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May 31, 2010

Public policy on Marketing (Part 4)

11. Spurious products: No company shall make or market spurious products. It will also not allow misuse of its company's name and brand by others to market spurious products. Even silently watching other's market spurious products should be considered a crime.

12. Fake products: No company shall make or market products that have names and sound like popular brand like "Suun Light" for "Sun Light", "Niki" for "Nike" or "Lacaste" for "Lacoste"

13. No fake surveys: It has been noticed that companies conduct fake marketing surveys. The modus operandi is serve a questionnaire and try to sell the product if the respondent shows positive attitude.

14. Transparency: There should be transparency in marketing products. There is a raging controversy about the ingredients of soft drinks in many countries. The way the marketers of these products are combating this issue leaves a lot to be desired.

15. Give total information: best way out of tricky problems is to offer total information about the issue and let the customer decide. Like the father of advertising has David Ogilvy has said "the customer is not a moron, she is your wife". Don’t under estimate the intelligence of the customer.

16. No fake discounts: It has been noticed that the companies enhance the price of the product and then give the increased price off as discount. This type of fake discounts should be discouraged.

17. No discrimination: No company shall discriminate among its customers. Usually discrimination is based on color, caste, creed, religion and on geography.

18. Benefit related products: All companies should try to sell or market only those products that give a genuine benefit to the customers. Often it has been seen that companies market products that offer no tangible benefit but encourage wasteful expenditure.

19. No forced sale: No company will sell a product by force. The days of hard sell are gone and now is the era of the soft sell or relationship selling. Make the customer a partner in your business and see your business grow.

20. Exact quantity: All companies will sell or market the product with the quantity that is specified on the package. There have been many instances where the companies have marketed products with 10% less quantity than what is mentioned on the package or made the package very big to make it appear as if the material inside is more. Such types of dubious activities should be stopped by the companies.

May 30, 2010

Public policy on Marketing (Part 3)

The second most important player in this process is the company that makes and markets these products. Let us examine its role and responsibilities. The company is the critical clog in the triad of Government – company and customer and it is the company that makes the product or the service that satisfies the need of the product.

1. Confusion: No company will deliberately or by accident create any confusion about the product its usage or about competitions or about competitor's products. For example saying "my product is 102% better than the competition" does create confusion.

2. Safety: It is the company's responsibility to market only those products that can be used safely. We have heard of products especially electronic that give the users shocks when they are used. Safety precautions or circuit breakers should be provided.

3. How to use safely: Expanding the above the company should provide a clear instruction manual clearly sating how the product should be safely be used. And if the product is technical training should be imparted to the user.

4. Stick to promises: The saying goes deliver to the promises made. It is said that good service leads to the satisfied customer telling one another about the good service and bad service leads to the dissatisfied customer telling 10 more about the bad service.

5. Never be too aggressive: It never pays to bad mouth the competition. The more the sales people talk bad about a competitor the more the customer will think positively about the competitor. It is the positive feeling about the competitor who is not present or defense of the underdog.

6. Differential pricing: No company will sell the same product to two different customers at different prices. No advantage of distances, low literacy or any other factor will be taken into consideration to push differential pricing.

7. Forced attachments: No company will force a customer to buy consumables (or material to run the product) when substitutes are available in the market. For example the printer company should not force the customer to use its own toner only.

8. Good after sales service: Good after sales service is no longer seen as something special. It is very much a part of the product offering and a company that offer mediocre service will be consigned to the dustbins of history.

9. Competitive products: No company shall physically damage competitive products to gain competitive advantage. There have been examples of blade companies who have rusted competitive blades and put these rusted competitive blades next to their own in the market.

10. Misleading advertisements: No claims should be made in the advertisements that can't be proved or validated. There is a need for self control and a watch dog in the company circles to discourage companies in indulging in these activities.

May 29, 2010

Public policy on Marketing (Part 2)

8. Regulation of sale of certain products: The government also a responsibility in regulation of sale certain products like kerosene, diesel, petrol, water and electricity. The role of the government was brought into sharp notice in the recent sharp increase of an essential commodity like sugar.

9. Price fixing (administered price): The government also has to controls the price of certain commodities like kerosene, diesel, petrol, water and electricity. The administered price is imperative; otherwise greedy retailers might hoard the products and try to black market these commodities.

10. Fair price: The government also has a role is seeing that there is a fair price that is charged for the products. It is all right to say that let the market dictate the price. But is the market mature enough to dictate the price?

11. Cartel formation: It has been noticed that a group of sellers come together and set an artificial price and don't let the price come down. This type of cartel formation is very dangerous and should be broken at any cost. Cartel formations are harmful to all concerned except the cartel itself.

12. MRP: It has been noticed that in many countries that the same product is sold to different people at different prices. This happens because there is no price tag on the product package. This leads to frequent over charging. The best way out is to have a MRP (maximum Retail Price). The printing of the MRP would see that the same price is charged by all sellers.

13. Adherence to standards: The government has the responsibility to see that all the companies are adhering to the set standards. The quality control division should conduct frequent checks to see that the standards are not being diluted. The most abused standard is the wrong weights that are used in weighing the merchandise.

14. Encourage recycling: One of the thrust area that the government needs to focus is recycling. Most products that we use are environment unfriendly like plastic. Government should seriously consider laws that encourage recycling.

15. Encourage local products: It is also noticed that globalization is resulting of lots of cheap products for the customer. But globalization is sweeping away the local products. This should be avoided at all costs. The best way is to encourage the producers of the local products and provide a LEVEL PLAYING GROUND.

16. Encourage competition: The best way to make the companies more competitive is to allow competition. Once the competition enters the companies will cut the flab and will offer better products at a more economic price.

17. Discourage wasteful products: It has also been noticed that there are lots of companies that encourage the customers to buy wasteful products. The government should watch these trends and should cut such practices in the bud stage itself. For example most of the products that are advertised in the "Sky shopping channels of various television channels" can be considered as wasteful.

18. Protect own markets: Globalization does not mean that we will allow every body with open arms. Every country has the right to protect its own markets, companies and customers from exploitation. The government needs to draw up a comprehensive policy to address this issue.

19. Encourage local products or services: The government needs to encourage companies that are labor intensive and that generate employment for large number of people.

20. Discourage blind aping: The government through the media should subtly say how we are better off using our own indigenous products rather than blindly trying to ape the customers of some other countries.

May 28, 2010

Public policy on Marketing (Part 1)

Whenever we talk about the public policy on marketing it is always assumed that the discussion is about the responsibility of the government in protecting the customer's interest. But why should there be any protection of interest in this globalized world? It is important for us to realize that there are other players in this crucial discussion; the companies that market these products and the customers who buy these products.

So let us look at the public policy from three angles,

The role and the responsibility of the government under which the companies and the customers operate.

The role and the responsibility of the company that makes and markets the products. The company works under the aegis of the government

And the role and the responsibility of the customers who buy these products and who are the citizens of the country.

It is worthwhile to remember here George Washington's words who said "before we ask for our rights it is better to remember our responsibilities". And "before we ask what the country did for us better to ask what we did for our country".

The government is the first and most important player in the management of sales management. Let us examine its roles, and responsibilities

1. Level playing ground: It is very important that the government provides a level playing ground for all the concerned. It has been noticed in the past that certain companies both local and foreign are given a preferential treatment. This treatment leads to unhealthy monopolies and other unhealthy marketing practices.

2. Equal treatment for all: It is imperative that the government deals with all the companies in the same fashion. The law of the land should be same for all and should not be different for different companies.

3. Public safety: The customer's safety is of paramount importance and every government should have laws that ensure the same. No company however big should be allowed to compromise this dictum.

4. Right to redressal: Irrespective of how well the marketing system works there will always be some grievances or complaints about the system. These complaints have to be handled and handled quickly if the marketing system has to mature. Setting of consumer courts and consumer forums will go a long way in addressing this crucial issue.

5. Spurious products: Many country's economies are suffering the bane of spurious products. Spurious products are products that look like the real products and try to confuse the customer. Spurious liquors, spurious food products and other such items have killed lots of innocent people. The government needs to watch these unscrupulous practices carefully and handle them with a firm hand.

6. Fake products: fake products are products that appear to be exactly like the original products. For example Soni for SONY, Adibas for ADIDAS, Panasonice for PANASONIC etc. The government should not think that the customer's are getting cheap substitutes, the companies that have invested money on developing of these products are getting harmed by these practices. The same is the case with the music industry which according to the news is getting killed because of cheap pirated version of licensed music.

7. Control of certain products: The government has a role in controlling the sale of certain products like drugs and medicines. There are many cases in which harmful and addictive drugs were given to customers without any valid prescription from a registered medical doctor.

May 27, 2010

Cheating – The ultimate way of fooling one-self (Part 4)

Finally looking at the positive side, there is a ray of hope emerging from the narrow and dark tunnel. The examples are

Hindustan Lever Limited: This premier company believes so much in ethics and in moral values that any person fudging even a petty travel bill or borrowing from the distributor is frowned upon. It is simply not done at all. The offender is simply sacked from service. He/she would never in his lifetime would serve HLL again.

Cheating when attending interviews: Many blue chip companies allow the students who have been selected for the final interview the freedom to travel by 2nd A/C to the corporate head quarters. Many students book the 2nd A/C tickets, take a photo copy and cancel the A/C ticket. Subsequently they would purchase a 2nd class sleeper ticket and travel. They would submit the 2nd A/C photo copy at the time of reimbursement. Their reward - a paltry sum of may be 1000 to 1500/- rupees.

Unknown to them a clerk of the concerned company would have visited the railway station and would have checked whether the candidate has travelled by 2nd class sleeper or 2nd A/C. The company would happily pay a cheating candidate his 2nd A/C claim. They would be relieved that they have got away with only 1000 or 1500/- rupees loss. The company would not touch such a person with a barge pole – especially a candidate who cheated at the very first instance. It is as if they are saying good riddance to bad rubbish.

Universities of USA: keeping the rampant increase in trying to cheat, the American universities have started allowing critical formulae to be carried into the examination hall. The emphasis is not on cramming one’s brain with formulae or rote memory but on application based learning. But if found cheating or copying the student have to forfeit the entire course.

Gamesmanship need not always mean sledging: The case of Steve Waugh in the 1996 cricket world cup is very illuminating. Hershelle Gibbs at the forward short leg drops Steve Waugh’s catch. Steve immediately reminds him “Son you have just dropped the world Cup “. Equally interesting is the case of Sadagopan Ramesh Vs Allan Mullalay of England. Ramesh is continuously playing and failing to connect the ball. Allan Mullalay goes up to Ramesh and politely enquires if he is looking for a career in fishing! Nice men also win.

The advertisement of Royal Challenge also touches the heart. Two friends are playing basketball. One of the friends has his son watching him play. His friend graciously allows the father to win the game. The look on the beaten man says it all. You need not win at all times. Some times you could lose and win too. What a beautiful sentiment.

Wrapping up let us end with a famous saying,

YOU CAN FOOL MANY PEOPLE MANY TIMES

YOU CAN FOOL SOME PEOPLE SOME TIMES

BUT YOU CAN’T FOOL ALL PEOPLE ALL THE TIME.

Lets us not forget the last line includes self that is ourselves. Let’s us not try to cheat ourselves. That would really be a crying shame.

May 26, 2010

Cheating – The ultimate way of fooling one-self (Part 3)

Cheating in Popular Media:
Bajaj Scooter: Father and son are interacting about the scooter purchase. Father had given Rs 25,000/- to the son who buys a Bajaj scooter and pockets Rs 4,000/-. He doesn’t admit the same until the father deliberately points out the difference. The type of influence this ad can have on the impressionable youth are too frightening even to fathom,

Cadbury Perk: The scene is of a hunger strike and many people are shown fasting. Loa and behold a perky teenager picks up her Cadbury’s perk and slyly eats it only to be followed by the rest of the pack. Mahatma Gandhi must be turning in his grave in anguish seeing the trivialization of his noble method of civil disobedience.

Deodorizer Ads: All the deodorizer ads inevitably show in the graphics that their products clean the person of the germs. But if seen between the scenes one can see very clearly that even “Life Buoy gold” also leaves the person with some germs as if to say that they would return and we have to use the same soap again and again.

Cheating in Sports: Cheating in sports has infact led to invention of new words like gamesmanship, Sledging etc. All would boil down to the same thing cheating. The Australians who sledge in cricket say it is normal and part of the game. But the abuse of Rahul Dravid by an infuriated Allan Donald leaves a very bad taste in the mouth.

The example of Romesh Kaluwitharana lingers in the memory. Kallu as he is called gets the ball trapped in the wicket keeper’s pads. He looks towards the fine leg as if to tell the batsman that the ball has gone past him. The batsman promptly takes of for a single and he is runout by Kallu. There are congratulations all around and no one thinks of the poor batsman who has been done in by cheating. The concerted appealing of all the fieldsmen to pressurize the umpire in giving a decision is also called gamesmanship.

All this leaves us with lots of bad taste in the mouth. What can be done to arrest this alarming trend? Some of the things we can do are

• Be honest to one self,

• Believe in the means as much as the ends,

• A name earned out of honesty is worth ten times the money or fame earned out of cheating,

• Believe in building long term relationship based on trust and genuine concern,

• It is nor glamorous to cheat, in many cases it shows the desperateness,

• People will finally associate themselves with honest people, would you like to have a honest person for a friend or a person who cheats?

May 25, 2010

Cheating an Ultimate way of fooling oneself (Part 2)

Students face severe pressure and their performance and results dictate their jobs and settlement in life. Thus it is not surprising that they indulge in various forms of cheating.  Some of the many of the examples of students cheating are

• Students taking additional sheets in the examinations for the single purpose of making the answer book bulky. It has been noticed that the students write only around 8 lines amounting to sometimes to 50 words in a page. Lots of blank space and sheets are also left unwritten.

• Now a days telerphonic interviews have become common place. Telephonic interviews are very popular  among the US employees. It has been noticed that many of the students indulge in subterfuge that is the student that is being interviewed is not the same as the student who applied for the job. In many cases it is the faculty member of the institute who takes the interview.

• Many of the applicants who apply for H1B apply with fake credentials. This has become such a rampant practice that students of some universities are viewed suspiciously by the embassy officials of many countries.

• There has been cases of students trying to tamper with the OMR (optical magnetic recorder) answer sheet that is used in many competitive examinations. There is a recorded instance of a student who darkened all the holes and got 100/100. If only had he got darkened 90/100 he would have succeeded in his attempt.

• Java was only introduced in the year 1995 . In 1996 a young Indian immigrant in USA had applied for a JAVA job and mentioned 5 years of JAVA experience. The HR head (incidentally another Indian) wryly commented “maybe he is referring to his JAVA (Motorcycle riding) experience!”

Computer institutes: The cases of computer institutes cheating are dime a dozen. The carrot of part time placements, final placement, live projects, spurious discounts, fake scholarships, and of the ultimate lure “Job in the US of A” are dangled to snare the students into the institute. Infact there were so many institutes in Ameerpet, Hyderabad, India that it was called United States of Ameerpet.

Cheating in Politics: The politicians have evolved cheating into a very fine tuned art. Booth capturing, rigging and impersonation have become common place occurrences. In this context it is interesting to note what a senior leader like Ajit Panja of Trinomol Congress has said about the Electronic Voting Machine.

Mr.Panja had remarked that when using the machine the voter should first press the first green button on the EVM. The sound of the beep means the machine in working condition and later the voter can press the button of his choice. What he had in his mind was very dubious in nature. It goes without saying that the first button of the EVM in that particular election had the TC symbol and the minute that green button is pressed the vote is cast. It is not known as to how many voters were taken in by this blatant attempt to deceive.

Smart Selling Commandments 9 and 10 (Final Part)

9. Smart Irani café selling or See for yourself selling : This particular commandment is very true for the cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. In the Irani cafes, which are the lifelines of the twin cities, one can notice the quaint way of making rotis outside the kitchen or in front of the customers. Sometimes even outside the café itself. Why only the rotis and not anything else like the biryani if the argument that the smell and the sight of the making of the rotis induces the customers to order more is logical and correct. The same practice in not seen in the Andhra hotels, Udipi hotels etc.

The answer is very simple. In the mid 70's there was a big rumor that the as the number of rotis consumed in Irani cafes were very high, these cafes were making rotis kneading the dough with the feet of the workers and not with hands as it is very difficult for anybody to kneed the dough with the hands. Once the rumour was out no amount of rallying around or explanations seemed to work. The damage was done. The customers were deserting the Irani cafes. So the concept of outside kneading and preparation of rotis in Irani cafes has come about. Like they say seeing is believing.

In the same Irani cafes of Hyderabad there is a custom of flexi-ordering. Unlike in any other eatery where you have to consume what you have ordered or pay for it even-though you haven't touched a morsel, in an Irani café you only pay for what you eat and what is not eaten is taken back. This is what is flexi-ordering. It works like a double edged weapon. If the customer does not feel like eating the entire dish it is taken back. If the customer is new to the Irani café he will eat the entire dish and will pay for it. This is what the managers would call a win-win situation.

10. Mobile Selling or if Ali doesn't go to the mountain, the mountain will go to the Ali – Selling: In the earlier days people would venture out and search for the items that they wish to procure. That generation had the time, inclination and the patience to do the above. The present jet setting generation wants literally fast food- ready and available the minute the desire arises. They can't wait for things. This change in behaviour is best exploited by mobile selling. Now a days a mind-boggling variety of things are sold on the move. Right from chats, backpack noodles and libraries only the bottom of the opportunity has been scratched. For the innovative thinker or the entrepreneur sky is literally the limit. Like in the U.S.A one of the biggest business opportunities is in offering services that the household can't take care off. One example that immediately comes to mind is that of designing and maintaining of gardens for the people for whom time is at a premium.

As a conclusion it can be said that there is no teacher like real life experiences. When one clubs experience with observation and develop a bent of mind that continuously keeps asking questions and analyses the answers, there is no reason why we cant be best salesmen in the world.

Afterall all of us are born salesmen starting from the illiterate Auto or scooter mechanic who will deftly dismantle at least 4-5 vehicles at the same time and will attend to the repairs in turns thus ensuring that no one leaves before the repairs are carried out to the 15-day-old baby grinning bashfully at its mother and selling her the idea that she should smile back at it.

Ethics and Professional Sales Management (Part 3)

The final facet of the ethics problem is what is referred to as role conflict. This is where the salesperson is caught between doing what is best for the employer versus what is best for the prospect or customer. A frequent scenario is a temporary price reduction due to an upcoming marketing promotion. In this case the customer is ready to make the purchase decision right now, yet could save 20 percent by waiting a couple of weeks. The trouble here is the promotion has not yet been announced to the public and if the sales person voluntarily tells everyone, then he or she will have no orders to turn in for several weeks.

Another dimension is the well known fact that many people in business think it is ok that is to "bend the rules" once in a while if it results in getting ahead. This attitude prevails not because it's permissible, but because few people are seldom caught and punished for these actions. After all, booking that last order of the year that puts you over quota by lying to the prospect about a pending price increase isn't going to get you fired.

So just how does someone go about deciding what is ethical? Several criteria can be applied to every questionable sales activity to determine this more clearly. The initial test is whether you would want someone to do the same thing to you. How would you feel not getting the whole story about a used car you are going to purchase for your spouse? What if the seller knows, but never states that the car was in a terrible front end collision and the alignment can never be fixed to where it doesn't affect the steering?

The next test is whether you would want others in the general public to know what you did. Would the things the customers say about you would all be nice and complimentary or would the details embarrass you? Consider if you had to tell your parents about each and every one of your sales. Would your mother or father be proud of you or ashamed that you are their offspring?

A final guideline is whether or not anyone can suffer any degree of damage by your choice of conduct.

Today it's very possible for any salesperson to rationalize away the justification for unethical conduct. This is especially true when things aren't going well in one’s sales career. That's when the temptation enters to bend the rules or do something wrong where the outcome is very beneficial. The reason salespeople are even faced with these opportunities to stray across the line is partly due to their loose supervision by others. Often, salespeople are remotely managed and their actions are not witnessed by company executives. Giving sales people this much implied trust requires that those hired must have a strong sense of ethical values.

In summary, ethics is at the foundation of the effort to elevate sales as a true profession in its own right. By reinforcing the concept that the size of the gray area between legal and ethical conduct is narrow, not large, progress will have been made in raising the standards expected of all salespeople.


The field of sales is undergoing dramatic change and evolution thanks to technology and other automation. Out of this picture a new breed of salesperson has emerged - the sales executive. This highly skilled and educated individual will have risen through the ranks of field selling by virtue of his or her commitment to a personal code of conduct. In the new order of selling, there will no longer be any room at the top for those whose conduct is anything else but absolutely ethical.

May 22, 2010

Ethics and Professional Sales Management (Part 2)

There are laws that restrict such things as price discrimination where unfair discounts are given to some buyers but not others. In the world of sales, it is a very common situation where a buyer will request "special" or preferential pricing as a condition to placing an order. Or, a buyer will insist on some form of long-term price guarantee that is not offered to others. In each of these cases, it is illegal to do so.

However, firms and their respective sales staff often grant these concessions in the effort to secure orders. While there are technical ways to circumvent getting into trouble on these points, the average salesperson typically does not have the knowledge or authority to do so. In the end, it is usually the company that bears the burden of the legal mess, as the salesperson is let off the hook because he or she is merely acting as an agent for the employer.

There are some activities that are deemed as "unfair competition." Most obvious to salespeople is the tendency when out selling to make statements about competitors, which are false, deceptive, or damaging. Other illegal actions include such things as giving kickbacks and bribes to buyers, either in the form of money or merchandise for personal use. The final significant areas of illegal activities are: misrepresenting the quality of the products being sold; deceptive advertising about pricing, free products, special "discounts"; and, misleading claims that are part of the inducement to purchase a product or service.

What about the ethics side? Well, the first thing to acknowledge is that the line between legal and ethical is increasingly blurred when the topic of sales arises. In fact, probably no other line of work has so many opportunities to do something which is classified as legal, but the action itself is unethical.

More often than not, unethical behavior occurs when it will directly benefit the salesperson - otherwise why would anyone subject themselves to such behavior in the first place? Take the sales person who entertains a buyer at lunch and encourages that person to have a couple of alcoholic drinks in order to get him or her relaxed. Then the sales person lays on some fancy closing techniques that literally catch the buyer off guard to the point they sign the order over lunch. Illegal - no, but unethical - very much so!

The primary reason salespeople do this is due to pressure, and that pressure comes from a variety of sources. The main source is sales managers who refuse to miss making their sales quotas for fear of losing their annual bonus or having their potential for promotion ruined. Sales people are literally ordered to make sales "at all costs" under these circumstances. There is no limit to how and when these pressures can hit a salesperson.

Ethics and Professional Sales Management (Part 1)

Almost a day doesn't go by where there isn't some news report of a firm or individual that has gotten caught for some "wrong doing" in the conduct of business activities. This range is very broad, such as failing to pay taxes, or deceptive advertising practices - just to name a few.

Within the vast sea of opportunity for any business or person to get in trouble lurks the sales function. Probably no other activity has so much chance to destroy a company or individual's career. The sales person is the first contact point and for the customer the sales person is the company and the wrong doings of the sales person will be viewed by default as the wrong doings of the company.

One important relationship between sales and ethics is the lack of preparation and planning needed in order to work as a salesperson. To begin with, few people grow up desiring to be in sales in the first place. Often, most young people fall into it because they can't get any other type of "real" job. Second, nothing is taught in classrooms about sales, either at the high school or college level.

For example a sales person who buys discounted products of his company and uses it for himself is legally not doing anything wrong but ethically definitely he is disgracing himself. Same is the case with air line staff that hog all the scratch cards for themselves and give only those scratch cards (which are slightly scratched so that the item is known) to the airline passengers are not doing anything wrong from their point of view. They can always claim that what item that they are scratched is not free but available at a subsided price and that they are paying the same price as the airline customers. But the point is the scratch cards are never meant for the airline staff. They are meant to act as a incentive for airline passengers to use the same airline again and again (This has happened to the author on Jetlite flight from Hyderabad to Mumbai)

An accepted definition of ethics is the science of moral duty or the science of ideal human character. Therefore, ethics are moral principles or practices. That's why they are referred as standards of professional conduct. When someone acts in an ethical fashion it means they are conforming to some standard of moral behavior.

Most people operate their daily lives under a personal code of ethics which dictates things that they will or will not do. For example, take a salesperson who desperately needs a certain order to make quota for the year and tells this to the prospect who wants to delay the order until after the first of the year. The fact here is that while it would be legal to share the information about how bad the representative needs the order, it would be viewed as unethical to do so.

Unethical advertising (Part 2)

Disturbing trends are being noticed in the television. Sample this advertisement. This is a advertisemen which shows  a husband’s love for his wife which is measured by the type of pressure cooker that he buys for his wife ( Jo biwi se sachh much karte paar, wo kaise kare Prestige ko inkaar). A mother’s love for her child is measured by her giving permission to let her child drink a number of glasses of a particular soft drink.

Even the jingles smack of unethical standards with

Hero Honda saying – Fill it, shut it, forget it

Colgate: Chota pack – Koola Dabowoh brush pe laga woh

Cadbury – Open pop, roll and chew

Ok soap – Sachh much kafi bada hai

Amul Macho – Ye andar ki bhaat hai

Even the narrative part of TV commercials is also suspect. Check out this TV spot from Godrej for its product – bright Besto.

The commercial depicts a scene in the court. It is a trail scene with one lady saying that her washing powder is costly and buying that powder is being clever (Surf). The other lady says her washing powder is cheap and best (Nirma). A (Godrej) model enters saying her washing powder is cheap at the same time very high in quality. Here comes the crunch the judge says – Faisla aap ke haath mee- the judgment is in your hand. This coming from the judge is surprising as the judge has to deliver a judgment and can’t pass it in to others.

So how do we put an end to unethical advertising?

Make honest claims and do not mislead the consumers. Do not indulge in sales promotion for example not make exaggerated claims regarding free offers and warranty. Claims must be specific about the period of guarantee and the kind of after service offered.

Do not offend generally accepted standards of public decency.

Safeguard against the excessive promotion of products which are regarded as hazardous to society or individuals. It is not clear whether this is prevent for instance the use of advertising to inculcate the habit for eg: advertiserments of smoking among the non smokers. Observe fairness in competition between different brands of the same product or a product and its substitutes.

Unethical advertising prevention is the responsibility of the companies, the advertising agencies and the media. The consumers can also fight this menace by forming consumer groups. The most successful consumer forum in the world was set up by Ralph Nadar named “Public Citizen”. Consumerism can be defined as an organized movement of citizens and government to enhance the rights of and power of buyer in relation to the buyers.

The companies and the agencies should realize that sly headlines, over dramatization, over play of sex, exaggeration and half truths give a bad name to the field of advertising. They should remember “Bad advertising is bad business”

May 20, 2010

Cheating an Ultimate way of fooling oneself (Part 1)


Swindler, Trickster,   Sharper,   Imposter,   Dodger, Charlatan, fraud, fake, phony, Mountebank, Imposture, artifice, trick, hoax, mislead, dupe, delude, gull, con, hoax, fool.

No this article is not about calling names or about boasting about the author’s knowledge about the vocabulary of the language. Nor is it a lesson in TOEFL. It is about a burning topic that touches us all. That is CHEATING.

According to the Random House Dictionary of English Language, The Unabridged edition…

Cheat:  Use of fraud to obtain an unfair advantage over others. It implies conducting matter fraudulently for profiting one self. E.g. cheat at cards.

Deceive: Deliberately misleading or deluding to produce misunderstanding or to prevent someone from knowing the truth. E.g. To deceive our parents.

Trick: is to deceive by a stratagem often of a petty, crafty, a dishonorable kind. E.g. To trick someone into signing a note.

One of the issues that need to be addressed and addressed fast is the eroding value system that was the binding thread of our society. A small attempt is being made to look at the issue of cheating from a different angle and try to find out how we can possibly try to avoid the potholes that come inevitably from practicing the so called fine art of cheating especially in the much abused and much misunderstood craft of marketing.

In this modern world, the winner takes all. Nothing succeeds like success. Success at all costs has become the in thing. Cheating indeed has become a fine art that is indulged in many areas. Let us first look at various examples of cheating. It is important that such an exercise is undertaken because the fields that indulge in this art of cheating are seen as glamorous and they in many cases shape our behavior, aspiration and outlook.

Goods Once Sold will not be taken back: Almost all the items that we purchase usually come with this tag attached. It is as if the seller is saying that once the sale is transacted the relationship has ended. In the era of high pressure selling it is very possible that the buyer is taken in by the hype and would regret the decision later by which time it is already too late. He/she can’t reverse the decision and is saddled with a product that he/she dislikes or even hates. Think of the negative word of mouth this disgruntled customer can generate. A disgruntled customer is like a misguided missile. We don’t know who will be hit till the missile hits the target.

Sales People approach: Many of the trained salesmen are trained to say only about the positive aspects of the product and keep silent about the negative aspects. E.g.; an electronic typewriter salesman explaining about the letter style and keeping silent about the bold lettering facility. The buyer buys thinking that bold facility exists only to realize at a later stage that such a facility does not exist. Caveat Emptor (buyer beware) exists on paper, but was the buyer aware?

Smart Selling Commandments 6 to 8 ( Part 3)

6. Smart Textiles pile of clothes or guilty - selling: This type of smart selling can be seen in any textile shop. In this case the salesman would repeatedly and continuously heap lots and lots of clothes before the hapless customer. In most cases even a hard core window shopper who had entered the shop to indulge in a bout of extended window shopping is now in a quandary and is confronted with a feeling of guilt. "I have made the poor guy show me so many clothes, if I don't buy anything, he will have nothing to show for his effort. Okay let me buy something". What the hapless customer doesn't understand or comprehend at that time is that the entire sequence of actions has been initiated by the salesman and in any case sale or no sale he will have to put all the stuff back into the racks. After all that is what his job demands him to do.

7. Smart Textiles cloth selection or winner takes it all selling: This type of smart selling is again practiced at the textile shops. It has been observed that many people find it very difficult to make a final choice when it comes to clothes. They get struck between colors and spend lot of time unable to decide which garment to buy. In such a situation this type of selling commandment is used. Here the shop employs pushers. These are men and women who are dressed like any other shoppers but are hand in glove with the shopkeeper. These pushers slide up next to "the hesitant and not able to take the decision shopper" and will show interest in the same clothes in which the hesitant shopper was interested in. The pushers would even subtly try to grab the clothes from hesitant shopper. Faced with such a situation the hesitant shopper would quickly make a decision and will walk off triumphant. The psychology used? Most of us are very possessive about things and the possessiveness will extend to things that we are almost decided on. The pusher is the catalyst that will push the sale through quickly.

8. Smart demonstration or Monkey sees monkey do Selling or wet cement concept of selling: This selling commandment is practiced by the street smart and street savvy roadside salesman. They follow the principle of “Monkey see, Monkey do". In other words most of us by nature are very inquisitive and will try to imitate others when faced with a new situation. This type of behavior is also called wet cement behavior. When faced with a sign which says "Wet cement, don't touch" most of us are tempted to touch the cement and check for ourselves whether the cement is really wet.

The street-smart salesman exploits this trait in our behavior. They have practiced the art of good demonstration. They are very agile and very adept in showing off very plain and quite mundane articles as state-of-the-art articles. One can recall the demos of orange juicers, rangoli drawing equipment and many other that look so appealing when the sales man is demonstrating, but when tried at home the articles don't perform in the same way or the way they are supposed to.

Marketing Principles

Network marketing: A method of distribution in which independent-agents serve as distributors of goods and services, and are encouraged to build and manage their own sales force by recruiting and training other independent agents. In this system the buyer becomes a seller. Commission is earned on the agent's own sales revenue, as well as on the sales revenue of the sales-force recruited by the agent and his or her recruits (called downline). Also called multilevel marketing (MLM), cellular marketing, chain marketing, pyramid marketing or by other such names. It is a method employed by large firms such Amway, Tupperware etc.

Party selling: Type of direct selling in which sellers operate from the homes of customers on a rotation basis. Generally customers are suspicious and hostile towards new people or sales men. The perception is that sales people are out to dupe or make a sale forcefully. This perception is counteracted by party selling. In party selling the seller is your friend and a confidant. She/he is well known to the customer. The process is described. Kitty parties or card parties are very popular method of socialization for the home makers. They follow a system called pot luck (where each participant gets one eatable item. This reduces the time and cost pressure on the host). The kitty party has a session of card playing followed by games like housie and others. Then the participants settle down for a nice lunch.

Right after the lunch when everyone is relaxed the party selling starts. This is the time when the natural guard or resistance of the participants is at its lowest and they tend to buy from a source that is reliable and dependable. The participating customers earn a commission on the sales revenue realized. Also called party plan.

Home shopping: Purchases made from the buyer's home, via mail, telephone, door-to-door sales, fax, computer, or interactive television. In-home shopping has become popular grown since the arrival of interactive television, infomercials, and cable network shopping channels. Product information is delivered to consumers at home via direct-mail promotions, catalogs, print advertisements, broadcast media, and outbound telephone. The primary motivator for in-home shopping is convenience however; entertainment and impulse are also motivators. Bored viewers lap up products on offer especially if they are offered at an apparent discount.

Subliminal advertising: flashes of words and images or text onto a screen faster than the conscious mind can read or decode them or, in printed advertisements, conceals such images and text by distorting them, surrounding them by meaningless squiggles and shapes, or placing them in unexpected locations. The marketers have become very clever. They know that consumers have become discerning and hate in the face advertising. So they use subterfuge and trick a consumer into subliminal advertising.

Blind Trail: a type of testing where two competing products are placed in front of the customers without their labels. The customer has to sample the products and tell which of the products is better. Blind trail is a way to cut through the hype of advertising. Marketers believe that in most cases customers are not buying products rather they are buying a dream or living a dream. They do not smoke a cigarette they are living a life style.

Pepsi has claimed that its product was better than Coke based on the blind tests made. Their argument was so convincing that even Coca-Cola bought the idea and introduced new Coke. New Coke was rejected by the customers who overwhelmingly choose the old classic taste over the new sweet taste.

But an interesting twist for the blind test was done by Revlon when they came to India. They did a test where young women were given two sets of lipsticks. One lipstick had “Made in India” on it and the other said “made in USA”. Two weeks later visiting researchers were told that “Made in USA” lipstick was better than “Made in India” lipstick. Unknown to the young women both the lipstick were made in India but one had the label of “Made in USA” put on it deliberately. This was done to find out if Made in USA label will make the young women feel that the product performs better than the one made in India. Talk of imagery playing tricks on our rational brain!

May 16, 2010

Stereo types in Indian Advertising - Part - 2



The matrimonial ads in the leading news papers are also a classic case in point, Red; wheatish, brown, white are some of the brides' complexions mentioned. This has lot to do about our fascination for the fair complexion as the yardstick for an ideal bride. The funniest part is that many foreign tourists who come to India are desperately seeking the tanned look and the Indians are equally desperate to look as fair as the foreigners.

The popular literature shows Jean clad women as of easy virtue and that just by wearing clothes they have become easy to get women. Just visualize the advertisement of trigger Jeans. The Girl very seductively says "Trigger my passion”.

South Indian men and women are also stereotyped. They are depicted as crude, dark and very unintelligent. Just recall the Ortem fan Advertisement. The South Indian says ORTAAMA, and the suave North Indian Punjabi Man says “Ortem” correcting the poor south Indian. The recent Fevi-quick also makes fun of the south Indian. It shows the south Indian successfully cheating at fishing (by baiting fish by using a stick coated with Fevi-quick) much to the annoyance and despair of the honest and hard working North Indian.

This could be the reason why the Male Chauvinistic North Indian cinema audiences have accepted the south Indian heroines (the damsel in distress) but not the south Indian heroes (the role of the knight in shining armor reserved for the virile and fair north Indian males). To ram this point home the makers of the popular TV mega serial Mahabharata depicted Krishna as being fair. But any reader of Indian mythology can easily point out the blunder, Krishna according to the books is NEELA MEGHA SHYAMA (blue in complexion)

Indians are crazy about anything Phoren.  R.K.Laxman nails it on the head with his cartoon which shows  a ophthalmologist saying to a patient "You have a foreign body in your eye, as it is a foreign body would you like to retain it ? ". We Indians are love the label made in....... . This weakness is exploited by the marketers who print labels such as Made as Japan, Made in U.S.A (Ulaas Nagar Sindhi Association). Etc.

It should not be thought, however that Stereotyping is necessarily unhealthy, for it does serve the function of simplifying the complexity of social interaction. It is not possible to relate to each new person as if he were unique, and the formation of a stereotype based on the class or category to which he belongs is inevitable until the experience modifies it or shows it to be incorrect.

Stereotyping can be helpful for it alleviates ambiguity and enables a fairly rapid and easy evaluation of people and objects. On the other hand, it may give too simplistic an evaluation and lead to the formation of prejudices and to discriminatory behavior.

It is thus important to ascertain the national stereotypes or images existing in a particular market. While positive images can be easily be used to advantage, it is far more difficult to overcome negative images.

Stereo types in Indian advertising - Part -1


 Just visualize the following scene. Why is it that always that women are shown as washing clothes and men are pictured as pursuing manly and intellectual pursuits? The only exception that immediately comes to mind is that of BPL smart wash that shows women as controlling meetings while her washing machine is washing clothes or of an Ariel advertisement that shows the husband washing clothes.

Stereotyping is the term given to the human tendency to make over-simplifications and generalizations about people or objects based on limited experience.

Some of the stereotypes can be that India is full of Fakirs, magicians and Snake-charmers. Similarly that whole of Middle East is a vast stretch of desert like depicted in Lawrence of Arabia. Nothing can be more away from truth. From his personal experience the author can vouch for the fact that Sultanate of Oman is not a desert and it is arid place like Andhra Pradesh and infact the southern part of Oman called Salalah is as green and picturesque as the state of Kerala. Sana’a' the capital of Yemen is a hill resort and the average temperature during any time of the year is only around 140C.

Stereo types are very rampant in advertising. The classic ones are discussed.

You need to drink hot Milk for it to be a nutritious Drink, (Kellogg to its horror has discovered that this habit or Stereotyping is increasingly becoming very difficult to break because Kellogg has to be eaten with cold milk and the cereal of Kellogg becomes soggy with hot milk).

Indians have come to accept polygamy as an acceptable practice, what with the popular literature and the popular cinema even providing the justification for a man to have many wives. One advertisement that comes mind is that of Nescafe’s 3 in 1 coffee. The advertisement is that of Coffee, milk and sugar coming together in a pouch and that it is very convenient to use. But the imagery used to depict this association is very disturbing. The ad shows three puppies, ONE MAN and TWO GIRLS frolicking under the garden hose, ONE MAN and TWO GIRLS cycling on a cycle. The contention is why one man and two girls, why not two men and a girl.

The boys are always shown as the Mama's pets and are shown as very brilliant and the girls have to only look on adoringly. (I am a Complan boy only then the girl says I am a Complan girl). The games that girls play are always about house-hold chores and it is as if they are being told that is what they will end up doing when they grow up.

The girls are told at a very young age that they should be very careful about their complexions. Just recall the Life-Bouy Gold advertisement. The girl is not very worried about not getting the first rank, about putting on weight; she keeps saying I don't care! But when told about her dark complexion the whole scenario changes, it is as if the whole world has fallen on her head.

May 15, 2010

Sales Management - Managing different types of customers and types of sales calls

Accounts management is one of the most significant aspects of sales management. Accounts in sales management mean the customers. They should not be confused with the traditional accounts of financial management. Each customer is called an account and these accounts become the responsibility of the concerned sales person. Thus the concerned sales person is called the accounts executive. This type of nomenclature is very popular in the service sector especially the advertising field. The effective management of the accounts for profit maximization from the company's side and utmost satisfaction from the customer side is called accounts management.

According to the importance given by the company and the orders and the magnitude of service required accounts are classified into various categories like house accounts, major accounts, large accounts and One-Off- Sales. These are discussed briefly below.

House Accounts: These are major and loyal customers of the company. These have been with the company for a long time and the company feels that they are special. Their needs are targeted with extra care and they are given priority. The accounts are handled from the office itself that is why the name, HOUSE ACCOUNTS. The responsibility of this account will be borne by the Sales manager himself.

Major accounts: These are large private sector companies that will give multiple orders. As the orders are given in multiples they have to be treated more gently and with lot of care. These accounts are handled by experienced Sales people with lots of experience.

Large accounts: These are large governmental concerns that will give multiple orders some time in excess of 100 numbers at a time. These accounts are handled by experienced Sales people with lots of experience in handling large organizations. These sales people have to be well versed with the way as how government organizations buy. The sales people have to know the process of tendering, quotations, least price quotes, price negotiations and others. Loyalty of the customer and the service imparted becomes vital when one is selling to the government. The sales person should also be well versed with credit and the payment procedures that the government concerns follow.

One-Off-Sales: These are companies that will take a product and will not buy again. As the number of orders that we can except form these customers is limited these accounts are given to the fresh sales people so that they can get experienced. Once they get more experienced they are moved to the other accounts. In big companies One-Off-Sales accounts are handled by the dealers/Distributors of the company and the company sales people assist the dealer salespeople to make sales to the One-Off-sales accounts.

The different types of sales calls that have to be made by the sales person are

Prospecting Calls: These are calls in which the sales person tries to find out more about the customer and his organization.

Cold Calls: These are calls that are made on customer without appointment. It is a good way to call on people who are reluctant to meet sales people.

Enquiry Calls: These are calls made on the customer to find out if there in any requirement or if any enquiry is being raised for procurement of a product or service.

Customer Contact Calls: This is the call in which the sales person gets in contact with the buyer.

Follow up calls: All calls except cold call till the order is received are called follow up calls.

Demo/Presentation Calls: This is one of the most important calls. In this call the sales person demonstrates the use of the product. If the demo is effective it will immediately lead to an order.

Price negotiations/objections handling Calls: These calls are calls where the objections stated and hidden are clarified by the seller and the seller and the buyer negotiate on the price, credit and the delivery terms.

Order picking up Calls: This is the call where the sales person picks up the order and commits the delivery of the product.

Post order delivery/Installation/training calls: These are the calls that the sales person makes in order to see that the product is delivered and  installed. The sales person ensures that the product is in working in a proper condition and that the customer uses the product properly and optimally.

Payment collection Calls: This is the most important call. This is the stage in which the sales person picks up the payment. If the customer is not able to pay as per the agreement some restraint should be exercised by the salesman. This is to ensure a smooth working relationship with the customer.

Courtesy calls: These are calls that are made on the customer. These calls will ensure customer satisfaction, receiving of feedback, attending to complaints, repairs, maintenance and others. Courtesy calls also ensure that adequate market knowledge can be gathered. Courtesy calls can also lead to referral building that can lead to more orders.

May 14, 2010

Unethical advertising (Part 1)


Unethical advertising:  is  advertising   which   degrades or underestimates the substitute or the competitive products. It gives false promises or misleading information about the value of the product. It fails to give information about the side effects. It could be advertisements that are obscene or immoral.

The usage of certain words as better, more, best, largest, tastiest, only can change a ethical advertisement into an unethical advertisement.

_________ biscuit that is far more nourishing
India’s tastiest biscuit
Four letter word on wheels – Jeep
A play of words – FCUK is a very popular brand of clothes

Unethical advertising promises something that cannot be delivered like a fitness centre that advertises that the customers will loss of 50 pounds per month with its program. On top of it the fitness centre says the weight loss is guaranteed. Quite plainly the fitness centre can’t deliver that much of weight loss to every person who comes into his centre. Similarly guaranteeing a certain number of years service when the company is closing down that location in the next few months is also an example of unethical advertising.

Sample the following advertisements:

Outside a bank “Nobody likes a fat girl but everybody likes a girl with a fat bank balance”.
For a washing machine “don’t let washing clothes kill your pretty wife. Let our washing machine do that dirty job for you”.
Brochure of an office automation company “Improve your sec’s (secretary’s) life”.

The female anatomy is the most abused in all advertisements. Women’s anatomy is used for products which need not have women advertising for them like blades, cement, shoe polish, alcohol, mosquito coils.

The next area is the dream of every man  - a super physique. Companies exploit this dream by putting out such advertisements as Bullworker that guaranteed a muscular or toned body just by doing some simple exercises. Jeevan Tone is even better. It claims that just by drinking its tonic the buyer can develop a super physique.

Home shopping networks are full of advertisements that claim that becoming thin and  lean is only a few minutes away albeit few minutes a day. My favourite is a contraption that claims that one can lose weight by sleeping. The machine placed under the feet stimulates the feeling of walking and the customer loses weight. Talk about mixing laziness with exercise. This products is a fat person's wildest dream come true. The companies and their advertisements make tall claims but gullible customers do buy these products.

Even big companies stoop to unethical advertising the famous examples can be

A.P Scooters came out in collaboration with Vespa with a scooter and they named it AP PL 170. The customers thought PL 170 meant Pay load 170. Later a lot of negative publicity was generated when the customers came to know that PL 170 does not stand for Pay load 170. PL 170 was just some fancy word work from the advertising agency.

Peico Electronics a subsidiary of Phillips came out with colour televisions. They advertised the colour TVS as Phillips Colour TVs. After a complaint was made they started advertising as Peico Electronics a subsidiary of Phillips.

Sony granted Collaboration rights for Orson India to manufacturer Black and white sets television sets. Orson made Colour TVs and sold them under the name of Sony-Orson. A complaint rectified this practice of Orson India. (End of part 1, continued next Friday 21st May 2010)

May 13, 2010

Best Marketing practices - US super markets

“Have time will party, shop till you drop, shopping mania, walking in the malls, mall bashing, window-shopping”. All these thoughts kick in as one wanders through the super markets in the USA.

Super markets come in all shapes all sizes and all names. Savor some of them: Target, Dollar tree, Sears, Macy, Wal-Mart, Safeway, Big Lots, Costco. Many more are present as USA is the country for the big spenders.

The first thing that sets apart the US super markets is their size and the huge parking lots that come along with them. The stores have nice displays and automatic doors. One deodorant company had a picture of many people pasted on the automatic door. As the shopper approaches, the doors part and the shopper feels as if other shoppers are moving away from him/her. As the shocked shopper enters inside the shop the first display is of the deodorant company.

One inside the displays are huge and the aisles are so huge that two trolleys can be fitted alongside each other. Most of the products are within reachable height and if they are not signs are posted asking the customers to request for help. When two shoppers at the opposite sides of the same aisles bend down to reach merchandise, their booties (bums or backsides) don’t touch. Why all these precautions? Americans respect their privacy or private space and would walk way if they think that the aisles are crowded.

The shopping experience is smooth as silk and the super market ambience is very nice with piped in music. Dollar stores (everything at a dollar) are more down to earth. It is refreshing to see the purchasing power of the dollar. Many budget conscious shoppers buy at dollor shops. It is always worth an experience if only to find out how much the other super market chains are padding the products.

The real eye openers are at the checkout counters. Shoppers wait for their turn behind a yellow line. A sign at a pharmacy counter proclaims, “Wait here to protect the privacy of the customers before you”. At the checkout counters itself shoppers can distinguish their products from the shopper earlier with a help of a simple check out divider (great for product promotion)

The trolleys themselves are state of the art. They can be motor driven, have space for small baby, can lock themselves once they are out of sight of the supermarket and in dollar tree come with a 25 cent charge for usage. Think of innovative ideas.

The customers can opt for a self-checkout or a clerk assisted check out. Facilities for trading/discount stamps, cash (paper and coins) are also available. For physically challenged shoppers counters are set at a lesser heights for easy signing of the credit card.

The thresh hold level of resistance for advertised products on the TV seems to be 20 US dollars. That is most products are listed at 19.95 dollars. Many products are traded straight at 19.95 or multiple products are given at the same price. Shoppers’ testimonials take the tack of “if I can do it anybody in the world can do it”.

One thing unique about pricing in USA is that they are way ahead of anybody else. Wal-Mart introduced the concept of everyday pricing and it was hailed as a great innovator. The latest in USA is electronic price tags. These are price tags that display change in prices depending on raw material availability and changes in the dollar rate against the international currencies. So do not be surprised it some price is displayed at the time of picking up the product and another price might be displayed at the time of payment. One might get benefited or might lose out. But isn’t that what is life all about!

All in all shopping in USA can be a very good educational experience.

May 12, 2010

Correct Business Language

A marketing person is known for his dress and address. A marketer needs to watch what he says and how he says it. “It is not what you say; it is how you say that matters”. Words are like bullets. Once fired they can’t be retrieved. They linger in the air and keep spoiling the entire surroundings, like smog, easy to create and almost next to impossible to eradicate.

One needs to be very careful about correct language to be used. One needs to use politically correct language. Caste, creed, language, religion, region should be not used to made fun of some unfortunate victim.

Burn instead of copy: This is the terminology of the USA. Burn is to copy. When your boss says burn the document, he means take a copy of the document.

Let’s get the ball rolling: As the author experienced in Africa “let’s get the ball rolling” in a class room in Bahirdar in Ethiopia made the students look for a football in the classroom! It is better to say “shall we start the class?”

Steps to be taken: Steps to be taken will be taken literally as steps as in a staircase. It is better to say measures or action to be taken.

Housewife: Very sexist and gender specific. If a lady who stays and manages a house is called a housewife, what should we call a man who does a similar job, a house husband? It is better to call man/women who stay at home a home maker. It is gender neutral and non sexist.

History: Should only the story of HIS (men) be documented. What about HER (women) story. Same is the case with Bachelor of Arts, science and commerce. Why not spinster of arts, science and arts?

Chairman: Now- a-days this is being taken care of. It is very common to say Chairperson.

Afro-Americans: Calling a colored person Negro, Nigger or black can lead to bad blood and fisticuffs in the western world. The correct name would be Afro Americans - Americans of African origin. Calling a person a monkey in India is harmless. But the same  could lead to serious trouble in many countries. This truth was driven home strongly in the case of Harbhajan Singh Vs Andrew Symonds. Symonds took the word monkey as a serious racial slur. Harbhajan escaped serious punishment with the skin of his teeth.

Fat: being fat is a serious health condition. Calling them big, large, obese, fatso, double bread and similar names can lead to lots of complications including loss of self esteem and self confidence. It is better to refer being fat as being horizontally challenged.

Short: Similarly no one wants to be short. Every one of us wants to be tall, dark and handsome. But some of us are born short. Instead of ridiculing them by calling them short, shotgun, “hi down there”, it is better to address short people as vertically challenged people.

Blind: Similarly only the blind know the travails of a person who can’t see. Instead of sympathizing with them we call them blind, sightless, etc. It is better to address them as visually challenged people.

Physically handicapped: Physically handicapped people are usually made fun of or simply ignored. Instead why don’t we see them as normal people but they are challenged – physically challenged. What a beautiful way of saying things! They are normal but live a challenging life. What is normal for you and me is a big challenge for them. So next time you see a physically challenged person mentally salute the spirit which refuses to take no for an answer.

Mentally handicapped: Similar is the case with mentally handicapped people. Instead of refering them as nuts, madcaps, pagal etc we can refer to them as mentally challenged people. It is even better to call them special people. God created them that way so that they get special treatment and special care. What a beautiful sentiment!

Let us know the art of polite conversation and become the statesmen of language and words. Let us be known for the crispness and preciseness of our speech. A speech so clear and with so much clarity that it leaves no one I repeat no one with the least doubt about the content of the message.

May 11, 2010

Smart selling Commandments 2 to 5 ( Part 2 )

2. Smart home delivery or Friendly neighbourhood - selling: why is that most super markets fail to flourish in our country in spite of so much promotion,  discounted products and better shopping ambiance? The answer is simple. The competition is nimble, alert and personalized. The retail shopkeeper is closer to our home, he knows us by our name, greets our children by their names, sympathizes with us, gives us credit, home delivers our items and takes back faulty merchandise without asking any questions including perishable merchandise like bad coconuts.

3. Smart Baker's toffee or Sooo Cute kid - selling: Most of our cities are dotted with bakeries that cater to our weakness of sweet tooth and provides us an opportunity to indulge in a variety that is truly mind boggling. Puffs, biscuits, cakes and the recent additions of burgers, pizzas. A bakery that immediately comes to the mind is manned by a savvy youngster who would button hole any parent with a child and do the following. The baker would say out " Choo sweet baby" and would offer the kid a toffee or even a small eclair . This would melt the heart of any stone cold parent who had come resolved only to buy the bare essentials and not anything as an impulse purchase. He/she would now binge on a buying spree and the smart baker has another loyal customer in his bank. The psychology, which parent doesn't like his child to be praised or complimented? After all any compliment that is targeted at the child is perceived as a compliment to the parents themselves.

4. Smart Baker's thirst buster or Water Water every where buy not a drop to drink - selling: Another favourite trick of the bakery shops is not very palatable or can be considered very ethical. But it is very street smart. The reference is to the non supply of drinking water in many bakeries. Pray why? The reason is very simple after gulping down a hot and spicy burger or an oil ridden pizza, one would like to drink some nice and cool water. But the non-availability of drinking water forces the customer to buy a soft drink to quench the thirst. This way the bakery shopkeeper is adding up to his sale. Even though it sounds outrageous this principle has been in practice for a very long time. We have heard of industrial marketers who push products that are not in demand along with products in demand as a package. That is to say " If you want our fast moving products you will have to buy our slow moving products too " .

5. Smart Jeweler's cool drink selling: This type of smart selling can be viewed in any jewelery shop of repute. This in the exact reverse of the smart selling commandment discussed above. In this case the employees of the shop would see to that the prospective customers are relaxed and at ease as soon as they enter the shop. The upholstery is very soft and plush. One can hear piped in instrumental music and a fountain Pepsi or Coke or a soft drink would be offered. The whole ambiance is of a very relaxed and comfortable shopping experience leading to the dropping of the natural defenses of the customer. Now the customer is putty in the hands of the shop employees. He will be guided by them and would ask for their advice and pay the bill without asking for a discount. Even if the discount is asked for and is refused the customer would not really mind. Treatment is all that matters.

May 10, 2010

Latest web and Internet marketing concepts


Viral marketing: is a marketing technique that uses pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives (such as product sales) through self-replicating viral processes, like the spread of pathological and computer viruses. It can be word-of-mouth delivered or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet. Viral promotions may take the form of video clips, interactive flash games, advergames, ebooks, brandable software, images, or even text messages.

Permission marketing: Coined by “Seth Godwin” Permission marketing is an approach to selling goods and services in which a prospect explicitly agrees in advance to receive marketing information. Opt-in e-mail, where Internet users sign up in advance for information about certain product categories, is a good example of permission marketing.

Advocates of permission marketing argue that it is effective because the prospect is more receptive to a message that has been requested in advance and more cost-efficient because the prospect is already identified and targeted. In a world of information overload, automated telemarketing, and spam, most people welcome the idea of permission marketing.

Social media marketing: In the traditional marketing communications model, the content, frequency, timing, and medium of communications by the organization is in collaboration with an external agent, i.e. advertising agencies, marketing research firms, and public relations firms. With the emergence of Web 2.0, the internet provides a set of tools that allow people to build social and business connections, share information and collaborate on projects online.

Social media marketing programs usually center on efforts to create content that attracts attention, generates online conversations, and encourages readers to share it with their social networks. The message spreads from user to user and presumably resonates because it is coming from a trusted source, as opposed to the brand or company itself. Social media is opening doors for organizations to increase their brand awareness and facilitate conversations with the customer. Organizations can receive direct feedback from their customers and targeted markets.

Buzz marketing: Marketing buzz or simply buzz is a term used in word-of-mouth marketing. The interaction of consumers and users of a product or service serve to amplify the original marketing message.

Buzz as a form of hype among consumers, a positive association, excitement, or anticipation about a product or service. Positive "buzz" is often a goal of viral marketing, public relations, and of advertising on Web media. The term refers both to the execution of the marketing technique, and the resulting goodwill that is created. Examples of products with strong marketing buzz upon introduction were Harry Potter, the Volkswagen New Beetle, Pokémon, and the Blair Witch Project. In India Tata used Buzz marketing to create positive hype for its Indica cars first and then for the cheapest car in the world - the Nano.

In-game advertising:  refers to the use of computer and video games as a medium to deliver advertising. In-game advertising is seen as a prime way to target the male in the 18-34 demographic, who are increasingly neglecting television in favor of computer and video games. However, some gamers see these moves as greedy and intrusive. In game advertising can be static (stationary like a hoarding or a backdrop) or dynamic (incorporated into the game itself).

Programme sponsorship & Product Placements - the Good, the bad and the ugly!


The modern world is cut throat and only the fittest of the fittest survive. Companies resort to any trick of the trade to achieve eyeballs (more recognition and awareness of one’s product than that of the competition). Usually the easiest way out is sponsoring a programme on the TV or the radio. Most companies think it is a simple matter. Picking up the most popular programme (read the programme with the best TRP rating) and sponsor it.

The reality check is very different. “Padutha Teeyaga” a popular telugu music programme compered by P. Bala Subramanyam was initially sponsored by Bajaj. Bajaj later withdrew. There was nothing a Auto major like Bajaj could gain by sponsoring a music centric programme. Antakshari ( a music programme like the American Idol) was initially sponsored by Amrutanjan (a pain balm reliever). Watch Antakshari get headache and get it treated by Amrutanjan! Is it an insult to the programme or to the sponsor? The viewers has to decide for themselves. Finally sanity prevailed and the apt sponsor was found for Antakshari in Close-up. A splendid idea, get Close-up tooth paste as a sponsor which stands for freshness of breath and for a programme where the contestants (usually a boy and a girl) come very close to each other to crone a song.

We generally find that product placements in programmes are done very crudely. Many telugu movies have songs where a scantily dressed heroine dancing (sometime in rain). The background is lit up with gaudy hoardings of products or even worse an array of Kinetic Honda scooters or hero Honda motorcycles with their head lights/blinkers/side lights coming on and off. The viewers are put off by these in your face product placements.

Product placements are tackled very professionally in Hollywood. James Bond movie uses product placements but with lot of suave. James Bond wears an Omega, uses a Motorola and drives a BMW. A very apt product placement was for a television programme called “Chutke Bajake” which featured the famous Marathi actor Ashok Saraf. The hero in the serial snaps (Chutke) his fingers and gets involved in very interesting adventures.

The sponsor was quickfix. The connection? Quickfix at that particular point of time was running an advertisement film that showed a boss (Satish Shah) clicking his fingers and getting frantic attention from his harassed lady secretary played by Renuka Sahane. The solution to the problem - the secretary puts a small drop of quickfix between the thumb and the index finger of the boss. He no longer can click and when he can’t click he cant order his secretary around.

Whenever Ashok Saraf clicks his fingers in the serial one immediately gets reminded of quickfix. The double whammy is the title of the serial is also reminding the viewers of the advertisement. A wonderful marriage between the product and the programme.