February 27, 2008

Money for Nothing and the Chicks for free

Mark Knopfler penned the lyrics for this song by listening to delivery men crib about their jobs while watching MTV. Thats an awesome excuse for bad lyrics. Just to be non controversial, let me say "innovative lyrics". The title though, could well have been inspired from a trend that the modern world is now seeing.

It doesn't matter if you aren't a rockstar, or even Bill Clinton for that matter. You can still get chicks for free and make money doing absolutely nothing. As some of you might argue, chicks for free is a moot point. For this very reason, there is a Statutory Warning at the end of this post.

The Internet is free, So are many other things
The internet has long been a leader in distributing free content, but it would be naive to dedicate a post to how information is now available for free.

What we are increasingly seeing is the offering of everything free, right from photograph prints, free air tickets(thanks to advertising on Ryan Air) to free phone calls and messages(thanks to skype,Jaxtr etc) and even free student textbooks.

What about free music thats legal - take a look at qtrax.

The costs of creating and distributing your product and service has become so low that it more often than not tends towards zero per consumer. Revenue is driven mainly by advertising, for example, free phtographs are accompanied with ads at the bottom of the photograph print and free textbooks have ads inserted at chapter breaks.

Free is passé - Now get paid to do what you would do anyway

Its interesting how many services have been launched, which will pay you to do what you would do anyway. Like Agloco for example, which would pay you to browse and 3-2-1mail which would pay you to check mail. You can go here for a more comprehensive list .

It would make an interesting study as to why such services haven't really taken off. It could be that the consumer inherently disbelieves that he can make money out of a service he/she is receiving. One day someone will get the model and the promise right, and this could take off in a big way. More on this in a totally different post.

To sum it up, stuff is available for free, you can get paid for stuff since ads help generate revenue. Just don't be under the illusion that eventually everything will be free. There will always be a large chunk of advertisers, whose products you will have to pay for.

Statutory Warning - If you are lucky (handsome and rich might be other pre-requisitions), chicks might flock to you for a zero acquisition fee (also known as "free"). Nonetheless we would like to inform you that your monthly outflow will not be nil. Your credit cards magnetic strip will certainly undergo tremendous wear and tear to sustain your prized acquisition.

Related Free Articles from the Web:

P.S - I wish I could pay you for reading my article. Though thats a little difficult right now, I am sure its the thought which matters, right? :)


February 04, 2008

The Irony of a USP

Electronics and Convergence
The consumer electronics space is ridden with attempts at convergence. All companies are building more features into existing products and hope to charge more. There are 2 schools of thought, one which favours convergence and the other which says that marketing has always been about segmentation, products will always be more divergent than convergent.

The iPod is a divergent device, while the iPhone is convergent. Is it reasonable to assume that there will be a time when the iPod will be completely subsituted by the iPhone or devices similar to the iPhone?

The consumer loves convergence. Just ask a jogger and he would tell you how sunglasses with an mp3 player are god's gift to mankind.

Marketer has no clue
The marketer is clearly confused. He has designed a great convergence device, with a 100 functions, but the laws of marketing force him to convey just one USP (Unique Selling Proposition).

What happens when the ideal convergence product is created? How will it be communicated. Nokia has attempted to communicate that the Nokia N95 is "Not one thing, but many". Does that statement create trust in the product, does anyone realize what the product can do?

Convergent devices mean different things to different people, and choosing just one route to sell the product could prove sub optimal.

Companies and Online Marketing - Is it about Adwords alone
It brings me to the issue of how these companies market online. The reason this question begs to be answered is that the online medium is where you can engage the consumer and interact with them. It is also the only medium where the consumer actively seeks information and it can be delivered to him. In other words, this is the only medium, where more than one USP can be communicated with ease.

Currently companies are stuck with buying adwords, creating banner ads and hope to redirect consumers onto their site or partner sites to buy. Most of the adwords work only when the consumer has made a decision to buy and is searching for where to buy. It does not influence his buying decision, it only aids his buying process by simplifying it.

How can the marketer move beyond unidimensional communication to creating a group of followers of the brand, who speak and influence fellow buyers more than the marketer himself. It is possible on the internet, and there are brands who have achieved it. But the effort involved in building brands online is much more than just creating an ad and uploading it on youtube (which is probably what a number of companies call innovation on the internet).

Marketing Online and managing People on the Web
Is marketing becoming more about managing people, than managing a brand? Manage people online, who will sell the brand in more ways than you can, who derive greater meaning from your brand than what the marketer projects.

It might mean a techtonic shift in how resources are deployed by companies. There could be huge teams dedicated to just the internet, who actively participate in various forums to educate consumers about the product and influence word of mouth for the brand. The age of unidimensional communication might just become history, and with it all rules of conventional marketing