Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"All I Want for Xmas is a PSP!" Really??

This is simply sad! Alliwantforxmasisapsp.com is one of the most transparent and pathetic examples of viral marketing the Internet has seen. FYI, the URL (www. Alliwantforxmasisapsp.com) does not have the original blog anymore and is a parked domain. This veiled commercial in the form of a blog was started by two "kids" named "Charlie" and "Jeremy” one of who raps and looks disturbingly old for a kid -- in an effort to entice their parents to buy them a PSP for Christmas. In reality, the site is a blatant and a ploy developed by Zipatoni, a marketing firm Sony hired. This site was so tech savvy to be created by a young kid that people instantly recognized the farce.

This site had it all, complete with text messaging misspellings and overuse of words like "nxt" and "beatz." The cheesy "please buy me a PSP, mom!" fliers are bad enough. Furthermore, the site only uses lower case letters, always references "two" as "2," embraces hip phrases like "here's the deal.”

The entire Blogger and YouTube videos community got mad at this ploy of Sony. Hate blog posts and videos were all over the net in the matter of a few hours. People were mad because Sony underestimated the consumer intelligence and presumed that everything ‘Sony’ would be accepted. You CANNOT Fake it. Watch this video! it clearly shows evidence of this.

Monday, April 6, 2009

‘The Last Lecture’- Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.

I happened to watch this video as a ‘viral’ forward from one of my friends.  When I watched it created a truly emotional impact on me. But when I looked at it from the advertising perspective, it was a brilliant ‘coincidence’ that worked wonders.  This video was shot by one of the members in the audience at the Carnegie Mellon University.  This was the ongoing series of lectures given by esteemed professors when they were leaving the university. ‘The Last Lecture’ was one such lecture given by Prof. Randy Pausch, who was diagnosed of Pancreatic Cancer had a maximum of 3-4 months to live. He gave this lecture to his students and staff. Randy was youthful, energetic, handsome, often cheerfully, darkly funny. It was a really interesting watch. This video became a rage on YouTube and was forwarded with genuine emotions and compassion to their friends and family. Prof Randy Pausch was voted the ABC Chanel’s American of the week, was featured on the Oprah Winfrey show and wrote a book which Randy co authored with Jeffrey Zaslow, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, who attended the Last Lecture. This book became an instant bestseller. The viral video and the book together got so much popularity for the Carnegie Mellon University that it has become one of the most sought after and prestigious institution. The institute received so many admission applications due to the popular publicity. A few key take aways from the ‘Last Lecture’ that really were a food for thought were:

-  Never hate those who criticize you, your critics love you and care about you. When no one says anything, then they have given up on you... Which is the worst thing that can happen to you.

- When you do something young enough you are trained for it. It just becomes a part of you, and you are never scared of it.

- When you do not get what you wanted from an effort/initiative, Experience is what you would have acquired.

- Brick walls are there for a reason, they let us prove how badly we want something... Brick walls here are the obstacles we face while working on something.

- Never base your judgment on the first meeting! Wait long enough and people will surprise and impress you...

- Always find someone better to hand over to, when you have worked really hard on something.

- Never ever lose the child like wonder.

- Don’t bailout half way! The best of the gold is at the bottom of barrels of crap.

-Apologize when you screw up!

- Focus on other sometimes and not yourself always. Randy gives a beautiful example, by bringing a cake for his wife’s birthday on the stage. He says that this lecture was my light and glory but I thought of my wife and how they did not celebrate her birthday.

Randy wrapped up the lecture by saying that if you did not make much sense of what he said all through the lecture, it was ok, because the lecture was not meant for you. It for his three kids, telling them how to lead their life.

 Randy lost his battle to pancreatic cancer on July 25th, 2008. Some of his last words were, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” —Randy Pausch 

Here is the video of the Last Lecture!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Web 2.0

The essence of Web 2.0 is based on the slogan 'don't fight the Internet' coined by Eric Schmidt. Web 2.0 websites allow users to do more than just retrieve information. Users can own the data on a Web 2.0 site and exercise control over that data. Web 2.0 is the web as a blank canvas with the common user as the painter.

Web 2.0 is social, it’s open (or at least it should be), it’s letting go of control over your data, it’s mixing the global with the local. Web 2.0 is about new interfaces - new ways of searching and accessing Web content. And last but not least, Web 2.0 is a platform - and not just for developers to create web applications like Gmail and Flickr. Web 2.0 is about the people, when it comes down to it. So it has to be inclusive. The definitions of technologists, social scientists, web designers, philosophers, educators, business people, anybody - they all count. If Netscape was the standard bearer for Web 1.0, Google is most certainly the standard bearer for Web 2.0.

A video created by Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultutral Anthropology at the Kansas State University for his students is the most simplest and interesting way to figure out what Web 2.0 is all about.

Symbiosis of the Pioneers!

Okay, now that was a heavy blog title, but ‘Symbiosis’ is the term that suits the best to describe what these 2 leading brands did. I was a win-win situation for both of them and the advertisement’s packaging definitely appealed to the viewer’s sensibilities. This advertisement was not aired in India so I am sure you have not seen it however, thanks to Google it is there on Youtube. The ad is called Nike Plus. It is a joint venture by Nike and Apple to improve the fitness of the masses. The ad shows the ipod acting like a pedometer and encouraging the user to run the distance. This ad was a winner hands down at the Cannes advertising awards festival that year. I really liked the ad for the sheer brilliance of the collaboration between 2 leaders in their own segment of products. I am sure both Nike and Apple did not need each other to sell their products, however this advertisement added the elegant icing on the cake. Watch it!

Monday, March 16, 2009

From CRM to CMR??!!

I just came across this book called ‘Why CRM does not work’ by Fredrick Newell, it has a very conversational style to it and is not mundane. Just after the book released, Fredrick was interviewed by Sarah Powell, here are some excerpts of the conversation that I found really interesting and are definitely a food for thought for all of us who are into the Sales and Marketing field.

The major problem is a perception that Customer Relationship Management aka CRM can be implemented without changing a traditional product-based management culture. It's a huge challenge to reorganize a company around thinking the customer is more important. It's hard to change corporate culture and many companies have not implemented the appropriate training. Many CRM initiatives fail because of such organizational failings.

We still see far too many people in a company who resist change. Some are trying to protect their 'turf', fearing change because they believe it means they will lose power. In business-to-business marketing, a field in which I recently conducted some research, it has always been said that 'sales flies the plane and marketing serves the coffee' - for people to work together and share information will involve significant cultural change.

To build up a profile of customers, it is important to create a dialogue with them and this involves moving on from the old 'tell and sell' towards 'listen and learn'. This step alone would mark a big difference for many companies. Ask the right questions in the right way through dialogue and you will get good answers.

"This sharing of information is paramount. Companies may have considerable customer data but they keep it in many different departmental 'silos' which prevents them from compiling it to provide a true 360-degree view of the customer. Tremendous leadership at the top is needed to promote this sharing and I think that's the biggest challenge."

Personalization is an approach driven by the computer and using customer information, which serves up offers to individuals based on their shopping history; addressing them by name and using algorithms and models to investigate their propensity to buy. Personalization is, in effect, a 'pattern' for customers who are targeted through offers tailored to their preferences.

Customization meanwhile really puts customers in control, letting them select between options eg. with a bank client in Buenos Aires in which we asked the bank's customers to tell us how they wanted to be contacted - for example they could opt to hear from us by email for one product, and by telephone for another. That's customization - you let customers tell you what they want to hear and when or how they want to hear it.

Michael Dell founded his company on the principle of finding out precisely what his customers wanted and giving it to them - consequently every computer the company sells is custom-built for a customer. Interestingly, Dell's customer-focused approach was there from the beginning and he probably never even thought about CRM as such when as a young man at university he dreamed of creating a company. Yet, from the beginning he based his company entirely on the idea of giving his customers exactly what they wanted.

ROI vs CRM/CMR- Unfortunately not enough people are trying to do this. It involves, first of all, determining what you are trying to improve. Is it sales? Or is the aim to improve customer retention? Or are you perhaps trying to cross-sell more of your products?

The next step is to set some very specific goals and monitor them against a control group, purpose of exercises such as this is to change customer behaviour. You can then measure and prove ROI by noticing beneficial changes in behaviour. The goal is to keep customers longer, increasing their lifetime value and their advocacy for us.


Most has been how very slow management has been to react to the need to move towards customer management of relations or CMR. I feel as if I've been trying to sell this concept for a great many years - a good analogy would be if somebody walked down a street and saw a $100 bill on the sidewalk and thought: 'oh, I really should pick that up, it would be to my advantage to have $100, but I'm busy now; maybe I'll do it tomorrow.' This seems to have been the reaction towards CMR over the last several years. That said, I think it is changing now - people are finally trying to get on the bandwagon even though they sometimes don't quite understand the bandwagon they're on. There is still a tendency to believe it's all about the technology - but that alone just cannot make it happen.