‘AUTHOR’ised Marketing

Gone are the days when people had to visit nearest bookstore or news-stand or an exhibition in search for newly launched books to satiate their quest for a book that would match their interest. It has been forecasted that e-book market in US alone is to reach $5.2 billion by 2016. This is reflected from the fact Amazon.com announced in May, 2011 that its e-book sales now exceed all of its printed book sales. No wonder, authors from all round the world are now turning to social media for marketing and launching their books.

bookGuy Kawasaki did so with his book “Enchantment” which helped him to grow his existing fan base on his Facebook page where he provided the first few chapters free to readers. New authors such as Amish Tripathi (author of best seller “The Immortals of Meluha” & “The Secret of Nagas”) used similar strategy to provide an online flavor of his book and generate interest among people. He continued with aggressive marketing for his book and with the help of his musician friend launched a live-action trailor film on YouTube and built a community around it to tap in the readers’ response. The video captured the consumer senses and took them through a roller-coaster ride helping them to visualize the subject of the book. The book became No. 1 best-seller within 2 weeks of its launch. Seth Godin, a leading blogger, did so by creating an on online community, triiibes.com, on the lines of his book “The Tribe” which passed the correct message of what the book is all about.

These innovative ways of promotion by authors have certainly saved millions of dollars that were spent previously to create an effective brand.


June 19, 2013 at 10:33 am Leave a comment


Marketing budgets are always based on regression analysis. So each year’s budget is determined by the marketing activities of the previous years and their effectiveness. This is not only an outdated system but also is dangerous for the brand.

Recently Forrester research came up with a report to look at marketing firms that used methods other than regression analysis to determine marketing budgets and investments. Most firms were specialized marketing consulting and analytics firms and almost all of them had developed techniques to use predictive analytics for marketing budget allocation.

So let me give you an example of how this works. In India, this year a lot of hype was created by the Formula 1 race held at the Buddh International circuit in Greater Noida. As last year this event was never held, regression analysis would not have factored this event as a possible marketing opportunity and hence the budget could not have been allocated for this. So most marketing managers using regression techniques would have lost a good opportunity to showcase their brands.

Also in the era of social media and the internet, things are more dynamic. Let’s look at the 50 odd brands that tied up with the Eros/Red Chili’s production Ra One. Now most marketing managers would have taken into account the release of Rajni starrer Robot and the possible impact that movie had on their brands. If they had used a forward looking model like Predictive analytics instead, they might have been able to factor uncertainties and would have gotten a better deal out of the association. Now we have 50 brands associated with a dud. Not sure how many of those brand managers are getting promoted this year.

Finally the time for predicting the future by looking at the past has come and gone, now it is time to look at the future while allocating marketing investments.

Dr Vikram Venkateswaran is a marketing professional with more than 10 years of experience in Healthcare, Life Sciences and Information technology industries. He blogs at http://www.doctersoccer.blogspot.com. He can also be followed on Twitter @drvikram. The views expressed here are his personal views and not of his organization.

November 17, 2011 at 3:46 pm 6 comments


You suck !!

You need to make it cooler !!

Your service is the worst I have seen !!

Negative but authentic consumer reviews are way more effective than positive made up reviews. The sooner that companies realize this, the better it is for them for they should not fear the consumer to review their products or services but act on their feedback.

With social media playing a critical role in online product/service reviews, it is easy for a customer to distinguish and authenticate genuine reviews from fake ones. A negative product review on a website lends more credibility on the feedback mechanism than just having positive ones.

In my line of business i.e. telecom value added services (VAS),  there ought to be customer grievances and feedback on social media that inculcates learning from mistakes and rectification rather than having all good reviews from their own employees. A negative review that gets corrected gets more buzz than a positive one leading to more brand awareness.

The biggest mistake a brand can make is thinking they could control social media just like they could control an ad campaign; fact of the matter is that you just simply cannot take any of your ad campaigns and migrate it to a social media platform. Social media can’t be a simple problem solver. Like you can’t segregate the rotten tomatoes from the good ones at a Tomatino fest, brands cannot erase the feedback they receive on social media however online criticism and fear should definitely not hold them back.

September 21, 2011 at 9:03 pm 2 comments


What does it take to send across a powerful message to the consumer?

  • Sentiments
  • Desires
  • Message Placement
  • Aspirations
  • Guilt
  • Belonging

How about a cocktail of all the above mentioned elements?

Marketing efforts have to leave a positive impression on the consumer’s mind on the very first contact. It’s no surprise that the fate of most products or services are written on the very day, they are launched.

I wish to share one of the striking examples with our readers. Each day I use the Metro to commute to office. On my way, I pass by an alley with numerous automobile showrooms with cars from all passenger segments including basic to super luxury. As I pass by one showroom after another, the usual messages shout out at me to get my attention. These would include ’15 Kmpl’, ‘Easy instalments available’, ‘Drive in comfort’, ‘Pocket Friendly’ and so on. However, at the end of the alley, I see something different (See picture below).

With powerful messaging like the one above, a couple of striking features can be observed:

(1) Sentiments: Imagine yourself in the shoes of the person who is travelling the Metro train. He is cramped among a bunch of co-passengers and in a way jostling for space. What’s the only thing in the traveller’s mind? ‘I wish I could ride back home in comfort’

(2) Belonging: The moment a brand places itself alongside such a strong statement, it instantly associates itself with a particular value. The first thing that would rub into the consumer’s mind is that – ‘This product is going to take me into the elite few who can own it. I belong to the group of people who are envied upon by the rest of the world. I have arrived.’

(3) Placement: This message is being read by almost a million commuters who take the metro to work daily. Just by its sheer location – the impact of the advertisement gives an instant connection that turns it into a lead generating engine.

The new age marketer needs to put some thought into; not only how the product or service will be positioned but also where will it be placed and what emotion should it invoke. So ask yourself, ‘How am I going to plant a powerful message?’

June 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm 1 comment


What is common between the Superbowl and Doritos Chips?

What is common between the ICC Cricket World Cup and Pepsi?

Both answers are the same : Nothing.

On the contrary, eating Doritos and drinking Cola paints a picture more of an unhealthy eater than a lean sportsperson. So why is it that the consumer is bombarded with such irrelevant commercials during such events. Its is because these companies want to capture your balls. Eyeballs to be precise.

With such a large eyeball population available, marketers try to twist and turn their messaging to suit the event and what it stands for. They want you to eat and drink unhealthy while you watch physically fit athletes battle it out. This is feeding on the weakness of the consumer to give into their cravings.

On the other hand, there are events where the sponsors are inline with the core messaging of the event. Oktoberfest is a good example where you would have sponsors which add to the Bavarian experience by providing complementing products like beer to celebrate the worlds largest beer festival.

Another example is NASCAR, where Gatorade is among the few sponsors who have got their alignment right. After all that sweaty racing where temperature hit the roof inside the car, a refreshing Gatorade is exactly what the driver needs and so does the consumer.

The right product placement brings in a certain credibility to the brand and builds a strong relationship between the fan and the brand. It is important to understand that today the consumer has the power to turn off his brain whenever he sees irrelevant branding messages. It is recommended that marketers try capturing their fans hearts rather than their eyeballs.

March 1, 2011 at 12:00 am 2 comments


As I watch the entire Tahrir square celebrate the end of the Mubharak regime, I wonder how difficult it must have been to get all these people out in the streets fighting for the same cause. In the past, during the Indian freedom movement, messages would be sent months in advance via messengers who would travel to various parts of the country and try to garner support.

Unfortunately the Indian freedom fighters did not have YouTube, Facebook or Twitter to help them fight their oppressive rulers. In Egypt, the spark that set the nation on fire seems to have come from a YouTube video by a girl called Asma Mahfouz whose 5 minute video helped set into motion a revolution that led to Egypt’s freedom from three decades of Mubharak’s oppressive rule. This video was in support of the We Are All Khaled Saeed group on Facebook which was formed by a Googler who wanted to bring to light the murder of an Egyptian youth Khaled Saeed at the hands of the Egyptian police. In a matter of days, tens of thousands of like minded protestors filled the central square to voice their discontent against a corrupt and oppressive government while the rest of the world followed each moment of this revolution through real-time updates on Twitter. Maybe, this social media campaign was not as significant as the cause itself, however I am sure that given the cause, this may be the most powerful tool to mobilize supporters.

With the rising popularity of the social media platform and its availability on various internet enabled devices, growing and mobilizing your tribe is so much easier. All you need is a cause worth tweeting for !!

February 14, 2011 at 2:29 pm Leave a comment


Marketing a country is far more difficult than any product or service. This is because there are many political, social and economical factors which shapes the image of a country. Countries get rare opportunities to market themselves on the world stage. China is one of the few nations which was successful in taking advantage of the opportunity while India lost the same.

The Beijing Olympics in 2008 showcased that China which was an emerging economic super power, could also mesmerize the world by hosting the best Olympics ever- measured by any yardstick. This was one of the major steps in rebranding itself as a major player in the world. Drawing parallels with any other marketing campaign which includes multiple events, it carefully planned its rebranding exercise. Events like Shangai World Expo in early 2010 and the Asian games in November have reinforced the overall exercise. There are other smaller events like Air show 2010 where it launched its first ever commercial aircraft C919 as a rival to the duopoly of Airbus and Boeing. China is a great example to learn how a country/product/service can market or rebrand itself with proper planning and long-term view.

At the same time we can see how India lost the opportunity in showcasing itself to the world. The Common Wealth Games 2010 was the only major international event India hosted after Asian games way back in 1982. India’s growth was one of the best in the world for the past decade and a lot has changed since the Asian games in ’82, but why did it fail to rebrand itself as a country of not just ‘Techno coolies’ but a nation which can organize international events compared to any other developed country. Unfortunately everything went wrong from the stadiums getting delayed to the various corruption scandals that hijacked India’s bid to showcase itself on the world stage. In the end, the bad press left a lasting impression of India’s corruption problem rather than the successful hosting of the games

There are many lessons to be learnt from this set back.Firstly, marketing a country is not an overnight exercise; it takes careful long-term planning. China did not achieve this overnight, it planned and executed its branding strategy for the past two decades with utmost commitment. Secondly, public relations plays a very important part in putting across any message on a global scale.

I feel that countries should be run like large corporations when it comes to branding where there is a proper marketing division which manages the countries brand image on a global level. This would help showcase the good while reducing the damage of the bad.

January 25, 2011 at 9:11 pm 1 comment

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