THE ROCK STARS

Thursday, January 26, 2012
Oprah’s visit to India has created quiet a stir with everybody wanting to meet her, and why not? She is, after all, the most powerful woman in America. What’s commendable about her is that she was not born this way; but worked her way up the ladder, and the success and fame she has got is very well deserved. She is a true ‘rock star’. She was poor and she had no parents to pamper her and take care of her (she was born to two teenagers who ended their relationship once she was born). She however had one quality – she learned to read before the age of three. That was the only possession she had and she used it to develop herself and her career. She was a great student and was able to impress everybody with her knowledge (because she read more than others). Today, any book that Oprah picks up is guaranteed to become an international best-seller. A strong will and a steely determination are what made her a success.

Another child born to unwed parents not just rocked his career but also the world. Steve Jobs had the passion to follow his dreams and face all the ups and downs in his career without ever giving up. He was the biggest ‘rock star’ of business.

NEVER SAY DIE

The ‘V’ sign made using the index finger and the middle finger used to be considered a rude English hand sign in the Middle Ages. The French would cut off the middle and index fingers of any English bowman so that they could never shoot again. The English would taunt the French by raising their fingers to say, “I can still shoot you…” However, this ‘V’ sign changed its complete meaning when Winston Churchill raised his fingers to depict ‘victory’. He was the man who was the ‘rock star’ of World War II, for he never gave up and told his people to do the same. He prepared the nation for battle with the Nazi army and after five years of fighting and a near defeat, victory was finally theirs. It was this attitude that brought them success and ‘victory’. He was one of the finest leaders of Britain and his leadership capabilities were best displayed during the Second World War. Consider the fact that this was the same boy who stuttered as a child, did poorly in school and was rejected by both Oxford and Cambridge. Churchill never gave up till he succeeded.

He also did not do well in school, so he decided to grow Christmas trees and raise budgerigars. Both his projects failed. However, by the age of 16, he was able to publish a magazine and start a small mail-order business. Today his group ‘Virgin’ is a conglomerate of 200 companies present in 30 countries. Not just this world, Richard Branson soon plans to expand his business beyond the planet. He plans to take ordinary people into space on Virgin Galactic. The man thinks, looks and works like a rock star.

He grew up in an orphanage as his widowed mother could not support him. He worked in a factory that made moulds for auto parts and frames of eyeglasses. At 23, he opened his own eyeglass frame shop and today, his company ‘Luxottica’ is the world’s largest maker of eyeglasses, glares, et al. Today, Leonardo Del Vecchio is valued at $10 billion!

It’s been noted that two-thirds of the world’s billionaires made their fortunes by starting from zero. It was not inheritance but persistence that made them succeed.

Easier said than done, but this is the true spirit of a ‘rock star’. They never give up, they never say die.

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE YOURSELF

Just a mention of his name brings a smile to anyone’s face; yet this man lived a childhood that gave him very few reasons to smile. Jim Carrey, the rock star comedian of Hollywood, had to work long hours while still in school. He and his family used to live in a camper van. But Jim knew that he had the ability to make people laugh. He decided to pursue his passion and at 16; he dropped out of school and moved to LA. It was a big risk, but he knew that he had something different to offer. Most importantly, he knew that this was what he wanted to do most; so he put everything at stake to follow his dream. If you are focused, you are bound to succeed. He landed himself in a part in a sitcom called ‘The Duck Factory’ and soon, his career was rocking!

As Steve Jobs had once said, “Life is too short. Don’t live with the result of other peoples thinking.”

She was divorced & had a small child to take care of; yet she decided to follow her heart and do what she knew she was best at – that was to write. So she did not pick up a regular job and instead wrote a book based on an idea that came to her on a train ride. Her book summary was rejected by many publishing houses till one liked it. J. K. Rowling took a huge gamble, for it is very difficult to be noticed in the publishing world; but she believed in herself. Today, she is the first author to become a billionaire and her book sales rocked the publishing world and set new benchmarks.

The one business Lakshmi Niwas Mittal understood best was his family business of steel-making. So he ventured out to do what he knew he was best at and did not hesitate to buy a run-down plant in Indonesia and start Mittal Steel. Today, ArcelorMittal is the largest steel company in the world!

He always had a knack for business. As a young boy, he found an easy way to make money. He would buy matches, fish, pens, Christmas decorations, et al in bulk and sell them for a profit to his neighbors. He knew he was best at business; so when he got good grades in school, he asked his father for a loan and started his mail-order business. He knew the importance of keeping prices low if one wanted to make it big. This business acumen has made IKEA the biggest furniture company in the world today and its founder Ingvar Kampard is one of the world’s richest.

Think deep and find out what it is you can be the best at in the whole world, and then devote all your energies to that; without bothering about initial failures, without bothering about other’s opinions. Stay focused and success is bound to happen. All stars will tell you this.

NEVER LET MONEY MOTIVATE YOU

“I was worth over $1000,000 when I was 23, and over $10,000,000 when I was 24, and over $100,000,000 when I was 25, and it wasn’t that important because I never did it for the money.” These were the words of Steve Jobs, who showed the world how to live life on your own terms. His stepfather chased him out of his house when he was a child. He became a salesman but lost his job and his wife left him. He had only one mission, and that was to be able to keep his son happy. He slept in the subway station bathrooms, but he did all that he could to keep his son happy. A job in Bear Stearns, days and nights of hard work and things finally did change for Chris Gardner, when he finally could manage to open his own brokerage firm Gardner Rich & Co. His story became the theme for the Will Smith starrer movie “In Pursuit of Happyness”. Life is actually not very different from the movie title. Pursue happiness and not money, and it (money) will eventually come to you on its own.

Traditionally, rock stars were defined as people who were part of a rock band. But today, rock stars have come to be known as people who don’t follow rules. They are not happy being good, but go out of their way to be extraordinarily good. There is something totally unique about them. Today, in business, those are the ‘miracle workers’ who are called rock stars. Some call them ‘rock stars’ because they are the best of the best and super experts in their field. For some, ‘rock stars’ are ‘brands’ of success. They are larger than life. For still others, they are those who believed in themselves and went ahead and did exactly what they believed in.

Whatever your definition of a rock star, remember that anyone can become one, and in whichever field he chooses. If you have the faith, if you believe in yourself and if you are ready to put everything at stake to achieve your goal; then you too could be a rock star!

A NEW YEAR, A NEW START!

Thursday, January 12, 2012
Another year, another chance to accomplish all that we could not in the last year, another hope, another new beginning! Yes, every new year brings about a sense of freshness with it and lots of hope and high spirits. It’s the time to think afresh, plan new things, change your outlook and approach your problems with a more positive mindset.

Every year promises something new and every year witnesses a new change. This year too, we as marketers should be ready to face new challenges and plan new strategies. The rules of doing business are going to change and if we want to stay ahead, we better be prepared.

THE VIRTUAL WORLD WILL OVERTAKE THE REAL WORLD

The traditional way of marketing has changed. Marketers will focus more on the new media and the traditional will take a back seat. This change is for good and will intensify even more as marketers discover more and more innovative ways to reach out to the consumer online.

Last year (in June, 2011) the marketing genius Nike premiered its new ad campaign titled “The Chosen” not on TV, but on Facebook. The campaign was used to launch a video contest, which asked people to submit their videos of extreme action sports (like snowboarding, surfing, skateboarding et al) and create the maximum buzz around their entries. The finalists were then judged by a group of professionals within Nike and the winner was selected; the winner was titled the ‘chosen one’, for he got the chance to live like a Nike Pro athlete for a year. Apart from the very interesting and engaging campaign, the point to be noted is that Nike decided to launch its campaign on Facebook nearly three days before it featured the same on TV during the NBA finals.

Not just shoe brands, even cars are using the social platform to debut their goods. Last year, Ford unveiled its new model – the Ford Explorer – not in an auto show, something that it has been doing consistently for the past 50 years, but on Facebook. It even randomly selected a ‘fan’ to give away a free Explorer! If you consider the fact that Ford has been doing relatively well as compared to its competitors, it seems like the choice of spending twice as much as its competitors on digital media is not a bad choice at all.

This month (January 14), Ikea is hosting a “Bring Your Own Friends” (BYOF) event in its stores in USA. Every time you ‘Like’ the Ikea page, the company makes a donation to the non-profit organization ‘Save the Children’. That’s not all; once you like the page, you get to see the various freebies and discounts that the retailer is offering in its various stores on January 14. You are then asked to invite your friends to the event happening in the stores on the day. For every invite you send, you become eligible for various contests and have a chance to win a free ‘shopping spree’. To add to this, the company pledges to donate $1 to ‘Save the Children’, whether your friend/s turn up for the event or not. Yes, earlier too, Facebook has been used for social causes by companies, but this one goes a step further. Ikea is hoping to increase ‘in store foot traffic’ using Facebook. This only goes on to prove that the coming year will see marketers using the ‘social platform’ more aggressively. If your brand has a page on Facebook, it’s time you made sure that it becomes more interactive and engaging, for that’s going to be the key to success in the future. Or else, God help you… well, literally. The most engaging and interactive pages on Facebook have been those dedicated to religion, with ‘Jesus Daily’ leading the list. At more than 4 million interactions weekly, the page leaves all other pages way behind. This just proves that if you have content that is engaging, you have takers too (after all, there are 800 million people on Facebook and each could be your potential consumer). God could help you get some good ideas for this one for sure!

One of the key factors to keep in mind would be ‘online engagement’ between customers and the brand. Apart from the number of followers, it will also be important to keep your followers engaged this time. When your consumers are being bombarded with so many messages, it’s critical to focus on loyalty and make your brand’s ‘voice’ the loudest and the most unique. One way of doing it online is to keep interacting with them. The cosmetic company ‘Benefit’ did just that. With no marketing on TV or in the print media, Benefit used only the ‘virtual platform’ for all its marketing endeavors. Using fun and quirky online content and giving away freebies and having beauty sessions online, the company built an awareness around its products and kept its fans engaged with the brand. It asked its fans to review its products on its Facebook page and even rewarded its most active reviewers. These ‘reviewers’, in turn, told their other Facebook friends about this brand; and soon, Benefit became the most talked about brand in the virtual space. It’s akin to generating ‘word of mouth’; just that this time, it’s happening online, for that is where most of your consumers will be in the future. All the rules of marketing will remain the same; however, the one who is able to adapt these rules to the ‘virtual world’ will be able to stay ahead of the competition.

It’s going to be an era of the ‘virtual’. Be it brand building or increasing market share, everybody is thinking ‘virtual’. Starbucks launched a ‘mobile payment system’, which turned the smart phones of consumers into wallets. Every time a customer ordered from Starbucks, his/her account was automatically credited; and discounts, if any, were applied. Starbucks claims to have 3.6 million customers who have joined this program, very aptly named ‘My Starbucks Rewards Programme’. This will be a year when ‘virtual innovations’ will help companies reap rich dividends.

THE CONSUMER WILL OVERTAKE MARKETERS

On the flip side, the consumer of tomorrow will be very difficult to impress. He has seen it all and is armed with the technology and the know-how for avoiding your advertisements and marketing messages. You need to be totally different and very creative to actually get his attention.

One strategy that most marketers have been seen adopting is ‘shocking’ the consumer. Most of the times, it has worked. Remember the recent ‘Unhate’ campaign of Benetton, which featured some of the world’s top leaders who were not the closest of friends kissing each other on the lips? The campaign featured photos of Barack Obama kissing the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, France’s Nicolas Sarkozy kissing Germany’s Angela Merkel and the Pope kissing an Egyptian man. The latter did not take too kindly to it and the Vatican has vowed to take legal action against Benetton this year. But from the marketer’s point of view, the campaign worked as people remembered it, and reacted.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) had released an ad that showed dozens of planes bearing down on New York with a tag line that read “The Tsunami Killed 100 Times More People Than 9/11”. The copy of the ad continued to state “The planet is brutally powerful. Respect it. Preserve it.” The advertisement, which was created by Brazilian design firm DDB Brasil, was globally condemned by all and had to be hastily withdrawn. Considering the fact that this advertisement appeared just once in a small local paper in Sao Paulo, it was pretty effective, for it had the power to generate a global buzz.

Consumers of tomorrow will appreciate brands that push the boundaries. Diesel did it with its “Be Stupid” campaign, which was loved by the youth everywhere. Whether the ‘shock tactics’ will work or not is debatable. However, one thing is for certain – you need to think really different. You need to be hard hitting to get noticed and be remembered. Only the best will get a reaction from the consumers, and the rest would be conveniently ignored.

The consumer of tomorrow will be impressed by the truly responsible marketer. One who genuinely takes care of its customers and the environment will have more loyal consumers. Brands like Nike and Garnier (French beauty brand) are recycling their products and the consumers are loving them for it. Nike has already recycled 25 million pairs of worn out shoes. Garnier recycles its packaging and uses it to make playground equipment. The consumer tomorrow will like you and remain loyal if, along with a good product, you show him a good recycling plan.

Be responsible and be honest if you want to impress the consumer of tomorrow. If you make a mistake, accept it. Last month, Tata Motors called back over a lakh Nano owners for an upgrade to change their starter motors free of cost. As instances of the car catching fire increased, the company took this action. Toyota, too, did the same when it called back all Etios sedans manufactured before October 8, 2011 to check their filler hose and replace them if found defective. Again, of course, it was done free of cost. More than service, it’s an intelligent strategy to build goodwill and reduce the damages done to the brand’s image.

The coming year is going to be filled with new challenges and new ways of doing business. This time, the old ways will not work. Only the one who is daringly innovative and supremely aggressive will survive.

It’s time to give your brand and your marketing plans a face-lift. It’s time to do new things this new year and discover a new you!