Club Mahindra – an example of a poorly executed marketing strategy

How do you feel when a time-share company
1) Invites you for a 45-minute presentation with a promise of a FREE gift.
2) Follows up enthusiastically to fix an appointment.
3) When you confirm an appointment, reminds you emphatically that “Please do come because the FREE gift vouchers once made in your name cannot be canceled.”
4) Sends an SMS with venue, time details and seeks SMS confirmation ftom you.
5) Just 15 minutes prior to the appointment time, calls you up and asks “Where are you? We are waiting for you.”
6) When you arrive 5 minutes before the appointment time, the receptionist tells you that ” We can’t accommodate you. Our presentation venue is full.
Either you come after an hour or some other day. ”
7) Wastes your precious time and does not even bother to express a simple “Sorry”.

Club Mahindra did just this last week with us.  It created a lot of hype around the presentation and the free gift and in the end, failed disappointingly. A telling example of an extremely poor execution of a marketing strategy.

A lot of characteristics of a company are reflected in the way it conducts its operations. It is natural to doubt the quality of services of a company that cannot coordinate its regular marketing activities properly.

Club Mahindra has a lot of work to do in its marketing activities coordination. Till then a lot of advertising and promotional expense will continue to go in drain creating a lot of avoidable bitterness among its prospects.

Real estate project naming – a case of meaningless brand extensions

The trend of naming new real estate projects throws up some examples of avoidable brand extension mistakes. We can find numerous instances of many smaller towns naming their residential and commercial complexes, streets, roads and areas by copying the names of famous names and localities of bigger cities.

In such an example of piggybacking on the image of some upmarket location, a prominent developer has named its upcoming project in a Mumbai suburb as “New Cuffe Parade”, drawing its name from down town Mumbai’s premium locality Cuffe Parade. The developer may have targeted the aspiring neo-rich who may wish to believe that they are getting a chance to be a part of a new posh locality of the future.

Such mindless brand extensions can be aimed at exploiting an existing, old locality’s posh brand image and recall. But, in my opinion, this exercise is wasteful and nothing less than “wannabe” naming. If at all, it only results into an added confusion for everybody.

For example, in a town, there is a very famous sweet shop called Khavda Sweets. After some years, inspired by the huge popularity of the original shop, an ex-employee or a separated partner or some unrelated stranger starts another similar type of sweet shop called “New Khavda Sweets”, with the word “New” written in very small letters in all signages and brand visuals. It tries to copy everything from the original shop – the products, packaging, pricing etc. But, in spite of all its efforts to be better or at least at par with the original, it never reaches the same level as the original, because it fails to copy the main USP of the original like quality, service, customer experience, employees etc.

At the best. it confuses people and in most cases, fails to get more than some limited, marginal success by luring some uninformed, gullible new customers who don’t know about the existence of the original shop. It only proves the New shop owner’s desire to be just like the original. In other words, he proves to be a “wannabe”.

Another such futile brand extension example is the Bollywood film Ramgarh Ke Sholay which imitated an iconically successful Bollywood blockbuster Sholay. The new film flopped miserably. All its producers’ assumptions fell flat, failing to create even a whimper.

We can find thousands of examples of such “wannabe” naming all across the country. Parents naming their children after famous celebrities is another common example of such “wannabe” naming.

Naming of a real estate locality should be done with a lot of practical considerations, because in future, that name becomes part of a large population’s daily lives. Avoiding confusion in people’s minds is one such consideration.

Branding requires very careful thinking and detailed planning. Mindless copying generally backfires. Only by declaring, NEW Cuffe Parade does not make that project a reincarnation of old Cuffe Parade. In fact, the contrasting reality of slum pockets amidst the upmarket highrisers of old Cuffe Parade, which make it unique can never be recreated by the manicured and professionally designed New Cuffe Parade. New Khavda Sweets can perhaps never be Khavda Sweets. It may perennially remain a wannabe.

And to be perceived as being a wannabe can be fatal for a premium brand. Originality is crucial to being premium.

Poor execution can waste big money spent on PR

Last Sunday, a doctor friend of mine was invited to an Exclusive Seminar by an equity investment broking firm, to educate them about their premium products for HNI (High Networth Individual) clients. It was a privileged invitation and only a selected number of successful doctors were invited to the seminar, she was told. The selected venue also was a posh new banquet hall which had great interiors and equally great food. They had arranged for a great musical evening following the seminar. The firm took extra care to make her feel special and confirm her participation.

Her experience was far from special. Here is what spoiled her evening and her opinion for the firm that invited her :

1) On Sunday she reached the venue, sharp at appointed 4 pm, only to discover that the main hall on the first floor was jam packed, the event had already started and there were no seats available. Finally, she was taken to the second floor where they had arranged a screen display through live camera coverage of the event from the first floor.

2) The sound on this floor was too loud and the AC was too chilling. She requested some attendants there to correct the volume and the cooling, but they refused to act saying “If somebody from hosts tell us, then only we can do it.” And, all the hosts were busy on the first floor…!

3) The great “musical evening” turned out to be a solo performer crooning some old songs while playing audio tracks on his laptop. After 1-2 songs, it became unbearably boring. She got up to leave. On her way down, some executives spotted her and requested her to stay till dinner was served.

4) She waited till 8.00 pm and finally went to the dinner counters. From there she was sent back and told to come at 8.30, because ‘hosts’ had not yet given green signal to start serving dinner.

5) Finally, when the flood gates were opened at 8.30, she saw a long queue at the dish counters, going down from second floor to all the way on the ground floor…! She could see the hard struggle by the guests for getting food items. There was no space for 650 ‘special’ guests to eat simultaneously at this ‘exclusive’ event…! She could not understand what was exclusive in this event ?

6) Annoyed and angry, she returned from the event without eating and decided not to entertain any offers from this broking firm.

We may spend lakhs of rupees to woo HNI clients by holding exclusive events. And then also invite all-and-sundry, because we could not say ‘no’ to anybody. Then we subject them to tortures of various types and make them stand in queues and struggle for food. Which HNI client would come to us?

If we want ‘exclusive’ clients on our list, we should learn to execute better. Grand strategies on paper fail, when execution on ground is weak. It is not rocket science, it is pure common sense.

Why products fail?

It is not rocket science to understand why products fail. Good or bad products can be identified by the quality of their advertisement campaigns. These days, an advertisement of a chewing gum is appearing on TV. It promotes the chewing gum that can help you take fast decisions and make smart choices. This is a perfect example of a mediocre advertisement. There is nothing good about the TVC. The theme is outright downmarket and dirty. The cast is of that calibre only. The storyline is also very very distasteful. It cannot be worse. The advertisement is showing three teenager boys ogling at titillating film posters or some real girls partying or taking a swim in a pond. The whole idea is horrible distasteful. First of all, the boys are shown of very tender age. No parent would like to see the advertisements like this along with their teenagers.It is utterly disgusting, to say the least.

The production quality of the advertisement is also very poor. The voice over is so unclear that the name of the product cannot be heard. Same is with the visual of product logo. Even after seeing the advertisement for 10-15 times, you may not understand what is the NAME of the product….!

Looking at the advertisement, you may feel that mediocrity works in groups. The product, the marketing and the advertising team all have proved that mediocre people find each other and produce mediocrity with zeal.

And to top that, one music channel had that product as sponsor of today’s Valentine’s Day… One more mediocre adding itself to the gang….!

No wonder, mediocre products fail. And I must say, they must. Miserably…Even if they are made by great companies. Finally, great companies also have mediocre people occupying privileged positions on its desks. I wish the good sense prevails in the company.