays more and more companies are looking for that short terms gains in sales rather than long term truth. But marketers instead of being boyish can become a trusted friend and give customers a story to carry forward. Now I don't think companies will lose much on this.

Now how about this little Nike Story (link). See how loyalty can be earned.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"Brand Building" through the power of people

Now here's caution for some of the readers. If you are a staunch believer of democracy, then you may not like the conversation following next. Why I am being so sarcastic, you may ask? Actually time and again, we have seen one fact about brands travelling across those hallowed boardrooms to the hands of the customers i.e. they were built by the customers. Some name it brand, some "My own brand" or some call it their "lovemarks"(Term coined by Kevin Roberts-CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide).

Now explaining my hysteria about democracy for the readers is a simple yet very trivial fact. Actually marketers should keep the philosophy of democracy in the back of their minds while encountering customers more in a country like India. Oh, did I forget to tell you the principles- it's "By the people", "For the people", "Of the people". Now put customers in place of people (though they are the same kind). Now that's why I was cautioning because some democracy fanatic may think that yet another marketer is trying to play some kind of games. Yes that is true. But here it's more of a win-win situation for both companies & the customers.

Now think of any brand, and put it in the democracy framework of "By the customers", "For the customers" & "Of the customers". Now see how your brand shapes up. Now there may be resistance (more in a form of criticism for my above statement) of course. But there are innumerable examples of brands like Lijjat papad (conventional popadum) in India, Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, Hindustan Unilver's project Shakti in India etc.

So brand building should start from the periphery of your marketing strategy where you have to engage your customers in a way that value deliverance is the embedded keyword behind your core strategy whereas leveraging customers' value acceptance is given more priority.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Advertisement 2.0 - Creating user friendly online ads

Sometime back Google's CEO Eric Schmidt told Adage that Google Adsense may hit Facebook. He said -
"How will those developers get paid for those services? We would like to have our ads in those applications"
Now how about this one. Nielsen's report are pointing downward slide of online ads in august to september 2007. Now is this just a slight hint towards another tech recession. Now some suggest that it may just be a cyclical downturn.

Now I just can't help thinking (beacuse of Eric's statement) that one fine morning I will see some crappy ads on my facebook a/c, or for that matter my iGoogle or RSS feeds (though some is A-ok because I do understand the dynamics of business). Actually that's where open platform get on my nerves sometimes.

But where's the catch here. Firstly, all of us has seen many online ads (if you browse a bit) and its irrelevance to us most of the times. Though Google's Adsense has done some amount of work on that i.e. the relevance part. But still in social networking space, it won't suit my palate if I have been shown some crappy ads.

But I guess there is a way out of all these where the online advertisers and users (like me of course) can share a healthy cyberspace experience. Now 5 strategies for online advertisers can be like these-

1. Engage your users - Now how about this piece. If you see some ads reminding you to take bouquet of flowers from flowers.com (hypothetical) on your anniversary or your sweetheart's birthday (considering you forget trifle things like me). That would be kool (remember its social networking). Then I guess you can definitely score one point on that. So online advertisers should try to engage their target customers.

2. Relevancy - Segmenting users on their information likeness, online advertisers can give snippets of new information based on their likeness, though not forgetting their ad message through those information.

3. Compelling story telling through ads - Now everyone likes a compelling story. Isn't it? So if online advertisers can co-create a story (through ads of course), then users will definitely like to browse through it. CLICK CLICK!!!

4. Consistency - Now we have heard that word enough times I guess. Now more importantly, online advertisers have to be cautious about the consistency part of delivering their message.

5. Interactivity - Now what better way to communicate than making the ads more interactive. Online interactive ads make users are more prone to click. Isn't this what we are vying for?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

ooVoo- The *Aha* moment on conversational marketing

What's up with the internet going gung-ho on the letter "O". We have Yahoo,Google all with O's in their syllable. Now another one joining the "O" race is ooVoo. It's a revolutionary new way to communicate online using the power of internet and community building features. We have seen things like these, haven't we? Now what makes it so special.
Now some of the features which makes it all the more different is some of its breakthrough features like free real time video conversations on a video chat platform. Along with these, my moment of joy, you can interact upto 6 people at the same time on the same screen. Isn't it amazing? So bye-bye boring chat, welcome aboard real time multiple video conversations.

Footnote :-
  1. Press Release


  2. Download & Install "ooVoo"


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Email 2.0 versus Social Networking

There is a huge difference between network and networking with respect to social networking space. Network can be primarily defined as connecting with people-known or unknown whereas networking is within the boundaries of known people (be it in form of friends etc). Now the promise is very well delivered by all those social networking sites like myspace, facebook etc.

Now there is something which is left behind between all these. Or is it? Remember Web email services of the likes of Yahoo Inc, Microsoft Inc, or Google. Now we used to use these email services primarily for sending and receiving those boring and mundane messages. But nowadays it seems that these email providers are trying to run away with some of the thunders of social networking sites. They are adding features that allow users to perform certain sociable functions as connecting with friends and creating personal-profile pages for others to see.

So this is surely going to increase the competition between those old daddies of Web email services and new Gen Y social networking maestro's for loyalty of users and revenues from online advertisements.

But the question is who's going to win this. Now my take on this would be from my personal experience. Since I still use both these services to an equal amount, so I would take a fair and balance perspective on it.
  1. Most of the social networking sites provide us with IM service . So most of the users use it as an effective alternative email service. So email service providers don't have an edge.
  2. Social networking sites have given enough importance to the word "I" which email service providers haven't yet i.e. "I" is the new word in the Web 2.0 model.
  3. Since most of the email social services work effectively only when most of my friends are hooked onto same service provider, so tracking all my friends on a common platform becomes difficult (still there are reports that email service providers are trying to extend this service across all networks- but the bottleneck would be sharing users' personal info).
  4. Slowly and steadily, social networking sites are allowing its users to send messages to those stereotyped email addresses.
So after looking at these artifacts (pun intended), I guess by now most of you have made up your mind who's going to survive. Actually that's why most of the Web email service providers are vying for big social networking websites likes Yahoo & Microsoft trying to buy Facebook etc. It's more like insulating themselves from Web 2.0 (i.e. user generated content) wave which is taking the whole world into it's grip.

*Handvertising*- Yet another brick in the advertisment wall

Advertising has gone beyond television,print, internet or even those crazy ways how companies promote their products or service. Now how about this new innovative way. Do you remember the last time you entered a club and someone stamped your hands. So how about companies stamping their logos or promotional message on your hand. (As if I have been Apple'd or Microsoft'ied.)

Actually this new practice is being done. It's the brainchild of Handvertising, USA. Though it's patent is still pending, still ingenuity is overwhelming.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

RSS Simplified- How *RSS* can make your life easier

RSS (Really Simple Syndication)- For some it's internet simplified and for some its just some crappy internet geeky term. Now trust me it's not big a deal.Is it? Now some of those who are still unaware of the potential of RSS and its various apps, I have tried to simplify RSS. Now 10 questions about RSS for those inquisitive minds are-

    1. What is RSS?
    2. How does RSS work
    3. Who benefits from RSS?
    4. How do I use RSS?
    5. What can RSS help me do?
    6. Can I access RSS only through computer?
    7. What is RSS feed?
    8. Who publishes content in RSS?
    9. How do i "Subscribe" to a RSS?
    10. Is RSS substitute for an email?
Check out this link to clarify your doubts.

Now for a marketer (though I am not being biased towards marketers only), its really necessary to get updated about new information every second. So I guess this small little tool will definitely come in handy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Boost your "Ego" - Courtesy *Vanity Ring*

I know the name of the post sounds a bit crazy. But believe me the video down below is much more crazier. Now since I have been watching the tech space for quite some time, I personally have seen some weird to weirder gadgets. Now I got bowled over by this one at least.

Now the gadget pertains to more or less about "Ego Surfing" which is more of a thing of the past (Oh for those blissful ones, it is typing your name in search engine and seeing what appears).

Now the product in question is Vanity Ring. Basically its more of an electronic ring which shows the number of hits (in the search engine) for the person who wears it.Amazing..isn't it??

video

Monday, October 15, 2007

Google search costs 27 cents

Ever wondered about how much your single "googling" costs? Now the figure is something which most of us don't mind spending in usual hoolahoo's. But it's a fact now. The cost of googling is 27 cents . Unbelievable is it!!

Now the so called stats. According to ComScore research , people around the world searched about 67 billion times in a month (August 2007). Share of Google in that is about 37 billion individual searches. Now I am not a fin geek, but if we assume that the figure above is the average in a month, then about 444 billion searches are done in a year for Google. Now Google's financial results shows that 2/3 of their revenues comes from search and rest is from other means (likes of adsense, adwords etc). Now the figures may get a bit hazier. Google's valuation is $195 billion. Out of which (going by 2/3 principle of Google), i.e. about 64% is coming from searches i.e. about $124 billion. Now if you do some crappy calculations, then you will find that your each search is about 27 cents. Amazing!!

So each time, you google something, you are actually adding 27 cents to Google's valuation. (P.S.- Did you know that you can get all this calculations from google search too).

Now some of the points which we may have forgotten in between.
  1. How much does Google incur to provide all these- I guess not much because of the fact that marginal cost will diminish every time.
  2. Remember Kevin Roberts - Now he's the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi. He places Google in top rank of his concept called lovemarks i.e. Loyalty beyond reason. Now do I have to explain you further that where am I going.
  3. Noise of clicks- Now how about this: 31.5 million seconds of search clicks in a year i.e. about 14,000 searches every second @ 14 kilohertz. Yikes. Just think about the sound of all those clicks.
Now lastly, since you will see more & more google ads in any webpage and infact in any of your own personal google pages, so not only google capitalized on searches but also from others. So I have only two words for Google- Keep running!!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

FaceSpaceTwitRatiCkrKutUbe – Are we Online Zombies?

FaceSpaceTwitRatickrkutube - It is an acronym for Facebook, MySpace,Twitter, Technorati, Flickr, Orkut, Youtube. Now I could have written more social networks but my domain of social networking is more or less bounded within the contours of these mostly.

My usual day with the internet starts by checking responses from my friends (i.e. usual hi's & hello's) to the responses to my blog to usual twitting to keep my friends and fans upto date. Along with these checking my blog status in technorati to usual goofing around in youtube to checking my status in flickr. Also worth mentioning here is to keep myself update with the rss feeds & podcasts from my most liked bloggers and websites.

Now I can say one thing for sure i.e. I am a internet person. But more often than not i keep asking myself one question. Am I being played in the hands of these social networking sites? Now their promise of keeping me close to my friends and my foes (pun intended) at the same time is working well for them. But is social networking getting more integrated to our daily rountine?

Now some of the reasons why we like social networking sites are-
  1. Arm's length reach to our friends and foes.
  2. Maximum value delivered in terms of time and content.
  3. Requires less attention from the content developer to content reader.
Still the questions remains in an elusive form that who is controlling whom? Are we all online social zombies trying to connect through bits & bytes? Or there can be a definite cure to this?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Dove - From Evolution to Onslaught

Unilever does it again with its latest Dove's promotional campaign. If we remember carefully, "Dove's evolution" ad campaign; it was different from the rest of the traditional anti-aging campaign. Now they tried to break the myth by emphasizing that aging is natural. Time and again, skin care has become more of woman's prerogative. Thats why, the anti-aging market is about $13 billion worldwide approximately.

video

Now where's the catch then? The catch is thin as a line actually. When the whole world in unison is after looking young and good, Dove's strategy is to break the traditional myth of looking younger. Some may call it as just a fad. Actually there has been recent criticism from women alike whereas some have agreed that it comes as a breather.

video

If we highlight it clearly, we will find one very interesting point i.e. skin care is about fighting back. But clearly dove's recent "Onslaught" ad campaign also shows that women can do better than looking good- as I say "Glorifying the power of age".

But how much it will be taken in a positive manner is a debatable issue. Company's "Pro-Age" campaign more or less captures the same imagination.

Broadly speaking, Unilever's implicit strategy is "women can look better without trying hard". But some may say that it is an effort to pull back it's market share by being different from its competitor's like
P&G , L'Oreal etc.

All in all, what I feel from a marketer's perspective is that Unilever has played the right card with 2 success formula i.e. right targeting & ingenious story telling.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Twitter effect: MicroBlogging with 140

Microblogging seems to be the answer when people are on a go or especially when you are fighting against time to keep yourself active in social networking in real time. Now "need is the mother of invention" as people say. So Twitter Inc. came up with a concept called "Microblogging" with Twitter who's tagline says it all - "What are you doing". So updating to every second is possible. Now you can not only use IM or email but using mobile phone to update makes it Kooler (with capital K).

Now some critics comment it as just a fad. But I have more than a doubt to that. Since the news broke about Google buying Jaiku few days back fortifies my belief that Microblogging is here to stay. So people are twitting at every instant they get including me. Now a marketer can definitely take advantage of it.
  1. For a prolific blogger, updating your viewers becomes very easy if you are on a move.
  2. Sharing information in a jiffy makes it more convenient for the users to get the message across.
  3. Twittermail can email you automatically to any replies of your Tweets from your followers. So sharing becomes hassle free.
P.S. Oh if you are wondering about that 140 figure; its the number of characters you can type to tweet.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

ITC's foray into digital interactive media is successful

Yeah it's official- ITC's snack segment "Bingo" is a hit among the Indian consumers. Now the only reason I am writing this post is not only providing information about this specific product category but most importantly how Indian companies are going the digital way i.e. using digital interactive media as a crucial platform for new product promotion campaign in an easily prone commoditized Indian FMCG market.

Initially during the launch phase, ITC didn't target the product to any specific customer segment. But, by its name and its overall brand appeal, it can be easily understood that it was covertly targeted towards Indian urban youth. But ITC went one step ahead by promoting it's biggest ever brand launch using digital interactive media by launching its first ever interactive website for its product category.

Now I am great believer of Interactive medium for promotion
. But still the million dollar question remained more in an elusive form i.e. Is Indian customer ready for it? Now I have posted an article on how "Mass Advertising is dead" nowadays, so Bingo doesn't come as a surprise to me at least.

So ITC's foray into digital media promotion must have been an
example to those skeptics that usage of innovative ways of bringing your customer closer to your brand effectively is the need of the hour.

P.S. Excerpts from my personal experience of "Bingo" Brand launch.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

What “Semacode” idea holds for the future marketers

Time and again, some of my friends have asked me to write something in the retail space. Now I have been holding myself back personally for one reason i.e. for such a huge industry boom, I got to write something which is different because a lot have been written on this topic.

Now I have found something very interesting yet its promise of reaching those consumers is simply great. It’s called
“Semacode”. It has led to the interaction of outdoor ads with the real consumers. Actually, Gizmodo in its recent article about how H&M is using semacodes imprinted onto Billboard ads for clothes to allow consumers to purchase directly by just clicking a picture with their camera mobile phone holds a lot of promise.

Now, how it works you may ask? Black-and-white patterned boxes called Semacode bars will be placed on advertisements which carry coded information that will bring the shopper to the retailer's product catalog. You'll then be able to buy the clothes using your cellphone account or the amount will be added to your cell phone account (in some cases the amount may put a hole in your pocket if your spouse or girlfriend is spendthrift) .

Now that is the technology part which I guess, many of us including me didn’t get much actually (like what coded info are they talking about). Still from an inquisitive marketer’s point of view I see huge upsurge for the retail fanatics for a lot of reasons.

1. By connecting users from physical media to mobile content, the system creates new affordances, new ways to interact with the objects and media that surround us (including augmented reality, remote presence, social software and location tagging).

2. It is not only in retail but its reach can be far flung like tourism, games, etc. It can be used as an opportunity to improve the way people interact and communicate.

So above all, semacodes can actually provide maximum mobility and convenience for the customer who is on a go. Since nowadays we get less & less time happy shopping (though not taking the feminine side of the story who somehow gets enough time for shopping- actually I am in a process to understand how they do it), so the idea of semacode holds a great promise in the near future.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

2 words Marketers should never forget

Right from my childhood I have been taught to say two words when something is given to me (I believe everyone has been taught the same two words) – “Thank you”. It is a sort of appreciation from our side. Now why am I saying all these things in my blog which pertains to marketing? Its not that I am getting nostalgic or something! It’s just that somehow I find a deep relation between personality and marketing.

Saying “Thank you” reflects your humble and modest personality. Now think how many times we say thank you- it’s as if we have forgotten it totally!!!

Now
Michael Rubin immaculately demystified the success of social media by those exact words. Infact earlier to that, Church of the Customer highlighted the point from a firm’s point of view. But what about marketing par se. I mean can’t we apply the same principle for traditional brick and mortar business model. I believe we sure can.

So 3 principles which can make traditional marketing successful with two words (directly as well as indirectly) -

1. Since modern customers are sitting on a pile of information, so companies can’t dominate them. But definitely they can try being modest (another form of saying “Thank You”) by showcasing that customers are being given choices rather than companies alluring them by advertisements and crappy campaigns.

2. When a customer puts something negative about the company in the complaint boxes, then take that in your stride and keep a note of it and try fixing it. It’s another way of saying “Thank You” indirectly or else sent a note to the customer saying “We heard you”.

3. Another form of saying “Thank you” can be by showcasing those words on the product itself saying “Thank you for taking me”. This can give a good boost to those
Word-of-Mouth fanatics.

Sesame Street clip where Ernie sings about “thank you”

video

By all these, one of two things will happen for sure. Your customers will be empathetic towards you and did anyone mention about "Brand Loyalty".

Monday, October 01, 2007

5 sites every marketer should know

Time and again, information in the web is a big deal, at least for all those marketers who want to be updated with the latest marketing news & trends since there is too much information clutter. Now after due searches in the web for all those sites, I have pulled 5 websites which stand out from the rest of the crowd. I have categorized the best into website and weblog.

WEBSITE
1. MarketingProfs - This site pertains to marketing articles, online seminars, case studies, conferences etc.

2.MarketingSherpa- This site pertains to practical case studies and marketing know-hows.

3.WOMMA- This site is dedicated to word-of-mouth marketing means and ways.

4.Advertising Age- The site is a dedicated portal to advertising and its latest trends.

5.Trend Watching- Latest marketing trends and analysis.

WEBLOG
1.Rohit Bhargava- The blog is about marketing, PR and advertising strategies.

2.Seth Godin- Insights of a prominent author and a blogger.

3.FutureLab- Customer centric thoughts from the World’s Sharpest Minds in Marketing, Strategy, Innovation and Design.

4.
AdverBlog- Interactive marketing and other great advertising ideas.

5.
Steve Rubel- Blog on how technology is revolutionizing media and marketing.

Though this list is dynamic but these sites (in random order)
gives a indepth picture of marketing evolving over time.