Marketing

The Predicament of Predictive Analytics

(Strat.in wishes it readers a very Happy and Prosperous Diwali! May this Diwali bring in success, happiness and prosperity)

The news broke earlier this year. Target, the American discount retailer, was in the eye of a storm – a controversy involving teenage pregnancy, discount coupons and oddly enough, predictive analytics. Predictive Analytics is a burgeoning field in almost all businesses but lends itself especially well to retail. This is because it relies on Big Data to predict consumer buying patterns and electronic point-of-sales (POS) systems and loyalty programmes in retail stores have simplified data collection to a great extent. What Target did was apply the power of predictive analytics to unearth a potential gold-mine.

Bang On Target

Andrew Pole, a statistician employed by Target, hit upon the idea of identifying pregnant women among Target’s shoppers and sending them coupons and other promotional materials related to maternity.  He did this by first identifying pregnant customers from the baby shower gift registry – the American habit of letting guests known what to gift you on is a marketer’s manna from heaven. But this would only let Target get in at the third trimester – they wanted in early. So, they started running statistical tests on POS data and identified items that pregnant women would typically buy a lot of – iron, calcium, vitamins, minerals, shea butter and body creams, etc. Their program would come up with a pregnancy score for each customer based on the quantity of these purchases and Target would have a target (pun unintended) whom they could inundate with diaper discounts, promotions on nutritional supplements, etc. And it worked! Target sent coupons for baby items to a teenage girl whose parents figured out she was pregnant, all thanks to Target’s coupons. Since then, Target has wised up. Their promotions are much subtler; diaper coupons alongside cutlery or apparel promotions. Stealth is the new mantra.

What customers want

Clearly, there are benefits to knowing what your customers need before they know it themselves. It’s the Holy Grail for marketers. But how ethical is this practice? Customers don’t want to be mere puppets to a marketer’s actions, stealthy or otherwise. We like to believe that every small decision we make is our own and not influenced by others. Funnily enough, we have been prey to the subtle manipulations of marketers for years. Store layouts, shelf placements, print promotions – all goad us into making impulsive purchases. Predictive analytics, at least, point us in the right direction. We get what we need and in Target’s case, at good discounts. It may not be ethical in the true sense but it is mutually beneficial as long as consumers are aware of the practice.

View: Derren Brown turns the tables on Advertisers – Subliminal Advertising

An interesting aspect of predictive analytics is that it can be applied to existing customers whose data the store has access to, but it can also employ a self-learning algorithm which can detect new patterns. Customer buying patterns and the resulting segmentation can then be generalized to the larger population using discriminant demographics allowing retailers to better position products and target customers.

Should we be concerned?

The really worrisome part about predictive analytics is security. Personal information about one’s habits, purchases, demographic and financial information should not be stored away in a remote datacenter opening possibilities for a virtual attack. Certainly, some rules and regulations are necessary to ensure that the consumer’s right to privacy and security are protected at the highest level. As the field of predictive analytics grows with improved data storage and computing technology, expect to see new laws dictating how marketers can use consumer data.

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Human Resources, Marketing, Strategy, Technology

Cheapest form of Marketing

Can you live without breathing in?

I know we can’t, but some companies try to do that.

Every company wants to increase revenue and cut costs, but then going ahead and cutting marketing is like stopping to breath to live longer. So, this post is for all those companies who want to cut costs without stopping to breath.

What is your cheapest source of marketing, you just have to look around. They are your employees, cheapest and best source of marketing. Best because the people they talk to and they will influence will rely on the information much more than any other source of marketing and cheapest because anything you spend to keep your employees happy is generating you multiple benefits i.e. human development, better products, better work efficiency and of-course marketing.

So you would want to know what are the ways in which employees can do marketing

1. The social space of employees is one area through which they reach out to hundreds and thousands of people. This space is their personal, but company can provide enough benefits and encouragement for employees to use their social network for comany’s benefit. Just one share of an employee reaches out to more than 10,000 people on linkedin and 25,000 people on facebook even for the less connected ones. Simple actions like liking company’s updates does greatly boost the reach of each of the company’s message.

2. Providing gift articles like t-shirt and bags do much more than just making the employee happy. They are your visual displays on the run. You can never imagine buying a movable display at such a cheap cost. So, provide the best messages on those gift articles so that whoever comes across those remembers them. When using this medium be careful of providing good quality as otherwise your employee will never use it or even worse, people will identify your brand with bad quality.

3. Providing referral bonuses to employees is another good way, so that, employee indirectly reaches out to his network of school and college alumni to make your brand presence felt everywhere. You can also be assured that he will say good things about the company more as he would want people to join.

Invest in your employees, the cheapest way of marketing.

 

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Bell-curve-shift-India
Marketing, Technology

Geekgiri – Is the bell curve moving to the right in India?

Today, we are introducing a word called Geekgiri.

geek.gi.ri

[gee-k-gi-rii]

noun

1. The practised art of acting like a geek in the perception of others either in an offline or online but public forum
2. The attempt at geek bandwagon hijacking by non-geeks  in the aftermath of post-iPad era

 

A Geekgiri example – 
An example of Geekgiri – 10 years back, there would have been no-one who would have known what a time-lapse video is. However, this morning, when I showed this video to my neighbour’s 15 year old kid, he instantly exclaimed that this is like an app on his mobile phone which takes photos every minute and then speeds it up to create a video like feel. It was brilliant! This got me thinking though, is Geekgiri, as I would like to call it, truly spreading in India?

 Is Geekgiri cool? Is Geekgiri Fashionable?

From a tech marketer’s perspective, I would think Geekgiri becoming cool and fashionable would be the best thing to happen. Imagine that you were a marketer at a big tech company like Samsung, Nokia etc . For you, a Geekgiri epidemic will rock! It would mean more early adopters, better spreading of the message for new launches and in general easier hype generation around anything that is an advancement in technology. To put things in perspective, geekgiri can actually help spread a word about say a new product like iPhone 5 or Windows Phone 8 quickly beyond the confines of the famous ‘Quora-Mangala’ or ‘Hinjewadi’ or ‘Powai’ or DLF-Phase-‘n” areas! So clearly, whichever technology company you are, Geekgiri becoming fashionable is in your interest!

From GandhiGiri to Geekgiri –

Gandhigiri happened because of the underlying social fabric in the pre-independence era. Current social fabric of the metros in India is extremely suitable for Geekgiri. Look around you – People with disposable incomes are increasing. Disposable incomes are leading to major upswings in gadget uptakes across the nation. All this is leading to India becoming a ‘not-worth-neglecting’ market for any company in the world. In fact, 2012 is a world where European tourist guides openly say that Indians are their major business generators!

Relating all this to the bell curve for technology adoption –

We all know of the Bell curve and the dreaded chasm that any technology product has to cross before it truly becomes popular.

Traditionally roughly 5-7% people in India have been considered to be early adopters or innovators ( which has been generally used as an explanation as to why no major IT / Internet product has emerged as a truly globally recognised product from India bar a few notable exceptions.

Now though, there is reason to believe that the Innovator + Early adopter percentage has nearly doubled due to incessant efforts of marketers by all the technology companies . Now, there is greater awareness than ever about different products, companies, product lines, future innovations and most importantly, about the planned launch dates. According to me, the Bell curve has decisively shifted to the right in the following manner.

This nearly reflects the US curve or the European curve . Perhaps by 2014, Indian adoption curve may become more closer to this one rather than the above figure quoted of 5-7% . But then, you never know – as more Indians adopt smartphones, the Late majority and laggards will grow at a much faster pace as well.

Overall though, much to the delight of technology companies, marketers, social networking agencies, mobile application developers and most importantly, the consumers themselves, Geekgiri is indeed in vogue! Or is it? Let us know your views here or on the facebook page

Image credit 1
(PS: On Strat.in, we have introduced a lot of Buzzwords – Datasexual , Trusketing (Trust based marketing) and so on! )

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Marketing, Strategy

Not just Marketing – Create a trust based relationship

If somebody does a survey today on the rate of increase of companies versus the rate of increase of population, I guess everybody would know the answer to that. So, what is happening is that there are more and more businesses chasing a comparatively slower growing clientele. The thoughts of adding on more customers is on everybody’s mind and in the last couple of decades customer retention has also started moving up the top items to care about.

But what I am trying to point out here is something more than that, it is trust based marketing.

 

Generating trust might be one of the toughest things a company has to do. It is like you are trusting a person, even one wrong move can destroy that trust, but once you are in the good books there is nothing stopping you. You then don’t see your business just growing but actually booming, there are multiple companies who source 100% of their requirements from a single company if they are able to trust them.

It is those initial dealings with each customer which decide the fate of a relationship. It might be the person who initially deals with the customer or the website which you have created, invest in those and returns would be really spectacular. You can forgive small mistakes later on in a relationship, but don’t let the relationship start with hiccups.

So how does one continue building the trust that is once established?

  1. Setting up clear objectives: It is always better to set up clear expectations in relationship where you want to grow up trust. Define each of the outcomes you look forward to, whether you need support in other functions, your plans to grow the account would always be looked favorably.
  2. Communication: Make sure that thread of communication is never broken and your client does not hear you saying things behind their back. It will be end of most of such client relationships when that happens.
  3. Equality: A relationship should not become a one-sided affair, where one side always gives and other always receives. Such relationships cannot go strong, so keep that in mind when you look forward to take a lot from your client remember that you also need to give something.

Create Trust. Create Business.

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Marketing, Strategy

CRM is much more than Customer Relationships!

Customer Relationship Management

CRM ( Customer Relationship Management System ) has to be one of the biggest and most used softwares by the enterprise today collectively. So much so that the leading CRM company in the world – Salesforce- is a billion dollar company today and the leading open source CRM company ( SugarCRM) just raised a lot of money!

But that apart, CRM has a place in every company’s life. We conducted a simple Hallway/walkway test in Mumbai & Bangalore about what people perceive about CRM and these are the statements we got from people.

CRM is about maintaining records

CRM is used for sending Diwali Greetings to customers

CRM is a very expensive software that consumes a lot of time and resources to maintain

CRM is a part of SAP which only big companies can think of using

The truth is neither of this is incorrect, nor is anything close to being correct. Yes, CRM is a record maintaining tool, and is used for sending greetings, CRM tools can be expensive depending on what you choose and CRM would be a part of a custom made SAP integration in big companies. But CRM is much, much more than this.

In my opinion, a Customer Relationship Management system is every employee’s and entrepreneur’s best friend. I shall tell you how – read on –

1. CRM should be a record of every interaction with customer – A business may interact with a customer at different points of time under different circumstances. Today’s popular customer touchpoints include – SMS, Email, Office Visit, Telephone, Website visit, Website click, Website Product request, Facebook Page interaction, Twitter Interaction and so on. This itself would be great preparation for the next possible interaction prediction with customer.

2. CRM can help identify patterns – At the end of the day, for maximizing revenue, one has to hunt for specific patterns from within a CRM. For example, for a telecom firm, patterns such as ‘Customer who changes caller tune once every two weeks is a beautiful pattern .  Accordingly, offering exciting offers based on those patterns is the way to milk that customer even more.

3. CRM helps proactively identify pain points –  For example, a customer’s monthly usage of ebanking website has gone down. A CRM can help track down this and send a custom mailer to such customers asking them for the problems they faced. Such personal care means a lot for customers, who then become more loyal towards your brand.

In the next part, we shall look at CRM in more detail, with case studies.

 

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Marketing, Web

Seven tips to sell your product using Internet

Presence on Internet today is not an option, its a necessity. But, just like merely opening a shop does not ensure its success, opening a website/ any other web presence does not ensure customers. There needs to be a plan, a thought out, executable plan with a timeline which needs to be put in place to ensure that you can use the internet in a profitable manner and acquire customers directly on the web.

1. Start small – Today, a lot of people will tell you to open a website and a facebook page and a google ad and a twitter account and a mobile website etc etc. Understand that your customer never asked you for that. I would always recommend to start small. I would recommend open a Facebook Page and start posting your products on the page. Alternatively, you list your products on free websites or on platforms to sell products like ebay or on educational marketplaces like trait etc.

2. What next after a Facebook Page? – After starting a facebook page – ensure that you post at least once a day on this facebook page. And every day, share this page with say 7 of your friends.

3. How to build activity – First rule of building activity is to encourage it. The answer to ‘How to encourage activity’ lies in (a) quick responses (b) Leading your audiences to talk (c) Posting about topics of general interest

4. Launching your first Internet presence – It may make sense to launch your internet presence, be it a website or facebook page, among your select customers etc. It can be a good avenue for interaction, thoughts exchange, networking as well as engagement.

5. Monitoring activity on the site – 3-4 months into your first web presence, you can start spotting trends about the website. That people check out certain pages more than others, that you are getting responses about a certain product or service more. Keep tracking all these things and accordingly post links to these pages more prominently on the Homepage. Remember that Homepage is the most frequently browsed page on the site and giving more visibility to an inside page on homepage is important even for Search engines like google.

6. Customer Testimonials – Its very important to build confidence among the community by posting testimonials by customers about your product. Keep posting testimonials regularly.

7. Set ambitious , yet achievable targets – Set targets such as getting 10 requests from the website in the 4th month of operation. Setting realistic goals is very important and it motivates the team in that manner.

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Marketing, Strategy, Technology

Samsung Galaxy note 2 – Marketing spree overview

If there if one device that is on one huge marketing spree currently all over India, that device has to be the Galaxy note 2. After the rousing success of Galaxy note, Galaxy Note 2 obviously comes with an air of anticipation around it. And Samsung is sparing no efforts to make its flagship product known to one and all.

Lets have a quick look at the marketing aspects of Samsung Galaxy note 2.

Bigg-boss-powered-by-galaxy-note-2

1. Presence on reality shows – Bigg Boss Season 6 has just started at the right time for the product launch. Branding the show as powered by Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a brilliant move for sure. It will surely catch mass eyeballs here.

2. Cricket world cup – Both TV and internet . Its a known fact that cricket is the best place to tap technology / phone buying audience. Nokia and Blackberry have used this strategy to good effect for so many years now. Obviously, Samsung won’t be left behind. Expect a lot of ads on TV, internet, mobile about the Note 2.

3. Internet – Samsung Galaxy note 2 being an eagerly anticipated product, is prominently featured on all top ecommerce sites – Ebay, Flipkart, Infibeam, Rediff Shopping etc. You name it and that ecommerce site features the Note 2 prominently. This kind of publicity cannot be bought! Here are the top 3 deals I could find for the Note 2 online ( as on Oct 9 )

So, are you going to buy the most marketed product of the season? Especially with the festive season approaching, a lot of peoples’ answer would be Yes! Let us know your reviews or anything about the note below!

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Business, Marketing, Technology

Rethinking Marketing in the Mobile age

The Web 2.0 paradigms have undergone significant changes as the mobile and tablets have emerged as strong contenders in the early 2010s. Here we try and analyze what the marketing team and marketing agencies do in today’s context and why their role requires significant thought .

A lot of people generally think that marketing agency switching involves little or no switching costs at all. Au contraire, the reverse seems to be becoming true these days. The reason for this is the very fact that there are now so many newer facets to marketing to chop through. Its not individual channel marketing but overall media basket handling – including television, radio, print, outdoor, internet and mobile which seems to be the toughest part to handle for many a company these days. Why is this happening?

Its very much Murphy’s law isn’t it? At one point, you are hard pressed to squeeze higher ROI through marketing, whereby you just HAVE to pressurize your marketing incharge. And then at other end, you have to ensure that the capability co-efficient of your marketer is strong and growing all the time as well. The balance of all of this is very tough to achieve and many-a-big companies have faltered in achieving the same. Why – well, look at what the duties of the ‘marketing’ part of the organisation have become.

1. Stand out in the crowd – In a world where brands are literally crying hoarse for attention, your marketing team has to make an effort to make your brand stand out. For this, just normal ‘reminder’ or ‘continuation’ type of ads won’t do. The ads need to necessarily be something that stands out. Some of the ads that are managing to do so are ad campaigns like ‘Havells’ with the ‘ON-OFF’ switches and the ‘Rajesh Khanna’ ad campaign during the cricket extravaganza – IPL.

2.  Tracking competition and industry – Today’s ad world has become proactive. Professionals of the world understand that with increasingly lower response times to any brilliant moves by the competitors in the industry, the marketing team needs to be on its toes at every moment basically. Marketing team has to be the first one which tracks the industry as a whole and cracks the whip on so many change initiatives that then impact the company overall, before its too late. Take for instance the ‘per-second-billing’ concept introduced by Tata Docomo. Now, as competition, they knew that they had to react. However, launching per second billing could considerably impact their revenue projections for the coming quarters. The trade off could be quite large, but the need to react certainly was massive.

3. Plethora of media – How many times have you heard your marketing team exclaim – ‘XYZ has come up with a new SMS campaign’, ‘ABC has come up with a new iPad application’, ‘XYZ has come up with a new tieup that promises to get them significant mileage and lower customer acquisition costs’ ? Clearly, in today’s world, there are many ways in which significant advantages can be created for your organisation by executing an innovative media campaign or a far sighted alliance or a novel customer outreach program successfully. This creates an interesting trade off for the marketers to solve, wherein you are expected to do an opportunity cost analysis and optimise your budget for guaranteed returns. The usual force-fitting of mass media campaigns may not be needed for many of the companies with a similar effect can be achieved by a beautifully executed facebook campaign which can potentially go viral on Facebook.

4. Metrics for evaluating success – In the modern era, particularly last 5 years, marketing as a function has increasingly ceased to remain isolated from the rest of the organisation. Gone are the days when marketing team functions completely differently from the rest of the organisation. Today, a marketing team is a complex team of coders, multi skilled people and even the management guys on the sales and production side which need to understand what the market wants. Also, there are new ways to measure the effectiveness of every marketing activity that one is doing. For example, clear metrics such as number of phone calls, number of leads, number of impressions, potential reach metrics have become increasingly accurate.
Note that a lot of what was discussed above is something that your marketing agency does or is involved in partly. These are critical tasks for your organisation and do not think that they are something that are easily dispensable. The role of the agency has evolved into a business partner with long reaching business parter in your business and it should be recognized as such.

What are your thoughts? Post them below.

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Entertainment, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Web

Amazon Junglee!!

About 150 million people in India or around 75 million households are ready for ecommerce in India today. However, less than 10 million are engaged in active ecommerce today. The potential of consumer e-commerce in India by 2024-2025 is likely to touch around 594.8 million individuals or 297.4 million households. You can only guess the market size of the ecommerce industry in the coming decade!!

Amazon India has gone live with the launch of portal, Junglee.com, which Amazon acquired in early 1998 from Indian entrepreneurs Rakesh Mathur and Ashish Gupta. Junglee is an online product comparison and advertising site with several first-of-a-kind features such “real-time customer reviews” from Amazon.com, inline seller store locator for sellers in India and one-stop access to selection from Indian and international sellers. Junglee aggregates detailed product information including customer reviews, price, and shipping speed across multiple sources, including Amazon.com, so customers can research products and evaluate buying options to make an informed purchasing decision. Customers can also write their own reviews, read millions of real-time customer reviews from Amazon.com, “Like” products or sellers, and share products through Facebook, Twitter and email.

Junglee is positioned as a market place which makes buyers and sellers meet, instead of an ecommerce website. It could possibly become a means to drive people to Amazon India in future when they launch the full fledged service in India. The incentive scheme for sellers to post their products on Junglee is very interesting. They can:
1. Drive traffic to your store/website: By advertising products on Junglee.com, one can convert Junglee’s traffic into their own customers
2. List Product Ads for free: No listing fees, no cost per click or subscription fees. On the other side, Ebay.in charges sellers to post ads!
3. Reaching qualified shoppers: Junglee puts products in front of customers who have expressed intent to purchase those exact products
4. Highly targeted placements: Recommended buys when classified in categories means a highly focused sales channel for the sellers

Customers can discover over 1.2 crore products and 14,000 brands, and purchase items directly from hundreds of retailers. Customers can buy products online by following the link to the seller’s website or find a seller’s physical store if they would rather purchase the product in person or call the seller and place an order by phone.
Junglee has an ambitious vision of organizing selection and buying choices. They are relentlessly focused on adding selection and making it convenient for customers to find, discover, and shop anything using the service.

Given that Amazon is launching its ecommerce service in India soon, Flipkart and other ecommerece websites need to ramp up at the earliest and quickly build presence in Tier-II and Tier-III cities of India. Flipkart or Amazon? Do you have a brand loyalty or you will go after the one offering lowest price?

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Entertainment, Marketing

Why this Kolaveri Di?

Why this Kolaveri Di – a Tanglish (Tamil and English) song which is a funny take on heartbreak, is from Dhanush’s upcoming Tamil movie 3. It is a big craze on the internet. So viral, that the song became the first Tamil film song to be premiered on a national music channel, MTV India. The song has attracted all categories of people and has reached to all corners of the country. From children to youngsters to celebrities, everyone is so passionate for this song.

What does the song mean?
Kolaveri, a highly popular slang among Tamil youth normally used to silence a cranky person in a group. It is among several Tamil words which youngsters use between themselves without implying actual meaning. The slang has been used by the makers of 3 to depict the anguish of a person who has just tasted rejection from the hands of a girl whom he liked. Soup in the video implies failure in love.

What makes it so popular?
Simple and Funny Lyrics: The song uses simple english words especially Youth Lingo. The have made an effort to make the song simple. The video includes subtitles in English to help people understand the lyrics. Also it helps people to sing along. Take these lines for example:

lovvu lovvu oh my lovvu, you showed me bouv-u
cow-u cow-u holy cow-u, i want u hear now-u

Catchy Tune: The song is catchy and has superb beats! How many of us have found ourselves humming this tune everytime the song is played?

pa pa paan pa pa paan pa pa paa pa pa paan

Caters to a wide audience: The song is Tanglish, which I think is a very smart move. Even the Tamil words in the song are reasonably easy to figure out. But the song has an emotional connect. It’s a song by a young guy with a broken heart. Heart break is universal, it caters to a large audience. Not just guys, I have seen girls enjoying the song. The audience relates to the lyrics.

Unassuming: Dhanush’s down-to-earth voice and the casual attitude with which he approaches a song have created a new trend in film music. Even the first cut video is shot in the recording studio. You can see Dhanush enjoying while singing. I think that summarizes the feeling.

Versions: The simple and catchy ‘Kolaveri’, has enthused people to remix and edit the footage to create their own narratives. You can find the female version, milk version, Sharad Pawar version, Hilter version. The songs instilled creativity in people. The nth version of Kolaveri helps in increasing popularity of the original version.

Overall, I feel with Kolaveri, Dhanush has tapped the potential of social networking sites to promote a movie. A marketing tactic which is popular in the West and will surely pick up in Bollywood. Kolaveri is being studies as Case Study in management schools. IIMA has adopted it as an inspiration for future marketing managers. The institute plans to introduce a session on ‘Kolaveri Di’ as a part of its course on Contemporary Film Industry for business perspective. What Kolaveri did to the movie is kind of lasting. The national channels that telecast the uprising of the song on cyberspace are going to carry news about the movie’s release when it’s out. I think the movie 3, has a perfect launchpad with the popularity of Kolaveri.

In terms of Youtube hits, the song has little over 16 Mn hits on youtube (at the time of publishing), which is still miles away from Justin Bieber’s Baby which has 649 Mn views. Damn You JB!

Just in case you have not seen or heard it here it is!

Why this Kolaveri Di?

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