Marketing Idea No. 126 – Are you looking at your salesperson’s age?

Here’s one of the reason why your competition’s products are selling better than yours – your sales person’s age!!

Research shows that the closer the age of the salesperson is to the age of the actual customer, the higher the probability of the sale being complete. This shows the massive amount of trust that customers put on the POS personnel.

This throws in another dimension in the already demanding recruiting situation. So are you looking at the age of your sales recruitee from the point of view of a customer? 

Marketing Idea No. 125 – Branding Doctors

While the number of diagnostic centers and hospitals are increasing, confidence on the doctors is taking a nosedive in the country. AMong the care-seekers, the lucky ones are travelling abroad. The unlucky ones are the survivors who have lived to tell a medical horror story, one more harrowing than the other.

Isnt it high time that doctors do some serious soul searching? Branding can do little to improve the actual quality of the doctors. But those who are the good ones stuck in the medical quagmire, here is the solution.

Brand out to stand out.

Its a common practice abroad. Professional service firms regularly advertise and build strong brands. Its a common scenario among lawyers. Considering the country-wide prevalent negative perception about doctors, the ones who really practice the good art of healthcare can differentiate themselves by doing some branding of their own.

Its not such a radical practice at all, considering the fact that almost all of us are always asking for recommendations regarding which doctor to visit. And whenever there is scope for creating some good recommendations, there is scope for word of mouth marketing, hence branding.

So far the only kind of marketing the doctors are interested in are the neon signboards in front of their chamber with the innumerous degrees. By looking at it, is it possible to tell the good ones from the bad ones? But if you are really good, if you have a bunch of happy patients who are really satisfied in your work, why not use these happy patients as a media? Why not facilitate them by helping them spread the word around on beahlf of you? Why not invite them in a social event? Why not keep a database of them, assign someone to regularly call these people and check on their health? Why not create a small demonstrative video advising people in different preventive measures and show this video in different places? Why not create a word of mouth-able slogan and spread it around?

While these are just drops in the vast ocean of activities that doctors can do to position themselves as attractive brands, it does not take away the importance of the fact good doctors are few and far between. And if the good ones come out and brand themselves, it will be beneficial for him as well as the patients who can actively find him through such branding. 

Then maybe, just maybe, we no longer have to suffer in the hands of a bad doctor.

Marketing Idea No. 124 – How to build a big brand through small touches

If we strip it down, building big brands followed a similar path in the past. Its either through fantastic advertisements or through a fantastic innovation.

But if we want to build a big brand today, are these the two roads available to us?

Well, pinpointing the road is one thing. But taking that long stretch and inviting customers to run along with you enthusiastically in the same road is not only difficult, but at times impossible.

Here’s why.

Suppose you take the first road – building big brands through big bucks and big advertising. There are some great obstacles to overcome

A. Customers are turned off by advertising. They filter out what they dont want to hear

B. Media is getting cluttered and fragmented

C. Making fantastic ads is not only difficult to the point of impossible, its also very expensive.

D. Among the Interbrand Top 100 brands, only 1 brand out of 100 has built a new brand through mass media advertising. Only 1. And thats America On Line (AOL) which itself is facing troubled times.

Therefore mass media advertising is not the road for us to build a big brand. Its official. Marlboro Man is going into hiding.

In the same way road 2 is also difficult. Creating fantastic products through innovation is highly expensive and a slow process. It takes years of R&D cost and time – something very few of us can afford.

Now if both advertising and R&D innovation is unavailable to us, what should we do?

The way out is just looking to add layers of value in the peripheral products. These are small additions or upgrades in the product that does not take much R&D cost, just a few idea generating sessions.

Through this kind of additions, you can create small incremental value which will differentiate you from the pack. If you are a candy maker, create a different kind of packaging that does not exist. If you are an airlines, introduce an in-flight entertainment service that will create a customer pull. If you are a radio channel, create programs that are not available in other channels.

None of these small, new things are hard to find. In fact, most of us are brimming with such resourceful ideas. In future, these small ideas will make the difference. Not Big Innovations. Not Big Advertising.

Marketing Idea No. 123 – Contraceptives in a vending machine

Imagine asking for contraceptives in a shop!

Starting from the adolescent days of curious shopping till the grown up years of necessity buys, purchasing contraceptives is never a mean feat. It might feel like just few daring steps and a simple matter of asking for a particular brand, but in reality its one less buy that we could have done with in open public.

For people like us, buying contraceptives from a vending machine can be a welcome relief. Think about it. Wouldnt it be great if you can punch in your desired contraceptives and get it in your hand without the awkward hassle of asking for it in person from a salesman?

Marketing Idea No. 122 – Media Planning in the age of cable channels

In the era of globalization, Satellite TV, cable channels and Harry Potter – does traditional media planning works?

The answer is a tricky “No”.

While multi-national FMCG companies have a history of taking regional ads and dubbing it in our local language, its a trend that will only increase. And quite rightly so. When consumers are exposed to the brand from satellite channels without any budgetary involvement from the local subsidiary, the local brand team can afford to spend that money into on ground activation.

Thats a perfect mix and match situation. The Regional team prepares the TV spots which are shown in cable channels. The TA is exposed to the ad through cable channels and already are aware of the brand. Then the local brand team can spend little or no money in electronic media presence and spend that money to reach “media dark” (People who are not exposed to mass media) people through direct activation.

Any brand with strong global and regional presence can take advantage of this situation. 

Marketing Idea No. 121 – How to reinvent a dying industry

When one partciular industry dies out due to the threat of another industry, the only way out is redefining the boundary of that business and creating a whole new identity for it. By that, this dying industry can reach out to a whole new set of people.

Does industries die? Well why dont we ask that to the circus industry? How about books? is book readership on the way up or down for consecutive years? What about theaters? Are people more willing than ever to go to Bauly roads than ever or is it exactky the opposite?

Thats reality for you. Industries die. The best they can do is accept it, suck it up and like mentioned before, redefine the whole business to create new value.

Here’s a fantastic example.

Cirque du Soleil is one of the biggest name in circus. Created in 1984, this new sensation of circus is steadily increasing its fan base in an era when for entertainment women go to movies, guys go to pubs, and kids cry out for PlayStation. Not to mention that globally, the circus industry is on the decline, haunted by the everincreasing choices of entertainment that lie before us. On a given day, people meet at Starbucks or see a blockbuster film. They dont go to circus.

But Cirque Du Soleil realised that. And thats why they redefined their business, and in that way changed the whole setup of how circus is perceived.

Every Cirque Du Soleil shows has a theme and they broke the boundaries of theater and circus. Their shows were part theater, part circus – but full time entertainment. By differentiating themselves in the following way they appealed to a whole new sets of customers for circus – the adults. Initially circus’s main audience were children. But through this new set of value creation, Cirque Du Soleil broke free of that declining industry, created an uncontested industry of their own and grew its fan base and revenue for 25 steady years.

The same happened to magic. From the medieval Merlin days to the Houdini escape, magic was just magic. But the David Copperfield changed all that. He merged magic with showmanship, illusion with opera / theater / musical…and thus created a whole new extravaganza. Today magicians dont just have to perform their magics, they really have to perform – act, dance, sing, you name it.

In the same vein, wrestling was just wrestling before WWE reinvented wrestling as “Sports Entertainment”. And throw in a few fantastic entertainment performers like The Rock and Steve Austin, and you got yourself a whole new sector of show biz.

In the same way, our dying industries like theater, palagaan, puthy paath, circus…all of them has to reinvent themselves. They will have to blur the boundaries that separates themselves from other popular source of entertainment. If it means we have make PlayStation games with palagaan as the background music than let it be that.

Marketing Idea No. 120 – The power of the “Rumor” mill

Its common knowledge that word of mouth is THE undisputed tool for brand building, if not now, it will be sometime in the middle of the unpredictable yet very near future. What is uncommon is using it for real right now. And thats just what has been happening. If you dont believe what you are hearing, maybe you are hearing too much of billo’s rumors! Or may be, you need to check out their facebookgroup at

Well the power of rumor in brand building is evident in this award winning project. The group, consisting of 4 students from NSU has created a rumor phenomenon, while they were preparing for a local competition called “Inter University Promologic 2007”. In the process, they gave birth to a facebook group consisting only of rumors! Currently the group has 482 members who are in it for the rumors and rumors only!

Just ponder for a second. Isnt it quite obvious? Doesnt our ancient tag of “hujugeye” jaty shows us that our brand builders should have thought about it a lot earlier?

Rumors are just a powerful form of word of mouth, just like buzz or recommendations. But digging deep, it has some unruly characteristics that makes it more powerful than the conventional word of mouth wisdom.

1. Rumors are as unpredictable as the path of a maelstrom. Its like an arrow that has been shot. Once you create its path, you can never control it.

2. Rumors spread faster than any other form of word of mouth – simply because the “sin” tag attached to it. Its wrong to spread rumor, that makes it more likely that it will be spreading in record time.

3. Rumors can never be traced back to the origin. That is why its a fantastic tool for brand builders because once they drop a rumour bomb among the mass, they can just sit and enjoy. No one’s gonna point the finger at you with much proof to back it up.

Unintentional rumours has helped brands or created overnight sensations out of them. But the time has come when we pull the reins of this unpredictable horse and use rumours as a calculated means to maximize your brand stickiness.

Marketing Idea No. 119 – Can Baily Road accomodate a shoe shop?

We have all heard about geographical segmentation, but that usually deals with a BIG geographical area. But what if we take into account small sections of the cities? Is there enough in it to pay particular attention to location for different marketing decisions?

Well for starters, its nothing new. There is a particular reason why we find popular Fast Food shops in Dhanmondi and Gulshan areas only. There is a reason why the same item costs different in Uttara then in Mirpur in the same chain shop. Thats locational attributes playing a role.

But what i really want to put on the table starts with a question.

Are we taking maximum advantage from different locational advantages that we find ourselves in?

Let me follow it up with another question.

If one area is popular for one particular item (like Mirpur for Benarasi saree, Nilkhet for books) should a new business dealing with that particular item open up in that area or somewhere else?

Well the answer to the first question is a simple “No”. We are suffering way to much from “me-too” syndrome even when it comes to where we will set up our business.  If not, we would have seen private universities springing up in Bogra and Shylet, a Coffee World outlet in Chittagong and a Fast food chain opening up all over the nation. But none of that is happening, is it? Guilty as charged!

But the answer of the second question is a little bit complicated. If the location of the business does not provide any direct locational benefit (Like Nilkhet is very close to Dhaka University. So it makes a lot sense to establish a Photocopy machine shop in that place even though there are quite a few one already), then it makes no sense to open up a business in a location where already there are similar businesses.

But quite incredibly, thats what we see time and again. That is why its really amazing when we cannot find a single decent fast food shop in Mirpur, no HSBC ATM machine in Shantinagor – Baily Road area (Although there are 3 ATM booths in Gulshan alone), no tehari or biriani store in Baridhara – Banani region….and the list goes on!

Just by targetting a particular area / location with a particular business which is not available in that area, profitable businesses can be created. Somehow this simple truth eluded all of us. 

Marketing Idea No. 118 – Brand Archetypes

An archetype is a generic, idealized model of a person, object, or concept from which similar instances are derived, copied, patterned, or emulated. Its most famous proponent is swiss psychologist Carl Jung who used “Archetypes” to explain personality. According to him, no matter from which society legends or characters are created from, at the end they all share some common characteristics.

His archetype research was put into action later from Hollywood (Joseph campbell introduced this line of thinking to his scriptwriters who used it to create the immortal characters of Star Wars) to advertising (Leo Burnett used the archetypes to create the iconic Marlboro Man).

Taking inspiration from that line of thinking, brands are often considered as persons to make brands look and feel real enough so that customers can connect and interact with a brand just like they bond with a human being. And hence we arrive at “Brand archetypes” – the latest “in” thing in branding.

What is this brand archetype and how can it help create strong and unique brands?

Well if you strip everything down from a strong brand, at its heart lies a story – which distinguishes itself from all other brands. These archetypes help you create or hold on to that story. These archetypes are stereotypes and represents the commonly held characteristics that any brand should possess. If your brand resembles any of these, then you know you are in right track.

To know about the archetypes and its details, as well to check whats your archetype, go and visit

Marketing Idea No. 117 – Tie your employee benefit to customer benefit

Upton Sinclair once said,

“You can’t make somebody understand something if their salary depends upon them not understanding it”.

I will go one better. I would say all our preachings of “Superior Customer Service” and “Fantastic Brand Experience” are all thin air, if the performance of the brand is not tied up with the day to day performance of an employee of that brand.

Let me say that again. What your employees do is basically culminates in what your brand will stand for. As simple as that. Knowing that, how many of us work in companies where our compensation truly rewards those who work hard for greater brand experience?

We give sales commission. But isnt making the target a totally company thingy? Where in that big equation does the customer fit? Does he give a dime knowing whether you have met your sales quota?

We give performance bonus. But isnt that dependent on company revenue and market share? Can your customer really give a damn about whether you met your revenue target or not?

Again we live and die by the sword claiming that we exist for customers. But in reality we work for our paycheck. And our paycheck has nothing to do with how satisfied our customers are. Let me repeat…absolutely nothing to do with HOW SATISFIED OUR CUSTOMERS ARE!

Now this is alarming hypocrisy. And one company who can teach us all that is Cisco. This Internet giant brand compensates all his employees solely based on one thing – the index representing the customer satisfaction. The more satisfied the customers are the more the employees get. Simple.

Can anybody point out a better brand model than that?