10 Best Social Media Management Tools for Marketing Automations – 2022

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Nowadays, only posting content on the web is not sufficient. According to the latest social media statistics, one needs to monitor the online reactions of the audience constantly. Many social management tools can help capture and gauge online performance. You need to pick the appropriate tool to make marketing automation seamless. Here are some factors that will help you choose the best social media management tool.

  • Compatibility: You must not invest in a tool that provides only partial returns. If your brand has a presence on several social media platforms, you must purchase a tool compatible with powerful social media platforms. 
  • Engagement: Listening to your customers and their requirements is the ultimate method of engaging with the audience. So, investing in a tool with various engagement options would be wise. 
  • Generating reports: Creating and publishing content on social media is a significant component of every social media strategy. You need to analyze the reports related to social media performance. The appropriate tool will help in generating accurate reports. 
  • Analyzing competitors: A social management tool should help analyze competitors and their social media operations. Various metrics like posts, influencers, campaigns, etc., determine the competitor’s performance. 
  • Interface: A marketer needs to deal with a tool that simplifies each marketing activity. A social management tool must have an easy-to-use interface that offers a great experience. In addition, this tool must be easily modified to suit the changing requirements. 
  • Cost-effective: A significant factor determining the choice of a social media management tool is its cost. Several tools are on the expensive side. Before opting for a tool, you must review its features and assess whether it suits the costs. 

Now, let us look at the 10 best tools that help enhance your marketing strategies and upgrade your business. 

  1. SocialPilot
Social Pilot - Social Media Management tool

SocialPilot helps small, medium, and even large businesses with social media automation and analytics tool. This tool covers everything from scheduling posts on social media to managing clients. You can also integrate SocialPilot with platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok simultaneously. 

The social media calendar feature allows you to monitor your social media campaigns easily.

Thus, incorporating filters into calendars and monitoring social media campaigns via accounts and groups becomes easy. In addition, the tool provides valuable analytics of automated social posts and lets you adjust with downloadable PDF social media reports.

Its team collaboration feature enables you to add and assign accounts to your team members. For moderating conversations on Facebook pages, you can use your Social Inbox. Whenever you face any trouble, you can contact its customer support via call/chat/email, available 24*5.  

Pros

  • Improved collaboration for hassle-free social media management
  • High-quality browser extension
  • Dropbox and Google Drive integration for accessing media easily
  • Canva integration for creating fantastic images on social media instantly

Pricing

The tool offers a free trial for 14 days. After that, its professional package is priced at $35 per month. The studio package is priced at $75 per month. In addition, you can avail yourself of the enterprise and the agency package at $150 monthly. 

  1. ContentStudio
Content StudioSocial Pilot - Social Media Management tool

This social management tool offers features that help automate and plan content and schedule social media posts and analytics. The Content Planner section enables the concerned individual to plan, manage, and brainstorm when and where content is published. 

Its social media content calendar is handy in readily viewing, accepting, and editing posts. It decreases the chances of sending content filled with errors.

The tool also helps all teams to collaborate. Moreover, it reduces clutter and organizes content in a list. You can also sort and label posts according to type, status, and member in the content calendar. 

Pros

  • The editorial calendar is available for a trial period.
  • A single interface helps in boosting productivity. 
  • It provides content management features across several channels.
  • The powerful filters enable users to manage calendars conveniently. 

Cons

  • ContentStudio does not have a social inbox in the IOS version. 
  1. Hootsuite
HootsuiteSocial Pilot - Social Media Management tool

One of the most popular social media automation tools for marketers, Hootsuite is compatible with numerous platforms. However, its complex features and pricing range primarily cater to large enterprises and agencies.

Hootsuite allows its users to monitor a variety of social media platforms simultaneously. In addition, it provides real-time updates on all your brands. 

Pros

  • Its automated social media posting helps you view social media streams in a single section. 
  • You can avail reports when you need them to understand the performance of your social media strategy. 

Cons

  • Small businesses and agencies are not able to afford the tool.
  • Social media reports need extra payments. 

Pricing

The plans are priced at $29, $129, and $599 monthly. It also comes with a 30-day free trial. 

  1. BuzzSumo
BuzzsumoSocial Pilot - Social Media Management tool

An essential social media management tool, BuzzSumo provides an in-depth understanding of content marketing strategies. So, you do not need to waste time brainstorming content topics. Instead, BuzzSumo will assist you in discovering the most popular keywords if you enter the specific domain name in the search bar. Then, from location to duration, you can filter your results.

The tool also aids you in collecting analytics from popular platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and the like. 

Pros

  • Users can identify the most widely shared content quickly.
  • Since it identifies appropriate content topics, you can quickly build links. 
  • Using BuzzSumo, you can discover influencers within your domain and develop strong relationships with them. 
  1. Buffer
BufferSocial Pilot - Social Media Management tool

This tool implements a feature called scheduling functionality. It is available on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. Users with the pro package can avail themselves of Pinterest also. 

The default feature provides four slots every day. You can add or delete slots daily based on the number of campaigns you wish to post. It offers extensions for browsers like Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. You have to click on the Buffer icon to schedule your posts, which will be added to the queue. The tool is compatible with both IOS and Android applications. 

Pros

  • Users get complete liberty to customize their posts based on their social media accounts.
  • The tool offers insights into suitable times to send your campaigns. 
  • Buffer’s lively online community is great to engage with. 

Cons

  • For receiving analytics, you need to spend a considerable amount.

Pricing

It comes with a 14-day free trial. After that, Buffer includes a forever-free plan and plans available at $5 and $10 per social channel. 

  1. CoSchedule
Coschedule-Social Pilot - Social Media Management tool

This social management tool helps in achieving efficiency for marketing companies and solopreneurs. It integrates with WordPress to push content to the desired social media account when you hit the ‘publish’ button. 

CoSchedule’s speciality is offering users a ‘Top Content Report,’ which provides insights into your campaign’s social engagement. This feature benefits content marketers and helps them understand the performance of their marketing campaigns.  

Pros

  • Users can visualize the content in a single space. In addition, the tool enables them to create a calendar that helps team members view upcoming events.
  • The tool supports approval procedures.

Cons

  • Recently, the tool has become sluggish due to massive data.
  • If you decide to change your posts’ schedules, you must manually change your templates. 

Pricing

The plans start at $0-$20 and go up to $60, $210, $300, and $1200 monthly. A 14-day free trial is also available. 

  1. Scoop.it
Scoop.itSocial Pilot - Social Media Management tool

Scoop.it comes with a free plan. You can create particular topics, share ideas, and connect with like-minded people. Curating content from any other source is also possible via Scoop.it. Also, you can share content across the desired social media platforms with a button click.

This social media management tool helps users in generating ideas using specific keywords. 

Pros

  • The tool updates users on current topics based on keywords.
  • Sharing content to different channels becomes simple with a click.
  • The front page displays relevant information related to topics and curator profiles. 

Cons

  • This tool is costly.
  1. Zoho Social
Zoho socialSocial Pilot

Since businesses are increasing, we need a tool to serve business requirements efficiently. Zoho Social helps in monitoring social conversations and brand mentions. It provides an unlimited social media scheduling feature and establishes a custom report to analyze social media.

The tool manages social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and the like. 

Pros

  • Its time slot feature helps schedule posts for maximum audience engagement. 
  • The automated report creation enables users to share reports with clients. 

Cons

  • It lacks a combined analytics feature.
  • The most common feature, feed integration, is absent in Zoho Social. 
  1. SocialBee
Social BeeSocial Pilot

Using this tool, you can plan and schedule content for various platforms. In addition, the tool makes it possible to manage campaigns due to its intuitive category-based scheduling system. For example, you can assign a particular category to each post after scheduling a post to stay on track with your content. 

Managing your campaigns on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram is possible with this tool. You can use it to plan hashtags and preview the posts before they go live. In addition, the custom URL and tracking features can help create short URLs and generate tracking codes to measure interactions with the audience. 

Pros

  • You can automate aspects of your campaigns.
  • The tool helps in setting up multiple workspaces for more than one brand. 

Cons

  • SocialBee is suitable for larger agencies and companies. 

Pricing

  • Its plan starts from $19 every month. 
  1. Agorapulse
Agora PulseSocial Pilot

An all-in-one social media management tool, Agorapulse is ideal for managing and reporting everything. It includes a social media inbox for managing direct messages and comments.

The tool also features a social media publishing, reporting, and monitoring tool. In addition, Agorapulse contains automation features to manage social media campaigns quickly and efficiently. Therefore, this tool is perfect for operating large-scale social media campaigns. 

Pros

  • It comes with keyboard shortcuts and a saved reply feature.
  • Its automated moderation assistant assigns texts to appropriate team members. In addition, it auto archives spam tweets and messages. 

Pricing

The tool has a free plan, and its paid plan starts from $79 per month. 

With time, social media marketing has evolved tremendously. It demands a consistent commitment to maintaining a high engagement rate. The tools mentioned above are some of the best social media management tools in the market that help create a lasting impression. 

Clubhouse – A new Gamechanger?

Reading Time: 8 minutes

The Social audio app launched in 2019 has seen tremendous growth and traction across the globe. We are talking about none other than Clubhouse. It was initially designed for podcasts under Talk show, but the app was rebranded as Clubhouse. The clubhouse is a live audio app that allows people to listen to or actively participate in live discussions. Nothing is recorded. It was officially released for the iOS Operating system in March 2020, and approximately one year later, in May 2021, seeing the higher demand for this app, they have launched a beta version of the Android app, and the rest is history.

So, what are the features of Clubhouse?

Rooms

Clubhouse’s core feature is real-time virtual “rooms” where members can converse via audio. Rooms are divided into categories based on their level of privacy. There are open rooms that anyone on Clubhouse can join, and it is a default option when you are creating a room.

The next one is social rooms, in which only users followed by the moderators (the ones who create the room in Clubhouse) are allowed to join. In Which users need to receive an invite from the moderators to join the closed rooms.

Under rooms, there are three sections

  • Stage
  • Speakers
  • Others

The profile picture and name of every user present in a room are displayed in the section and whenever a user creates a room they are assigned the role of a moderator, which gives them the authority to call users to the stage (to lead the talk) and mute the users if required and also to remove the users from the stage if wanted.

When a user joins a room, they are initially assigned to the role of a listener and the users will not be able to unmute themselves and the listeners can give the required notification to the moderators of the clubs of their interest to join the stage and speak by using the hand raise option.

When the user wants to leave the room, they can use the ‘leave quietly’ button, and it is also a default option.

 Coming to the next features, the events

Since there are many conversations that go on parallel in Clubhouse, users can schedule the conversations by creating events. So, while scheduling an event, moderators/users need to enter the event’s name, and they need to set the date and time in which the conversation will happen. Moderators can have the option of adding co-hosts to moderate the event. So, after the successful creation of the event, the event will be visible in the Clubhouse bulletin. Bulletin is nothing, but it shows the upcoming scheduled events and allows the moderators to set any notifications by clicking the bell icon respective to the event.

The next feature is Clubs,

In the Clubhouse, clubs are communities based on a common interest. There are many clubs in the Clubhouse across various topics, and the users could search the club with the search button.

Clubhouse groups
Clubhouse groups

There are three types of users under the club are

Admin – Who has access to modify the club settings, addition/remove users from the club, and change the user privileges if needed.

Leader – Leaders have all the privileges of a member, also authorized to create/schedule club-branded open rooms

Member – Members can create private rooms and invite more users into the club

And also, there are three types of clubs in Clubhouse:

Open – This is open to all

By Approval – In which the moderator or the admin needs to approve the request only then they can be able to be part of the respective club

Closed for Membership – It is exclusive to the membership

The next feature on the Clubhouse is Backchannel

It is the messaging function that allows users to have the option of interaction via text individually or within a group, it is the recently launched feature in Clubhouse.

The next feature is Explore

Explore in the Clubhouse is nothing, but the recommendations are based on the user’s people and clubs. Users will be taken to the explore page by clicking the explore symbol, which is a magnifying glass icon. On the explore page, users can look for people and clubs to follow, as well as find conversations organized by topic.

Clubhouse Direct payment

This is the app’s direct payment option, which lets users transfer money to content creators who have enabled the feature in their profile. By clicking on a creator’s profile, selecting “Send Money” and entering the appropriate amount to send, users can send money to them. Users will be requested to register a credit or debit card when they do this for the first time. The creator will receive the entire money. According to Clubhouse’s payment processing partner, Stripe, the user will additionally be charged a modest card processing fee.

Users can send money to a creator by going to their profile and choosing the “Send Money” option, then entering the appropriate amount and clicking “OK.” The money will be transferred.

Another feature is Creator First:

Creator First under Clubhouse is a program intended to help the content creators on Clubhouse build their audience and eventually monetize their content with a direct payment system.

After failing to get any sponsorships for the creators, Creator First paid $5,000 per month to 24 creator shows for 90 days. Users slammed the pilot programme for a lack of openness in the selection procedure and terms of the Creator First contracts.

Value Proposition of Clubhouse

Clubhouse is a place where anyone can learn anything at any time. Because you can’t register at random, it’s unusual to find people who don’t have anything to contribute to the website, and users are selective about whom they invite.

When the invite-only paradigm is exhausted, we may anticipate Clubhouse to function similarly to any other social media platform, with user-generated content being the primary format on the forum.

Invitations in Clubhouse
Invitations in Clubhouse

It quickly gained traction because of its successful launch, which attracted high-ranking individuals from around the world – billionaires, tech icons, digital marketing experts, celebrities, influencers, ex-CEOs of companies, and many more men of substance are in these rooms, sharing their experiences and making opportunities for others to learn.

Many celebrities in the entertainment industry, including Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Hart, Chris Brown, Tiffany Haddish, Ashton Kutcher, and others, have been active on Clubhouse, participating in lively debates in the rooms. Elon Musk even paid a visit to a Clubhouse room a few weeks ago, where he spoke and shared his ideas with the members.

The Clubhouse has proven to be a platform for increasing knowledge by allowing you to engage in talks with people you wouldn’t otherwise have access to, learn from their extensive expertise, and apply it to your business. Clubhouse reserves advertising and subscription fees.

The expectations that the clubhouse parent company Alpha Exploration will turn the hype into money in the medium term are correspondingly high. The founders have not yet publicly commented on their plans, at least not outside of Clubhouse. According to digital analyst Kohlmann, the income model will most likely be dependent on other sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. “The first way is usually through advertising. “It’s clear that we’ll see banners and sponsored conference rooms at some point,” he says.

This is also indicated by a passage in the terms and conditions. For example, the commercial use of Clubhouse to advertise companies or products is therefore prohibited without permission. Companies may be able to buy this permit in the future.

“The second option is to purchase premium accounts that are ad-free or have additional features. Meeting rooms for companies that charge a fee could be a lucrative source of revenue “Kohlmann agrees. In the fine print, there are a few references to this revenue model. The parent company, Alpha Exploration, retains the ability to produce or charge a fee for “a subscription product or service,” according to the terms and conditions.

The quest for a viable business model becomes even more important as the app’s user base grows. Because the costs will rise as a result. Said Hashemi, an analyst at the German venture capitalist HV Capital (formerly Holtzbrinck Ventures), expects the clubhouse stars to want to be paid for their presence sooner or later. “At Clubhouse, the most successful rooms are those where famous personalities speak. Influencers, in my opinion, currently have none of it – at least not financially. If the Clubhouse wants to be a long-term success, it must give a compelling offer to influencers.”

Commercial applications for Clubhouse

As a new social media network, The Clubhouse will find its sweet spot in terms of commercial applications. Let’s look at some of the ways Clubhouse is now being used for business.

Business meetings

Business meetings can be held in the clubhouse. You may schedule a meeting with a date and time, invite your colleagues to the room, and set a reminder for the meeting, much as in Zoom or Google Meets. When a business meeting is conducted via Clubhouse, people who are camera shy or more confident without a video may be able to raise their points more effectively.

Finally, Clubhouse allows you to join a variety of clubs. Clubs on Clubhouse are similar to Facebook groups in that they are a smaller community of people who connect and raise themes for discussion. It is, however, audio-based. As a result, it’s a subgroup where you can have more personalized discussions. You now have a basic understanding of Clubhouse, including how to join, what it is, and how it can be used as a personal and business development tool by establishing connections with successful people, thereby enhancing your business.

A new way of doing podcasting:

Clubhouse appears to be a podcasting service. But there’s a lot more to it. It progressed toward podcasting by incorporating a social component (user-generated content and interactions) as well as a format that resembles radio and tales.

 A new format for digital events

The clubhouse is intriguing for people working in digital events since it can be utilized as a new platform to establish an engaged community of users.

The popularity of social radio platforms is on the rise. The Clubhouse looks a lot like the modern version of radio, with a solid social media component. While radio, as a medium, has been adapting to other formats like podcasting. Clubhouse brings that to the next level. A “social radio platform” that is fully user-generated, with thousands of digital audio rooms and shows, where any show can be produced, from broader audience topics to niche and micro-niche level subtopics.

What are the ways to generate money on Clubhouse?

You might be able to make money by arranging digital events and, as with social media, podcasting platforms, or radio, by • Recruiting sponsors for your events.

The generation of leads

• Increasing brand awareness and developing a strong brand

• Creating a sense of belonging

• Advertisements for products

Clubhouse’s threats & opportunities

  • With its current form, Clubhouse would struggle to build a business model based on the value given through chatroom content, as the value created is too intermittent to market. If Clubhouse wants to build a content-driven revenue model, it requires a means to assess the quality of its material and ensure its delivery.
  • With the current design of Clubhouse, users cannot gather value made in a chatroom or “store talks.” This technological difficulty makes it tough to keep users because any value they gain from the chatroom is lost as they leave. 
  • The lack of an in-app motivation system to encourage users to join chatrooms will be a worry in the future. Joining a chatroom is currently completely reliant on human interest and the suggestion mechanism, which isn’t always a competitive advantage for Clubhouse.
  • Chatroom hosts may care about metrics like “number of chatrooms hosted” or “rating from the audience.” The more chatrooms a host hosts, the more reliable they are, the greater their reputation is, and the more fans and influence they have in Clubhouse, the less likely they are to leave.
  • At this time, there is no way to control the quality of new members or the quality of chatroom chats. Whatever business model Clubhouse ends up choosing should support the build of a high-quality Clubhouse network and high-quality discussions.

What do you think?

Do you like Clubhouse and how it operates?

8 Ways to Increase Instagram Engagement

Reading Time: 6 minutes

The logo of Instagram

When Instagram started back in 2010, nobody thought that it is going to be as popular as it is today. Instagram today, has become a necessity for us millennials. We share our views, ideas, thoughts and share them also. It is a place one can open up about anything and everything. However, who thought that after some while, Instagram will become a place not just for interactions but also for carrying out businesses and also promoting the same. Hence, making competitive Instagram engagement strategies so very crucial.

So, it has become very important for every business to take advantage of Instagram while they can. Engaging with customers, adhering to their needs, wants, and queries have become a pertinent part of any organization. Also, given the ever-changing dynamics of this modern world, businesses can make very good use of Instagram. From displaying their products to providing after-sale services, here are some tips for the businesses as to how they can engage their customers on Instagram more effectively.

Understanding the Target Audience

The very first step in trying to increase engagement on Instagram is to understand the target audience. After that comes analyzing their needs, the kind of stuff they want to see, the things they are curious about.

Instagram these days is not just a platform to chill around and relax. People are using this place to grow their business. People get to know about different kinds of products when we post them on Insta. Also, customers, these days are getting more and more aware of their needs. So, it has become really important for any organization to understand them completely.

For instance, many big brands such as Apple, Sony, Samsung have their own official Instagram handles. They try to engage their customers by posting information about all the new products and services being launched by them.

Use of Proper Hashtags

Hashtags used during COVID-19 Pandemic by Instagram users

Hashtags are very important for all who are working on social media. It helps your post reach a larger number of audiences. Hashtags work in a very particular way on Instagram.

For instance, when you put a post with a hashtag, #Holi2021; it automatically gets grouped with all the posts which are uploaded on Instagram with the same hashtag. Therefore, it will reach all those people who will search for this particular hashtag on Instagram; or will appear on the search window of the same.

Using proper hashtags makes your post very popular within a short period which is tried and proven. Some companies even have their official hashtags for specific campaigns like #NationalFriedChickenDay by KFC, #OreoHorrorStories by Oreo; and one of the most famous hashtags these days related to COVID-19.

Some of the best hashtag generators are:

Engaging with Your Community

It won’t be wrong to say that Instagram has a community of its own. People come here to share their views and opinions and like to know your story as well. Instagram is a safe place to tell people how you feel. So, every organization needs to engage and communicate with its audience by doing some out-of-the-box measures. It will help the business grow.


The company can enhance customer interaction by doing various Instagram activities; such as putting on Insta Polls on stories, doing a Ask Me Anything session on Instagram. Also, organizing some online competitions which will force people to come and take part in that.

Companies can also hire social media managers who are efficient enough to keep the Instagram page effective and communicable. Another thing that company should keep in mind is to keep track of all the comments and queries asked by the customers. They should reply to them as soon as possible. It will help the company to build trust among its customers.

Focus on Aesthetics

Every brand has its kind of identity and persona. One should be very careful while showing it on social media. People take very seriously the kind of content you post on social media so one must maintain an identity and should live up to that. The content that is being updated on social media should be consistent, must be updated regularly and the theme must be followed very strictly.

For instance, Nike updates the posts which are mostly monochrome, with lesser colors, most of the times black and white dominating. On the other hand, Starbucks’ posts are entirely different, having a blast of colors and showcasing different Instagram stickers. This differentiation and consistency help customers to recognize the brand sometimes without even looking at the Instagram handles.

Use websites such as Unsplash, Pixabay to get high resolution images for your insta content.

Proper Use of Captions

Instagram Captions also hold a huge role when it comes to increasing customer engagement on Instagram. Captions include a line or an entire paragraph description of what you feel about the post that is being updated or some important information that your customers must know. Captions matter because we need to communicate because the sole purpose of updating a post is mentioned in the caption.

Also, research says that people often find longer captions more appealing than shorter ones. It is often said that the caption should be short and precise. There is nothing wrong with that but longer captions are also as effective as the shorter ones. In some cases, even more.

For example, when you update some kind of emotional content that needs to be told to the social world, larger captions are useful as they force people to read the whole thing and people appreciate the effort.

Social Media Influencers

Many brands these days are taking the help of social media influencers to promote their products which usually used to happen offline before COVID. But after the pandemic hit, not only the interaction of companies with customers increased but companies started to take extra efforts to maintain the contact and of course, the tasks for social media influencers increased manifold.

Many social media influencers like Diipa Buller Khosla, Shivani Singh, Kritika Khurana are promoting brands regularly, and given the fact that they have a large number of followers on Instagram, the brands have a very good opportunity to promote their products and interact with the customers through the influencers. The benefit of promoting the product is that they post stories on their Instagram handle and create a link that directly takes the customers to the company’s website and this way it can increase the company’s engagement with its customers.

Paid Promotions

Instagram has a special feature of paid promotions in which a company can pay Instagram a certain amount of money by which Instagram will promote your product not only to the people who follow your Instagram handle but also to the non-followers.

You have seen sometimes when you are sliding through the Instagram stories, after at least four or five stories you get an advertisement video. That is nothing else but a paid promotion. Now the benefits of using these paid promotions are that the company usually make use of this kind of advertisements when they want to showcase some newer products and when people look at that story, the curiosity arises and then they start searching the product on the Instagram handle of the handle and hence, increasing the customers’ engagement. Paid promotions can slightly be high on the budget for the company but in the end, it’s all worth it.

Making Save Able Content using Carousels

A carousel shopping post on Instagram

Instagram, sometime before introduced the concept of carousel posts in which one can post multiple images and videos at the same time but the maximum limit of ten at once. This has helped companies when it comes to promotion and engagement as now companies can share huge information in one post only.

Also, the companies should create content that is saveable so that once people start scrolling through the saved posts folder, they can suddenly get reminded of your products and this can lead the customers to interact with you and your handles at a higher rate. Once your posts get saved on their pages, the chances of your post dying are next to impossible.

So, these are some of the ways by which we can increase customer engagement on our Instagram handles. One must keep in mind all these things while updating the content on Instagram and can see significant changes in the customer interaction.

Decoding Marketing Strategy of Teslaquila

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Have you ever tasted tequila? Probably. You might be a fan or not. But have you heard about Teslaquila? Or are you normal? Mathematically, it’s nothing but Tesla + Tequila = Teslaquila. Yes, Elon Musk’s Tesla. The guy who made himself the real-life Tony Stark. Wait, he made himself the Iron Man? His company has recently started rolling out tequila in cool and glamorous Tesla shaped bottles for real.

Going deeper into Elon and his next-gen product ideas taught me more than I anticipated. One word. GENIUS. There were and are many such marketing geniuses. Marketing is a pretty broad topic, nonetheless. And people like Elon have used that to their advantage. Read on to know-how.

For example, Tesla is known for making cars. Electric to be specific. From electric cars to a posh sounding tequila bottle? It’s a very vague transition. But guess what? People are buying it (what do you mean it’s for the Instagram story?). People are checking it. People are talking about it. People are even writing articles about it. This is all about advertising. Nah, not the Tequila. Elon advertised himself. His ambitions. His god-like public image. Everything is a result of genius marketing. This can be further classified as a marketing strategy, marketing technology, branding and what not! Even if Teslaquila is just a small batch made, it has been receiving more attention lately. Studying about this ‘phenomenon’ gave many insights into how creative and strategic marketing can be.

 In any business, the fundamental thing is to sell products. That’s how you make money. But whom to sell? And how to sell? Well, there are various marketing devices that have to be put into use here. These can range from raw marketing, branding, advertising, strategies, and so on. By incorporating the right devices at the right time, one can sell anything.

First of all, have a look at the following established definitions of marketing strategy.

The marketing strategy lays out target markets and the value proposition that will be offered based on an analysis of the best market opportunities.

Philip Kotler & Kevin Keller, Marketing Management, Pearson, 14th Edition

Essentially a formula for how a business is going to compete, what its goals should be and what policies will be needed to carry out these goals.

Michael Porter, Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors, NY, Free Press, 1980

One thing we can infer from the above paragraph is that marketing is nothing but a carefully planned promotional strategy of the product. But it’s not as simple as it sounds. From Elon Musk’s Teslaquila (as discussed above phew!) to Jezz Bezos and Mukesh Ambani’s Jio, marketing strategy played an instrumental role in the success of every venture in the world. How would the world know about your amazing products and services? Marketing, coupled with the appropriate strategy. It’s as simple. In marketing and promoting your product, the sky’s the limit for creativity. Such examples are found throughout history because it’s so important.

The way you advocate the implementation of various marketing strategies decides how well people would respond to your product and how well you can reach out to people.

How to do this is a good question. For instance, we are right now in a global pandemic. Things seem to be catching up to pre-covid era, but slowly and steadily.

 Think of a strategy to directly reach out to consumers in their homes. Not all are hating the WFH facility. Many even embrace it. Hence it can be predicted that they intend to permanently adopt much of their pandemic-friendly behaviour such as online shopping, home fitness and streaming video shows and pretty much many things. Also, it’s more cost-efficient to use online marketing projects. It may also be a win-win. Reaching out is not a problem in this case. Advertising might become trickier. Fresh, entertaining and engaging ad experiences can be a welcome break in consumers’ well-worn and homebound routines. This has increased chances of the consumer checking the product to break their monotonic routines, for a change.

But consumers are becoming increasingly conscious, socially, financially and politically than any point in history. Hence, understanding consumers’ psychology has become more important than ever. It’s undeniable that the pandemic has drastically changed our spending patterns. When to use above the line and when to use advertorials and such questions need to be considered.

Primarily, measuring the market using PORTER 5 techniques should be reviewed again. For any scenario, there are four methods: Market penetration, market development, product service development and diversification.

Marketing Analytics: Strategic Models and Metrics by Stephan Sorger and Marketing Measurement Strategy MOOC by UC Berkely.
Porter's 5 forces
Porter’s Five Forces

 But in what magnitude these have to be implemented depends on the situation. Throughout the digital age, businesses have amassed massive paper trails on their websites and social media accounts. With a small amount of work, consumers can easily go through a company’s services, feedback to see which are offering lip service and which ones genuinely care about them. Any inauthentic or inaccurate statements about the commitment to consumer satisfaction can quickly be debunked, ridiculed, and shared virally across the internet.

Hence, care has to be taken. Data capture is easy in this pandemic era when people have time. So, B2C advertising can be implemented. Does the 80 – 20 rule i.e. 80% of the products are purchased by 20% of the consumers,  works here? Time will tell.

In some times, out of the box strategies give the best results. Remember the Tesla Cybertruck incident (another marketing stunt, same as Teslaquila). The glass advertised as bulletproof cracked on live TV testing. How could this be?

Tesla Cybertruck glass incident

Well, this was premeditated. That failure was a pretty good way to create a sensation and get to the news. This was a marketing strategy, time, and tested.

Elizabeth Holmes founded the health company Theranos and she is on the Forbes list of most disappointing leaders. Yes, you read it right. ‘Disappointing’. Her branding and marketing levels were so good that the once richest man in the world Carlos Slim Helu partnered with her now-defunct blood-testing company. But finally, everything came to an end. Her fame, the company, everything crashed. The shortcomings and inaccuracies of Theranos’s technology were exposed, along with the role Holmes played in covering it all up. Theranos and Holmes were charged with massive fraud, and the company was forced to close its labs and testing centres. Her business model was that blood tests could be conducted using just pin pricking a finger and proprietary technology to even detect cancer and cholesterol. This was all covered up by her marketing strategy.

She had her persona with her like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, which served as the prime marketing tool. Outbound marketing, darkest marketing all these played little role in this case.

This tells how important it is to reallocate budget towards different marketing strategies at different times. The pandemic situation is one such time when the marketing budget should be reallocated instead of cutting it down. This is a recession time, let’s cut down marketing and advertising budget and use it for something else! Well, this is wrong. Just because it’s easier to cut this down doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. We can learn more from Teslaquila!

Firms that maintain their marketing spend while reallocating it to suit the context – be it in product developing, advertising and communication, or pricing – typically fare better than firms that cut their marketing investment.

Harvard Business Review 14/08/2020

About the author:

Sathvik Boorgu is an MBA student from IIM Indore.
She was one of the participants of Optimization – an article writing competition organised jointly by Mercur- I, Marketing club of IIM Indore and Marketing Lake.

Importance of Personalization in Marketing

Reading Time: 5 minutes

“Personalization happens when a marketer or salesperson can take a piece of content and make it more useful for a specific prospect or customer.”

– John Jantsch

Had we ever wondered if most of the well-known retail stores we visit would have a virtual platform for us to shop from wherever and whenever we liked? Or the fact that we wouldn’t have to step a foot outside the comfort of our homes to buy grocery? Most of us would answer with a solid ‘No.’ Innovations are introduced from time to time, keeping in mind the linchpins of any business; the consumers! With the introduction of technology and Digital marketing came a unique concept of Personalized Marketing. And it focused only on serving the content of relevance and value to these linchpins.

Today, in a world of silent races, businesses want to outwit their competitors so their product can rule the market. But it surely isn’t enough if the public only just likes the virtual representation of the product. The consumer needs to physically opt for the product and connect to it. The message of your marketing campaign cannot connect to each and every individual because our perspectives and opinions differ from that of one another. So, if one wishes to convert their viewers into customers, targeting them individually is what needs to be done here. Because don’t we all love it when our inevitable needs and wants are catered to keeping in mind our taste and preferences?

Be it online or offline marketing, companies seek to establish a one-on-one relationship with their existing and prospect customers, giving them an edge over the marketing strategies adopted by rivals. From your content to your products, customers are looking for a personalized experience that befits them and checks all their condition boxes. Remember, the customer always looks for exclusiveness.

Don’t we all hate it when we are asked to pay for something that we never even intended to use or actually used in the first place? When we talk about our cable television, earlier there was no option but pay for all the channels and we never even tuned into most of these channels. But now, we have the liberty to choose and pay for channels of our choice. Companies also offer us packages that are custom made depending on our preferences. By doing this, companies are creating an environment for their customers where they feel valued and providing a service worth every penny a customer pays.

Customers are always seeking to come across a differentiated buying experience. By indulging customers in personalized experiences with the help of data analysis, smart segmentation and digital technology, brands are building a one-on-one relationship with their buyers. With individualized emails assisting to the needs of a certain group of choices alike, customization in products and services, custom videos by social media for birthdays and memories, these brands can communicate with their customers and provide them with a finer experience. Thus, increasing customer engagement and shooting sales revenue.

A brand website can enhance a customer’s experience and introduce a window shopper to its hospitality by collecting personal information from them like their birthdays and offering one-time discounts, more or less on their first purchase or their birthday months. For example, when Starbucks offers free upgrades on drink to the customer on the purchase of a Starbucks card. Thereby converting these visitors into buyers.

In a time where E-Commerce is taking all the limelight and wanting to increase website traffic, personalization has become all the more important. With changing times, we have all in one way or another shifted to online shopping. Based on our purchase history and buying preferences, we often receive messages like ‘Here are some handpicked items we thought you might like.’ And when we actually visit the options, it might shock us to see how relevant it is to our taste!

The OTT platforms have also managed to increase their share of views by indulging viewers with popping notifications of the recommendation of movies and series or with their ‘Top Picks for’ segment. Customers are always looking to satisfy that craving of extra attention. Market captivation of these platforms begins here.

Though personalization has already spread its wings about the upcoming trends in marketing, it has a long way to fully be effective. Companies are either underequipped or haven’t found a way to incorporate personalization in their marketing campaigns. As rightly quoted by Niels Bohr “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” Companies should invest in the development of personalization supporting technologies that would be a suitable participant for their marketing campaign to begin early for shooting profits in the future. With AI taking over all the industries like blazing fire, it has its impact on marketing as well. AI-based personalization can help leave a good impression in the minds of the customers by bifurcating data from multiple channels and coming to an outcome that serves an individual consumer. AI can enable them to virtually try on an outfit on themselves and even give them a glimpse of how well that shade of lipstick would suit them without having to physically put them on. This makes online shopping a discrete experience for buyers. It is all about offering a fulfilling experience to your consumer and escalating your sales. Like, when Lenskart came up with its virtual try-on, customers were thrilled to experiment these glasses on their 3D images by clicking selfies. With this innovation, Lenskart became one of the most prominent brands for glasses.

Although asking for personal details like demographics, location, etcetera from the consumer helps the marketer build a database and use the collective information to deliver tailored content explicitly for a consumer, it also gives the consumer a sense of fear to provide this fragile information. But once the brand becomes successful in winning a customer’s trust, the visitor who was earlier hesitant to indulge in an experience with a label now becomes a loyal and a frequent buyer of the brand. And that trust of one customer, adds a few more loyal ones to your basket. With personalization, it is also easy to manipulate a customer’s psychology and make some quick gains. But instead of earning more, you might on the contrary end up losing prospective customers as no one enjoys buying from a brand with negative reviews.

Anybody can make a product, promote it and sell it. But are we merely looking to do just that? The customer looks for brands that can take care of their Wishlist in tune with their preference. The customer always remembers the service provided by the brand. If a customer has a pleasant experience starting from searching for a product to its delivery, they are sure to come back to the brand for their future purchases. The ultimate goal should be of building a relationship with the customers and gaining their trust. 

Personalization is not only a current marketing trend; it is the future as the gravity of delivering value to the customer can never go out of fashion. Also, feeling connected is the need of the hour in this era of incalculable spam mails rusting in your inbox and the constant flashing ads that pop up out of nowhere. And personalization is what makes your brand’s marketing campaign stand out in the crowd, like a full-bloomed lotus in a water garden.


About the author:

Rithika Rao is an MBA student from VES B-School.
She was one of the participants of Optimization – an article writing competition organised jointly by Mercur- I, Marketing club of IIM Indore and Marketing Lake.

How can Snapchat help a small business grow?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

One has to be a step ahead of his/her competitors to survive. And must be very clear on any given opportunity that will help skim the business to the next level. One such important point is to ensure that you are up to date with the changing technology and adapting to the innovations. One such example is Snapchat. It is a one to one and group messaging app for sending photos, videos and text messages that disappear in seconds. It has many features such as stories, memories, and different stickers to portray your messages in a more creative manner.

Marketing your business on Snapchat is not for everyone’s business. It is important to have a proper strategy and commitment towards creating unique content to become noticeable. It’s not a normal social media application, its more personalised and has more quirky content creation which has its own personality. In recent years, Snapchat has seen an increase in popularity, with user interest and interaction being strong enough to grab business attention.

Why market your company on Snapchat?

Not many people are comfortable with the app, so there is less competition and that makes it more likely to stand out. There is no algorithm that hides your posts and if a user adds a story, it can be easily seen that you have added a story and play it. Also, there are no ads and no extra links to drive away from traffic and from viewing and interacting with the content.

Snapchat screenshots

Snapchat user base bends to the younger age group i.e. 71% of all users are under the age of 34-years old. So, if that’s the age group you are focusing on then this is the best app to be at to market your products. This also means that the type of content your young audience needs must be carefully considered.

In order to remain effective with Snapchat, you would need to have a marketing plan in place. And since Snapchat is a channel so new from what we’re used to as advertisers, the marketing approach is going to be at least a bit different from what you’re likely to be doing for other channels.

How do marketers promote their content?

  • Behind the Scenes – Also known as BTS, people prefer the authentic and raw look of the product. BTS tours and sneak peeks helps the audience to feel connected and be a part of the experience.
  • Takeovers – Employee takeovers help people get to know their co-workers and see what life is like in your corporation. It’s a great way to highlight your culture, your teammates’ interests, and get creative and innovative content that is beyond your office and products’ field.
  • User-Generated Campaigns – The exposure of your account can be amplified by curating snaps featuring your audience. Ask your users, audience on other media platforms, and Snapchat friends to send you Snaps that you can use on a particular strategy in an early feature. To allow extra interest and submissions, you could also tie this to a giveaway.
  • Games – A game can be a fun way to get your audience on Snapchat to connect with you, either from the chat feature or by asking your audience to send you Snaps. That day you might even feature them in your post.

As you share your memories, create amazing experiences and begin to analyze your target audience, this platform gives the potential for immense growth. If you’re considering Snapchat marketing for your business, make sure you read about the campaigns mentioned below.

Case Study: Cisco’s Snapchat Series

Hardware maker Cisco does not seem like a good fit for Snapchat at first sight. However, in its “Day in the Life of an Account Manager” series, Cisco found a way to make its “boring” industry enjoyable by chronicling the day-to-day activities, meetings and workload of an account manager. The series covers one of Cisco’s account managers’ regular workloads, humanising a B2B brand better known for its networking hardware. It’s entertaining and exciting enough to draw Cisco’s tech-savvy audience, as the series blends the mundane with entertainment.

Snapchat stories

Did it work?

Well, the essential meaning of Cisco’s Snapchat campaign is that by focusing attention on the individual side of the business, even the most “boring” brands will create content that is enjoyable, entertaining and intriguing.

Case Study: Gatorade Super Bowl Dunk Lens

Gatorade gained a massive amount of popularity during Super Bowl 50 by developing a personalised sponsored Snapchat lens designed towards fans of American football. As the business called it, #GatoradeDunk allows users to simulate being “dunked” with Gatorade, much like the coach of a victorious American football team. In a commercial starring Serena Williams — one of the company’s endorsed athletes, Gatorade advertised the lens.

The lens was immensely famous. It was watched more than 100 million times throughout the Super Bowl weekend. The overall view count had climbed to over 165 million by the end of the campaign.

Was it a success?

The initiative demonstrated football fans with a positive, engaging way to participate in the excitement and feel a stronger connection to the game and their team. In fact, the Gatorade promotion was such a hit that it was brought back in an improved version by the sports drink brand for 2017, encouraging consumers (or at least supporters of the winning team) to dunk themselves to celebrate the victory.

Snapchat is a unique type. It is one of the first platforms for both the consumer and the marketer to successfully gamify ads and make it enjoyable. Snapchat is on track to become one of the world’s most dominant outlets in the coming years with its youthful audience and wide scope. It’s really in its infancy, and on the platform, it’s much easier to get heard. In reality, a study found that when consumers see the Snapchat Story of a company, they watch it 88% of the time in its entirety.

All this suggests that it’s a perfect time to start promoting the company and creating a reputation through Snaps and Stories. Snapchat has made a few hits in recent years, between celebrities throwing a few hits that impact use and Instagram and Facebook story throwing a few more. Despite this, the app has managed to succeed on all things considered and still has a loyal user base.

Conclusion

In Conclusion, deciding on the type of Snapchat marketing to use depends to a large extent on:

  • The needs of businesses,
  • The type of conversions they are finding, and
  • They’re looking to set up the user journey.

On the whole, the website has proven that it is worth taking care of the brands. Like every other advertisement medium, there is a need for bid strategizing and ad quality monitoring, aside from relying exclusively on innovative communication. So, if you haven’t found Snapchat to be your company, well, it seems like a good time to try! And, happily, it is not as difficult to learn Snapchat as you would imagine.


About the author:

Yashna Bhagchandani is an MBA student from VES B-School.
She was one of the participants of Optimization – an article writing competition organised jointly by Mercur- I, Marketing club of IIM Indore and Marketing Lake.

User-Centric Growth Marketing

Reading Time: 6 minutes

I had a great time working in a fast-growing startup that Google had chosen (with only 5 others from India) for its accelerator program. Acting as the Product Manager for the company’s very interesting AI product, I had plenty of opportunities to explore the real startup environment out there, and in turn, discover my inner strengths. The practical exposure made me aware of numerous challenges a startup faces during its initial days, so I was already eager to enhance my learnings which are tailor suited for startup model of business. My mentors in the company told me about the subject of ‘Growth Marketing’ which is tailor suited for startup model of business. So, I started hunting for a good online course on the subject. Fortunately, I came across the CXL Institute’s website. The institute offered a plethora of courses taught by excellent minds of the field. I took no time in getting myself enrolled in offered courses. What follows next is the review of my learnings about Growth Marketing over the last week.

Traditional Marketing Vs. Growth Marketing

Lessons start with outlining major differences between Traditional Marketing and Growth Marketing. While Traditional Marketing focusses on top of funnel i.e. Awareness and Acquisition. Growth marketing focusses on the entire funnel and is primarily driven by experimentation. This experimentation is preceded by the understanding of what exactly is a customer benefit and is it same for everyone. For instance, if there’s a product which has minimal features in its product category, and additionally priced low – even lower than it should for even these basic features, then can we be sure that the product’s going to be top-selling? No. Depending on several facts, all the customers who value convenience would never go with the product. So, the assumption that the company can just increase market share if it can reduce price is far from right, and effective marketing would involve hitting the right balance between the Price-value and Convenience-value.

Such a balance can be achieved by running consistent experiments and rapidly learning from them. Hypothesis testing is the most popular method and based on the result of the initial hypothesis, subsequent hypotheses can be framed and tested. Similarly, such tests can be executed through multiple marketing channels like Email Marketing, SEO etc. and the corresponding results of this test can help in identifying the best message to be sent across the chosen consumer cohort and media. Then the final layer testing would mean custom tailoring messages based on consumer reactions in the previous step. Only performing the initial tests can give up to 10-20% conversion improvements while experimenting up to the final layer can improve conversion by 40-50%. 

Experiments are always the best way to understand consumers, and even if we fail, we learn. The subsequent lessons taught me about Growth Hacking which is very similar to Lean Startup methodology. We built a minimum viable marketing campaign, tested them and improved them from the learnings. The key is not to find the perfect solution but fast solutions. Obviously, it’s not targeted to find that one solution that can solve all our problems but which would be effective in solving the problem at hand immediately. 

Individual Goals

While these concepts covered essential things for organizations as a whole, the next few lessons talked about individual goals which every person aspiring to become an effective marketeer should pursue i.e.

a) Channel level expertise

b) Analytical Capability

c) Project Management/ Leadership skills

Each marketeer should have a basic command over all the 3 and be expert in at least one of them based on an individual’s long-term perspective. However, the gate is not closed for the ones who aren’t expert in any of these. Further lessons told about the other essential elements which recruiters look for in candidates aspiring for an executive-level job in marketing which included most importantly one’s willingness to learn and ability to demonstrate this willingness. This can significantly aid the recruiter in over-looking the expertise factor. It is needed from each marketeer that he/she is obsessed with being productive and effective.

The subsequent course emphasized the importance of building a growth process for a company. It refers to outlining the trajectory map the company plans to follow and thus requires that the company is specific about every goal it’s trying to achieve within each period (this can be quarterly, semi-annually or annually) the process of which first starts with deciding if it needs user growth or revenue growth. And once it’s done, the company can apply the Pirate Metrics, or AARRR (Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue and Referral) framework to set stepwise goals.

Channel Identification

Next step is to identify channels most suitable to the goal- Push marketing, Content marketing, Growth marketing, SEO, SEM etc. Meanwhile, it should be able to determine the most accurate consumer journey which eventually becomes very crucial. Being able to create an optimal buying experience and after-feel of product purchase can produce long term results, and such exercise should be performed not only by entry-level managers but by the ones up in the hierarchy too. Because consumers consist of different personas, characteristics and context, personalized communications can be tailor-made only if we are close to the right consumer journey.

Growth Marketing Models & Planning Objectives

Final steps include defining our growth model and planning quarterly objectives. Starting with exploring the data through the lens of the consumer journey, hunting for funnels with highest potentials and prioritizing the most important things, the company must identify the biggest pain-points which can make up for the areas of opportunity. One thing which is very important while setting goals is that these shouldn’t be either easily achievable or very tough, but ones which push people beyond their limits but possible to achieve.

Team level quarterly goals and company level quarterly goals should be aligned but at the same time be distinct enough where different expertise within the company can be fully leveraged. One common question that comes to mind is how to set priorities. This is done by projecting the impact of each of the proposed plan (with the help of records), how much cost is going to get into implementing the project (both in terms of money and efforts) and the expected duration of project completion. Choosing the right experiments, and experimenting faster is the key. Both of these goals can be met by targeting the automation of the routine processes, which the course lessons emphasized heavily as a ‘must’ in this fiercely competitive business environment.

Consumer’s Want Vs. Need

The Digital revolution has changed the world in many ways, and there is huge information to exploit and numerous possibilities to explore. A company should answer first why a consumer would NEED its product rather than want it, when is the right time to pitch to them and what is the right message. And to do that, user surveys play a crucial part if executed properly. These surveys should be short, not open-ended unless extremely necessary and ask just one or two questions. Well, it may at first seem difficult to understand but ones the company can answer what exactly are they offering and what is need for it, it’s not a tough task to bring down the number of questions to one or two.

Needs Vs. Wants

One very interesting insight I got from the growth marketing course was that not every time disclosing an incentive before asking consumers to respond can motivate people. Revealing the incentive after completing the survey increases the value of the incentive and it triggers reciprocity in the responder’s mind which can help in getting more responses through the responder’s referrals. When setting options for the survey, one should try to combine similar responses so that each option is different than the other.


About the author:

Ashwani Kumar is an MBA student from IIM Indore.
He was one of the participants of Optimization – an article writing competition organised jointly by Mercur- I, Marketing club of IIM Indore and Marketing Lake.

Smart Marketing in Difficult Times of Covid-19

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Ladies and Gentlemen, I feel immensely grateful to have gotten through this tough year 2020. A lot has happened, All of us have been affected in some way or the other. So we all did find some or the other way to cope up with the changing scenarios in general and marketing as well. 

Upgrading ourselves

The same thing has been seen across businesses since lockdown was imposed and the world came to an almost standstill. Thus, it became the need of the hour to upgrade ourselves from the conventional modes of reaching out to the public if not done already. This is also important because people started to use their phones and laptops almost every hour of the day. Earlier we used our phones once in a while to socialise with our friends. But, now from studies to coping up with boredom and everything else that is necessary is on our mobile phones.

With that being said, a lot of uprising startups and businesses found the opportunity to reach out to the audience at almost no cost. Since most of us dwell a lot on social media these days be it a casual platform (specifically talking about social media but the thought can be extended to websites, YouTube channels etc.) like Instagram or a professional platform like LinkedIn when there are so many products and services out there the choices for the customers are increasing every single day. Now if you think something like a “Clickbait” or using other black hat tricks could help you get sales sorry to disappoint you.

Understanding Digital Marketing and Clickbait

Clickbait might get your target customer on your page or profile for a while but if his/her expectations are not met. They will leave and probably never come back because now for them you are topping their SPAM list. However, if you act smart and put out the value proposition about your product you might not have a chance of direct sales. But, they will keep coming back to see what’s in your store for them and then there is a good chance to convert sales and make them your regular customers.

Now, this has been done in multiple ways.

For eg, 

  1. Spread positivity: People have been facing more challenges than ever every day as a brand as and when you get to connect with your audience you must spread a word of positivity. Only if you post meaningful content which helps your audience to resonate better with your brand will help you grab all the meaningful attention you need. Maybe share with them some common incidents which they can relate to and possibly realise they’re not alone in this and most importantly you care for them.
  2. Memes: Well it’s 2020 we all are bored sitting indoors now who doesn’t like to have good laugh once in a while. If your content creation team could produce a couple of memes you can have a good number of leads generated and a great re-call.
  3. Giving back: 2020 by nature has only taken everything away from us, now the brands have pretty good opportunity to connect with their audience and give back to the community. There has been such a struggle going on since day one and if you can touch your customers with the right intent you’re the king.  You could give away any possible freebie that could also act as the sample of your quality and thus could propagate the word of mouth marketing.

The Game of Ads

If I were to extend this discussion beyond the scope of present digital marketing places like social media, websites, writing a blog to promote and grow your brand, or maybe have a YouTube channel where you directly interact with your audience and maybe talk about how your product or service can provide the solution to a certain problem they might be facing currently. 

But I see some businesses are taking it to the next level by running ‘ads’ in the video games. And this happens as if you watch an ad for 30 sec or so you will be given ‘game credits’. Now there are two sides of it, if you put out an ad for another game in some popular game application there is a chance that person will be interested to try out a new game, but the other one is recklessly running ads in-game which again doesn’t make any sense.

For eg. last night I came across an ‘insurance ad’ while I was playing a football video game. To me, this seems pretty pointless and less optimized. I’m here to play a game and blow off steam. Moreover, I’m still a student like most of the people playing the game and perhaps our family members are calling shots about which insurance company to trust, so what good will it do to your brand to constantly spam me with your ads. Perhaps, if the ad provided me with some insight about why insurance is essential. It is absolutely important for us to invest in an insurance plan and later told about how their company provides top-notch services. Maybe, they would still stand a chance to convert some young people to take their insurance plans. But, you see how one can be smart about putting the brand out there.

Building a Brand

Let’s talk about the importance of branding, and branding smartly and not in a forced, less organic or corny ways. We simply can’t ignore discussing one of the smartest strategy ever made by a leading sports goods manufacturing company called ‘Nike’. The marketing theory of Nike is to honour great athletes.

Let me elaborate, pick out any Nike ad. They always have the top class athlete using their product and the idea is ‘Nike is a brand that champions trust’. So, every time you walk into a Nike store or you make a purchase you feel the same way. You feel that you have invested in good sports equipment that will help you reach your peak performance. Now, that they have gained your trust for every commodity be it – sneakers, T-shirt, shorts or anything they put their ‘swoosh’ on, they get to charge you a premium price. Think about it!

The first poster shows sneakers inspired by Michael Jordan one of the greatest basketball players in the history of basketball. The second one is about Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the finest football player who happens to have a lifetime contract with Nike.

Summary

People have shifted from listening to the radio and watching television to being stuck on their mobile phones and laptops 24×7. Hence we need to make ourselves visible where our customers are. Thus it is super essential for us to build a digital presence. Running ads is an important component of digital marketing but it’s not the only part. Moreover, if done without setting specific goals and recklessly, ads can do more harm than good. Customers love to understand the value your business provides. So focusing on the value component instead of constantly spamming them with the ads is a much better idea. Lastly, people need to recognise your product in a pool of variety of products. Thus, it becomes necessary to build your own unique identity which your customers can easily identify and to relate with.


About the author:

Jatin Gupta is an MBA student from Thapar University.
He was a participant of Optimization – an article writing competition organised jointly by Mercur- IMarketing club of IIM Indore and Marketing Lake.

What Branding is Doing in COVID-19 Era?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In Jeff Bezos’ words, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”.

Branding during Covid

Creating a brand for your company is really important as it will help you to get better recognition in the eyes of the customers as compared to non-branded products and it holds true for any kind of product whether they are the food joints such as McDonald’s or KFC, perfumes like Calvin Klein or Skinn by Titan, clothing brands like Forever New or Tommy Hilfiger or mineral water like Bisleri or Kinley, we just for a moment stop thinking about the price when it comes to consumption of these kinds of products.

This is what branding does for a company, making people realize the superiority of your product as compared to the competitors. Not only this, efficient branding will lead to value creation for the company which leads to customer loyalty and further, it becomes easier for the company to attract new customers.

The Branding Process

Now, if we talk about the branding process, it is not a task for the faint-hearted. The brand manager has to be very cautious and precise when it comes to creating an appropriate brand for the product.

The first step in the branding process is research. In the research phase, the brand manager conducts a lot of field research, gathering relevant information about the business, target audience and/or competitors and try to align all of the information with the company’s vision. After the thorough research, the next step is to develop a branding strategy which includes putting all the research in action so that the brand should cover all the aspects of the business, fulfilling the customer needs and making a brand combative enough to brawl with the competitors’ products.

What is a brand without its very own name and logo?

So, the next step in the branding process is to develop a brand design. Brand design in simple words means the name, logo and/or combination of symbols which is given to your brand so that to differentiate it amongst the plethora of products that are already existing in the market.

The brand design must be unique and special in its own way so that it attracts the customers the very first time they come in contact with the product and it got stuck in their minds forever.

The most crucial step in the process is the implementation of the designed brand. In this stage, your brand is finally rolling-out in front of the public so it is really crucial to select the right channel of communication to advertise your brand so that it comes in the eyes of the target audience. This phase is really tricky as customers can either adapt your product instantly or they will take several months to start building their trust as it all depends on the circumstances in which the product is being launched. The brand managers go through these four steps to establish a successful brand.

Branding during COVID-19

The real question now arises, is this process really going to be effective during this COVID- 19 pandemic?

The whole nation went into lockdown at the end of March and it’s almost the end of 2020 now, still, the situation doesn’t seem to get better anytime soon. Even though the country is witnessing some phases of unlocking, the companies are cautioned about the steps they are taking when it comes to making certain decisions about their products such as pricing during the pandemic, communication with the consumers, advertisement, after-sales services, so on and so forth.

Maintaining the relationship with existing customers is getting difficult and hence some of the organizations are surely facing a slowdown in their business.

If we talk about branding, during COVID-19, branding has become more creative and has tried to maintain the already prevailing trust among the existing customers if not attracting the new ones.

Given the fact that the whole of the nation is experiencing social distancing, the brand manager has to develop a branding strategy in such a way that it won’t hinder the social distancing norms of any of the party as in normal situations, the manager would have had some face to face interactions with the customers, getting to know the needs and wants of the market through the conversation but all this is obviously not feasible in this current scenario. So, in such a situation, the brand manager’s saviour is being played by social media.

Many companies used social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter as the centre of attraction for interacting with their customers so that they won’t lose contact with them. Some of the brands put their creative best foot forward during COVID-19 when it came to engaging their customers and guiding them about the dos and don’ts during this pandemic.

For instance, Nike came up with a campaign “Play for the World” asking people not to go outside rather, stay fit by playing inside.

Another such brand is Facebook which launched a lot of advertisements showing how the general public helped the street vendors to make some money during lockdown festivals under “More Together” campaign.

The companies used a very smart way to attract the customers by not really advertising their product but by spreading awareness in such a way that when people will see the advertisement, they automatically got inclined towards the brand. Apart from spreading awareness, companies used social media to educate the customers about the changes in the operations, how the things are going to be done from now on and the mode through which the services are going to be provided to them.

If we talk about the food giant, McDonald’s, they advertised very effectively by showing the customers all the preventive measures they are taking while preparing the food. It really helped them to maintain trust among its customers and didn’t face much of the hardships when the food joints reopened as people started coming and consuming the food items without any tension.

Another thing that the brand manager has to ensure is that communication should be empathetic. The customers are already frustrated by being in their homes for months and if the brands will start getting anxious, it is only going to irritate the customers. So, every action that the company is planning to take, should be to help the customers during these tough times. The brand must show that it truly cares about its customers and that how much they value them.

The COVID – 19 pandemic had put many things on halt but the things that didn’t stop for a moment includes the company’s constant efforts to provides its customers with all the necessities and comforts that they require.

Many of the superstores such as Big Bazaar, More, Easy Day who didn’t have the home delivery service before, started it during the lockdown so that the customers don’t have to go outside their homes to get the basic items.

Conclusion

The companies have been able to efficiently create an impact for themselves during this COVID-19 pandemic era by going beyond limits in terms of digitization and the high chances are that it’s going to increase manifold once this coronavirus situation will be over. This has given rise to many technological advancements in India and the companies are focusing more and more on using social media and digitization in their favour.

But the companies have to be very careful while using such platforms as one wrong step can prove to be detrimental for the company as it takes years to build trust but a minute to lose it. The company should not in any case provide customers with fake information of any kind and should not sound opportunistic. Their primary purpose must be to educate their customers and hence make them aware. The company should focus on creating brand value but not on the cost of harming their reputation.


About the author:

Anamika Malik is an MBA student from Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon. She is the second prize winner of Optimization – an article writing competition organised jointly by Mercur- IMarketing club of IIM Indore and Marketing Lake.

Adapting Marketing To Consumer Perception

Reading Time: 7 minutes

In July 2020, Hindustan Unilever renamed its ‘Fair and Lovely’ fairness cream as ‘Glow and Lovely’ in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. Many people felt that ‘Fair and Lovely’ promoted negative stereotypes about darker skin tones and was idealizing the idea of ‘fair’ skin. As a result, it was renamed as such to enhance inclusivity and diversity in beauty. But here, one main thing is to be considered.

Fair & Lovely name change to Glow and Lovely


How did Fair and Lovely work for so long?

The advertisements of many companies about these cosmetics have mostly been inherently racist. And it’s not that we, the customers, didn’t know that. HUL earns about ₹ 4100 crores in annual sales from Fair and Lovely. Think about that. We have been giving such a massive amount of money to a company that puts out advertisements saying dark skin is bad, even if it is implicit.

But Why?

Dr Anthony Greenwald, a renowned social psychologist, invented a test called the
Implicit Association Test (IAT).

The IAT measures the strength of associations between concepts (e.g., black people, gay people) and evaluations (e.g., good, bad) or between the concepts and stereotypes (e.g., athletic, clumsy).

For example, in the Harvard Race IAT, the test will look something like this:

Implicit Association Test (IAT) example

The central part will consist of black/white faces or good/bad adjectives and, accordingly, we will have to press the ‘E’ or ‘I’ key on the keyboard. For the second picture, in the next round, the first column will be “Good or Black people” and the second column will be “Bad or White people”. The same procedure, i.e., pressing ‘E’ or ‘I’ according to the thing shown on the central part has to be followed.

For a more detailed explanation, please visit www.implicit.harvard.edu.

The main concept is this: When two closely related items are in the same column, making a selection is easier; therefore, we press the key faster. This works vice versa when the two items are not closely related, so we take a longer time to press the key. The IAT measures people’s implicit attitudes and beliefs, although they may be unwilling or unable to report these attitudes.

The results of this test are very interesting. More than 80 per cent of all the people who have taken the test are shown to be having pro-white associations, meaning they take a long time when they are required to pair the good adjectives with the ‘Black’ category then when they have to pair the bad adjectives with the ‘Black’ category.

What are the implications of this? Are the majority of the people in the world racist?

Actually, no. What this shows is that, although consciously we may believe that we treat all people as equal, unconsciously, through our experiences in life and the behaviour of the world around us, we tend to somewhat have an implicit bias regarding race, thereby associating positive things more with white people than black people, and vice versa for negative things.

Now, this gives a very good explanation as to why HUL’s Fair and Lovely advertisements were being believed, and Fair and Lovely’s sales were booming till now. People have been implicitly supporting Fair and Lovely’s indirect racism without themselves knowing it.

HUL, irrespective of whether it knew about the IAT or not, successfully used the principles of the Race IAT to market Fair and Lovely to the consumers, earning crores of rupees in the process. I will come to the ethics part of this later in this article, but marketing the product using the consumers’ subconscious behaviour is a really impressive feat, given that predicting human behaviour is pretty unpredictable.

Louis Cheskin, a famous psychologist and a pioneer in marketing, observed that customers’ perception of products was influenced a lot by the aesthetic design of the
products. He coined a term for this called “Sensation Transference”. It refers to the unconscious assessment that people make about a product based on how the product looks, and not about the actual item itself. When we fall for stuff that comes in meretricious boxes, or when we buy expensive products with cool packaging designs, these are all examples of sensation transference at work. For example, in one study, using the soft drink 7Up, Cheskin varied the colour of the can of 7Up and tested consumers’ reactions for each variation. Cheskin found that when 15% more yellow colour was added to the green on the package, people reported that the taste had a lot more lemon flavour!

Sensation transference example

In the past, with regard to dairy products, butter was preferred to margarine by many consumers. But by conducting many experiments, Cheskin found that by colouring the white margarine with yellow and packaging it in foil, people couldn’t discern that much difference in taste. Also, the foil packaging resulted in consumers perceiving it as higher quality. Thereby sales of margarine increased a lot due to these changes!

Astonishing, isn’t it? The effect that colour and packaging design has on consumers’ perception while buying or using the product. This reveals that consumers buy for the product experience, i.e., the product and the looks combined, and also that both the product as well as the product design influence the consumer. Of course, this may be clear intuitively to us, but what matters here is the way it influenced the consumer into thinking something by engaging his or her subconscious thoughts.

Coming to the present scenario, the digital marketing space has grown leaps and bounds due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There is a huge trend of data-driven analytics focussed on optimizing digital marketing by engaging customers to the highest level possible. The problem with this approach is that bombardment and ubiquity of ads in the digital space do not equal higher sales. What I see, as a consumer, is nothing but heavily cluttered digital channels, information being thrown at me in every direction, so basically, engagement or stimulation overload is occurring a lot, so in the end, I get irritated due to this and don’t buy anything.

Maybe it is time we see the consumer aspect of digital marketing and adopt a holistic approach towards digital marketing, where instead of cluttered, poorly executed efforts, a memorable digital experience is offered to the consumer. Drawing from the previous studies, the key here would be to find the emotional need, i.e, the marketer should be able to connect with the consumer. The customer, when seeing the product, should be able to identify a positive experience or association with it.

For example, why are pickles sold in glass containers? In the past, glass containers weren’t used. But then it was found that when people saw the pickles in glass containers, they had a subconscious reaction along the lines of, “Oh, my grandmother used to make pickles like these and store them in glass bottles on the shelf”, and then they would buy it. The feeling of reminiscence here acted as a strong catalyst for the consumers to buy the product.

So the ability of the digital advertisement to connect with the consumer and to evoke a positive emotional feeling in the consumer, which in turn will subconsciously drive his behaviour towards buying the product is key to the success of digital marketing.

A great example of this is how the OnePlus Nord was marketed. OnePlus gave its loyal group of followers a four-part, behind-the-scenes look at how it pieced together the OnePlus Nord. Also, Nord’s page on Amazon had a beautiful design. It had a catalogue and a fixture that divulged Nord’s features one by one. The AR (Augmented Reality) launch was the cherry on the cake. The launch was something new, exciting, and dazzling, one which was offered at a very nominal rate. All these things made OnePlus Nord a marketing masterpiece.

Coming to the ethics part, is subconscious marketing manipulative?
Maybe yes, maybe no.
My stance would be this: As long as it doesn’t have an adverse effect on the consumer and the manipulation is within some sort of limit, it would be fine. You might ask me, how would you define the limit? Or for that matter, what would be classified as adverse? There is no fixed answer for the ethics issue, and the debate shall go on. I would only say that both the marketers and the consumers need to be aware and ensure that they are making responsible decisions.

Consumer manipulation

I will conclude with an interesting experiment.
Dear reader, what is your favourite chocolate? Or your favourite dessert?
Answer any one of them according to your wish. So now, why is that this particular item is your favourite? Because it tastes good? Or any other generic answer, it’s fine. Now if I were to ask you since it is your favourite and you like it so much, tell me why do you like it, by specifically explaining its appearance (colour, intensity, shine, etc.), texture (firmness, denseness, etc.), aromatics or flavour (minty, fruity, sweet, etc.), and chemical-feeling factors (astringent, cooling, etc.)? Would you be able to? Think about this.
There is a very valuable insight that can be gained from this experiment, which explains how consumers make their choices and whether these choices are based on rational analysis or intuition. Ponder deeply, and I assure you, the answer will immensely help in doing marketing better.

REFERENCES:

  1. Blink, The Power of Thinking without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell
  2. www.implicit.harvard.edu
  3. nvision-that.com
  4. cxl.com
  5. www.campaignindia.in

About the author:

S Suudharshan Vaidhya is an MBA student from IIM Indore.
He is the winner of Optimization – an article writing competition organised jointly by Mercur- I, Marketing club of IIM Indore and Marketing Lake.