Silly Me @ Times

Past couple of weeks I have been “dismissing” the morning alarms (yes, plural) on my phone, which once used to be snoozed to death before I would even consider calling it a new day. With eyes wide open, I wondered what could be wrong? Did I finally satiate my body and mind with the slumber that it had been craving for all these years OR am I an insomniac now? The plethora of possibilities and webMD did not present a good picture…the endless web of internal links landed me on the most dreaded page called “cancer symptoms”. Time for some positive thoughts, I said to myself, and decided on a very generic prognosis for my unusual sleep pattern – STRESS. Surrounded by scented candles, essential oils and green tea mugs (both empty and filled) I thought the de-stressing game was on point…at least the Instagram pictures would make you think so.

As I crashed after a soulful day, the thought of waking up just in time to manage looking like a human for office made me smile. Next morning with eyes wide open and the phone screen shining bright on my face, I had two questions on my mind…What is wrong with me? And Why is green tea so over rated? It was then, 4:30 in the morning, that an email notification which read ‘win a diamond ring’ made me go AH HA! While I was still connecting the dots in my mind and working out a possible cause, a series of email notifications started a frenzy of vibrating fits on my phone. Diamonds, grocery free codes, discount coupons, mall offers, season collection…you name it and I had it in my inbox at 5 o’clock in the morning! That’s like 2 hours before my first alarm goes off, are you kidding me?

This ‘vibrating-ping-pong-notification-fest’ has been keeping me awake all this while. Pheww…it’s not insomnia but now I’m definitely stressed about how to stop this noisy morning ritual which I don’t even recollect starting in the first place. For the first time I was opening emails that were either ‘too good to be true’ or ‘too much to be real’. And the irony…as a marketer I often work on content for email marketing and newsletters and being on the receiving end of it was not quite pleasant. With a heavy heart and serious doubt for my profession I decided to unsubscribe and stop receiving these emails and newsletters.

The first was an online apparel site where I have never bought anything but I do like to check out what’s in store so I gave this one a pass. Next was an online grocery which had a coupon code and some simple steps to use it. After I was done grocery shopping and efficiently using the coupon to avail discount, there was no way I was going to unsubscribe this one. It took me 2 hours to realize that I could safely unsubscribe 2 emails that were completely useless in my inbox the rest (13 of them) were in fact of some use for me. This was a bitter sweet moment for me… when I appreciated my profession that allowed communication of such life changing offers and also dreaded the sleepless early mornings.

I was startled by the “nothing else matters” ring tone on my husband’s mobile phone when he said those golden words that would change my mornings forever…. “can you put that on silent please”.

Duh! right 😛

Value Innovation

Reading ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ by W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne. My first attempt at reading this book was during my MBA days because it falls under the “must read” category for all business students. But then we had a project submission…you know what i mean (wink wink). I feel NOW is the right time for me to read this book because what i learn will not end up in a hefty answer sheet…it will be used in the current business environment!

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I couldn’t agree more with the authors about the over emphasis on beat the competition strategy by companies who are trapped in the red ocean. No wonder the first few slides of all my presentations are competitor analysis. I am not saying that don’t keep an eye on your competition, their products, pricing and marketing approach but it is not exciting anymore to just up your game (enough to beat the competition) on the relative scale. Obviously the plan is not going to work for a very long time because your competition has been watching you all this while and planning their next move.

I understand the momentary sense of victory that teams and companies experience when they see sales rising by percentage points in comparison to the former market leaders but is that real victory?! consumers today are not the loyal kind, they are mindful explorers who hustle through the supermarket rows to find the right stuff for them. Offers excite them, discounts please them and yes don’t forget the service that follows.

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So what then? 

That’s what this book is about…

  • Make competition irrelevant
  • Create a leap in value for the customer
  • Open new & uncontested market space

 

Sounds good but…Howzat??

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Innovation is a buzzword these days and companies are trying hard to foray into this domain and join the “tech-forward” bandwagon. Interestingly, innovation cuts across business units and verticals in an organization. Production and storage innovation for instance can uplift a company’s operations but the consumer does not directly benefit from it. Also, technology innovations that are way ahead of its time and cost a fortune do not create value for customers.

Value Innovation is a critical strategy that aligns innovation with utility, price and cost positions to allow focus on both differentiation and low cost. The diagram above speaks volume and explains the concept beautifully. So next time I am surely going to include a slide on value innovation for my clients who are seeking strategies to grow their business and come out of the bloody red ocean.

what do you think?

Can you train yourself to be creative?

8 Behaviors of Successful Creatives

Read this article on LinkedIn and it got me thinking…

It reminded me of the aptitude test i took way back in school to figure out my strong and weak skill sets and make a career choice basis the outcome. I clearly remember having scored below average in the creative section and it just shook my idea of myself.

Well i am presently in a field which i consider creative, marketing. I tried to be an engineer which was supposed to be a befitting career for me but you don’t wanna know how that went 😛

But i still can’t get this thought out of my mind. can we train ourselves to be creative?! and if so, who can measure if i am more creative than the rest? because for me i can be creative while making a cup of tea or snoozing the morning alarm or even for calling in sick for work! I think there are kinds of being creative and one should be very clear about it before talking or discussing about it.

i have my reasons.

 

Know your Social status

It is a very important demarcation that i came across during the social media marketing course between social networking and social media. while the two may be very loosely used in our general conversation, there is a stark difference between the two. Most of us who feel that having an FB page or a twitter account makes us active social media users, it is required to know the difference in the two.

Social Networking is when we or for that matter a company use social networking sites to share views, gather information or give information but the communication is strictly one way. There is no close loop and so it can be simply a mass communication form where the information is shared with all and nearly nothing is received back. Interestingly, I might be participating in someone’s social media campaign by giving reviews, posting comments and sharing it but in my individual sphere it is just social networking.

Social Media is when one tries to close the loop by having an information flow to and fro. This is where today companies bet their money…they use social networking sites to engage the customer and to involve them in the flow of communication. at some level it may become a one to one communication when consumers express their concern, requirement or feedback and the organization can respond to it almost real time. This when used to promote or sell products/services is known as social media marketing. 

Hope it helps in knowing where you are! 

SM_Struck, Sonali

 

Social Media Marketing: Power to the Customer

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A market place is a fine example of potential transactions but with asymmetric information. It simply means that the information available to buyers is different or mostly insufficient than the information available to the sellers. The general perception about this gap would be that it’ll insinuate purchase reluctance in buyers if the sellers don’t bridge this information gap. But for this to happen, the customer needs to be aware of the information deficiency which more than often never happens! However, it is interesting to see how this “unexploited value” gives buyers and sellers an incentive to capture that value. And this my friends is the genesis of Marketing Signaling and Screening…a power foreplay of buyers and sellers that had influenced product sales ones but now has changed gears.

Sellers with high quality products need ways to signal the quality of their products so that buyers can distinguish between high-quality and low-quality products. Before we consider this ideal situation, it’s important to realize that there are no fair rules in marketing. A seller would very much want to signal the high product/service qualities but what if it has none? well…the seller can still promise all the big stuff quality and features which for the time being only he knows isn’t true. Buyers must find ways to screen out erroneous information but allow in truthful information. This may not seem very relevant for products which can be easily evaluated or are low involvement like vegetables, soaps but think about the time when you bought a new refrigerator or an air conditioner.

Traditional form of marketing is highly Signaling driven. Remember the print Ads and television commercials which bragged about their product features and how they are the best in the market. They had everything in it for you to believe them and we did!

                              

It was partly because the product value proposition mirrored consumer needs but for most of the time it was because just a one way communication. There was no way the company would answer an individual’s concern before buying that product and so we felt…may be they are right. The scope of screening was very less unless the company salesmen were at your door step to demonstrate or give eye popping warranty for it.

In today’s marketing scenario, with the advent of social media marketing the play field has been leveled for both the players. Social media marketing has helped in completing the communication cycle by including the buyers in every step of the transaction (information and goods). Today the companies on social media platforms cannot just get away with false claims and product featuring. In no time the customer can track them down and inquire about what ever is in their mind out in the open. The ball now is in the seller’s court and they are bound to respond to the query or comment. If they don’t…customer has successfully screened them out and if they can survive the screening the customer gets the best bet. All in all customer has emerged as the powerful end of this marketing evolution and it is expected out of the customer to make the most out of it.

 

SM_Struck, Sonali