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Archive for January 2009

Of course everyone around says that there is a disconnect between theory and practice. But when one melds practice into theory it becomes a potent weapon. Case in point – USAA. USAA is investment, banking and insurance service provider to military members and their families. USAA has an extremely good CRM which knows the family history of a customer when he calls up. Therefore if I was calling up USAA for a transaction, their database is so good to know that I have a son turning 20 this year. This provides their sales reps immediate opportunity to what may be called as “cross-selling”.

Cut the chase to India. I am not claiming that analytics is not being done, already, but I see great potential for certain service providers which I will elaborate below.

  1. Category 1 – Mobile service providers – Mobile providers are sitting on huge data which at the moment seems under-utilised. For example, I land in Chennai, for the first time. The mobile service provider for once knows for sure that I have landed in Chennai for the first time. They can send me an SMS titled “These are the 5 things that I can seek in this city”. If the subscriber likes the service he/she can subscribe to it paying some fee.
  2. Category 2 – Banks – I am just puzzled at their potential but still they are sitting idle. They collect our personal details to the extent of our birthdays etc. What are the potential – based on my age – they can create products or cross sell their existing products. When I am nearing the age of 30 – sell me a house loan (which almost everyone requires). At the age of 45+ – sell me a pension fund. Simply offer me a customised plan on my birthday. “We see you will turn x years old in the next five days, here is what Y bank has to offer on a limited basis to you and your family member”. Seeing the context, hell yeah, I wouldn’t mind it.
  3. Category 3 – Credit card -Analyze my transactions for the past year. It will reveal a lot about me and my likes / dislikes. If ICICI were to do such an analysis, books would clearly emerge as my first love. Do you realise the “cross selling” potential here. Infact aggregate this data over their customer base and there you go. Nice targettable micro-segments.
  4. Category – 4 – Any service provider who collects my date of birth – Customize offers
  5. Category – 5 – ATMs – Banks could analyse the volume of cash transaction on an area by area basis. Given that users will be allowed to take out cash from any banks, abstracting the ATM layer, banks can gain a lot. Suppose in my area, I withdraw a lot of cash from a Z bank where I don’t have an account. My own banker, Y bank, can aggregate the transactions in my area to see whether that is the case indeed with other customers of Y bank. If yes, then Y bank can open a separate ATM branch in my locality. Vice-versa if an ATM is not generating that much cash withdrawals, then close it down and open one where the volumes are more. Across bank data can be used to arrive at these volume details. Lot of inter-bank collaboration can be used, if Y bank’s ATM serves more Z bank’s customers, then share the data and charge’em for it. Vice versa hold as well.

Here is a campaign well done – CROSSWORD


Crossword clearance sale

Crossword clearance sale


Okay I am a sucker for books, accepted. Still the Brio offer sounds a good enough reason to move my ass and visit the sale. This is what I was referring to in transaction analysis for credit cards.

What are the implementational issues – in terms of software. What will be the issues? I don’t know. Whatdya reckon, let us know.



Okay this is a time to take a break from regular shake-the-earth observations about marketing going on this earth.

Take a look at this which landed in my Google Reader – An article about a cricket in the Marketing and Media section of Livemint.


WTF, no seriously.

WTF, no seriously.


Anyways these days because of the enormous input of Marketing and Sales related “education” that my brain is always in a fix when all these things happen –

  1. Reading a line which says “brand new habit” (I am wondering brand – woohoo where is it and then I realise that is the normal english word)
  2. Whenever I see an advertisement, immediately the brain does some swift calculation on the TG, the creative brief, the storyboard and whether there will be recall or not.
  3. Ads inside toilets – immediately a voice shouts “interstitials”.

See each career has its own risks. Share in your risks and curiosities !!


“Marketing is not an art anymore… Its a science”
I can say that after ROMI.


Some say its doomsday, and for some it’s more and more opportunity. The print media has seen a lot of flux with the advent of the internet and questions have been raised on whether it is in its declining cycle. Not all consumers behave the same, thank god! So while the US is grappling with a declining trend, there seems to be more optimism in Asia, especially in countries like India and China.

India sells approximately 78.7 million copies of newspaper every day, second only to China. However, the business model of the newspapers rely less on the revenue earned from the subscriptions (app. 40% revenue) and more on the revenue earned from advertisements (app. 60% ). Of course, one might argue that the advertisement revenue itself is subject to the circulation, reach and reader segment attracted. And hence it does not come as amazement when the Wall Street Journal decided to provide free newspapers to important corporate houses and business schools. If they get addicted, money would surely follow. Let’s look at some of the initiatives taken by Indian newspapers, and am sure, by most of newspapers abroad too!

Now let’s take a look at the bundling principles through newspapers. Of late, newspapers have been bundled with magazines and local newspaper. For example, The Times of India in Mumbai is bundled with the Mumbai Mirror and a bundled price of Rs. 4.50/- is charged for the same. Have we noticed? Yes. But have our preferences changed for the addition couple of rupee we have to shell? Actually, no. And hence bundling becomes a mode of survival for this industry. Maybe the future could see newspapers bundled with your train ticket in the morning, or a monthly subscription free with your month’s groceries!

The content of the newspapers is gradually becoming more target group driven. Debatable, yes, but here’s my take on it. Different sections of the newspaper have been targeted at different segments which was earlier not so much the case. And hence there is a clear distinction between editorial contents of the same day in different newspapers.

In order to make the newspaper attractive amidst the clutter, the publishing houses have come up with innovative ways of advertising. And thus, the first page of my morning newspaper always has a startling content, colour, font or interestingly shape! It surely does work, especially when it’s difficult to hold on to the newspaper! Add to that the advertorial page (Mint recently published “From time to time, you will see a page or a feature in Mint that is clearly labelled as Media Marketing Initiative. Such sponsored content is entirely generated by an advertiser or the marketing department of Mint on behalf of an advertiser, and does not involve any Mint editorial staff...”

The print industry is in a mode of collaboration (media and print), extension (Dainik Bhaskar keeps adding more cities to its network regularly), and the advent of local newspapers and of vernacular newspapers. All these, together, make me think optimistically regarding the print media in India.

The online print media and its evolution is another huge aspect, but maybe some other time. Also, the mobile phones may usher new revolutions in this space. I leave you with the question. Is there something the west could learn from the print media in India? Or is it just that “we are like that only!”

– Nemo

Until recently I thought that brand promise is just a function of what you want to do with your product. But I am sure I don’t think so anymore. Consider the case of Domino’s (about my travails with them ). They position themselves as the Pizza delivery experts. That means their clear focus is on delivering pizzas lightning fast. They have been pretty good at that, except that their call handlers are a little short on training.

What really drove me to this post is a comment from my friend who said – in certain parts of a city in India Domino’s refuse to serve/deliver pizzas in 30 minutes to customers citing that the traffic in the approach roads hinders prompt delivery. Think about this (this is largely India specific) –

  1. As a city in which Domino’s operates adds more and more vehicles to its roads which don’t expand to match the gap between the demand of better road spaces and the actual physical supply of roads, what happens to Domino’s brand promise. Such a brand promise becomes highly dependent upon the city’s infrastructure.
  2. If the city’s infrastructure fails / is under great pressure, then due to this dependency your brand promise is in jeopardy.
  3. If you were in Domino’s what would you do – the only feasible solution seems to be open more stores serving smaller areas in order to combat this dependency.

To me, Domino’s brand promise consists of two elements, internal and external. Internal – Process for making pizzas, External – Delivery mechanism. Now we can see the issue in their positioning. The external element is the real pain point (and going forward in India it could become a real problem, with denial of service already happening).

Isn’t it better to architect your brand promise on elements internal – like a Pizza Hut (Taste) or a Volvo (Safety)?

Therefore it’s not just about your product but also the overall environment which also affects what you set out to do with your brand. It’s upto the company to decide the extent of dependency on the external environment.

Let me conclude with a question – Are brand promise and positioning the same? What do you think?

Let us know in the comments.


I must admit this is a rant. I must tell this story, however, about my experience with Domino’s Mumbai centres. This is what I wrote to on the Domino’s’ “talk to us” web tab.

I tried to order a pizza from “A” centre to be delivered to my place which is near Apna Bazaar in Andheri(W). First of all the centre respondent, after taking down the entire order, told us that they could not deliver because we ordered for four pan pizzas citing that its not a bulk order.

If that’s company policy – it is okay but whose responsibility is to indicate the same on the website?
We then tried four different centres to get our pizzas delivered. Finally we found the Jogeshwari centre who could DELIVER our pizzas.

My logic tells me Lokhandwala centre would be closer to our place. Anyways that could be the problem of your software. But isn’t indicating “that we don’t deliver until you order zillions of pizza making it a bulk order” Domino’s’ responsiblity.

WHY CAN’T THE CENTRE RESPONDENT HAVE THE COURTESY TO OFFER US HELP AND REDIRECT US TO THE RIGHT CENTRE? Where is your CRM in practice? If this is what it delivers – then it is of no practical use as far as I see. Revamp it. The point is basic courtesy is prevalent in normal life but curiously not in business. Are we customers from MARS?

PLEASE ACKNOWLEDGE THE RECEIPT OF THIS CONCERN ON MY E-MAIL ADDRESS. Otherwise I would think that this feedback is just another web – form. AWAITING ANY RESPONSE.

As you can see I am miffed but two learnings from this episode.

  1. Domino’s has a location segmentation that thinks Jogeshwari is closer to Apna Bazaar in Andheri(W) than their Lokhandwala centre.
  2. Forget CRM, I think the phone respondent could be taught to at least handle customers as humans. We are lost looking for a number from where we can order our pizzas.
  3. Why can’t Domino’s change their website so that the consumer can point out the nearest location on a map (that derives out of their location segmentation software, if any) and spews out a number that will get his order.
  4. If you are setting up centres that deliver only bulk orders, then isn’t it the priority to first apprise the customer of the same.
  5. Best CRM still is extending basic courtesy from day to day life to business as well.

End of rant and Amen!!


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Boiling Frog theory states that:

If a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will never jump out. Thus, a frog can be boiled alive if water is heated slowly.

It is a speculation that social media will gradually replace traditional media. Yet lot of brands are not using social media.

Are they not noticing the trend? My interpretation using the boiling frog theory, is that brands which shy away from social media, would be burnt alive as the entire marketplace and trends are changing slowly.