Archives For Marketing

what-matters-now-seth-godin-ebookOne of my favorite marketing authors, Seth Godin is releasing his new book in New York on January 15. But he teamed up with some 70 others popular in what they do and released a new (free) e-book. The e-book is titled “What Matters Now” and is available for download here.

Lot of great authors and ideas in there. You will find people like Michael Hyatt of Nelson Publishers, Chris Anderson, Tom Peters, Guy Kawasaki, Mark Hurst etc.

(If you are not much of a reader, you will like the format of the book. Each author has only page to him or herself. They convey the message in less than 200 words. S0 every page you turn, you finish a chapter. The sense of accomplishment comes faster! :p )

value-coffee-cupsCreating value is a difficult thing. If you market products or services, you need to provide value in terms of quality, functionality and pricing. If you are marketing yourself, you create value by doing things differently and making it work by doing it differently.

But what do you do when you have competition? Creating value is easy when you are the single player. But when there is someone else offering something similar, what kind of value would you create? A better one. And value is always created for the customer.

If you and your competition have the same product or offer the same services, the difference you offer is consistency. Consistency, really is a rarity in today’s world. Offering the same high value over and over again drills down one concept in your customer’s mind – trust. If your customer can trust you, it does not matter who your competition is – they will keep coming back to you.

Creating consistent value can be tough. But if you keep at it, they will notice you and stick with you.

Image courtesy: singing


hyundai-assurance-adNow that’s one brand I would never expect to win something like that. I have seen Hyundai ever since I was in school and it has always been a Korean car company. And we were told that “Korean car companies do not make good cars”.

But lot has changed over the years. They made better cars. They made better noise. From the Indian perspective, they entered the Indian market and are doing quite well. September 2009 saw record sales for Hyundai with a 25% YOY growth. And now they seem to be doing well in other markets, especially the US market which has been dominated by Japanese brands. You can read more about it here.

Here are the Hyundai Assurance ads that made them quite popular during the economic recession. You can hear the voice-over say, “Now finance or lease any new Hyundai, and if you lose your income in the next year, you can return it. That’s the Hyundai Assurance. An automaker that’s got your back. Now isn’t that a nice change?”

Very few brands actually looked recession in the face and made something of it. Congrats Hyundai!

Limited Editions & Low Price

November 4, 2009 — 1 Comment

seth-godin-boxed-set-limited-edition-saleIt always works. At least, most of the time I have seen it.

This time, it is Seth Godin’s (wooden) boxed set of five books with a special gift at $64. He says it would cost $100 to buy the books separately from the bookstore.

There are going to be only 800 boxes sold. And when this post goes public, it is already come down to 41 boxes. And it has only been three hours since he made this post.

I wonder if I can sell software like this! :)

Bad-Customer-Service-ToonA barber wants to get things done quickly without focusing on the quality of his work. You see he is getting his joint renovated and he cannot afford to close it down for a couple of weeks. That could affect his business. So what does he do? Keep one side of his shop open and make sure every customer is attended to but does not care about what kind of work is getting done. So customers walk out with a bad hair day after spending time in a place where they are supposed to give you good ones.

A tailor is the busiest during festivals or events, so to keep up with the demand, she rushes through the process which ends up with mis-fitting clothes and a lot of frustration. Her staff is under so much pressure they do a shoddy job at every step from taking measurements to the final sew.

A telemarketer does not bother if she has called the same customer three times already on the same day. She is just trying to finish her daily quota of calls.

A restaurant waiter does not bother to keep the hygiene because he has been working from seven in the morning and it is going to be nine at night. He is tired and wants to go home.

A newspaper company introduces a scheme to deliver papers for a whole year and collects money for it too. But they do not bother to live through their promise. Of course, they would just blame the people who are in the business of delivering the papers.

Obviously, all these people and so many others like them don’t bother to change. They don’t care about building relationships. They don’t bother if the customer is happy. They don’t mind if a couple of customers are not satisfied with their work.

They really don’t care about the customer.

We should stop caring for these people too. Stop acknowledging their presence. Stop shopping with them. Stop using their services. Switch brands. Switch loyalties. You are not bound to them. They depend on you. Spread the word on how they ignored you, how they overcharged you, how they didn’t respect you for who you are. Stop them before they become a bigger menace.


There are two supermarkets serving the community where my parents live. Let’s call them Supermarket A and Supermarket B. Both supermarkets are national brands. In fact, Supermarket B has a legacy that is older than Supermarket A. Supermarket A is where I frequent, because my parents introduced me to them first.

Last weekend, I decided to visit Supermarket B, because I heard that their bakery section is supposed to be good. The first thing I noticed when I entered the place is the lack of people. There were two customers. And both of them were in the checkout lanes. I went about getting what I needed and I noticed – they either did not have what I wanted or the existing stock was running out of shelf life. They did not get enough customers to recycle their stock. The bakery section was literally empty.

I headed for the checkout lane with what I found, feeling bad for these guys. And then I noticed, the lady at the checkout counter did not smile, nor greet and was rude to whatever questions I asked.

When I reached home and told my mother that we visited Supermarket B, her reaction was, “Why did you go there? Nobody goes to that place!” That’s when I realized that Supermarket B had just missed the market. They did not relate to the community. They did not understand customer service. They did not understand the importance they could have played in the community – serving their needs. They lost out.

I have always been allergic to bad customer service. Add to that aisles of soon-to-be-stale grocery, how many customers would be interested in coming back? If they don’t plan to change, they might as well sell out.

What can you do to protect your business or organization?

  • Promise to give something and give it. Or don’t promise at all.
  • Good customer service is not about smiling or greeting your customer. It is more about respect and understanding their needs. Be fanatical about good customer service.
  • Keep a tab on competition. See what they are doing right and copy, then do better. See what they are doing wrong and improvise.

I had to visit Supermarket A that evening and it was crowded as usual.

yahoo-india-newspaper-adToday’s newspaper had a surprise! A full-page ad by Yahoo!

There is a picture of a smiling girl on a bright yellow background and the copy says “The Internet is under new management. Yours. ”

The small text reads “A homepage that lets you add whatever you love, an inbox that knows what you like (and don’t) and the freedom to access it from your mobile. Say hello to the new Yahoo! Take charge today at”

It ends with “It’s Y!ou”

It’s interesting to see many online companies taking interest in India. According to Comscore, Yahoo! is the second-most visited site in India, after Google (May 2008). It makes sense for Yahoo! to catch some attention before competition. Afterall, most of the people in India are not online. The last number I saw was 32.1 million. That’s like less than 3% of the total Indian population.

But do you think Yahoo! will be successful in this new strategy? Do you think this will make a difference?

Phone-SMS-Spam-IndiaJust when I thought I had SPAM in control, at least in my email and blog comments (thanks to Akismet!), people find a new way to spam me. SMS. Vendors have this strange notion that if they send me a SMS, there is a better chance of me buying their product.

Flash News: You are wrong! I start to hate your product when you Spam-SMS me. The more your Spam-SMS me, the less chance of me buying your product (even if I needed it).

As I am writing this (the time now is 11p.m. IST), I get a SMS about a job opening in some call center. I have never worked in call centers. I have never registered myself for a job at a call center. Then on what basis are they sending me these messages?

It has been worse – I have got one of these Spam-SMS at 1a.m. Another time, some computer repair guy/company sent me the same SMS about his repair services 24 times, over a period of 30 minutes. I was in church at that time.

Permission marketing for these guys seems to be defined like this – “Sir, you have a cellphone? That’s good enough. You just gave us permission!”

Image: A screenshot of some of the unread Spam-SMS I have received. It accumulated to 51 unread SMS in just 3 days!

Skulls-Execution-Lucid-ConfusionsI wanted to kiss Seth’s bald head for writing this. He lists the “hierarchy of success”.

Attitude | Approach | Goals | Strategy | Tactics | Execution

    You have heard it said, “It’s all about execution!” But what is the point in trying to execute something you have no clue about?! Execution is the last step.

    I love the way Seth puts it – “Tactics tell you what to execute. They’re important, but dwarfed by strategy. Strategy determines which tactics might work. But what’s the point of a strategy if your goals aren’t clear, or contradict? Which leads the first two, the two we almost never hear about. Approach determines how you look at the project (or your career)….As far as I’m concerned, the most important of all, the top of the hierarchy is attitude. Why are you doing this at all? What’s your bias in dealing with people and problems?..”

    Attitude and approach remain the key steps first. There is no point trying to do something if you don’t have the right attitude or approach. Your strategy, tactics, execution – all can fall apart if you don’t have the right attitude for taking it through.

    Your attitude and approach really determines your success.

    Execution ain’t everything, my friend!

    Image Courtesy: d-riginal from This is the image I got when I searched for “execution”. I thought it was apt!

    If it is personal. Official. Website. Dressing. Resume. Party. Office. Food.

    How you package it makes a lot of difference.

    Vodafone Music Station - Mobile Music (Paid Service)

    Did any of you see this? If you are in India, it is hard to miss it. Vodafone has got TV spots, newspaper ads, billboards, flyers for their new Vodafone Music Station. The idea is users can call in and listen to music on the Vodafone network. They boast of a collection of 40,000 songs (in all languages together).

    The TV ad, I think, is a good idea but it really gets to you because it seems to be shown in every ad break on literally every channel and it is no fun to listen to the first line of the same song over and over again. Add to that, when you think of the absolute uselessness of the service, it just makes me wonder if Vodafone could not come up with something better.

    Ok, here’s what they offer. If you have a Vodafone connection in India, you activate the service paying Rs. 50/-. Then you can listen to these 40k songs paying Rs. 0.30 per minute. Here’s my calculation:

    Average duration of a song: 4 mins.
    Cost of 1 min: 30 paise
    Cost for full song: 4 x 0.30 = Rs. 1.20
    I listen to around 30-40 songs every day, if not more. So even if I limit myself to 20 songs, I would have to pay Rs. 1.20 x 20 = Rs. 24 every day.
    i.e. Rs. 24 x 30 = Rs. 720 /month (plus Rs. 50 monthly subscription = Rs. 770)
    Rs. 770 x 12 = Rs. 9240 /year.

    So average cost of one song is (Rs. (1.20 x 30) x 12) = Rs. 432, considering if I were to listen to it every day for the whole year. The cost of a music CD in India (with ownership) is around Rs. 300 – 500 for English albums. Regional music is far more affordable (Rs. 60 – 250). If you still use cassettes, costs come further down.

    And in this age of iPods and portable music players in cell phones, what is Vodafone really trying to do here? I put this point to Vodafone support and they said that this service can be used by people who do not have access to iPods or mobile phones without music player. But can the people who can’t afford an iPod really afford the Vodafone Music Station service?

    The way Vodafone is advertising this service, you think this will be next biggest thing after the iPhone. But I just don’t get it and I want to know if Vodafone got any serious users to this service other than those curious testers. But even for that, they have set up an entry barrier of Rs. 50 as monthly subscription.


    That’s what I felt what Pantaloon was telling me. (For those who don’t know – “Pantaloon Retail (India) Limited, is India’s leading retailer that operates multiple retail formats in both the value and lifestyle segment of the Indian consumer market – from here.”

    I went there today to get some shirts. And I saw that they had an offer – depending on the number of shirts, you get a package deal. So as I was checking out one rack, I asked the salesman if those shirts were included in the offer. It wasn’t. He mentioned only the Rs. 499 shirts were part of the offer and showed me the rack where the board was kept.

    So I started checking out shirts on that rack, selected one and was ready to select my next shirt. That’s when I saw the price on the shirt – Rs. 799. Out of curiosity, I asked the guy if this shirt was included. Nope. I finally figured out that there were just some two rows on sale. All the other shirts were not included.

    Did Pantaloon do this after some consumer research where they figured if you keep the shirts-on-sale and shirts-not-on-sale together, people will end up buying both and more of the second? I just didn’t get it. All they had to do was say “on shirts of Rs. 499 only” on the rack-advertisement.

    I tried telling the sales guy my experience had just gone awry and he was quite apologetic about it. He mentioned that he had issues with other customers too and would change the board soon. I finaly exited the store with no purchase and a very bad experience with Pantaloon.