Image Source: https://www.emaze.com
I was reading the article "Let me break down, exactly how we have screwed over the creative people" and it made me think. If you do read it, don’t miss the comments from Benjamin.
I honestly think making a living off being a reasonably successful creative is hard. I know of great bands with huge fan followings who still struggle to quit their day jobs. Some have opened music schools, some restaurants, some joined creative agencies. Some just quit the world altogether, leaving it as just a hobby.
When I was in college I was a dreamer. I was in a band and loved playing original compositions because I thought it would take us places. And I often thought of going back to that dream, but seeing great bands struggle, I have now re-thought my passion for excel sheets.
But here is a thought. With AI, any job that can be replaced by an algorithm and machine learning will be replaced.
The easiest ones first - like anything which has a clear input-output relation. Like a chatbot, or even the common physician that asks you for symptoms and deduces you have a cold or a viral. Imagine a doctor's job going to AI. What chance do most other professions have
You know bots can beat humans at chess and at poker. You must be wondering about poker being way too complex, but ask any seasoned pro and he will tell you his heavy reliance on data for decision making. He uses probability and math to arrive at the best decision way too often.
Who is more likely to use probability well? Humans or bots? Seems like all data-driven decision making will move to the realm of bots & AI.
And if you look at the copious amounts of data-driven decisions taken by management. Oops me replaceable, eventually.
Unless you are a man of gut & creativity. The jobs that will go the last (if they go at all) are the jobs of creatives. A bot analysing what makes human's laugh and cry and then creating an ad that does that. Hmmmmmm. Tough. Creating the next blockbuster hit movie, writing the script for it. No way...
The world has been unfair to creatives, the people who analyse data and take decisions have been rewarded. But what if bots do the job better, which they have proven they can do, even with rapidly fluctuating data points like while playing poker.
Creating, on the other hand, is still far too complex to standardise. Ask the startup world who tried a copy-paste model for creating startups & therefore creating wealth. And how that fared.
In a world of AI, the creatives who rely on gut, instinct and human behaviour might well have the last laugh. And it might just be about time they won...
Ishwar Sundararaman is Co-Founder & CEO of an Interior Design + VR Platform called Furdo.com. Yes he operates in the creative space and is therefore heaving a sigh of relief…
What's in a name you ask
A rose by any other name would anyway be a rose.
But imagine if the rose was called the "Deathbed Farewell". Because the first guy used it on a coffin.
Now how many college kids would want to use the deathbed farewell to make that all important proposal on Valentine's day.
That was extreme but there is a flower which looks a lot like the rose, and is called the Ranunculus. Have you ever heard of the Ranunculus?
There is a concept called name extendability. A concept very few startups or even VCs understand.
Let me take an example, in a forum of 50 entrepreneurs I asked if a product was available at the same price on Snapdeal, Flipkart and Amazon, who would you choose?
Hands Raised: Snapdeal - 0, Flipkart - 7, Amazon - 43
If it isn't available on Snapdeal at a better "Deal", there is no longer any reason to buy...
The objective of long term brand building is to leverage trust in your brand name, to charge a higher price & command a better margin for the same product, one that Snapdeal will never be able to do.
And in a competitive world, in the absence of clear network effects, the brand eventually catches up. It becomes the only thing that matters
But this is not about Snapdeal...
Let's look at the recent demonetisation wave & who benefited the most.
Here are google trends on Search for PayTM & Freecharge. You see searches on PayTM takeoff the same week as de-moetisation, that surge is hardly present in Freecharge. Why?
This is the digitisation wave, and the consumer's mindspace is occupied by "How to pay" and "How to receive payment". And Freecharge does enable digital payments. But no significant surge at all. Why?
Freecharge, sounds like prepaid recharge, which is what they were & they gave back freebees/coupons back then. But then they thought, why not become a wallet, but let's not change the name, because there are so many users already. Unfortunately no one told them that their name was not extendable into the category of general payments. PayTM on the other hand has connotations of Pay Bills, Pay People, Pay for Products, and generally Pay for anything.
So when demonetisation caused a need, PayTM occupied consumer mindspace way more than Freecharge, and therefore grew way more. Battling mindspace is indeed difficult
On android, The 50 million + downloads of PayTM to the 10mn+ downloads of Freecharge, will cause untold network effects, more peers you can pay, more merchants accept PayTM, more consumers jump on. This gap will only widen. Because battling network effects is even harder
And a combination of mindspace and network effects, is disaster for competition.
Gradually Freecharge will be all but left behind.
When naming a startup, many choose a name that indicates the category. Once VC's invest, startups invest so much of the raise in advertising, that changing the brand name at a later stage becomes almost impossible.
Surprisingly VC's don't protect their downside from a business model change, and effectively a name change. Considering the dollars spent in marketing, a name change is a big deal!!
If the business model changes tomorrow, which VC's know it will for most startups, and if they want to extend or pivot, they should have a name that is extendable.
A name that means nothing is way better for early stage startups and VC's who invest in them, rather than a name that means one specific thing.
Ola doesn't mean anything and is way less risky than saying taxiforsure, because if you lapse once on the surety, you are in deepshit with the consumer. But Ola could be high end taxis, cheap taxis, taxis for sure, or any other positioning in the space that they want to be
Another case in point is Helpchat's rebranding to Tapzo. They realised chat doesn't work and had to pivot. But that's a lot of money in advertising & brand building gone poof
Do you still think a rose is a rose is a rose...
* Opinions here are personal and has no connection with my startup.Another case in point is Helpchat's rebranding to Tapzo. They realised chat doesn't work and had to pivot. But that's a lot of money in advertising & brand building gone poof
I am a batsman - Great. As good Virat Kohli? No!! Can you bowl? Keep? Field?
There are so many buzzwords of our time, content marketing, inbound, outbound, social media, CAC and more. In all of this new age performance marketing and measurable noise - I haven't heard one startup, media house or VC talk about positioning, brand building., brand personality, tone of voice, define the ideal customer, Brand Identity and more...
Purists of the branding game, understand that a commodity like soap can be sold using "it cleans", it makes you beautiful, kill germs, smells great, how it makes you feel, form factor, celebrities and more.
Only the first player in the category, sorry "in the consumer's mind", can stand for the category. Like Big Basket can stand for groceries delivered home. Anyone else has to position themselves away from the dominant player in the category to win. You could be organic produce or only alcohol being home delivered. But raise money and fight against a player who has more money, head on in the same markets, now that is just being foolish.
That's akin to heading into a war in an open field being outnumbered 2 to 1. You know how that war ends don't you. The one with more resources wins the war without even losing 20% of his force, while the opposing army is wiped out.
What is instead needed is find out where the weakest point of the enemy army, and concentrate your entire force on that spot. That in a nutshell is positioning.
Who are we, What do we stand for, Who is our ideal consumer, How do we want the customer to view us as a brand, What problem do we solve, How are we different
These are questions more startups need to ask of themselves. And more VC's need brand architects in house or in every startup if possible. Simply throwing money at marketing, rarely works especially if competition has more money. Would you send 100 men to fight 500 and pray that it works out.
But imagine if the 100 men had a fort, a moat, trebuchets and archers and had to just defend a territory they know really well. They might actually beat that army of 500 approaching the wall.
You can think of the startup battleground as an open field or a land filled with hills, caves, and alleyways.
If you are taking on a better funded opponent in an open field, I would like to hand you the Param Veer Chakra for bravery, but I know you aren't going to win.
But if you have alleyways, hills and caves to hide, spring surprises, attack in the dark and hit them where they least expect it or even if they do,don't know how to counter, Aha you would have won and weakened the resolve of the enemy.
Positioning is a little intangible. It's almost like art meets psychology meets marketing meets science.
In the search for tangibility, to assign measurable outcomes, startups might have lost out on positioning. And purists will tell you that positioning is the battle for supremacy that happens in the consumer's mind.
Oh no, not another post on how apps are the next big thing. Phew thank god both of us didn't wake up late for that party. This is a little different. Let me explain
Do you know how every restaurant & pub has a website that no consumer visits. It's only frequented by vendors, partners, franchise seekers etc, which by itself is a good enough reason to have a website today.
But, when websites were still new, every F&B venue thought they needed to do something with their website to get consumers on it. They spent tons of time and money on website developers to get work done. Some even went to the extent of developing virtual games like "Who can drink the maximum beers".
All that changed eventually, everyone realised that thing called "location, location, location" is actually applicable everywhere.
You go where consumers are - and consumers are on platforms that they use frequently like facebook for example and facebook pages became clearly a better way out. Well that was a lesson well learnt then.
But as they say history repeats itself, today when we meet F&B owners to jump on our mobile app clubd, many talk about developing their own apps, which includes their own loyalty platforms, seamlessly integrated with their Point of Sale Software and sometimes done by a vendor for FREE.
I am not sure how any of these seem like trivial problems to them. Developing an app, developing a loyalty solution, integrating with POS software are all stand alone difficult problems to solve. And once you do that, you have to get consumers to download your app, and keep them engaged for long periods of time so your app stays on their phone.
Seems like a lot of difficult problems for a business whose core is to serve great food and drinks - which I am sure, is difficult enough to achieve consistently.
So my guess is this is yet another exercise in futility, consumers will still use the apps that they regularly use, and you have to catch them while on it. For the F&B industry that includes Facebook, Foursquare, Zomato, Trip Advisor and hopefully many startups like us who are gaining traction.
The answer definitely isn't in developing your own app. People who do nothing but build and market apps get it wrong, what chance does the poor neighbourhood pub have.
If you notice, there is a rush by local businesses to setup facebook pages & create online communities. But some local businesses who have been there and done that have a genuine problem.
1. Content creation is a constant problem.
What poll, vote or witty joke do I share with my community today?
And will this really lead to meaningful engagement?
2. Inability to engage at the retail store
Online engagement is great, but in the absence of real engagement while the consumer is at the point of sale is absolutely meaningless.
From Facebook Communities to Mobile Communities
Imagine if you could develop a mobile community, one that is loyal & engaged.
The mobile is an awesome invention for more than one reason, it acts as the unique number which can identify an individual, and also act as a communication channel between the consumer and the brand.
Thus the mobile number if used as a loyalty & CRM tool, can identify purchase patterns, visit frequency and also be a source of genuine consumer insight. Qualitative and quantitative market research can come free. In fact it can be designed in the purchase process, and any post purchase dissonance can be captured and rectified.
More on this coming up later, let me leave you businesses with a thought. What if you had just 10000 mobile numbers, and you knew the exact purchase patterns, their affinity towards your brand, their critique and more. What if you could influence the way they talked about you in the online sphere.
How would that affect your marketing and market research strategy?
This is certainly a must read for anyone doing anything in the social media / networking space
The race to a million likes on facebook or a 100K followers on twitter. Is that what leveraging social media is about? Companies seem to have taken their first steps in going social, by setting up a facebook page or a twitter account.
You know how they talk about Dell having garnered millions of dollars of business by giving away exclusive offers on twitter. If you consider giving away freebees in return for business as a success parameter, its been done ever since business existed. Replicating that success on a different platform by following this age old strategy can hardly be deemed as a successful use of the platform.
Social Media was intended to connect consumers with consumers. With the intrusion of brands, in an otherwise human world, the best case situation is that consumers now treat the brand as one of them.
Lets not assume that I think being human is not a great move by a brand. It is, but it still doesn't leverage the true power of social media.
If you as a brand want to do that, you need to architect a conversation around your brand, so the consumers are still talking to other consumers, but now they are talking about your brand. More difficult of course, but if done right, you unlock some serious potential.
What are your thoughts on architecting a conversation around a brand. Do you know of anyone successful in achieving that?
Undoubtedly social media has been one of the biggest changes that the marketer has had to grapple with. A more powerful consumer - I mean which marketer or business wants that. The power to influence no longer rests solely with the big media spenders.
With the onset of mobile payments and m-commerce, I believe that the world of marketing will once again change forever. Make no mistake mobile payments are not remotely the force they can be.
But imagine if the consumer now has the ability to buy any product right on his mobile. It converts every ad into a potential point if sale.
If you see a hoarding for a Deep Purple concert, with a call for action "SMS Deep Purple to 52121" to buy tickets on your mobile, wouldn't that be convenient. You don't have to go online, you don't have to visit the nearest Cafe Coffee Day. Just send the SMS, and use your card to pay. I am sure security concerns exist for payments on a new medium, which will pass with time and with more businesses promoting mobile payments.
Now the marketer doesn't just get the payment but also has the mobile number of the consumer to communicate future events (I know the spam haters are already thinking this is a bad idea). But as long as there is an opt out or opt in option for the consumer, he should be ok with it.
Recently Vodafone has promoted purchase of IPL tickets on the mobile, you can bet that you will see many similar efforts in the not so distant future.
In all the hype around performance marketing, tech startups, platforms & network effects - the world seems to have quitely forgotten that marketing warfare is primarily fought in the consumer's mind.
The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.