Sunday, 13 July 2014

The real reason behind why we love selfies

Photo Courtesy : Wikipedia
I love looking through photographs people put up on their Facebook, partly out of curiosity about other people’s ‘Facebook moments’ and partly out of a genuine love for photography, particularly portraits. I have made two interesting observations while going through hundreds of random photographs.   

Firstly, as social platforms become more and more image dependent, everyone seems increasingly obsessed with their appearance. There seems to be some kind of an unwritten rule that every ‘Facebook moment’ deserves the best attire and attitude and no one seems to want to risk breaking this holy grail.

By simply making cameras more accessible and allowing the sharing of ‘life’s key moments’ with everyone who matters, technology has done what a plethora of beauty and fashion brands have been struggling with over a century – get the whole human race to put in a little more effort into their appearance.

The second observation is even more telling.  Everyone worth their little mobile phone cameras now know all about angles and lighting – something that previously was the exclusive domain of serious photographers and photography enthusiasts. Anyone today can tell you how to ‘lose your paunch or the double chin’ for the perfect click by just ensuring the angle and the lighting is right.

These two observations make me arrive at one conclusion. It is not good enough to provide tools basis necessity, but it is really about understanding human motivations and tapping into that. While there were always enough options to make one look better and camera existed to capture key moments of one’s life, perhaps what was missing was the instant gratification of mass appreciation of one’s appearance. Look what has happened since technology made that possible.

This behaviour of ours just reiterates an old wisdom from the world of branding - it is not good enough to understand what problem a particular product can solve, but it is essential to understand what is the real human motivation that will get consumers to reach out for the brand. 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Using Analytics Smartly To Measure Marketing Effectiveness

Photo Courtesy :
Ever since inception, marketing has always faced a strange challenge – of being seen as a cost center. While marketing activities are always prominently visible, its direct impact on the revenue is not - creating the 'cost centre' perception. However, irrespective of a sales team's efforts, sales results are always measurable which gets them all the credit for revenue.
Finally there is good news now! In the era of Big Data and Digital Marketing, there are numbers with higher degree of accuracy to prove a thing or two about marketing’s effectiveness and impact on the company’s bottom line.
There are a multiple analytical tools available today to cull out, organize and present marketing data. They all look and sound impressive. How do you choose which of these these to use and which ones to discard? After all we are a greedy lot. When we see data, we want it all!
For me, the biggest watch out would be analytics which are just ‘feel good’ data. These are data that support marketing spends but have no actionable point. They make for fabulous charts and graphs for presentations to impress the sponsors but do not provide any insights which will help to achieve business objectives.
Having been a hands-on marketer for over a decade and a half, I feel the best way to select what you should measure is to keep asking yourself how you are going to use the insight emanating from the data to reach your company’s vision and achieve your department’s objective. Cool charts and graphs will not help to achieve business objectives but impactful insights will.
To drive accountability of marketing spends, I would evaluate analytics basis three distinct parameters :
1. Effectiveness vs Efficiency Measure :
I don’t want analytics which tell me how well I am doing what I am doing. I want it to tell me if what I am investing on is effective or not. Without effectiveness measure, efficiency loses its meaning. If an activity is not going to help me achieve the results I am investing towards, what’s the point of doing the activity very well. For example, my social media efforts may be extremely successful in terms of numbers but is the result contributing to the marketing objective? If not, there really is no point in running the programme however successful.
2. Actionability of the data
Does the data have an actionable outcome? My biggest bug bear is ‘feel good’ data. It just takes up a lot of mindspace without any impactful insights. What good is it for me to know that how many people downloaded my free app, if I don’t know what’s stopping them from using it for transactions and what will motivate them to do so.
3. Quality vs Quantity
Analytical tools are programmed to slice data in multiple ways. But in this case, quantity is not useful. In fact its frightening. My job is not to conduct a data fest but to support business growth. Show me good quality data for carefully selected five parameters and I will love you for life. It is difficult for an organization to focus on data beyond five parameters. Give me depth. I don’t want width.
To use analytics smartly to measure marketing effectiveness, my advice would be to select data analysis aligned to your company’s key performance indicators. Don’t waste a minute measuring any data that does not help you drive the overall business objective. End of the day, the idea is to align to the business and drive results, not just pat each other on the back.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Mind Your Brand’s Language

I find it strange when I hear creative people being asked whether the definition of  creativity has changed in the era of social media. I wonder what does that question really mean. Creativity has always been about ideas. The thing that has changed is the vehicle. Power of an idea has always been about the length it travels and social media just offers a new vehicle for ideas to travel.
However there seems to be one change ever since social media started gaining prominence in marketing plans. The perpetual imbalance between verbal and visual identity is perhaps getting corrected. I say ‘perhaps’ because the difference is still rather glaring and only a few brands, mostly international, are making an effort to get their verbal identity in shape.
I must be off my rockers talking about growing importance of verbal identity in this Great Visual Era. I can almost visualize you asking "Isn’t it all about beautiful photography and impressively edited videos? Who reads or listens to marketing messages, especially on social media?" 
Trust me, people do.  People ‘hear’ us when we post a status update on social media, when we respond to a fan’s post, when we tweet about a promotional scheme. People do not want to hear marketing jargons here. They don’t even want to hear clich├ęs here. They want to ‘hear’ a warm happy human voice having a conversation with them. Why only in social media, they want to hear human voice at every touch point. Step out of your expensive Church shoes and step into the consumer’s chappals and now tell me, don’t you want to hear a reassuring avuncular voice when you are choosing which life insurance policy to buy? 
Brands spend millions to get the right ‘look’. But with growing importance of social media, it is becoming imperative to spend some valuable time developing a brand language or a distinct verbal identity. A consistent language spoken in a distinct tone of voice, devoid of any marketing gobbledygook will not only help to humanize and sharpen our brand’s personality, it will also resonate better with the social media savvy consumers who we want to build a relationship with.
I don’t have any doubt that the trend of verbal identity is going to catch on in a big way. Major international brand strategy firms such as Interbrand and Landor are already offering verbal identity strategy as a separate service. If you are looking at leaving that boring copy writer's job, perhaps this is what you should look at doing next.