Suresh Dinakaran is Chief Storyteller at ISD Global, Dubai and Managing Editor, BrandKnew.
Suresh Dinakaran is Chief Storyteller at ISD Global, Dubai and Managing Editor, BrandKnew.
Numerology and Marketing Math!
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.
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:
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!
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
Suzuki Harley Davidson
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.
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.
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!
“. It’s no longer exceptional for stuff (anything, everything ) to work. Which means the bar for ” standing out ” has risen dramatically.