Sunday, October 31, 2010

Media Wastage or Halo Effect!

Taking a brief is an integral part of a client servicing executive's life. I still remember, two questions that I always threw at a prospect or client were:

  1. Who is your customer?
  2. Who is your competitor?
Thinking about it, I don't think I will ask such fundamental questions, today. But that is not the point. If I was kiddish, I have got juvenile answers, too. The standard response in those days were:

  1. Everyone.
  2. No one.
Oh my, I would be so impressed with those inputs and scribble them down, mindlessly, on my note pad.

Couple of weeks back, Volkswagen (VW) created quite a buzz, in the real and virtual world, by publishing a talking ad for its to-be-launched Vento, in The Hindu and Times of India. One may find many faults. The sound was not clear, it didn't have a micro-site address...but the point is that certainly it met its objective. It managed to create Awareness, Interest and, if not much of, Desire

A few months back, I visited one of the PR agencies that handled VW account. During the discussions, I asked a young bright executive who was on the account whether Polo launch ad was a good. VW had done a newspaper with a hole ad, then. I went on to give the usual spiel that though Times of India was the largest publication, it certainly was not omnipresent and that the media in India is highly fragmented. I further suggested that VW could have considered conducting/sponsoring a major event which would have been inexpensive and managed coverage across all publications.

The young man told me that the Polo ad has created a lot of buzz. I, mentally, dismissed him, but now acknowledge it. And, this time, the Vento ad takes the print ads to another level.

In 2001, after a press meet, Srinivas, a journalist with Digital Age (a technology focused magazine from a splinter group of Express Publication) introduced me to a term which has since then become etched in my memory. He said that the future is for specialist publications. He went on to say that there was an enormous amount of media wastage. Just out of college and still in a soaking up mode, I loved the term. 

Little after that, Digital Age closed down. But I remain fascinated with the idea. Srinivas said that the general dailies were overrated. For a marketer they are such a waste. Logically, if someone wanted to buy a product or service, one would look into a specialist publication. After all, mainlines are, mass media. 

It does make sense at some level. There is no disputing that the prospective buyers of Vento and, certainly, Polo would be covered by Times of India and The Hindu. But are all the readers in the consideration set? 

Polo and Vento are different cars, targeted towards different audience. Their price points are different. Was there an option for VW? Would it make more sense to have advertised for Vento in a business magazine rather than a daily? I have wondered why car brands didn't (now, few do) advertise on Financial dailies? Wouldn't that have been a far more focused approach? 

But I guess these two ads are just launch strategy. The idea was to create a buzz with the topmost media to put in their creative. Exclusivity was the underlining factor. Create the Halo effect!

I am wondering to myself if the concept of media wastage is a waste. If segmentation can be used to be more impactful in communication considering that media options are quite diverse. Or is halo effect more important than wastage?

Marketer's Dilemma!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

4 Must Read Books In Technology

When I shifted from a generalist PR agency to Twenty Twenty MEDIA, a specialist IT PR firm, I was unsure what to expect. After all, PR is PR. Whether it is IT or Automobile, does it matter I thought. But realized IT DOES MATTER ! :)

The one thing that I loved and dreaded was the need to do book summary as part of the Friday training program. Since 2000, when I finished MBA, I haven't had picked up a book. But now, R Narayanan (Naru), instilled the practice of reading books. It was like going back to school.

In the next few years, I managed to read some really nice books on the technology industry. Here are my recommendations on books that one should certainly read, if in the dynamic tech industry. 

Crossing the Chasm: Though my second recommendation is the one that I read first, this Geoff Moore's brilliant book is what I would call a foundation course. The book makes you understand why some technologies fail whereas other cross the chasm into the main market. The book revolves around Technology Adoption Life-cycle and explains how a technology moves though various markets which comprises of un-reference-able set of customers. It also enlists strategies that technology companies can make use of.

Selling the Wheel: If any book other than Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code that came closer to being racy is this masterpiece. Surprisingly, it is a wonderful fusion of fiction and technology market, though it may not be that obvious, thanks to the novel-type narration. No, it is not a sci-fi. The story is about a couple who invent the WHEEL and are at a loss as to how to take it to the market! I would recommend that one should read this soon after they have savored Crossing the Chasm. This book helps understand changes in consumers' requirements at different stage of technology penetration, how companies need to respond to those challenges and what sort of a sales person is required at each of these stages. I have always hoped someone will adapt it to make a play or movie.
Tipping Point: I was quite amazed when I started re-reading this interesting book by Malcolm Gladwell. I was connecting with the book much more than I did the first time. It has a wonderful model to create a successful communications model. While the Law of Few helps identify carriers, Stickiness Factor helps define the messages and the Power of Context provides insight on factors that influence the success. The book is packed with interesting case studies which is typical of Gladwell. Interestingly, this book mentions Geoff Moore and Crossing the Chasm. Delighted!

Fast Second: How Smart Companies Bypass Radical Innovation to Enter and Dominate New Markets (J-B US non-Franchise Leadership)Fast Second: This book is meant for large organizations on how to deal with a potentially disruptive technology that can threaten their base. It addresses the question of whether large organization should create or colonize. For me the book is interesting for the model on different types innovation based on the change in consumers' behavior and its affects the established firm's competencies and complementary assets.

Now, I am sure there are many books that can help you cross the knowledge chasm, but these worked pretty good for me. Am sure, they would be helpful to you, too. If you have any technology book recommendations that make a great read, drop a comment.