Marketing Idea No. 157 – How to market media

In the last few years, a lot has happened in the media arena. Number of newspapers and TV channels have multiplied, radio has emerged as the up and coming media, advertising spending has gone up to 10 times in the last 10 years.

While the quantity has surely increased, did all these channels found out a place in customers heart?

The answer, with all justification, is no. And that comes down to one big, glaring problem of media. While the media channels have done a lot to position other consumer brands through mass media advertising, the media itself has done little to position themselves in the mind of the viewer.

There are more than 10 daily newspapers in the country. Apart from the all-encompassing nature of Prothom Alo, does any of the other newspapers stand out? Why should people choose Samakal in place of Jugantor? Why should people listen to Radio Amar in place of Radio Foorty? Why should people watch Channel 1 instead of Channel I?

Unfortunately, there is no answer for any of these. But all the channels and papers can effectively position themselves in a unique space. Daily Star can position themselves as the “Business paper for executives”. Radio Amar can position themselves as a more entertaining alternative to Bangladesh Betar by catering to small town people.

Right now all newspapers are trying to position themselves as “neutral, pro-people” daily. All TV channles are trying to be patriotic and all Radio channels are trying to be youth–focused. As all are vying to for the same position, only some will win. The rest will fall, unless they can find a unique position for themselves based on concrete positioning and solid differentiation.

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Marketing Idea No. 156 – Haley’s comet and the “Once in a lifetime” factor

You can be the next big thing from Apple or Google, but can you beat the excitement or hoopla that comes from seeing the Haley’s comet or a blue moon?

Not a chance.

Haley’s comet is the authentic once in a lifetime chance of seeing something that you can never ever see again in YOUR LIFETIME, no matter how much money you want to spend. Watching a blue moon or a solar eclipse or a meteor shower or a close shave with a meteorite is a cultural phenomenon of astronomical proportion (Pun intended) which creates a lot of interest among mass as well as media. Can your brand replicate that?

Again, not by a long distance.

So the thing to learn from this is that there is a great deal of power in scarcity, about “once in a lifetime” things. As our entire brand marketing game is based on abundance and accesibility, some great brand marketing phenomenon can be created simply through the power of scarcity. Thats why the greatest TV commercial of all time, the Mackintosh 1984 ad, was shown only once in 1984 SuperBowl….never again.

Now how can we relive the magic of scarcity?

What if we can create an exclusive line of clothes, chewing gum, laptops…..anything, and promote it as if its an REALLY exclusive item (meaning : once its replenished, it will never be reproduced again), then wouldnt it create a massive buzz and pull? It must. If we knew that no matter how we love it and pay for it, this new line of stuff will never ever be made available again, wouldnt we stand in line and bark for our exclusive peace? Wouldnt we convey the message to our loved ones that get that stuff before it gets finished? It simply must.

Now through that we turn the entire game on its wheel. The brand brings this new line, makes it available to people, draw up a high margin because he is selling exclusive stuff, create this huge mind share and then use that mind share in future to earn more business.

But no matter what, he should never reproduce that EXCLUSIVE product line, because that just kills the magic. What the brand probably should do, is invest in the next big EXCLUSIVE thing.

Marketing Idea No. 155 – The rise of alternative lifestyle

In a recent study conducted by Grey Worldwide among 16 major Asian nations, some startling facts about Bangladesh was unearthed. According to the study

1. Majority of the Bangladeshi people put health over money as priority. (How about that for a developing nation where majority people live beneath the poverty line?)

2. Dual income household is no longer a luxury, but a necessity

3. Half the women in Bangladesh believe in joint families and are willing to have a good relationship with Mother-in-laws. While the other half thinks, its not really necssary to have an amicable relationship with Mother-in-law. 

What these findings portray is the changing pulse of Bangladeshi people. For better or for worse, we are not who we were 10 years ago. The strong blend of cosmopolitan lifetysle with hopeful outlook and survivor instincts make us a unique race. And that just might mean we need some additional services and facilities, the need of which was not yet felt before.

That of course means brand new business opportunities.

Going by the trend, there will be a strong demand of alternative lifestyle enhancing and supporting services in the country. People will be marrying late. Women will stay single and may need to live in an apartment on their own. Matchmaking websites will focus on elderly people who are looking for second marriage. We might even need old homes for our dads and moms, as there is a growing need in the city for living outside joint families.

All the needs stated above can really open up a total new business sector. Thats why marketers need to look beyond the obvious, feel the pulse of the changing local philosophy and be there with ready products and services to cater to this changing generation.

Marketing Idea No. 154 – The Power of 1000 Fans

Written by Kevin Kelly 

The long tail is famously good news for two classes of people; a few lucky aggregators, such as Amazon and Netflix, and 6 billion consumers. Of those two, I think consumers earn the greater reward from the wealth hidden in infinite niches.

But the long tail is a decidedly mixed blessing for creators. Individual artists, producers, inventors and makers are overlooked in the equation. The long tail does not raise the sales of creators much, but it does add massive competition and endless downward pressure on prices. Unless artists become a large aggregator of other artist’s works, the long tail offers no path out of the quiet doldrums of minuscule sales.

Other than aim for a blockbuster hit, what can an artist do to escape the long tail?

One solution is to find 1,000 True Fans. While some artists have discovered this path without calling it that, I think it is worth trying to formalize. The gist of 1,000 True Fans can be stated simply:

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.

Truefans-1 

To raise your sales out of the flatline of the long tail you need to connect with your True Fans directly.  Another way to state this is, you need to convert a thousand Lesser Fans into a thousand True Fans.

Assume conservatively that your True Fans will each spend one day’s wages per year in support of what you do. That “one-day-wage” is an average, because of course your truest fans will spend a lot more than that.  Let’s peg that per diem each True Fan spends at $100 per year. If you have 1,000 fans that sums up to $100,000 per year, which minus some modest expenses, is a living for most folks.

One thousand is a feasible number. You could count to 1,000. If you added one fan a day, it would take only three years. True Fanship is doable. Pleasing a True Fan is pleasurable, and invigorating. It rewards the artist to remain true, to focus on the unique aspects of their work, the qualities that True Fans appreciate.

The key challenge is that you have to maintain direct contact with your 1,000 True Fans. They are giving you their support directly. Maybe they come to your house concerts, or they are buying your DVDs from your website, or they order your prints from Pictopia. As much as possible you retain the full amount of their support. You also benefit from the direct feedback and love.

The technologies of connection and small-time manufacturing make this circle possible. Blogs and RSS feeds trickle out news, and upcoming appearances or new works. Web sites host galleries of your past work, archives of biographical information, and catalogs of paraphernalia. Diskmakers, Blurb, rapid prototyping shops, Myspace, Facebook, and the entire digital domain all conspire to make duplication and dissemination in small quantities fast, cheap and easy. You don’t need a million fans to justify producing something new. A mere one thousand is sufficient.

This small circle of diehard fans, which can provide you with a living, is surrounded by concentric circles of Lesser Fans. These folks will not purchase everything you do, and may not seek out direct contact, but they will buy much of what you produce. The processes you develop to feed your True Fans will also nurture Lesser Fans. As you acquire new True Fans, you can also add many more Lesser Fans. If you keep going, you may indeed end up with millions of fans and reach a hit. I don’t know of any creator who is not interested in having a million fans.

But the point of this strategy is to say that you don’t need a hit to survive.  You don’t need to aim for the short head of best-sellerdom to escape the long tail. There is a place in the middle, that is not very far away from the tail, where you can at least make a living. That mid-way haven is called 1,000 True Fans. It is an alternate destination for an artist to aim for.

Young artists starting out in this digitally mediated world have another path other than stardom, a path made possible by the very technology that creates the long tail. Instead of trying to reach the narrow and unlikely peaks of platinum hits, bestseller blockbusters, and celebrity status, they can aim for direct connection with 1,000 True Fans. It’s a much saner destination to hope for. You make a living instead of a fortune. You are surrounded not by fad and fashionable infatuation, but by True Fans. And you are much more likely to actually arrive there.

A few caveats. This formula – one thousand direct True Fans —  is crafted for one person, the solo artist. What happens in a duet, or quartet, or movie crew? Obviously, you’ll need more fans. But the additional fans you’ll need are in direct geometric proportion to the increase of your creative group. In other words, if you increase your group size by 33%, you need add only 33% more fans. This linear growth is in contrast to the exponential growth by which many things in the digital domain inflate. I would not be surprise to find that the value of your True Fans network follows the standard network effects rule, and increases as the square of the number of Fans. As your True Fans connect with each other, they will more readily increase their average spending on your works. So while increasing the numbers of artists involved in creation increases the number of True Fans needed, the increase does not explode, but rises gently and in proportion.

A more important caution: Not every artist is cut out, or willing, to be a nurturer of fans. Many musicians just want to play music, or photographers just want to shoot, or painters paint, and they temperamentally don’t want to deal with fans, especially True Fans. For these creatives, they need a mediator, a manager, a handler, an agent, a galleryist — someone to manage their fans.  Nonetheless, they can still aim for the same middle destination of 1,000 True Fans. They are just working in a duet.

Third distinction. Direct fans are best. The number of True Fans needed to make a living indirectly inflates fast, but not infinitely. Take blogging as an example. Because fan support for a blogger routes through advertising clicks (except in the occasional tip-jar), more fans are needed for a blogger to make a living. But while this moves the destination towards the left on the long tail curve, it is still far short of blockbuster territory. Same is true in book publishing. When you have corporations involved in taking the majority of the revenue for your work, then it takes many times more True Fans to support you. To the degree an author cultivates direct contact with his/her fans, the smaller the number needed.

Lastly, the actual number may vary depending on the media. Maybe it is 500 True Fans for a painter and 5,000 True Fans for a videomaker. The numbers must surely vary around the world. But in fact the actual number is not critical, because it cannot be determined except by attempting it. Once you are in that mode, the actual number will become evident. That will be the True Fan number that works for you. My formula may be off by an order of magnitude, but even so, its far less than a million.

Marketing Idea No. 153 – The Push Vs. Pull retail marketing

In the era of retail marketing, everything under one roof seems to be the way forward. Walmart has crushed its opponents through its superior supply chain management. From toilet tissue to DVD, whatever you need, you go to Wal-Mart.

  But if you stock-pile your inventory, you increase your cost and reduce your profitability. A recent study showed, that even by cutting inventory cost by 10%, book stores can increase its sale by 5%, provided they show the cover of the book, not the spines that they usually do when they have too much book in the stores. 

So there are two distinct retail inventory strategies. When you are stock-piling your inventory, you are going into a pull strategy. Meaning, whenever the customer asks “Do you have….”, you gleefully answer that you do. Then of course is the push strategy, where you have limited inventory. And by having limited inventory you can give more attractive, spacious shelf space to each of your product so when the customer walks in, the products pre-sell themselves. Then he not necessarily has to ask “Do you have….”. 

So there is always a trade-off. But by adopting any of the push or pull strategies, organized retail can win the war.

Marketing Idea No. 152 – Food = Fun

Written By Seth Godin 

Many of us want fun and respect and love and success and kindness and hope. What brilliant marketers do is add the =.

A hundred years ago, food wasn’t much of an industry. Today, packaged, profitable, processed food has transformed every element of our culture.

The Super Bowl is a food holiday. Visit (if you must) the local supermarket on a Sunday morning before the big game. That’s the primary function of the event… to eat processed foods and beverages while hanging out with a group of people. Bonding via shared junk.

Same with a typical birthday party. Kids get validation from their friends (you came) and from their parents (yay, we get to eat junk.)

It’s not an accident that fried corn, sugared beverages, semi-trans fats and white flour have become essential parts of our culture. You can’t get elected in Iowa without pigging out at the Fair and you can’t host a party without stocking up on the chips. Somehow, food marketing became a story about respect. Few people say, “it’ll be fun… I’ll make a big bowl of brown rice and serve oatmeal cookies I made from scratch.” Too weird. Too risky. People might not like you if you challenge the food dynamic.

There’s always been a cultural desire to conform. The difference is that now there’s money at stake, so marketers push us to conform in ways that turn a profit.

Marketers, brilliant, profit-oriented marketers, have had a century to teach us to associate respect and kindness and love with certain kinds of food.

And that’s why this post isn’t just a screed, it’s a lesson for marketers everywhere.

…Just as the jewelry and floral people have taught us that flowers and diamonds = love and that a respectable gentleman spends two months salary (!) on an engagement ring. Not an accident, of course. It’s too risky, marketers teach us, to send a handmade card or skip the jewelry and buy a research grant or pay for part of a school.

…Just as the car you drive somehow says something about who you are.

…Just as the college-industrial complex has taught us that the best colleges are the ones that are the most expensive (making them the hardest to get into, furthering the cycle),

…you have the opportunity to start down this road with what you make.

So I’m hoping that what you make is worthy. Marketing is a powerful tool especially when it associates a product with a desire and instinct we already have.

Marketing, when it works, transcends any discussion of the benefits of the product or the service.

Marketing, instead, is about the equal sign.

Many of us want fun and respect and love and success and kindness and hope. What brilliant marketers do is add the =.