Mobile Marketing – the way to go!

E- commerce , m- commerce are really the buzz words these days and I’m sure most of you would be wondering what really is the fuss all about? Why is that these days every company including the traditional brick and mortar firms are aiming for a web presence and mobile presence??

My definition of m-commerce is “taking your business as close as the pocket of your consumer”. Yes, taking your business to your consumer’s cell phone, which makes it accessible almost any time he wants. And you could be in any business, be it “a bank “ ,where people store their lifetime savings, “a general store” for daily purchases or “a fashion or electronic store” selling the luxuries in life. So whatever the business is, m- commerce is all over the place. Marketers find themselves with newer opportunities and bigger challenges to exploit this area.

Now this could be attained by a lot of means, could be as simple as marketing your product via SMS, the traditional telemarketing, advertising through banner ads or as complex as taking your entire business to the phone via Mobile web presence or creating specific mobile apps.

So why do I say that mobile marketing is an important target for the companies in the coming days??

A plethora of mobile devices are available in market today:  Smart Phones, iPods, laptops, net-books, iPads, USB drives, and handheld games seem to be everywhere. And these devices find application in every sphere of life changing the way we do business, travel or study. Smart Phones have led the way with people using their phones to surf the net, receive advertising, and text messaging.

Let us look at some statistics from the research conducted by large research firms in US.

The statistics speak for themselves. Clearly the people in the age group 18-34 are ‘high’ on technology and also the perfect target group for most firms as usually the people in this age group are  what we can call “innovators” who are willing to give a shot to new things and are also the biggest spenders. Also gone are the days where cell phone was just a means of communication; rather it’s now a means of entertainment with people using it for internet, clicking pictures, and texting or playing games. The use of smart phones is predicted to grow rapidly over the next five years; most companies realize this and are getting in on the advertising opportunity.

 

As the gen-Next continues to get more and more addicted to technology, the job of the marketer becomes easier as well as challenging. I say easier, as the customer base is rapidly growing but challenging as your competitors realize the same and you need to act fast. Differentiation is the key. But one thing is certain, mobile marketing is the way to go for any firm nowadays and it needs to be an integral part of its IMC.

 

 

 

~ Esha Gupta

Batch of 2012

 

DoMS, IIT Madras

 

Hit the Affective Pot

‘For men may come and men may go but I stay on forever’

Amidst the ever ephemeral “marketing trends” certain philosophy stands eternal! 4 Ps, STP, 5 forces to name a few. This relatively inconspicuous breed of marketing that I prefer calling ‘Affect-ive Marketing’ belongs to the same genre of perennial marketing principles. It is only ‘not-so-obvious’!

It wears no mask, has no charade but is too humble to boast its presence in the rings since donkey’s years. What heart is to human beings, Affective marketing is to marketing! Human heart is not only the most vital organ but is also the most irrational fraction of human whole. To target human ‘affection’ or to effectively ‘affect’ prospects has always been a marketing ploy. Affection and effective together form the semantic ‘Affective’.

A Brand endures the test of time only when it finds a place in the hearts of consumers and evokes affectionate customer relationships. Campaigns like ‘Humara Bajaj’,’Amul-the taste of India’,’Suddh Dhara’ were affective and thereby, successful in surpassing time horizon. Even today marketeers try the same formula and ‘this old wine in new bottle’ has repeatedly paid dividend as evident in ‘Bleed Blue’ or ‘KKR tension mat le yaar’ targeting crazy Indian cricketing spirit.

To achieve a continual share of wallet, a brand has to do it the ‘affective’ way. Customer interactions alone bear little returns in this multi-channel age. Customer engagement is the order of the day and ‘affective’ marketing the key to generate/sustain audience interest. This lead to the unison of the brand and the customer where they start speaking for one another. The brand taking toil to incorporate customer voice into its product mix and the customer vehemently defending its favourite brand on public forums.

Super brands like Facebook have taken customer engagement to the event of translating their page through crowd sourcing! The social graph becomes a very conducive space if your brand has some affectionate patrons (read, properly engaged customers) as often they take angelic avatars to negate negative buzz around. Collaboration between the brand and its customers is quintessential in manifesting the social footprint.

While AT&T proudly can boast of a wonderful customer service on the net that has altered its company’s twitter trend from Thumbs Down to Thumbs Up, recent Vodafone incident marks a horrendous Social Media failure. Companies have now boarded the Social Media flight but often forget to put on seatbelts. They fail to estimate the damage that an ignored ‘dislike’ can entail or the customer confidence that a prompt response can instill. Tackling customer affection is no more the cherry on top the cake but the dough itself; if you aren’t cooking it the affective way, well, you aren’t cooking at all!

~Moupiya Niyogi

MBA, Batch of 2012

DoMS, IIT Madras

To let Loose is to Lose

It kind of amuses me sometimes, when very sensible people say something very insensible. I am not saying that I am always sensible, but the problem is I never APPRECIATE that I am being insensible. It takes one different soul to appreciate the fact that one is being insensible. Ha ha… confusing is it?? Same here.

I will now share why am I amused, a few days ago I was witnessing an event, teams from various colleges participated in that event and the team which eventually won the competition had caught my attention. This team was suggesting things like “increase your profit” to a dying company, for heaven’s sakes everyone knows if the company is able to pull up profits it will be out of the glitch. Similarly that team said very proudly “First suggestion – Eradicate Corruption”, at this instant I shook my head in horror and murmured ‘TEAM!!! You were supposed to come up with an idea to do so”. I was pretty sure that this team would be grilled by the judges, but as I have already mentioned, the team won the FIRST prize.

People have a very narrow perspective, in fact people IDEALISE things too much and too quickly. . That team said so many IDEAL things that their whole idea became IDEAL. People are either too content with the status quo or too disgruntled because of the status-quo, but in both the cases they don’t do anything to change the status-quo; the status quo remains status quo.

Similar tales I get to hear from Marketing side also. Consider Apple and Macintosh vs the rest of the computer companies. Everyone knew and said that they need to revolutionize the PC industry; millions of dollars were pumped into market analysis and research to find some solution to this stumbling issue. We are talking about circa 1995 (I think its apt to use that terminology, given the pace of development in PC industry) Computer companies tried from one thing to the other, they kept selling Personal Computers but never thought of personalising them until, Mr. Steve Jobs came out with translucent Macintosh computers, if I am not wrong it was iMac G3 the “Bondi Blue”- Colours, Customization and Performance. Computer was no more a white coloured geek asset kept in your home, on the contrary it had a dash of colour and of life; in fact it had a fashion statement in it.

I would love to see someone who is in love with a marketing book to analyse this situation. Such a guy would definitely say Mr. Jobs fulfilled the NEED of customer rather than the WANT. Alas, my take is different, what was provided by Macintosh can be categorised into two sections, it was either sheer excellence or it was a pure gamble, they played some dice and things BINGOED. Macintosh didn’t invest money in some research on marketing, it was a simple case of differentiating, the computer was out of the room now, and it literally came into the garden. People wanted others to look at their computer, they wanted to flaunt it.

That was the tale of Macintosh, now everyone!!! I want you to visualize a scenario. You went to a doctor; he diagnosed you, recommended some pills and asked you to leave. When you were about to leave the doctor, if he said “you can take the pill anytime of the day”, what does that prescription mean? On the surface, this appears to be a very ‘easy to follow’ command, but in reality it’s not. I’ll try to elaborate this condition in terms of marketing, the patient knows what he wants, why he wants, in fact he has the product in hand but still he is not sure WHEN to have it because he has an open-ended choice ‘an infinite choice loop’. The patient will be confused  when exactly to take the pill.

Another similar trivial condition cropped up at the windows support service, I don’t exactly remember the date and context right now. The problem was with a simple message of ‘press any key’- they had a message which asked the used to press ANY key to continue, the caller was confused to last bit and called in to ask where the ANY key is situated on the keyboard. I don’t know if it was because of this incident or some other feedback, windows changed the message to ‘press Return key’.

‘Taking pill anytime’ and ‘press any key’ gave a trivial choice to the customer so much that it became too difficult to take decision.

I want to bring up this issue of infinite choice loop. When Macintosh came out with some colours in their computers, basically it was an act narrowing down of that infinite space. My editor wants me elaborate this point, so here I do that. Put yourself in the era when only white coloured computers were available in the market. you owned a computer, it works fine for you but somewhere in your mind the WANT of having something flashy is cropping, now ask yourself an honest question, if given a chance which coloured computer would look best. Try not to get influenced by the Mac that you might have seen, try to be rational and think as if you have never seen a coloured computer in your life. Ask the same question to your friends. I know one would laugh at this question because everyone knows coloured computer do look nice, but in a state of absence of those the same choice in near impossible to make.

It’s not only the consumers who get confused by the choice phenomenon even marketers gets baffled by such issues and end up doing perfectly insensible things. When Dell was implementing its pioneer business model in the USA, European marketers were baffled by the choice that Dell was giving. More so they (who are the they here?)were baffled by the amount of choice that THEY themselves can give, it was an infinite choice loop for them as well. The European market is different from the US market, they could not have possibly copied the model of Dell just like that; they needed some tweaking to do for the European Market. This little Ideation was absent. In this event they got confused to an extent that they declared that the model cannot be implemented in the European market. They (who are the they here?)waited for Dell to come there and fail so that there point can be proved indirectly. What happened in the European market with Dell, everyone knows about that. Dell had to tweak their Choice set to suit the varied European market, that’s it, period.

I have found Dell and Apple/Macintosh to be leaders among those organisations who have repeatedly given and maintained choices to customers. On a serious note, one should not take the examples of Dell and Apple/Macintosh as they come. Consider a scenario Macintosh had come out with pink/red computers but no one bought them, Macintosh would have gone into the annals of history as the company that tried to sell PINK computers. What if Dell’s model would have failed, the so called Lords of Finance would have died of amusement, so much effort and money went into the model and it returned nothing but dejection. Consider the example of classic coke rebranding, Sergio Zyman, no matter how many books he may write, he is still known for the branding HORROR he committed, what if that rebranding was successful, he would have been GOD of Branding.

~marketing is all about trials and failures until you stop getting failures~

One has to keep enjoying doing that.

~ Saad Bin Hamid

MBA, Batch of 2012

DoMS, IIT Madras

Timeless Beauties

“Buland bharat ki buland tasveer….Hamara Bajaj!”

“Maan gaye….aap ki paar ki nazar aur nirma super…dono ko!”

“Namak ho Tata ka, Tata namak!”

“Jo biwi se karein pyaar, woh Prestige se kaise karein inkaar!”

“Mango Frooti…Fresh n Juicy!”

“Vicco turmeric, nahi cosmetic, vicco turmeric ayurvedic cream!”

“Khujli karne waale! B-Tex lagaa le! B-Tex lagaake tu apni (aa aa aa) Daad, khaaj khujli mitale Oye Oye!”

And yes, my personal favorite: “Dhudh..dhudh..dhudh..dhudh…Wonderful dhudh!”

Though I hated drinking milk and never got the affection towards the product but it was an awesome ad. These and many more advertisements can be called as the “Timeless Beauties”- the classic ones in Indian ad industry. You and I may not be the experts in advertising but as customers, we are very important. Companies playing with their products in various market segments have to focus on us. 🙂

They can’t live without our attention. 🙂 Although, many products don’t even exist anymore but their tag lines, jingles, storyboards are still there on the top of our minds. We still recall them every now and then. At least I know many crazy heads using jingles from these classic ads. There are many who were converted into ringtones too. Remember Nirma super and Zandu balm’s ringtones.

And that’s how brands get created. That’s the power of media. That’s the power of advertisements. They help the brand name, they help the product, and they are liked and recalled by almost all of us, even after so many years.

Over the last few years, I have seen many ads which didn’t make any sense. The story, the content was in no way related to the product. After seeing the ad, one couldn’t even figure out what they want to say.

Yet some created history amidst this clutter where possibly everything just fell into the right place at the right time for these classic ads but is it so? I am sure the makers of each of these ads have lots of stories to say: how they pulled out their hair while shooting them, or how the creative team ate each others’ brains to come up with one single line, or how the technology failed them at times. But, they managed the best show because they probably just kept it simple!

The bottom line for all the ads always remain the same: they need to be persuasive, likeable, memorable, easily recalled and must have a focus on the content. It should tell the viewer what the product is all about and persuade him/her to try it. One can make huge big budget ads or simple low budget ones. One always needs to remember: if a customer doesn’t understand your ad, then always blame the ad and not the understanding level of the customer.

The money spent on an ad not always makes it a success but the content of the ad and how it is being put forward always does!

~ Shikha Doherey

Batch of 2012

MBA, DoMS IIT Madras

You can take the custoMEr out of Me but you cannot take the ME out of customer..

Do I sound obsessed with the words ‘customer’ and ‘me’? None but my mentor is to blame! 😉 In one of our conversation about social media he brought up ‘CustoMEr’…No, it’s not a typo but customer with a capital ME. Sounds geeky, does it? As you proceed reading this blog, I am sure you would find out there’s no differentio-integral calculus or any rocket-science here. It’s all about realizing that ‘There’s a little bit of ME in every customer’s life.’

 

Let’s get back to where this discussion started- the Social Media. The entire web-space is all about ME! And Social media is so potent because that’s a platform where the ME of every individual gets a dice to voice opinion, to share ideas, caution others of one’s mistake and learn from others’; where an individual is a user-id, a status message, a face behind that ‘green light’; anything but an anonymous member of a herd. Social networks thrive because they give a voice to an id, humane opinion to a silent profile; an identity to an Internet page. Each of this individually and/or combined form the ME I have been referring time and again. My friend-list, my communities, my tweets; it’s all about ME honey! 😉

custoMEr era

Social Media is the boldest manifestation of customerization however seeds of custoMErization were planted the day mass production was burnt on a pyre; when a generic and bland black led to a rainbow of customer choice/options. Even Sachetization is a milestone in the journey of custoMErization when manufacturers had to do away with ‘one-size fits all’ approach and break their offerings quantified to varied requirements. Convergence or bundling of products/services as per consumer’s requirement is another illustration of ME taking market dynamics by storm. It has arrived and arrived with a thunder. Now the size of the cake has to be modified as per individual’s bite!

 

Marketing constitution now draws from major political constitutions in terms of ‘freedom of expression‘. A company’s success is determined not only by sales figure but its ability to engage its customers. It depends on well is a corporate listening to its customers; how well is it catering to the ME of each custoMEr. This ME factor is now embedded intricately with any customer. In short you can take the customer out of ME but you cannot take the ME out of custoMEr. So Happy CustoMErization people! 🙂

~ Moupiya Niyogi

Batch of 2012

MBA, DoMS IIT Madras

(UN)BRANDED (UN)ORGANISED

(Un)organized retail

Look at this picture carefully. What does it remind you apart from a sunny summer afternoon? The setting looks mundane but I learnt a very important marketing lesson which is best captured in this picture.

We often tend to dismiss everything which is not packed or branded as an offering from “unorganised” sector. This market which includes sherbets, freshly crushed juices, ready to serve fruit based drinks, regional and traditional drinks together form a big threat to the giants we know as Coca cola and Pepsi. The Goliath here could be making a costly mistake in ignoring this David which they prefer calling “unorganised”.

A closer look at this picture will help us understand the business Model. The shopkeeper has made sure that anyone who enters the shop finds something for him/her self. The offering includes tea, mineral water, soft drinks fruit based packed beverages in addition to own offering of fresh juices. We might have read and discussed the classic “Marketing Myopia” threadbare in our B-schools, but these are the real practitioners of that framework. The shop goes beyond a fresh juice shop and offers everything which anyone can demand. He definitely runs his business in a more organised way.

Let us go a layer further into his business model. He smartly uses the “push” and “pull” concepts of marketing without ever having read a page of the Marketing Guru –Shri Shri Philip Kotler.He pushes his own offering of fresh juices as the prime product for 2 reasons. First that is his core business and second that it offers a sales margin no packed, branded product can ever give. Add to it the constraint that the fresh fruits are perishable and have a shorter shelf life.

A fruit based beverage can be broadly classified as a thirst quencher, an instant refresher, a healthy nutritive drink. More often than not, the purchase process is a “low involvement process” or an instant decision. Another interesting observation in this purchase process is that the occasion plays a major role in selecting the appropriate drink. For instance, a person would prefer a glass of freshly crushed juice after morning exercise, a packed juice along with breakfast, tea in office, carbonated drinks at lunch and a cola drink with friends at a fast food corner.

Another equally important factor is the easy availability of the desired beverage at the right time. For instance, a person gets used to having a particular beverage at a particular time not only because he precisely wants it but perhaps because that is what is available. At the same time, there are beverages like Tea which has a very strong association with the daily schedule of individuals. For instance, it is very difficult to substitute the early morning tea or an evening tea.

Convenience to buy, to drink, to serve and to carry is another set of factors which cannot be overlooked. In fact, this factor is one of the drivers of the constant innovation in the packaging of beverages.

Let us now go back to our fresh fruit juice corner to understand how does he take care of this complex matrix of the variables influencing the buying behaviour .He keeps the branded beverages to add his portfolio and hedge the risks. But as far as sales are concerned, he is least bothered about the targets of the respective Area Sales Manager. He leaves the sales to the “pull” of the individual brands and the efforts of the Sales team of the individual products. Banking on these shop owners’ initiatives to drive sales of these so called “organised” branded products to achieve the Sales targets will be a costly mistake a novice is likely to make at the operational level

But a bigger mistake at the strategic level would be to dismiss these players as “unorganised” just because we cannot see them as a single competitor brand. Let us not forget that they thrive because they are relevant to the customers and offer something which is still not substitutable by the so called organised, branded offerings.

At the outset of my career as a business professional, I’ve started correcting the mistake by calling them “traditional” or “unbranded” products rather than “unorganised”.

~ Vivek Mani

Batch of 2011

MBA, DoMS IIT Madras