Station Ads – An Eye Opening Experience

This summer I finally realized my dream vacation to France and the UK and traveled from Paris to London in a Eurostar that goes from under the English Channel. Yes!! I was super charged to soak in every bit of this experience that I had been planning since I can remember, and most importantly take a much deserved break from work (or so what I thought). But I guess, as a marketer you cannot stop appreciating the different and most creative ways in which companies are reaching out to their customers.

This is where I want to share my overwhelming experience both as a marketer and a consumer while taking the metro (in Paris), train and tubes (in London).

gare du nord              Gare Du Nord Station (Paris)

station-london_st_pancras-_c_eurostar_30=4-b1c88                    St. Pancras station (London)

euston           Euston station (London)

Notes from my travel diary:

  1. Taking a metro or a tube is an inescapable part of everyone’s life here…be it a resident or a tourist
  2. It is much more than a journey; it is an experience!
  3. Interestingly, each station and train journey leaves you with a different experience
  4. You are certainly not alone…there is so much to observe
  5. Between the hackneyed sequence of thing, you have time and some attention (beyond your phone and laptop) to spare

BAM!!! That for me sums up as: A pool of audience, under one roof, literally waiting to be entertained.

In Paris, I started talking to a fellow passenger named Clara who was generous enough to share her views me with. Very honest, she said “glad it’s Sunday today…or else I would have been wearing my earphones and reading a book”. I asked her if that’s how she prefers to be while commuting and does that allow her time to look at the company/product ads. She said, ” I look at them all the time, you can’t not look if you know what I mean. For someone like me who travels every day, I wish they would change these ads more often”.

This interaction which did not even last for more than 6 minutes because I had to get down, left me with statement that was deep – You cannot NOT see them! That is so true…it is everywhere, it is bold, it is funny, it is asking questions and it is provoking you to act. It is solving your problems, it is giving you a better price, it is sharing your concern and it is all true!

In London, I bugged another co-passenger named Sashi (yes, I am like that stranger who talks…a lot J) but he was also quite generous in sharing his views. “taking the tube is like a ritual for me”, he said. “when you spend so much time commuting, you get attached even without realizing. Be it the people, the newspapers, the hoardings…the whole atmosphere actually. I once booked a holiday trip after looking at an ad, you can say it was a compelling ad”.

Compelling indeed!

So here are my thoughts…

  1. Outdoor branding in stations has evolved from being ‘stuck in a place’ to being ‘travel companions’. The language, visuals and overall feel of the ads have embraced the different components of a commuter’s life.
  2. It is much more than awareness and visibility now! Station ads can easily become a dinner table conversation topic for a family which for me is important engagement.
  3. There is space for everyone here. Your brand can shine beside another because you relate as you are. Surely brands are becoming more creative in indulging with the commuters but everyone has their space that fills a void for someone if not all.
  4. It’s upbeat and it’s digital. One is looking forward to the next thing that will be on the screen and enlighten them. For creative agencies it is like a blank canvas to make something that no one has ever seen before.
  5. As a brand you will disappoint and also be disappointed if you miss the gala. Maybe there is a pair of eyes staring in the blank and you could have been there.

paddington

tube

euston1

 

 

Can “Cold Calling” lead to “Hot Selling”?!

Are you on the other side of the phone, with a script that has no emotions and a target that has no logic? If your answer is YES, then this blog is for you because you got it all wrong bruh :-/

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But…If you are on the other side of the phone, with a strategy crafted for the person you are calling that will initiate a meaningful business relationship? then go chill!! you have it figured out 😀

So you know what I am talking about…Cold Calling. If you are a noob then here is a wikipedia definition for you – “Cold calling is defined as the solicitation of business from potential customers who have had no prior contact with the salesperson conducting the call.” You get it? all the credit card, health insurance, property dealer calls you get almost every day! It goes by a more professional term called telemarketing btw.

As a marketer I have no doubts that telemarketing is a very useful, result oriented and sophisticated marketing tactic that can generate leads, convert sales and develop business relations. I mean just think about it…you (a consumer) are chilling on a sunny day thinking about a luxurious foreign vacation and wallah! the phone rings and a warm voice tells you how a credit card with travel benefits can make your dream come true. I mean this is the story of modern age genie you guys!!

Sadly in real life this is how the scenario unfolds…you (a consumer) are overworked in your office trying to catch up with the pending to-do list and damn! the phone rings and a high pitched voice starts narrating a story that’s just  mumbo-jumbo words with very little sense in it. And you just slam the phone down hoping to never hear that voice again. Some who have lost hope even block these numbers to be sure!

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So where is it going wrong? It all sounded good when you were presenting the strategy in the conference room…100 calls per day > 50% response rate > 10% pipeline ….the numbers were magical! then what went wrong?

“Knock Knock”

“Who’s this”

“Your strategy that needs better EXECUTION”

* i use humor as a defense mechanism 😀 😀

Image result for SORRY FOR THAT SARCASM GIF

So Let’s talk about Useful, Result Oriented & Sophisticated cold calling (yes it exists) and how these simple pointers can really change the game for you:

1.WHO AM I?

FYI, this is deep. Before you pick up that phone to dial an unknown number please be sure who you are. Find an answer to who (your company) and what ( your role and offered solution) gives you the power to make this call. I say this because many a times I get a call from “someone” from “somewhere” telling me things which are secondary part of a conversation. Please take some time to introduce yourself and your purpose before you jump right into the tele script.

2.  IS IT A GOOD TIME?

If you are not asking this question before you nose dive into a long conversation with a complete stranger…please don’t complain that chivalry is dead, cause you are killing it! Please appreciate other person’s time and give them the option to opt in or out of the call basis their present state of affairs. If they are busy ask more a suitable time to call back and please call back.

3.  SCRIPT OR NO SCRIPT?

I am not saying tele-scripts are useless but they are redundant. I was once given the task to make a tele-script for IT solution sales and believe me there is no end to the number of possibilities how the conversation would go. So i just took the most likely situations and made a script (or what turned out to be a list of FAQs) that was meant to give direction to a telemarketing rep. So step out of it and use it only for directions! try to sound genuine, add a personal touch and go with the flow of the other person’s response.

4.  OK I HEAR YOU, NOW WHAT?

Ever happen to you? you get so busy planning for the worse that you run out of reactions when it all works out? After a dozen unsuccessful attempts when that one God sent angel says the golden words like…”yes, I’d like to know about this” OR “yes, I want that” OR “yes, Ok” what then? You are probably dancing on your seat thinking of the deal you just won. Na ah! stop dancing and get real…tell them the steps that follow, call to action that includes signing up right now or a meeting request.

5.  ARE YOU THANKFUL?

Yes you are in the above scenario…the guy just signed up for your service. But are you thankful when someone says “sorry, but I don’t need this”? probably not much, but you gotta be! Not wanting to sound preachy at all but that’s the rule. Thank them for their time, any information that they might have shared, their patience while you were finding the right answer and most importantly their interest (if any).

I guess this helps every telemarketer who is armed with a phone that has a lot of potential. Let me know your thoughts…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B for Branding: terms to know

I have always explained branding as an art of articulation by the companies about their business to their consumers. And thus, branding as a subject for marketers does  not necessarily have a standard procedure or SOP to successful brand building. It is a learning game for most of us…reading about the success stories and imbibing the learning into making one of ours (someday)!

To hone my business branding skills for understanding and handling brands better, I often refer to case studies, online courses and interviews of brand managers of leading companies. The one thing that I’d have handy for understanding branding exercises better is the following glossary of branding terms:

Brand equity – the commercial value a brand provides to a firm through its effects on the attitudes and behaviours of its stakeholders.

Brand identity – a name, symbol or design that identifies a product, service or entity from others.

Brand image – a set of associations attached to a brand identity in the minds of its stakeholders.

Brand promise – the customer value proposition or benefits communicated by the brand to the customer and/or consumer.

Brand purpose – this answers the question of why a brand exists with respect to the positive difference it aims to make in people’s lives.

Brand valuation – the Net Present Value (NPV) of future cash flows stemming from the brand as an intangible (separable) asset, for example, as estimated in the avoided royalty payments through ownership of a trademark and associated intellectual property (e.g., brand guidelines).

Brand value – the incremental Net Present Value (NPV) of future cash flows stemming from a branded compared an unbranded business and product via its effect on all stakeholders (e.g., customers, employees, suppliers, financiers, channel partners, etc.). In simpler terms, what deploying the brand is worth to management, the bottom line, and shareholders.

Branding – the creation of names, symbols, characters, and slogans that (1) help identify a product and (2) create unique positive associations that differentiate it from the competition by (3) creating additional meaning (value) in consumers’ minds.

Hope this helps!

How heavy use of social media is linked to mental illness – The Economist

https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2018/05/18/how-heavy-use-of-social-media-is-linked-to-mental-illness?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/ed/?fsrc=scn/li/te/bl/ed/howheavyuseofsocialmediaislinkedtomentalillnessdailychart

How to write a ‘Company Overview’

As a part of one of my on going projects with a leading construction company in Qatar, we are giving this 70+ year old brand a face lift. While this entire exercise will make a brilliant re-branding  case study some day, today I want to concentrate on one very crucial part of content marketing that I believe is more important that we think it is. I have to admit that it was that one intriguing question by the client that got me thinking…for good!

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Now, What is a ‘Company Overview’?

I am no batman so I googled this very question (we need a superhero with google-like powers). Surprisingly there was nothing much that would explain to me what a company overview is like I was a 5 year old (hellya! Denzel Washington). So I went for split and search and it kinda worked. So, an overview of a situation is a general understanding or description of the situation as a WHOLE.  Obviously the situation here is a company and the task is to write a page that would describe the company as a WHOLE. Again in caps because that is the keyword!

You wondering why?! remember the intriguing question that my client asked…it was, “should we call the prepared content Company Overview, Company Introduction or Company Brief?” 

The keyword helped me answer the question. A company overview is far more than an introduction or a brief. when you introduce yourself to someone it mostly is your name, where you come from, what company you work with and maybe a couple of more points if the other guy is really listening to you. There is much more information about you in store than what you give away in an introduction. I have had interviews where I was asked to “briefly” introduce myself! So a brief is strictly no dilly dally, cut to chase, say it in one breath scenario. I understand that my examples are conversation based and the case in point is about written content, but my objective is to differentiate between an overview, introduction and brief before we know to how to write one.

While writing a ‘Company Overview’…

  • List out the keywords that describe your business and its core values

Company overview is no longer confined to the pages of a business plan or a tedious report. It is one of the first things we read about when we enter a company website. With the growing acceptance and demand for SEO responsive websites, the content has to reflect the meticulous usage of keywords that will contribute in increasing the quality of your website. This is called “On-Page” SEO, a topic for my upcoming post.

Finding the right set of keywords for your business is a very crucial step and i encourage it to be a time taking one. The process includes interviewing the founders, present top management and conducting a competitor analysis and secondary research. Tools like Google Adwords Keywords Planner should be used to filter out the most relevant keywords.

Once you have listed out 10-15 keywords for your business, try and incorporate all or most of them in the company overview while maintaining the flow of information.

Here’s my blog on step-by-step guide to keyword research

  • Figure out the key components that must be included 

Think of it as a 2 minute business presentation to a set of people who have never heard about your company till that very moment. What are the most important aspects of your company that they should know about?, Where can they locate you?, When did you start this company? and how are you the best in what you do? Writing a company overview is simply answering these questions in the most accurate way possible. In short, it should contain the What, Where, When and How of your company

  • Follow this basic structure

Company History  – provide the back story, including date of founding and who were the founders

Management Team – details about the top management and their key roles

Legal Structure and Ownership – how you’ve decided to structure your company

Locations and Facilities – Details on your work spaces and diversity

Mission Statement – A concise statement on the guiding principles of your company

So, get started on writing a company overview that will get you noticed.

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Book Review: All Marketers Are Liars – Seth Godin

Seth Godin is my go to person on the internet when it comes to reading good stuff, especially about marketing. Because in Marketing it’s NOT always about what’s right or wrong/ good or bad/ black or white, but what really INSPIRES you! While I have been reading his blogs (since forever) that touch upon a myriad of topics, this is a first time I have read one of his books interestingly named “All Marketers Are Liars”.

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Now I guess my reflex retort to a statement like this would be “hey…you watch your tongue!” because for a marketer (this is an assumption…it could just be me) this is just below the belt. So, when you see a marketing bestseller by a marketing guru called “All Marketers Are Liars” you are bound to be intrigued and thus begins a successful story telling which BTW is what this book is all about.

Who should read this book?

  • Marketing professionals who are grappling in the dark with hackneyed marketing stunts that doesn’t interest their target customers anymore.
  • People who want to start marketing with a fresh perspective on a clean slate.
  • People seeking an explanation to why Marketers are NOT liars (like me)

Key Takeaways:

  • Marketers are a special kind of liars. Marketers lie to consumers because consumers demand it. Marketers tell the stories, and consumers believe them.
  • A great story is true. Not true because it’s factual, but true because it’s consistent and authentic. Great stories are trusted. Trust is the scarcest resource we’ve got left. As a result, no marketer succeeds in telling a story unless he has earned the credibility to tell that story.
  • A marketer can spend plenty on promoting a product, but unless consumers are actively engaged in believing the story, nothing happens.
  • Marketers are not liars; they are just story tellers. Consumers are liars who tell them stories they believe in. Successful marketers are just the providers of stories that consumers choose to believe.
  • There are only two things that separate success from failure in most organizations today:
    • Invent stuff worth talking about.
    • Tell stories about what you’ve invented

 

“Great stories are subtle.

Great stories happen fast.

Great stories don’t appeal to logic, but they often appeal to our senses.

Great stories are rarely aimed at everyone.

Great stories don’t contradict themselves.

And most of all, great stories agree with our worldview.”

This book serves the purpose… it makes you believe in the storytelling mechanism, in telling people what they already know but want to hear from you. Surely marketing is much more than a creating a make believe concept for consumers to get on-board but at the very crux of it…yes, people will ask what’s your story!

https://www.amazon.com/All-Marketers-are-Liars-Works/dp/1591845335 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Customer Loyalty- Retain Your Valuable Customers

Loyal customers are the biggest asset any brand can have. Yes, one needs to grow their customer base, add new markets and target groups…but that one bunch of “we love you for what you are” customers will always be special for more than one reasons;

  1. They share an emotional connection with your brand
  2. They are more than happy satisfied customers, they are your brand evangelists
  3. They are willing to spend more on your brand

Customer loyalty programs highly interest me as a marketer who is trying to woo customers for our brand. I came across this amazing read which truly is an ultimate guide for professionals.

Customer Loyalty: The Ultimate Guide

What Is Customer Loyalty?

Customer loyalty reflects a customer’s willingness to buy from or work with a brand again and again, and it’s the result of a positive customer experience, customer satisfaction, and the value of the products or services the customer gets from the transaction.