Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why Johnny can’t Brand- Rediscovering the Lost Art of the Big Idea

Too much theory and not enough reality is an obstructive force that keeps Johnny from developing a good brand. Nothing can summarize it better than this book ‘Why Johnny can’t Brand- Rediscovering the Lost Art of the Big Idea’ by Bill Schley & Carl Nichols, Jr. According to them, marketing jargon such as brand charisma, brand chronicles, brand ethos, brand karma among a host of other brand adjectives can be obtained only if your product/ service has a real idea, an unique idea or as they decide to call it, ‘the Dominant Selling Idea DSI. The ‘one’ specialty which separates you fro competition.

The book gives us some insight into the thought process that the brand titans of the yesteryears such as David Ogilvy or Rosser Reeves followed to give cult status to the brands they made. They are known as the Granite pages since they have to be chiseled in stone for its posterity.

Granite page 1: Number 1 is holy

As famously said by the ‘Positioning gurus’, “Its better to be first than it is to be better”. The authors highlight the importance of being first in the minds of the consumer. The human mind always remembers the first. So if you want to be remembered, be a first in whatever you do. If you are not first, create a specialty where you are first. A specialty which has to be Superlative S (in attribute or benefit), Important I (to the customer), Believable B (as in coming from the company and with a ‘reason why’), Memorable M (a campaign that has a high recall value and an emotional connect to the product when the communication is seen) and Tangible T (can be measured by the customer when experiencing the product/ service).

Granite page 2:

‘The Positioning Paradox’ is that the power of your message is directly proportional to how simple you can make it and how few words and images cane be used to say it. Don’t tell all the attributes or benefits at one go. The human mind as a capacity to remember just one thing from a communication. No point trying to bombard them with a plethora of reasons why your product is good. The best thing has to be highlighted. The narrower your focus, the wider your message goes.

Granite page 3: Credibility or believability:

This is in sync with the law of line extension. Same brands name with a different category. It doesn’t work. Xerox was successful in photo copier but not in PCs.

Granite page 4: Make me an offer I can’t refuse

The eight emotion evoking metaphors related to human heart must be used directly or indirectly. They are- Happier, smarter, healthier, richer, safer, secure, attractive and successful. Craft a core message upfront. Give him something that he wants first. Details can be shared later when he is interested.

Granite page 5: People remember what they feel.

The reason is that the power, clarity and endurance of memory is directly proportional to the amount of emotion attached to it. We all remember our first date, when we won the world cup or life changing events in our personal life. If we can attach a memory to our product, you have a winner on your hands. Eg. The Cadbury’s campaign of ‘Kuch meetha ho jaye’ for all festivals.

Granite page 6: Trust isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.

Thus we now have more focus on PR than advertising although advertising can never go out of business since PR has a limited scope and difficult to implement. People respect news coming from a third party than the source itself.

As mentioned above, the SIBMT make a DSI. The DSI is a fusion of your brand name with a number 1 specialty in the customer’s mind. E.g. ‘the best search engine’ is a specialty. ‘Google is the best search engine is a DSI

Thus the name is what matters for a customer. As famously said, ‘Companies manufacture products. Customers buy Brands’. But the category and specialty come before a brand.

The buying process starts with the industry followed by the category, then the specialty, then the number 1 in specialty and then the brand.

The practical application after reading this book is the ultimate DSI test: for any brand you see, start applying the test. Following are the things to consider. (1) Is the message S, I, B? (2) Can I substitute the name of the brand with its competitor in the ad or is it a specialty only I can boast of? (3) In the ad, is the product a star or is it in the background?

Now after all this about DSI, we need to know how to go about knowing or analyzing data to find that DSI. There are some templates given by the authors.

  1. Pre-emptive DSI- this generally applies for a company which has launched a new product in the market unknown to the market. E.g. an i-phone. Although there are other business phones, an i-phone separates itself from the Blackberrys, Androids and Communicators of the world.
  2. Magic ingredient DSI- this is like the gold dust where you start to own a name in the minds of the prospect through your communication. E.g. saasta for Big Bazaar.
  3. Sleeping beauty DSI- this is a classic case of a feature present in all competitions products but no one knows about it. You are the first one to start boasting about it. E.g. Shell started proclaiming that it has a chemical which improves performance of the car. Although all gasolines have that chemical. But people started to believe only Shell
  4. 2 in one DSI: you combine two individual specialties and make a new one. E.g. Mahindra Xylo which is a combination of a sedan and a SUV.
  5. Spin DSI: it is like repositioning.
  6. Pure original DSI: this is the most difficult and is done only when there is an invention. This happens more in technology-intensive companies who bring technology to differentiate.

DSI as said above is a combination of SIBMT. But that is to formulate a DSI. How about communicating it. The DSI Star as it is called here, comprises of 5 units. The brand name. An unique ownable specialty. The DSI tagline. Key visual in terms of logo or identity and the DSI level performance which is equivalent to the tangible aspect.

Brand name is the most essential since it is the first thing that registers in the mind of the consumer and separates it from competition, literally.

The unique ownable specialty forms the core of the DSI star and has to be superlative. However it should be in such a way that the competition cannot be able to copy it easily. Thus you specialty should not be in terms of cost or technology which can be easily copied. E.g. launch of a 3D TV can be unique but if the competition immediately launches it, you lose your uniqueness.

The Tagline needs to complement the specialty. It cannot be generic. E.g. Deutsche bank’s tagline of ‘Passion to Perform’ can be for a car as well or even an educational institution. HSBC banks tagline ‘the world’s local bank’ talks of its intense distribution capability and understanding of the cultures.

Key visual refers to the eye catching element of human nature. The McDonald’s man stands for its uniqueness. The Bull in the logo of Merrill Lynch tells you about the bullish nature of its banking performance although it didn’t save it from the economic catastrophe of 2008.

DSI level performance is the actual test at the hands of the consumer. Whether you are true to your communication of being the best for a particular attribute or benefit.

The latter part of the book then tells you about how to go about finding the DSI through interviews internally and from external sources. To find that one unique specialty that differentiates you from competition.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

SMS marketing- excruciatingly irritating

A couple of years back when tariffs for cell phones was falling off a cliff although not as much as 1 paise per second, we had irritating calls selling us credit cards, loans, insurance products and mutual funds. The matter was taken up in court and we had the ‘Do not disturb’ registration made mandatory by the apex court for all telecom service providers. Now this calling has been replaced by SMSes. The purpose? The same. Selling you everything (from every manner of business: insurance companies, realtors, bars and restaurants, neighbourhood grocers, stockbrokers, gyms, and schools) that can be sold under the sun, right from apparels costing a few hundred to houses running in crores. It is supposed to be not as irritating as calls. But does it make a difference to an end customer. For him, sitting in do-or-die meeting with a client, receiving a message selling you a watch which is 40 percent off is frustrating to say the least.

I am just wondering whether the concept of target market still exists. Because the nature of these messages targeting people who are nowhere close to the prospective candidate is alarming. Imagine a BPO employee receiving a message to buy property worth a couple of crores in central Mumbai would be blasphemous. However the reason put forth by media planners, if there is any planning done for this, is the cost attached to reach a sizeable amount of people.

When we compare other media vehicles, according to Lodestar UM, a media buying agency, the cost to reach 1,000 people via print is, on average, Rs180 for an ad sized 100 column cm. Via a 30-second television advertisement, reaching 1,000 people costs Rs25. whereas to reach a 1000 people via these SMSes is roughly Rs. 30. The average response rate to these SMSes is roughly 1%, and even less for realtors—low, but acceptable for such inexpensive advertising, and higher than an Internet banner ad’s average of 0.5% for click-throughs.

There are not many companies who specialize in this. The sheer ease of sending these messages and a per-SMS price that has plummeted in near-suicidal manner over the last two years, have combined to yank this industry into overdrive.

The largest sender of such SMSes is ValueFirst Messaging Pvt. Ltd, and its chief executive officer estimates that 150 million marketing messages—of both spam and non-spam variety- is sent every day in India. Around 30% of these are promotional SMSes. The remaining would then be service messages—SMSes that the receiver has opted to get, such as bank account activity alerts.

Nowadays, the margins are very thin which will soon result in consolidation. From an SMS costing Rs1.50; the margin, per SMS, is now often a solitary paisa, and sometimes less. Economies of scale are the reason for survival of some of these companies like ValueFirst Messaging.

As this marketing becomes old, the regulators will come into focus and a do not disturb registry would soon spring up here. And people are not going to buy a home or take a loan for a car or buy a mutual fund based on an SMS. It isn’t impulsive buying. Although it’s just an informative medium, it would do more harm than gain.