Three key thoughts for Marketing
1. CHALLENGES OF TRADITIONAL MARKETING
2. NEW WAY: MARKETERS NEED TO LISTEN UP
3. THE NEW MARKETING MODEL, AND THE
CHANGING ROLE OF THE MARKETER
• You have a product or service to sell – you need to market – you
need to reach your prospect with your communication
• Traditional ways have been advertising, direct marketing, PR, etc.
• More specifically, print advertising, TV ads ($$), hoardings
• PR largely meant, building relationships with journalists
• Direct Marketing: Emails (spams?!), telemarketing (how we hate
those?!) and mailers (junk?)
• Would need budgets and yet, not very effective in changing times
• Even so, many companies use these and are dependent on these
The Traditional Ways of Marketing / Advertising
“First the news business, then the music
business, then advertising. Is there any
industry that I get involved in that doesn’t
get destroyed by digital technology?”
- Andy Nibley, who has led Reuters,
Universal Music and ad agency, Marsteller
• Digital Tech allows client’s ultimate fantasy, “customize specific
message to the specific consumer, at the specific moment”
• It’s also a marketer’s nightmare
• “The irony is that while there never have been more ways to reach
consumers, it’s never been harder to connect with consumers!”
• Death of mass marketing is death of lazy marketing
• 200 Old Spice videos made in 48 hours; more work for less money
• Controlled, one-way message is now a dialogue with millions
• The power of the advertiser is rivaled now, by user influence
The New Possibilities and Realities in Marketing
• Brands choosing to work with specialist digital, PR, social media
agencies, rather than generalists: “looking for the right skills”
• Tech challenges to what was once considered an expensive art
form, e.g. creating a video (< $2K) or media planning (web ads?!)
• Creativity is not that exclusive – how about crowdsourcing ideas?!
• Kraft worked with GeniusRocket for one of it’s brands:
– Against millions to agencies for one spot, got 7 spots for $40,000
– Also syndicated to web platforms for tracking, testing, sentiment analysis
– For agency to be cutting edge, high overheads; GeniusRocket is a lean team
Other Real Challenges for Traditional Advertising
“Why are so many marketing campaigns brand-destroyers and
money-losers? Why is “branding” becoming a devalued asset, whose
returns are dwindling (witness Google building the world’s mightiest
brand with barely a penny of orthodox marketing expenditure)? Why
do people and communities exact steeper and steeper discounts,
price-cuts, and margin-crushing concessions from the beleaguered,
besieged companies once known as the masters of the universe?
The half-life of companies is shrinking and the weary practice known
as “marketing,” adding little to no real value, seems powerless to
A strong condemnation of marketing as it stands today, by Umair Haque (HBR)
• About ‘pushing’ products down
• Already overstuffed gullets of ‘consumers’
• By ‘targeting messages’ packed with imaginary benefits
• In ‘grand campaigns’ that make overblown promises
• “See this beer? It’s going to land you a girl of your dreams!”
• Current marketing is about “talking down” to your customer
In a changing world, Marketing is still a lot like this..
What Listening Up is NOT:
• Stalking your customers to find their moments of weakness
• Focus groups and differentiation
• Data mining and then some more!
• The UP is important: having dialogues about what really betters lives of
people, their standards of living, and then finding real ways to make it
happen for them
Can Marketers go from Talking Down to Listening Up??
• Genuine talk with customers – not just about their wants and needs,
but also about their hopes, fears, opportunities, threats,
achievements, regrets; find ways to give long term fulfillment
• Empowering more people in organization to talk to customers, not
just the powerless cashier or customer service rep; org change!
• Letting your critics rip at you – and listening to them; empowering
people to be heard, instead of shouting them out
• Investing not just in market research, but in people
• Asking questions that matter – and being tough to face the music
So what does Listening Up entail?
Marketing Budgets? Not leaving enough for the crucial touch points?
Allocations not just about media (TV/Print/Radio etc) but about consumer touch points!
Provide for ‘non-work’ budgets like creating, monitoring owned and earned media spaces!
Not just Marketing, anyway! Yet Marketing must be in charge..!
Marketer as the Orchestrator: in charge of all Owned Media – in addition to
traditional and digital marketing, also manage customer service, product
literature design, product registration, warranty programs, etc.
Marketer as publisher, content supply chain manager: Tons of content being
produced by brands and for brands – owned and earned media; marketing to
Marketplace Intelligence Leader: From Google Analytics to Social Media
Monitoring data, the insights must reside with marketing (“what the
customer says / does, etc.”)
Three key thoughts for Communications
1. CORE ISSUES OF COMMUNICATIONS
2. YOU’RE GOING TO COMMUNICATE A LOT!
3. PLANNING A DETAILED COMMUNICATION
• You need a plan! And ideally, you plan early
• Closely linked to the brand positioning that you choose to take
• Will need to map resources to the plan you make
• Who all will participate from your end? Which teams / persons?
• It is not just about marketing communication – also need to cover
internal (e.g. HR) communication, communication to investors (or
prospective investors), vendors, partners, prospective employees
• The “brand” is present in ALL of these – now consider who all will
participate from your end!
The Core Issues of Communications
• Think high level messaging - a manifesto of sort maybe? Example:
• “Everything we communicate will be to encourage the value of a
unique & personalized experience for every traveler; especially
creating content around the reasons for travel, and the related
activities that follow”
• Create similar top level guiding principles for each target group
• Formal, semi-formal and informal communications
• Decide tonality and style – a brand personality that comes out
• Document these to the extent that you can for CONSISTENCY
What are you communicating? To whom?
• Visualize the target group as a person – describe that individual
• Likewise, create the “author” profile in detail, from your side – for
all types of communication that you are doing
• Identify key objectives, milestones and deliverables
• Plan as per your budget; budget as per your plan
• Look at benchmarks, make assumptions, revalidate or tweak
• From the individual Facebook post that you do, to the targetted
email that you send out, start with a “desired response” and then
see if you got there – over time, work on targets based on this
Being Objective Oriented – Measurable too!
• Be clear – you’re going to create a LOT of content!
• Time was when a 4-sheet brochure was all you needed
• You may end up ‘publishing’ 10,000 – 100,000 pages of content!
• The brochures (and several of them), instructions manuals, service
reports, standard email responses of various kinds, even the
telephone scripts for variety of inbound calls – just a beginning!
• Your recruitment ads? Your investor introduction presentation?
• Your financial report – for the bank, for the prospective investor
• ALL and many more are a part of your COMMUNICATIONS!
Companies and Brands are PUBLISHERS today!
• How about a blog? How frequent? Whether one is enough?
• YouTube anyone? Creating video? How about a podcast??
• Slideshare rocks! A must-do!
• Pinterest? Instagram? Oh, and now Instagram videos? Or Vine?
• If you are a retail outlet, you cannot miss Foursquare?
• And the big three: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – any idea what
they demand in terms of content if you want to be effective??
• Google ads, SEO articles, display banners, third party forums…
• YES, YOU’RE GOING TO COMMUNICATE A LOT!!
Communicating in the digital space
• It’s largely about storytelling.. So think stories!
• You cannot or may not be able to produce unique content – can
you repurpose same content many times over?
• You CAN afford to ignore some platforms – pick your battles
• Go deep rather than wide
• Know where your audience is – but think, slice and dice!
• Slice and dice is one more reason why a lot of content is required
• Focused, relevant content, for the audience and the platform
• CONSISTENT with the brand, consistent with guiding principles
How do you plan and prepare for lots of communication?
• “If you’ve communicated consistently to a particular audience, for
a reasonable amount of time, your next communication, even if it
carries NO mention of you or your brand, must be recognized by
the reader as coming from you!”
My Litmus test on Consistency
• Once you have your guiding principles, your sliced audiences, your
overall objectives, etc. figured out
• Start with articulating clearly the qualitative objective
• Where relevant, put corresponding quantitative target numbers
• Put down competition research – what platforms they are present
on, what are they doing, qualitatively and quantitatively; this
needs to be updated regularly
• You may already be communicating – so record your current
status in detail – platforms, numbers, demographics, etc.
The Detailed Communication Plan
• Tonality of communication – detailed sketch of “who is
• Communication keywords – based on what your TG’s searching
• A lot of ‘discovery’ of your content happens via search engines;
hence choice of keywords based on TG usage is crucial
• Identify any key events in your calendar – launches, public events
that matter, trade shows, conferences, etc.; factor for those
• Define communication pegs – make several samples and keep
• These will be independent for each platform and audience
Fleshing out your communication plan
• For LinkedIn, you may like to decide what kind of profiles you
want to connect with, and what communication you want to have
• What groups will you participate in? And what will you talk about?
• A Blog may require a detailed architecture to be defined
• Third party platforms / groups that you may like to participate in,
and content strategy for those
• Specific campaigns or engagements to be detailed out
• Hygiene for all platforms, e.g. About Us, T&C, Contact Info etc.
Platform wise specifics
• The Content Communication Plan that you draw up with the level
of detail described earlier will be your Bible – stay with it
• We live in the world of a 140-character tweet, a 6-second video
Vine, a 15-second video Instagram
• The audience has low attention span, the audience is busy
• The space is cluttered, your competition is not just your direct
competitor but MTV and Fastrack too!
• So be creative, K-I-S-S, cut to the chase
• Unlearn the poetic, long-drawn writing our school taught us!
Joint CEO, Social Wavelength
The Future of Advertising – Danielle Sachs
Marketing Can Do Better – Umair Haque
Branding in the Digital Age – David Edelman (HBR)