Sunday, July 26, 2009

Art of War

In the middle of the night yesterday, my spouse woke me with an update that she could hear footsteps and that she suspected we had an intruder at home.

Being the only male member (my four years old is in India now enjoying his vacations) at our home I had to pull up all my courage and decided to inspect my home. As I was taking careful tip toe steps towards the dark corridor I was recollecting those action strokes from kung fu panda film – just in case should I encounter someone I can pass a kick or two.

I was convinced by the sheer panicky tone of my spouse on the presence of intruder and hence deep inside I was also calculating my exit plans – should I give up or should I take a strategic position and wait in darkness or should I engage the intruder and call for help or should I go aggressive and switch on lights and announce to the intruder that it’s time to show up and that the game’s over?

The episode made me recall reading a few lines of the art of war way back in my earlier days at work and hence could not recall any moves. However one statement lies very close to my heart and I believe it is so relevant in the corporate world: ‘All warfare is based on deception. If your enemy is superior, evade him. If angry, irritate him. If equally matched, fight and if not: split and re-evaluate’

After 15 minute of thorough search, I realized it was a false alarm and that my spouse was affected by an overdose of reality shows on the television.

Though I would love to express my views on these reality shows as a marketer I support all these channels because they are trying to get more ratings to their programmes, aiming at more viewership and since the advertisers are guaranteed more viewers and hence the returns on investment measures well.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Brand Choice

It has been almost two weeks since we left our four year old at my parent’s home in India- two reasons triggered this – the hot and humid climate in this part of the world and an ideal opportunity to connect my parents with their grandchild emotionally

As humans we are powered by emotions and not by logic and this is the attribute we marketers use to connect with consumers - As we know emotions lead to action.

So what drives emotions - may be the endorsements or the way it is communicated would trigger them. Endorsements can come from close friends, co-workers or anyone who influences your life.

Then why do we buy brands? May be to fulfill our emotional needs – advertising creates the right to chose and the brands tend to promote a product through experience - an emotional connection is therefore formed

I strongly believe it is the emotional connect which would go a long way in a brand choice.

Financial institutions do not connect emotionally to consumers but are always rational, for we in marketing assume our target group is well informed, astute and number savvy hence, emotional route will not work. Of the top 100 brands globally only seven financial brands made it in the list considering that almost half of world population would have experienced a bank in some form or the other.

Our industry is unique – a product can be rolled out from the assembly line within 24 hours – product extensions, product innovations are possible at short notices – and then it is up to the creative agencies to spin an acceptable proposition for our target consumers to decipher, accept and consume the product.

You can promote a carbonated brand quickly and can consume it, at the same pace but banks have the target group captive for life – this means constant customer engagement, cohesive communication across touch points and innovation will earn the emotional respect and affection.

An ideal brand engagement for a bank should consider this and work on the above

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ideal Work Place

A close friend and a critique went for an interview and was referring to an interviewers question about her ideal work place. Considering that I have worked in advertising agencies to more serious corporates (banks), thought it is a good idea to carry it on.

There are many metaphors for workplace. My first work place was like a family – very well connected - and still connected through Facebook

Most of the creative agencies are like college days. Optimistic, full of life, and no back pack egos – unlike the corporate world

My previous bank was more like a strategic design unit in an automobile manufacturing company where every individual is well oiled (informed), thorough in their field and people worked together in sync to perform their tasks. It is one of the best in the country even till date and it is synonymous for product innovation in UAE. It has many firsts to its credit

An ideal work place is the one which
• Allows innovation and is believed from top down
• Inspires people to bring the best
• Supports and promotes camaraderie at work
• Snubs nepotism

I am lucky to have worked in one in my earlier stints and positive best brands roll out from the best work places as, it is the people who create a brand from their positivity and the environment.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cost of Independence

During my flight from Chennai to Visakhapatnam (India) last month was going through a business magazine and came through Subhiksha. Subhiksha - an Indian retail chain with 1600 outlets selling groceries, fruits, vegetables, medicines and mobile phones. It was started and is managed by an IIM A alumnus. However, due to ambitious plans and liquidity squeeze Subhiksha shut down several stores across India. The founder wanted greater stake in equity and due to the debt squeeze and the payment cycles he had no option but to let his dream off the shelves

Even the third largest UK Bank had to succumb to a Middle Eastern bail-out last November giving the investors a significant downside protection. The result being that last month the investors sold their stake for a whopping 2 Billion$ profit making the shares dive southwards for no fault of the bank’s performance.

These are testing times for corporates across the globe and with rigid lending by banks it is interesting to see the rest of the year would unfold