Tuesday, August 07, 2007


SMS Advertising works?

Coffee Cups and Brand BSE

By Harish Bijoor

Q: Is SMS advertising going to become a success or not? What’s new here?

-Prasad Matoori, Chennai

Prasad, SMS (short messaging service) is a great marketing tool. Provided it is used with intelligence and caution. An over-usage of this medium can be catastrophic to the medium itself for a start.

Let’s trace history. In the beginning, when SMS as a tool became available, marketers salivated at the potential of being able to reach out to consumers on their phone. This was a different phone even. This was an instrument that was kept very close to the body of the consumer at large unlike the landline which was left behind when one went to the movies.

The mobile phone with its visual display was seen as a medium with immense potential to deliver. Here was an instrument which was 24 X 7. An instrument that was perennially on the go with the consumer. So marketers went berserk.

You had messages that were insensitive. Messages that mass-bombarded consumers with offers and schemes and messages that told every one of the events that were happening in a particular city. And then in came consumer irritation as an issue to tackle.

Consumers hated being buzzed by messages that seemed intrusive. Marketers woke up. SMS is surely a less intrusive format of marketing than tele-marketing. All the same, intrusive it is, as it gobbles up the time and attention of the user who retrieves the message on his mobile.

Intelligent use of the SMS in a very data-base targeted manner is what works best. What’s the use of sending an SMS message on Valentine’s Day urging someone not on the love-circuit to send out those red roses? And asking a diabetic to try out the latest Hot Chocolate fudge offering?

The true blue use of SMS technology in marketing will emerge when customized messaging of the 1:1 variety can be sent out. Imagine a situation where you are just about to buy a refrigerator, and the marketer of the competing brand can target you specifically at the point of purchase with an SMS message that offers the better fridge with the better price.

Prasad, the medium is great. Its use needs to be intelligent and focused.

Q: Is the BSE a brand? Is the stock market boom a part
of the overall branding exercise of brand India?

-Pooja Katiyal, Mumbai

Pooja, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) is a brand for sure. This barometer of the prosperity index of a nation’s business is in many ways a representative brand in itself. The BSE is a thought. And to that extent it is a brand. A powerful thought that lives in the minds of millions of investors and non-investors alike.

By this definition, everything is a brand. Harshad Mehta is. Telgi is. Your mom is a brand just as mine is. Maybe a super-brand even!

The BSE represents and packages in its image a whole lot of sentiment, both positive and negative. And that is what a brand is all about. A powerful package that includes in it a whole host of positive goose-flesh creating positive strokes and a whole gamut of negative thoughts as well, that can equally create the very same goose-flesh in you. This time round it may be the goose-flesh of disgust, fear or anger even!

When the stock-market scam broke out, the BSE suffered in its own way. When the BSE is on this absolute vertical trajectory, it is enjoying the positive stroke of popularity. Nothing is permanent however in branding. And that’s why brand managers are important people to the game at hand.

Q: You have been a coffee person. I am one as well. What’s new in coffee marketing today? And what’s this all about coffee and IT? Where does the relationship come from?

-Ravi Bhupati, Chennai

Ravi, there’s lots new in coffee marketing today. Let me start with coffee and IT though.

A recent study I undertook for a coffee major indicates a close
relationship of coffee with the e-economy. The IT/ITES/Biotech environment
is a high-stress environment. Hi-stress environments are relatively good for
coffee consumption. Post 9-11, the US consumer market saw a huge upsurge in coffee consumption. The stress was too much to bear.

The more stressed a set of people, the more do they reach out for the legal
stimulant at hand. Coffee and cigarettes. Both go hand in hand. One in each
hand really!

Nicotine and caffeine are the two legal stimulants that stressed out folk
within IT environments reach out to frequently.

Coffee is seen to be a great ice-breaker as well. Further, IT environments
are seen to be reasonably cerebral environments. Coffee is the cerebral
drink. Tea is mass.

I have built a correlation between advanced stress -economies such as the
United States and Japan to a very deep consumption of
coffee...................and cigarettes equally!

Coffee is a stress buster.

And for new trends, here are some. I was in Miami a couple of months ago. The Miami beach shack
has designs of every bikini there is to possess; but the most popular ones
are the ones that have coffee themes on them. The funkiest design is one of
a coffee bean on each cup!

Hyper-caffeinated coffees are a big trend as well in the US. Ordinary coffee
is considered passé. When you get tired of regular levels of caffeine, you
inject additional doses of caffeine into your cup! This is hyper-caffeinated
coffee! Something that gives you a jolt! A kick! Better than Red Bull!

Coffee speed-dates. Cafes welcome speed-dating. The Cafe becomes a place
where you can find a mate. Los Angeles has three of these and New York must
have a dozen. The Coffee speed-date is a Cafe where you land up and get to
move across 15 tables in an hour. This means you get all of 4 minutes at a
table. You need to order a coffee at each table…..thankfully a small tot! You
get to talk to the man or woman at that table for all of 4 minutes! 4
minutes to decide whether both of you want to take things ahead mutually! A
lot can happen over coffee....................really!

Harish Bijoor is a business strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.

Email your questions to: harishbijoor@hotmail.com

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