Success lets you get away with Nautanki…

Actually, successful ones can get away with telling fiction in the name of entrepreneurial anecdotes. In today’s startup obsessed times, eager people feed on whatever these entrepreneurs have to say, regardless of whether they speak responsibly or otherwise.
Carwale founder Mohit Dubey reportedly revealed (check here) at a panel discussion at TiE Con in Mumbai that he shamelessly took money from family, friends and even wealthy strangers in his hometown Bhopal to set up his business. He would knock on the doors of wealthy people with big bungalows in Bhopal and say, “Uncle, you will die in few years but who will remember you? Invest in this startup and people will.”
Pravin Gandhi of Infinity Technology Venture Fund, which invested in Carwale, was sitting next to Dubey. After hearing the anecdote, his response to it was “This only happens in Bhopal”. (Perhaps, this is the best diplomatic response to such a statement.)
I wonder whether it actually happened in Bhopal also. Or was it another example of hyperbole thrown carelessly out of over-enthusiasm?
Young people wish to get some valuable insights from such discussions. But do such statements help that purpose? Imagine how many rich bungalows you can enter uninvited and ask such a question (in so many words) without being thrown out insultingly?
In another such example of boastful hyperbole, Mallika Sherawat reportedly said recently that “She met President Obama and ‘discussed’ Bollywood with him.” This appeared in HT Cafe (Mumbai, dated 23.01.2016).
I think both these are ‘stories’. Fiction. Fake. Hyperbole. Twisting and manipulation of facts.
Hollow Nautanki is expectable and acceptable from the likes of Mallika. But from entrepreneurs?
Only because one is on a panel at a conference and people are listening intently, should one say any crap to get some cheap applause and press mention like Ms Sherawat?
To speak responsibly, one has to be responsible. Otherwise our Nautanki puts us in the same leagues as Mallika Sherawat, whether we like it or not.

Times Of India, where is your judgment?

One rich woman in Mumbai goes to Starbucks in South Mumbai with two daughters. The daughters accidentally spill water in washroom. Another rich woman sees this and forces the girls to wipe the floor. The daughters inform this to the mother. The rich woman makes a big issue out if this and lodges a complaint in the police station.

On 6th January 2015, The Times Of India published ‘news’ about this incident on page 3 of its Mumbai edition, rather prominently. See the link here.

Both the rich, arrogant women may have nothing better to do in life than making disproportionate issues out of everything. That could be helpful in pampering their inflated ego. But, I don’t understand why Times Of India gave such a huge importance to this. Did this incident matter such a disproportionate exposure on the pages of a national daily?

Was this incident so vital that “the nation had to know” about it?

Or is it in their business interest to dance to the tunes of idiosyncrasies of the rich and the powerful?

Whatever may be the reason, I think it is a disappointment. A let down from a powerful media icon. A responsible media should exercise rationality in giving importance to the issues which are reported to it.

Let us hope for better, impartial and more sensible Times.

Marketing is telling believable stories

Some films succeed. Many others fail. Films are well-crafted stories. The films with stories which connect with a large number of people, succeed. The ones which tell a bad story or tell a story badly, fail.

Stories help us live a different life, even though temporarily. Seth Godin says marketing is creating and selling stories. Successful marketing means building successful stories.

Stories that connect with people.
Stories that let them live a different life, even though temporarily.
Stories that help people to lie to themselves.

In the absence of some other productive occupation, we love telling lies to ourselves. It is a distraction.  But a motivating one.

When a cream brand tells a girl that 4 out of 5 girls get softer skin after applying our cream, the girl dreams of being one of those 4. She goes and buys that cream.

Finally, after weeks of religious application of the cream with no significant improvements, the truth emerges and she lands among those 5th girls who did NOT get softer skin. This happens with 80% of the girls who buy that story of softer skin and get disappointed. By the time the futility of the promises and claims made by the company dawns upon a now-wiser girl, she gets hooked to another “New Improved” cream of yet another brand and buys another dream, believing and telling to herself the lie the brand’s advertisement said.

Thankfully for the older brand,  younger sister or cousin of this now-wiser girl grows up with dreams in her eyes and goes and buys that same cream with the dreams of softer skin.

This continues. Just like we sometimes watch the same movie or read the same book again and again even though we know everything about it, we keep buying the things we don’t need because of the lure of the story.

This is the success of marketing. Creating “New & Improved” stories and selling them.
Repeatedly.
Profitably.

The award for the inefficiency goes to…

If you wish to see an example of the most ineffective way to communicate, just listen to the railway announcement at any railway station in India. Almost nothing will make sense. The equipment will be faulty. Volume – wrong. Speaker’s attitude – horrible.

The universality of the most idiotic and confusing manner in which they speak at almost every station in India gives rise to an assumption that they all are trained in the worst way a commnication job can be done.

Continue reading “The award for the inefficiency goes to…”

The manner of speaking matters

Heard two back-to-back announcements by two airlines announcing departures of their flights at Ahmedabad airport.

The lady announcer of IndiGo started “IndiGo announces the departure of its flight to Mumbai….”, spoke the name ‘IndiGo’ in a very low and unclear voice only once in the beginning of a rather long announcement, which is generally missed by the passengers as they are not able to hear initial words, due to the sudden start of the announcement.
Result? Total confusion for most of the passengers as for which airline the announcement was.

Next announcement was from SpiceJet. The lady started with “Kind Attention SpiceJetters…This is an announcement for passengers traveling by SpiceJet flight number xyz…”. Also, she spoke the word ‘SpiceJet’ 4 times clearly and loudly in the same amount of time.
Result? Total clarity about for whom the announcement was.

At a terminal where 5-6 airlines operate flights to a small number of destinations, the name of the airlines deserves the most clear mention.

Common sense, no?
But common sense is not common, no?

SpiceJet makes it loud and clear. IndiGo needs to improve skills on meaningful communication where it matters.

To be aware of the effect of our communication, we should hear through the ears of our customers.

Microsoft, Windows 8 can do much better than this…

These days, there is an active TVC campaign of Windows 8 going on the air.

A family is negotiating a job for their son in Dubai with an agent for few lakh rupees when a wise lady enters the scene with a laptop, opens a job site (monsters.com?) and shows there are a plethora of jobs available as shown on the web site, and her price for the service is only ‘Two Gulab Jamuns’.

There was a similar campaign earlier showing a range of options available on a matrimonial site (bharatmatrimony.com?) while searching a groom for a daughter, making the humble Panditji look irrelevant and helpless in the face of the new ‘competition’.

Ok. These are well produced TVCs. But what about the brand communication? Is Windows 8 positioning its relevance on making job agents or Panditjis irrelevant? We all know, it can do much better.

I think the TVC is so completely irrelevant to the product, that with this same communication, the very same TVCs could have been shown to promote the laptop brand or job site (or the matrimonial site). Without ANY change in the TVC. The irrelevance of the story and the communication to express what brand Windows 8 has to offer is starkly obvious.

A job site or a matrimonial site can be opened on any machine running any OS or any smartphone running any OS. What is so great about Windows 8 being able to open monsters.com web site? Which other OS can’t do that utterly routine task?

Where is the differentiation? Does the TVC say about Windows 8 being different in any way? No.

And, which segment is Microsoft targeting? It seems Microsoft is targeting the ones who are looking for jobs, brides or grooms for their children, i.e. the retired people. May be they are trying to demonstrate the ease of use through the  ‘touch’ feature, but the communication is not matching or hitting that objective either. Moreover, Apple and its clones have made ‘touch’ a given and not an ‘exclusive’ feature, which can be a worthy point of differentiation.

Also, the offer of EMIs seems inappropriate. Does brand Windows 8 have to sell on price and EMIs? Is it that bad? I don’t think so.  I am sure Windows 8 has a lot of exclusive features and benefits which can be talked about.

I think either the company and the agency are up to some very highly strategic communication agenda or they have completely missed the point. To me, the latter seems more likely.

Sometimes, even the giants miss smaller, simpler points. And they end up selling jobs, brides and grooms for selling their Operating Systems. Bad barter…

Hota hai…!