Marketing Idea No. 64 – Your customers can be your new distribution channel

In the mass customization and word of mouth dominant era, this might be a very very relevant idea – why not use customers as a distribution channel?

Its a simple 3 step process

1. Create some fantastic, customized product for some opinion leaders, catering to their indivisual tastes.

2. Since you have gone to such great length to make those products according to their personal taste, these opinion leaders turned customers will work as your brand champion. They will proudly flaunt your product to others who dont have your product simply because – they have the product and the others dont (Since its custom made)

3. After the flaunting stage, send some of your products to them and ask them if they would like to sell them to potential new customers. Those customers will be eager to do so for two reasons – they will like to enjoy the power of selling some “Wow” products to people who dont have access to the products to enforce their influence and also because they will like to reinforce their position as opinion leaders of the society.

However, to make this distribution channel work, the product has to be a “glamour” product of some sort and there should be scope for customization.

Marketing Idea No. 63 – Reality Bites. So escape.

There has always been a long drawn debate whether we like to see what we want to see or would we like to see reality as it is. Some of the analysis is very interesting.

1. The ever popular saans-bohu saga in the hindi serials are a huge crowd puller among the female audience. Take a look and you will see how far from reality certain things are that are portrayed there. Consider the fact that almost everyone is gorgeus and always dressed to kill. Consider the fact that they are always tense and overly melodramatic. And consider the fact that they will do anything to increase ratings!

2. I cant seem to get enough of the Hindi media scene. How about the indian films consisting of 5-8 songs where the lead actors and actresses actually lip sing and dance. The fact that we see this scene from the moment we laid our eyes on our VCR since 80s does not stop me asking the question, “Does this reflect reality? Does anyone anywhere in the world sing and dance like that?”  

3. Enough Bollywood bonanza, how about a bite out of the Hollywood? For the last 8 years or so, CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) is one of the top TV series in USA, finishing as the number 1 series quite a few times. What this series shows is a group of talented CSI detectives who not only derive clues out of crime scenes, but also interrogate the suspects, make arrests, and steal the entire limelight. But anyone who has some clue about police business will know that CSI people are responsible for crime scene analysis only and they work behind the scene – let alone kicking down suspects doors.

4. Now the biggest joke of them all. When we see Shahrukh Khan and John Abraham asking us to drink Pepsi, use All Clear and ride Alto – some of us actually believe they are saying so because they feel good about the product or actually use the product out of their own free will! Need i elaborate more?

So here’s the bottom line for the marketers – people dont always like reality. In fact given the option, people will escape reality more often than not and live in fantasy worlds. That is why when we are designing our brand strategy – reality needs to be balanced with like-ability and aspiration.

So dont show the mother of two his family all the time. Show her in the back of a luxury car. That just might make her like your brand more.

Marketing Idea No. 62 – Colorful packages for pharmaceutical drugs

This idea is contributed by Rizwana Tasneem 

For years, prescription drug boxes have traditionally been white. Crowded pharmacy dispensaries are often a sea of white, which makes it difficult to distinguish between different medicines, strengths, and quantities. 

Our local Pharmaceutical companies can tap into this opportunity by adopting a new color-coded packaging system, designed to reduce the possibility of dispensing errors.

A bold yet simple color system would enable pharmacists to quickly distinguish between various drugs. This color code would visually instruct the pharmacists before they even read the text on each box. A strak two-color system would use one color for the box, with a single stripe in a different colour to denote the strength.

This packaging system would have simplicity, quick restocking potential, and enhanced safety.

Marketing Idea No. 61 – Small package options for Family 2.0

One of the great flaws of marketing is its tendency to stereotype. In the name of mass marketing, we create and indulge in the assumption that a huge group of people basically think and react to same stimuli alike. But if one has some practical knowledge about direct selling and research, then he can point it out that its hardly the case.  

Take for example, the notion of having a family package. For the typical FMCG company the family package will cater to a family of at least 3 (Male, female, child). For the typical real estate developer, the target family comprises of at least 4 ( Hence we have the 3 bedroom flats in abundance). Any middle income newly wed couple will second my idea about how difficult it is to rent a flat within their limited means. Reason? We still think about the extended family of the 80s when our parents used to believe that “cheley hok, meye hok, duty sontan e jotheshto”. But the more relevant question might be is that what this generation believe? 

But how about the family of 2? Why cant there be products or packaging options that will cater to the need of two – be it the newly weds or comprising of 1 career woman + 1 supportive husband? Why cant there be 1 bedroom appartments focusing on this target group only? Why cant there be mini-family packages of noodles rather than having one BIG one for the extended family?

Why cant we think niche or think outside the conventional?

The questions linger. And for now, it is safe to assume that the marketer who is obsessed with the stereotypical definitions of “family packs”, will miss the bus. The definition of family has changed from the grandparents era to the mom-pop era. And another shift is only a matter of time.  

Marketing Idea No. 60 – Why we confuse marketing with sales

Its a sad scenario. In our country all of the companies have marketing department, but the sole responsibility of almost all of the employees of these departments is selling. Here is a classic case of confusing marketing with selling.

To get the record straight, marketing and selling are not synonimous. Running the risk of incurring the wrath of American Marketing Association, i would like to define the distinction between marketing and selling in the following ways. (These definitions are influenced by similar definitions of Mark Goulston.)

1. Marketing is compelling your customers to come and buy your product

2. Selling is convincing your prospect to buy it

Put in another way

1. Marketing is about creating or aligning the demand / needs of customers with the product

2. Selling is about aligning the product with the customer needs.

Hopefully this will clear up the confusion.

Marketing idea no. 59 – Why defining target audience is a must do

One very difficult question that brand managers have to answer often is, “If your target market is so specifically defined, then how can you actually make profit by selling to a few people?”.

The obvious wayout for most business owners is the ancient formula – appeal to mass people, use mass media and sell to whoever you can.

But one big problem – a brand that appeals to everybody does not really appeal to anybody. Therefore in the long run the brand customer will never be a brand champion or a brand loyal.

Then again the questions haunts back – if my brand appeals to a limited niche, wouldnt it hurt my bottomline? Why cant i sell to everybody, even if he is not in my target audience?

The simple formula to follow is – who you target and who you really sell are two different things. Lets explain it through a very simple example.

1. Nike will always target the young sports enthusiast with a tendency for rebellion. Thats Nike’s target audience.

2. But Nike will not only sell to “young sports enthusiast with a tendency for rebellion”. He will sell to just about anybody who wants to be a “young sports enthusiast with a tendency for rebellion”. That person can be 55 or 80, doesnt matter. So no matter how narrowly you define your TA, you can always sell more. In fact you will always sell outside your TA. But your brand should not try to appeal to everybody.

So the role of a brand is to ALWAYS appeal and be relevant to the target audience only. And that audience needs to be as specifically defined as possible. But that does not mean sales will not come from outside that audience.

Marketing Idea No. 58 – Does product placement work?

This idea is contributed by Rizwana Tasneem

Many advertsiers would like to know the answers to the following questions: Does product placements work? If so, why? If not, why not? If a person sees a movie character sipping Starbucks coffee, will s/he go out and get one? If they see a Survivor contestant gulping down Mountain Dew, will they be inclined to do the same?

Here are some reasons why product placement works:-

1. You can’t veto it out: because it’s part of the actual entertainment

2. It’s not interruptive: viewers aren’t annoyed because their favourite T.V programs are not interrupted and they do not have to wait to go back to what they really wanna watch- the TV show or movie

3. It’s almost like a celebrity endorsement: the viewers think that if these famous people are using it, then they must like it and it must be good

4.The message is subliminal so the filters in our brain that normally weeds out advertising messages don’t step in to block the message. It seeps into our subconscious

Here are some reasons why product placement doesn’t work:-

1. Consumers are not stupid: they know that these brands are paying big bucks to have their products “placed” into the entertainment. They are skeptical and do not buy whatever message the advertiser is trying to get across

2. Consumers feel manipulated: They think that this type of “advertising”is sleazy because it’s not honest. At least in a commercial, the advertiser admits that it’s an ad. However, with product placement, the consumers feel that the advertisre is trying to “put one over” on the consumer.

3. Diminishing ROI: product placement costs are skyrocketing and it’s extremely difficult to measure the effect. So, many advertsiers are thinking whether it’s worth it or not

So, whether product placement works or not, or whether it’s ethical or not is still debatable.