Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Promotions that Work in a Down Economy

Here is a good article to read up on the trends for 2009 on the Promo Magazine. Read the article here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The business of "events" and their current relevance to brands.

Influencing audience mind-share by way of events is increasingly becoming tough. Reasons are many, however; ubiquity of sponsored events is the primary reason. There is a huge clutter of “events” which address the same targeted audience, be it a youth or a decision maker in a corporate. This huge exposure to events (aided by additional exposure to worldwide events content via the media & internet) has made the audience more demanding and selective of events which they are willing to engage in.

As the audience gets choosy, the brands are increasingly looking at events either to enhance or alter strategic positioning of the brands or/and to generate business leads.

The events need to be relevant. Forums which have something special, fresh and unique be it fun / knowledge / networking for the audience tend to work. Also events, by their nature are one on one interactive forums, they should not be viewed from a mass reach out perspective – there has to a special reason for engagement for each audience.

The brands need to spend a lot more time and effort on pre-research to address the changing levels of sophistication and exposure of the audience. The “newness” of the initiative goes a long way in making the impact. Content is critical to events – why should the audience choose an event over another. It is not enough for the brand to be a logo at the event.

Events which are restrictive to the audience at the venue will find the going tough due to the huge per audience acquisition costs. Events will need to be amplified and will need to touch a much larger audience base, be it by traditional media, ground level activation or interactive media like the internet or mobile, while ensuring a personalized engagement at the audience front.

Co-ownership is increasingly going to be the way to go, where best of breed partners will take the event experience to new levels and each partner will gain in their own unique manner. In a lot of cases the audience will tend to be a partner as well and contribute in terms of content.

Way forward is to open up the format by engaging the audience within the content creation and to co-create events with the audience participation.

Relevance of "hosted interactions / events" in a slowdown.

Here is a very good and a crisp article on "face to face" customer events and their relevance in the current economic conditions. Focused events are a great way to ensure a good ROI for certain categories of products / brands.

There is however a need for caution. I am of the strong view that brands need to re-examine their exposure to events which are done purely from a brand awareness perspective. Some of these events have very limited and questionable ROI. More on that later in the next post.

"Events should be a critical component to converting your prospects into customers. Before launching one, however, you should rank and score your potential attendees based on several factors including: how close they are to purchasing, their individual purchase authorities, the size of their budgets and other technical and product factors unique to your market or industry.

Once leads are in your pipeline, a content-rich live happening is a great way to move them along the buying process." writes Gordon Plutsky. Read the full article here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Changing Asias - the new blog.

Bates141 has launched a new blog which focusses on looking at the changes which are happening across Asias. Some good stuff here and more to come.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

7 Strategies for B2B Marketing during a Recession: The Definitive Guide

A very good article focused on B2B marketing and a must read. Please click here. Also read about "Intelligent Marketing in tough times" here.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Brower Capatibility Testing

In my recent talk with Rajesh Ghatge on the effectiveness of the online marketing programs, we discussed at length adherence (or lack of it) to the basic logic of pre-testing campaigns across browsers platforms before their deployment. The logic is very simple; however, it is often overlooked due to over dependency on IE as the default browser. Most marketers tend to disregard the campaign effectiveness on other browsers, due to their own usage patterns.

After our chat, I did spend a little time on looking at the back-end of my own blog (The BTL Life) to try and test the logic and was quite taken aback by the browser mix. This pie chart shows the distribution of the browsers used to visit this blog.

I was expecting a higher IE% (and not because I am an IE user), however, the site stats got collaborated by other 3rd party browser stats, which are pointing towards a significant increase in the Fx users (42%) and now a 3% now on Chrome. Read more about Browser Stats here.

Pre-deployment testing across all browsers formats is now more critical than ever. It is basic yet critical. Also not to be overlooked are campaign’s compatibility / effectiveness on parameters like Java scripts versions, monitor resolution and colour depth – all these can make your great campaign look rather silly on certain machines. While global averages may not always be relevant to every online deployment as different campaigns would attract different audiences (and hence hardware and software type), however, it is important to address all browser formats and ensure cross-browser compliance. Thanks to a number of tools and sites, this is easy to ensure. One could use sites like which report on site compatibility across browsers.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Promo Trends Report 2008.

Do look at this latest Trends Survey done by the Promo Magazine. Great to see as much as 61% allocation towards consumer and trade promotion. This is a must read and it is a free download.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Intelligent marketing in a slow economy.

Here is a link to an article which I wrote recently on areas to focus on given the current economic state. It's not a time to cut back, rather a time to re-focus. Read the article here.

Do share your views.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Tools to measure ROI of the marketing dollar.

PULSE SUITE is one of it’s kind collection of marketing services tools which should be used by marketers to improve productivity, enhance brand coverage, better understand the brand presence in the last mile and have a comprehensive control on the marketing dollars being spend by any brand.

These are tools which allow a better “feel of the pulse” of their respective area of focus, and are a combination of brand diagnostic tools and process improvement tools.

Last mile - which is also the place when any customer make the key brand specific decision, is indeed very complex for all brands across categories. We have ensured that all our tools are able to report this complexity by way of easy to understand and interpret intelligence. Additionally these tools are “live”, thus ensuring that the clients have access to simple to understand dashboards which transmit real time intelligence from the “street up”.

Market Pulse, Shopper Pulse and Event Pulse are the first in a series of Pulse tools which will be available to the discerning marketer across Asia. For more information and demos on the tools, please log in to

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Music & web at its best : musicovery

OK, this post has nothing to do with marketing, but I am sure it will go a long way in helping you enjoy music the way you want to. Superb digital web app called "musicovery", allows you to choose music as per your mood and play on by way of association. Try it and I bet you will be hooked.

Click here for music.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Potentially malicious sites' search results - labled.

If you search using Yahoo, you would have noticed SearchScan service in it’s beta format on the right-hand top corner – it already in use in some of the geographies and I believe will have an effect on the ranking and click thru’ rates of the defaulting sites. While Google has had the service for a few months now, the Yahoo service which is powered by McAfee is far more prominent and will keep the user away from the site for sure – making it critical for sites to rectify their processes, be it viruses, malware, spam or other harmful software, especially in case they are depending heavily on SEO traffic.

Listed below is an example of things going a little awry for Agency FAQS. With the kind of warning, even I was wondering if it was safe to venture on to the site and I have been using the site for ages.

This is a simple search result, notice the RED.

Afaqs has just been declared a proclaimed spammer.

The process being followed by Google or Yahoo is not clear yet, as neither has published its classification technology, which makes it difficult to determine how alike the two services are. The one visible difference is the prominence of the warning in case of Yahoo, while on Google; you do get a text link “This site may be harmful to your computer”.

The service makes a lot of sense for the user and will prompt the site-owners to clean up their acts or be listed “harmful to search”.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Tracking the trends.

A comprehensive report on the growth of the BTL marketing services across industires with reasons for the same and the most effected aspects of the "traditional" media formats. Please download the full report from the Articles and White Papers section of The BTL Life from here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Marketing in a recession ; an article download.

Is it an economic recession or a mere slow down? Is it just the beginning or is it already over? Is the recessionary trend going to be “V” shaped curve or would the curve be of the scary elongated “U” shape, and is India immune?

It’s anyone’s guess. While I do have my views buts I don’t know for sure and if I did know I would be an exceptionally rich person. However, what I do understand is that time is right to be cautious as the cloud cover ahead is a couple of shades darker.

In a slowdown environment, the pressure on the availability of the marketing dollar is going to increase, and if you are in a US centric organization where the funds are allocated in USD denomination or currencies which are linked to the USD – then expect a further pressure where-in the dollar depreciation, which has already eroded about 10-15% of the marketing budget, will further weaken by a few percentage points. This will knock down the quantum of your funds by the time you are able to see the funds in your spend account.

Download the full article on how to tackle the challenges of marketing in a recession from the Articles & White Papers section of The BTL Life from here. You can also access other knowledge papers from the same location.

Monday, April 7, 2008


Very interesting to see the huge coverage of the festival which celebrates and facilitates ideas and their creators! Even more interesting to see a brand & it’s advertising related story making it to the cover page of the economic times. Indeed sad that the story is in the news for all the wrong reasons.


While I understand that the fest, in its current form, is not the place to discuss ROI on campaigns or their effectiveness to business, but I think there is very good reason for the industry to sit up, start to take it selves seriously and weed out what is obviously scam work and presentation. If it cannot do so, then we need to understand what is the industry felicitating? And can you think of any other example where the fraternity encourages & recognizes con work?


It is common knowledge (but sad to see it in print) that 90% of the work was legal scam!! Read the article here if you have not already read it.

Analytics made understandable by the Red-Shirt Phenomenon.

I came across this brilliant piece of work by Matt Bailey of Site Logic Marketing, on analytics / analysis of the Red-Shirt Phenomenon in Star Trek. You don’t need to be a fan of Star Trek to enjoy and understand this (of course I am a big fan). You also don’t need to be into data analytics to enjoy this - though it will hit home harder!

Loved the research finding “When Captain Kirk meets an alien woman and “makes contact” the survival rate of the red-shirted crewmen increases by 84%.”

Read the article here & enjoy.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Feedback 2.0

Here is a good example of a brand encouraging its customers to ‘put down their wishes & ideas’ & share the ideas with a like minded and passionate community. These are further filtered by the community & the most needed & workable solutions are put on the implementation route. Simple!

So how is this different from the regular “feedback form” which all of us have an option to fill. Very different indeed! The brand here is creating trust and a bond with its community of users by just being open and alive to customer responses, as against secretly analyzing feedback within its dark office cabins and implementing only what it wants to do. The intention to listen attentively to the customer is the key. I also believe that the willingness to put the “action being taken” upfront is a great way to show that they care.

While it appears that the guys at Starbucks are generating some great ideas and trying to implement them for the consumers’ benefit, what they are really additionally generating is a lot of positive spin around the brand and a database of truly passionate Starbucks customers. The campaign also highlights Starbucks willingness to listen to its key constituent – the customer.

Very simple but awesome viral thought. Visit My Starbucks Idea.

Some starting thoughts.

Organizations traditionally have a board of directors which guides the organization along its growth path and as per the demands of the share holders who own the company – however their interests in what the organization does and how the organization responds to customers / consumers the are very restricted and constricted. More over this is the tradition way of looking at business and at what an organization should do to/with the consumer. This is a very "brand to consumer" way of looking at the life and functions of organization.

It is however common knowledge that referrals work best for the organization’s growth and the passionate and involved tribes of consumers can do wonders for any brand. There is also a lot of discussion and talk on customer centric approach and thinking.

In a scenario where the world of brands is turning on its head, how about an organization having a "BOARD of CONSUMERS” ? Think about it, who better to tell the organization what they need and desire than the actual consumers or the products / services of the organization.

My view on large format events.

Here is a link to a recent article which I had penned down based on a discussion on the “events business”.

Personally I see no real ROI in the traditional events business model – the number of “exposed” and intended customers or partners are too few for it to be a viable exercise. The “event/project” has to be amplified by use of other media touch points.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Will “Do Not Mail” have any takers in India?

Chances are that if years back you purchased a baby product and dropped your contact details with the retailer, even today while your kid might be on his way to collage, you might be still getting glossy baby product catalogs in your mail box. So is that a big problem?

Remember DNC - it is obvious that “DO NOT CALL” registry is not a fad but is here to stay and hence the nail is getting firmer in the coffins of unscrupulous brand owners and their telemarketing agencies that still want to drive their marketing agendas by way of unsolicited calls.

So what’s next; “DO NOT MAIL” is the next big debate raging in the marketing world. Neither is this a fad and nor am I referring to the electronic junk mail.

Advertisement mailing is serious business. It involves people and organizations which are engaged as design agencies, printing and production agencies, database specialists, bulk mailing houses, postal systems and of course the “brand” that would like to use this route of “direct” as a way to reach out to existing and potential customers by way of its shiny product catalog, a brochure or a simple offer letter.

These massive direct marketing exercises result in huge order numbers. In the US within 2007, direct marketing generated a whopping $660 billion worth of business. Some corporations use this as their primary growth & business drivers. There is little wonder therefore that the DMA - the largest body of direct marketers in the world, has been fighting tooth and nail to try and block “Do Not Mail” legislation in the US Senate (while some of the US states have implemented the legislation). While DMA was caught napping on the DNC initiative, this time it is not taking chances and is running a high-profile counter campaign called “Mail Moves America” to highlight the wisdom and importance of direct marketing. The fact is that Advertisement Mailing does work for brands, giving low cost option to reach wider and generate real sales.

However, direct marketing also means that you as a consumer receive a lot of unsolicited mail. What we commonly call “junk mail” is a lot more harmful than merely wasting 5 minutes of your time; it is a colossal waste of the natural resources and has a huge negative impact on the environment. For every 10 tons of high quality brochure-ware produced, it is estimated that 120 established trees are cut and we do send out millions of direct mail pieces every year!

One way for the citizen of the world to reduce his carbon footprint and save some of the trees from being brought down is to opt not to receive these catalogs and mails. That’s what DNM is all about.

Direct marketing agencies and brands have started to be more responsible in their approach by ensuring that they increase the usage of re-cycled paper, better manage the database - not only to cull out duplication and wrong addresses, but also increasingly use intelligent filtering and ageing to better zoom on the target audience. However, increased reliance on electronic format of communication for the business and personal communication has meant that advertising mail is one of the last straws of survival for the powerful postal departments.

While catalog based sales are in their early stages in India, they are bound to grow as the retailer and brand owners use it as an alternative route to reach out to customers rather than only rely on the retail store in an sky-high rental rates scenario, this will further heat up the debate in India as well as this will add on the volumes of DM.

I believe DNM option is here to stay and is a good initiative as it empowers the consumer and ensures that marketers seek permission to market rather than use the mass media approach of flooding the mailbox with paper, however, I also believe that it should be driven by self regulation rather than legislation. Well introduced DNM option will surely ensure that the earth stays green a lot longer. Expect a lot more action on this in the months ahead.

This article was printed in the March 08 issue of Campaign.