Competition or Customers — Where do you spend your time more?
How I wish that organizations especially the ones starting up, spend at least half their time and resources in understanding their customers as much they spend in tracking their competitors. It’s amazing to see presentations after presentations detailing out the competition strategy but a very fuzzy or macro view of — who are we trying to sell to?
There is nothing wrong with being competition focussed, in fact it’s good to keep a close watch on competition but when you have limited resources and you’re trying to launch something new, it’s very important to understand where and how to spend your resources judiciously.
My recent interaction with two different businesses left me thinking more on this. One is a mid size company, been into business for few years, now venturing into a new category and the second one is a new entity altogether. Both have lean marketing teams to work on the launch and the maximum effort that both have spent as part of their market study is tracking the competition strategy. Details of their campaigns, social media initiatives, promotions — everything has been tracked and well documented. And both these companies are aiming at one objective while drafting their launch offer — how to be better than the competition? Yes, the prime objective is to come out with offers more lucrative than their competitors. We don’t even know if customers are actually happy with those offers or for that matter if customers are looking for offers only or something else? For company one, the competition strategy actually maps almost every player even remotely associated with the category and the product is as such that it can be of use to consumers as well as SMBs. A detailed competition analysis like this would have been actually a good thing if the team wouldn’t have been trying to focus on coming out with an offer that can be attractive to all segments. One can not have a paint-everyone-with-the- same-brush approach especially when launching a new category.
If we will be only competition focussed, we will at best be better than our competition but not necessarily the best choice for our customers. Deciding the focal point of any marketing plan is extremely important and it has to start with — understanding our customers.
The more granular we go into understanding our customer, the better we would be at connecting with her.
…You come out with campaigns like Amazon!
Yesterday I received some 60+ messages on Independence Day promotion! And I am not even counting the emailers and notifications. These were just SMSes that I received despite my number being registered under DND! Yet the only campaign that I remember or that enticed me to browse more was of Amazon India.
A global brand implementing such a fantastic local campaign, isn’t it amazing? No “Patriotic Discount” or “Up to 71% Off”, no “Freedom From Shipping” or “Freedom Of Shopping”, yet a campaign that grabbed many eyeballs and love from all.
So what worked for this campaign? The answer is very simple and something that we all know of but do not necessarily implement:
The campaign was quite contextual, delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time and had a very local touch to it.
On an average, 1 out of 3 or 4 posts on my Instagram timeline is an influencer plug these days. I did a quick check on if I am following influencers more? No, these are pretty much my own contacts who are doing brand plugs now. Looks like brands have become quite active with influencer marketing especially on Instagram and there are many brands that are opting for influencers as against ads on Instagram.
Influencer marketing works well for many reasons but if I have to quote one reason, it has to be the following blink from the book — Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini:
Observing people similar to us can greatly influence our choice. We comply with people we like and it is easy for some people to make us like them.
So damn true, it’s just so easy for some people to make us like them and once we like someone, we get influenced by their behavior and choices. While many bloggers and social media personalities are open to do brand collaborations but how many are actually capable of influencing your users with authenticity? And no, it’s not a number game only. Influencer marketing is as much an art as it’s about science and numbers.
There are many resources available for you to check in case you are starting with Influencer Marketing on Instagram but for those who are already doing it, here are 4 quick suggestions from my side that are based on my own experiences of running campaigns and practical observations of some other live campaigns on Instagram these days.
Visual storytelling works — from brands to babies. It has always worked for almost any kind of audience since ages but in this age of digital excess, it’s working like never before. Having spent good number of years in photography and digital industry, I can safely say that from communicating to comprehending, visuals have now become the prime language for many.
My personal litmus test for the power of visual storytelling? My 5 year old :-). 3 scenarios that are regular in my household-
I narrate a story to him;
I narrate a story to him and show him the pictures;
I narrate a story to him, show him the pictures and then let him play with his book asking to observe the pictures for few seconds;
Without fail, connect as well as recall of the stories are highest in the third scenario.
Ah that’s why I say, no one can teach you management or consumer behavior lessons better than children, I think most of the parents out here will agree to this 🙂.
Still need some attestations on the power of visuals?
Speaking of books or reading, one question that I often get asked is — do you still read fiction? On replying yes, the next question generally would be — how do you find time to read fiction or why do you read fiction? The answer is pretty simple — I read fiction because I like it. I read fiction because there is nothing more enriching than a good story. I read fiction because:
Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Just because it’s easy, let’s do it and just because it’s cheap, let’s plaster all over the media. We have seen this happening earlier with other digital channels and we can see this happening now with Instagram too. It’s quick to start and pause, so why to spend time in planning or thinking? When I see these poorly shot or awfully cropped pictures in a sponsored post, I cringe. When I see the messages so long that you need to zoom or a sponsored posts that only speak of X% discounts, I wonder why? I understand the general impulse of — “Instagram is popular, let’s do a campaign there”, but considering it’s a sponsored post and that too with such high frequency, I am assuming there is money being spent with some business objectives in mind. Then, why not spend some time in understanding the platform and engaging with your audience accordingly?
From being a voracious reader to a reading enthusiast — that’s how my reading habit got changed when I started working and entered into other phases of personal life. For last two years, despite all my sincere intent to read more, at best I could manage to read only 12–14 books an year. This was lot less than what I used to read earlier. So, when I ended up reading 19 books in last one month, I was quite pleasantly surprised with myself. At least there is something good out of this hospitalization and being-on-bed phase of life, I am getting time to read and paint more. See, I am trying to look at the positive side of any situation :). No, I mean it in all seriousness; first month on bed was too painful with surgery, stitches, fractures and what-nots. To add to that, weird thoughts kept on floating in my mind throughout. So, after few weeks when my hands got freed from stitches, the first thing I did was, picked up a book. One book after another and soon enough I was engrossed in reading like earlier. It only added to the reading charm that not only I was getting to read the books that I wanted to read but I also got some amazing books as gifts from friends.
But I am all free these days, so what’s the big deal about reading 19 or any number of books? Well, it’s not the number or the titles of the books but the way I am reading that makes me think more on my current reading habits. You know the kind of reading that we used to do earlier, engrossed in words, lost amidst the pages, the kind of reading that brings you calm and cognitive stimulation, the kind of reading that you do mindfully. My recent readings have been all of that.
So, what did change this time?
In this bed-ridden phase since last two months, I have been trying to divert my mind to things that I used to love to do but haven’t been able to pursue due to paucity of time. And one such long lost love for me was— painting. There was a time when I was very passionate about colors and canvases, have tried to experiment with different forms of art on my own, always wished to learn it properly but like many other things in life, this one also never moved up in my priority list of to-dos ever.
This time, I thought to bring this passion back to life, at least till I don’t go back to the same old routine of work and child and home and etc. etc. etc. Though physically it’s very difficult for me to try painting these days but resource wise it’s just so easier and simpler. Thanks to technology, learning anything new is possible anytime, anywhere with tonnes of ideas and inspiration available all over internet.
I think this will be a long post but I must write it. Was in two minds whether to post it here or not but considering I am only active on Medium these days, it had to be posted here only.
So, I think the pressure to always ‘think positive’ is too high these days.
The pressure to always ‘feel happy’ is too high these days.
The pressure to have a ‘perfect life’, rather project a perfect life is too high these days.
And, the pressure to be always ‘cool & confident’ is just too high these days.
I mean, you express a moment of worry or weakness to anyone and here you go, suddenly everyone is ready with a quote on power of positive thinking and optimism and how it’s your thought that’s responsible for all the miseries in your life and… well, you know all those “ands”, as I am sure you get to listen to it as much as I do 🙂