Marketing Idea No. 130 – If beauty lies in presentation, where on earth are the packaging materials?

Like a ghost from the past that never lets go, the wrapping paper business in the country has successfully haunted us for decades. While we only sigh seeing the beautiful christmas gifts in TV, wrapped in even more beautiful wrapping papers, we often wonder why we have to stick with the ancient “Red” glitter paper for so long! Have doubts? Just see all the wedding gifts that is there stacked on your table, and tell me if anyone of the gifts stands out due to beautiful wrapping.

Wouldnt it be great if we could have a specialized brand that can give us beautiful wrapping papers for all seasons and all reasons? Wouldnt it be greater if the wedding gifts could come in beautifully pre-packaged manner and we could pick them in “Wedding Gifts” section just like a greetings card? That would have been great for most of us, who hurry along and buy our gifts on our way to the wedding. If we knew we can get the gifts bought in a less than 10 minute shopping sprint, that would probably rescued us from a lot of skirmishes that results when the women take a lot of time in getting ready!

There is a significant opportunity for value addition in the gifts and gift-wrapping category.

Marketing Idea No. 129 – The learning from “Real Beauty”

If the role of branding was to create aspirations, then brands have definitely succeeded with flying colors. But, if the role of branding is to ensure trust, authenticity and believability, then we are probably miles away from the desired destination. And one of the reasons behind it might just be our choice of models / actors to use in advertising campaigns.

In the name of creating aspiration, Cate Mosses and Eva Longorias are faces that we view frequently in the ads. Just put every ad that you can lay your hand on that figures a woman, put those ads side by side and give an honest opinion…..What percentage of the kind of women you interact with in real life is reflected by these visuals? Do you really connect with any of these gorgeous bombshells? Is our idea of beauty and fame so trivial that we believe just by using a certain cosmetics, we can shine like them?

We definitely have a distorted idea of beauty, which is what Dove has addressed in their “Real Beauty” campaign. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty is a campaign created by Ogilvy & Mather which tried to celebrate the natural physical variation embodied by all women and inspire them to have the confidence to be comfortable with themselves. Let me repeat – be comfortable with themselves, not to be like the next Elisha Cuthbert.

This is one area that really need some re-thinking. One conventional wisdom was to use established models / actors as brand ambassadors who can attach some glamour in the communication. But when one scale tilts towards glamour, it takes away a lot from believability. Do we really believe anything these brands promise? When we see the same male model used in a mucho Honda ad as well as a pansy sweater ad, can we really identify with that same model? When we see Abhishek Bacchan asking for a new pair of “Flying Machine” jeans, do we think its Abhishek who is asking for it or some actor who will say just about anything in front of camera as long as he is paid right?

The world has moved towards reality and authenticity. Coke is bringing in health-drink as their future “It” business. Reality TV program American Idol is holding on the number 1 rating for the past 3 years. Isnt it about time we really look into this ancient method of using established models in our communication? Cant we go for more authenticity, reality and freshness in our choice of models?

Marketing Idea No. 128 – How to create a great brand through co-operatives

 The success of India’s most popular crispy bread “Lijjat Papad”, is an unusual story to say the least. But its also one that can teach us brand custodians the power of simplicity. With a meager Rs. 80 loan, Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad co-operative started its business some 40 years ago. Today it’s a household name with annual sales exceeding Rs 301 crore.

All this is done thrugh a simple supply chain, quality product, simple but great distribution and staying true to quality.

This shows that you don’t need complex organizational structure or top notch brand custodians to create a big brand. Every morning women gather together, knead dough, roll the dough into papads, pack them and send them to the mom and pop stores around India. In the process, all these women collect enough money to support themselves.

It shows that there is great potential lying in the power of co-operatives. This indeed is a good example of how low-skilled human resources can create great brands with minimum investment and fuss by harnessing the power of simplicity and authenticity.

Marketing Idea No. 127 – The Marketing power of “Remakes”

Here’s a formula that stands the test of time. 

  1. Pick a old, famous film / song / drama
  2. Remake it by adding a contemporary touch by throwing in new age tunes / remix / actors of this generation
  3. Attract the oldies who watch it for nostalgic value and attract the new generation who watch it because they heard so much about it in the past but never had the privilege of seeing it

Call it the last choice of the brainless marketers. Call it a fake, pretentious effort to lure new customers without really doing something new. But the truth is – remakes work. 

Celine Dione shot into stardom by singing the Air Supply Song “Power of Love” in the 90s. Everyday in India, one “Old is Gold” song is remixed into a new format and hiting the Top Chart. 70s hit TV shows like “Mission Impossible” and “Charlie’s Angels” got en explosive new look remake in the form of the 5 movies in the early part of this millennium – all of which earned in excess of 100 million USD in US market alone. 

For all its success in international arena, we are highly disinclined to use “remakes” in this country, be it in media or in corporate arena.  And here are how we are missing out in benefits 

  1. We have grown up watching excellent TV dramas and movies in the channels, all of which now rest in our memory only. Who can forget the fantastic “Ey Shob Din Ratry” or “Ora 11 jon”? In this age of media explosion, where Talk Shows, cheap melodramatic movies and clichéd dramas are the only shows available, why cant we remake some of this excellent productions?
  2. Brands, products & ad campaigns have died and awaiting re-birth. Like fashion, that comes in circle, these brands can enjoy a new birth. In the late 80s ADIDAS went bankrupt. Look where its now, due to a rejuvenated marketing campaign. Hush Puppies were a thing of the past. Now, they are adorning the feet of the rich and famous. Just like that, our Tibet snow, Halal soap, Jibon Bima Corporation, Joni print saree, Peps-Gel….all of them can have a re-birth.

The main reason why remakes work is that it already has a built-in equity. We loved the good old days, and we want them desperately to come back. And also, because the old movies / songs are already watched by our predecessors, they do the job of spreading the word out. And we just wait in anticipation what made them tick.

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.