Marketing Idea No. 203 – What does your designation say about you?

They say employees are the face of the brand. If thats it, what does their designations and titles say to customers?

Here’s a situation. You go to a party and you meet people. You strike up a conversation and as a matter of fact (without being too obivious) you push your visiting card to the other person. It says you are the “Customer Service Manager”. But what really does your card say to the receipient of the visiting card? He thinks, you treat potential customers like him as ….customers. Whats so great and exciting about that? Absolutely nothing.

But here’s a designation for you, “Manager, Creating Special Moments.” Now thats magical. Thats something you might be interested in. Thats a conversation starter. Thats inspiring.

I know of a company who called their Head of Marketing as “Head of Excitements” and their Head of Sales as “Head of New Opportunties”. Now tell me if thats exciting or what?

What it makes your employees and your brand is…it helps you stand out. It helps you become humane. You are no longer a Customer Service Manager. You are a “Manager, A Friend in Need”.

What can possibly top a friend in need?

Marketing Idea No. 202 – How to stamp your authority in a strategic alliance

We all know about the co-existence of Intel and CPU brands like Dell & Gateway. Its one of the most unusual and yet one of the most successful co-branding exercise ever. It also has an impressive sounding name called “Ingredient Branding”. But just like any co-dependent human relationship, brands must constantly ask who is benefitting from these co-existence more.

Its amazing how many brands actually depend on other brands for their product to function. Boeing depends on carriers like Singapore Airlines and Emirates to make their product appealing to end users. Nokia depends on telecom service providers like Vodafone and AT&T to make their product usable. After all, whats a handset without a connection?

In such complex situations, three things are key.

1. The brands should fight it out with their co-dependent category and ensure they are calling the shots, not the other brand from other category. i.e. – For all the good R&D benefits Boeing is bringing, its the inflight experience provider like Virgin and Southwest who are stealing the show. No one talks about how wonderful Boeing is, but everyone goes ga-ga over Southwest and Virgin’s service. So in this co-dependent category, Virgins and Emirates of the world are calling the shots. Poor old Boeing and MCD Douglas can do nothing about it.

2. Find your unique place, that is not dependent on your co-dependent different category partner.  i.e. Nokia’s vision of “Connecting People” is heavily dependent on their telecom service providers ability and vision. So there’s a strong overlap. When people think about connectivity, they usually attribute it to the connection provider (i.e. AT&T) not the handset provider. So that is a grey area that Nokia should discuss.

3. Nothing is black and white. From case to case how much horizontal integration is required would change. For someone like Gillette, who provides the full line for anything to do with shave, might be the best way to go. Then for others like airlines, it would be ill-advised that Boeing starts it own airlines service provider business to win back control from Virgins and Singapore Airlines.

Marketing Idea No. 201 – The Magic Number “10,000”

Why are so many successful New York lawyers have the same biography: Jewish, born in the 1930s in Bronx / Brooklyn, had immigrant parents who worked in garments?

In finding answer to such seemingly innocuous yet piercing question, Malcolm Gladwell, laid out the age old truth about success. According to him, no one—not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses—ever makes it alone.

But one of the most fascinating part of this theory is the 10,000 hour rule.

Gladwell claims that greatness requires enormous time, using the source of The Beatles’ musical talents and Gates’ computer savvy as examples. The Beatles performed live in Germany over 1,200 times from 1960 to 1964, amassing more than 10,000 hours of playing time, therefore meeting the 10,000-Hour Rule. Gladwell asserts that all of the time The Beatles spent performing shaped their talent, “so by the time they returned to England from Hamburg, Germany, ‘they sounded like no one else. It was the making of them.'”Gates met the 10,000-Hour Rule when he gained access to a high school computer in 1968 at the age of 13, and spent 10,000 hours programming on it. Gladwell interviews Gates, who says that unique access to a computer at a time when they were not commonplace helped him succeed. Without that access, Gladwell states that Gates would still be “a highly intelligent, driven, charming person and a successful professional”, but that he might not be worth US$50 billion. Gladwell explains that reaching the 10,000-Hour Rule, which he considers the key to success in any field, is simply a matter of practicing a specific task that can be accomplished with 20 hours of work a week for 10 years.


Marketing Idea No. 200 – Very superstitious….writing’s on the wall

Whats common between black cats, stepping on a crack in the floor, number 4 in china, walking under a ladder and wearing a lucky shorts in all games?

Superstitions. Love it or hate it, but you can never deny it.

Superstitious or not, we can never deny the power of such ridiculous notions in our lives. In fact, scientists claim that superstitions are nothing but our desire for control in an increasingly turbulent and unpredictable world. Here’s an interesting fact. During the Gulf War, the areas that were attacked by Scud missiles, there was a rise in superstitious belief.

Superstitions are slowly but heavily creeping into business world. There is no 13th row in Air France, KLM and Continental. In far east, “Kit Kat” as a brand exploded in popularity because it rhymes with the word “Kitto-Katsu”, which means win without fail. After two 191 numbered flights crashed, Delta and American Airlines both retired that flight number permanently. Michael Jordan always weared his favorite Carolina Tar Heels shorts under his Bulls jersey in match days.  

The best way to deal with superstition is not react to it, but making strategies about how to exploit it for your business purpose. Its all about making your customers feel safe and secured. Its about making them feel that even in these unpredictable world, your brand will help them control their life and everything surrounding the way they want it.

So are you ready to tackle the superstition challenge? Sure?

Ok. Its raining outside in a wedding day, which is supposed to be bad luck for groom and bride. How would your brand deal with it?

Go figure.

Marketing Idea No. 199 – Seating Arrangements: Not Checked

Brand gurus have been at it for years now: every little details of your brand interaction matters. Hence we put on the fake smile for our customers during service experience. Meticulous analysis goes on to the CEOs speech for the special event. Agency creatives are on high alert over the designs of that event. Employees are asked to put on their Sunday best and be in their best behavior. I guess we are finally coming to terms with the whole 360 degree thingy.

Well not quite.

Here’s something so trivial, that it slips below the radar all the time.

Have you looked into the seating arrangement?

The seating arrangement of your event speaks volumes about your event. If not anything, it tells the customers whether in your eyes all your customers are same…or do you discriminate. It shows how much you really care about the actual experience of your customers. It tells customers whether your event is any different from the tens and hundreds of events that they have attended this year. It tells customers whether you consider others as “Media”, “Corporate Guests” and “VIP”s or just plain and simply as human beings.

With so much at stake, you should get down from your high horse and start RE-arranging those chairs.