Numerology and the Marketing Math!

Numerology and Marketing Math!

Numerology: Definition: The branch of knowledge that deals with the occult significance of numbers.

​We are all swayed by possibility. As we are swayed by short cuts. Human beings are hardwired to be lazy. So, unless and until there is a by design effort to put in the emotional labour​, routine is the ardently followed also ran. Mundane replaces the potential jugular. It remains that way, because its always been done that way. So why upset the applecart? But what happens when the cart is being toppled?

​I am not a numbers person. Far from it. It somehow just doesn’t add up for me. So, I have almost subtracted it from my life. But, being in the space that I am, and observing the brand marketing communications around me, I am tempted to do a deeper dive and know more.

25 to 70% off: Most of you would have seen these numbers ​scream out at us day in and day out from newspapers, billboards, radio ads, digital ads etc. In fact, some of us were mistaking the 25 to 70% off to be a tourist destination(considering how many of them sprout all over the city)- One cannot miss it because leading brands across industry verticals with the support and ‘ advise ‘ of big ticket advertising agencies make sure such campaigns are run 13 months in a year. So, that makes it 24X7X395. A different numerology this!

The ever lasting love affair of brand and marketing experts with 25 to 70% off remains a mystery. Or by now, it should not be. Considering the amount of time ‘ the practice ‘ has come to root. And the practice has been perfected beyond question. And ably aided by ‘ brand guardians ‘ who toe the line willingly as this ‘ ad vise ‘ is coming from senior czars at the big ticket ad agencies– how can they get their ‘ numbers ‘ wrong? They use ‘ fancy ‘ calculators!!!!

I have heard somewhere that ‘ the more things change, the more they remain the same ‘. Very recently, a very senior brand and business head of a market leading brand called me saying that they are in troubled times. They were losing market share and from being a clear category leader with over 65% retail market share, it was time for store closures, downsizing(or rightsizing to make it sound sweeter) and market share dipping to below 40% – all that in a matter of about 18 months. Inspite of increased marketing spends as advised by the ‘ experts ‘. My question to him was to understand what were they doing different to what was being done and not surprisingly the answer remained ‘ we have aggressively started doing deep discounting and instead of doing it 4 times a year, we remain committed to doing it through the year ‘…so there you go, enough said – ‘ the more things change, the more they remain the same ‘.

​So, do these brand owners and guardians take their coveted ad agencies to task? I’m afraid not. If that were to happen, how can they make ‘ interesting, cerebral conversation ‘ saying that our brand works with XXXX agency – they are in the Top 5…and walk around with a chip on their shoulder​. And be ranked among ‘ Top 50 ‘ Marketing Professionals in XXXX. To be flagged on their Linked In profile. 

Customers buy only on price and the more you deep discount, more loyalty they bring to the equation is still the belief(believe it or not). We can keep bribing them and they will keep flocking like bees to honey. But, what happened? The numbers are not adding up. ​​The 25 to 70% off numerology chapter needs to turn the page. The strategy is now clearly a ‘ has BEEn ‘! And still being tried Bees Saal Baad( Twenty Years Hence for those not familiar with Hindi).

So, where are they headed? To me the writing is on the wall- or is it on the palm?

​Palmistry, anyone?​ Could be easier. Palm off your responsibility to someone or something else! Enough suckers around.

As for me, I am calling up my Mom(God Bless Her) to know more about the occult practice..you guessed it: Numerology!

Disclaimer: She is a retired Math teacher.

ENDS

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Is true talent shying away from advertising?

It’s episode one of the cult classic Mad Men series and ad-man Don Draper in the climax reveals the campaign idea for Lucky Strike cigarettes ” It’s toasted “. A scene that captured attention and sparked the show’s runaway success. It’s toasted was also a real tagline for Lucky Strike cigarettes, adopted by the brand way back in 1917.

Those were the heady days of advertising– an eclectic mix of craziness, Machiavellian egos, cult personalities, big ideas, mind numbing creative campaigns, wild parties, rock and roll, high profit margins(15% commission days)….it goes on. Little wonder it was the industry that a lot of talent aspired to get into. Made for good conversation piece.

The times they have a changed. Advertising as an industry is no longer the flavour of the season when it comes to attracting top talent. This inspite of being a 560Billion US$ industry worldwide in 2019 and growing over 4% compared to the previous year with N America and Asia Pacific reflecting the maximum growth.

What could have happened especially over the last decade and a half? Let’s examine a few factors:

  • the risk appetite for taking up and executing ‘ big ideas ‘ within the agency set up seems to be on the wane. The increasing role of the CFO in marketing and advertising decisions and thereby ROI first always could be a strong influencing factor..
  • the big shift has happened from ‘ gut instinct ‘ to ‘ data precinct ‘ when it comes to execution of campaigns. Freewheeling thinking seem to have taken a backseat
  • young talent do not get a ‘ sense of self ‘- seniority still upends merit when it comes to prized, exciting projects- if you don’t want us, we don’t want you seems to be the thinking
  • with profit margins in the advertising industry shrinking, remuneration and salaries have taken a beating. Talent is seeking alternate, better paying professions
  • the average tenure of the CMO & Brand Manager has come down drastically. Why stick your neck out when going through the motions will do nicely. The Domino effect is reflected in the freedom(or the lack of it) given to the agency- legacy thinking dominates, not exactly a motivation for talent craving to find their own expression
  • start ups with sizeable venture capital funding have mushroomed all over. They are dabbling in hitherto unexplored territories and using cutting edge technology to harness market potential and become game changers. The natural tendency for talent is to move to areas that are changing, future ready and dynamic
  • alternate,fast growing and better paying professions like entertainment, stand up, v logging, blogging, music etc seems to have taken the sheen away from advertising for the wannabes
  • Digital proliferation and the quest for entrepreneurship are driving many to find their feet and make their own dents in the universe
  • The Big 5 of Consulting are not thinking like the Big 6 of Advertising while clearly trespassing into the domain. New entrants are bringing in new thinking, new possibilities- talent will have to realign

Clearly the advertising industry of the future(if it remains to be called that) and the talent that moves there will certainly not be a thing of the past. When change is the only constant, an industry remaining constant without change is not an attraction. As an US$560billion industry, it has enough muscle to bounce back(as long it does not rely on muscle memory). All the die harders(Bruce included) are willing and waiting!

ENDS

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DREAMKETING

DREAMKETING
We are under prepared. The rant is, that we are still mired in Old Economy, Old Product Thinking. But, we must, in fact all of us, take a cue from the likes of the Virgin Group or Tesla and the likes- and come to grips, strategically, with the fact that Winners in the New Age Economy will be …Masters of the Dream Business.
What would that entail; Totally ‘ insane ‘ schools, hospitals, enterprises, retail..going way way beyond the normal suite of services to be in the realm of impossible made possible dreams.
The stakes are high. In fact billions and billions of dollars. So, lets stretch the narrative here.
Digging back on a presentation that Ferrari North America CEO Gian Luigi Longinotti-Buitoni some years ago in Mexico City. Dreams are his mojo. To quote him from the presentation ” A dream is a complete moment in the life of a client. Important experiences that tempt the client to commit substantial resources. The essence of the desires of the customer. The opportunity to help clients become what they want to be. “
Longinotti-Buitoni preaches the  ” marketing of dreams ” – an idea that he compressed into a word of his own coinage: Dreamketing

To guarantee anything in a world gone nuts is well..nuts. So, suggest we take the leap.

Dear Mr CMO, Dear Finance Head, Dear Ms Retail Store Owner. Get an extended lease on your professional life. I will tell you how. Expunge, excise, remove​​ the terms ‘ product ‘ and ‘ service ‘ from your vocabulary. When either of these two words come to your lips, substitute them with ‘ experience ‘ or ‘ dream ‘. That’s all.

This is not a pie in the sky spiel.​ This is a strong business message being sent out by someone, a very practical businessman who has created and enhanced some extraordinary franchises. So, its worth listening to his argument if you are in sync with the fundamental argument that the call of the hour is Totally New Sources of Value Added..in a Totally New Economy.

To ratify, lets put out a grid of ‘ Common Product V/s Dream Product ‘

Common Product     V/s          Dream Product

​Maxwell House                            Starbucks​

Hyundai                                         Ferrari

Suzuki                                            Harley Davidson

Carter                                             Kennedy

​Connors                                        Pele

New Jersey                                  California​

CNN                                               Game of Thrones

​Nothing wrong with the brands on the left of the grid. Each offers regular, solid, every day​ response to some need or another. On the right though are brands with a dreamlike power that go beyond the realm of mere ‘ need fulfillment ‘.

So, dramatically alter perspective. Do not rest until that project passes the test of imagination(or Dreamketing). Raise the bar. WAY, WAY UP! To become what you or your client wants.

ENDS

groupisd.com/story

brandknewmag.com

weeklileaks.com

Decibel V/S Gospel

We have all done our bit of time management drills. Segregate the routine from the urgent from the important. What is urgent need not be important and even the other way around.

Distill the wheat from the chaff. The signal from the noise. Indulge in ‘ Essentialism ‘- separate the trivial many from the vital few.

Hearing and listening are not synonymous.

Given the surfeit of digital and social media options today, the noises that you hear can be overwhelming. It’s easy for anyone to be loud and consistently at that. The Big Bold all uppercase attention seeking subject line for example. Falling innocent prey to these high decibel badgering is a strong possibility.

What would be vital to understand is who are these loudest noise makers to whom you are lending your ears to ? And are you overlooking the more important constituents in your customer universe as you do that? Well worth an introspection.

The once in a blue moon random customer with Cartier expectations and Naif Road budgets might be the noisiest for sure but do not confuse them with the silent, committed, long term customer who delivers you over 90% of your business.

It’s not about the Paleto Principle. Neither is it about profitability and revenues but identifying, respecting and understanding whom we have set out to serve. And serving them the way they ought to be.

A loud noise will not be important and an important voice need not be loud. If they are well heard, they can be well healed. And leave you well heeled! And then it’s business as usual.

Distinguish the decibel from the gospel. Then all would be well.

ENDS

www.groupisd.com/story

www.brandknewmag.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

Your call (isn’t) important to us and will(not) be attended to shortly!

Customer journey. Customer experience. Customer expectation.Customer delight. Customer service. All old wine in new bottles but as should have naturally been the case, things have not matured with age. On the contrary, getting genuine attention(just like paying attention) in an attention starved economy is becoming increasingly difficult and going from bad to worse.
As ordinary mortals, often times we have to deal with banks, financial services, utility companies, car rental brands etc. And we reluctantly take a call on making a call to the epicentre of under delivery– the omni present but care absent  ‘ call centre ‘.
Technology has made rapid strides and from a security perspective ‘ voice recognition ‘ is the harbinger of hope( or so we hoped) for customers expecting to avoid the seven and a half minute hold listening to tastelessly chosen recorded music. And you thought your voice will be heard– tough luck- once you are past that process, you go back in time(yes, literally) and field the 5 security questions to ensure that you are who you are and you are not from a different mother as originally envisaged. And you are left wondering why was the voice recognition used in the first place if the process was to lead to further questioning and endless hold. A lot of questions and certainly no convincing answers.
Pardon my sequencing here- I overlooked to mention the two biggest lies floating around that brands have been propagating blatantly, namely:-
– Your call is important to us and will be attended to shortly
 
– This call maybe recorded for quality and assurance purposes
I say these are the biggest lies for a couple of reasons:
– When was the last time you actually found a call centre personnel sufficiently empowered to resolve your problem? Even if your imagination runs riot, you will be chasing a mirage only.
– On multiple occasions we have put forth our suggestions, frustrations etc on these ‘ recorded for quality & assurance purposes ‘ calls and the customer experience slide has only degenerated further south. Maybe it was ‘ just for the record ‘.
– Have you ever received from a ‘ Relationship Manager ‘ of your bank based in a distant call centre(who is clueless about where you are based) on a Friday afternoon when you have just settled into your afternoon weekend siesta? I have, many times over. This after copious amount of information has been shared to them in the KYC(Know Your Customer!). It should be more like NO, YOU DON’T KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER!
– Have you received calls from an over enthusiastic telecom provider calling you three times in a day(atleast) to ask you for payment(which falls due two weeks hence)? I have. It leaves you wondering ‘ Do(I let phonetics play its part here in let you deciphering who) they have to do that? ‘
Of course there are exceptions and we have heard about the experiences that the likes of Zappos etc provide to their customers that is now part of folklore. But all that seem to be happening on a different planet.
A caveat here before you may misinterpret my vitriol: I don’t belong to that tribe who echoes the sentiment ‘ The customer is always right ‘- its certainly not the case.
The sanctum mantra that brand owners, marketing heads and guardians have been acting on endlessly has been ‘ call to action ‘. But, when the shoe is on the other foot, it seems more like a ‘ call to inaction ‘. And you just can’t seem to shoe that away!
ENDS
 
www.brandknewmag.com
 
www.groupisd.com/story
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Your brand’s worth is in your own hands!

Your brand’s worth is in your own hands!
You do not have to look far ahead into the horizon to read that businesses are facing an uncertain economic landscape across multiple markets around the globe. We are amidst a landscape in which brand worth has never faced fiercer scrutiny.
 
Moreover, in this environment, a power shift has taken place as price-conscious shoppers have seized control. Price loyalty or brand loyalty?
 
The done to death strategy(dare we call it that?) that brands have been resorting to, to drive volumes has been, no prizes for guessing, discounting. Not only is it a short term strategy but it also does both the brand and the business serious damage in the longer term. Turning the model upside down, research has shown that a 1% price increase can drive a 12-15% increase in profit. That is three times the profit increase seen by boosting sales the same amount. Which shows that the commercial impact of protecting prices can outweigh cutting them to drive volume.
 
Just like most buying decisions are not rational, so is consumers perception of price, which too leans towards the irrational. Behavioural economics studies show that when you flip the context, re bundle your output and shift the focus from price to value through added layers of experience, consumers are willing to pay disproportionately more for it. This, in some way, also endorses the oft used observation that price is the yardstick of quality.
 
By combining data-led pricing strategies with the creativity and behavioural science of a modern agency(be it ISD Global or any other), brands can dramatically outperform the competition in a commoditised market. 
 
Brands can increase their price perception in the eyes of the customer through a 3C Model of Create(through rituals, theatre, value added services)-Connect(establish a culture where customers are happy to pay more like Frappuccino from Starbucks)-Convert( Optimum sales balancing value and volumes, omni channel, something like what hotel chain IHG does).
 
For the community of marketers everywhere, it is time to seize back control of the most ignored, most impactful lever in the marketing mixPricing.
 
 
ENDS
 
www.groupisd.com/story
 
www.brandknewmag.com

Time to change your default settings!

A legacy approach might be stifling you, without you even realising it.Best practices may not be that best(or better) at all. In fact there is scope to abandon best practice as the ‘ practice ‘ as it used to exist has changed altogether.

Your current marketing and customer strategies may unknowingly be rooted in old patterns. It may be time for a change.

The purpose of business—creating a customer—and your customers—at a human level—aren’t changing. That, irrespective of all the tectonic shifts happening around them.

But for many businesses, it’s time to make a change toward having a deep understanding of their true purpose and their customers.

The terms consumer and customer are often used interchangeably but they signify very different relationships. Etymologically, consumer stems from a word that means “one who squanders or wastes,” whereas customer stems from a word meaning “a person with whom one has dealings,” with the implication that it is an ongoing relationship.

As Stanley Marcus, of Neiman Marcus, wrote, “Customers are people; consumers are statistics.”

Marketing isn’t about selling to the customer; that’s a byproduct. As the legendary Peter Drucker observed, “The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous. The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself. Ideally, marketing should result in a customer who is ready to buy.

It’s the time to break old tendencies. Its the time to be aware, to rebel, to kill old habits and to seek change.

Not changing is a default tendency. Change the default settings!

The Big Trap for Brands: A Sea of Sameness!

The Big Trap for Brands: A Sea of Sameness
Normal needs a new normalising!
Since there is so much interest, let me start from the bottom line. It is no coincidence that damn near everything that you and me buy or want to buy, seems to have a label ‘ Made in China ‘. Now, that includes airplane wings …as well as caps!
Instant knock offs-with excellence- have become the norm. From shoes to sweaters to computers to restaurants. The quality of damn near everything is terrific. Things that work well are not unusual. Things that don’t work are unusual.
By design or accident, we are afloat, awash, adrift…in a Sea of Sameness. High-quality sameness, but sameness nonethless.
An idea that has legs ..lasts only a few weeks, a few months at best. Then the sequel. And the sequel that follows the sequel. And so on.
Sure heard this before. Herd mentality. We race around. Follow each other’s tails. From Hollywood to Silicon Valley to Madison Avenue to Jamal Abdul Nasar Street.
As Swedish business professors  Kjell Nordstrom and Jonas Ridderstrale brilliantly articulated in their book ‘ Funky Business ‘, ” The surplus society has a surplus of similar companies, employing similar people, with almost similar educational backgrounds..coming up with similar ideas, producing similar things, with similar prices..and similar qualities “. Ouch, that is painful!
The 10X/10X theory on that is that you could be 10 times better. While being ten times less different.
The basic idea that I am echoing here is that ‘ Good Stuff ‘ is commonplace.”



“. It’s no longer exceptional for stuff (anything, everything ) to work. Which means the bar for ” standing out ” has risen dramatically.

In a winner takes all world, Normal = Nothing. So time to stop being goddamn normal.
Dovetailing seamlessly into this line of thought is the Danish marketing phenomenon Jesper Kunde’s articulation ” Companies have defined so much best practice that they are now more or less identical. ” It’s commoditised. Instead, how about ” It’s yet to be practiced “?
In other words, the only way to make a difference is to, well, “ Make a Difference “.
Standing out in a world where most everything works is stupefying difficult. And yet some companies are making a go of it. How I hate the word ‘ normal ‘.
We are in a ” Don’t just sit there economy ” – so, embrace abnormal. Never mind if you are first mover, last mover, first follower or fast follower. Go for it!
ENDS
www.groupisd.com/story
 
www.brandknewmag.com

The PRomise, The PRospect, The PoweR of Celebrity PRanding!

It’s PRime Time!
The PRomise, The PRospect, The PoweR of Celebrity PRanding
A layer. Then another layer. The stack effect. A double whammy. A literal celebrity brandwagon. 
Amitabh Bachchan. Prabhu. Nagarjuna. Manju Warrier. With the cult following that these icons have nationally and regionally in star struck India, one would have imagined that brand Kalyan had enough and more star power to spin many a convincing yarn. But it seems to be a summer of (dis)content.
What else explains that such a powerhouse brand like Kalyan would want to add more horse power(and how) by getting King Badshah Khan(SRK) to inaugurate its new showroom in the heart beat of India in Dubai(read Meena Bazaar).
Sizzling mercury and sapping humidity levels of the early Thursday afternoon were no impediments to the fan frenzy on display, that started a good three hours before King Khan came to the scene. That is what brand marketers would define as ‘ pure brand advocacy ‘.
” Till such time I am alive, he will be my God. Nothing oblique but a direct reference to SRK. After my lifetime, I would consider God in any other form, till then it will be him “, avered a lady fan waiting for the heavyweight superstar. FANatic, surely. Just a small indication of the power, the aura, the charisma, the clout of Badshah Khan.
Strategically, we believe that this is a tactical master stroke by the Kalyan brand. Cause a major ripple by bringing SRK on board in small rushes, spike up attention and recall and then let the sustaining be done by their existing crop of brand ambassadors.
Needless to say wherever there is serious brand power(personal or otherwise), ISD Global(groupisd.com/story) is right in the thick of it. Our band of passionate hustlers and story tellers(#NikhilThekkomkottathil#SalinduSadishan) were at hand, up close and personal to augment and amplify.
The stage was set. And SRK was all the rage.
ENDS
 
www.brandknewmag.com
 
www.groupisd.com/story