Its the close of another year 2013. And looking back, I can definitely say that Marketing is increasingly becoming a very important function across the globe – Be it books, schools, services, organizations, individuals, social media, e-commerce, consumer goods, etc etc etc – You name it , and there are ample examples of how marketing made all the DIFFERENCE! And organizations are cognizant of it! And with that, the role of the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) is increasingly becoming more important and powerful!
But then there’s the other side of the coin. The one in which as a marketing professional – I can’t help but rant about the constant pressures, advice and suggestions on cutting marketing costs year-on-year!
Don’t get me wrong! Let me make my point with a few examples of situations which most marketing professionals typically face:
Scenario 1 – Its start of the year. The time when everyone in an organization does a grand budgeting exercise. And most marketing teams work on their plans and budgets for the year. In most instances, only a partial marketing budget approval in received ; And that too 1 – 2 months into the year (So precious time is lost!). After all, time is money; and since most marketing teams are lean – This “lost time” significantly adds up to “loss of productive and tangible output”
And then when any marketing expense is to be accounted, it needs “management approval” – which involves putting up a business case, and providing explanation of Why? – What? – How?. And then comes the “approval” / “questions” / “rejection” – Again, usually delayed (So precious time lost again). All the precious time lost in waiting for approvals is completely unaccounted!
Scenario 2 – Everyone wants to go Social. Everyone wants to have a grand social media presence. Everyone wants to drive customer engagement on Social media. And they expect the current marketing teams (In most cases – who have limited / no knowledge on Social Media) to make Social a success, with limited / no additional budgets at all. Does the math add up? Of course, NOT!
Social Media is a different “Beauty and Beast” – As you want to call it! And the beauty needs to be enhanced, and the beast needs to be tamed. And that’s not the core skill of every marketer – especially if what you do on Social is “real-time” and has “global reach and impact”. So the best way to do Social is to hire consultants to guide you on how to do it OR hire experts to do it for you OR Go slow on the Social strategy. Expecting current marketing teams who don’t understand Social to define a “brilliant Social Media strategy” for your organization may not in your organization’s best interests! And then, investing in the right Social Media tools also come at a price.
Whatever you pick – It comes with good & bad – Be cognizant of this!
So coming back to why I started this post - The point is increasingly a significant majority of individuals and enterprises want to “cut down” on “marketing costs“. Some of the most common explanation is – “Go online“, “Go social“, “Go lean“
yes Sir, yes Madam -
We can look at cutting costs,
We can go online,
We can go social,
We can go lean,
But they will still cost us – in terms of minds and time (people) and tools and technology (hardware and software)
And they will come at a price – in terms of gains and losses – of customers and brand-value
Are you willing to pick up the costs?
Are you willing to pay the price?
And yeah! Till then Do you want to consider calling your CMO – Cheap Marketing Officer instead?
“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
“Ethical Marketing” – I came across this word a while back, and somehow it stayed in my mind… I mean let’s for a minute step back and look at the meaning of the two words in question:
“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” BY Americal Marketing Association (AMA) Board of Directors
“The science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit. Marketing identifies unfulfilled needs and desires. It defines, measures and quantifies the size of the identified market and the profit potential. It pinpoints which segments the company is capable of serving best and it designs and promotes the appropriate products and services.” BY Dr.Philip Kotler
“The action or business of promoting and selling products or services.”
Moral principles that govern a person’s or group’s behavior.
The moral correctness of specified conduct.
At first look, isn’t there some element of inherent contradiction in the definitions itself?
I mean the purpose of any Marketing initiative is to lead into a potential sale (And a sale always has a commercial implication!). And hence the aim of any marketing initiative is to highlight the GOOD, and downplay / be silent about the NOT-SO-GOOD!
Now, let’s take a look at the definition of “ETHICAL MARKETING” - According to Wikipedia, “Ethical marketing refers to the application of marketing ethics into the marketing process. Briefly, marketing ethics refers to the philosophical examination, from a moral standpoint, of particular marketing issues that are matters of moral judgment. Ethical marketing generally results in a more socially responsible and culturally sensitive business community. The establishment of marketing ethics has the potential to benefit society as a whole, both in the short- and long-term.”
That’s theoretically RIGHT.. But what about in practice?
Food for Thought
* Are marketers / organizations truly ethical in their marketing initiatives? If not, is it realistically possible?
* What can any organization do to promote and encourage ethical marketing? Will this come at a price?
* What can be done to get more marketers to even think and talk about “ethical marketing”?
* Will ethical marketing reduce / diminish the competitive landscape of an organization?
* Will ethical marketing impact top-line and bottom-line growth of organizations?
What’s your view? 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
Event Participation is an important marketing activity for any organization. The key benefits of participating in any event include:
- Ensuring your organization’s presence in multiple external / relevant forums – This is vital for the company’s brand image
- Business Networking – An opportunity to build new relationships and strengthen existing one’s
- Lead Generation – Identification of prospects to position your service offerings
- An appreciation of industry trends and perspectives from multiple views
- Insights into where your competitors and partners are headed
Many organizations invest significantly in participating in events. However, do they get the real return on their investments? After all, event participation comes at a price – both in terms of the event participation fee and absence from work for the identified attendees. If you / your organization are participating in an event, do keep in mind the following:
1) Objective of Event Participation – It is important to have clearly defined objectives of why you / your organization are participating in an event. Whatever be the objective, it is vital that this is explicitly communicated to the team attending the event and to the management who is approving the budgets for event participation. For e.g.: If you are participating in a Marketing Conference, then the primary objective for an organization could be to understand how to effectively utilize modern marketing platforms and social media as a part of your organization’s marketing strategy. On the other hand if you are a participant at Technology Product Event, your objective could be to understand the new offerings from the product vendor, build / enhance networks with peers / partners / customers & analysts and lead generation. While some of these objectives cannot be really quantified and measured, for other’s it is worthwhile to set an explicit target. For e.g.: Speak to at least 3 direct competitor’s to gain insights into their offerings OR to identify at least 10 qualified potential prospects who would be interested in your service offerings.
2) Selection of the Right Event Attendees – Any organization can get maximum benefit of its event participation if they identify and invest in sending the right individuals / teams to attend an event. For e.g.: If an individual who is playing a Marketing / Techno-Marketing role within an IT organization attends A Marketing event, then he / she will be able to appreciate, contribute and also possibly apply the learning’s from the event.
Also, Soft skills are an extremely important pre-requisite for the choice of an attendee – The key one’s being an ability to effectively communicate (and this really means an ability to be clear and brief in expression. And the pre-requisite for this is clarity in thought), an ability to build new networks with peers & strengthen existing relationships and most importantly, an openness to listen, learn, express and discuss your view-points in a larger forum. Of course, knowledge in the specified area needs no specific mention.
3) Action Plan for the Event – Many events tend to have a combination of speaker sessions, discussions, a networking lunch / dinner, etc. Based on the objective of your participation in an event, it is imperative to distribute the activities among the attendees. An internal discussion before the event is worthwhile as this enables in building a rapport among the attendees, and helps in articulating expectations within the team. A well-thought action plan provides a guideline to attendees on how they should structure their time during the event
4) Post-Event Activities – While there is great enthusiasm and fervor before and during an event, this usually dies down after an event. It is however valuable to invest some time in the following:
- Post-Event Review with the attendees and management to assess the success with respect to the stated objectives
- Consolidation of Event related materials in a common space which is a good reference for the future
- Knowledge sharing among colleagues / peers / teams on learning’s, insights, trends, interesting observations, data points, etc. One good best practice is to send out an event update communication (could be a simple mail) providing event highlights and key take-away’s
- Continue to maintain relationships with the event organizers, peers, analysts, customers, etc. This is vital for both professional and personal growth
5) Lead Conversion for the identified prospects - Very focused efforts are required to qualify the list of potential prospects. A set of 5 – 10 criteria can be used for qualification. For e.g.: Level of interest in your services, budget availability, historical spend-trend patterns, alignment of your offerings with customer’s requirements, etc. Once the qualification is complete, a discussion with the potential prospect is the next logical step to plan the way forward based on the customer’s need, priorities and interest.
What do you keep in mind before your participate in an event? Leave a comment to let me know