A couple of months back I was looking for a colleague. Day to day marketing operation was taking lots of my bandwidth. Her CV has stood out because of her experience, education and most importantly her current job. She was working in a real estate firm, reporting to the founder of a company and her company was all over on media recently. I thought even if we may not able to hire her (due to her compensation expectation), this interview meeting will definitely teach me something new about Marketing. So I called her.

After the initial introduction, I asked my first serious question “who is your target market of recent Marketing activities?”

She replied “Everyone”  – The bell rang.

A lasting brand gets build after people buy our product and services, not before that.

I asked, “So what was the objective of this huge media expenditure?”

“To get our name out there, so that we can be a ‘brand’ and when someone will require our services they will reach out to us” -This time it was a louder alarm bell.

Now conscious and knowing where our conversation was going, I politely asked: “What result you got?”

“We are now a big name in the Mumbai real estate market. I get a lot of calls, especially from media agencies and vendors. People now know us really well”

“What about the increase in sales and revenue?”

“That I don’t know but our sales team seems quite busy nowadays ” She was answering now more confidently than me asking.

When hope is a strategy, I call it “Marketing by Accident.”

“What is your ROI on this marketing and how you are calculating it?”

Her answer was “What is that?” – Last nail in the coffin.

I said “Thank you very much, we will let you know”- Interview ended.

This experience told me how much money is being flushed down in the drain based on hope. When hope is a strategy, I call it “Marketing by Accident.” Someone with dire need of our services or product may buy from us. Since this pleasant accidents do happens, it keeps our hope alive. Its a maze- when you target everyone, in reality, it means No-one.

“Putting brand name out there” has a big question mark over it “Where?”

“Putting brand name out there” has a big question mark over it “Where?” and “What is supposed to happen ones your name reached there?”. It’s a common sight after big campaigns, where media agencies and vendors (i refer them as ‘media vultures’) will reach us because we have shown them flesh- Dead Flesh (our big marketing budget). It is definitely not supposed to happen. Along with if our sales team is not in sync with our marketing team and no method to calculate ROI on our marketing expenditure, we are cooking a recipe for a disaster than making a brand. This kind of marketing strategy focuses on media and neglects two pre-requisites – Market & Message.

“Nothing happens until a sale is made”

Once Tomas Watson (Legendary IBM Ex-Charmain) famously said- “Nothing happens until a sale is made”. He definitely knew that lasting brand legacy gets build after people buy our product and services, not before that.

Every Market has its own Mind, Scenes, and Nerve System. We need to first understand that. How to do that is a story for some other day. If the marketing team is not spending a considerable amount of time to understand the market first (not on crafting Message or defining Media first), then it is far better to put money in a casino than in marketing.

PS: She was obviously annoyed due to an abrupt end of the conversation. She called the placement agency and let them know that I was most rubbish interviewer she ever met. 

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