All Marketers are Liars!

The title sure is going to get a lot of attention and brickbats from my fellow marketing enthusiasts. This article is an inspiration from Seth Godin’s book on the same title. There is also a general perception that marketers are liars. Well I would say marketers do tell lies but lies havea story around it. Any product if it has to succeed in market has to have a story around it and marketers are the ones who go around story telling. We could draw analogies from a lot of marketing concepts.

Let us take an example of a moisturizer. Moisturizers prevent and treat dry skin, protect sensitive skin, improve skin tone and texture, and mask imperfections. There are a lot of brands which have the same product. Does any of the companies really care about you and your skin,the so-called customer? They obviously are not. They are actually addressing a pain point which is actually ‘need for skin care’. Marketers look at this pain point and try to draft a story around a product to sell the product. Customers are not buying the product; they are actually buying the story around the moisturizer. This is called positioning. Marketers identify the pain points, address it with a product and draft a story around it.

There is this latest concept of word of mouth marketing which has got lot of relevance in this age of social networks. So what exactly are people talking about? If we ask a marketer, he/she would wink and say “They are talking about the story ;)”. Having a good word of mouth campaign depends on how good your story is. Linkedin had the story of ‘offering a close and reliable professional network’ and people spoke about this story with their colleagues at office.

Google had the story of simple and user friendly search engine and other web based products. That’s the story people spoke about and the story has got them to the stage they are in now. They have been pretty consistent with that story.

Relationship/Emotional marketing also comes from this concept of storytelling. Devising a good emotional marketing strategy depends on the story you craft around your product and how you devise the script to give your customers the experience. Brands like Bose, Sony have their own speciality stores where they give a complete music and visual experience. These strategies depend on the story that the marketers crafted around providing music experience.

So if you have the capability to tell believable stories, you sure are going to have a role as a marketing professional. Do read the Seth Godin’s version from his book. It really is an interesting read.

– Harish S.

MBA Batch of 2012

DoMS IIT Madras

And you thought Monday was MUNDANE??!!!!!

Monday Blues..

This picture essentially captures my exact state each Monday – dazed by Monday morning blues! 😦 Every Sunday evening most of us curse poor Monday, wishing for the weekend to last a little longer. Probably Monday also curses its stars that make it bear the entire world’s hatred! Probably it is also jealous of neighbor Sunday which rules as the king of week in terms of fun and frolic. Today I aim to cheer up poor Monday a bit by reminding it of the importance Marketing gives to it and how Monday has been rechristened.

CYBER MONDAY


If you have let your imagination run wild, hold your horses as Cyber Monday has nothing to do with your cyber workspace or report deadlines. Relax. Cyber Monday, the first weekday after Thanksgiving, is considered the busiest online shopping day of the year. This acts as a close twin to Black Friday the day immediately following Thanksgiving that, for retailers and many shoppers, is the kickoff for the Christmas season. Coined by Shop.org Cyber Monday, however, has become the Christmas kickoff for online retailers and shoppers.

The modern junta buys Christmas present online and Cyber Monday is just another excuse to dole out offers to cyber customers to execute their purchases. Various forms of discounts and other incentives act as bait to allure the early-birds and the number of purchases made online purchases made this day is steadily on the rise.

A Cyber Monday web promotional..

 

GREEN MONDAY

Ebay christened the second Monday of December as Green Monday as a marketing campaign for late-season shopping. It marks the online shoppers’ last chance to order items without having to pay for expedited shipping (which usually means the end of free shipping offers).

A Green Monday Ad

Statistics of recent years (http://blog.compete.com/2009/01/05/green-monday-holiday-shopping/) show the increasing popularity of Green Monday as it gives the tech-savvy online customers an add-on incentive to execute the last minute festive purchases without high shipping costs with a click of a mouse.

Here are the stats...

This nomenclature reveals an interesting aspect of marketing- of bottling the same old wine in a new bottle! Traditional practices too include many such variations to spur festive demands or to incentivize the customer to execute the buy right away. The dot com merely takes the same formula and nicely wraps it up in an online avatar added with the punch of a new term. Cyber, Green or Pink- Mondays now have a range of new adjectives to choose from and strangely enough none of these are demeaning! Interestingly and almost out of nowhere, Mondays have shed the bland and unglamorous ‘first boring weekday’ image to a new make-over milestone on the Marketing calendar.

I hope the readers found this story of boring Monday somewhat interesting and that poor Monday doesn’t consider itself mundane any more.

– Moupiya Niyogi

MBA Batch of 2012

DoMS IIT Madras

Billboard Marketing

Billboard perhaps is the one of the oldest means of promotion. A billboard hung in middle of a town or on a busy high way will attract more attention and will cost only a fraction of the  promotional cost in other mediums like television, radio and newspaper. The utility of billboard in promotion can be varied it can be used to reinforce brand presence for example, look at huge billboards of AirTel; the purpose of them is to maintain continued presence in the minds of the people. Then it can be used to for sales promotion- billboards/hoardings of BigBazar, Levis announcing discounts could be example of this. Then it can also be used for creating buzz; footie’s Digen Verma campaign is legendry example of this case.

Looking at the utility of billboards it is very essential for marketers not to ignore this form of communication. This form of communication comes in various forms like street kiosk, displays on taxi, buses and other public transport, on the tickets of movies banners at airports and malls and mobile billboards. Constraints of budget, target segment and brand communication should decide the forms to be used for promotion.

Some of the common do’s and don’ts for bill board advertising are

  • Make sure your brand name is visible from a long distance
  • Use strong, pure colors. Also use bright, contrasting colors because different times of the day(incomplete sentence)
  • Focus on attention phrases instead of complete sentences
  • Don’t add additional messages that dilute the message
  • Avoid using more than 7 words

Remember less is more.

-Varun Joshi

MBA batch of 2012

DoMS IIT Madras

Birds of a feather – Understanding brand communities

Brand Communities

Dusty Sorg and Michael Jedrzejewski liked their Coca Cola drink. Infact they liked it so much that they created a fan page of Coca Cola on Facebook, which quickly amassed a million fans. And when Facebook started enforcing a policy of only authorized company personnel to have a ‘branded’ page, Coca Cola asked Dusty and Michael to continue the page themselves. So the official fan page of Coca Cola on FB is run by fans. And on last count the page has 23,857,830  .

Coca Cola is not the only brand to give away this ownership – Harley Davidson, LEGO and a few other brands have understood the power of these communities and are leveraging the potential by ensuring their own engagement in these communities is non-intrusive. Brand communities are so powerful now that they can’t be overlooked anymore. The ‘Bring Back Cadbury’s Wispa Gold’ campaign on FB made the confectionary company do so (and it was the power of 22,000 fans signing up to like the page).

So what is behind this shift in power? What are brand communities? And why are brand communities an idea whose time has come?

Brand community as a notion originated in the ethnographic studies by Schoaten and McAlexander (1995) of new bikers involving Harley Davidson owners. However it was Muniz and O’Guinn (2001) who coined the term ‘Brand community ‘. According to Muniz and O’Guinn, Brand community is simply a group of customers of the brand bound together by the loyalty to the brand. And the authors also describe the markers of a brand community as

Consciousness of kind is the implicit feeling of belongingness to the community as members share a similar interest. It also is a feeling that they are different from others who are not part of this community or who do not display a similar affinity to the brand.

Existence of shared rituals, traditions and beliefs – Rituals and traditions related to the brand that form the core of the community. These can be celebrating the history of the brand, sharing brand stories or having annual meetups like a Harley Davidson rally. These rituals serve to enhance the ties between the brand and its members and also between the members.

Sense of moral responsibility – Refers to the inherent sense of duty that each member feels towards other members of the community. This can manifest in how newbies are guided through their initial use of the product, or when veteran users share product knowledge.

Brand communities have caught the fancy of marketers because of increased challenges with traditional marketing approaches. These include the fragmentation of media and increased consumer resistance to receiving marketing messages.

A combination of a) technology mediated transition of communities from neighbourhood to networks b) increased reliance of customers on brands as a means of self-expression, and c) the inherent need of individuals to be part of or belong to a group, ensure that brand communities are poised to become powerful vehicles for marketers to develop a committed customer base.

So are all Brand communities similar? Or are there different types?

Brand communities can be firm managed or customer managed. And they can be a small network of customers having strong ties amongst themselves, or a large group spanning geographies where members have only the affinity to the brand as the shared interest.

Another interesting typology of brand community membership is given below. It is based on involvement and exclusivity as given below.

brand commuinities on the basis of involvement and commitment

9 types of brand communities

Though brand communities have substantial potential to drive brand equity, positive WOM and eventually sales, they need to be handled with caution.

In a world that is increasingly more ‘social’, it is important to not be seen self-centred. This means that brands have to take the first big step of giving away the ownership, empower the communities and engage genuinely with an intention to get the community members to form a strong web of ties. They should also understand that there will be a fair share of ‘unpleasant’ WOM going around and therefore not defend aggressively but listen patiently.  And last but not the least, companies should understand that online social networks are but one of the many venues for the community to interact. And there is still a lot of life happening in the physical space. So, providing venues in the offline world and in other forms, for the community members, enables increased cohesion.

Brand communities are here to stay and the marketers of tomorrow need to understand its powers and execute their strategies carefully. A rich and vibrant brand community serves many purposes for the franchise owners including diffusion of information, an inexpensive market research option and obtaining candid customer feedback.

– Giridhar ‘Giri’  Ramachandran

Ph.D. Scholar

DoMS IIT Madras

of Ps and Cs or Cs and Ps or Ps Cs …WHATEVER!!

Disclaimer no 1 I don’t intend to preach 4Ps or 4Cs in this article, there is a plethora of literature on that out there.

Disclaimer no 2 I do not have any idea why I am writing this article

I will start this article with a couple of personal experiences with marketing.

It was probably my first programmed/scheduled/official marketing class ever, a few months back, and I still remember my teacher, who had completed her PhD recently, came to the class and I was introduced to the expression “Guys!!! Marketing is not Bullshitting”, that idea struck me and remained with me for some time.

Second time the idea came back to me when one of our Profs arranged for an opportunity, to have summer internship for the alumni club of IIT Madras, we were supposed to build a brand out of something as mundane as an alumni association. I think it is something very AMERICAN to be associated with alumni associations after you graduate. Okay cut the story short, Profs who were deemed responsible for the alumni club, all of a sudden, out of thin air plucked a question “What is Marketing?”, the class went into a numb silence. At that point of time I actually sat upright and thought, ‘after spending so much time in the august company of Mr. Phil Kotler I was still unsure of what marketing means’. I would like to thank that Prof to bring up the issue because it instilled a desire to get back to square one and try finding the answer.

As we have first principle of solving any problem in engineering there is a first principle of marketing, ‘marketing is common sense’, but here is a problem, common sense is so uncommon that its presence in not felt and absence doesn’t harm anyone. This is also one major factor that leads people into believing that marketing is something anyone can do, the premise is not wrong on the ground level, yes anyone can do marketing but ANYONE cannot do marketing.

After digressing for more about half a page with font size 12 and single line spacing, I think I should get back to the topic. The Ps and Cs of marketing, but you might ask “Why Ps and Cs, when we were supposed talk about, what is marketing”. I would like to talk about Ps and Cs because the Ps of marketing is a very powerful and the most basic tool, powerful because it is a culmination of common sense and basic because it is the ab-initio state in terms of marketing a product/service. Generally marketing used to be divided into sub factors such as industrial, agricultural, consumer etc. Everyone was OKAY with this common understanding but one man actually added sense to this commonality, he said everything is same, only the nature of product changes, Professor E. Jerome McCarthy of the Michigan state university reduced the marketing mix concept to 4 parameters Product, Price, Place And Promotion. What he got in return, Nobel Prize!!! Naaaah… Marketing professionals are not supposed to get that (why? That I will try to answer in some later post of mine) he actually made millions from his text book, titled Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach. So Prof McCarthy pounced on the opportunity and came out with a beautiful concept, 4Ps. now I will tell you what not to do, 4Ps came to the market in 1960, by 1986 or 1987 there were texts laden with as many as 11Ps of marketing, if someone wants to read about all those 11Ps kindly google Professor Jerry Wind, I tried to do that and google didn’t return any result, I mean any worthwhile result. So what do we learn from this example, Prof McCarthy applied some common sense and came up with 4Ps, because his textbook was earning millions and people found 4Ps to be too easy to use and they tried to package it differently and added complexity to it, not very sensible idea though. If I am not breaching the fine line, we can assume that other works that followed McCarthy’s, containing more Ps should be having more SENSE than McCarthy’s, but they missed a very critical part the ‘COMMON’. 4Ps till date is the basic premise to analyse a market.

4Ps and many more Ps helped me make some sense out of marketing, if I need to sell a product I need to take care of 4 factors ~Product, Price, Place and Promotion~ that’s it, voila!! I am a marketing manager raring to hit the corporate world….. Hold on …. Calm down… things shattered again, when I recollected the words of another Professor of mine, he said marketing is a context based science. Ahan!! Okay??… so that means all this stuff that I understood about marketing has gone all in vain, Why? the Ps are based on the judgement of the MANAGER, it’s like saying select the Ps because the “Marketing Manager said so”. Another concept from the same Prof of mine (whom I idolise by now) he said there is something called experiential marketing. The two terms i.e. ‘context based science’ and ‘experiential marketing’ added up and made sense to me. I am not saying that the 4Cs will now be devised by me here right now, what I intend to say is 4Cs became clear to me. I am adding another disclaimer at this point. Actually the 4Cs are the experiential part of 4Ps which cropped because marketing is a context based science.

Disclaimer no. 3: the article doesn’t talk about 5Cs, sorry for breaking your heart, but it talks about another very basic idea called the 4Cs.

The 4Cs were devised by Bob Lauterborn and James L. Knight professors of advertising at the University of North Carolina. 4Ps miss out on the context part, the Ps are more of the form of brainchild of a marketing manager, the basic premise of marketing of involving the consumer or customer fails here. So what are the Cs? Cs are basically the Ps from the consumer’s side.

Cs Ps
CONSUMERS WANTS AND NEEDS PRODUCT
CONVENIENCE PLACE
COST PRICE
COMMUNICATION 

 

PROMOTION

After going all this I had two perspectives for marketing, the basic question generally baffles you the most. I’ll share a few basic question which spin your mind out, “Why MBA”, “Describe Yourself” after 4 gruelling years in engineering someone asks you “Sir, can you please define Engineering” same is with marketing, I read Mr. Kotler’s work inside out and use to walk proudly as if some kind of king of the ring. Anyways I am not elaborating the meaning of these Cs because I am not writing a text book on this issue. The onus is on the reader to make out something and comment on the post, where we can discuss more about this.

Finally it makes some sense and I have sensible solution to the question ‘what is marketing’, Do I?

– Saad Bin Hamid

MBA Batch of 2012

DoMS IIT Madras

Juz MarkIITing!!

I always thought marketing in general was an interesting kind of thing. I always liked commercials and billboards.” ~ Carrot Top

Many of us in DoMS IIT Madras actually fall in this Mad-about-Marketing category and we request you not to ask why. It could well be that the other domains of finance, operations, systems, etc appear bland to freaks like us or possibly because we are no good at anything other than marketing. Most of us actually don’t know the exact answer and as one of our professors would say, true loyalists would not ever be able to justify why they are loyal to their favourite brand; they just don’t know why they swear by their champion brand! We too have no justification whatsoever but we want to talk to the world and assemble all the lunatics like us. This blog is an endeavour by the Marketing evangelists of DoMS MarkIIT (the proud Marketing Club of DoMS J) to …..ahemm…as we have been harping upon nothing great in particular, Juz MarkIITing!!

The NUTation

So Marketing junta of the world, Unite (any resemblance to Karl Marx revolutionary statement is purely coincidental)

~~“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”~~

Cheers,

Moupiya Niyogi

MBA Batch of 2012

DoMS IIT Madras