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Tag Marketing

From Asia with Love

Pushkar Sane Saturday, 10th December, 2011 Tags: , , , , , Marketing No comments

Dear Global CMO,

Hope you’re well. I’m sure you’re surprised to receive a note from me, as this is the first time I’m sending you a direct message. My previous attempts of communicating through your hierarchy didn’t succeed and hence I’m taking this one last chance. It’s important for you to hear from me directly rather than through the filters of your colleagues and agencies. I just want to ask four simple questions and express my feelings. I do hope you will find time to read my short note and respond some point in time.

Is marketing a new name for hunting?
I get viewed as a “thing” to be targeted and captured from masses of people that you can audience. Your brand managers describe me in such a way that I have nothing better to do in life but to buy your brands. In fact they seem to think that your brands are my raison d’être. I hate being bombarded with meaningless ads across different mediums but your brands continue to push them. I hate being ambushed when I’m relaxing and there is no respect my privacy. For years I was getting stalked on the web but now I get stalked in my private zones like Facebook. How would you feel if I land up in your house uninvited and start throwing things around on your walls?

Am I really the boss?
I keep hearing that you (and many of your peers) talk about a philosophy of “Consumer is Boss.” I wonder whether you really mean that or it is just a poster statement. I seldom get treated like a boss. Whenever I highlight my problems, which I often do it via social media, I get a very standard response of “we’re looking into the issue and we’ll get back to you shortly.” Sometimes I don’t even get a response. Whenever I call your customer service hotlines, they keep me on hold for a long time and it becomes very difficult to reach a human voice. Do your brand managers behave in the same manner with their internal bosses?

Is Asia important to you?
I keep hearing Asia is the most important geography for your company and we’re the future. I wonder how much time and effort your global team dedicates to understanding our aspirations and expectations better. Based on what I have observed I have a lot of questions. How many times do you visit Asia? And do you get to meet some real people who buy your brands rather than some organized visits? When was the last time you stood at a retail counter on your own without getting it organized? If we’re the future and the most important geography, why are you still sitting in United States or Europe? And why on earth do you keep launching products and services in the U.S. and then roll them out in Asia after a couple of years?

Do you really want to connect?
I watch TV shows but don’t watch them on TV. I see them on my mobile or on my laptop. I read news but don’t touch the newspaper very often. I listen to radio but it comes to me through the Internet. I have over 1,000 people on my Facebook and equal number of people on my LinkedIn and other social networks. I no longer remember phone numbers or have them in analog format. Thanks to technology I can have parallel conversations with my buddies and I’m not really constrained to spend my time with only one person. I always pay attention to avatars before making friends. I keep very cool avatars and I expect my friends to have even cooler avatars. I don’t want to be seen in company of “Not So Happening People.” Ten years back nobody would have imagined me falling in love over the Internet. I met my boyfriend on Facebook, got to know him well, googled him, checked his reputation through friends. We’re currently living apart but the distance doesn’t seem to matter us as we can see each other through webcam, Facebook, Skype, FaceTime, YouTube, Flickr, IM, and so on. These days it is so easy to start or end a relationship. Even though I’m confident that it will work out for us…sometimes it makes me worried as I recently heard a friend getting divorced through an SMS message.

When there is irritation or joy in my life… I broadcast it to my social network in a matter of seconds. And my broadcast travels from America to Australia and everything in between. I now have digital tools, which can help me impact day-to-day activities in life. And this makes me feel very good about myself as I’m in control as well as contributing to society. I publish two blogs. I write reviews. I comment on products. I send in photo and videos. I broadcast my views. I’m a self-made journalist. And my content has potential of being read by millions of people from all over the world. As a result I’m famous. You can find 100 links when you search me on Google. I don’t think becoming famous is difficult any more and all the people in my digital circle are famous.

If you really want to connect and build a long-term relationship, then you first need to get into my Circle of Trust. Once you’re there…I will introduce to my Circle of Influence. It is that simple.
With love from Asia!

A Passionate Girl who you call Consumer…

((Originally published in ClickZ.Asia on 22 November 2011)

Demystifying ROI

Pushkar Sane Monday, 22nd August, 2011 Tags: , , , , , Marketing No comments

In the column, “Are You In Love or Just Doing a Trade?” I argued against calculating ROI for social. I got a lot of feedback. Some people liked my argument; some people hated it (and thought I was stupid) and passionately educated me on importance of ROI. They also insisted that digital in general has failed to deliver on ROI expectations. They accused me of taking an easy option and not wanting to be accountable.
These reactions made me realise how loosely and randomly advertising industry uses the word ROI. Return On investment as a concept emerged from the world of finance (economics) and advertising industry has just retrofitted it without fully understanding the concept. While I accept feedback with all humility it prompted me to further discuss the topic of digital ROI.

Let me begin by asking simple questions around four important factors in ROI: Money, advice, research, and risk:
How much money are you investing in digital and what is the percentage of digital in your overall marketing budget?
Do you engage the best digital advisors or the cheapest ones?
What percentage of your marketing research budget is spent on digital?
What is your risk appetite and what is the level of risk you’re willing to take?

I request you to answer these questions truthfully. In my experience (spanning over 14 years across different Asian markets) most marketers and ad men seldom answer these questions before demanding great ROI from digital. Let us closely look.

First and foremost any ROI discussion starts with the amount of money that you’re putting on table. Most clients and agencies in Asia allocate single digit percentage budgets to digital. Most often the arguments are:
We have limited or no additional money left for digital.
TV still reaches masses, print is impactful, outdoor is visible and we don’t have enough proof points that digital will deliver.
Digital should be cheap and hence a small budget allocation is sufficient.
Show me the ROI and then I will invest.
Let us treat each of the mediums as different asset classes. Now if you look at media allocation of any typical Asian client it will look like this:

So even if you get great ROI on digital its relative impact on ROI of overall media is limited. Additionally, different mediums calculate ROI differently and hence it is practically impossible to compare. Even sophisticated models such as market mix modeling are not geared enough to handle complexities of digital and often end up providing biased results in favour of television advertising. Additionally most clients struggle to provide quality data for such models and hence suffer from garbage in garbage out problem.

Secondly, ROI also depends on quality of advisor. Most savvy investor will tell you that quality of advise (on when and where to invest) is very important in realising great returns. Even the smartest investors seek advice from time to time and any such expertise doesn’t come free or cheap. In my observation most marketers want cutting-edge expertise at cutthroat price. Logically, it doesn’t make sense but it is justified by linking it with procurement function and treated exactly like buying stationary. As they say if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. Unfortunately, it is proving to be true in digital.

Thirdly, research plays an important role in understanding market dynamics and making investments in right platforms. You can randomly invest and get lucky once or twice but in order to repeat success on a sustainable basis you need depth of research. Most marketers spend very little or nothing on research on digital and have no basis to determine attractiveness of various digital platforms.
Finally, it all boils down to risks. Needless to say returns and risks go hand in hand. Marketers want fantastic results with no risks. Any innovation or new approach or new platform carries a higher level of risk but it also provides an opportunity for higher returns.

Just imagine what will happen if you make a financial investment with very little amount of money, without any research on what works and what doesn’t, with a financial advisor who is cheap but not an expert (and actually is more of an accountant rather than a financial advisor) and with a no or low risk approach. I suspect you will get no or negligible returns on your investment. In that case should you blame the financial markets, instruments or your own investment outlook? In real life returns are always linked to the size of investment, depth of research, quality of advice, and levels of risk. I think the same principles work when it comes to digital or any other media.

There is nothing wrong in having great ROI expectations from digital but in order to meet the expectations marketers and their agencies need to increase investment money (at least 15 percent of total media budget), get expert advisors, conduct research, and above all, take risks.

(Originally published in ClickZ.Asia on 10 August 2011)