Marketing Idea No. 30 – Pushing time to push sales

Have you ever wondered just how many of your decisions you put off till the last minute?

Our fascination with deadline starts from our early childhood. Remember just how many times we used to finish our syllabus the night before the exam despite having so much time in our hand before? Remember just how many of us postponed our career decisions until the last day? We have 365 glorious days to invest our money, but its only in June that we see the people flocking the Banks and Post Offices in search of bonds and other investments. Why? Because of that June 30 deadline.

The assumption is clear. We postpone our decisions till the latest possible hour. Thats why its always better to have a time bound push in your marketing messages. If you have a sales target to meet, always focus on the “Time”. If you are running a Consumer promotion, assign a big space to show when this promotion will end. That is the number one factor at times, that will make or break a sale.

Marketing Idea No. 29 – Promoting Art through IT

This idea is contributed by Mohammad Jobaed Adnan 

When Pohela Baishakh comes we see Dhaka get painted with different shades. We know who do this great job to make this colorful spectacle. They are the students of Art College. Every year a good number of students are passing from the CharuKala Institute. We know they have quality but do they really have a chance to prove it? Currently, they don’t have an effective enough platform to do what they do best and earn money in doing so. But a simple idea can change all that.  

How many people of our country buy painting or creative works? Its minuscule compared to how many people buy it globally. Who says Bangladeshi aspiring artists need to sell to Bangladeshi buyers only? If we get rid of this notion and apply the wonderful world of World Wide Web in the selling process, it can really do wonders for the aspiring artists of the Art College. 

Introducing marriage of IT and Arts to create a promotional website for CharuKala Institute. When a student at CharuKala Institute enrolled then s/he will get a user ID and password from the Institute to access the website and upload his/her portfolio on there. This way each and every student would get a chance to upload the images of his/her works. Then there would be option for adding price, postal change (FedEx, DHL, UPS local EMS and so on). When someone would purchase something then the amount could be divided in two parts. XX% of the total income could go to the owner of the art work and the rest YY% could go to the account of CharuKala Institute as a service charge or so.  

Globally web 2.0 sites like Flickr are doing wonders for the art and photography world. We can replicate the same model here.  

Marketing Idea No. 28 – Why segmentation is no longer enough

Most companies sit on their laurels thinking they have made the journey from mass marketing to segment based marketing and doing one heck of a job. Well such thinking is soon to be a thing of the past. 

Companies think in terms what is technically and financially possible for them to prepare. But customers think in terms of what can help them solve their problems. Companies think in terms of volume, but an average customer think what is best for him only. Companies design product and market them for segments, like 26-30 year old career women, not looking at individual tastes and differences. But what is good for the 9-5 office going 26 year old career woman with a close-knit family upbringing may not be the same for a 9-8 office going 26 year old woman who is balancing both family and career and living with in-laws. The company views both of them as the same, but they demand different treatments.

In near future, simply looking at segments on a broad level will not be enough. Those segments will be torn open, and individual needs will be met in a cost – effective way. Companies who can rise to meet this challenge can dominate the future. If you think meeting each and every customer need individually is not possible, just looking at our favorite jeans company Levi’s is good enough. With their “Personal Pair” and “Original Spin” initiative – Levi’s profitably customized jeans for each and every one of their customers. If Levi’s with their millions of customers can do this, what’s stopping you?

Some old fashioned thinking perhaps.   

Marketing Idea No. 27 – How to distribute marketing messages like urban legend

Anyone coming to Gulshan in the morning through any of the following 3 forms – CNG, Black and Yellow Taxi Cab – will know how time consuming and frustrating it is to convince any taxi or cab to travel to Gulshan at that time. Reason? Their belief is once they drop you off at Gulshan, they will not find anyone to pick and drop anywhere else at that time of the day. While the merit of such a belief is arguable, have you ever pondered how unanimously they stand in that belief? No matter from where you try to manage a ride at Gulshan in the morning, have you ever stopped and wondered exactly  how everyone of the CNG and cab drivers came to know of this?

Thats the power of urban legend for you. Once a few knows, in a moment the rest knows. Thats how it works. Remeber a few months ago, when an urban legend “Mobile handsets are exploding” came to existence? The idea took exactly 24 hours to spread to every corner of the nation without a single financial investment. If you can harness that kind of power in your marketing, yours will be one success story that itself will spread like an urban legend.

The trick of doing so is stated below.

1. Make sure the message you are spreading is news worthy. Meaning – people will want to share it with someone

2. Make sure you deploy traditional media like TV, radio at the latter stage of the campaign – after the phenomenon has taken a shape. Reason – if everyone knows about it, then the novelty and sharing value wears off.

3. People will always want to be the center of attention. One easy way of doing it is sharing with others something amusing that they dont know of. Allow them to do so with your message and facilitate them in any way possible. If you can facilitate to make them look cool and knowledgeable, they will do your job on your behalf.

Now only if anyone could do something about these CNG and CAB drivers so that they can bring me to Gulshan everyday!

Marketing Idea No. 26 – A Coil that works like an air freshner

This idea is contributed by Mohammad Jobaed Adnan

When that irritating buzzing sound is nearby, nothing quite seems peaceful. I, of course, am referring to mosquito. To get rid of mosquitoes, we have a range of coils manufactured and marketed in the country. The current coils are differentiated in terms of shape, color and amount of smoke.  A major deterrent for coil using was the smoke. It is thought to be harmful.  Agreed that right now we have coils that do the job without creating much or any smoke. But those are quite expensive and out of the reach of low income group. Also, what about the smell? It is not that we don’t want any smell, otherwise we would not have bought any air or car fresheners. The problem is we want the right kind of smell, not the kind of smell that usually comes out of coils. 

The Big Idea 

Introducing low cost, smoke producing, mosquito coil that smells good. We can utilize this coil for two different purposes. One vital use is to kick out the mosquitoes and the other issue is to use as air freshener. All that we will have to do is to add some perfume in (A Major R&D job). This feature will work as an extra value for the coil.  But most importantly this will help the Coil to stand out in the market. ACI and Reckitt, are you listening?  

Marketing Idea No. 25 – Customized Gift Shops

This Idea is contributed by Rizwana Tasneem 

Whenever there’s a gift to buy for a birthday or anniversary or any other special occasion, nearly all of us have to rack our brains trying to think of the perfect gift to give to that special someone. What we end up doing is buying something straight from the shelf, because there is no other option. Not much thought goes into this.

The big idea

Introducing gift shops specializing in customized gifts. You tell the store what you want the gift to be, how you want it customized according to the receiver’s tastes & likes, choice of ribbons & decorations. That way, you give the person what he/she likes and something that will be close to their hearts. So, for example, if you want a certain gift item in a different color, or if you want to gift a box of brownies to your friend and you want it in his/her favourite blueberry flavor, they will cater to that.

Marketing Idea No. 24 – Branding is part science, part art

This is an age long question – is branding an art or a science?

According to one school of thought, its an art. It deals with emotions, raises certain feelings in people’s mind, cannot be quantified 100% and can best be explained as that “X” factor for which people choose one option / product / company in place of other.

According to another, its pure science. It deals with certain input in the form of promotion and others and can in return generate measurable amount of output in the form of mindshare, sales and revenue.

But probably the best way to define Branding is its part art part science. Meaning? Here is a very interesting way of defining branding

Branding = Beautiful Strategy + Solid tactics.

On a broad level, branding is about developing strategy. And strategy, to a large part deals with unmeasurable attributes. A good strategy paves the way for achieving the brand goal, but it does not crystalize the small details that can give an idea about the ROI. That is where the tactical plan moves in. The brand tactical plan will follow up on where strategy has left, and take all the beautiful words and turn it into harsh number crunching reality.

Thats why on a strategic level, branding looks like a glorious artwork. But on tactical level its science at its best. Since effective branding can’t live without either the solid framework of strategy or the practicalities of tactics, branding is definitely part art, part science.

Marketing Idea No. 23 – Be different, even for the sake of being different

Even English poet Robert Frost understood it better than a lot of marketers, when he said,

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

He of course had other issues in mind when he uttered those immortal lines. But on that note, allow me to ask you, when was the last time you were credited for doing something totally different?

If you want to survive the intense competition, be it on a personal level or organizational level, this is the question you need to ask yourself freqeuntly. And answer in the affirmative even more frequently.

 There is absolutely no truth in the common wisdom held very closely by people , which is not being different simply for the sake of being different. Differentiation pays – even when the differentiation seems illogical or irrelevant. Here is an example.

Virgin Atlantic thought giving massage during flight is an exciting idea. When people heard about it, they laughed. Does it have anything to do with – service quality, ticket price, additional frills, comfort of seating etc.? NO. Does it seem relevant to their core business? NO. Is it a workable differentiating idea? You Bet. They have taken a good chunk in the already hyper competitive market from none other than British Airways

So next time, when you think about a crazy idea that can help you stand out, allow yourself the luxury of actually indulging in it. Because even seemingly illogical idea can be a powerful differenting idea.

More importantly, to choose between a tried and tested, logical strategy and a “seemingly-never-done-before-no-where-near-to-what-others-are-doing” strategy – sometimes the second option creates better results.

Marketing Idea No. 22 – Why six sigma and creativity does not necessarily walk hand in hand

A very interesting article came in Time, quoting whats happening in 3M – the very company that is synonimous with innovation.

What happened was when James McNarney was brought from GE in 3M, he brought with him 6 sigma. As a result, with a thorugh workout of the processes, everyone in 3M vecame a six sigma “Black Belt” and a very process oriented, efficient company. But to some 3M has lost its soul, which is based on innovation.

This provides a very interesting debate – which is the modern modus operandi for global organizations – innovation and design or process and efficiency. Both proved to be successful on their own, but they proved beyond doubt that they cant co-exist.

Where would you put your bet on? Although we can expect a lot of debate on this subject in near future, one thing can be said safely – Six Sigma and process re-engineering is not the cure-all that it is used to in this new innovation and design obsessed world. 

Marketing Idea No. 21 – A Promise that Drives Customer Away

This article is published in Executive Times  

Judging today’s communication, the rule of the game is simple – if you haven’t said a lot, you probably have missed a trick or two. Somewhere along the line the supposed rule of thumbs – “Keeping it short and simple”, “Less is more” etc. – are taking a thumb down.

In today’s over-communicated media, shouting is probably the only possible way of getting heard. However, this does not permit deviation from 3 basic principles.

1. The less things are said, the easier it is to remember

2. If you say everything, you are no longer interesting. If you are no longer interesting, you are no longer remembered.

3. And most important of all, customer satisfaction is not good enough. You have to constantly delight the customers. And the only way to do that is through surprising customers.

What is the story? To be told more simply: it is about over-delivering and under-promising. Today companies are all over-promising and under-delivering. What’s interesting is that every time you talk to companies and ask them how many of you are over-delivering and under-promising, people raise their hands and say, “We over-deliver”. And you might ask how do you do that? And they say, we have a new juice coming out and it is 25% more for the same price. And you say, “OK, did you tell people that?” And they say “Of course”. And then you have to point to them that they have missed the point. You told people they were going to get 25% more, I say, so you didn’t over-deliver at all. You just did what you said you were going to do. What is so surprising about that? Even more examples abound. A bewildering number of banks promise immediate personalized attention but deliver long waits and recorded messages that claim, “Your call is important to us.” Cosmetics promise out of this world glamour. What they give is worldly at best. Toothpaste promises love at first sight, while plaque and tartar is probably the only thing they can work on. Fast food, hotels, soft drink, weight-loss programs, airlines — marketers in all categories seem to have followed the advice: “Promise her anything. . . .”. Well when you promise the world, the world is no longer enough. Where is the surprise party? Why do companies play this game? Because, in their headlong pursuit of short-term volume goals, they have focused on creating transactions — building traffic count, creating trials, ” — and not on building competitor-proof relationships. Why? Because that’s what companies typically measure, and that’s how their managers are held accountable. So companies make promises, hoping that the more powerful and grandiose the promises are, the stronger the consumer response will be. But the more powerful and grandiose the promise, the tougher it will be for companies to keep it.

What do smart and not-so-smart ones do? Smart brands do more than that. They build in surprise. For example, in Hotel Four Seasons, one person is dedicated to every guest before they arrive. They have to find out one interesting fact about this person. It might be the lecture he last gave, it might be the GM he drives. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that they never go on board to say “We know every detail about our customers so that we can customize our offers for him” in their communications. It is something for the customer to find out. An element of surprise to delight customers. And that’s the way it should be. There was a time when honesty was uttered. And it paid handsome dividends. Avis, the number 2 car rental company, lost money for years before they accepted in their ad “We are No. 2. We try harder”. And that worked miracles for them. They didn’t promise best service, because none will believe that from the No. 2 player (“If you are the best, how come you are No. 2?”, they’d ask). They promised shorter cue and less service time, because they are the second best player and more people stand in cue in front of the No. 1 player Hertz. And after accepting their number 2 status and promising some thing they can exceed, Avis made profits for the first time in years. But judging from today’s communication style, “modesty” is a lost cause. “Hidden Cost” is the buzz-word. From retail to banking, the trend is to highlight the benefit (which most of the time is “highlighted” to lofty, impossible heights) and allow the customers to read between the lines and find the “traps”. Price quoted never includes “VAT and Tax”. It is stated at the bottom with the assumption that none will ever read it until too late. Services charges which are deducted so conveniently at the end of year are never mentioned. Warranties that need to be extended with cash payments are conveniently overlooked. It is difficult to find out one mission statement where “transparency and trustworthiness” is not mentioned. It is impossible to find out one company who implement those words, day in day out.

Accepting a few exceptions, brand loyalty has been raised to mythical status. Everybody wanted loyalty, very few understood how to acquire and keep that loyalty intact. Apart from a few cult-like brands like Harley-Davidson, very few brands can claim that their customers will go the distance to buy their brand and will actively recommend their brands, no matter what. Was there ever any doubt that the situation will be like this if we take a background check on this companies and see exactly how many of them constantly exceeded their supposed loyal customer expectations on a long term basis? Hardly. The brand experience in general is very bland, mundane and very very predictable, if not below par. Even the ever reliable ones are faltering to keep their promises. Apple, a company that took design and innovation to incredible heights, had never any major complaints about their product. It is one of the few companies in the world with an obsessively devoted consumer following. And when it launched the iPod Nano last month, fans ran out of words to describe their awe and gratitude for the “impossibly small” device. But then this happened  (As quoted from Internet)

“At Nano’s launch it looked as though Apple’s mercurial ability to fuse aesthetic appeal with cutting-edge technology had created another winner. But then the screen on Matthew Peterson’s Nano broke, Apple said it was not covered by the warranty and he got mad. And then he got even. Peterson set up a website, called became a forum where Nano owners who had suffered similar problems with their devices could vent their frustration. At one stage, Peterson said he was getting 30 complaints an hour about Nanos. As the furore grew and shareholders started to ask uncomfortable questions, Apple was forced to admit that consumer grievances about Nano screens, led by Peterson, were justified.” A natural case of overpromise and underdelivery. When Apple falls, there can be few doubts about the rest. So next time, when you raise a complaint about your customer defecting, think when was the last time you exceeded your customer expectation.

What do we do about it? So what should be the way of things? Here is a short guideline.

1. Don’t communicate every benefit that you are providing in black and white. Leave something for the customers to find out on his own. Such unexpected benefits strengthen the customer – brand bonding

2. Don’t say “We do everything that the customers demand”. Such attitude will put you in firing line as if you succumb to every whim of the customers, it will hurt your bottom line. Rationally, no company can do that. So it’s better not to make such promises.

3. Your non-communicated promises are your biggest assets, so use them often and strategically. Your ad might say that you have the best customer service, but if you provide complementary gifts as on that day to everyone who receives service from your customer service center, that adds more value, simply because that is something that the customer did not expect when he stepped into the service center. 4. Communicate the same promises internally (to your employees and channel partners) and externally (to your customers). Advertising does not induce repeat purchase, a delightful POS experience does. 5. Make you communication as clear and transparent as possible. This includes including VAT and Taxes in your pricing, mentioning the service charges that customer will incur in their lifetime etc. The sticker in your desk states “Never fool a customer”. Its about time, you start acting accordingly 6. If you are the number 1 player, don’t rub in your leadership credentials all over the place. The leader does enjoy the bragging rights, but use it sparingly. If you are the leader, people will come to know that and give you due credit anyway. 7. If you are the number 2 /3 player, don’t try to claim that “We have more quality than number 1, but it is only for the dearest customers to find out for sure”. Customers will never buy that. 8. Most importantly, start practicing what you have preached all along. If you promise “Customer Service at a mouse click away”, you better mean that. If you promise “Foam that will last generations”, you better mean that. Because any deviation will result in customer dissatisfaction. And we all know what customer dissatisfaction will result into The rule of the game is simple, but it’s the players that made it complicated. There is a natural course of action and the battleground is not the marketplace, but inside the mind of the customers. No matter how much you try, you cant change it. So you better accept it. Over-promising generates transactions. It stimulates trials. But those trials won’t be followed by repeat purchases. Over-promising engenders customer disaffection, disappointing those who were attracted by an expectation that remains unfulfilled. The long-term consequences for companies, customers, and stockholders are anything but positive. And that’s a promise.