Diwali Campaigns 2019 – Which one won your heart?

It’s the season of festivals in India these days and with festivals, comes the season of shopping. From Dusshera to Diwali, there is a different excitement and frenzy in the air. It’s that time of the year when marketers bring out their best offers and consumers are left spoilt for choices. It’s that time of the year when brands launch their best campaigns to connect and attract their target audience. 

Like every year, this Diwali has also been very interesting when it comes to marketing and advertising. From digital to retail, the market was flooded with new campaigns. While some chose the route of social awareness, some went ahead with direct product promotions. Whatever be the route, finally the ones that attracted the attention were either – 

Entertaining or Educating or Engaging or Empowering!

The same golden 4E rule of marketing which is about content. Good content wins.

While there were many campaigns that I liked but here’s a quick round-up on the ones that I loved the most:

Zomato – When it comes to digital content, Zomato wins hands-down for me. I am a huge, huge fan of their marketing especially their social media marketing. The quirk, the pun, and the message-fit to the occasion, I mean hats off to the team who comes out with posts like these, absolutely hilarious and shareworthy.  (*Insta embed is giving issues with this theme on web, in case you can’t see the full slideshow, view it here).

View this post on Instagram

Because you are the sweetest!

A post shared by Zomato India (@zomatoin) on

Samsonite – I had goosebumps watching this ‘Diwali Ka Safar’ film and loved the idea as well as the execution. When the whole world was speaking of gifting during Diwali, Samsonite came out with a wonderful campaign on gratitude. Subtle product placement but with a remarkable message, this ad won the hearts of many.

#DiwaliKaSafar | Samsonite

India is going home for Diwali, but they are not.Join us in wishing them a #HappyDiwali and thanking them for helping us all complete our #DiwaliKaSafar!Share this with your friends and family and ask them to do so too! #SamsoniteIndia

Posted by Samsonite India on Saturday, October 19, 2019

Google Pay – Going by the number of Diyas that my whole family was busy scanning on Diwali, I have to say that this was one of the most engaging campaigns this year. From paying to sharing, the Diwali gamification by Google Pay was indeed a very smart campaign to increase product usage.

FeviKwik – What a perfect product fit campaign by FeviKwik! I mean to come out with a Diwali specific advertisement for a product like FeviKwik would have required some serious effort. And look at this post, isn’t it simply amazing? (*Insta embed is giving issues with this theme on web, in case you can’t see the full image, view it here).

View this post on Instagram

Asli munafa from this lifafa #HappyDiwali #Fevikwik

A post shared by Fevikwik (@fevikwikindia) on

Sabhyata – Many brands took the route of starting something new or celebrating change this Diwali. But speaking of this film by Sabhyata, I couldn’t guess the end when I watched it for the first time. And considering it’s coming from a brand with the name “Sabhyata”. I quite liked it. With a traditional range of products but ads like these, I am sure the brand will find its connect with the younger generation.

Sabhyata – #CelebrateAChange

Saas-Bahu Saga? Kahaani Ghar Ghar ki..But aise rishtey jo khatti-meethi nokjhok se bane, Bade Ache Lagte hai! This Saas-Bahu duo is definitely goals for everyone who relates to this situation!Sabhyata#CelebrateAChange

Posted by Best Ads on Tuesday, October 22, 2019

While I have listed the five that I liked the most but there were many more like Dunzo’s Glow Green or Swiggy’s Mute SoanPapdi that were interesting and funny. Though for me, nothing could come parallel to last year’s UmeedKaDiya campaign by HP. That film I think was a league apart, something that many of us will remember for years to come. 

So, which ad was your favorite this year? Would love to hear from you in the comment section below. 

PM, PMM, UX – Are the roles merging?

Product Management, Product Marketing, and UX Design – are these roles merging?

My answer – Yes and No.

I get this question asked often these days especially when we discuss the go-to-market plan in my product marketing sessions. The cohorts consist of aspiring product managers and as a logical sequence of the course they go through value proposition, UX design, followed by GTM plan. 

This question is quite genuine considering the way things are nowadays, more so in case of digital products. There are overlaps at times leading to joint decisions. While product management as a profession has been existing since decades but speaking of India, I think this career has gained prominent limelight in the last decade especially in digital and tech organizations. 

The new age PM is not only expected to know about products but also about design and marketing. Similarly, the new age UX is expected to know about the market dynamics and the new age product marketer is expected to know about the value proposition. Today a marketing person can’t say, I don’t understand the product specifications as its too technical. A product marketing person is very much expected to understand everything about the product and own up the growth.

Somewhere it’s all about the user! Everyone is expected to know the user and think about the user, which is great. 

However, understanding design is different from doing design.

Understanding marketing is different from doing marketing.

While as a role, it’s expected that a PM has a thorough understanding of all three but in reality neither of these functions are replaceable. Despite the fact that all these roles are centered around users, a PM, PMM, and UX bring different expertise to the table when it comes to actual execution and growth.

Secondly, it’s also about the stage and scale. For long I have worked in a startup, where I was owning up both the product and marketing along with managing the design team. Initially, it was all good, as it was one team who was owning up the user experience, product, and the growth numbers. But as we grew, this model had scalability challenges and finally, I had senior resources to lead the UX & PM functions as part of my team while I concentrated on GTM & growth. All of them brought in fresh perspectives and expertise into the overall product plan leading to faster launches and sustainable growth.

A PM doing the job of PMM or UX is not sustainable in the long run.

So, are the roles merging? I won’t say these are merging, rather they are aligning to each other more now and this alignment is for good.

The know-how of all three functions are getting interlinked, the knowledge expectations from all three roles are getting merged but when it comes to execution and ownership, these roles have their own identities and independent KRAs to cater to.

And whatever be the role, finally it was / is/ will be about the user and the growth.

So, how is the structure in your organization? Are you a startup or large scale operation? Do you have independent resources to manage these functions or are some of the functions merged in your setup? If merged, is it PM & PMM or PM & UX? Would love to know your opinion on the same. 

The “Think” and the “Feel”

Think beyond emotions. But why?

Think beyond emotions. I have heard this often. And I wondered why?

If it wouldn’t have been emotions, I wouldn’t have been me.

If it wouldn’t have been emotions, I wouldn’t have been with you.

There was a time in my life when I used to counter this statement (which is generally thrown at you more like an allegation) with proofs about my logical side of the brain, with pieces of evidence about my rational personality but now I just say – 

“Wish more people in this world would have started their conversation with ‘I feel‘ as against, ‘I think‘.

And this is not just for personal life, I stand by it in my professional life too. I am a marketer by profession and a major part of my work involves product and marketing. Now, need I say more about the importance of the right part of the brain in my work along with the left? 

If it wouldn’t have been emotions, I wouldn’t have understood user pain points.

If it wouldn’t have been emotions, I wouldn’t have understood empathy.

If it wouldn’t have been emotions, I wouldn’t have been passionate, be it relationships or my work.

Emotional Intelligence is not just a buzzword and EQ is not a mere hype anymore. These are realities and core competencies after which many organizations are running these days.

Something that is so important at the leadership level, I wonder why it is not taught from the ground up? Why it is not a part of the school curriculum or parenting journals? 

Why am I even writing a blog post on it, something that I don’t think need to be justified to the world? Well, it’s a conversation between my 7-year-old son and some folks recently that instigated me to write about it.

Something happened in a group of these 7-8-year-old kids and my son as well one of his friends started crying. There were few other grownups who were trying to pacify the boys to the best of their abilities. While I appreciated their concern but couldn’t help myself from noticing a few repeated sentences for the boys like –

“Don’t be so emotional, stop crying like girls”.

“Don’t be so emotional, these things happen”.

Something in me snapped. I totally understand their good intention but for a child whose mother is as rock strong as me, comments like “don’t cry like a girl” are nothing but meaningless. What do people even mean when they say – “don’t cry like girls”?

But the larger concern that I had was this repeated mention of “don’t be emotional”. I mean why? The boys were injured physically, to add to that they had been bullied, why can’t they cry? What’s so wrong about feeling bad on being cheated and bullied?

At a very young age, they are being told to shun out their feelings, at a very young age they are being rebuked for expressing their emotions. At a very young age, they are being told that emotions are for girls only and boys are supposed to be this never-feel, never-cry, never-empathize creatures! 

I just so wish that right from the start we pay attention to the “feel” as much as the “think”.

Here’s to my boy, other boys, me, and others who listen to such comments often –

It’s perfectly fine to be emotional.

It’s perfectly fine to express emotions.

And it’s perfectly fine to experience negative emotions along with the positive ones.

What is not fine is to keep these emotions bottled up inside. 

Feel, express and most importantly, learn to manage your emotions.

Cognition is important but what is more important is to understand and acknowledge the interlink between cognition and emotion. 

Before I sign off, would leave you with one of my favorite videos by Susan David. If you like reading more about emotional agility, you will love this one.

Instagram Hiding Likes – Good or Bad?

We want people to worry a little bit less about how many likes they’re getting on Instagram and spend a bit more time connecting with the people that they care about,” – Adam Mosseri, Instagram Chief.

Image Credit – Pixabay

Instagram has hidden likes in 6 more countries now and it’s soon going to be implemented in more geographies.

So this change happened and I think it’s for good, as an individual as well as a marketer. 

I know there’s a lot of hue and cry going on for this feature especially by the influencers but if I think of it rationally, my hunch is, this will fix many ongoing issues with the platform.

While the number of likes was one of the key ways to put a value on a post for the business side of Instagram, but if I think it from the business side I am not sure what purpose those likes were serving.

Not just for business accounts but for regular accounts too, these likes and follower counts have become like a digital popularity contest leading to users taking any measure to increase their worth in terms of social currency.

For Instagram, it must have been a very bold step, something that might even hit their popularity in the short term but considering all types of scams and bots that are floating on Instagram to increase these followers and likes, it’s high time that measures like these are taken. 

Instagram After Hiding Likes. Image via CNN

I have been a huge fan of influencer marketing always; when done right it has given wonderful results for the brands that I have worked for. There was a time when I used to interact personally with the influencers for different campaigns and wow, what a wonderful era that was where some of those influencers actually created content better than us and our agencies. Those content were stunning, useful and worth every penny that we spent.

But speaking of now, the past three campaigns that I have tried hasn’t given us the engagement ratio of even 1%. In fact, nano influencers have turned out to be better than influencers or micro-influencers.

And there is a huge difference in the rates of hiring a nano, micro vs popular influencers these days.

One of the data points from a recent campaign that we did with few influencers –  Influencers with 5k – 6k followers gave us approximately 10% engagement whereas the ones with around 60k followers gave us approximately 1% engagement. We got almost the same results from these two segments but the payouts to them were very different. We paid almost 5x to the folks with 60k+ followers as against the ones with less than 10k followers!

With the bought likes and followers, Instagram honestly speaking has been losing its essence. More than beautiful visual storytelling, it’s becoming an automated-content battleground.

Similar trends have been observed by many other independent studies and research. Recently in an analysis done by Markerly for over 2 million influencers on Instagram, it was clearly found that influencers with 

  • < 1,000 followers average about 8% engagement
  • 1,000 – 10,000 followers average 4% engagement
  • 10,000 – 100,000 followers average 2.4% engagement
  • 100,000 – 1 million followers average 1.8% engagement
  • > 1 million followers average 1.7% engagement

Let’s hope that with changes like these, hopefully, the fake will get filtered out and better features and metrics will get introduced to help both the content creators and marketers. Speaking of features, I think it would be good to have:

  • a transparent influencer platform like Amazon, currently brands are dependent on finding influencers through third-party platforms or agencies. A robust influencer network connecting brands and influencers will be beneficial for all concerned.
  • tools to clearly differentiate between genuine vs bot followers of influencers. I am ok if the influencers garner reach through paid promotions too but at least the bots or fake profiles should be called out clearly.
  • better analytics and reports for brands using which they can monitor the performances of the campaigns with influencers. Payouts can be based on performance and reach. Not only will this help brands, but this will also help the genuine content creators command better deals from brands. 
  • better image tagging for business accounts, so that not just accounts but exact product image/pages could also be tagged.

The wishlist could be more but for now, all I hope is that Instagram retains its original charm and doesn’t meet the same fate as SMS or email.

What do you think about “Instagram removing likes”? Which tools do you use to audit the potential influencer’s account? I am currently using IG Audit and HypeAuditor. Any other good audit/ranking tools that you can recommend? 

Portion Control

Wherever you go, everyone speaks of one word these days – Portion Control.

Someone is controlling sugar, someone carb, someone gluten, someone fat, someone … ah, the list is endless! It’s amazing to encounter this word “portion control” anywhere and everywhere.

As a habit, I think it’s wonderful and it’s great to know that people including me have become so mindful about what they eat.

But I wonder why this “Portion Control” consciousness only for what we feed to our body? Why not “Portion Control” for the mind too?

A recent conversation with a few friends having lunch and casual chitchat over food and lifestyle made me think more about this. Everyone in that group was sharing their stories on what and how they have limited their food intake but many while talking kept on looking at their phones. Now if this was me a year back, I wouldn’t have found anything wrong about talking while responding to WhatsApp or browsing Instagram. In fact, I would have happily attributed it to multitasking ability and how efficient we are at it these days.

But now I do, I do find it to be weird talking to someone while not looking at him/her.

I find it tiring to be consuming content on-screen constantly and continuously.

By the way, like many, I am also one of those who had disabled my phone notifications long back but despite that, for me, the eye-opening moment about my screen consumption habit was when I installed the screen time app on my phone this January. I always assumed I didn’t waste lots of time browsing junk on my phone but that app’s results for the first few weeks were shocking, to say the least. I had a screen time of 5 hours+ on my phone! Initially, I also thought it could be calls but no, it was chatting on WhatsApp, browsing Linkedin, Instagram, and other random content. 

Now 5 hours per day means, 35 hours a week! In 5 hours, I could have written 1 new blog post every day.  In 35 hours, I could have read perhaps 2 new books every week. 

Ok I agree, not every content browsing is junk and many of us do a large portion of our work on phones but what about the distractions through group chats and notifications about the picture of a dog uploaded by your uncle’s friend’s aunt living in some corner of the world?

If you were like me, you also might be thinking just one response to that “important” Whatsapp message or one quick scroll on Instagram won’t do much harm in between your work but then I read this – 

It takes on an average 23 minutes to focus back after distraction!

I don’t know about the accuracy of 23 minutes but I can’t debate the fact that distraction takes few seconds whereas concentrating back takes minutes. 

The digital content is nothing less than a  lavish buffet spread now and the 24*7 internet connectivity on our phone is like having that buffet in front of our eyes wherever we go. Even though the buffet looks very lucrative but can we afford to consume it all everyday?

Six months into controlling my screen time and I have brought it down to less than 2 hours everyday, now the aim is to bring it down further this month. 

What worked for me is exactly what works for potion control in our meals, something that you hear often –

Measure, Eliminate And Replace.

1. Measure: Like food, the realization starts with the number. How many of us are super conscious about measuring our weight weekly? Few kgs north of our average weight and we get worked up. We just need to bring the same sincerity in tracking other important things in our life. Install any screentime app of your choice and I bet you will be surprised to see the reality of time spent on your phone. 

2. Eliminate: Remove the obvious junk. The way we do it with sugar or refined food in our diet, we need to do take similar steps for our mind too. Now what you would like to eliminate depends upon you. For some, it could be social sites and for some video browsing sites. For me, the first thing that I reduced was Facebook (gosh, how much random videos I used to watch!) browsing from 45 minutes a day to now less than 5 minutes a day. After Facebook, I implemented the same for many other sites too :-). 

3. Replace: Fill your plate with healthier options and make them easily accessible: Now this is one of the most important suggestions that you hear from experts, go for healthier options like salads and vegetables but more importantly carry more such options in your bag or keep them in your work desk to grab when your crave for any junk food. Again the same applies here. In my case, I have filled my first screen with things that I would like to focus on, e.g., reading apps, notes, etc and the ones whom I do not want to have been hidden in folders in the third or fourth screen. 

Just try these three simple tips and see the difference. Measuring part is really important, you will not know how deep the problem is or what to eliminate and replace until you evaluate :-).

Now that we have discussed portion control for meals and mind, I wonder isn’t it good to have it in other aspects of life too like work as well as relationships? More on that in my next post soon :-).

Choosing your marketing channels

Many a times while conducting sessions on product marketing, I have audience profiles mix from both B2B and B2C organizations and more often than not, the standard assumption that I get to hear from these professionals would be:

I would like to learn “Linkedin Advertising” in detail as I am from B2B background and vice versa, i.e., I would like to learn “Facebook/Instagram Advertising” in detail as I am primarily from B2C background.

This I hear many times. When I say, many times, I really mean many-many times.

When I probe further and ask which digital channel do you think a brand like Mercedes Benz should advertise on? The answer in almost all sessions have been – it’s a B2C brand and hence Facebook.

It’s amazing to encounter this channel wise categorization time and again, this belief that LinkedIn is for B2B products and Facebook/Instagram is for B2C products. On a broader level, they are not wrong, that’s how these products have been positioned in the market – LinkedIn for business networking and Facebook for social networking.

But then we discuss case studies like this or this. How for a brand like Mercedes that needed to target the affluent segment, the information and “relevant targeting” options for their segment were available more on LinkedIn. And how a marketing professional like me ends up engaging with the content of HubSpot or MailChimp even on channels like Facebook or Instagram where I am “not” there for any professional networking. 

Top – Linkedin, Bottom – Instagram stories

When it comes to marketing in today’s era, where the thin line between our browsing behavior of personal and professional content at home or work is diminishing, where the amount of information that we are leaving on each platform varies, this channel wise assumption actually doesn’t hold much significance now. 

More than the positioning of the channel, what is important is to go back to the basics of marketing which starts with:

– Who is my target audience?

– Where do they hang out?

– Where can I reach them more effectively?

– What kind of message would resonate with them on each channel?

– When is the best time to approach them?

The moment you will shift your focus from channel segmentation to audience segmentation, you will automatically get clarity on where you can target your audience better. 

In fact many a time, you will end up doing multi-channel marketing, select your channels wisely. Of course, run after the obvious ones but don’t abandon any channel just because it has been positioned in your mind as B2B or B2C. If your audience is there, it’s time for you to think why not? 

Before you think of channels, think customers.

It’s the first that’s always the hardest!

Image: Unsplash

Two interesting incidents yesterday – one at work and one at home – both again reminded me of a very important lesson – it’s the first that’s always the hardest.

Yesterday, we went to a nearby cycling park with my 7 year old who has been cycling for months now and really enjoys cycling. Though as soon as we rented a cycle at the park for him, he refused to ride. The park had rough muddy patches unlike our apartment’s smooth cemented road and the cycle was a bit bigger than what he was used to. We tried to coax him but he just refused, again and again! 

And then came our parenting storytelling skills to use (oh yes, as I always say, if children are one of the best negotiators, then parents are one of the best storytellers). We changed our pitch, we tried the following and these worked, albeit slow but worked:

  • Instead of saying – try it, it’s so easy, we changed it to – big boys ride big cycles, smaller ones are for babies. Riding bigger cycle will help you zoom faster (he loves speed).
  • If you’re getting scared of this muddy uphill slope, we will handhold you for the first patch. We will be there for you if you lose your balance and fall.
  • Try it out only for 1 minute. If you do not like it, we won’t ask you to cover the whole track. You can get down anytime you want.

Speed excites him and at his age, he has this strong desire to be not called a baby. 

Handholding bit gave him the confidence to try.

Get down anytime you want, eased out his anxiety to go through the whole unknown track. 

After a few initial hesitated pedals, he zoomed. 

Simply put what worked here were:

Value Proposition

Trust

Trial

And I remembered the conversation with one of my clients on similar lines yesterday. They had launched a new product recently with good discounts too but were struggling to meet their conversion numbers. After my initial analysis of their target audience, I felt discounts may not be the biggest triggers for that target segment. They may need a different approach and the first 100 might need a different strategy altogether than the remaining mass.

I shared with them my previous organization’s experience about one of the products that I had worked from scratch, right from concept to launch.

Out of the approx. 10,000 conversions that happened there in 1 year, the first 100 took me more than 6 months and the remaining 9,900 happened in the remaining 6 months :-). And out those first 100, the first 10 were the toughest!

What worked there?

I was personally involved in first 100 conversions, in fact, first 1000. No outsourcing at all to any external agency.

• A lot of time was spent in defining the value proposition for each stakeholder. Detailed understanding of different audience type was done and then my marketing pitch was customized depending upon the user profile and what would be of interest to them.

• Handholding, training and robust support during the onboarding process to build the trust. 

Trial to experience the product with transparent, no strings attached deboarding process.

• Taking all possible steps to ensure the first 100 who took a leap of faith with us had an excellent experience. Once they became happy, the word spread. 

Be it anything in life, right from dealing with your child to your customer, it’s the “first” that’s always the toughest. Isn’t it :-)? But if done right, it’s the first that leads to second and so on. 

Hello January

Hello January and hello 2019! I know, I am late and it’s already more than one week into January but then it isn’t still that late to wish you all a very happy new year. Hope your first week of 2019 was full of energy and zeal.

Speaking of zeal, I often wonder what is so special about January that makes everyone plan new things this month? Isn’t it just another change of date? Another flip (or swipe, in case of digital) in the calendar? But the more I think about it and the more I observe everyone around me, I love the magic that January brings along with it.

The magic of new hope and new beginnings

The magic of starting over again

The magic of new dreams and new desires

The magic of thinking afresh again

The magic of positivity and passion

The magic of believing again.

Indeed January is magical, for it brings an amazing amount of enthusiasm and fervor around us. I love how everyone gets busy making new plans, setting up new goals and deciding new milestones in their personal and professional lives. Even though half of those goals won’t be met, but I still love the fact that we at least try for newer things again.

As Meister Eckhart says,

“And suddenly you just know it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

So, what are the new things you’re planning to do in 2019? Ok, may not be new and I agree, it needn’t be new but how about thinking on – how would you like this year to be for you?

Do think about it and list down a few points for yourself this January. It will help you reflect on the year went by when you will sit and think about 2019 on 31st December 2019. 

Chronicling helps, trust me on that :-). 

On that note, wish you all a very happy January. May the magic of January continue throughout the year and may your new beginnings be beautiful and bright. Have a happy twenty nineteen! 

Business lessons from the grassroots

Some of my recent consulting work gave me the opportunity to meet and interact with small business owners from different parts of the country, most of them actually from tier 3 cities and beyond. These are small business owners with a formal education level of either 12th or graduation, typically operating out of certain areas in their respective towns and are doing profitable businesses worth few crores every year.

Both the projects that I am consulting for are around digitization and these require me to have an in-depth understanding of how these businessmen operate and their respective selling philosophies.

To say that it was an enriching experience would be an understatement. While I have been closely associated with startup & entrepreneurship world for more than a decade now but the kind of insights you get when you meet these grassroots level entrepreneurs is unparalleled! 

No formal MBA degree, no entrepreneurship certification, yet a powerhouse of business wisdom and practical knowledge nuggets.

After meeting a few of them, I got so fascinated with their understanding of sales, marketing, customer relationship that I started taking notes :-).

Sharing some that I loved here translated into English. These are lessons that we know of, perhaps learned through books and repeat many a time during our conference room sessions, but listening to these from real doers in absolute rural language, was nothing less than fascinating :-).

Me: How do you always manage to sell higher ticket items? 

Him 1: I don’t jump to selling directly. I first work towards building my relationship with my customer and build the trust. People here value my suggestions and words, once that trust is established, it’s not difficult to sell anything. (One line verbatim: “madamlong term dhanda karna hai toh sabse zaroori hai grahak ka vishwaas jeetna”).

Winning customer’s trust is very important to do a sustainable business.

Me: You have created two very different type of leaflets for the same product, why? 

Him 2: Product is same but positioning matters. I customize my offering depending upon who is buying from me (One line verbatim: “jo vigyapan aapke aankh ko jachega wo zaroori nahi ki mujhe bhi jachegajisko jo jacheusko wo dikhao sabse pehle”).

Segmentation matters and so does contextual targeting!

Me: Commuting to your place isn’t easy, yet people come to you for the repeat purchase. Why?

Him 3: I first start with understanding the general lifestyle and need of my customer. Instead of selling my product, I try to provide a solution to their needs. (One line verbatim: “itna competition hai market main, sabse peel aap decide karo aapka grahak aapse hi “kyun” khareedega. Ye “kyun” bah zaroori hai madam”).

Start with a “why”, why will someone buy from you?

Me: You have changed the corporate brochure, but that’s not allowed. Was it because you wanted it in the local language?

Him 4: Who cares for the features explained in a brochure unless it doesn’t communicate the benefits? Instead of saying good things about the product, I say how it can benefit you or add value to your life (One line verbatim: Kiske paas time hai aajkal itna padhne ki, kisi ko kya padi hai ki humara product kitna mahaan hai, agar aap grahak ko ye samjha do ki humara product uski zindagi ko kaise asaan ya behtar kar sakta hai toh wo jhat se le leta hai”.

Keep it simple and focus on benefits more than the features.

And my most favorite one 🙂

Me: You started working for the first time at the age of 48 and now I can see you’ve employed only women at this place. Wow, how did you convince them to come out of their homes?

Her: It’s easy, I didn’t convince them about working, I just showed them the change in my lifestyle. I am the first woman in this area to have my own Alto :-). In our area, when men work, its for food & shelter but when women also start to earn, it leads to a better lifestyle (One line verbatim: khana, ghar toh aadmi log la ke de dete hai, lekin apni marzi ka saree, ye selfie wala mobile phone ke liye apna income bahut zaroori hai”).

The lifestyle and prosperity of a family grow when a woman starts earning.

Aren’t these insights amazing? I so wish, I had recorded these responses and shared with you all. Would have been a gem of a podcast coming straight from the doers of Bharat :-). 

Marketing to the search-it-all consumer

Graphics from pngtree.com

The recent report of Google states more than 100% growth for “best” search queries and even for smallest household items like a toothbrush or umbrella. While mobile searches for “best toothbrush” have grown more than 100%, for “best umbrellas” it has gone up by 140%. Wow, some search trivia this is, isn’t it :-)?

But why am I not surprised at these details? Isn’t it the norm now to hit the search button as soon as the word “buy” come to our mind? Be it the regular hygiene items or luxury holiday plans; we just cannot make a decision without searching for “best…..”.

Image  – www.thinkwithgoogle.com

Just yesterday, while picking up my son, I heard some mommies discussing steel lunch boxes over plastic ones, and one of the mommies immediately hit the search query for “best kids steel lunch box India.” Now, as someone who grew up in middle-class India, steel lunch boxes were very common during our childhood. In fact, if my memory supports me well, plain steel boxes were the only choices available to us as against the plethora of vibrant, colorful options accessible today. Assuming a steel box would be a steel box, I was a bit confused on this search for “best steel lunch box,” even though I am in that habit of searching for anything and everything before buying. But how wrong I was in my assumption! When I tried this search term later at home, I was amazed at the information available online – from listicles on “top 10 steel lunch box brands” to features comparison on Quora, the first page itself had tonnes of information on selecting the “best” “steel lunch box” for your child with details of features that you never thought could have mattered to you unless you read about them!

We, the consumers are informed and powerful like never before, aren’t we?

But where does this leave the job of marketers now? It’s getting tougher & interesting day by day. We know a lot more about our consumers, yet it’s difficult like never before to market your product. Forget about marketing your product; it’s actually a challenge in itself to get noticed by your consumers.

There are many changes that have happened drastically in the last five years, but the things that have changed completely for me ever since mobiles became pervasive would be the following:

  • Push is actually gone, it’s primarily about advising now. You really cannot push a product, even the pull created through glittery advertisement or seeded influencers have their charm up to a certain limit only. Whatever you speak about your brand, your connected consumer will do their own research.  It’s better to try being the adviser for the problems that your consumer is searching for. And in this age of hyper personalization, one-size-fits-all advice won’t work too. Invest time in understanding and analyzing your consumers and be prepared with the personalized advisory approach.
  • Zero moment of truth is no more just another jargon; it matters like never before. When this term got coined by Google a few years back, my immediate reaction was – ah, yet another fancy lingo for the same old marketing concept that will be in trend for few years before something else comes up. But I can’t stress the importance of ZMOT now, Zero moment of truth is a reality and that too a very competitive one. Being there, with the right message, at the time when they have just started to think about exploring your product is critical. What does this mean to a normal marketer? Understand at what point the stimulus begins and the exploratory search starts, be there not only at that point but also at the peripheral points – the peripheries could be the search of a similar category or even industry competitors.
  • Authentic word of mouth is important, the operative word being “authentic”.  Your well-researched consumers would like to listen to feedback and reviews about your products, and they very well know to distinguish between genuine and the seeded content. While seeding definitely helps in increasing the awareness and getting noticed but for the final purchase decision, positive WOM is imperative now. Word of mouth has always been important, but historically the front end sales team also used to have lots of power for convincing and recommending. Today with most of the purchases happening via screens, recommendations from friends and family act as strong stimuli during purchase consideration. Make the process of feedback & reviews by customers as seamless as your purchase process.

There are many other trends that have changed, but for me personally, I have experienced huge changes in these three. On one hand, I see push almost dying (in fact I think an informed consumer actually hates the “push”) and on the other, I see the personalized content being present at the zero moment of truth helping remarkably.

What is that one or two things in your marketing strategy that has changed completely now? Would love to hear your views in the comment section below.