Common Sense In Marketing

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The idea for this post struck me when I saw the CNBC logo flashing and rotating with a narration in the background “CNBC is my religion“. Now, this logo flashing skid is the worst part of the whole marketing clip. The clip starts by flashing people who are successful and in their different ways are always thinking over subjects that could boost their success further. There is a deep voice narrating how they always come up with new ideas and make the right decision every time, it makes me believe that they really have some heightened form of sixth sense. Now, as the clip ends with the flashing logo, the message delivered is “CNBC is my religion“. Nooo… you’ve just showed people who are intelligent and successful biz owners … you’ve just explained in the last 40 seconds how they have been relying on their sixth sense for everything related to their business. Now just capitalize on that… say “CNBC – My sixth sense” or “CNBC – My Inner Voice” or a similar line which is in agreement with the clip’s idea. The cool tag line “CNBC is my religion” goes more with a target audience that is passionate about sport, movie or fashion, but your audience isn’t cricket fans or movie fans or die-hard fashion followers. They are intellectual, smart people who are always counting, always calculating. So give them that image … with a stupid tag line as “… my religion” you spoil that great idea you just planted in my brain. I had just started listening but now I don’t want to ’cause really  “CNBC is not my religion” but I would have happily bought “CNBC as my advisor“.

Corporations tend to spend a lot on brand building and marketing campaigns. Money that could have well be used for research and product development or improving customer service is wasted on learning new marketing tactics, devising marketing strategies that attract the public and can create a buzz. Ultimately the product does not sell to your expectations and the whole buzz just fizzes out because what really mattered to the customer was functionality. But still your marketing campaign director would point out that it was only due to the marketing efforts that you were able to break through so many customers. In reality though, if the product was designed for the audience and not the brand, despite a low buzz you’d have achieved significantly higher sales. Brand may pull me into a store and even make me buy the stuff but if I am not able to use it to my needs I might just avoid the brand. On the other side a product that I might buy for cheap and comes from a not so big brand but serves my purpose well, is durable it will automatically build a brand. What I am talking of is repeat sell, which should be the objective of every brand. You want to get new customers but not at the cost of losing you already have. People who have already bought services/ products from us are more likely to buy again than new ones. Apparently, customer acquisition is more expensive than customer retention and the latter is much more rewarding.

I realize what I am talking is archaic and completely out of sync with what the current marketing pundits have to say. But I think the whole marketing part is highly overrated, what one needs is “Common Sense In Marketing” which I am told often is not very common. I worked for Bionicturtle.com for a few months and thought of many ways that could attract more visitors on the site. Not that it was my role, but due to a small exposure to market research I have always been thinking like that. Now, David (founder of Bionicturtle.com) was very sensible with his approach and avoided the many pitfalls with marketing. He always said, you don’t want to do too much logo designing, marketing and branding to promote your product. What you can do is you can improvise with the resources already at hand to improve your customer’s experience and that will matter in the long run. I completely agree to his viewpoint and realize that filling in the gaps in your current solution is much more worthy of spending those dollars than trying to animate logos and focus on aesthetical elements of the site while all your customers really care is for the content (which is the functional element of the whole business). I later realized that there was no marketing technique using SEO, link building or fancy logos that got him customers but it was the word-of-mouth marketing. Slow and steady but rewarding nevertheless. I strongly believe your growth is much more even and consistent if you invest in your customers than in your marketing strategies and that’s what David did.

So, the point is that rather than going out to find the perfect brand image that sells your products or services you can build a brand around what you already have. By this I mean, the assets you already have, the goals you want to achieve and the kind of employees you already have. For example, if you are a research firm or a consultancy you have to bring out the idea of usefulness of your research, the many ways in which it can add value to the clients’ existing knowledge base. What you can also add to the brand is the expertise of your employees. Give them a page on your site, feature their achievements and how they have completed challenging project successfully. This way you wouldn’t have to fit your company into a new image and align your goals in line with it. Instead, the brand would be supporting your business ideas, objectives and products. Rather than customizing your company to fit into a brand image I think it makes more sense to integrate the brand  into the overall fabric of your company’s operations so it speaks and promotes what you do, how you do and how well you do it. With this approach in marketing, you will realize that your brand is immensely scalable to envelope the future products and sell them effectively to your target customers.

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8 thoughts on “Common Sense In Marketing

  1. Shalini

    A great post and an interesting read, I agree with some points while beg to differ with some others. Firstly, the CNBC case, even though I have not had the chance to see the ad myself, your words gave me a clear picture of the same. I admire the way you have critically analysed it and also the alternative taglines suggested by you are far better than the one they currently use…..how about sending them a mail telling them we’ve got better ideas?? 😉

    In the subsequent points, though I agree that research and product development play an important part in the endowing the final product with the various desired attributes but at the same time, the effort and money spent on branding exercises cannot be labelled as a waste. The fierce market competition that we have today where its very easy for a competitor to replicate every new feature you add to your product/service, many a times it is the emotional connect that the brand has established with the consumer prevents him from switching over. After all, branding is not only about creating fancy ads and slogans; the end result of it all is to help the target audience connect with the brand thereby leading to an increase in sales.

    What you have pointed out is no way outdated Harsh. Just refining what you pointed out above: according to Philip Kotler, acquiring a new customer is five times costlier than retaining an existing one. All I want to say is that no doubt it is important for businesses to continuously deliver superior quality to their customers but its also equally important to create awareness about the quality that you deliver to those who’ve not tried your product/service yet. For this, you have to take the help of branding techniques, for many a times just word-of-mouth publicity is not enough!!

      • Shalini

        Fine with me sir….or you can also write something new, may be about your gurgaon trip…dying to read something nice, even Sushmita Bose has not been writing these days!! 😦

  2. Shashank

    I strongly agree with Shalini on this one ………. its a good analysis. Branding is not a waste. Only the branding and marketing have to be in sync with the product which sadly happens the other way around in a bid to win the rat race of getting new customers. Winning customers through aggressive marketing is important for expansion while retaining them with a quality product and customer service will sustain the growth. I figure these are two very important tools for any company and the combo can work wonders if used properly.

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