The Olympics are over and forgotten and so is India’s performance. Yes, we did win a few medals, but we did not win a gold. If we had to look at the Olympics from a marketer’s point of view, then once again, there is this one company, which deserves to get the ‘Gold’ for its marketing strategy.

If you watched the Olympics, you would not have missed the neon green shoes on the feet of some 400 athletes. Well it’s not the first time that athletes have worn Nike shoes during the Olympics, but it is definitely the first time that they have worn this color. Earlier, Nike used to make shoes that matched the uniforms of the athletes. The shoes ‘matched’, which means that they blended with the uniforms. Nike did not like that for nobody really noticed them. Martin Lotti, the designer at Nike, was not happy just designing shoes; he wanted to be noticed. So he chose a color that was bound to stand out – be it the racing track, the boxing ring, or any other event. He colored his shoes neon green and made every athlete wear them. There was no chance that anyone could miss them. So while Adidas was the official sponsor of the game, it’s once again Nike’s shoes that got noticed.

If you stick by certain basic rules, chances of going wrong are reduced remarkably. Like in the above mentioned case, when people go to watch the Olympics, they go to watch the athletes. So if any brand wants to get noticed, the most logical thing would be to be as near to the athletes as possible. Nike did just that. It thought ‘athletes’ and all marketing and branding efforts were concentrated around the athlete. So while Coca Cola is rumored to have paid $100 million and Adidas has apparently shelled out around $63 million, it is Nike who did not spend any money on sponsorships that got the maximum attention. Branding is all about creating the right impact and Nike was bang on target this time. Branding is also about creating customer satisfaction, but surprisingly, many companies lose this focus and finally lose out in the race.


Peter Drucker quoted a long time back, “There is only one valid definition of a business purpose: to create a customer.” This simple fact is overlooked by many. First, you have customers, and the rest follows later. However logical and simple the concept, some companies just fail to implement it. For many, the focus is on ‘shareholders’. They rationalize that if shareholders are happy, the company is doing good.

Jack Welch is one of the best examples of a CEO who is known for his capacity to grow shareholder value. He moved GE from a market value of $14 billion to $484 billion; making it the most valuable and largest company in the world. It was the one company that met market expectations every quarter for almost 48 quarters, and it delighted shareholders for 12 years. So if shareholder expectations are the benchmark, then GE should have been the strongest company. But surprisingly, after Jack Welch retired, the company’s market capitalization started going down and today, GE has lost 60% of that value. How could this happen? The answer is simple; the earnings and the balance sheets were ‘managed’. There was no ‘real’ value creation happening in the company. This is one of the reasons why every day, a new accounting scandal emerges in the corporate world and companies that looked so strong and sturdy just disappear.

It’s customer delight and not shareholder delight that makes a company really outperform its competitors. Time and again, it has been proved that the company, which did not shift its focus from the customer, come what may, won in the long run .

The iPhone 5 was launched recently. It’s a phone the world had been waiting for with great anticipation. That’s because this is one company that never cared for Wall Street or the shareholders. It believed in only one rule – delighting the customer. In fact, Apple’s iconic founder Steve Jobs never left an opportunity to bring out the fact that he did not bother about shareholders, and what mattered was delighting the customer beyond expectations. His energy was focused on developing a new product and his consumers loved him for that. Apple fans world over adore the company, and do not care about the technology that it uses. So while the tech geeks might not rate the iPhone 4S very highly, the fact is that Apple sold four million iPhone 4 handsets in three days; the maxi mum a phone has ever sold in corporate history. The iPhone 5, which was launched a few days back, has been judged by many as lacking the ‘knockout gasping features’ that people have started to expect from Apple. But it will still sell 22 million units in the September quarter. In fact, after the launch, experts have revised their figures and are thinking that it will touch 27 million. According to some, the new device should sell as many as all the previous models combined. JP Morgan has even calculated that iPhone 5 could add half a percentage point to the country’s GDP growth!! Once again, you’ll see lines in front of Apple stores and share prices will start moving up.

A company that specializes in delighting its customers looks different, feels different and behaves differently. As Roger Martin, in his book “Fixing the Game”, says “To delight customers, a radically different kind of management needs to be in place, with a different role for the managers, a different way of coordinating work, a different set of values and a different way of communicating. This is not rocket science.” These organizations are not dominated by the sales force or the accountants, who only talk numbers; but by people who know how to create value. After all, it is commonsense that delighting the customer is what gets a business profits.

Business is finally for the customers and shareholder satisfaction is the consequence of correct strategies and not the strategy, silly!!    Read more....

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The way to your dreams, your goals lies not just in charting a good action-plan, but also equally in decluttering your life, the way all great men have done


“Purity and simplicity are the two wings with which man soars above the earth and all temporary nature...” – Thomas Kempis

In today’s world, where we live in an environment of clutter, chaos and confusion, the person who is able to de-clutter and simplify his life is the one who can achieve the maximum. Most of us are doing too much – speaking too much, connecting too much (thanks to Facebook and other networking sites), multitasking too much, aiming for too many goals, filling our workday with too many commitments, and the list goes on. It’s time to hold back, think, and simplify things. It’s time to focus on the essential and de-clutter, and de-stress our life. All successful people have done it.

However, simplicity is the most difficult thing to achieve. The ones who can achieve it have been the most successful. Charlie Chaplin was one such legend. He simplified films. All his films were immaculately constructed. He understood human psychology perfectly and depicted it in the simplest manner in his films, which is why even today, they are as enjoyable to watch. Come to think of it, simplicity can be pretty complex. Only if you have a deep understanding of the problem can you think of a simple explanation or a simple solution. As Lao Tzu once said “I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” The one who can master these three virtues is sure to succeed.

Look at the world of advertising; even here, simplicity works the best. The commercials we remember the longest are the ones that tell a simple story. Remember the Zoozoos of Vodafone, or the little pug of the Hutch advertisements? Almost all of us remember them even though the ads have stopped being aired on TV. A great advertising guru is one who has the knack to understand the pulse of the consumer. Ask any advertising man and he will tell you that the toughest challenge is getting ‘customer insight’, i.e. trying to figure out what will motivate the consumer to buy. Most of the times, the answers are the simplest. When Rasna was launched (sometime around 1983), the ad agency Mudra used one simple headline, ‘Home Magic’, and below it put a photograph of 32 glasses filled with Rasna with a straw in each glass. A simple idea, but the housewives loved it for the visual embodied the value-for-money proposition. One pack could make 32 glasses. So successful was this simple depiction that the visual remained the brand’s identity for 23 years. A great advertisement is one, which very simply articulates what the consumer wants. This requires great skill but once you have found your message, you do not require expensive locations, celebrities or expensive sets to make your ad stand out and get noticed. The right message is remembered and people never get tired of watching the ad. Amul’s advertisements are another example of the power of simplicity. They pick up a topic that is in the news and build an ad around it. In 1967, the first hoarding of Amul went up in Mumbai and till today, people wait for Amul’s next ad. Look what a simple idea can do!     
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