The changing idea of marketing as a concept!

If you are one of the marketers who embraces convention, no one will point a finger at you if you were to follow the norm that has been practiced for years. Build/produce/manufacture, brand, market, sell. Justified linear thinking.With strong empirical evidence( I mean brand and business success) to boot.

With so many years of conventional wisdom( that also is the wisdom of the crowds that drive collective bias) in the ring, it would have been a really uphill task for any brand to alter(let alone disrupt) the narrative. But there is something about audacity and moonshots that make them perfect partners in rhyme.

I devote this blog post predominantly to understand marketing from a new lens- the one that brand Tesla is scripting so brilliantly. Directed by Elon Musk(Iron Man). Allow me to go back a few years.

It’s the 4th of April, 2016. The Tesla Model 3 is being launched in the US. It sports a price tag of US$ 35,000 and bookings can be made with a U$1,000 down payment.  Then history unfolds. A whopping 276,000 cars were booked(read pre-sold) on the day, probably a first ever in automotive marketing . And Tesla gathered US$ 276 Million in upfront cash. And here’s where the story gets interesting. There was not even a model car ready. All the sales happened courtesy a few photographs of the Model 3. That’s it. There’s more. There was not even a single car that had gone into production. The first promised schedule for delivery of the Model 3 was late 2017, that was a good 18+ months away. Tesla had disrupted automotive marketing on it’s head and how.

Let’s try to understand more of the phenomena that is brand Tesla.

  • Tesla’s $0 marketing budget is incredibly awesome marketing
  • Tesla Motors has no advertising, no ad agency, no CMO, no dealer network. And that’s no problem. – AdvertisingAge
  • If you drop by the Tesla forums, you’ll see a community of passionate fans discussing how to market Tesla better. There are over 55,000 people subscribed to the /r/teslamotors subreddit. The brand has clearly struck a chord with its fans.
  • Tesla fans are crazy advocates. They attach deep emotional significance to the car. They’re not just paying for a mode of transportation, they’re paying for a slice of the future.
  • Prior to the Model 3 launch, Tesla had introduced the P100D Ludicrous– a luxury model priced over US$ 80,000(base level) with upgraded versions well over US$ 100,000. The marketing masterstroke was in the message conveyed. ” While the PD100 Ludicrous is an expensive vehicle, we want to emphasise that every sale helps pay for the smaller and more affordable Model 3 which is under development. Without customers willing to buy the expensive Model S and X, we would be unable to fund the smaller, more affordable Model 3 “. This is brand positioning at it’s masterful best, making a luxury purchase almost into a charitable act.
  • Every element of the Model S – from the recharging technology to the drag coefficient of the car – is presented as the pinnacle of research and engineering.
  • By eschewing marketing completely, Elon Musk is actually communicating that Tesla is focused on ground breaking technology.
  • Tesla the brand transcended from being just another automotive player in the business to encompass economics, politics, world power to have global energy NOT driven by oil. In the process, creating the marketplace, the eco system where they are the game. As also the game changer.

“ BMW has a marketing department called engineering.” – Seth Godin

These things obviously don’t bother Musk too much. If one were to give him an advertising budget, he is sure to divert that into production. And the final result: an even more incredible car. And inspite of NO Advertising, he gets the world talking about his brand, especially the people who matter.

How does Tesla manage to do all of this free of cost which other brands would spend millions to buy?

First, build something that matters to people. Then, tell a story that resonates with people. Just like iPhones/iPod and Steve Jobs, electric cars are a great story. The greatest stories are aspirational, representing the triumph of passion, conviction, persistence and diligence.

” I know a lot of very wealthy people.  Most of them made their money in technology.  I don’t think Bentley or Rolls-Royce is anywhere near the top of very many of these people’s idea of an impressive car.  A Tesla is more like it “. – Jimmy Wales, on Quora

This sort of advertising is earned, not bought.

You earn this sort of attention by making something truly newsworthy. Or saying something newsworthy.

” The public tends to be, as they should, interested in things that are precedent and superlatives.” – Elon Musk

Musk is all over YouTube. The media is chasing him nine to the dozen. Why? Because he is always working on cool, fascinating, path breaking projects.

Musk is a CEO who understands the power of showmanship(tonnes of interviews, cameo roles in films and media appearances.

Just GoogleElon Musk  says ‘and you will get the most quotable of quotes that media loves to lap up and carry forward.

The Hyperloop is something that Musk is NOT planning to make but delivers great PR for him as a tech visionary.

At most times,Tesla has more orders than they can build – that in itself is great marketing.

Tesla has demonstrated that brands and organisations can move on from a Build/produce/manufacture, brand, market, sell model to that of a brand, market, sell, build one. Welcome to the next normal.

As William Gibson would say, “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.”-  which will be nothing like what we have experienced before, we’re all going to be completely re-evaluating so many aspects of our lives: education, medicine, work, social responsibility, inner calling, the list goes on. And under the aegis of the Covid 19, all of this is happening remotely right now. And the question for a lot of companies and brands is going to be: Now that this shift has happened, am I still relevant? Does what I do still make sense? Am I serving an essential function, especially in a time when everyone is being careful about their finances?

Answering in the affirmative will separate the men from the boys. Wanted. More Musketeers!

ENDS

https://www.groupisd.com/story

https://www.brandknewmag.com

https://www.weeklileaks.com

https://www.brandknew.groupisd.com

Is SAD the new HAPPY in Advertising?

Let’s begin with the obvious. It’s an always on world. While being perennially and technologically connected, geography being history and all of that, at no time have humans been so socially disconnected in the real sense.The need (and significantly unmet) desire for human bonding has never been greater. Nuclear existence has stoked the potential that is kinetic in humans. There is a clamour to reach out and brands are bending over backwards to suit the new found relish for the pathos.
It’s a given that sad news travels fast. But, advertising that stokes emotions( or SADvertising as it is being called these days) that strikes a strong emotional piano chord and opens up the tear ducts, travels fast, wide and deep. Empathy meets exponential sharing, opens up a floodgate of brand conversations,triggers otherwise hard to come by response, sustains brand dialogue and keeps all stakeholders be it brand owners, ad agencies or end users, happy (ironic as it may sound!).
Why the sadness?
It is said that sad emotional content has the capacity to make people feel more emotionally connected to one another, especially powerful in our detached digital world. This sad connectedness makes people more likely to take an action such as sharing content, donating money, or buying a product.
Communicating sadness can create behavioral change
Scientifically speaking, when we hear interesting stories, specifically stories that make us feel distress or empathy, our brain produces two chemicals: cortisol, which links with our sense of distress and helps us focus our attention on something, and oxytocin, which is associated with our sense of empathy. When these two chemicals are triggered, studies show that people are more likely to give money to a cause related to the story they’ve heard.
In short, the study reveals that it is possible for a story to change a person’s behaviour by changing their brain chemistry. What does this mean for brands? Sad stories have the potential to move people to make a purchase. This is why we’ll likely see more of these sad ads in the future.
We have moved on from an era of media scarcity to an era of attention
scarcity. Getting people’s attention is what we’re trying to do, and I
think that meaning, something that people can relate to on a very
visceral level, is what drives a lot of the decisions we make when we’re
talking about things. Hyper competition has forced brands to not only
assure customers a good product or service but make it very relatable
and more meaningful than any other good product.
Over time brands have realised that the consumer culture has evolved
and people are more reflective and mindful of their lives. There is a
constant search for deeper layers of meaning once you have all the
things you need and most of the things you don’t need but desire. The
ad industry of the last decade was mean, cynical and celebrated
bitterness. Those were the days when brands wanted to be Sexy,
Swaggering or Sweeping. That showed up in most of the work that was
put up. Don’t blame them as it seemed to work for all concerned. But,
then after a while, people got sick of it and when a voice and tone which
conveyed exactly the opposite stuck in, the positive reaction was
overwhelming.
Lets list a few of the work from yesteryears where brands have stirred up a flood of emotions all over the world and that includes P&G and its commercial released around the Olympics(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUg6s-uIp1w), Honda’s Project Drive In(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kRU9Au-fhk), Coca Cola Life in Argentina(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPb1t3jU3sI), Nestle Good Life commercial in India(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syZju6ui394), Google’s Dear Sophie(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcHV_Dv9tlo), Dove’s Beauty Patch(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpaOjMXyJGk), John Lewis(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9D-uvKih_k), Budweiser’s Puppy Love(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7p_3lITiK_Q), the charming tale of a canine equine romance or Expedia’s commercial(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CzSeFHrSfM) about same sex marriage where the father fights his prejudice etc.
The flip side of this (which is worrying) is that it has become a trend. The
word ‘ emotional ‘ is now become the most over used word in client
agency briefs. If you are used to agencies creating a trend which should
ideally be the case(rather than following one), its time to take stock. We
just might be at a tipping point on this one. But, till such time, it sinks in,
it’s cry, cry, cry till you succeed for brands and agencies.
Go, grab your tissues!
ENDS
https://www.groupisd.com/story
https://www.brandknewmag.com
https://www.brandknew.groupisd.com
https://www.weeklileaks.com

The New Prescription for Marketers: Subscription

The New Prescription for Marketers: Subscription
Saying that we are in the ” The Age of the Customer ” would be stating the obvious. Here’s how Forrester Research describes the new consumer mindset: “ The expectation that any desired information or service is available, on any appropriate device, in context, at your moment of need.” Customers have new expectations (and yes, those expectations have certainly been driven by millennials, but at this point, almost everyone shares them). They want the ride, not the car. The milk, not the cow. The new Kanye music, not the new Kanye record.
 
Welcome to the Subscription Economy. The term refers to the growing number of businesses that use subscription or membership models and rely on recurring revenues rather than one-time purchases. And aside from transportation and retail, they are entering diverse businesses including Fashion, Personal Hygiene, Furniture etc.
Apple is a subscription business with Apple Music. And so is Google with Google Express. And all the binge watchers out there know that Netflix is one. Dollar Shave Club that sends razors home every month to subscribers is one(they got acquired by Unilever for USbillion). Salesforce, Amazon, Volvo(yes cars), Adobe..the list is growing across business verticals.
 
The Begining of a New Era
 
Before anything else, lets talk about the flavour of the season: ‘ digital transformation ‘- a vague term definitely, the kind of smart-sounding phrase that gets thrown around a lot in conferences and McKinsey reports and Harvard Business Review articles. The kind of expression that lots of people instinctively nod their head at, whether they know what it means or not. It could mean everything, it could mean nothing. Let’s try to define what it means.
 
You have read or know about this statistic already: more than half of the companies that appeared on the Fortune 500 list in the year 2000 are now gone. Poof. Vanished off the list as a result of mergers, acquisitions, bankruptcies.The life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company in 1975 was seventy-five years- today you have fifteen years to enjoy your time on the list before it’s lights out. Why is this happening? Instead of dwelling on failure and looking at all the companies that went away, let’s look at the companies that have stayed. Let’s play victor, not victim.
 
Begining with the usual suspects: Giants like GE and IBM that were on the first list in 1955-and are still on it today-but they don’t talk about their mainframes and refrigerators and washing machines anymore. They talk about “providing digital solutions,” which is an admittedly jargony way of saying RIP Hardware . In other words, these companies now focus  on achieving outcomes for their clients, rather than just selling them equipment. GE ran commercials during the Oscars with the tagline “The digital company. That’s also an industrial company.” Notice the switch there.
 
More companies from that list of 1955 have transformed including Xerox(from manufacturing photographic paper and equipment to information services). McGraw-Hill(from printing textbooks and magazines to offering financial services and adaptive learning systems)..
 
Next on the list, let’s look at some ‘ new establishment ‘ brands like Amazon, Apple, Google, Netflix, Facebook. All very every day to us but new to the list.They’ve rocketed to the top of the list and show no signs of going anywhere. They never thought of themselves as product companies-so no transformation was needed. From the start, these companies were relentlessly focused on building direct digital relationships with their customers.
 
And, finally the third category in the list are the upstarts, the ‘ anti establishment brands ‘ like Uber, Spotify, Box: They haven’t just gone beyond selling products, they’ve invented completely new markets, new services, new business models, and new technology platforms, leaving many established companies trying to play catch-up. As consumers, we love these brands, we love these services, and we love the value they provide us-a value that goes way beyond what a single product could ever offer.
 
What are the common threads among these three groups of companies? Whether it’s GE, Amazon, or Uber, they are all succeeding because they recognised that we now live in a digital world, and in this new world, customers are different. The way people buy has changed for good. We have new expectations as consumers. We prefer outcomes over ownership. We prefer customisation, not standardisation. And we want constant improvement, not planned obsolescence. We want a new way to engage with business. We want services, not products. The one-size-fits-all approach isn’t going to cut it anymore. And to succeed in this new digital world, companies have to transform.
 
The Customer is Always Right?
 
A nineteenth century phrase that was doing the rounds. The jury is still out on that question- Fortune 500 Companies built prescriptive strategies around customer focus, but they lacked a descriptive understanding of the mindset of the customer herself. And to no one’s surprise, there were certainly no sweeping changes in public sentiment toward big enterprises. It just wasn’t enough. The winds just weren’t blowing in the right direction.
 
And then it happened- like a breath of fresh air, digital disrupters like Salesforce and Amazon took the Customer First concept several notches upstream. They began by waving goodbye to the ‘ one to many ‘ approach.(What we call in marketing as the ‘ Spray and Pray ‘ route). They didn’t have customer segments anymore- they had individual subscribers. And every one of those individual subscribers had their own home page, their own activity history, their own red flags, their own algorithmically derived suggestions, their own unique experiences. And thanks to subscriber IDs, all the boring transactional point-of-sale processes disappeared. Ten years ago there was no Spotify, and Netflix was a DVD company. Today both those brands own a significant percentage of the total revenue of their respective industries! Now businesses are asking themselves a whole new set of questions: What do we need to do to build long-term relationships? What do we need to do to focus on outcomes and not ownership? To invent new business models? To grow recurring revenue, and to deliver ongoing value?
 
The New Marketing Mix
 
We are seeing a massive shift from the 4Ps( Peace Be Upon It) towards the 4Esthe new approach to customer value proposition, which embodies Engagement, Experience, Exclusivity and Emotion. The the truth is people don’t buy products anymore. They buy experiences and emotions instead. You should change your “what should I sell” or “how should I sell” into “WHY should I sell it?”.
 
The glory days of the soulless, all-powerful corporation are long gone. Today’s customers are more informed by an order of magnitude. Most of them have researched, assessed, and categorised you before you can even say hello. And to most of them, especially younger ones, ownership just isn’t that important anymore. People increasingly view the prospect of buying something as unnecessary baggage. Today people expect services to provide immediate, ongoing fulfilment, from ride shares to streaming services to subscription boxes. They want to be happily surprised on a regular basis. And if you don’t meet those expectations, you get dropped, not to mention trashed on social media. It’s that simple.
The Shift is On
 
So, on the one hand you have the old business model, where brands used to focus on “getting a product to market” and selling as many units of that product as possible: more cars, more pens, more razors, more lipsticks, more laptops, more credit cards. They did this by getting their products and services into as many sales and distribution channels as possible. Of course there must be a customer on the other end buying all this stuff, but often you didn’t really care who they were, as long as more units flew off the shelves.
 
That’s not how the modern company thinks. Today successful brands start with the customer. They recognise that customers spend their time across many channels, and wherever those customers are, that’s where they should be meeting their customers’ needs. Their arc stretches across multiple axis. And the more information you can learn about the customer, the better you can serve their needs, and the more valuable the relationship becomes. That’s digital transformation: from linear transactional channels to a circular, dynamic relationship with your subscriber. A circular economy is a trigger for the subscription model- Long term, engaging, evolving, value enhancing. So, get ready to subscribe to the thought!
 
 

ENDS

Suresh Dinakaran is Chief Storyteller at ISD Global, Dubai and Managing Editor, BrandKnew.

https://www.groupisd.com/story
https://www.brandknew.groupisd.com
https://www.brandknewmag.com
https://www.weeklileaks.com

Going for Gr8?

We have seen, heard and experienced this before. A top down driven organisation. Where feedback and candour is discouraged, probably a non starter . Suggestions and inputs alien. Empowerment and trust  non existent. In short, my way or …my way!

Which brings us to the concept and significance of psychological safety in the workplace. Let’s define what that is.

Psychological safety is a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking. It can be defined as “being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career “. In psychologically safe teams, team members feel accepted and respected.

Throwback to 2016 and Wells Fargo( then the world’s largest bank by market cap and the 3rd largest in the US). CEO John Stumpf’s mantra to employees was often “eight is great” ; meaning get eight Wells Fargo products into the hands of each customer. But this directive proved burdensome for bank employees as they struggled to meet demanding quotas and satisfy even more demanding managers. They began to cut corners and opened deposit accounts and credit cards for Wells customers – without their knowledge or permission.

After a LA Times investigation that uncovered the sham accounts and a lawsuit filed by the city of Los Angeles, Wells Fargo had to pay US$ 185 Million in fines to city regulators. Not to mention the serious drop in goodwill and reputation, a pre requisite for a financial services brand. Caused by: you guessed it, the absence of psychological safety in the work eco sphere.

Move onto another organisation. Pixar. What is common knowledge is that when it comes to films and movie production, there are far more misses than there are hits. Almost a 10: 1 ratio of misses to hits. In such an industry, for Pixar to have delivered 17 super blockbusters in a row, called for something extraordinary. At the fulcrum of it all was the culture. A culture that sought openness, persistent feedback, constructive criticism, a voice and relevance for all and a perennial hunger to excel. An environment where people felt trusted, safe, confident, believed. Ed Catmull(recently retired), CEO was a driving force in ensuring the right questions were asked all the time, facilitating an open conversational culture. (As an aside, I will urge you to read this HBR article on how departing leaders can pass along more than wisdom https://hbr.org/2019/04/how-departing-leaders-can-pass-along-their-wisdom-to-employees ).

It’s not as if that creating a ‘ psychological safety ‘ environment was the pre requisite for leading and growing successful organisations. As a counter to that, if one were to look at brands like Apple or Uber, none of what we mentioned in the case of Pixar above counted for much in these organisations. Their becoming uber successful was clearly a function of brilliant strategy and unabashed opportunism. But the jury is still out on whether these organisations can more of what we are propagating, making them even bigger, better, revered organisations.

It might be worthwhile talking briefly about Project Aristotle(a tribute to Aristotle’s quote, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts“) at Google which was initiated to understand the dynamics of effective teams, what topped the charts of the prognosis was ‘ psychological safety ‘ where team members feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other, apart from factors like dependability, structure & clarity and meaning.

So, what can we do to discover the ‘ power within ‘? Simple. Take some of the examples from the likes of Pixar and Google shared above and look at implementing them. At ISD Global, where I work, this has been happening for quite a while and it is only going to get better. Over to you!

ENDS

groupisd.com/story

brandknewmag.com

brandknew.groupisd.com

weeklileaks.com

 

Marketing is having a Listening Problem!

Is Marketing having a Listening Problem?
Yes, you heard that right. Marketing has a listening problem…definitely looks like- but the problem isn’t a matter of not hearing the voice of the customer. The problem is understanding what all the noise actually means.
An unintentional tone-deafness has led marketers to realise that they are not just struggling to aggregate the right data or struggling to identify the moments of opportunity to deliver exceptional experiences to their customers. Marketers admit that the biggest challenge the organisation faces while working to develop lasting customer relationships is actually remembering the relationship itself and not solely focusing on getting campaigns out the door.
 
Organisations have settled for passive hearing instead of active listening.
When it comes to aggregating the true voice of the customer, many marketers continue to rely on passive channels bringing in reactionary signals intentionally sent to the organisation. This leaves little opportunity to aggregate, let alone understand, real-time behaviours and cues being left behind by the customer across the omni-channel landscape. Consider where marketers believe insights, cues and indicators are being left: Email, Social, Sales Rep Interactions, Forms, Service & Support. While this list seems reasonable and an appropriate collection of customer signal sources, when sorted into categories of active, realtime, customer-driven signals versus post-engagement, reactionary or company-controlled environments, the picture of where marketers listen for signals begins to point to channels of known, structured comfort.
Where do customers actually leave cues?
Not in the known, structured comfort but in places like Social Media, User Generated Content, IoT Sensors, Chatbot sessions, Mobile Device detection etc
Data doubts are holding back advancement of the omni-channel experience. 
Without question, marketing has spent the past decade (or more) actively investing in expanding the omni-channel toolkit, identifying new ways to reach and engage with the connected customer. Each experience advancement heightens the need for actionable insights and a clear signal based on customer voice and data. But few marketers feel they are able to unlock the opportunity in the channels and the data already in use. This doubt is contributing to a hesitancy to expand and further explore what is new in omni-channel engagement.
Getting small could get us back to the customer.
 
The criticality of small data sits with the insights that reveal the “why” – why is the customer here today, why are they searching, why are the buying, why are they NOT buying? 
Marketers are waiting for complaints or opportunities to improve experiences through answering issues or questions rather than leveraging more complex data to proactively meet the customer with experiences that add value and delight. But marketers are also looking to get a better view of what the customer actually wants. Marketers need to understand the “why.”
Are they most prepared to take advantage of small data to turn noise into signals from the customer. Marketers are also confident they will finally reach the “why” behind customer’s actions and behaviours.
“Why” is also fuelling the marketer’s aspirations. When you try to identify brands across any industry that customers admired for their ability to deliver on real-time, personalised customer engagements, some key brands consistently rose to the top: Amazon, Apple, Google, Starbucks and Nike. 
What these brands also do well is connect with people and engage with customers like individuals, not just transact with campaigns.The biggest differentiator of these leading brands is their ability to treat every individual like a friend or confidante.The ability to initiate conversations in a manner that reflects the customers needs helps differentiate the brand. In essence, these brands never loose sight of the fact that their customers are core to their business…and that their customers are people first, buyers second.
It is time for marketing to lead the charge to treat people like people. It is time for marketing to champion being human. It sounds fundamental…that our customers are people. But as we have already seen, marketers admit that remembering that the organisation is engaging with people and not just data sets or individual records can be challenging.
The tools and technology are available. The data is abundant. The missing piece has been the voice of the customer. It is time for Marketing to champion the shift back to human…driving profit and opportunity along the way.
ENDS
 
www.groupisd.com/story
 
www.brandknewmag.com

Is brand Apple no longer the apple of everyone’s I ?

‘I’ don’t know-hence I have some some questions about the most valuable brand in the world..

a) Is the Apple era over? Have they moved on from ‘ ground breaking and game changing ‘ to ‘ incremental fixes ‘ ? Sounds audacious but it does beg the question.

b) Have they missed the bus virtually in the Smart Speaker space in reference to Amazon & Google? With their Alexa and Assistant respectively. Though they were the true blue innovator with Siri ages ago and had a great shot at dominating the ‘ living room & kitchens ‘, they seem to be caught in no man’s land as of now. Should they have considered this space more Siriously? (Pardon the pun). As one of the most valuable brands in the world, don’t they want their ‘ share of voice ‘?

c) Should they be getting into Content Creation? They have the cash to do it but do they have the culture and the will still? Should they look at acquiring someone like an HBO or other smart acquisitions to hit the ground running? Where does Apple TV fit into all of this?

d) Have they moved on from a culture of Innovation and R&D being their biggest asset a decade ago to a huge pile of cash being their biggest asset today?

In a world of FAANG, is it still A for Apple? A for Answer is what I am looking for! What will the Doctor order to not keep the Apple away?

Ends

www.groupisd.com/story

www.brandknewmag.com