Is Modi the Greatest Marketing success story of our times?

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In January this year, Modi won the Philip Kotler Marketing Award. It later came to light that it was actually conferred by a shady Aligarh based organisation and the BJP website had to pull down the mention of the award after the controversy.

But the fact remains that Modi is the first politician Brand we know who has truly harnessed the power of Marketing. He has in fact, made the competition (read opposition) look like a deer fawn caught in front of headlights.

Let’s see how:

  1. Effective positioning:

In the run-up to the 2014 elections, he tapped into the widespread disaffection with the corruption and listless administration of the previous congress government. He positioned his government as a clean, responsive and development oriented alternative which catapulted him to power.

After 5 years of rule now, he has some notable successes to his credit (RERA, Digitalisation of government services, Electrification of Villages, Building of Toilets under Swachh Bharat Yojana to name some).
But there have been some failures too.
1. Start-up India has been a non-starter.
2. Smart Cities have also not been able to get off the ground.
3. The Make In India Initiative has been bogged down by the slower pace of Industrial growth compared to earlier years.
4. Clean Ganga has had little or no effect on the pollution levels of the river.
5. Corruption is far from over as demonstrated by the Rafaele controversy.
6. The return of black money from Swiss Banks still remains a pipe dream.
7. Perhaps his biggest failure has been Demonetisation which didn’t achieve a single objective he himself laid out when he announced it. To make matters worse, according to reports, it resulted in untold misery for farmers, small traders and economically marginalised people which they are yet to fully recover from.
So what does a brand do in such a situation? It repositions itself on a new platform. Modi is not mentioning any of his pet schemes and projects in his speeches. He is not even focussing on development this time around. He has instead reverted to the core legacy of his brand – Nationalism and Hindutva. And peppered it with a liberal dose of competition bashing.

2. Use of Social Media: In 2014, Modi didn’t just seize Social Media, he owned it. It helped that the other political parties in India were too laid back and set in their ways. Besides, FB and Twitter had not yet fully woken up to the potential for misuse of their platforms. For the first time perhaps, Indians came face to face with “bots”, “fake news” and “trolls”. Be that as it may, Modi did show his savvy to harness the social media platforms.
This time around, both platforms have been more vigilant against misuse. And the opposition, especially the Congress has a more professional approach to Social Media. All said and done, BJP still retains the pole position on the digital platform (Pro BJP pages accounted for 70% of the political adspend as per the latest data)

3. PR: Appointing the US based APCO as the PR firm was a wise move on the part of Modi. APCO has a wide experience in setting and changing narratives in elections and project the right image of presidential candidates. The campaign’s recent success was changing the narrative of “chowkidar chor hai” to “main bhi chowkidar”.

4. Use of Marketing Technology: Some of his innovations have created a lot of buzz – Selfie with Namo where you could take selfie with an image of Modi and the Hologram Trucks which roamed the countryside in 2014 projecting Modi’s 3D video of election speech. Add to that the Modi Biopic which is soon to be released, a modi web series by Eros Now and of course the Namo TV (the first TV dedicated to a single leader anywhere in the world).

5. Branding: His biggest masterstroke was to carefully brand himself as tea seller to gain empathy. He then went on to neatly turn individual units of his campaign into brands – Chai pe charcha, Main bhi Chowkidar, Namo Again,

6. Exploiting emotions, not facts: A mistake most marketers make is to focus solely on facts, completely forgetting that humans do not make decisions basis facts. Modi has turned appealing to emotions into a fine art. Look at some of the slogans of his campaign: Ab ki baar Modi Sarkar, Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas, Modi hai to mumkin hai, Har Har Modi Ghar Ghar Modi, Saaf niyat Sahi Vikas, Congress Mukt Bharat and the most famous of them all – achhe din aane wale hain

His decision to never take a press conference or unscripted interview is also a part of that grand strategy.

7. Use of merchandise: There was a time when we as kids used to mill around a stray congress vehicle to get our hands on a free badge. Well, badges are passe now. It’s branded mugs, t shirts, hoodies, key chains, fridge magnets, pens and exam warrior notebooks! Sold through merchandise vans and also online.

There are a lot of tips that marketers can take away from Modi and his marketing and PR team on how to manage a mega brand. If Modi comes back with majority again, it will be a further stamp on the effectiveness of his marketing initiatives.

(Please do leave a comment on the blogpost to give your feedback)

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Why the hell did Zomato advertise on porn sites! Here’s why :)

In 2015, Zomato executed a brilliant out of the box strategy by running ads on popular porn websites like Pornhub. Sounds outlandish, right? Wait, there was a solid method to the madness.

Let’s look at some statistics.

  1. India ranks third in the world when it comes to porn viewership. (In 2017, porn consumption in India reportedly rose by 75 percent when mobile data rates dropped, mostly in tier-2 and 3 towns)
  2. India has the second largest internet users [1]worldwide.
  3. Data from Pornhub[2] reveal that India, home to the website’s fourth-largest audience by country, logged the biggest increase in its mobile traffic share in recent years, jumping up over 121% from 2013 to 2017.
  4. The CPC (Cost Per Click) is insanely low compared to social media platforms

CPC- An internet advertising model used to direct traffic to websites(app installs) , in which an advertiser(Zomato) pays a publisher(Pornhub) when the ad is clicked.

 

So did it work?

After a week of running this campaign Zomato released some statistics and insights on their naughty experiment.

  1. People in Delhi NCR clicked on these banners the most on desktops, at an average click-through rate (CTR) of 0.12% while Bangalore came a close second with an average CTR of 0.11%. The campaign average CTR so far is at 0.22%.
  2. To be more precise , the highest number of clicks in Delhi came from around the Hauz Khas area. The last time I checked, this is where IIT-Delhi was situated. ( just saying. Lol)
  3. In Bangalore, Koramangala was hands down the naughtiest part of town, while in Mumbai, Powai gets down and dirty the most.
  4. The BBW/Big Beautiful Wraps ad was our best performing desktop ad (no surprises there); the “Hot Sticky Mess” and “Hot Singles” ads also did really well.

7 Valentine’s Day Marketing Ideas for small businesses

If you’ve lived through the 80’s you’ll remember how Valentine’s Day started in India. It was Archie’s who spotted an opportunity to sell their cards. And within a short span of time, it became a buzzword among the young and not so young people. This inspite of, or may be because of the protests and harassments by religious fanatics.

The bottomline is, that if you have a product or service that caters to the younger demographic, you can’t ignore the marketing opportunity of Valentine’s Day.

Here are 7 ideas to get your heart beating faster.

  1. Send some love on mail.

    A love themed email is the perfect way to talk to your captive audience. Make sure your subject line is enticing enough. And if you have a special offer, all the better. Take a look at this email campaign by Uber.
    Uber

  2. Run a campaign for User Generated Content

    Ask your audience to send in their love stories or terrible date stories. Write a few on your own to get them started. And give some incentive as free gifts or lucky prizes. Spend some thought on how exactly will you decide the winner. Or it can be as simple as what The Body Shop did – simply asked their instagram followers to send them pictures of blowing a kiss to a friend.

    body shop

  3. Partner with another small business

    You can create a USP for yourself and draw customers to your brand by partnering with complementary brands. If you’re a salon, you could partner with a spa. If you’re a florist, you could partner with baker. If you’re a garments shop, partner with an accessories brand. You get the gist, don’t you? This will offer convenience to people while at the same time making your offering holistic and distinct.

  4. Love themed polls

    TwitterSnapchatFacebook, and Instagram support polls. These are a fun way to boost engagement with your audience. You can use visuals to the maximum effect. And the best part is the simplicity – your audience doesn’t need to do much other than to select one of two options.

    You can make it more relevant by integrating your product in the poll. For example, ask them whether they would prefer a wine or a chocolate on V Day.

  5. Add romantic flair to your Social Media Profile pictures and Cover Photos

    Get your audience into the spirit of things by adding unique masks, animation, profile frames and stickers on your social media profile pictures. You can also take it a step further and offer unique stickers to your audience and encourage them to share them with you, like what Tiffany did here.
    tiffany

  6. Run 2 for 1 deals

    Since VDay is primarily about couples, how about running a smart Buy One, Get One campaign to push sales into new territories? This need not be limited to just products. Just make sure that it does not feel like a generic BOGO offer.

  7. Pin your heart on a social cause

    If you want to take the concept of love beyond romantic love, how about supporting a local charity or NGO? Select one that can add some value back to your brand. And then create awareness about your support. For example – Asian Adventures, a wildlife tourism company supports Wildlife Trust of India, an NGO that works for conservation.

I hope you’re not sitting out on this opportunity of spreading love and boosting sales at the same time!

Get the maximum bang for your buck with these Easy, Out-of-the-box ideas for Diwali Greetings.

diya on riverIt’s that time of the year again. When people mass delete the greetings that land up and choke their WhatsApp and other social media.

Are a small company that doesn’t have a small fortune to burn on gifts for your potential customers? Do you wish to increase awareness about your brand of product or service on a shoestring budget this Diwali? Then you simply need to make your Diwali Greeting stand out.

Here are some things you can do:

  1. CREATE IMPACT EVEN WITH ZERO BUDGET: Create a 1 minute (or less) video of yourself speaking to the camera in your Diwali finery. You could experiment with the background to reflect what you do or simply keep it festive. This will come across as a sincere greeting straight from the heart. Sure, it might take a bit of trial and error, but the end result could be something to be proud of. Tip: Try and add value to your message, like this one here by Prakash Iyer – a noted author and coach. This will make your message memorable even after Diwali is long gone.
  2. DO NOT SEND IT ON DIWALI: Shocked? Surprised? Don’t be. The day of Diwali is the worst day to send your Diwali Greetings. Everyone is busy either with preparing for Diwali or mass deleting the impersonal greetings that they get that day. Send it a day or two before Diwali. Trust me, it still counts. And will be remembered.
  3. WHAT NOT TO DO: Do not. I repeat Do NOT turn your Diwali Greeting into an opportunity to hard-sell your company or brand. It goes against the whole intention of festive greetings. You don’t want to be remembered as a sneaky salesman, do you? You can keep your message close to what you do, by all means, like in the video above. But DO NOT SELL.
  4. TOOLS YOU CAN USE: The phone in your pocket comes with what you need to add some spit and polish to your video. You can download Viva Video, FilmoraGo or Power Director Video Editor Apps and try your hand at adding music, effects, supers, your logo and some smart editing to your video.

Have fun! And wish you a joyous Diwali!!!

Creating a brand in 4 simple steps (simple, not easy!)

Step 1 is to invent a thing worth making, a story worth telling or a contribution worth talking about.

Step 2 is to design and build it in a way that people will actually benefit from and care about.

Step 3 is the one that gets every brand owner all excited about. This is the step where you tell the story to the right people in the right way.

The last step is the one so often overlooked and ignored: This is the part where you show up, regularly, consistently and generously, year after year, to organize, to lead and to build confidence in the change you are seeking.

Scent Marketing – the world beyond sight and sound.

 

Wet soil after the first rains. Fresh brewed coffee. Bread baking in the oven. Maa’s chapatis. Freshly bathed babies.


Smells can trigger powerful memories and feelings. And now, marketers are taking advantage of this fact to put their customers in the buying frame of mind. 

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The stale air of a pressurized airline cabin isn’t the best smelling space, as every weary traveler knows. Singapore Airlines recognized this over 30 years ago, and was one of the first to develop a custom scent to spray into their hot towels. The floral and citrus fragrance was so popular that the airline gave it a name: Stefan Floridian Waters.

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Starbucks sells food too. But ever wondered why you can smell only coffee there? That’s by design.

Dark greens and wooden décor, chalkboard menus, soft music, and the scent of fresh coffee permeates each location.

 

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Movie-theatre popcorn never tastes the same at home. It doesn’t matter that they also sell pizza, nachos, and other foods. Their scent brand is fresh popcorn. Movie attendees will see and hear it being made, too, which adds context to the smell.

 

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Artificial scents like baking bread and chocolates are pumped into stores and malls as they are found to have a strong effect on shoppers’ moods.

Happy people make happy shoppers.

 

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A study done by Nike discovered that they could increase the intent to purchase by 84% through the introduction of scent into their stores.

cinnabon

Cinnabon
strategically selects locations for their stores where scents get trapped so that the smell of their fresh cinnamon rolls can linger.

The Three Biggest Desires of a Consumer

magic lampI was watching a gripping Ted Talk the other day – “My failed mission to find God and what I found instead”. It is by an American of Indian Origin – Anjali Kumar.

She had planned to visit a highly revered Spiritual master and asked people to write in with their innermost desires which she promised to convey to him. She was flooded by mails in which people didn’t ask for loads of money or world peace or even immense power.

The three things people asked for (and in this exact order) were:
1. Health
2. Happiness
3. Love

And what are customers after all if not humans with emotions. Don’t you agree?

Why Sorting items by Price is just plain lazy!

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Sort by price is the dominant way that shopping online now happens. The cheapest airline ticket or widget or freelancer comes up first, and most people click.

It’s a great shortcut for a programmer, of course, because the price is a number, and it’s easy to sort.

Alphabetical could work even more easily, but it seems less relevant (especially if you’re a fan of Zappos or Zima).

The problem: Just because it’s easy, it doesn’t mean it’s as useful as it appears.

It’s lazy for the consumer. If you can’t take the time to learn about your options, about quality, about side effects, then it seems like buying the cheapest is the way to go–they’re all the same anyway, we think.

And it’s easy for the producer. Nothing is easier to improve than price. It takes no nuance, no long-term thinking, no concern about externalities. Just become more brutal with your suppliers and customers, and cut every corner you can. And then blame the system.

The merchandisers and buyers at Wal-Mart were lazy. They didn’t have to spend much time figuring out if something was better, they were merely focused on price, regardless of what it cost their community in the long run.

We’re part of that system, and if we’re not happy with the way we’re treated, we ought to think about the system we’ve permitted to drive those changes.

What would happen if we insisted on ‘sort by delight’ instead?

What if the airline search engines returned results sorted by a (certainly difficult) score that combined travel time, aircraft quality, reliability, customer service, price and a few other factors? How would that change the experience of flying?

This extends far beyond air travel. We understand that it makes no sense to hire someone merely because they charge the cheapest wage. That we shouldn’t pick a book or a movie or a restaurant simply because it costs the least.

There are differences, and sometimes, those differences are worth what they cost.

‘Worth it’ is a fine goal.

What if, before we rushed to sort at all, we decided what was worth sorting for?

Low price is the last refuge of the marketer who doesn’t care enough to build something worth paying for.

In your experience, how often is the cheapest choice the best choice?

(Excerpted from Seth Godin’s blog)

Unselling

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Getting someone to switch to you is totally different from getting someone who’s new to the market to start using the solution you offer.

Switching means:

Admitting I was wrong, and, in many cases, leaving behind some of my identity, because my tribe (as I see them) is using what I used to use.

So, if you want to get a BMW motorcycle owner to buy a Harley as his next bike, you have your work cut out for you.

He’s not eager to say, “well, I got emotionally involved with something, but I realized that there’s a better choice so I switched, I was wrong and now I’m right.”

And he’s certainly not looking forward to walking away from his own self-defined circle and enduring the loneliness as he finds a new circle.

Which leads to three things to think about:

  1. If you seek to grow quickly, realize that your best shot is to get in early, before people have made a commitment, built allegiances and started to engage in cognitive dissonance (since I picked this one, it must be good).
  2. If you are marketing to people who will have to switch to engage with you, do it with intention. Your pitch of, “this is very very good” is insufficient. Your pitch of, “you need something in this category” makes no sense, because I’m already buying in that category. Instead, you must spend the time, the effort and the money to teach me new information that allows me to make a new decision. Not that I was wrong before, but that I was under-informed.
  3. Ignore the tribal links at your peril. Without a doubt, “people like us do things like this,” is the most powerful marketing mantra available. Make it true, then share the news.

We invent a status quo every time we settle on something, because we’d rather tell ourselves that we made a good decision than live with the feeling that we didn’t.

(Picked from Seth Godin’s blog)

The Futility of Feedback

Feedback

In today’s day and age of rampant tele-marketing, online surveys and retail questionnaires, one would think brand marketers are constantly improving in terms of their proximity to the consumers. Sadly, this is a fallacy. The way many marketers seek consumer data not only yields misleading results, but often adds a negative spin to the campaign objective itself.
There is a well-known restaurant chain that serves grills over a charcoal sigri on the table followed by a buffet spread. Great food, variety and value… eat as much as you like. What more could one possibly want? I’ll tell you what I’d want. I’d want some privacy. I’d want some conversation time with my fellow diners.

Because every now and then one of the waiters will invariably come in to disrupt proceedings, intent on asking questions on my current level of enjoyment, which variety I am liking, my past experiences if any, etc. And just when I’ve politely answered all the questions, another steward will pop up and, like an ace kabaddi player, infringe into my domain and make similar small talk. If by now my answers have taken on a curt, if not exasperated tenor, and the so-called brand ambassadors have retreated somewhat, I should not think that I have won the battle. Along with the bill will come a questionnaire asking me to provide ratings on every minute of time spent inside the restaurant, every section of the buffet and whether I will revisit or refer. Irrespective of whether you filled in the form or not, within the next 48 hours will come a phone call from the telemarketers of the restaurant chain.

If you think this is a stray incident, think again. Upon getting my car serviced, I was accorded a similar treatment. This time, even the person giving the car the final polish, brandished a separate form to sign off on. The call centre got into action within minutes of my driving out, asking if the car felt right. It was not too long before the car manufacturer also unleashed its own set of agents for feedback.

I can understand the first batch of enquiries at the restaurant… it’s a safety measure that could yield course correction in case any condiments were in excess. However, when the repetitive intrusion begins, the consumer realises the diminishing value of encroachment on time, and experiences increasing levels of frustration. Were all these involved processes going to truly yield added value to the consumer? Judging from the mechanical way such ‘surveys’ are administered, much of it is lip service, and it is apparent that the agenda isn’t to disrupt the status quo. Very little attention is usually given to mine such data, reveal a new product idea, propose pricing or positioning adjustments, or cater to unmet demand.

There is no thought given to selecting an occasion when the consumer could be motivated and feel privileged to provide views. The demographic profile of the feedback-seeking agent is often mismatched with the background of the consumer. A customer who has chosen to converse in English, often times is pitted against a feedback agent, who converses in a dialect impossible to follow and who races like an express train!

In a brand’s strategy planning cycle, the initial situational analysis (“Where Are We”), as well as the measurement of post-campaign results (“Are We Getting There”) are heavily dependent on a marketer’s sensitised ear-to-the-ground. It is imperative therefore, that the process of eliciting feedback be viewed on a strategic plane, as it is an important (chosen) touchpoint of brands with consumers who can potentially fortify or erode brand equity.

Marketing isn’t about driving by looking at the rear-view mirror, but about looking through the windshield, fuelling expectations and surging forward to surpass milestones in consumer delight. Every pit-stop in a brand’s journey, even for feedback, is then about maximising the consumer experience with sensitivity and empathy, at a happier meeting point, and charging the batteries for both sides to win.

(This article was published in BW Businessworld issue dated ‘March 20, 2017’ with cover story titled ‘Most Influential Women 2017’. The Author is my ex Boss at RK Swamy/BBDO, Indranil Gupta – he runs BrandNEW Associates Private Limited.)