Marketing Idea No. 50 – How to pitch your message to waiting room customers

Its an unwritten law of urban life – we have to wait in lines no matter what the deed is. Starting from traffic jam to buying movie tickets to health care admission, standing in long lines is a burden we must carry. Some face it with utmost positive attitude and acceptance. While for some….lets just say its not an endeavor they look forward to.

While people’s attitude towards standing in line might vary, the fact its a great marketing opportunity is a sure thing. Marketing and standing in lines? Yes i know how it sounds, but here is how it works. And why.

1. Lines are a great leveler. Be a king or pauper, while standing in lines there is only one thing you can do – wait. Thats why its a great opportunity to pitch your marketing message. As people have very little to do, not to mention very little distractions, they will listen to your message, make more informative calculations per second and if you are lucky, make purchase decisions.

2. How can you do it? The process is simple and varied. You can send your direct sales force and request the people in line to invest some of their time in return for a good benefit. Or you can place your static marketing messages in the form of signage, brochures, fliers and make it visible when people stand in lines. Or you can go radical and transform your message into something that people can enjoy while standing lines. Make a story out of your marketing message and hand it over to people to read and kill time. Make cheap one time use music CDs with advertisements built into it and hand them over with headphones so that people can listen to it while in ‘waiting’ mode. The choices are endless.

Where to attack? Well you can dig your trenches anywhere. In movie theaters, waiting rooms of dentists, hair salon waiting rooms, line in front of embassy and visa processing office – you name it. Anywhere you look there is a line longer than the one you draw that separates your traditional thinking from incredible innovative thinking. You just have to go and stand there. And of course, pitch.

Marketing idea no. 49 – Rickshaw branding

This idea is contributed by Mohammad Jobaed Adnan 

If we think about mass transport then what do we see almost everywhere across the nation? The answer should be “Rickshaw” – the most popular transport for the nation. Dhaka is already known as the city of Rickshaws.

When there is a question about branding on transport it seemes bus was the obvious choice. But how about Rickshaw branding?

There are some fantastic opportunities that rickshaw branding presents

1. In rural areas and small towns rickshaw, not bus, is the mode of transport of choice. So any company willing to increase its presence there, rickshaw should be an automatic favorite.

2. It should be relatively less constly than other forms of transit marketing

3. Of course Rickshaw should be off limit for brands that want to position as luxury, quality or glamourous. But there are some commodity oriented brand who thrives on being positioned as “brand of the common people”. What is a better way of being positioned as a brand of the common people than being exposed into the vehicle of the common people?

4. Rickshaw is a slow moving vehicle. Thats why compared to bus or other vehicles, its visibility and readability will be higher.

So if the next question is, “Why we need to use rickshaw as a media?”, the most appropriate answer will be, “Why not?”

Marketing Idea No. 48 – Dont create buzz that you cant deliver or exceed

Harry Potter and the deathly hallows is the fastest selling book of all time. It sold 8.3 million copies within 24 hours of its launch. It beats the record set by its own predecessor Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince which sold 6.9 million copies in its first 24 hours.

But that is not the biggest success story of this book. Nor is it the biggest lesson that marketers can learn from this book.

The biggest lesson any marketer can learn from this phenomenon comes from J.K. Rowling herself. How & why? Let me ask you this – can you name any product and brand launch in recent times that created this much hype and once it hits the market, the quality of the product meets the quality of the hype? It will only be a handful.

And that is marketing reality for you. We create hype around mediocre products to make it seem like the next big thing. But here comes a book with the world of expectations and surprise, surprise – delivers, if not exceeds the expectations.  And that is the biggest success of this series.

Moral of the story

Get the product quality spot on first. Then make it remarkable. And only then create the hype.

Marketing Idea No. 47 – A New Car for “Lindsay Lohan”- types

Finally a car that can put a rest to drunk driving! Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Ricchie, eat your heart out.

Nissan is testing a new drunk driving prevention technology in Japan, where an on board breathalyzer will sniff the amount of alcohol in driver’s breath. And if the amount is more than what is legally allowed, ignition will be disabled by an interlock mechanism.

Toyota is doing something similar where they will detect unsafe drunk driving by detecting the sweating pattern of the driver and how he is handling the steering wheel.

A big hurrah for Japanese car makers.

Marketing Idea No. 46 – Sell initial products at low price and make money in upgrades

Here’s a selling formula that works miracle

1. Sell the initial products at a very low price (But not for free. That would not work)

2. Get the customers “habituated’ with your product. So that when the time comes for replacing / upgrading your product, he feels compelled to stick with you

3. Set a high price for the replacements, supplements and upgrades of that product, skim the market and make money.

This is a formula made world famous by PC industry. But it works for most of the technology companies, as well as non-technical ones. And much to the delight of manufacturers, it really makes a lot of business sense and keeps the cash registrar ringing.

One note of caution – Dont give your product away. The product that is available for free for customers does not create any emotional attachment. So he can replace it without much heartbreak.

Marketing Idea No. 45 – A Super Shop That Will Carry the “Number 1” brands only

Departmental stores and super shops contain a number of brands in every product category, so that customers can choose from a wide range. However, there are three downsides of this strategy

1. Total inventory cost is very high

2. Sometimes customers get bewildered with the bedazzling array of choices

3. Every super shops follow the same appraoch. So where is the differentiating factor?

Holding that thought in mind, we can introduce a shop or super store which will carry only the Number 1 selling brand of each category. Sounds limiting? Well, think about it.Think about how much you can reduce your inventory cost. Think about how much you can reduce your dependence on supply chain problems. And that is only one benefit. There is more.

If customers want to choose from a wide range, go to Agora or other super shop. But if you want to buy the best brand, just to come to our store. We have pre-selected it for you. Customers will be happy as they will automatically know they are buying the best from the best. The quality check is already done by the retailer on behalf of the customer.

But more importantly, this super shop or departmental store will STAND OUT in the sea of stores. And that in itself is a priceless value addition.

Marketing Idea No. 44 – Use multiple channels to sell your product, not just one

Its very difficult to remove the number 1 company from its leader position, once he is there. Ask Pepsi. They have been trying their heart out for more than 100 years!

If we study history of brand warfare, only a handful of brands have done the unthinkable – dislodging the champion brand from its post and being the new number 1 brand. And none of it is more astonishing than HP becoming number 1, removing Dell from its spot.

What went wrong in Dell?

One of the main reasons were Dells obsession of selling directly to the customers. Its ironic that the main reason which made Dell the dirling of Wall Street is the same reason that caused Dell’s downfall. As Dell placed all its bet on one distributional channel, HP was forging unique partnerships with other channel members and slowly but surely overtook them.

Moral of the story – Dont place all your bananas in one basket. Use multiple channels to sell your product. And dont become too much in love with history. What is your strength in one decade may be the cause of your ruins in the next.

Marketing Idea No 43 – Catching the “Potter-mania” in Bangladesh

At 12.00 am July 21, 2007, we will witness something extraordinary, the like of which may never be seen in our life time.  

Harry Potter is officially the new $15 billiion man. Publishers, movie studios, theme park owners, children, young at hearts, toy marketers, packaged foods marketers – the enthusiasm and money altogether has reached an alltime high.

So how much is Harry Potter really worth?

A calculation done has provided startling results. According to the AC Nielsen research

1. Author J.K. Rowling herself is worth $1 billion

2. Harry Potter himself is now the 30th most wealthy individual in USA, even wealthier than the likes of Micheal Dell (CEO Dell) and Eric Schmidt (CEO Google)

3. Some of his grand revenue sources are – Advertising ($380 million), DVD sales ($1 billion +), packaged good licensing ($11.8 million), music ($13 million+), books ($9 billion), movies ($4.4 billion) etc.

With so much hoopla around the boy wonder, what are we doing in our country to capitalise?

While an extravaganza like this is a marketers dream, its sad to say that we have completely missed the Potter bus here in Bangladesh. Sure, Etc. and some book stores are doing in house Potter fair, competitions and book promotions, but that is definitely not enough. Here are some of the missed opportunities

1. Harry Potter has replaced “Dalim Kumar” in childrens heart, but english illiteracy is a challenge. Any book publisher could have acquired the license of Harry Potter latest installment, and go for Bengali translation (not pirated). This could have increased the appeal to those children who would love to read Potter books but cant do so because of english illiteracy. (Criminal company – Sheba Prokashoni!! Where are you?)

2. There is this big hype about what happened to Harry Potter at the end and who are the two person who died in the book. Marketers could have capitalized by running contests for people who can correctly guess what happens in the book and reward them accordingly.

3. TV channels or Star Cineplex could have bought the right of old Potter movies and shown them during this time. As all children are in the mood of revising old stories before diving into the new book, this could have been an wonderful opportunity

4. Bangladeshi bags and other merchandise owners could have also tagged along, by selling Harry Potter licensed goods.

5. Some event management company could have organized a big Potter Event in Wonderland by transforming it into a Harry Potter theme park for 1 day, inviting children from all over Bangladesh to join and celebrate

6. Some newspaper or magazine could have published a special Potter supplement and sell it separately in news-stands from the day of the launch.

These are just random thoughts. But i am sure with some conscious group efforts, something much more grand could have been done here. What remains to be seen is if we learn from such missed opportunities. Our neighbours have made big strides in aligning themselves with global events like this. How long will it take for us?

Marketing Idea No. 42 – Wishing the world on a plate and getting it

No matter what the psychologists or motivational speakers say about it, we dont get whatever we want. We only get what is available.

Think about it. When you go to the theaters, you make yourself believe that of all the movies released that week, “Spiderman 3” is the one you are willing to see. But what you REALLY want to see is a gangstar movie from the 50s. But unfortunately, you are forced to want what is available.

Think some more. You go to the book store and set your eyes on an advertising book that is currently in the NY Times best sellers list. But your heart is set on finding “Confessions of an advertising man”, an out of print book from the 70s. Again, unconciously, you settle for what is aviailable, not what you want.

Therefore, our demand is simply a manipulation of limited supply chain. Very simply put, if our local departmental store cannot stock every available toothpaste brand available in the world, then we are forced to choose between the ones that are available. And since stocking so much inventory is physically impossible, not to mention tremendously costly, we have turned into creatures of limited demand.

But what if those supply restrictions were lifted? What if whatever we want, starting froma Jazz CD from the 50s to the never before released demo of a 70s rock band, is available to us? A lot of things will change actually. But the most dramatic change will take place in our basic supply demand dynamics. As we came to know from Economics 1.0 – as supply increases demand decreases, until it becomes zero. But according to the new theory – unlimited supply will bring unlimited demand.

A radical thinker called Chris Anderson is about to change all this known theories with some groundbreaking proposals, which he summed up with the term “The Long Tail”.

The basic propositions of this theory are stated below

1. In the physical world, stocking unlikmited inventory is impossible and costly. But in the digital age, cost of stocking additional inventory will be driven to zero. Then the virtual retailers ( i.e. Amazon) will stock all kinds of books, not just hit and popular ones. And the demand will not be limited to limited supply.

2. In the virtual world also, the demand for some mainstream books or music will be high and they will dominate the sales. But the moment we start adding more and more books and music tracks, we will see that the demand curve does not slide down to zero or negative. Rather the demand curve flattens ( See the picture). Meaning – there is demand for each and every additional books or tracks, no matter how outdated it is.

So what is this Long Tail in short? As taken from

“The Long Tail is the transition from a hit-focused marketplace to a millions of niches marketplace. While the majority of profits previously were made by selling a handful of products (the hits) to a lot of people, now millions of products are being sold to smaller amounts of people based on niches. Yes that’s right – it’s niche marketing in it’s purest form, although it goes beyond merely setting up content sites to attract niche traffic and make a quick buck from it – we are talking about a general economic transition brought about by an opening up of distribution channels creating a near-frictionless and abundant source of product variety.

The Long Tail exists because in certain industries supply and demand have (finally) come to a point where supply is no longer limited by how much shelf space there is, how much it costs to manufacture, transport, store and deliver a product. The product is now “virtually” abundant and produced at such a low cost that business no longer has to place emphasis on the big hits, the huge mass-market blockbusters as the main source of profits.

It becomes possible to make margins from products that in the past were not profitable because not enough people would buy them, the niche was just too small to cater to and the cost of production and delivery out-weighed the potential revenues.”

Marketing Idea No. 41 – Mention calories and other nutritional facts in the restaurant food

This idea is contributed by Sadique Salim 

Since healthy living is very much an “in” thing now, many businesses can now cash in. One of them is restaurants.

While packaged foods mention the calory and other nutritional information, restaurant and fast foods dont. The idea is simple. Every meal in these food joints will publish their calory and other nutritional information for the benefit of the customers. The argument might be that if fast foods publish how unhealthy their foods are, their business might go down. But human psychology works in mysterious ways – and none presents the case more gloriously than tobacco. Publishing cautionary notices in the package never stopped the sell of cigarettes in any part of the world. The same will happen in food business as well. In fact this will benefit the business in 3 ways

 1. Consumers will come to acknowledge that those restaurants actually care for their health. And they will feel comfortable that they are making an informed decision.

2. These rastaurants can introduce “Healthier” version of their normal menu. For example – the restaurant can advertise that a normal double beef cheese burger meal (meal 1) may contribute “234” Kcal. But their “Healthier” burger meal (meal 2) will contribute only 80 Kcal. Now the customers can decide which one he will pick. He can go for the sumptious meal 1 and make the most of the sensations in the taste buds or the modest meal 2 and count his calories.

3. This can help the restaurant to stand apart and differentiate himself in the sea of food joints. Most importantly, they will be gifted with the grand daddy of all brand strengths – Trust.

This might sound like a heavy burden to pull. But this might be a necessity in future for food business. And the early bird may win the day.