Archive for February, 2009

Just do it!

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Too many marketers spend too much of their precious time laboring over a grandiose, cumulatively exhaustive, integrated marketing plan (!),  before they could do anything about it. In my experience, most of it stays on their spreadsheets without ever seeing the light of the day.

What might work better though is that once you have figured out a general sense of direction - then beat that inertia and quickly start running. Which simply means: run that email campaign, spruce up your brochure, make those calls, do that event, upgrade a webpage, round up some sales guys to chat about that new offering…however tactical it might sound. Because this, and only this, is your moment of truth - making touch with people who pay to keep you in business - day after day.

Seth Godin also has a one line advice on this subject. And I can not agree more.

So get over that vague feeling of “have I got it right yet” or “I am sure there’s more to it” right now - and just do it!

The thing about segmentation

Monday, February 16th, 2009

I was in the city of Kolkata last week moderating a panel for an audience largely consisting of Heads or Principals of the leading Schools. Among other things, I also noticed that most of the School Heads in the audience knew each other very well - fairly evident from the bonhomie and back-slapping in view during the coffee and lunch breaks.

If you were a business, marketing your story to the Schools in Kolkata, you don’t need an MBA to tell that as soon as you sign up your first client from this community - others will generally follow as long as you execute well on your story. Why? Because your story is so clearly and immediately referenceable in the context.

What if you went after schools based in another part of India - say Bangalore (in the State of Karnataka) with Kolkata Schools as your only clients? Would it be as easy to secure an entry into this group? I doubt that. For the simple reason that the Bangalore Schools have no way to get a “credible” and “immediate” reference of your story. But with some struggle (read good sales effort) you could still manage it as - however dilute it may be - the story is still referenceable at least from a cultural standpoint. 

But what happens if you train your sights on Schools in China? or the States? The model breaks completely. Your Indian story may not have any referenceability with the School community in these regions.

The ‘ability to reference’ then becomes a critical data-point for every marketer to test the veracity or the consistency of their ”target groups”. Which means if you find that a customer/ cluster from a certain target group can not credibly reference your story with some one else in the group, it could well be a red flag indicating a broken segmentation exercise.

Even In the world of Internet or online marketing, marketers typically use what is called as viral marketing  (using a sticky concept with a pre-designed hook/ idea virus) to ”zero-in” or uncover a high potential target group - which is nothing but a segment or community that is able to reference your story with each other! Same idea but a different application.

Human Frailty and Marketing

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

My young toddler asked me an interesting question the other day: “How can Lord Hanuman (a Hindu God and a Noble Hero) carry the whole mountain on his hand?”

It is not important what I answered him, nonetheless, here is an interesting observation: until he asked me this question or sometime before that, he was probably not aware of the fact that he can NOT lift a mountain - or that only a God can perform such a feat!

If he’s not already, very soon he will also realize that he can not fly without wings, walk on the water,  can not reach the stars…

For most of us growing up means - discovering our limitations and frailties every day of our lives…

Wonder what were folks like Graham Bell, Wright Brothers, Edison, Lincoln, Gandhi and more recently Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and President Obama, thinking when they did, what they did?

Great marketing or entrepreneurship always starts by challenging an existing point of view or a belief, and in doing so, necessarily transcends all the frailties or limitations associated with the human mind around that concept.

And that , by the way, is also the 101 for a course in performing miracles or doing great marketing!