Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Mobile Marketing Simplified‏

The term 'Mobile Marketing' often comes with so much jargon that the baggage can get overwhelming.

Alex Meisl, Chairman of Mobile Marketing agency Sponge, talks about Mobile Marketing in refreshingly simple terms in this podcast.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Talking the talk

Dr Kaushik Basu (Chief Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance, Government of India) has raised some hackles with one his working papers on corruption.

In his paper, Dr Basu argues that for bribes paid to get routine work done (he calls these "harassment bribes"), Law should reserve all punitive action for the bribee and none for the briber. He points out that the under the current legal system, the quantum of punishment could be same for the bribee and the briber. The change in law "will cause a dramatic drop in the incidence of bribery," thinks Dr Basu"The reasoning is that once the law is altered in this manner, after the act of bribery is committed, the interests of the bribe giver and the bribe taker will be at divergence." 

The idea may seem radical to legal luminaries, but I'd wager that a lot of us laymen didn't even know that paying a bribe and taking a bribe are equal crimes in the eyes of the Law. In fact, it seems hugely unfair that a person who has often no option but to pay up in order to get things done should be held as guilty as the parasite who doesn't move his butt until his palms are greased. So, to a layman like me, Dr Basu's idea seems logical and one that should be implemented.

However, the idea has faced flak from several quarters. Some newspapers have carried stories under headlines that do little justice to the idea ("Legalise corruption: Chief economic advisor"). Social media has been abuzz with messages trying to interpret and misinterpret what Dr Basu had meant (an example here).

The problem, in my opinion, is with Basu's choice of words rather than the idea itself. Take, for instance, the title of his paper:
Why, for a Class of Bribes, the Act of Giving a Bribe should be Treated as Legal

At first glance, this could seem like an ominous prescription. If the objective of presenting the idea through a paper is (in Dr Basu's words) "to minimize the risk of misinterpretation," this title probably doesn't live up to the objective. Rather it is an open invitation to those who specialise in misinterpretation.

Maybe a title like the one below could've worked better:
Why, for a Class of Bribes, Law should treat the Bribe Taker and the Bribe Giver Differently

Headlines and titles are often taken at their face value in today's haven't-got-a-whole-minute world. In any communication, the first line is more important now than it ever was.

Pic source: www.thehindu.com

Friday, 21 January 2011

Brochure for sure

B2C sales pitches often seem like a trick.

Take the case of holiday time-shares. Salespersons spend a lot of time interacting with prospects. They scribble on sheets trying to explain various "plans" offered. In the end, you have a lot of uttered promises, a bunch of scribbled notes and a pair of eager eyes peering at you for an answer, but no printed brochure that gives you the reassurance that what you've just heard is indeed the truth and not the taradiddles of an eager salesperson.

A printed brochure can do the pitch a whole lot of good. It increases believability considerably and consequently the chances of  sale closure are enhanced (unless of course one's business model is based on trapping customers through false promises that obviously cannot be printed, which is exactly the impression you create when you pitch without a brochure). And by brochure, I mean a brochure, not photocopies or prints of certain documents.

Another trend I've noticed is the tendency to lead the prospect down a blind alley into a tight corner. The pitch includes questions designed to elicit specific answers that are going to make saying "No" to the offer later seem stupid. While this tactic may seem clever, it actually draws the battle lines between the salesperson and the prospect. The defence shields are upped, and the salesperson is no longer on the prospect's side.

If you are selling a time-share, leave behind a printed brochure that has all plans & entitlements listed (and not just breathtaking pictures of your resorts). If you are selling insurance, hand over the product brochure(s) to your audience. And please, give the prospect some time and space to breathe. The Give-me-your-answer-now approach works sometime when you are proposing marriage, but otherwise it's not a nice thing to say to a prospect.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

"Baithoongi piya Bolero mein"

While brand managers and ad agencies "strategise" in conference rooms, sometimes brands get a fillip from unexpected quarters. This hilarious folksy video that sings paeans to Bolero (an SUV from the Mahindra stable) has surfaced on YouTube.

The song takes digs at many automotive brands including the likes of Honda City, Indica, Tata Sumo and even the Scorpio (which comes from the same Mahindra stable).

Somebody tweeted the link to Mr Anand Mahindra, the Vice Chairman and MD of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. and he retweeted the link with his comment:

Marketing is not just about "creating" a buzz, it's also about spreading the buzz.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Hey fever

For some reason, some brands try really hard to sound cool & trendy on social media. Nothing wrong with that as long as it sounds natural and apt. However, sometimes the 'coolness' turns so robotic that it teeters on the edge of civility.

For instance, Nokia India, in its tweets, seems so attached to "hey" that almost all their responses begin with that word!

Hey there Nokia, wats wid connectin ppl?

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Small change, but it jingles

A couple of months ago, I had thought aloud about the Indian Railways' choice of imagery. The Indian Railways has now changed the picture on its homepage.

I do not know what prompted the change (Commonwealth?), but it surely is a good sign.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Brand romance

The acid test of an Internet romance is the first face-to-face meeting. After days (sometimes months/years) of chatting/emailing/FBing/tweeting, the protagonists finally meet. Quite often, I'd reckon, the imagery built over online interactions gets a thorough jolt in the first meeting.

In today's digital age, brands and consumers undergo similar experiences. Before a consumer meets a physical brand in the physical space, she will probably check it out in the virtual space. As Seth Godin says,"The chances that you and your brand will first be encountered digitally grow every day." If the brand seems worthy of attention, the consumer will probably decide to meet the brand in the physical space. And then she will make that all-important choice: Yes, No or Maybe.

In order to make the first meeting happen, the brand must tell interesting stories. And in order to get the final decision in its favour, the brand must live up to those stories. Brands that tell interesting stories, display behaviour that gives credence to those stories and then wow the consumer with some unexpected surprises usually end up landing regular candlelit dinners with the consumer. Yes, telling interesting stories might need some practice, but the stories have to be genuine and the brand's demeanour must always corroborate the stories. Obviously, this cannot be achieved by pretence. The brand must look inward to source the interesting stories.

If we think of brands as either Romantics or Pretenders (although the two are not always mutually exclusive), it's obvious that the Romantics would stand a better chance of winning over hearts. Sounds simple, but most brands err on the side of overpromise. The first meeting happens. but sigh, no candlelit dinners thereafter.

Related post: Make big promises; overdeliver

[Picture credit: Nevit Dilmen]