Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Marketing for the Present

Happy families are all alike, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
—Leo Tolstoy in Anna Karenina

A slowing economy hurts everyone, but the extent varies. Each company is unhappy in its own way. The world is no longer the big flat smiley dreamt of by Tom Friedman, but fast reverting to the lumpy, grumpy, pock-marked soccer ball that it used to be. Though the technology exists to create a flat world, we still aren’t there in terms of the governance, economic and geopolitical systems.

There are various factors that determine the impact of the current economic crunch on a firm. First, how dependent is the firm (or its customers) on credit? Any credit-oriented industry such as construction or automobiles will be more affected than others. Second, how much of the firm’s revenue is derived from countries with high exports? Export-oriented countries such as South Korea and Taiwan are likely to be more affected than India, where exports are just 25% of gross domestic product. Third, which industry is the firm in? According to research by McKinsey, in previous recessions, consumer staples have been among the least affected; consumer discretionary spending on goods such as clothes, home furnishings is the most affected; information technology is usually first-in, manufacturing is often last-out; while energy, utilities, and health care remain relatively unaffected. Contd...
Continue reading this article at Livemint.com to find out how a marketer could respond to the current economic downturn.
PS: Does anyone know if it is ok to publish one's published articles on a blog? From a copyright perspective? Leave me a comment if you do, thanks!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Now that we're connected, buy from me.

“Hi , I want to sell you stuff , tell you how good I am and get connected to people who I don't really know”. This was posted as a joke by one of the members on one my LinkedIn groups. Don’t laugh. It really is what a lot of people on social network sites want to do.


And that probably explains why many people don’t benefit much from trawling these sites. I was reading up on the art of persuasion. I’d always thought that people bought from people they liked, but this research gave me another perspective – you have to like your potential clients. Intuitively, makes sense. We usually like people who like us!

I went through a McKinsey piece “When jobseekers invade Facebook” and another obvious truth leapt out at me – you should enter a social network as a giver, not a taker.


Sounds so much like what mama taught you – when you’re going to someone’s house as a guest, take a long a gift for the hosts. And in India, there’s a whole industry running on “return gifts” at kids birthday parties. So, all we have to do is figure out the online application of these ancient rules of etiquette.

Here are my suggestions – feel free to add yours:

1. Try to build a network of people you like.
2. It is hard for people to maintain a relationship with more than 150 people, so tier your network. You could consider keeping your acquaintances on LinkedIn and promote your friends to Facebook
3. The best time to build your network is when you don’t want anything ie when you’re happily employed or your business is in a steady state. This is also when you will have time to invest in your online presence.
4. Be a giver to your network. Help others find jobs, connect them to useful people, post interesting articles. Remember, do unto others as you would have done unto you.
5. If you feel things are out of control build a walled garden for yourself. Invite only those you really want to have a relationship with into your new secret garden. Facebook allows you to control settings for access, and LinkedIn allows you to form your own group.
6. Don’t assume that online relationships will thrive purely online. There is only so much that a status message can communicate! Phone or meet the ones you like.
7. Use multiple communication channels – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blog, website, YouTube so that you have a range of formats. This will also protect you if one of these falls by the wayside.
8. Stay interesting professionally – read up, conduct polls, go for industry events. Your network needs you!
9. Don’t go online – opt out! Use that time to invest in cultivating the few people you really want to know. I love doing business with a furniture store where the owner remembers my birthday without recourse to a birthday book or reminder tool. It’s a successful business but she still finds time to offer a cup of tea to every regular customer when they visit.
10. If despite point #9, you still want to go online, plan on investing half-an-hour a day to make it successful.