Sunday, March 30, 2008

Network Marketing... where's the catch?

Is it a good use of direct sales and word-of-mouth marketing? or another means of deceiving customers?

This thing is all over the place! I just got two proposals this week to join such "networks". It sounds odd, it kind of is.

Apparently is a new trend that has been spreading like cancer on my previous university campus... Or so have I heard from a fellow alumni and current member of this network. OK, so my source is not the best there is out there! ...But I would not be surprised.
First I thought it was a smart way to sell gold. Our Brand management teacher, from South Africa, was explaining to us a couple of weeks ago how almost impossible it is to market mines. According to her, the best way to gain more money in these types of industries would be to increase the production efficiency. The product being hard to differentiate with a "brand" and having strict standards, is the same produced everywhere. Well, maybe not.
This just might be the added value some NEW consumers would be interested in. I think it's fascinating. Of course in the long run, the point of the game becomes the game itself and the gold becomes the tool of the trade... but it's still smart.

Furthermore, I have just received an email from an old friend, check below:

Hi Friends,
it looks like a real MLM ( Multi layer marketing ) profitable money. It is an Emaraty site called "" this site OFFERS you $50 as u register to it, then when you invite people to it you get $10 dollars on each person, and when your friends invite others u get $1 dollar on each person.
All this money is transfered to your account thru Western Union.
All what you have to do is click on this link and register (keeping the real address confidential because it involves my friend's username.)

Yes, yet another Network marketing website. well if you think of it... it does get the customer highly involved! ... and isn't that the current global marketing orientation?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Evolution in Digital Marketing

It is funny how in order to determine the new trends in the market, you need to look at the teenagers... They tend to decide what's in and what's out.

There came a time, not long ago, when search engines (the likes of google and yahoo) were the search tools of choice. Back then, the new ways were being fought by traditional conventional thinkers. Information gathered from the internet was not a valid reference. Today, this mode seems to be more widely accepted.

Now even search engines are becoming outdated. When you tell a kid to look up information about a topic, the first thing he relies on is Youtube! ...It's catching on. Does it normally qualify as a competitor to Google? I suppose not. Was it intended to fill this place? Again, I guess not. However, what the user decides to do of a website is often out of the company's hands. This time, it's in their favor. There is inherent benefit in Youtube's offerings. Something they can seriously work on. Could it be the future of research, there, right in front of our eyes?

In order to effectively market a product today, companies should rely on several new forms of media. The digital marketing is no longer limited to banners and official websites (of which, by the way, one can seriously criticize the efficiency).

Today, marketeers should have four main considerations: blogs, facebook, wikipedia and youtube... and even those are bound to change in the near future.

The power is the consumers'.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Variations in Medium Sensitivity

Marketing is not global. What applies in one industry does not necessarily work in another. I think I have identified the key for successful marketing when it comes to restaurants and pubs: word of mouth.

You can put a billion dollars advertising on billboards and magazines, if you are not offering an added-value that will eventually generate word of mouth; chances are that you have just literally thrown your money away... and I have news for you, they are not coming back!

Make sure your marketing department has some marketing sense. The only thing you need to do to succeed in this industry is to offer something exclusive to you; create your own identity prominently enough to be marked in the eyes of the consumer and you're in the game... make sure it doesn't become boring, and you're winning.

Are marketing mediums industry specific?

I was staring at some outdoor advertisings the other day... and I spotted some Perfume posters. Who the hell gave that marketeer this position?! The day it becomes a want to wear the same perfume everyone else is wearing, will be the day billboards become an effective tool for perfumes!!! Whoever put an accountant in the marketing department has made a terrible mistake. It might be cheaper to target a broader mass this way, but your damaging your image!

Customers actually search for perfumes in the glamorous magazines, they expect them to be there, so you better give them what they want. If you want to sell, that's where your investment should be. Forcing your product to the mass is neither a good strategy for your brand image nor a smart sales technique; as far as I can tell. I can't think of someone wanting his perfume to be on the streets... consumers want their perfumes to be in fashion editorials and stylish magazine pages... It doesn't take a genius to figure this out. It's common marketing sense!

Unless there has been some benefit gained from overriding the competition, these companies need to seriously consider their profits and redefine their marketing plan.

Authentic Customer Service

I sat around in Geneva’s airport, after getting some Swiss chocolate and a Euro 2008 souvenir… I still had some time to kill.
I watched the passers by, trying to guess their nationalities; I am still quite bad at this.
Finally, I could board… and as I was climbing the stairs up into the MEA, I saw the cedar on its tail, the one I was boasting on my passport, and I felt I was already home. I was content.
…Until the takeoff, when the hostesses apologized about a failure in the system. The entertainment was not available. I looked beside me, there, was seated, a little girl. I was wondering how her dad was going to keep her busy… I did not want to be in his place. I then put myself in a stranger’s shoes. How awfully would such a lack affect MEA’s reputation… and how would that reflect on Lebanon? Personally I was willing to swallow it, I guess it could have the worst service in the world and still be immune to criticism from my part… but what if I had a foreign friend with me? I would have wanted them to see this airline as it is in my ideal world, PERFECT.
I was disappointed.
Soon the meals arrived, followed by the drinks, soft and alcoholic, then the tea and the coffee… The little girl was being entertained by her father. He was explaining to her how to read her watch, while switching between the French, English and Arabic languages.
The hostesses passed by with a warm smile on their faces to pick up the trays.
The people; that is what I love about Lebanon. The system can be completely down or inefficient… and they still manage their way around it, as if nothing happened.
As I was admiring the view from my window, something odd happened. The co-pilot (or at least that’s who I think it was, guessing from his uniform) was distributing traditional Lebanese pastries, and wishing everyone a happy Easter. The father explained to his daughter that it was a Christian celebration, as he enjoyed the desert.
I turned towards the window, but this time, not to admire the scenery but to hide. Tears had filled my eyes. It is the little unplanned customized offerings that stand for genuine customer service and the pastries were just about enough to compensate and exceed my expectations.

Sometimes, an act of real kindness, that’s all it takes to succeed in business.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Your Destiny has an author.... You

The first time I had attended the debate on "whether there is such a thing as fate" was at church. The meeting closed with the conclusion that man is both free to choose his path and only lead by his destiny when it comes to birth and death... at the time, I was 15, and this statement made sense to me.

As life went on, I was leaning more and more towards the destiny theory.

When I graduated from school there were so many options laid out in front of me. I got scared of making the wrong choice in such a significant way that it would have devastating repercussions on the rest of my life. Choice, yes, man is free.... or so I thought.

I had two main fields of interest, either fashion design or marketing. However, since to complete the first I had to do my final year in France, I crossed out this option... "France"... I thought... "I don't want to go there, not me".

Thus, I went for marketing. and here I am today, continuing my master's degree, an hour away from Lyon (where I would have been this very same year had I picked the other option) and half an hour away from the Alps (where, very oddly, I was discussing to travel with some friends a year before!)... and all I can tell you now is " I am where I am meant to be".

Can we, thus, assume that the choices we have are only a mere impression of choice, and that the way we can affect our path is very minimal?

As I was coming down to this conclusion, I discovered something else at church this Sunday, a week before Easter. When the preacher was reading the Bible a sentence struck me "His blood be upon us and on our children".
Could those words have affected the Jewish people's entire history? Allow me to state this more explicitly, at the risk of offending some (unintended): if the genealogical tree of those who suffered in the concentration camps could be traced back, would it come down to the same individuals who were yelling in the crowds "crucify him"? and if so, wouldn't this reinforce the image monotheists have of a fair God?

Moreover, this gets me thinking of fortune tellers. There was a time when I did not believe in their speeches. Then with people like Michel Hayek (a very known Lebanese psychic) predicting the future of my country a year before the events took place; I figured "maybe" but "only short-term future". This, however, went against my Christian beliefs... and I just found my answer. It is known in Christianity that the devil does have knowledge of the present and past, and he is highly cunning... If such events accomplished in the past provoked the future, then yes, the medium with a devil can actually predict short-term future, but what it actually is, is an acute analysis of the present. Then, it can still be true, only God knows the future.

All I can say is that this world operates in funny ways. I did not yet assume an answer to that question of fate... but I still have a life time to figure it out; to be continued.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

No I'm Not Schizophrenic... But I NEED Help

Is being a marketeer about leadership or creativity?

Somewhere down the line between the businessman and the genius lies the successful marketeer. He is not the artist who hides from the world nor your average workaholic who disregards the external environment... But can a marketing professional get anywhere without an innovative flare and a dedication to his work?

Companies look for good communicators to put them in marketing positions. Are those people in the right place? This is the point where you need to draw the line between marketing and sales.

A marketeer should be able to conceptualize an idea without any tangible materials, understand how it fits within its market and position it in the right angle so as to guarantee interest and subsequently sales. Thus a marketeer should above all be a genius, a person who can think out of a box in a down-to-earth manner.

However, the requirements of today's organizational structures do not allow such people to prosper. Talent is not appreciated. Thus a marketeer should be a leader, one who not only believes in his ideas and is ready to fight for them, he should handle the pressure of responsibility in a risk averse and uncertain environment. He should be able to convince managers that he is comfortable with it. Even more, he should get the top of the pyramid to trust in HIS intuitions.

..But aren't these two personalities mutually exclusive?

We're asking for extremes of two different characters. Yes, extremes. Anyone who lies in the middle will not be able to get his ideas through. Thus I wonder, is any one marketeer complete?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The 1st phase of Marketing: HR

No matter how hard you try to satisfy a customer, if your employee is not satisfied, you're throwing your money away. Yes, I know you've figured out and implemented thousands of ways to sustain control. But trust me, they'll turn your world around, upside down and about if you do not quench their thirst. They know how to make themselves heard. Deep down inside you know it; and admit it, you fear it!

In my last job, one of the first steps I discovered I needed to implement to respond to the company's MARKETING needs was to establish an employee of the month program ...and I thought I had moved away from my field.

But no.

What's the use of promoting your company to the world if at some point in time you'll have an "insider", one of your own, or so you'd think, disconfirm your image? When the employee no longer associates himself with the company, when it becomes a "they" instead of a "we" ring the alarms, you have a problem.

Isn't Human Resources all about marketing the company to the employees at the end of the day? Marketing functions are rarely ever in the hands of the marketing department.

Isn't the general manager's job in some way strategic marketing? ...and the salesman's duty operational marketing? If even accounting can become creative in order to better market to the investors... one might wonder how much further can marketing go.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Forgive me for calling you STUPID

I look around and all I see is environment friendly products. I go to companies' websites, and their corporate social responsibility is flunked on their homepages. I go down the streets and i see the recycling trash sign everywhere... Take a glimpse at the political agenda... did you see these magical words?

...well excuse me for calling you stupid! This is the new trend in marketing, the more environmental awareness you gain, the better they control you.

Do you think that these environmentally friendly products haven't damaged nature in order to be manufactured? Do you think they were parachuted from a cloud into your supermarket? Look closer.

Did you know that the companies that claim being concerned are the ones causing most of the damage? It is not the small companies who claim to "care about the environment" but the leaders, the ones who can afford it; or more accurately said, the ones who need to cover their misdeeds.

Do you think the governmental body members, that passed that law to reduce car usage, go to work on their bikes? Well, say they did cut down on car use, what about the military weapons and air force.... I'm sure those are less damaging to the environment! Wake up people! They're earning your votes for free.

Next time you participate in a "save the earth" demonstration; think about how many trees have to be cut down to make your signs...

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