Life is not fair. Reverse Marketing is a collection of new marketing ideas and thoughts to counter the unfair advantage...
(60 Sec Brand Accelerators) Copyright © 2014 by (Neeti Brand Accelerators) All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the author. 2
Contents Introduction 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Reverse Marketing The new 80/20 rule Life is too short How to be creative? Multi-tasking –is it for you ? Boiling an egg on electric guitar The magic of 15 % Perfect is paralysis Life is a number game Reverse engineering will lead to reverse marketing
6 13 15 17 19 21 22 24 25 27
11.Why do customers buy from you ?
12. How did Modi create a super brand in 9 months
13. How to build brand awareness of your business
14. 10 hot tips on branding for small business
15. Good marketing in bad times
16. 6-ways to brand a commodity
17. What does it take to be a brand building CEO ?
18. New biz mood- are you ready ?
19. Do you need to raise your prices ?
20. How to avoid hiring morons
21. Surprise is a awe-inspiring emotion
22. Riding the tiger-Selling apartments to the rich
23. Trust in God but lock your car
24. Branding with fear
25. Do you need a scorecard ?
26. Are you ready for the ultimate risk ?
27. My wish-list 2015
About the Author
Introduction Who said life is fair? Twenty years ago, this wisdom was given to me by my boss, when I had expressed my dissatisfaction at getting a low annual increment. His explanation was,that he had to give better increments to people, who were more crucial to the organization-at that particular point of time. My increment, had nothing to do with my performance. That’s what every traditional marketeer is feeling right now. For years, you were selling garments, shoes, beauty products, mobiles, electronic items, household gadgets profitably from your shop. Suddenly, you find that your sales are going down. What’s going on? Flipkart runs a “billion dollar sale” and mops up Rs 600 crores in a day. Amazon, Snapdeal and a dozen others are offering drop-dead discounts and consumers are loving it. They never had it so good. Consumer loyalty is history. All customer groups are divided into two neat segments. Customers who want deals and more deals (75%), and customers who look for brands (25 %). As a seller, you need to decide–where you fit in.Even if you are an e-tailer, the same rule is applicable. Old marketing says that you need to identify your customer, find what he wants and sell the product to him. You are allowed to use all the dirty tricks to make the sale.You are always seeking the customer. Day in and Day out. Reverse marketing is just the opposite. Here-the customer seeks the brand. The company does not tell the customer that their product is better than the competition.But, it creates an image of being an awesome company-in terms of social responsibility (Tatas); in terms of innovation (Apple); in terms of touching peoples' lives (Airtel, Google).
Customers would like to deal with companies with great reputation. Consumers do not buy products, they buy companies. Companies they can admire and love. This is crux of reverse marketing. This is the future,where you need to be creative, innovative and smart to attract the customer,without ever trying to sell her anything. There are other articles in this book,which will make you think, that the world is changing faster than you can think. I hope you enjoy this reading.If you do not enjoy the first ten pages, press the delete button-this book is no good for you. I also wish to thank everybody who gave me valuable advice on how to write an E-book. Without their help, I would have completed this book in half the time. Hemant M Mishrra
1. Reverse Marketing Old marketing is dead. Reverse marketing is the future. Is consumer loyalty dead? E-commerce in India has turned all marketing concepts on its head. You have two options. a. Get into discount war and pray that your money lasts, till this madness continues. Make sure, that you are able to get funding done by some global fund managers. Flipkart is your role model. b. Find a way, so customers look for your products. Customers must want your product at any cost. Owning your product should boost their ego. Apple prides itself for making products with great design. Steve Jobs had said that he wanted to make the keys of his computers so appealing, that people would want to lick them. It is not surprising that people wait for even twelve hours for stores to open in the morning, whenever a new apple product is launched. I-Phone 6 sold 69 million units during the Christmas quarter, beating all estimates and records. This new concept is called reverse marketing. Reverse marketing is the concept of marketing, in which the customer seeks the firm rather than marketers seeking the customer. For the company,who wants to be a reverse marketeer, the most popular and effective method is to provide valuable information to your target
customer, which she is looking for.Depending on your product category,you can provide free information about health,beauty, how to make more money, how to find cheapest hotels etc. As a company, you can set up hospitals, build toilets and create social awareness about relevant subjects. But, not even once, have you said - Buy my product. Some years back, during peak summer, my air-conditioner stopped working.As usual,customer care people did not respond.I called the local mechanic,who came, checked the machine and fixed it in less than a minute.There was a small problem with the wiring. When I offered him money, he refused. Instead, he told me about the new technology in airconditioners, and sent me articles in my mail. Well, I was blown. Since then, I have purchased six air-conditioners from him and recommended him to everybody I know. “Jaago re” by Tata Tea was launched in 2007, and it has helped the brand immensely due to its innovation, reach and impact. It involved NGO’s, Colleges and offices to spread socially relevant messages like the fight against corruption. Due to this outreach, the brand could fight the competitors like HUL and garner a healthy market share. Similarly, Standard Chartered Bank started the Mumbai Marathon, which has become the largest fund-raising platform in India. The image of the bank has transformed from a common commercial bank to a socially caring bank. Its business has improved as a result.Not even once did they advertise that they are a great bank to do business with. Aviva India had come up with a series of batting video tutorials featuring SachinTendulkar. Sachin was caught in candid moments and different avatars giving lessons on Parenting, Cricket and coaching his master shots. He taught batting essentials like ‘Stance’ and ‘Straight Drive’in YouTube video tutorials. Accenture’s “Path to Success” campaign was a great way to find and engage potential talent in the industry. The quiz based format tested the aptitude of the users, while keeping them engaged in an interesting gameplay. 7
HSBC has become the first carbon neutral bank. Coca Cola cares about the environment and believes in recycling the packaging ( I must admit, that they do great advertising too). Green marketing is the new buzzword for today’s companies, as it creates a perception that the company is socially responsible. Why are these companies doing these activities ? Customers increasingly distrust organizations. They want to associate with good,honest and caring companies.I have come across many young people ,who want to join companies like Tatas, even at a lower salary. Lack of credibility and trust is going to affect brands. Unless, organizations engage with customers apart from regular marketing, it will be difficult for customers to develop trust. Every buying decision takes place, after the initial trust level has been established. Trust makes buying decision easier. Brand is trust. Period. How do you start the reverse marketing process?
Reverse marketing is where the customer becomes the marketer. As a company, you have to build so much trust and goodwill, that your customers start promoting your brands. Your customers become your brand ambassador. Social media is an example of reverse marketing. Customers are marketing to other customers and to organizations. If your company has done something worthwhile, it will be shared by social media members. Search, by a potential client, is an example of reverse marketing. A typical search is an advertisement. A search for “cheap smart phone” asks organizations to respond to your specific request for a good value phone. The more clever the organization, the more specific their response will be. 8
Testimonials and product reviews are a great example of reverse marketing. The best reviews are authentic. They are by real people writing about things they really care about, or by experts whose integrity is unquestionable.It builds confidence before the buying process starts.Research has shown that, more than 80 % of on-line buyers look at reviews and testimonials, before buying a product. How can you implement a Reverse Marketing campaign? Though there are many different ways to use reverse marketing strategies, every method follows the same principles: 1) Know what is important to your customer. 2) Give the customer a reason to come to you. 3) Offer the customer something of value, before attempting to close a sale. . Who can use Reverse Marketing? A business that sells goods or services can use reverse marketing to improve the company's brand or image, rather than just raising awareness about products.
You don’t sell the products; you sell the philosophy behind your existence. For example, the Tata Tea campaign consisted of ads that featured many of the company's products, but the message of the ads was about the principles of the company itself. By redirecting attention away from goods and toward the message, any company using reverse marketing techniques can create customer loyalty , regardless of what its products are. Service providers use reverse marketing to avoid what is known as “coercive” marketing. Coercive marketing tells customers that they should want a service, like getting an insurance policy, for a particular reason. The Insurance Company might use coercive advertising materials to suggest that people who don't take insurance may suffer in future. They market fear of not taking insurance.
Using a reverse marketing strategy, an insurance company like Aviva India uses ads to tell customers that, they are already leading a good life and the company would like them to learn new and interesting things to make their life more beautiful. This message is intended to create a positive, confidenceboosting association between the insurance company and the customer, which increases the likelihood that the customer will choose to opt for the insurance on his or her own. Reverse marketing is also very useful for companies that can offer valuable information to customers free of charge, as a way to establish the company as an authority. People trust businesses that make them feel informed about their purchasing decisions. I wanted to buy insurance for my car, and Policy Bazaar helped me get comparative quotes and gave me useful advice for free. I did not buy the insurance from them, but I developed a positive feel about the company for the future. A bookstore, for instance, could offer anyone who visits the store a free newsletter that includes book reviews and recommendations. How to Make a Reverse Marketing Plan The first step of any reverse marketing plan should be an honest assessment of the company's current image, the customers it wants to attract, and what those customers value. This is vital to creating marketing materials that will connect with customers in a meaningful way. Understanding what your potential customers would find most meaningful in life shows that the company cares. There is a pharma company, Swati Spentose, in Mumbai, who has started a foundation for Rare and neglected diseases to assist people who suffer from neglected diseases like Kidney Inflammation, Bone Disorder, Urological Disorders and Alzheimer’s. This company wants to genuinely help patients, and this is the perfect example, where a small but growing company can initiate the reverse marketing process in true sense by showing concern and care for such patients. Reverse marketing is about giving control to the customer. It is about being highly responsive to customer requirement. It is about being loyal and caring 10
to the customer. It is about listening first and speaking later. It is about being useful to the customer through continuous engagement.
In reverse marketing, the marketers needs to behave as if they are the customers of the customer. Building value is the central theme of reverse marketing.
2. The New 80/20 Rule Vilfredo Pareto, the Italian economist, discovered the 80/20 principal in 1897, which is now referred to as Pareto’s principle. He discovered that 80 % of the output from any activity results from 20 % of the inputs; 80 % of the consequences result from 20 % of the causes and 80 % of the result comes from 20 % of the efforts. 20 % of the customers contribute to 80 % of growth; 20 % of services account for 80 % of turnover: 20 % of employees account for 80 % of productivity; the opinion of 20 % defines the society; the output of 20 % of the population defines the economy of our country. Perry Marshall, Google and social media expert, has given an innovative interpretation to this concept in his incredible new book, “80/20 Sales and Marketing.” Here’s how Perry Marshall has taken the Pareto Principle to the next level. He found that the Pareto Principle is exponential! Let me explain. We already know that 20% of your customers represent 80% of your revenues. What Marshall found is that, within that initial 20%, the 80/20 rule also exists. Meaning that the top 20% of the top 20% of your customers (or the top 4% overall) represent 64% of your sales. Imagine, your top 4% represents 64% of your sale. Hence,this 80/20 rule has acquired a new meaning in today’s business. Most of the organizations and particularly sales Managers are obsessed with working with under-producers and non-performers to improve their productivity. Regular training programmes are conducted and HR policies are changed every quarter to create an environment,which is expected to motivate employees.
At the same time, top performers go unattended and their performance is taken for granted. The easiest way to lose your top performers is to ignore them in favor of “trivial many”. The new 80/20 % thinking is the secret of achieving more with less. Focus on strong performers and make them stronger. Start celebrating exceptional productivity, instead of raising average performance. Reward excellence in a few stars instead of wanting to raise the average productivity in many. Don’t waste too much effort on 80 %, which will yield very little in return. Transform your thinking. Revamp your outlook. Allocate your resources from unproductive “trivial many” to productive “few stars”. Your effectiveness will depend on how you manage and control this 20 %.
Focus on the top 20 % and 80 % of everything in your life will be taken care of.
3. Life is too short… I must confess this is not my original story. I have picked this from the brilliant book “Predatory Thinking” by Dave Trott. It was too good not to share.
Jane Juska was a retired school teacher. One day she placed a small classified ad in the New York Review of Books. It said,” Before I turn 67,next March, I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk, Trollope works for me “ She got lots of responses. There are several clever and exciting things about what she did. The medium she chose, for a start. Not the back pages of any of the mags you’d normally find “Man-seekingwomen” or “women-seeking-men’ ads. It was placed in the New York Review of the books She was retired English teacher. She loved books and reading She wanted sex, yes, but only with intelligent men who also loved literature. So she let the search for intelligence dictate her media choice. Not just the search for sex. As a result, she stood out in the media much more than she would have elsewhere. And that made her small classified ad unusual and daring. Of course, what was really daring was deciding to do it in the first place. Jane Juskka war born in 1933. She grew up in a world without the pill, television, mobile phones, rock and roll and social media. 15
Women didn’t talk about things like sex. She decided that it was now or never. And she did something to change that future. The moral of the story. Life is too short.And you got only one life. When you kick the bucket, will you regret that you have not done something you always wanted to do? You always wanted to travel to various countries. You wanted to learn Italian cooking. You wanted to learn how to play piano. You wanted to learn a new language. You want to jump from a plane at 30,000 ft.? You always hated your job, but were scared to start on your own. What’s stopping you? Do you think somebody will give you permission? Do you thing if Jane Juska would have asked for permission to put this kind of ad, anybody would permit her?
You need to disrupt life. To get the ultimate prize for being alive. It is now or never.
4. How to be Creative? Do you think you are creative? Creativity helps build brands. It is a big myth that only advertising guys, artists and writers can be creative. Everybody can be creative, as ideas just do not happen on their own. It is not a random process;you have to look for them. How can you develop creative thinking, if you think you are as creative as an electric pole? 1) Stop re-inventing the wheel- You don’t have to be original to be a creative person. You can build on existing ideas. Roller deo was designed on the basis of roller ballpoint pen.Can you extend an existing idea or thought to come up with new application? 2) Try new and different things- Your brain is a smart fellow, butit will not throw good creative ideas, if there is a boring sameness to your routine and behavior. You need to challenge your brain by constantly doing new thingsand your brain will respond by giving new and fresh ideas. So change your behavior. Go to a toy- shop and watch children buying toys; visit a museum or zoo and spend some time in these places. Go to a new restaurant, where you have never gone before and order a new Japanese dish; join a dance class, try to listen to completely new singers, or go for movies which you will not see on a normal day. Try watching Charlie Chaplin movies back to back and try to die laughing; change the layout of your office; find a new way to boil an egg. Be nice to your mother in law. Be curious about everything. Slowly, you will see the change. You will start thinking differently. You will find life more meaningful and exciting. 3) Become “offline” during weekends -Do you really believe that if you don’t check your e-mails on weekends, your company will shut down on Monday? 17
Try to be in the physical world during weekends-no laptops, no checking mails, and no mobiles. You will notice that you are getting brilliant ideas while taking a shower, or while cooking or when just doing nothing. And guard your weekend like a Jew. Volkswagen and a few other firms have instituted this policy of turning the Blackberry servers off after a certain hour at night and on the weekends, so there’s no email coming into their employees’ inboxes. It’s a civic and social good and for an employer it should be a corporate good too. Let people disconnect from corporate demands on weekends. 4) Make Brainstorming a habit - This is a common technique in both academic and professional settings, but it can also be a powerful tool for developing your creativity. Start by suspending your judgment and selfcriticism, then start writing down related ideas and possible solutions. The goal is to generate as many ideas as possible in a relatively short span of time. Next, focus on clarifying and refining your ideas in order to arrive at the best possible choice. Make this a regular affair with your co-workers and friends.
It is said that creativity is an art of concealing the source. This is not true anymore. You can develop your brain to become more creative.
5. Multi-tasking - Is it for you? Multi-tasking is the success mantra. Women can multi-task nine activities at one time, whereas men can multi-task only seven activities. People are proud that they can conduct meetings, read mails on their Blackberry, read reports, take couple of important calls,bark orders-all at the same time. Big myth, big lie. There are five reasons, you should not multi-task: a) It slows you down-If you try to multi-task between critical activities, you lose the rhythm of the initial task and there is always a start-up time required for any new activity. And once you want to come back to the original activity, you need to start all over again. b) Loss in productivity-Experts estimate that switching between tasks can cause a 40% loss in productivity. It can also cause you to introduce errors into whatever you’re working on, especially if one or more of your activities involve a lot of critical thinking. A 2010 French study found that the human brain could handle two complicated tasks without too much trouble, because it has two lobes that can divide responsibility equally between the two. Add a third task, however, and it can overwhelm the frontal cortex and increase the number of mistakes you make. c) Creativity is affected- if you are working on more than one task, you cannot focus. And if you cannot focus, you are unlikely to come up with great ideas. Your ability to be creative is severely restricted due to multitasking. d) You miss on this beautiful life–Well, you are never able to appreciate your surroundings, because you are always on your mobile. You will miss out on all the fun of meeting new people, things happening around you, children laughing on the street corner. I go to a gym for my daily workouts, and I see 19
young boys and girls always on their mobile phones, completely oblivious to whatever is happening around them. e) It is dangerous- Texting or talking on a cell phone, even with a hands-free device, is as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol, yet that doesn’t stop most people from doing it. Research also shows that people who use mobile devices while walking are less likely to look before crossing a road. And in one study, one in five teenagers who went to the emergency room after being hit by a car, admitted they were using a smartphone at the time of the accident. I am convinced that multi-tasking can destroy your potential, and you will deliver second-rate results only. And it the shortest route to losing your selfesteem and confidence.
Limit your multi-tasking to watching TV and eating popcorn at the same time.
6. Boiling an Egg on an Electric Guitar My CEO friend works twelve hours a day-every day. Sometimes, he works on Sundays too.He is also very proud, that he has built his business from scratch. He is comfortably successful. But he has no time to visit his customers. The CEO of Starbucks Coffee, Howard Schultz, visits 27 Starbucks stores every week. He wants to feel the product himself and watch his customers’ response to his product. The CEO of Hilton Hotels comes to office only to read customer complaints. If you have not spoken to your best customers on the phone during the last one month or met them face-to face during the last three months, you are in trouble. The thumb rule is that as a CEO or Head of an organization, you need to be out of your office at least 50 hours a month meeting customers. You need to respect today’s customer.If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell five friends or business associates. If you make customers unhappy online, they can each tell 5,000. Today’s customer talks to his peer group, researches heavily on the internet, and posts complaints on social media, if he is unhappy with the product or service. He is more impatient and he can switch brand loyalty any time due to the incredible options available to him. This changes everything business owners thought they knew about customer relationships. Make a habit to go out and meet your customers twice a week, to begin with. It is five times more expensive to get a new customer than retaining an existing one.As a CEO, retaining and taking care of your existing customers is the single most important activity you can do to grow your business.
Expecting your brand to grow without meeting your customers is like trying to boil an egg on an electric guitar. 21
7. The Magic Of 15% When a newspaper loses 15 % of its readers and 15 % of its advertisers, it goes out of business. People still want to read it, but it’s gone. When a company increases its sale by 15 %, it doubles its profit. Any sale above break-even volume guarantees huge profit margins. It is tempting to go for new products, new consumer segments and new markets to grow your business.But these are expansive alternatives. Only 15 % additional sale from your existing customers can do the trick for you. In sports, the winner gets 200 % more prize money than the runners up. But he is not 200 % better than the next guy, he is just marginally better. He may win a race by a few seconds only. There is an interesting story about two Japanese tourists being chased by a tiger in a jungle. Suddenly, one guy stopped and started wearing his running shoes. The other guy was baffled and said, “What’s the point? The tiger can outrun us in no time.” The other guy replied, “I just have to run faster than you.” The moral of the story- being marginally better than your nearest competitor can bring you disproportionate rewards. So, try to get this 15 % additional sale from existing customers and existing markets. It will save you a lot of money and sleepless nights. There are some time-tested rules to get more sales from your existing customers: 1. 80/20 rule: Your 20 % key customers will get you 80 % of your sales. Are you doing anything special to take care of this segment? If not, why not? 2. All action is the market: How much time do you spend in the market? Most CEO’s do not visit their customers regularly. If you are not spending 25 % of your time meeting customers, you are heading for trouble. 22
3. Training: The easiest (and the most tempting) way to reduce costs is to stop all training. But a well-trained sales person can get you 30 % additional sales. To me, this is the cheapest way to increase sales. 4. Build your brand: A good brand can be priced 15-20 % higher. A good brand can outsell its competitor 4:1. Allocate at least 5 % of your estimated sales revenue for brand building. But do you need branding? Whether you are a corner paan-wala shop or Airtel, you need branding! 5. Small stuff is important: Do you know that 55 % of your inventory may be of slow moving products? If you can reduce your purchase bills by 10 %, your ROI will increase by 15 %? If you re-negotiate with new vendors,you can cut down your transportation costs down by 5-10 %? Of course,I am repeating. You must try to get 15 % additional sales from your existing customers and markets, before venturing to get new customers and new market. It will cost you 5 times more to acquire a new customer than retaining your existing customer.
There is a saying that one bird in hand is better than two in the bush. So, it makes sense to nourish the bird in hand.
8. Perfect is Paralysis Fail to plan and plan to fail- very boring and uninspiring thought. I know of a gentleman who is planning to launch his product for last 3 years, because he is obsessed with planning to perfection.There is a serious danger that you can get paralyze in planning. Perfect is paralysis. Trying to scale the zenith of perfection has become the plague of our time, and psychologists have recently coined the phrase 'perfection infection' 10 signs to tell if you are a perfectionist! 1. 2.
You can't stop thinking about a mistake you made. You are intensely competitive and hate losing, even Monopoly or Scrabble. 3. You have to do things perfectly, or not at all. 4. You demand perfection from other people. 5. You won't ask for help, as this can be seen as a flaw or weakness. 6. You will persist at a task long after other people have quit. 7. You are a fault-finder and go out of your way to correct other people when they are wrong. 8. You consider people with cluttered desks or houses as lazy and undisciplined. 9. You are very self-conscious about making mistakes in front of other people. 10. You noticed the error in the title of this list (meant to be!) and it really annoyed you (Sorry, but we had to check!). At a certain point of time, we need to walk away and leap into the real world. Nobody has bought anything looking at fancy diagrams and bar charts.Trying to improve is a work in progress.Nobody has ever launched a perfect product,be it be Nike or Apple or McDonalds.
Even if your product does not pass 100 % muster, go ahead and launch the product and keep on improving. Let’s focus our complete attention to implementation and speed. Do not spend next hundred years in trying to launch a zero defect, perfect product. Miriam Adderholdt, author of “Perfectionism: What's Bad About Being Too Good? ”, explains: "There's a difference between excellence and perfection. Excellence involves enjoying what you're doing, feeling good about what you've learned, and developing confidence. Perfection involves feeling bad about a 98 and always finding mistakes, no matter how well you're doing."
If you think you are 70 % ready-Jump. !
Mariam Adderholdt’s Book
9. Life is a number game The actor Warren Beatty had affairs with many of the most beautiful women in the world. He was once asked in an interview,” What is the secret of your success with women ?” He said, “I ask every women I meet if she ‘ll sleep with me.” The interviewer was aghast, “Does that work?” Beatty said, “ Well, I get slapped a lot, but I get laid a lot, too “ This is a great lesson in life too. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Only crying baby gets the milk. As the famous line goes” Love every girl you meet, even if the return is 5 %, it is a good investment.” Life is also a number game. It is simple calculation-more number of doors you knock; more number of people will buy from you. What about quality of doors? Yes, quality will always matter. But, numbers will dictate where you will reach. You need to work backwards. Suppose, you need 1000 customers to buy from you to reach your target. And your conversion rate is 5 %. So, you need to meet 20,000 customers. This formula will work in any situation. If you are selling in retail or door-to-door. Selling engineering goods or consumer goods. Using E-mails or tele marketing.
Selling will always remain a contact game. Take care of your numbers, rest will follow. 26
10. Reverse Engineering leads to Reverse Marketing (This is a guest column written by Srinivas Eranki, who is a Director & CEO
with GMM Netservices Pvt Ltd, Mumbai.Srini straddled across seven major sectors (without repeating any) during work life and launched a start-up in education delivery. He remains young enough to swim across seven oceans!!!")
We live in instant karma days. Gone were the times when product used to be conceived, debated, tested, communicated and distributed before one started counting nickels. Service Organizations? What was that? Oh, you did have a few basic service companies like hotels; airlines (a few) etc., People pretty much did their stuff themselves. Blasted computers got to us more than Ebola, Dengue etc. could. Customer knows everything happening everywhere and wants it now !!! Companies gone beyond walking, running…. they routinely participate in Olympics to survive current quarter. Where is the time to do market research, product development, communication plans, distribution strategy and so on? This took me back to college days. We had to submit massive designs as a part of course work and time was always in short supply. Reverse engineering was a method where our seniors work was in front of us and we reconstructed bit by bit, so that machine looked like the one before. And this worked beautifully. Extrapolating to today’s frenetic market place, the best way to get customers to you and not other way round is to reverse engineer marketing strategy. Reverse the mind-set. Start by sale, and work backwards till you get to make the product or service. Marketers will laugh at this brilliant idea. When with best of devices, they are unable to convince the customer, how does one sell in the air? Precisely
my point. When my daughter in Mumbai clicks her fashion garment from a Delhi brand using a flipkart or amazon, no one knows if that product exists. For all you know, may be the tailor in Karol Bagh started stitching once click is flashed on the screen ! The point is, marketing days are over and reverse marketing days are in. Companies must strive to get the footfalls in and imagine what they might be looking for and provide it in jiffy. Needless to say there has to be a humungous production, logistics operations behind the android smart phone, but who cares !
Customer is truly the king. Serve or get the head chopped off. Choice is clear. Welcome to reverse engineering of marketing !!!
11. Why do your customers buy from you? Can you honestly tell why your customers would like to buy from you, but not from your competitors? You know that it is not because of great quality, which you make. It is not because of low price, because that can hold ground at best till tomorrow evening . Or is it because of superior packaging, attractive marketing communication, your sales delivery systems or your promotions? Surprisingly, it is none of the above in today’s context. The truth is that customers buy your product because they like you. They like you because you are solving their problems better than others. You are able to develop some relationship with your customer and that has made their buying decision easier. The single most important reason why customers buy from companies is that they provide great customer service. Nothing can drive away customers like promises not kept, rude or untrained staff and not taking customer complaints seriously. Here is my list of five companies, who provide great customer service and it is not surprising that they are leaders in their category. 1) Google-With their mantra of "Focus on the user and all else will follow," Google goes to borderline insane lengths to test how even the smallest decisions impact user experience. For example, when faced with a choice between two shades of blue for a Google toolbar, the company tested 41 shades to see what tested best, reports the New York Times. Fans can expect that level of attention to detail in all Google products. 2) FedEx-Despite the recently leaked video of a FedEx driver throwing packages, the air freight company has long held a reputation for delivering
goods ranging from typical packages to a 320-pound sea turtle on time without damage. Over 40 percent of those who interacted with the brand last year ranked FedEx customer service as "excellent." 3) Amazon-The company has long been a pioneer in e-customer service by offering policies like automatic refunds when service standards aren't abided by, free shipping on orders, and price guarantees on pre-ordered items. When a wrong parcel reached me, they were quick to refund my money with an apology. 4) Samsung- After repeated consumer surveys called Samsung "the worst customer service ever," the electronics retailer made a serious investment in improving its reputation. During the last year, the company has wooed customers back by launching a worldwide customer service campaign and offering a free app that provides online support, trouble shooting guides, and how-to videos you can take anywhere. I have always been happy with their post sales customer service. 5) Marriott International- Is filled with buzz about suite attendants who leave personalized notes and door attendants, who provide local homeless people with transportation to the nearest shelter. Details count at Marriott and so does rewarding repeat customers. The hotel chain has taken home numerous accolades for its loyalty program across countries.
The future belongs to brands who can engage with customers on a regular basis, be it a consumer brand or B2B brand. Do you have a solid plan to engage with your customers?
12. How did Modi create a Super brand in 9 months? Lessons from one of the best branding blitzkriegs ever seen. Grudgingly, I must admit, that I am a shameless admirer of NarendraModi’s branding campaign. And it has nothing to do with my political leanings. During the nine months before the general elections,BJP under NarendraModi had created an awesome brand building campaign, which is bound to change the way elections will be fought in future. Because of the complex nature of the Indian voter, and the vast and diverse population of India, I rate this campaign even better than Barack Obama’s Presidential election campaign in 2012. As a marketeer, we can learn a lot from this campaign. 1) Get the best team possible and give them specific responsibilitywhether it is Amit Shah for UP campaign or B.G Mahesh (poster boy of dotcom boom) or Arvind Gupta, head of information cell or electing key people for TV debates, these selected people have just bulldozed the opposition. 2) Nothing can beat the ground activity- a highly energetic Narendra Modi covered 300,000 km to reach Indian voters across India (Rahul Gandhi covered only 118,000 km). As a CEO, how many days are you visiting your customers? 3) Personal touch makes it awesome-The total electorate in 2014 was 814 million. Modi had directly interacted with 234 million people, whereas Rahul Gandhi had interacted with only 13.3 million. Don’t even guess who was winning this race. 4) React to competitor’s move quickly- Modi’s backroom boys covered everything which was being said by opposition on a daily basis and counter argument was prepared for every rally. 32
Every speech was broken down in neat compartments-speak about development agenda, discuss local issues, and have enough time to hit back at opposition point-by-point. 5) Are you seen everywhere? - During these 9 months, Modi attended 5,187 events; 11 million people attended his 38 mega rallies; 15 million people attended his 196 Bharat Vijay rallies. Even his “Chai pe Charcha” which was conducted at 4,000 locations, was attended by 5 million people (although it was not considered successful). This is an awesome organizational capability. 6) Use of technology as never seen before-In a recently conducted study, digital presence of different political parties was as follows: BJP- 64 %, Congress- 26 %; AAP- 4 % and other parties like AIADMK, SP, BSP, CPM, TMCetc –less than 1.0 % 7) This jaw-dropping digital campaign run by Modi’s BJP had these salient features: Facebook likes - 13.0 million. Twitter followers - 3.9 million (Rahul Gandhi did not have a Twitter account) YouTube video downloads - 13.0 million. Caller tune downloads - 1,00,000. 3D hologram rallies in 1350 locations reaching 14.0 million people. SMS, Whatsapp texts sent and voice calls made to 130 million people. 8) Super management of time-During the campaign period, every meeting or rally was managed by the minute. It was understoodthat a small delay in one meeting will cause delay in all subsequent meetings and will derail the whole carefully planned schedule of the day.
As expected, Narendra Modi and BJP won the elections.If Narendra Modi can run and manage an election campaign so meticulously, will he be able to run the country as well? I am biased and have goose pimples already. 33
13. How to Build Brand Awareness of your Business? So, you are no Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Airtel or Reliance. You really do not have a huge amount to build brand awareness for your business. What are the options you have? The answer is that you need to look at internet marketing seriously. Internet marketing is exploding in India and these staggering numbers will blow your mind. If you don’t embrace digital media to drive your marketing today, tomorrow may be too late. Give me a few seconds and I can show you how using the Internet can change your business.
14. 10 hot tips on Branding for Small Business During an economic downturn small business gets hit faster. Generally, the most meaningful response to any such crisis is to stop all marketing expenses. This could be a big mistake. Here are some ideas on branding for small businesses, which can help you grow your brand even during the low phase. 1. Branding is not a buzzword. It is a way of life. Your corner barber shop needs it and Airtel also needs it. Either you believe in it, or you believe in planned death. 2. It is a myth that only big companies can indulge in brand building exercise. Big companies have become big, because they did a lot of brand building when they were small. 3. Every small action, which sends a positive signal to the outside universe, is branding. Every negative signal you send out has to be compensated by at least ten positive signals. This math is simple. 4. People confuse marketing with branding. In our view, marketing is actively promoting a product or service. It’s a push tactic. It’s pushing out a message to get sales results: “Buy our
product because it’s better than theirs” Marketing is about good packaging, logos, slogans and cute advertising. It is about different ways to seduce your customer. Whereas, branding is about answering some simple questions:
Who are you? Why are you here? Why are you unique? How can you make a dramatic difference?
Branding is about pull strategy. It is about making buying decision easier for your customer. It is about customer searching the brand instead of company searching the customer. 5. Branding is also about your stationary, your visiting cards, your internal memos, your logo, letters going out of your office with no spelling errors and a lot of smiling faces. 6. Traditional advertising has stopped working (TV, press radio, outdoor etc.) you have to find new ways to reach your customers. Think of modern retail, multiplexes, Google advertising, social networking sites, fan clubs, loyalty programs, in-film advertising, e-mail, mobile marketing and the list grows. 7. Today’s customers get bored easily. Give them a good story. Great marketing is all about great stories told to them in different ways. 8. PR (public relations) is the most underrated branding tool. Advertising will create awareness, PR will sell the product. In a small business, CEO is the key PR person. Sell your company through social communities, business forums, and networking. One Owner-CEO of a small company admitted that he spends almost two hours a day only networking. Golden rule-network and network more. 9. Small companies do not need big research. Big companies use research as a safety net. As Peter Van Stock, CEO of Jones Soda says “Focus groups are like toilet papers. They are only used to cover your ass”. In case you need to know some basic insights, just talk to your ten best customers. 10. And finally, a word about marketing ethics. When you were small, you behaved because mother was watching you. Now everybody is watching you. Don’t do anything which will make you uncomfortable if it comes on the front page of tomorrow's “Times Of India.”
Branding is ultimately about trust and credibility. It is about passion...what you care about.It is about what’s inside you ,what’s inside your company. 37
15. Good Marketing in Bad Times When economy is good, every product appears to be a brand. Sales are up and everybody is mighty pleased with themselves. Even weak brands do well. This is the time marketing is completely ignored. You are just interested in sales and more sales. But when economy is down, sales are sliding and you feel that the ground is shifting below your feet,suddenly everybody rediscovers marketing. All CEOs and top executives get involved in the marketing process. They believe that marketing will somehow save them. And this is the time they take stupid decisions! They want to show that they are taking some positive actions. They conclude that their strategy is right, but their execution was faulty. So their most meaningful response is to fire lower level managers responsible for execution. Secondly, they launch couple of new products to get additional sales. It brings addition burden on already thin resources, as they require budgets to promote new products. Thirdly, they start listening to bean counters (accountants, who are responsible for more corporate failures than anybody else) who advise them to go on a drastic cost cutting exercise. So no training; no expenditure on marketing; no research; and no increments!Thus finance guys, who have no clue what the customer wants, and who have never visited even one customer in last five years, dictate strategy in a downturn. My advice during bad times is as follows; a) Narrow your focus on key brands during downturn. Do not launch new products or expand brand portfolio, unless you are a market leader in the category. 38
Take the example of smart phones- Samsung focused on Galaxy range while Apple focused on one product launch at a time. On the other hand,Blackberry had 15 models and Nokia lost the plot by not focusing on anything which consumers could adore. Both these brands lost heavily to Samsung and Apple. b) Don’t Over-analyse :Marketing will always be creative, intuitive and sometimes illogical. Don’t try to over analyze the strategic route. Keep it simple and don’t discontinue your marketing efforts. Nobody will buy your product because of tons of excel sheets and bar charts. c) Get Feedback :In times of low growth, leaders do not feel good about themselves. They do not like feedback. They have enough excuses for not taking feedback.This is a huge mistake-feedback will give you clarity and sense of purpose. It also creates faith in management. Moral of the story-if you are in a hole, don’t dig deeper. d) Don’t stop marketing :During bad times,do not stop your marketing efforts. It is much cheaper to spend on marketing and get desired results, as most of your competitors would not be spending money during the down turn.
The holy truth is that the bad time is a good time to build your brand and gear yourself for the growth in good times.
16. 6 ways to Brand a Commodity Amuleek Singh Bijral, MBA from Harvard University and former employee of EMC Corporation, opened “Chai Point” in Bangalore in 2010, where he was serving humble tea in glasses. Since then, he has opened 22 “Chai Points” in Bangalore and 3 outlets in Delhi. Similarly, “Tapri” in Raipur provides tea in a casual atmosphere. Young entrepreneurs are finding innovative ways to brand a commodity like humble “Chai”. How can you brand a commodity, which is at the bottom of the branding ladder? Commodity products are largely undifferentiated products that offer little or no perceived difference between competitive offerings. 6 ways to Brand a commodity: 1. Choose the most compelling and unique point of differentiation to create a strong position for your brand-consumer must perceive it differently like Taj Mahal Tea, Ashirwad Chakki fresh atta or Himalaya mineral water. Creating a differentiation in a commodity brand is always difficult. You really cannot make a wildly different product, as most of the ingredients may be same and huge value addition is difficult to achieve. You need to create differentiation through name, logo, packaging, and finally communication story. You need to tell a great story to create impact, as done by Himalaya Mineral water, which created a great story about the product being sourced from the Himalayas. 2. Packaging is the key- visual appeal is critical. Consumers will prefer a branded commodity, only if there is visual appeal in packaging. Products like Captain Cook salt, Parachute hair oil; Red Label tea have redefined visual appeal. 40
3. Pricing is strategic -consumers will be willing to pay a price premium of 15-25 % for a branded commodity, if you are able to create differentiation and thus value. You can still increase the price, if more value additions are given. Tea bags charge a different premium than the regular branded tea. 4. Promotions will make a difference - Relevant promotions will drive the sales. When Nimbooz by PepsiCo was launched, company sampled the product through modern food outlets and the brand took off. Promotions increase trials, trials increase usage, usage creates brands. 5. Provide the Experience -you can charge more than 10x for a commodity product if you deliver a great experience. Barista, Café Coffee Day and KFC deliver a beautiful experience through their outlets, where young people can meet in a friendly ambience. 6. Brand transformation - when the brand is willing to go the extra mile, magic starts happening. Starbucks is an example, where the brand identifies different groups of customers, customizes the offer and delivers the product in a magical surrounding. KFC has transformed a simple chicken into a desirable food experience. This is the highest form of branding. Commodity branding is a challenge that presents unique opportunities for creative marketing. When marketing and selling commodities, you must resist the urge to cut prices. Instead, seek ways to protect your price by offering more value, finding unique ways to differentiate yourself, and creating successful brands that foster price in-elasticity.
Commodity branding is about being different and innovative and earning trust of your customer. It is about providing a magical experience.
17. What Does it Take to be a Brand Building CEO? (This is a guest column written by Ravi Ganti, who is a Director with Aquarius Business Solutions PvtLtd,Mumbai. He would like to introduce himself as a laid back, lazy and boring guy who lists the Mahabharat, Hercule Poirot and Eliyahu Goldratt as his constant inspirations. This article first appeared on a social media platform) Almost all of us are aware of who calls the shots at Microsoft, Apple, Virgin Group, Kingfisher and Pepsi. But most, if not all, would be hard pressed to name the CEOs of Siemens, IBM, Coca Cola, Samsung, Canon, Toyota, Maruti, Ghari Detergent, even TCS. These brands are no smaller than the marquee names that make up the first list, but in their case the person has not become bigger than the brand! Maybe there is a lesson in there somewhere! Let us see if we can decipher some of the attributes that go into the making of a Brand Building CEO. 1. Brand above Self. The CEOs and the executive leadership of long lasting brands recognize that their career success is a result of the brand’s success and not the other way round. The leaders in such organizations go out of the way to subsume their identity within that of the organization. 2. ‘Chest Thumping’ Pride in their product / brand / organization. This is invariably seen in the repeated reference to the brand / organization greatness on most occasions during internal interactions. 3. Shared Glory. The leaders continuously emphasize the contributions of the team over that of any individual. 4. Ear to the Ground – Brand building leaders tend to spend at least 3-4 days a month with customers, and similar amount of time with their 42
operations and development people. This keeps them in sync with changing preferences as well as emerging techniques and technologies. 5. Customer Satisfaction Leads to Stakeholder Satisfaction – Brand builders know that if you have satisfied customers, you are more likely to generate better returns and thus lead to happier stakeholders. Such leaders invariably tend to be process driven rather than numbers driven. 6. Integrity – Probably the most important and least emphasized of all attributes, personal integrity and ethical behavior contribute more to a brand’s long term success than any other.
Steve Jobs with Jim Gianopulos, CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment
18. New Biz Mood - Are you ready? The new Biz mood is different. Till a few months ago, companies were talking about cost cutting and operational efficiencies. Nobody was talking about long-term growth. With the new government coming in with Modi at the helm, sentiments are changing dramatically. You can feel a new sense of buoyancy and urgency among companies. All large consultancy firms like KPMG, PWC, Deloitte and E&Y have confirmed that trend is reversing. They are making strong pitches for M&As, raising finance, planning IPOs and restarting stalled projects. Sri Rajan, MD, Bain & Company told TOI, “More of our clients are engaging in early discussions on growth while so far there was a significant emphasis on operational & cost efficiencies and performance improvement” What happens to small Business? By and large, business works on sentiments. In past, small companies were not taking any risks as policy paralysis, delayed clearances and corruption scandals were creating an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. Now everybody can see that mood is changing and there is general bullishness in the air. My advice - pull out your stalled projects and frozen new product launches. Get the best advisers and consultants. Current business optimism and environment will support you to the tune of 30 %. Remember, excel sheets and bar charts don’t take you anywhere, real action does.
So, this is the BIG opportunity. Be nimble and flexible, and focus on available cracks in the market. Just, chase growth with everything you’ve got. You will not be disappointed.
19 Do you need to raise your prices? This is the truth. If you are in business or selling something, you will need to raise your prices during the life cycle of your product. And you got one dozen reasons to raise the prices. There is recession; cost of goods has gone up; labor has gone up or competition has increased prices. What can you do? Damn it. But, your customers won’t like it. Some will reduce their purchases; some will desert you for your competitor. And there is a good chance that most of them will hate it. How can you get the increase you want without incurring the wrath of existing customers? Whatever the reason, there's a right way and a wrong way to raise your prices. There are some basic fundamental rules to accomplish your goal without losing or upsetting your clientele: The most common way to raise prices is to just do it across the board and then send a sincere letter to your customers like "over the past five years, we have worked hard to hold our prices steady. We're proud of the fact that we'll be able to contain our price increase to a very modest 5%..." Most of your existing customers will understand. Never increase your prices, when your sales are going down. Instead of recovering your loss, your left over sale may also hit a roadblock. But, How about charging extra for special privileges? Access to a customer help-line that skips the on hold queue or upgrades in shipping or turnaround time. Today, one of the most valuable assets for most people is time. If you can save them time, they often will gladly pay extra. 45
The best time to increase prices is when economy is doing well, and there is positive vibes due to some change - Like BJP forming the government at the center leading to positive sentiments, or your customer having a good year. No matter how you handle a price increase, one element is critical. Be upfront and demonstrate value. Your clients don't begrudge you making a profit. They just want to get a value for their money. Price increases can be a win/win if you think them through and handle them correctly.
Here's some heartening news. Research suggests that people like you better, if you're more expensive.
20. How to avoid hiring morons? Customers come first- wrong. Tomorrow’s business reality is that only two things will drive successinnovation and people. If you have good and happy employees-your customers will be taken care of. Good employees build better brands. The biggest challenge for small business is in hiring good people and retaining them. It is also true that God likes morons, because he made so many of them. The real trick is to avoid hiring morons at any cost. Here are 5 sure shot ways: 1. Don’t look at candidate’s CV - If you ignore my advice, and still look at it, you will realize that an average candidate is almost qualified to replace Ratan Tata (After all, candidate himself has crafted the CV). Try to find some unusual things in his career, some breaks, something which makes him stand apart. 2. Go for the attitude, not the skills -You can teach skills to a giraffe, but a great positive attitude can make a huge difference. Once I hired a drummer from a cabaret joint as a salesman in Delhi, and he broke all the sales records in his territory. 3. Hire better candidates than yourself. Research shows that: A-class Managers hire A+ candidates, B-Class Managers hire C Class candidates, C-Class managers hire D Class candidates.
The net result is that A Class managers make their company a company of giants, which can lead to sustained growth and long term success. On the other hand, B and C Class managers, who are insecure, make their company a company of dwarfs, and will soon drive their companies to dust. Moral of the story- Have the courage to hire people better than you are. You shall never regret it. 4. Hire a well-rounded personality- Give 50 % weightage to candidate’s extra-curricular activities. Find about his hobbies; his interest in sports, music or any other passion. Does he read books? What kind of friends does he have? Does he have a sense of humour? A well-rounded candidate will be 3 times more productive than a University topper, who could be a bozo. 5. Take a woman’s opinion-My final litmus test. If I think that I can call the candidate to come over and have dinner with my family, I hire him. Women also have this uncanny ability to judge people. If possible, I would always include a woman in the interview panel. I believe that women have a sixth sense in judging people-I always take their opinion.
This way, I normally avoid hiring morons.
21. Surprise is an awe-inspiring emotion Who doesn’t like to be surprised? Walt Disney has a year long theme, “The Year of a Million Dreams,” Disney has added a brilliant twist to the age-old favorite. They’ve added surprise. Here’s their twist. “Imagine walking through one of the Walt Disney World Theme Parks when a Cast Member taps you on the shoulder to offer you a dream come true. Right now, over a million extra-special dreams, some thought impossible, are being randomly awarded to people just like you.” Surprise your customers and they will never forget you. Give them unexpected gifts, vacation holidays, free tickets to music concerts or cricket matches. Try to give them extended credit, when they least expect it. Test this theory at home. Send a large bouquet of flowers to your wife today with an “I love you note” when you are in office. Either you will have a great weekend or she will talk to your family doctor. Surprise is the ultimate “Wow” factor. This is a great marketing tool, which is not used often.
Surprise is an awe-inspiring emotion. It demands to be shared. How could you add one of Disney’s favourite elements - “surprise” - to your marketing mix?
22. Riding the tiger-Selling apartments to the rich (This is a guest column written by Anu Burman, who is a Partner in the Capricorn Group, a boutique real estate developer in Kolkata. He claims to be a student of human nature, who likes to educate upper crust of Kolkata in the fine art of buying luxury properties. He is also a (semi) professional Indian classical music exponent, and a radio artiste. He claims to be an aesthete and believes in living life king size. He lives in Kolkata and has two married children )
The Rich are a breed apart. Since 1% of them own almost 50% of the world‘s wealth, it is quite understandable that they are different. By and large they are knowledgeable. Hard working. Difficult to fool. Fussy. And extremely miserly. All in all, a pain in the backside of anyone who wants to sell anything to them. But they do have their Achilles heels. We will come to that shortly. I have been constructing residential buildings and selling apartments, mainly to the upper crust of society for the past twenty five years. Believe me, selling to the rich is an arduous and thankless task, and the prospect of dealing with them does not bring a smile to my face. So how have I sold apartments in Kolkata to this lot? How do I prepare myself for the pitch? What do I bring to the table which will convert a prospect to a buyer ? Let’s do a bit of armchair analysis first. The rich are basically of two types-either they belong to “Old Money ”or “New Money.” Old Money were born and brought up in affluence. They are familiar and comfortable with the power, comforts and privileges which money can provide. New Money have not had a privileged childhood. They have not gone to elite schools. They have commuted in buses and autos when young. They have struggled and fought their way up the social ladder. 50
Very different, both of them, but they have one thing in common: Oversized egos. And a passion for acquiring anything which they perceive as being exclusive. Can we use their egos and their passions to our advantage? Yes we can! Step 1: Study the target. Is he Old or New money? What are his interests? his hobbies? His art collection? His educational background? Step 2: Once you have the answers to these questions, you can start the “ego pampering” exercise. If the target is Old Money, appeal to his good taste and sensibilities. “Sir, only a person of your taste can understand the subtle design parameters which have been incorporated in this building/apartment. Yes. It is a trifle expensive, but then we have to pay that little more for a good product, don’t we? After all, how many people can understand these subtle nuances.” For a New Money prospect, you would need to pamper his achievements: “Sir, only a self made and dynamic person such as you will understand the true worth of this apartment. See the Italian marble worth Rs.800 per square foot. See the gold plated bathroom fittings”. The other tool as mentioned earlier and which I have used successfully is the “creation of exclusivity”. This, however, has to be done extremely delicately. I have tried to un-sell some products. “Sorry Sir, this is a large flat. Would you like to spend that much? Would you still like to have a look?” or “Sir, the marble in this apartment is of the highest quality. No one else in Kolkata has it, hence the price is premium. Would you still be interested?” Perceived exclusivity immediately creates interest. A lack of interest shown by the seller almost always arouses desire to own the product among this class of people.
One thing that must be kept in mind is that the rich are even more miserly than the middle class. The middle class, lacking in confidence, rarely resort to extreme bargaining for high value products. But not so the rich. Both New as well as Old Money will invariably give ridiculous counter offers. It is a fact that though expensive goods are bought by the rich, (since only they can afford to do so) they will not shy away from bargaining even in a Mercedes showroom. So factor in the discount, which you will ultimately need to give to a buyer when giving your initial quote. Do your research on the person who is your potential buyer. Find out about his likes and dislikes. Use this information to pamper his ego and create interest in him. But remember, you have to be extremely careful. Your pitch will need to be balanced and should not seem contrived and artificial. You are not dealing with a self opinionated idiot. If your pitch is not balanced, not only will you lose a client, but your business may be hurt by the bad mouthing done by your Rich Prospect. Remember, they can be a vengeful lot.
Don’t forget- You are riding the tiger. Ride it smart. Ride it carefully.
23. Trust in God, but lock your car Donald Trump says that you should hire the best person you can afford, but don't trust them. So what do you do? Trust your employees blindly, so they can rob you naked? Or don't trust anybody, and you demoralize the whole organization. The core issue is - can you keep your team motivated by creating an impression that you trust them, and at the same time ensuring that these guys don't take you to the cleaners the next day? Remember, that trust and credibility is a very powerful human emotion, and employees can give 30% better productivity, if they believe that they are trusted. You need to create a balance. Here are 5 ways you can safeguard your interests without being surprised: 1) Read your Profit & Loss statement every month for at least one hourdon't let your finance guy give you the summary. 2) Check the expense statement of your key employees at random- they are the truth serums. Be careful of the employees who routinely pad up their expense statements. And never negotiate on integrity. 3) Check your overheads. Build a culture of not wasting money on small matters. Switching off lights when not in use; taking color print outs and photocopies only when absolutely necessary; saving money on travel by advance planning are some of the things which can make a big difference to your bottom line. If you are a CEO, this culture starts with you, and everybody will respect you for this. 4) Give feedback on reports -Never give an impression that you are not reading reports sent to you, even if you don’t have the time. You need to build a culture of accountability and discipline. 53
One CEO used to get loads of office files home during weekends. When asked, if he ever got time to go through them, he replied “No, but my employees don’t know that I am not reading them” 5) Talk to your key customers (top 20 %) every month to get the real feedback. There is no better feedback to know about your performance than to speak directly to your customers.Don’t believe in second hand feedback through your employees. The most important thing is that as a principal driver of your business, you should be the first person to know any bad news.
Moral of the story- a good leader can be defeated, but is never surprised. Trust in God, but lock your car.
24. Branding with fear All our clients want break-through ideas. They tell us that they have hired us to give them out-of-the-box solutions.They want innovative thoughts, which will shake the world.The key assumption is that any innovative idea will not cost them anything to market their brand. A client hired us to write some crucial piece of branding communication and informed us that he wants something creative, dynamic and attentiongetting – a compelling expression of the product's personality. The competitive products were in media, and the only way to hit back was to come up with a super innovative proposition. As soon as we submit exactly that, however, we're met by a wave of concerns, "What if people think that we're too creative or too smart?” “Are we looking like a respectable corporate house?" "None of our competitors have used such advertising in past? Maybe we should just do what our competitors do; would you mind studying their websites and their past advertising?We just need to be a bit better than them.” “This is our first time;let’s not take any risk,” Our response tends to be: You're the boss. But since, we pretty much spend every day thinking about what makes branding effective and how a different communication can light a fire under people, we urge you to reconsider. Your competitor's site?- As dull as yesterday’s newspaper?. They're trying to be all things to all people; they are boring,uninspiring,plain information giving web-sites. Our customer is tired of listening to same boring language – "highest quality", "industry leader", "commitment to excellence", "years of experience", "solutions-oriented", "synergy-driven", “testimonials”, along with some 55
purchased images. We defy the average visitor to recall a single phrase from such a sleep inducing marketing jargon. The desire to appeal to the widest possible client base is understandable. But branding yourself requires you to do at least two things: 1. Clearly differentiate yourself from the pack, and 2. Figure out who your ideal clients are and speak directly to them. Shirking these tasks and retreating to the safe middle ground is what we call "branding with fear." And though you may feel you're just playing it safe, this kind of branding is actually toxic to the development of your brand. As the old saying goes, standing in the middle of the road only means you'll be hit by traffic in both directions. "I'm convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing," Stephen King says in his wonderful 2000 book On Writing. Clearly, he's talking about timidity, the insecurity that makes us doubt ourselves and abandon our very substance to feed some hollow myth about audience expectations. But if you've had sufficient confidence to launch a marketing campaign, you should be able to summon the self-assurance to brand yourself with equal confidence,which will customers sit up and think about your proposition. Should your marketing materials be direct and funny, edgy and irreverent? Sure, if that's the tone your target audience responds to. Should they be sensitive and passionate? Absolutely, if that will connect to your consumer. Should they be touching a raw nerve or use modern day jargon? Yes,yes.Anything that makes you different and awesome. What calls out to the most discerning consumers? Authenticity. Originality. Boldness. Even Audacity. Provide new thinking patterns.Have the courage of your convictions and proceed accordingly.You will not fail.
In short, fear not. Create your own magic,not yawns!
25. Do you need a scorecard? Everybody knows that execution is 99.0 % of the magic, if you need to succeed. But, more than ninety percent of the organizations just don’t get it.They will spend a huge amount of time in designing strategic road maps and believe that execution will somehow happen. Of course, it never happens. Narendra Modi was successful in his election campaign, because his team knew the importance of timely execution. Even a ten minute delay in an election rally could derail all subsequent programmes. Conversely, even a weak strategy can win, if execution is bang on. My recipe for successful execution is as follows: 1.
Written Goals: It sounds old fashioned, but written goals still work. Your team will never get engaged, if clear-cut and measurable goals are not given. If you cannot measure it, you cannot do it.
Display Scorecard: Make a scorecard and display it where everybody can see it. The goals need to be broken into daily/weekly achievement goals. Make people accountable.
Create an atmosphere of urgency. One of the organizations I know, converted their head office into a virtual war zone control room with army like decor and trophies in the rooms. The message was sent to the team that it is a do-or-die situation. The company achieved its targets.
Make stretch Goals Good employees respond to challenges. It should be an everyday stretch.
Celebrate every small win. Every celebration motivates team members.So even if you achieve a small milestone, it is a cause for celebration.
All you need is somebody to lead the charge. That person is YOU. 57
26. Are you ready for the ultimate risk? This is my dream. I enter into an restaurant and before I begin to order, the owner stops by to offer this simple promise: "If the food is not good, you don't pay. “If the food is just good, you don't pay. “Only if it's great , you pay." Food is great. And I am glad to tip the waiter more than I normally do. And sure enough, it becomes my favorite restaurant. Dream with me about how changed your world would be,if your satisfaction was promised, loyalty assured, and money back guarantee was fulfilled . . . always. Every smartphone, every cup of coffee, every electronic gadget, every advertising spend, every feature film, every medical procedure, every automobile, every service guaranteed full satisfaction or you get full refund. Now imagine, too, what it might be like to work for such a company. If your products are lousy, you are running out of time. No one in your team will have a job for long. But if you are true believer in making stunningly good products (why does “Apple” come to my mind always?), the whole team will walk the offices chin-up with pride. In the belief that you are making a difference to somebody’s life. It sounds absurdly impractical, but just suppose this offer is extended by all organizations to their customers. Some companies like Amway, E-bay and Snapdeal are following this policy and laughing all the way to the bank. It is also no secret, that product returns are never more than 2% under this policy. Isn’t this the easiest way to accelerate your brand sales? 58
Now, it takes true grit to take that first step. To debut an open-arms return policy- a no-hassles, money back guarantee which is core to your identity.
Can you take this ultimate risk? But if you take this risk, amazing things will happen:
1. You will be the first to know the truth If you are a smart company, you will quickly correct things when your customer is saying, “Give my money back, I don’t like your product, and this is the reason…” so you can fix the problem before it becomes huge and ugly. And, your customers will love you for that.
2. Customers will open their wallets Nobody likes to change his or her habits. When did you try a new pizza joint or bought a TV online? Or purchased a brand you have never heard of? Or ordered 6 dresses for your wife? The offer of a full refund invites customers to tinker with new products, they wouldn't otherwise consider. Over time, you’ll attract a multiple of new buyers. It’s up to you to satisfy them.
3. Create an environment of trust The average customer will not care if 75 % of the products cease to exist. Because, they are not trusted or loved by the consumers. A return policy creates an ecosystem of trust between consumer and the company. The bottom line is- I want a financial firm that will return my fees, if I’m not satisfied with the results.The same logic applies to a doctor, a marketing agency, a designer, a mechanic. If you can't trust your own ability with a no-hassle return policy, why should customer trust you? I won’t say that refund guarantees work in every situation. You’ll have to determine where they fit. And, sure, a tiny fraction of customers (1-2%) will 59
abuse your trust, so you'll want a policy for repeat offenders. This is too small a price to pay.
One final word - If you can’t give guarantee for your product, you don’t have a product.
27. My Wish List-2015 Making resolutions for the New Year is a neat trap- you know you are going to break most of them, and feel terrible about it for the rest of the year! Instead, I suggest you make a wish list. It is like a buffet spread-you can eat all or eat nothing-it depends on how hungry you are. I have made a wish list which can provide the required magic to my life. It is like a beautiful buffet spread on a Sunday afternoon. Starters: (pick any 2) 1. I will try to get up early (you can accomplish 30 % more between 5 am and 10 am) 2. I will exercise at least for 30 minutes 4 times a week (you have no choice on this) 3. I will meditate /pray/ visualize positive things/do yoga for 30 minutes every day. Main course (pick any 6) 1. As soon as I step out of my door in the morning, I will behave as if I am on national television. My behavior will be impeccable. 2. I will invest in best clothes I can afford, along with good shoes (It has been proven, that better dressed people earn 15 % more, all things being equal) 3. At work, I shall do only those things which will increase my sales or reduce my costs. (Whatever you focus onexpands!) 4. Will outsource everything, which is not my core competence. (Won’t waste time on improving all of my weaknesses) 5. Will reduce my mobile bills by 30 %. (Mobile phones are the biggest time waster in corporate India) 6. Will contact 3 customers every month, who have stopped doing business with me.(It is three times easier to convert old customers, than acquiring new once) 7. Will personally talk to 20 % of my top customers every month. (They run my kitchen and contribute 80 % to my sales) 61
8. I will not call my employees on weekends or when they are on vacations. (They will respect me for that) 9. I will take at least one risky decision, which I was always scared to take. (I don’t want to die of boredom-do you?) 10. I will train my brain to think creatively every day. I will try to do different things to exercise my brain “muscles”- try new style and color of clothes; go to new restaurants; visit the zoo; listen to different music; visit a toy shop to observe children buying toys; be nice to my motherin-law. 11. I will do five things everyday, which will take me closer to my goals. (Make this as my screen saver) 12. I will not forget to market myself every day. Desert (pick all) 1. I will take 2 vacations in a year. 2. I will devote at least one day (Sunday) for family only. No business calls, no laptops! Does not matter how big my business/position is. 3. I will smile at everyone I meet. (Even to the liftman) 4. I will hug my spouse everyday in multiples of three. 5. I will watch one movie in a cinema hall every month (it is therapy for the soul) 6. I will read at least 2 books in a year. 7. I will do one thing, which I was always fearful about. 8. I will call two old friends, whom I have not spoken for years, 9. I will do one thing, which makes me truly happy. Does not matter if my wife or children get mad at me. 10. I have got only 52 weekends. I will not let anybody spoil them.
Let this year be the best year of your life. Let the force be with you! To an amazing New Year! OK, my suggestion - Forget about vision statements. Just make a plan for the next 100 days. And execute it. Period. Planning for more than 100 days is pure astrology.
About The Author
HEMANT M MISHRRA
Hemant is the founder Director and principal Consultant of brand consultancy firm “Neeti Brand Accelerator” , which operates from Mumbai, India.
Hemant is an electrical engineer with MBA in marketing from XLRI, Jamshedpur. He has also done advanced management course from Columbia University, US. 64
Neeti Brand Accelerator is a strategic brand consultancy firm, which can provide end-to-end marketing solutions to increase sales and business prospects of its clients.
Hemant has more than 33 years of experience in sales, marketing and strategy development. Some of the key brands managed by Hemant during last three decades have been - Thums up; Limca; Maaza Mango; Captain Cook salt; Charak; Bajaj Almond Drop hair oil; Tiger Balm; Zandu; JetKing; Nutricharge and many more.
Hemant has written various articles on business strategy and marketing. He has been a visiting professor at S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai.
Hemant lives in Mumbai with his wife and two daughters.
You may contact him at: Mobile: +91 99200 18430 E-mail: [email protected]
website: www.neeti.biz Blog: