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Eight lessons marketing professionals can learn from Kolaveri

The digital world has so disrupted the business models of newspapers, radio, television, music and even Hollywood that the yin and yang of mass media and mass marketing are flying apart. We are in the midst of total collapse of the media infrastructure we have taken for granted for 400 years.

– Bob Garfield Advertising Age Columnist in The Chaos Scenario, 13 April 2005

Aye, have you heard this weird song. Kolaveri, Kolaveri? Is got close to a million views on YouTube. Is it Malu or what? What does Kolaveri mean?

– Digital Dude Aged 24, 17 November 2011

Screen grab from Youtube

Six years after Bob Garfield provoked the marketing and advertising industry with his seminal piece in Advertising Age, Digital Dude (quoted above) discovers that Kolaveri Di has gone viral on YouTube. Dude does not know Bob Garfield nor has he read The Chaos Scenario. But he is among the millions who have given Kolaveri another view, helping to further shoot the video on to the centre stage of India’s pop culture and unwittingly endorsing the premise of Bob’s book.
Now clients want agencies to do a Kolaveri like video for their brands. Yes we got two briefs in the last two days and are struggling to explain why we cannot do a Kolaveri. What we do have are some lessons from the said video and similar memes.

Lesson 1. You don’t make a Kolaveri. It happens. Amen. Here are, one, two stories from the guys at Jack in the Box, the digital agency behind the viral on how it happened.

Lesson 2. You can’t separate marketing and PR from the agency anymore. Being a movie based video Kolaveri has an advantage over traditional marketing content. Yet reading the agency’s POV on this, PR was strategically used to give the video the traction.  Starting now we need to create all kinds of synergies to get people’s attention. Marketing, PR, HR, sales, service working together, in tandem…

Lesson 3.  Speed is the new element in a marketing person’s arsenal. To read Dhanush’s interview post the success of the song and to believe that the song was written in some 6 minutes. Well that’s as much time it takes to find an empty conference room these days. Speed was on display when W+K decided to bring on the OldSpice Man on to Twitter and YouTube. 180+ videos created in two days. Wow!

Lesson 4. YouTube is the TV channel for urban Indian youth. Mahesh Murthy (look up his 20 new rules of marketing here) and Reem Syed are some of the prominent voices in India who believe how lopsided marketing budgets are with respect to digital media. The impact of Kolaveri Di should put an end to that discussion. In fact this Google Trends comparison between two recent hits, Airtel’s Har Friend Zaroori Hota Hai and Kolaveri shows you that without a dime spent on TV, Kolaveri has blown past an ad that was heavily promoted on all channels, online included. Even in places like Ludhiana and Chandigarh,  Kolaveri beat out the Airtel ad.

Lesson 5. In a low friction world,  we learnt a great idea will have imitators like in the case of Cadbury’s s Gorilla. In India we have struggled to get people to create interesting content that feeds off a rage. Kolaveri is showing us that good ideas will be copied and remixed in real time. What are we agencies and marketers doing to create memes that can be remixed?

Lesson 6. Hum-ability counts, not meaning. Cartoonist Hugh McLeod had something fundamental to say  in this cartoon. Most marketing messages are so overloaded that they lose any humanity whatsoever. The lyrics in Kolaveri are so nonlinear that they start a conversation and further its spread.  RIP Link Test?

Lesson 7. Ideas like these can spawn real time marketing opportunities. Pepsico’s Digital Marketing Head talks about how the best marketing in the future will need to grab real time opportunities that could come by. A viral the scale of Kolaveri could have spawned many opportunities. A line of Kolaveri Di Tshirts. A promo around the song. A smart entrepreneur could have started a Kolaveri Di FAQs page and made some money from placing Ads on the page. Missed opportunities.

Lesson 8. The long tail brings interesting content back into circulation. This one has nothing to do with Kolaveri. But another video that’s been doing the rounds recently, the  flash mob in Mumbai Central has been doing the rounds. The Youtube video has already notched up an impressive 200,000+ views in two days. On the back of this, an older, forgotten one from May this year is getting a second life, for free. The Internet never forgets, but no ad that’s shown on TV can ever have a second coming without the advertiser wanting to rerun it.

Unfriending: the new friending

I almost missed the one line status update as it trickled down my wall “spring cleaning my friend list”. Even when I saw it, I was sure I wouldn’t be among the ones cleaned out so I didn’t bother to check.

As days and weeks went by, I started to miss those updates. Auto posts from her subscriptions to astrology sites, odd pictures from late night parties, Farmville notifications. Nothing profound or insightful, yet enough to tell me we were still friends.

I have to admit I have been a lurker, a virtual fly on her virtual wall. Sent her birthday messages every year, early in the morning, without fail. Liked the odd post now and then, just so she knew I am around.Her pictures. Looked them up all, many times over.

And this is what I get in return. A virtual dumping!

Did she think I wouldn’t know? Hey I do now. Don’t know how long ago I was nixed. It hurts OK! It does, even now.

Is unfriending the new friending? Spring cleaning my friend list. Is there a meme of sorts out there that I missed out on?

I remember reading a month or so ago that Facebook was losing users in the US. It was later retracted though. How did she get to that. GigaOm? She doesn’t read that.

New evidence popped up again yesterday that the Facebook juggernaut maybe beginning to slow down. This time from Hitwise in the UK. Refuted again! Lies, damned lies and web statistics as Jemima Kiss wrote in her Guardian Blog.

So what happened to me? Has she been so unemployed recently to manicure their friend lists? Are there new taxes for having too many friends on a FB account? Has the monsoon brought in a new virus? Unfrienditis?

I Googled frantically. Nothing!

And then I noticed this little maroon button gleaming “1” on my Google+ toolbar. Intrigued, I clicked.

It was a notification from her. XYZ has added you in a circle.

Social Media’s New Gold Diggers

Sitting on the fringes of some social media campaigns I am noticing an interesting bunch of players. Fans who have made it their business to win prizes that brands offer online.

You see them again and again and again. The moment a contest is announced by a brand, they swoop down, powered by their personal networks on Facebook, Twitter and 4sq.

Free keychains, no problem, Tee Shirts, we will play! Mobile phones bring em on…

Anything that is thrown down at them, they are game. The same names, the same faces, similar styles. Their theme is familiar. As if telling brand and community managers – you play, we are game.

The “9s” in the 90/9/1 rule of social media they are. They don’t create much on their own but they are ready participants on games simple and tough. Sharing, joking, heckling, flaming, cheering – they seem like a virtual band of brothers and sisters sharing tips as they move from network to network, game to game.

We have heard about Chinese Gold diggers and their subsequent ban on online. Virtual millionaires on Second Life and this excellent story in Wired Magazine that tipped us about this demographic some years ago. Others who help you farm better on Farmville and stuff. But these guys are not that intense. Afflicted with ADD as it were, flirting between many contests at the same time, day in and day out.

It’s a privilege to be a fly on the wall to watch these online merchants ply their trade. Young people from cities and small towns who have learned tricks, shared tips and how tos online.

Would be fascinating to bring these new age netizens together for a tete-a-tete. Understand their real world lives, virtual avatars, online strategies, motivations and more.

In the connected world, anything is possible and I could be a digital anthropologist. Dig, dig, dig

Advertising. Not Like the Music Industry.

There have been many stories in the media in the last few weeks about the decay of advertising. There was this long one about The Future of Advertising in Fast Company. BusinessWeek countered it with this one on how Big Dumb Agencies may not be going away anywhere soon. The most provocative one, however was by Adaptive Path’s Peter Merholz. It was a brutal piece, one that tore apart our business as one with a “poisonous core”. While there has been a lot of debate and discussion around the post – in fact Peter has posted a rejoinder explaining various points on his original one, I thought the last item on his first rant to be a bit off key.  Advertising Agencies are the New Music Industry, he wrote.

I am not sure if the music industry analogy is the right one for the advertising business. While just like the music business, traditional advertising is being run over by the arrival of the Internet and other digital mediums, unlike the music industry, which went down primarily because of the growth of file sharing, I think advertising will evolve thanks to a combination of many smaller changes.

Search Marketing. While Google and others in the search marketing business are seeing exceptional growth, search marketing alone will not end advertising as we know it.

Social Media. Yes it is hot at the moment and will be extremely important in the years to come. Social media engagement will be one of the many things that marketers will need to help manage a brand.

PR. For years PR was a discipline that marketing had little influence over. Bougsky’s allegedly famous quote “…write me the press release” aptly describes how PR has become an important mover of marketing messages. Recently Pepsi’s Shiv Singh tweeted about wanting a partner who was a combination of a digital agency, a traditional agency and a PR company.

Video. BMW films showed us what can be done when branded messages are played out in digital media. There have been many experiments that have followed. The age of video, though, is just beginning to play out.

Mobile. Mobile devices will have as much or more impact on the marketing business as computers, TV and radio have had in the past. Always connected, always on phones are a tsunami that will change traditional messaging, but will need to do more to completely annihilate brand messages.

Location Based Services. These new and emerging concepts will add another dimension to real-time marketing. There are some simple and straight forward “Minority Report” kind of possibilities that location based messaging can do. These concepts will evolve and amaze us in the years to come.

Reality Enhanced. Ideas like augmented reality are just being experimented with at the moment. There will be more we will do by overlaying smart digital ideas over real things in the future.

Gaming. In an attention starved world, inventive new branded or brand embedded  games will give marketers access into the minds of people.

Crowdsourcing. Not so much a concept as much as an approach to producing ideas. Crowdsourcing will chip away advertising agency strongholds and change advertising in many ways.

Amazement. For decades, advertising had this knack of creating jaw-dropping moments. Not anymore. Anyone with a digital camera can now. Ads now have to fight even harder to be seen and talked about.

Marketers, marketing messages and the ones who create them, advertising agencies, will have to change to stay in touch with people who have lot more to do. The reason for this change will be many. All of them equally relevant.

Share of Friends

Move over market share, share of voice, share of wallet and stuff. In a connected world new matrices like Share of Friends are emerging. Rather than ‘do’ stuff with customers, companies need to think what they can do ‘with’ people. More in 1to1 media

A Great Customer Service Letter

Jackie Huba at Church of the Customer blog writes about her recent experience with Apple customer service and how this once again proves why the company is such a great brand. She has reposted a follow up letter that she received from Apple service:

Dear Jackie,

This is Stacy, with a courtesy follow-up. I haven’t heard from you and wanted to make sure that your request was handled to your satisfaction. You’ve truly been a remarkable asset to the iTunes Store Family and as such I don’t want to leave you without any type of resolution, so if you do not respond, I will be closing this request. I hope that you continue to enjoy the iTunes Store and would like to thank you for being such a wonderful member of our family.

Please remember if you require any further assistance I’m only an email away. Have an awesome day!

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you. You may receive an AppleCare survey email; any feedback you provide would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Stacy
Tier 1 iTunes Store Support

While she thinks it may be a form letter, she is impressed at the use of emotional words; truly remarkable, family, wonderful, awesome. More on the Church of Customer blog.

Stories From The Aisle. Boom Time For Shopper Marketing.

Not the first time are we writing about shopper marketing. And there’s good reason for doing so. Because the dynamics in the media landscape have changed, and now the one place you can still aggregate a mass audience is in-store. If 35 million Americans watched the season ending finale of American Idol, the most watched show on television, some 150 million Americans pass through the revolving doors of WalMart, Costco, Walgreens, Safeway and Kroger to boast weekly shopper counts of 20 million, 30 million, 44 million and 68 million, respectively. Point of sale is probably the most important point at which shoppers makes choices, and if you can hit them with a message, you can measure it with a sales lift. A study by Booze & Co found that over the next three years, in-store marketing activity will grow at a higher rate than any other marketing tactic. One of the key inflection points in this space has been WalMart’s decision to start an instore TV channel. With over 2600 locations around the US and hundreds and thousands of TV screens the network will rival the reach of traditional TV network. The IPTV based network is capable of delivering a precise message at the moment of purchase, down to one single screen. In India too such networks are beginning to proliferate. Future Group’s Future TV is one such player connecting up 10 million customers a week. Although there is a lot of buzz surrounding these latest in-store shopper marketing strategies, there’s still an ailing economy driving decisions. That could cause companies to pause before jumping into the newer in-store networks and rely on the tried-and-true shopper marketing tactics. More in AdWeek.

What Gets Clicked

Do the colour, font, image and message of the ad induce online visitors to click ads? A new bunch of companies are trying to find out just this. They are creating hundreds of versions of clients’ online ads, changing these basic elements to see what combination draws clicks on a particular site or from a specific audience. Two companies, Adisn and Tumri are trying to find out, for example, if an ad for a baby supply store is more popular with young mothers when it features a bottle instead of diapers. They have the technology to assemble ads on the fly and have them come up when people are searching. For example for their work on cleaning brand Simple Green, if it’s a woman looking at a kitchen with a stainless steel refrigerator, they can show a stainless steel product. While a basic use of the concept could help identify which version of the ad works best, what advertisers are finding is that the appropriate ad is not static, and changes all the time as content on the page changes. Read more in Ny Times. Also in Wired Magazine, Online advertising. Survival of the fittest. If you are still reading this story, you may want to check out Yahoo Smart Ads.

Rules Of Word Of Mouth. WOMMA’S Guide To Better Influencer Marketing

The Influencer marketing handbook from Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). Just the tool marketing and advertising professionals need at the time when more and more brands are trying to harvest the power of word of mouth.

The book which has been in the works for the past year is an attempt at understanding, defining, implementing and measuring word of mouth marketing programs. The handbook, available online on the WOMMA site, aims to provide practitioners of word of mouth marketing with the following information:

• Definition of an influencer and influencer marketing
• Types of influencers
• Methods to engage and thank influencers
• Guidelines for influencer self-regulation
• Bibliography of influencer communication research and practice.

The handbook looks at influencers from a historic perspective and discovers that the concept has been around for decades. As early as 1955 Paul Lazarsfeld and Elihu Katz wrote about it in their book, Personal Influence (Google Books link).

Their concept, still relevant today, is that some people have a disproportionate degree of influence on others and can be effective communications channels.

The WOMMA document divides influencers into five little groups, people with formal authority, like people in government who have the authority to make and implement laws that can change things around. The second bunch of people who can exert large amount of influence are experts and academics. Members of the media, media elite as WOMMA calls them are the third set of people who wield very large influence on subject matters they write about. Cultural elite make up the next group. Celebrities, musicians, artists and others who have their universe of followers. The final group are those WOMMA calls socially connected people with large number of friends in their social circles – Mavens – as Malcolm Gladwell has categorized them in his book The Tipping Point.

In the next chapter of the guidebook, WOMMA has laid out a bunch of simple, self regulating guidelines for the practitioners of word of mouth programs. From being honest with ideas that are circulated around in word of mouth networks, to have a program that listens, to respecting the rights of influencers, to asking influencers to be transparent about the programs they participate in, building respectful relationships with influencers, providing incentives for participating in brand programs and finally to thank participants of such activities.

The handbook has a final chapter on how to work effectively with influencers. Where once again WOMMA suggest that we as marketers and advertisers need to thank and engage with key influencers from time to time.

Here is a link to the handbook in full.

Moving on John Bell at the Digital Influence Mapping Project talks about the importance of word of mouth measurement in a recession.

And this study from word of moth specialists, Keller Fay group on America’s most talked about brands.

CRM 2.0

Paul Greenberg is one of the foremost thinkers in the CRM space. In his book CRM at The Speed of Light, he writes of how CRM needs to move from “managing” customers to managing customer engagement. “You need to change the way you deal with customers, because they’ve changed the way they deal with you,” he says. Organizations today should no longer be just “producers” or manufacturers, but instead should be aggregators of customers’ creative activity. As customers look beyond industry experts for help, when they are buying things, to “someone like me”, the Laura Fitton example in the main story on the left ideas like CRM 2.0 will stand to deliver. From the 1to1 blog.

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