"And in the next shot, as the car races past, your logo comes flying down from the right corner and then a tight close up…” The voice drones on.
You are busy checking the latest photo on Instagram. And then, you look around:
You find, barring the agency team, everyone is darting glances into his or her mobile, either checking Messenger or WhatsApp.
You decide to be polite and concentrate on the presentation, and then a thought comes: “Tell me, how will we see this film on my mobile? Actually, how will my customers see it on their mobile?”
“That is the responsibility of the digital agency,” says one voice. “Actually that is Brand PR and being handled by our PR agency,” says another. “That’s not true!” says the third.
Suddenly the meeting has come alive; the sounds have become high pitched, and you can see each one is either throwing the responsibility ball at another or trying to snatch it from another.
You ask yourself “I wanted an engaged meeting and this is what I get? Is this really marketing?”
Welcome to the world of new age Marketing.
Where the lines between content, companies, and customers are getting blurred.
The traditional models of interruption have broken down, but like dinosaurs, some are still roaming around, waiting for their demise.
When I wanted to join brand management (after spending 2 years in sales) I was told that it takes a different perspective to make it to Marketing team. One need not be best sales guy but he/she must have a point of view and unique perspective to issues with a zeal to find solutions. I was told everything must start with Consumer & how one can..
a. Make life better by solving his latent (explicit or implicit) need
b. Help him save money & effort
c. Give him a better experience than he currently has
And all this must be done profitably.
All the other things must follow these fundamental tests. I never forgot that conversation and reminded Suresh (Marketing director) couple of years down the line. Finally I made it to marketing team after spending mandatory 4 years in sales. First lesson as expected was to look and learn
a. Product value chain
b. Consumer value chain
Most important advice: “Never give something i.e. feature, benefit that you can’t take back if you don’t get the price..”
You see, for us everything started with a consumer need and then products were developed thus we the marketing team, will write a consumer value proposition and send it to creative agency to come up with ideas… Ideas to find communication solution to a value proposition.. Sometimes humorous.. Sometimes warm, cuddly (depending on the brand personality).
An internet-age Shakespeare might say that all successful internet businesses are alike; every unsuccessful internet business is unsuccessful in its own way. Unsurprisingly, internet businesses, whether they sell products, services or advertisements succeed based on the same factors that traditional brick and mortar businesses do.
- Is your product solving a unique issue? (Product Market Fit)
- Do you know who your target market is? (Product Market Fit)
- Are you able to reach them effectively? (Customer Acquisition)
We would look at 4-5 most important things for brand to determine whether the product proposition or communication (Marketing campaign) is successful..
a. Cash flow
b. Contribution margin
c. Gross margin
d. Are your users returning regularly to your business/product/service?
e. Weighted distribution/Countershare
What has also changed?
Change #1 : Rise of Marketer as personal brand
Many a thing seems to be happening at a very fast pace. I see many marketers give their opinion about brand campaigns communicating their thoughts largely around..
a. Target consumer
b. Media consumption habits
I hear my counterparts brand marketers (communication experts) talk about Brand positioning, reach, Pay Per Click & conversion mostly. Yes sales numbers are discussed in terms of sales growth % post campaign.
Also there is good deal of personal exposure that is happening (by design or default) for marketers other than FMCG/Consumer electronics/FMCD or durables. Incidentally all these categories I mentioned, marketing manager hold P&L as well. Media exposure is more true for Finance, Banking services, Insurance & Pharma.
I don’t see anything wrong with media exposure Marketers get. Infact it’s a good thing that media also likes to put a face to the excellent work some of my fellow marketers are doing.
We too were taught to deal with media right from brand manager days but mostly it was about industry, Consumers, Product and business results that we were seeking or getting.
We spent so much time of Product, Pricing, P&L management & analysing sales and distribution. I used to call myself a, “Excel-ent manager”. Most of my past 5 years have been spent (within companies or college campuses) arguing against using EBIDTA as measure of health & value of company.
How do you figure out what is the right value for a business? Let me put my views..
It depends on the price you pay and the discounted value of the cash that can be taken out of the business during the remaining life. How much cash can you take out? When can you take out? This depends on the amount of free cash flow that is generated by the business or how much cash can you take out ( and when) without hurting the business' present position against competition.. Mark the key sentence.
Now look at EBIDTA (favourite of investment bankers/CFO/Analyst) routinely includes
a. Reported earnings
b. plus depreciation,depletion, amortisation & other non cash charges
but does not subtract the average amount of capitalised expenditures for plant and equipment. These imply that the business being offered is the commercial counterpart of "..the pyramids.." (as warren buffet calls), never to be replaced, improved or refurbished, always remaining state of art. Also some cash is always needed for reinvestment in capital expenditure for plant and machinery along with working capital to merely enable a business to stay in business.
Tom-Toming EBIDTA is a pernicious practice. Doing so implies that depreciation is not truly an expense (being non-cash). Thats pure nonsense. In truth depreciation is particularly unattractive expense because the cash outlay it points to is paid up upfront even before the acquired asset has delivered any benefit to busness
There a business (stock) derives it's value from it's dividend, not it's earnings. To put is simply, business is worth only what you can get out of it .. if it's a permanent investment. EBIDTA is not the right way to measure valuation or health of business.
I get it, It’s not as glamorous as talking about campaigns and consumer lifestyle but it ensures salaries of the empoyees.
Change #2 Less trust, less attention
We live in a world where trust for brands has reduced. Gone are the days when brands had “badge power” and were defined by the trust they had over commodity producers.
Today, the consumer’s trust has to be earned, and it is a hard to get it. Add to this, the proliferation of channels means that the ability and quantum of attention that the consumer can give have reduced drastically.
Marketers are battling the twin deficits of trust and attention and thus the necessity to create a personal brand (instills hope), a face/Persona, backed by some amount of good work.
Change #3 More digital, less offline
An increasing number of people are on digital medium. Facebook, Instagram are like countries with their own borders and rules. As per the KPCB mobile technology trends report, Average US consumer is spending 39 hours in a week on digital, out which 51% is mobile.89% of users access Facebook on their mobile devices and check Facebook 14 times a day.
More importantly, search and social has redefined the way we consume. Consumers search online for products and check reviews before they purchase. Not only has Social proof become important but getting it has become easier. One bad customer review on Amazon can impair a product’s sales.
The news is now consumed on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Companies are screening possible recruits on social media. Digital has managed to break the personal and professional barriers.
Marketers are struggling with the new reality. While they know the importance of digital, they often say “Nobody knows how to monetize the digital world!” Well, the online learning industry is USD 165 Billion.
The reason why it's hard to monetize the digital world is that the old rules of offline don’t apply to digital.
Consumers today have more choices.
Change #4 Every business is a media house
The content generation wave is rising and rising fast. Businesses are embracing Inbound marketing, and the foundation of inbound marketing is Content. Content which is relevant to the audience and talks to their interests and needs; not advertising.
Every Consumer is also a hero of is own story. He is the cynosure of group’s life and why forget Marketer is a Consumer too … product of same social milieu .. also gets targeted by brands he buys.
As friend Kalyan once said, Consumers now seek proof of brand promise and no longer satisfied by what product delivers.
Then there is me arguing every morning that we must do a “value addition or edition” to the products we offer, make consumer increasingly choose us over other brands repeatedly, constantly focus on share of wallet, premiumise the brand.. up the brand index. Need is personal and so is satiation.
Brand is nothing much if it doesn’t allow a premium and help me beat inflation in pricing year after year."
Flexibility and discretion are hallmark; Market focus and integration with partners is next. Strongly rooted to innovating, we understand risk appetites and risk takers. We aim at helping start-ups launch their novel ideas before it even pops up in another’s mind.
We prioritize deep work and focus in the sense that founders should solely work on the product and we take care of the rest. From new ideas, to GTM strategies, to market growth and company success.
Solve: Find problems to solve
Represent: Voice of industry experience
Advise: Strategic direction, keeping the organization focused and basic ‘Go-No go’s’.
Clarify: We are here whenever doubts creep in.
Implement: Help implement some part of advice/consult wherever organization lacks labour force.
Co-founder’s passion and ready to transfer knowledge through training and involvement. System focused & growth oriented.