The end of consumer ignorance – Marketing Predictions for 2010

When not all is well, people turn to astrology. Not ClickDocuments. They decided to use  crowd-sourcing and approached a lively bunch of people for their predictions. Result: the ClickPredictions eBook that you can download free.

My Mantra – “Marketers should first realize that the perception (of their customers) is the only reality.”

Some tips for 2010:
Marketers should –

  1. Unlearn marketing as a ‘function’, learn that it’s a conversation and listen to what the customer communities are saying;
  2. Learn to communicate honestly without smoke and mirrors and forget about advertising (it is dead anyway) and media releases (too little value for what you pay);
  3. Ensure that their customers are educated on the ‘product’ they evangelise and stop exploiting their ignorance; (In today’s times you can’t run too far before word gets out to the whole market);
Do you see me in this picture?

From the blog post of the launch on 20th Jan:- Continue reading “The end of consumer ignorance – Marketing Predictions for 2010”

Raju, How could you?

Satyamev Jayate  (Sanskrit: “Truth Alone Triumphs”) is purportedly the foundation stone of India’s value systems. The Indian newspapers have been indulging in wordplay about how Satyam means not ‘truth’ but lies. Like every other scam, this too shall die out of public memory and that’s no surprise. What is surprising is that while we keep touting the need for innovation, we’ll do exactly the opposite in Satyam’s case and in every such future occurence.

First let’s look at some ‘facts’.

1. We are expected to believe (media plays Government spokesperson here) that one man is responsible for the Satyam scam and that he kept at it for 7 years without being found out. Yeah! We believe you!

2. The Indian business environment (read regulatory frameworks) encourages entrepreneurship and officials are above board. Corruption is the fault of the citizen and not the government. Yeah! We’re wet behind our ears. 

3. The 53,000 employees of one of India’s IT powerhouses does not have even 3 employees that can be elevated to the Board and we need the Government to appoint some ‘untainted’ officers. Yeah! See what happened to Colin Powell?

4. If the Indian Government does not follow the leader (read US Government) by bailing out the company, employees will be on the streets. Yeah! Sure, the company was paying its salaries on receipt of monthly payments from their customers.

5. Statutory auditors are supposed to sign on Company results based on the Chairman’s statement and are not meant to independently verify the accounts. Yeah! Capitalistic businesses will protect the interests of the guys who pays most and therefore they would defintely find private players more attractive to side with.

The truth could be that there are several ‘powerful’ vested interests locked into the company. How many hand-in-glovers are involved in the scam is something I think will unfurl in the weeks/months ahead.

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Read about Saul Kaplan’s ‘passion economy’

Read the post here Creating a Passion Economy

My comment
Where Saul says ..

“I push the idea even further to suggest that the biggest value creating ideas will be found in the gray areas between sectors, silos, and disciplines.”

I call these areas ‘the sand in the cookie jar’!

As a matter of fact, my company, Ideafarms’s elevator pitch is exactly this … and guess what, we have real proof that these are the areas where huge value is created. I always thought it was because people don’t have the time to focus on these – they’re so drowned in their own ‘content’ (pun unintended)- now I believe it takes a different kind of ‘seeing’.

This is the most powerful reality that everybody seems to be missing. Perhaps because it isn’t so convenient to be a ‘generalist’.

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Innovation 101: Going forward into the past

One of the most striking examples I’ve seen of retrofuturist design is the present version Volkswagen Beetle. It simply ‘brings the emotional ‘iconic user connect’ back into our evolving cultural and aesthetic sensiblities using current state of technology’. 

Many argue that the comeback version of the VW Beetle is ‘quasi plagiarism and that it insults the intelligence of the consumer’ or that it is merely a fad. And that one should not dilute the idea of ‘serious innovation’ by resorting to gimmicks like these.

1961 Beetle (approx) in Seattle with sunroof i...
Image via Wikipedia

There’s no argument. But I couldn’t agree less with such a contention. Continue reading “Innovation 101: Going forward into the past”

Innovation within globalisation

An ASDA Mercedes-Benz Sprinter delivery van.

Last week I was looking out of my hotel room into a dreary Hannover morning and observed a guy delivering some cartons. The event was so commonplace that only someone with all the time in the world would have noticed anything out of the ordinary. I was that someone.

So this guy pulls up in front of the hotel, gets one wheel on the pavement and parks this van. He gets out of the driver’s cabin, goes around to the back of the vehicle and presses a button and half the back slowly opens, coming to a horizontal position to become an extended platform. The guy climbs on and disappears into the back of the van. A few seconds later I can see a pallet stacked with the delivery merchandise come out onto the ‘platform’ and the guys manoeuvres it to sit at a funny angle on the far side. He ducks back in and wheels out a manual forklift which he fits under the pallet, pumps the handle to pick up the consignment and then presses another button that brings the platform slowly down to road level. He pulls the forklift and proceeds to deliver the cartons, comes back and quickly reloads the forklift back on to the van, shuts the back and drives away to the next drop off. All this is accomplished in about 5 minutes – less than the time it took for me to write this post.

I am wondering why we don’t see this efficiency in India. Then it clicks. I have just been able to save myself from falling into the trap of wanting to ‘lift’ something from Germany and plant it in India. My mind whirrs at a pace I’m not used to.

I’m thinking …

1. It must cost a bomb to get to the level of engineering I had just witnessed. Would it make as much sense to invest into automation in a land of people abundance? Where’s the trade-off between automating and employing human beings from a purely commercial perspective.

2. To be able to fully leverage automation we might have to modify all the existing ‘interfaces’. for example, the pavement would have to be a certain height so the van could climb easily to park. We would have to ensure that all pavements are clear of unwanted, illegal junk. All buildings might need to have access ramps that would also facilitate access for wheelchairs, etc.

3. The business case for automation might have to account for the availability and cost of human labour. If we were able to find a go-between in terms of providing higher levels of safety to workers and reduce the strain of carrying and conveying, would we have a different automate/don’t automate paradigm for countries like India.

Globalisation needs us to think in ways that can leverage technology and human resources – in local contexts. One size will not fit all any longer.

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