Category Archives: Branding
“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.” BY Milan Kundera
“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” BY Peter F. Drucker
“It is all about marketing; that is where the real craft comes in. The best actors do not necessarily become the biggest stars. And vice versa.” BY Dirk Benedict
“If you have more money than brains you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing.” BY Guy Kawasaki
“Marketing takes a day to learn. Unfortunately it takes a lifetime to master.” BY Phil Kolter
“Give people what they want and they will like you for now. Give people what they need and they will value you forever.” BY Simon Sinek
“The sole purpose of marketing is to sell more to more people, more often and at higher prices. There is no other reason to do it.” BY S Zyman
“What really decides consumers to buy or not to buy is the content of your advertising, not its form.” BY David Ogilvy
Whats your favorite quote on Marketing? Leave a comment to let me know
In a recent discussion among fellow-marketers, there was a debate around getting the Online : Offline Marketing Mix right…
Some said “Online : Offline Marketing Mix should be 100 : 0″
Some said “Online : Offline Marketing Mix should be 80 : 20″
Some said “Online : Offline Marketing Mix should be 60 : 40″
Some said “Online : Offline Marketing Mix should be 50 : 50″
And it ended there. No one suggested that the Offline Marketing should exceed the Online Marketing…
After the discussion, I was mulling over this.. I mean in theory, we can all argue about the right Online : Offline marketing mix – And come up with very scientific, logical, analytical and data-driven explanations for our argument – And rightly SO!
Whatever one is trying to market – Books, Blogs, Products, Services, People, Organizations, Brands, etc.
Have we reached the level of maturity where the Online Marketing should be at the very least the same as the Offline Marketing mix?
Here’s my view – The Online : Offline Marketing Mix would typically be based on:
(1) Where you’re existing / potential customer’s are? At the end of the day, the purpose of marketing is to reach your existing / potential customer to trigger a potential sale. And the mantra for marketing success is to reach and connect and communicate with your customers.But firstly, do you know who you’re customer is? If no, then find out!
If you’re customer is going to be more receptive in the online world, then do marketing online.
If you’re customer is going to be more receptive in the offline world, then do marketing offline.
Take-away => Know who your customer is. Go where you’re customers are. Online : Offline Marketing mix is incidental
(2) Your industry ecosystem Every industry has certain dimensions which are unique to it, and create a distinct ecosystem. For e.g: The way you market agricultural machinery is very different from the way you market a book is very different from the way you market an IT service. And the online : offline marketing mix will be influenced by the industry ecosystem. Sure, you can innovate and leverage best practice from other industries, but the core of how in industry functions takes decades to change. So ensure you’re marketing strategy is aligned accordingly
Take-away => Align you Online : Offline Marketing mix in line with the industry ecosystem
(3) Your brand-image Every product / service has a brand. And a brand is really a “perception in the minds of your customer”. One of the factors that influences your online : offline marketing mix is your brand image. For e.g: When I was consulting a high-end designer fashion label, the designer mentioned that she DID NOT want to do too much online marketing as it could negatively impact her brand image. She had her reasons based on her clientele – And rightly so! So we devised a marketing strategy which had significantly offline marketing, and she continues to do well today!
Take-away => Brand-image is important, personal and subjective. Ensure your Online : Offline Marketing mix is in line with your current brand image, and the brand image you want to create for the future
(4) Your marketing objective Last and most importantly, what is the specific marketing objective you are working towards? Is it awareness? Is it customer engagement? Is it sales? Is it brand re-enforcement? Is it re-positioning?.. Whatever it is, your online : offline marketing mix should be aligned with this objective.
Take-away => Your Online : Offline Marketing mix should be in line with your marketing objective
In my view, there is no one and right answer. It depends on what you’re marketing objective is.
What do you think? Leave a comment to let me know
Over the recent past, I have been surprised to find a great deal of marketing material in public toilets (in malls, at the movies, etc.) – Initially, I was surprised to even find posters, banners, even audio clips, etc. in public toilets. From soaps to laptops to clothes to footwear to exciting deals – They were all there! Initially I was surprised. But as I observed more consciously over the past few weeks, I recognized that it was intentional, and also probably a BRILLIANT MARKETING STRATEGY!
Here’s why? – The Number 1 Challenge of MOST MARKETERS today is to get “CUSTOMER ATTENTION” to what you have to say… Simply because (1) Everyone has so little time; and (2) There are just so many options for any customer.. – So how do you get “customer attention” to what you want to say.
As I think logically, I guess a public toilet is a great place to get “CUSTOMER ATTENTION” /”AWARENESS” / “INTEREST” to what you have to say. Here’s WHY?
(1) People have time, and their “eyes” (& “ears”) open : A public toilet is one place where many people are usually found waiting, i.e., they generally have time (& no specific agenda or nothing specific to do apart from wait for your turn). And in most instances, you probably don’t really like to indulge in small talk with others. So you find many people idly looking at the walls, mirrors, ceiling, etc.
Now as a MARKETER, if you recognize this window of opportunity (say 30 seconds to 3 minutes) to get customer attention on your product / service, you can use this time effectively
(2) Mobiles are a NO-NO : The other real challenge for most marketers is to get people to look / hear to what they have to say; and mobiles can be the real “villain” in getting customer’s time and attention. (I mean I know of people who call their mobiles their only LOVE in LIFE!).
Here’s the good news for marketers – The “villain” is usually not in the picture in a public toilet. Most people (at least from what I know) usually don’t like to use their mobile phones in the toilets (Again, I personally know of exceptions here, But then there are exceptions to everything in life)
So as a MARKETER, if you recognize this window of opportunity when your target customer is without his / her mobile, you can use this time to create awareness on your product / service
(3) People are usually relaxed : The other challenge for most marketers is to connect with the customer when he / she is probably relaxed / open or in a neutral state of mind (People will more likely to listen or see any marketing material when they are relaxed / less stressed). Most people are usually relaxed after they use a public toilet, and hence are in general in a reasonably “open” state of mind to listen / see what’s around them.
So again as a MARKETER, if you recognize this window of opportunity when your target customer is relaxed, you can leverage this time to generate interest in your product / service
These are the positives; and there are some negatives too
But then it is an opportunity to “connect” with your customer…
So, what’s your view on MARKETING in Public Toilets
Leave a comment to let me know
Over the past decade, technology companies have realized the importance and difference the Marketing function plays in their external brand image.
The success of the Marketing function is directly linked to two important variables:
1) The organizational priority associated with Marketing
2) The individual / team that shoulder’s the Marketing responsibility
Many business leaders are often plagued with the question “What is the right profile for a Senior Marketing Executive in a Technology company?”
The Top 9 Must-Haves for a Senior Marketing Executive in a Technology Company are listed below:
1) Techno – Marketing Knowledge and Experience: A good blend of technology and marketing knowledge and experience is a definite pre-requisite. Pure marketing knowledge & experience can help one plan and strategize great marketing initiatives, but many times fall short in execution as there is a complete dependency on the technology teams. Over a period of time, this will impose severe limitations in what one can achieve. On the other hand pure technology knowledge & experience will impose restrictions in what one can even strategize from a marketing perspective. Hence, a suitable profile could be either one who has worked in a technology role for a few years, then studied Marketing and followed it up with relevant marketing experience OR one who has studied Marketing and then worked in the Marketing function of a technology company & upgraded their technology knowledge along the way. Additionally, if one has worked with a successful Senior Marketing Executive in their careers, there is a great amount of learning that can be amassed.
2) Understanding of the Organization’s Marketing Philosophy: Every organization has a marketing philosophy which in unique to its overall vision, values and offerings. If one is new to an organization / the Marketing role, it is imperative that some time is invested to understand this. Clarity and comprehension on the organization’s marketing philosophy go a long way in ensuring that any marketing initiative is in line with the organization’s overall marketing philosophy.
3) Focused & Objective: While focus and objectivity are essential for any job function, it takes a different meaning for a marketing role. Simply because, many times the Marketing function gets limited time, support and recognition from internal stakeholders. And yet, the marketing outcome is non-negotiable. So it is important that the individual / team is focused and objective on what needs to be achieved by the Marketing Function; & continuously strive towards achieving the same.
4) Leverage New Marketing Platforms: Firstly, this requires awareness on what new / alternate marketing platforms exist & how they can be utilized to achieve the organization’s marketing objectives. Secondly, openness of mind and perspective to effectively leverage these platforms for marketing. For e.g.: Social media. Quiz many Marketing executives on why they embark on certain marketing initiatives, what marketing platforms they usually leverage & what marketing channels they typically operate on; and one will realize that the only reason some of these are being used today is because of legacy, i.e., simply because they were always being done this way for several years. Thirdly, to get the buy-in of internal stakeholders to pioneer these marketing initiatives. And lastly, to successfully roll-out these initiatives.
5) Creative : Creativity is one of the most important elements of marketing. One needs to be creative in thought, creative in expression and creative in resource mobilization. If one is creative, there is no limit to what can be achieved.
6) Networking Skills : To be successful in a marketing function, great networks and relationships are vital – Both inside and outside the organization. Inside the organization, marketing executives needs to build relationships with Internal Marketing Teams, Technology Teams that they are associated with, Business Leaders, Support Functions, etc. Outside the organization, relationships with Customers, Analysts, Third party agencies, Marketing professionals in other organizations, etc. go a long way in what and how much one can achieve. While building the relationships is one side of the coin, maintaining these relationships over a period of time is the other side of the coin. And this requires intent, time and conscious efforts. But definitely, well worth it in the long run.
7) Collaborative : The real world is full of constraints. Constraints in finances, Constraints in resources, Constraints in time, etc. And one of the time tested ways to work around constraints is to collaborate. A marketing executive should successfully collaborate with internal and external teams to achieve the desired marketing objectives.
8) Holistic View of Marketing : Senior marketing executives need to maintain a fine balance between macro and micro issues of marketing. Hence, a holistic view of marketing is essential. There are some aspects of marketing which are based on hard facts, data and numbers. They can be analyzed, critiqued and objectively evaluated. However, there are some aspects of marketing which cannot be measured and quantified. They are soft. They are subjective. They are based on perceptions. And yet they really exist and make a difference. One needs to be cognizant and sensitive to these aspects of marketing and work constructively to maintain a fine equilibrium between the hard and soft aspects.
9) Personal Brand : Last but not the least, marketing executives need to have a personal brand of their own. What this means is a mind of their own, a voice of their own, and a presence of their own – Both in the real world and in the virtual world.
Originally published here
I’ve been part of the IT Services industry for more than a decade now. As a service provider, have been involved in providing different IT services [Consulting, Advisory, Implementation / Development, Marketing, Maintenance and Support - To name a few] to customers across the globe.
On the other hand, I realize that all my life I have also been a Service Consumer [for more than 3 decades now ]. I have consumed all kinds of services – from from education services, to telecom services, to training services, to hospitality services, to tourism services, to luxury services, to healthcare services, to beauty care services, to cleaning services, to security services, to home maintenance services, to postal services, to courier services, to financial services, to transportation services, to dining services, to lifestyle services, to automobile services, to customized personalized services, to plumbing services, to information services, to research services…etc. etc. etc
As a service consumer I ask myself what truly differentiates SUPERIOR Service?
Is it the first customer response?
Is it making an attempt to understand the customer’s explicit and implicit requirements?
Is it the level of customer involvement in the decisions around service delivery?
Is it listening to the Voice of the Customer?
Is it the price of the service?
Is it consistency in service quality?
Is it service quality in line with customer expectations?
Is it communication with your customers? – w.r.t the level of information shared and frequency of communication updates
Is it providing personalized customized services?
Is it honoring your service commitments every single time?
Is it investing, building and nurturing customer-centric relationships?
Is it managing your customer expectations over a period of time?
Let me explain with 2 personal examples of what I consider SUPERIOR Service
A while ago, I had to make personal booking for an international travel. It was the first time I was doing it (Prior to this, it was always taken care of by someone one – Friend, Family or Organization), and so I asked some of my high-flying friends on how to go about it. All of them suggested it is best to go through a Travel Agent, since it is easier to handle travel changes (if any). So, I asked a few contacts for the references of good Travel Agents, and I got a long list. I sent a mail to all of these travel agents with my specific request, and the initial response I received from 3 of them gave me confidence to proceed to the next level [Lesson 1 : Initial Service Response makes all the difference in perception of Service Quality].
Next, I spoke to all 3 of them and short-listed 2 whom I asked for a quote. One of them called me immediately and asked me a lot of pertinent travel related questions (For e.g.: Was it a first time travel? Are there any special requests / conditions that I have? My flexibility of dates?, etc etc). This made a HUGE difference in identifying the right travel itenary [Lesson 2 : Understanding you customer's explicit and implicit requirements goes a long way in the Quality of Service you can render]
After that, the travel agent shared with me 3 travel options in line with my requirements and with the best rates, along with pros and cons of each option. She also took the trouble of following the mail with a call to explain all the important points so that I understood it right [Lesson 3: Involving customer in the decision making process, by providing transparent information goes a long way in gaining customer confidence and trust]
After we agreed on the best travel itenary, she booked my tickets and I had them in my mailbox within a span of 24 hours! Wow! I was mighty impressed with the service, and I definitely consider this a case of outstanding service quality. Not only was I grateful to her for doing such a good idea, I also recommend her to anyone who asks me for a reference [Lesson 4: One positive customer experience can be the origin and source and unlimited future business potential. Value each customer, and give them their due]
The next example that I’m going to share is about my experience with my family dentist. Our association started when he had just started his dental practice way back in the 90’s; and I’ve been going back for the past 2 decades. Back then, and even now – Most people dread a visit to the dentist. Simply because most visits to the dentists do cause physical pain, mental anguish, emotional distress and financial payouts (many times, more than what you’d ever imagine) I mean imagine going through all the torture and then pay for it! Not to mention, that most dentists (at least those I know or have heard of) have a serious, grumpy and unfriendly expression most of the time – Wonder if it’s part of the syllabus in Dental school
In every single visit to the dentist – you can be guaranteed of a few things. One, a warm smile as soon as he sees you, followed by general greetings and pleasantries & he usually remembers your name and little details about your previous conversations [Lesson 5: A genuinely warm and friendly welcome is always welcome – Especially in the Services business, makes a huge difference for the overall customer experience ]
Next every single time, he will ask you for your current ailments and actually listen with attention to every single word you say [Lesson 6: Listening to the Voice of the Customer usually goes a long way in providing the right customized service. And providing customized services is one of the key contributing factors for superior service]
Further, he always explains to you what he intends to go with your teeth, which teeth and also provides general information on the amount of pain that you could possibly experience [Lesson 7: Explaining how you intend to solve the customer problem / pain-area makes an ocean of difference in customer confidence, gaining customer trust and a positive customer experience]
Last but not least, he always provides a personalized pricing for every service – something which is proprietary to his services, and I also find the pricing competitive [Lesson 8: The price does make a difference for any service, and price is usually seen in conjunction with the overall service experience, not just the service itself ]
So what’s your view? What truly differentiates SUPERIOR service? Leave a comment to let me know
As a parent, the last few months have involved running around schools (20+ schools in all) for my child’s school admission. The whole experience has had its share of highs and lows, ups and downs, disappointments and highlights, surprises and shocks, observations and lessons learned – In terms of my baby’s performance, In terms of our own performance as parents and of course in terms of the changing face of schools and educational institutes!
But the entire experience also made me realize that Marketing is such an important and integral element of a school. After all, From a school’s perspective – How well you market your school determines how many parents admit their kids into your school, and that adds to your top-line. After all, all schools / educational institutes are commercial enterprises at the end of the day!
In this post, I am sharing some observations, lessons and learning’s from my personal experiences:
* Marketing Initiatives from schools appear to depend on the following parameters:
(1) How old / new the school is? for e.g.: Newer schools are more aggressive in marketing and promotion (You can see them everywhere especially during the Admission Season – On posters, banners, newspapers, flyers, etc. etc.). The older / more established schools rely mostly on the powerful word-of-mouth referrals which get them new students every year
(2) The Brand Image the school has. for e.g.: Is it positioned as an elite school for elitist society? Is it a school for the middle-class parents? Does it have a legacy / great achievement to boast of? Does it have an alumni which have done the school proud? – A lot of the marketing collateral and positioning is usually centered around this!
(3) Marketing Budget which the school is willing to invest – which is a function of the owners / trust / management of the school, and their “mind-set” / views on the importance of marketing
* Almost all schools (old / new) have “beautiful-looking” web-sites. I must say some them were really impressive, in terms of their philosophy, visuals, achievements and the user experience. And most of the web-sites have such wonderfully written text. And trust me, if I share the “text only” version of these web-sites, you can never say which text belongs to which school. So much for differentiation!
The other observation I made (rather sad to state this) is that if you see the web-site and then visit the school, you will be in for a complete shock because of the disconnect in how the schools position themselves on their web-site, and what they actually are! So much for initial disappointment!
* The newer schools focus and market way too much on infrastructure, modern facilities, and very “materialistic parameters“. Should there not be more focus and rigor on “education” in ways it matters to an individual and society at large?
* The “front-end staff” (those interacting with prospective parents) were always smiling, nice and undigestibly sweet (almost as if it were their wedding, and they were posing for photos the whole time) – especially in the newer schools (Read as schools which had more supply than demand). In other schools (Read as schools which had more demand than supply), the “front-end staff” were rude, indifferent and cold in their interactions with prospective parents (probably there’s no better way to deal with infinite demand and the same questions day-in and day-out)
* Most schools spoke about “Holistic Education” and the emphasis on Studies and overall student development. It’s good to see the emphasis on academics; as well as overall child development – And I do hope that schools focus on both aspects in the “right spirit”. Though from my interactions, it appeared that “academic rigor and focus” was way down in the priority list for many schools! In my view, “academic rigor and focus” should be one of the top priorities for any school. I mean “How many parents send their children to schools with the primary aim of getting them to ride a horse? or play golf? or getting them to sit an an A/C environment the whole day?”
* Surprisingly, not a single school I visited ever spoke of a subject called “Moral Science”. When I was a student, Moral Science was a mandatory subject everyday for 30 minutes – From 1st standard to 10th standard. In today’s day and age, would it not help to touch and discuss topics / subjects dealing with moral values and have it integral to the school curriculum?
Just my thoughts, what do you think? Leave a comment to let me know
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. BY Steve Jobs
The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. BY Albert Einstein
Creativity is a great motivator because it makes people interested in what they are doing. Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea. Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting. BY Edward de Bono
The chief enemy of creativity is “good sense” BY Pablo Picasso
Creativity is merely a plus name for regular activity. Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better. BY John Updike
Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun. BY Mary Lou Cook
Creativity defeats complication with simplicity, overcomes fear with empowerment, and discovers order by achieving balance. BY Michael Rawls
Yesterday (14 May 2013), I had the opportunity to conduct a session on “Corporate Innovation” to a diverse audience (3 to 10+ years experience). It was an interesting, and interactive session. The one strong view which was echoed from the participants was that there is VERY LITTLE INNOVATION happening at the ground level within most organizations!
Sharing below the key messages from my session
Overview to Corporate Innovation
- Innovation has evolved from “Nice to Do” To “Good to Do” to “Must Do”. Innovate to survive
- There is no “universal / standard definition” of Innovation
- Innovation within an organization can happen at any time, at any place and from anyone. Innovation can occur at any level within an organization – from entry level to executive management
- Innovation can be of technology, process, business, delivery methodology, product or user experience
- What the wise have to say about Innovation. To read a set of interesting Innovation Quotes, click here
- Focus of Corporate Innovation is how to “Simplify” / “Solve problems” / “Make things easier and better” / “Improve efficiencies” for internal (employees) and external (customers , partners, suppliers, vendors) stakeholders. Of course, corporate innovation initiatives focus on “Reducing costs” / “Improving Revenues”
* Innovation Life Cycle : Every innovation typically follows a life cycle as depicted below
* Importance of Corporate Innovation
- Getting employees to “Think”, “Learn”, “Reflect”, “Experience”, “Comprehend” and “Apply” : Build a culture of innovation
- Key Differentiator ; Competitive Advantage in the market
- Additional “Revenue Potential” ; Non-Linearity
- Better Customer Engagement
- Market Positioning & Thought Leadership
* Lessons from my Corporate Innovation Journey
- There are three distinct phases in the Innovation Life Cycle and each requires a different mind set
- Your idea need not be unique; How you position your innovation makes all the difference
- The Business Plan is just a baseline plan
- When you start the GTM [Go-To-Market] activities can make all the difference
- The first customer is the most crucial in your journey to success
- Corporate Innovation should be a priority from the top
- Internal communication and collaboration is critical to succeed
Extracted from paper published in the IIMB Summer Magazine (2012)
I’ve been actively writing (as a part of my post-graduate studies, through my blogs, at work, as a part of publications, etc etc etc ) for the past 5+ years. As I write more, I have also started to read more.. They both go somewhat hand-in-hand.. And as I read more, I am more aware and conscious about the writing styles of different authors; and also my own writing style…
In this post, I have listed down the key factors which may influence one’s writing style – This is purely based on my observations, analysis and inferences!
(1) Your self-confidence
(2) Your view of the world (in general) – Good, Bad, Ugly
(3) Your past – Experiences, Life
(4) Your future outlook of life – Optimistic, Pessimistic
(5) Why do you write? – For yourself or for others
(6) What does “Writing” mean to you?
(7) Your basic personality / nature
(8) Your view on “sharing” – Writing is one form of active sharing
(9) Your educational background
(10) Your language skills (Command on the language) – You can write in any language!
(11) Your age
(12) Your culture
(13) Your upbringing
(14) The writing habits of people you know (friends / family / others)
(15) Your reading habits
(16) The reading habits of people you know (friends / family / others)
(17) Your immediate living environment
(18) Your teachers / mentors – especially during impressionable / vulnerable years
(19) Your inner network – friends / family
(20) Your self-discipline
(21) Your creatvity
(22) Your observation skills
(23) Your imagination skills
(24) The times (era) you were born in
What’s your view? What do you think influences the “writing style” of an individual.. Leave a comment to let me know