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?

Marketing Idea No. 116 – Can we make formulas in branding?

Over the years we had a love affair with formulas, be it the ones we mastered for maths exams or the ones we thought will get us through the day in crunching calculus. Its pure science at its best. But can something as common sensical, beautiful yet unpredictable as branding can be tied into a formula?

Well we can try. In fact tying the reigns of some of the aspects of branding can be an effective way to make the branding sermon be heard by the mass. Because mass is always interested in putting things in logical order, in black and white. And thats one of the reasons why we have found maths and calculus to be easy to understand, but branding to be “undecipherable”.

Although i do not recommend brand formulas for the advanced understanding, the following formulas can be very handing for anyone who eants to understand the basic stuffs.

1. Brand = P + C ( Where P stands for a “Promise” of a benefit that can help us “Choose” anything)

2. Brand  = Body + Soul ( Where Body stands for the functional benefits and Soul sgtands for the emotional benefits of the brand)

3. Brand = P + D * S (Where P = Positioning, D= differentiation and S= Sustainable)

These are not scientific formulas. But through such practice, we can actually make branding appear simple and even more importantly….DOABLE. 

Marketing Idea No. 115 – Can you be really frank about your product, even if it has side-effects?

What do you do to launch a brand in the super-competitive, brand-saturated North American market? The pharmaceutical industry itself is mega-competitive globally. But within the sector lies the ultra-competitive diet product category. In the United States there are more that 3,000 brands vying for supremacy in this line. GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s second largest pharmaceutical company, went into the fray with a revolutionary product – but what product doesn’t claim to be revolutionary?

Naming the product ‘Alli’, GSK adopted an unusual strategy, focusing the campaign on the side-effects of the product. They did this, not because pharmaceutical companies are legally bound to do so, but to communicate the fact that, to avoid these side-effects, consumers need to use the product in a particular way. So, the campaign was about educating consumers rather than traditional promotion. Not only did GSK release a best-selling diet book about Alli, but the product itself contained more than 300 pages of interesting reading material about weight loss and how to achieve it successfully and healthily.

In contrast to many diet products, Alli’s communication was frank, transparent and personal. A $100 million campaign made some use of TV, but favored targeted, relevant online one-to-one education. Even the Alli online presence that focused on the core topic of weight loss downgraded the presence of the Alli brand, by modestly including a short byline at the bottom of the page. And, taking individual consumer communication to a new level, GSK has now taken over an entire New York City building to house Alli’s education mission. Alli’s showroom offers welcome, support and education to its users. In short, the brand is all about education.

Written by Martin Lindstrom and taken from

Marketing idea No. 114 – Create mystique and secrecy

Does your brand have a secret ingredient?

It always pays to create mystery around your brand. Dont think so? Check the examples

1. Coca Cola and its “Merchandise 7x” is one of the 100 year old brand secrets locked up in a bank in Atalanta. Still everyone wonders, what coke is really made off…

2. Kentucky Fried Chicken thrives on the original 11 herbs and ingredients that Colonell used to make his chicken. Till date, its a well appetising secret.

How about the secrecy regarding the launch of I-Phone or I-Mac? How about the hoopla around whats gonna happen at the end of Harry Potter book 7? Who will die and who will be spared…the big mystery! How about the new movie that will be launched by J.J. Abrams (Writer of mega hit series “Lost”), where everyone knows its this big movie…but no one knows what its name is and what its about!!!

Secrecy is in. And if you have a way to create secret cults, rituals, mysteries to align with your brand….now is as good a time as any.

What you need is a damn good story for which everyone will go ga ga….

Marketing Idea No. 113 – Storytelling works better than product shots and comparisons

Want to market your brand better? Then tell a story. That’s the top finding from an intensive three-year study entitled “On the Road to a New Effectiveness Model” released this month.

The Advertising Research Foundation and American Assn. of Advertising Agencies, both based in New York, set out to measure consumers’ emotional responses to TV advertising. What they discovered is that advertisements that tell a branding story work better than ads that focus on product positioning.

Thirty-three ads across 12 categories, from brands like Budweiser, Campbell’s Soup and MasterCard, were analyzed by 14 leading emotion and physiological research firms. The research tools varied from testing heart rate and skin conductance of the ad viewer to brain diagnostics.

“We were trying to identify patterns that could be used,” said Bill Cook, ARF svp-research and standards. “We saw powerful pieces of evidence for the impact of advertising.”

One such pattern was that a campaign like Bud’s iconic “Wassup” registered more powerfully with consumers than Miller Lite low-carb ads that essentially just said, “We’re better than the other guys.” Why? Because Bud told a story about friends connected by a special greeting.

The report contends that in many ways, advertising is stuck in the past. The 20th century was dominated by a one-way transactional focus where ads were pushed at consumers. Today, consumers interact with ads to “co-create” meaning that is powered by emotion and rich narrative. “Advertising has been standing on the sidelines, stuck on the language of positioning,” said Randall Ringer, managing director and co-founder, Verse Group, New York. “Telling a story about the brand is more engaging, memorable and compelling than telling a bunch of facts. What worked 30 years ago with a 30-second spot doesn’t work today.”

Other ads that struck a chord positioned the brand itself playing the archetypal role of hero. In Campbell’s “Orphan” ad, it is about bringing together a mother and her foster child.

Ad research firm Gallup-Robinson, Pennington, N.J., found that the spot, which showed a little girl’s sadness and anxiety melt away into a soft smile once she was given a bowl of soup, generated 80% purchase intent. Most viewers measured said it was believable.

A similar study from Ameritest, Albuquerque, N.M., found it received 42% purchase intent compared to a category norm of 33%.

But for such storytelling ads to be truly effective, the plots need to tie in to a positive brand message. “When the emotional peaks align with the presence of the brand, or the impact of the brand in the story, the emotional connection with the brand is greatest,” Cook said.

While a MasterCard “Priceless” campaign, featuring a father taking a son to a baseball game, successfully achieved this impact, not all storytelling ads work. A United Airlines spot that showed an emotional story of a business man returning home was deemed unimaginative by 68% of those surveyed by TNS Ad Eval.

Eighty-four percent of respondents said the humor came through loud and clear for Southwest Airlines’ “Want to get away” ad, which showed a woman accidentally destroying a man’s medicine cabinet while snooping.

A Nissan Maxima spot also failed. At first blush it appears a couple is talking about sex, but in fact they are talking about the car. “Negative levels were so high for many people over the brashness of the guy and his seemingly erotic proposal that they were unable to switch over to more positive feelings once the Maxima appeared,” said the report.

The study does not discuss the ROI of the ads for their marketers. Mark Truss, director of brand intelligence at JWT, New York, said the storytelling theory is correct, but the industry still lacks a way to prove it. “Without the tools to measure and link back to business metrics, marketers and advertisers are not going to embrace [this approach].”

Quoted from

Marketing Idea No. 112 – Marketing 101 lessons from Manchester United and Liverpool

If branding can take inspiration from any other sector, it has to be from the sports. Because if relationship between brand and customer is the core of branding, there is few, if any, that can match the intensity of the fanatic relationship between a football club and its fans. 

Have doubts? Just see the ever increasing number of English Premiere league fans that are being created everyday in Asia. (mind the geographical distance). Or visit the Anfield stadium in Liverpool and see how many people are singing their official song “You will never walk alone” during the match. Or visit the Old Trafford stadium each match day and see more than 60,000 spectators screaming their heart out time and again. Or visit a pub in Thailand during match day and see how many heated discussions are taking place.  

Brands can only dream of such emotional engagement. That is the epitome of effective branding where your customers become your fans. And when you are considering creating fantastic brands, maybe that’s the place you should look into… a football club creates a brand.  Still being a skeptic? Ok let me lead you some more. 

We are often skeptical about the advertisements of brands that promise the world and fail to deliver. We reject those brands or switch. But does the fan change a football club even when the going gets rough? Liverpool football club has not own their domestic football league for more than 15 years. But does that mean all the fans have lost faith in their football club and started supporting Manchester United. No. In fact in the last 15 years they have created a solid base of fans in Asia. 

Can brands claim to be that? Can we say that about a toothpaste brand? A shampoo? Would you use the same mobile phone if it fails to work once? 

If the answer you wished is “Yes” and you actually got is “No”, then basically your brand is still looking for the holy grail of branding – Brand Evangelists or Fanaticism. Which basically means your customers will walk a mile for your brand, suggest it blindly to others, campaign in favor for you, stick by you even when you lose that edge in performance and forgive you even when you have done something wrong. 

Coca Cola can claim that. But can your brand? 

If not, then your brand can do the following things….just like the Real Madrids and Milans of the world. 

  1. Football clubs create fans, not customers. That in itself is different t kind of thinking. Your goal should be to create fans, treat them like human beings, pamper him and interact with him.
  2. Fans are emotionally attached with their clubs. Just like that your brand should have a strong emotional connection with your audience
  3. Fans are territorial, very vocal and proud. Just like that your brand must make your customer feel proud. They would love to flaunt your brand, show it outside to upgrade their image. Also, you must allow your customer to have interactions with your brand. Create a website and allow your brands to have their say. Ask them what they want to see from you. Sell merchandising to them. Send them gifts time to time. Give them tools to talk about you. Supply them with ammunition so that they can defend you from the customers of your rival brands.


Marketing idea No. 111 – Its all in the eyeball baby – hot insights into advertisement research

A global study that took into account how our eyeballs react to advertisements have come out with some great findings:

  • Ads in the top and left portions of a page will receive the most eye fixation.
  • Ads placed next to the best content are seen more often.
  • Bigger images get more attention.
  • Clean, clear faces in images attract more eye fixation.
  • Fancy formatting and fonts are ignored.
  • Formatting can draw attention.
  • Headings draw the eye.
  • Initial eye movement focuses on the upper left corner of the page.
  • Large blocks of text are avoided.
  • Lists hold reader attention longer.
  • Navigation tools work better when placed at the top of the page.
  • One-column formats perform better in eye-fixation than multi-column formats.
  • People generally scan lower portions of the page.
  • Readers ignore banners.
  • Shorter paragraphs perform better than long ones.
  • Show numbers as numerals.
  • Text ads were viewed mostly intently of all types tested.
  • Text attracts attention before graphics.
  • Type size influences viewing behavior.
  • Users initially look at the top left and upper portion of the page before moving down and to the right.
  • Users only look at a sub headline if it interests them.
  • Users spend a lot of time looking at buttons and menus.
  • White space is good.