Standing Out

 

We stand out

When everyone is self-obsessed, by being selfless

When everyone is shouting on roof-tops to be heard, by being silent

When everyone is trying to go fast, by slowing down

When everyone seeks scale, by focusing on that which can’t be scaled

When no one can be trusted, by being trust-worthy

When self-promotion is the norm, by shining the light on someone else

When everyone is trying to be interesting, by being interested

When everyone is running after the next big thing, by cherishing that which we  already have

When everyone is trying to fit in, by being comfortable in who we are

When we stand out not because we want to stand out, but because that’s who we are!

We stand out, when we are the exception to the rule!

This post was inspired by this post by Bernadette Jiwa

The First Rule Of Standing Out

 

What could Tiffany’s Do?

Premise:

Last week the Wall St. Journal featured a story on Tiffany & Co’“midlife crisis.” The piece highlighted the jewellery brand’s struggle to regain its “cool” and improve recently tepid sales and profits. A few days later they announced the hiring of a new CEO.

Tiffany is hardly the only brand that is going through such a crisis. There is a lesson that all of us can learn from the experience of Tiffany and to a certain extent, even JC Penny. Steve Dennis on his blog talks about the customer trapeze. The customer trapeze is the idea of a brand hoping to reach a new, highly desirable set of customers while at the same time letting go of those with less favourable characteristics. Most often we see it at play when brands see that their most profitable demographic is ageing and at some point in the near future will start reducing their spends.

Knowing this, brands want to re-invent themselves to become more relevant to the new generation by becoming more hip or trendy.

The Challenge:

The challenge comes when they want to entice the new younger generation to engage with the brand, while at the same time do not want to alienate their existing client base, which is still generating most of their profits for them. This is a true catch-22 situation for brands. But is it?

Tiffnay has tried almost every trick that brands have in their sleeves – becoming more fashion forward, introduce less expensive items in their portfolio or attaching themselves to celebrities that appeal to the new demographic that they want to attract. What they are trying to do is to find the perfect moment when they can let go of their existing customers and take on the new ones. In Tiffany’s case, over the years they have introduced less expensive items and expanded their assortments in an attempt to widen their appeal to the new generation of shoppers. They have even taken on Lady Gaga and Elle Fanning as spokespeople and launched a new, more youthful ad campaign.

What could Tiffany’s Do?

I believe that this is a false dichotomy. I also believe that there is a simpler and a more easier way for brands to transition from one set of customers to another.

Option 1:

Create a new brand for the new customer segment. Let the old brand age with the ageing population cohort.

History reveals that very few established brands are able to successfully execute a dramatic re-configuration of their customer base–at least quickly. There is a significant risk in pursuing this strategy because, irrespective of what the brand does to do this switch, they will not be able to become attractive to both the ageing and the young cohort. In the process of trying this, they only alienate both the customer base, which ends up not so well with the brand and the brand dies a very slow and a painful death.

What is needed here is a mindset shift. What happens if companies create new brands for a new cohort of potential customers and continue to use the existing brand for their existing cohorts of customers. The existing brand can continue to remain relevant to their existing customers and even look at other things that the brand can do for the customers, keeping their brand values intact. In this case, in addition to creating beautiful jewellery, Tiffany’s could also look to create other items that an aging population needs – embellished walking sticks, reading glasses for the old. You get the flow.

What this approach does is allows a brand to live and stay relevant to a specific cohort of customers with their sensibilities. It is ok to allow a brand to age with their customers who grew old loving the brand.

Option 2:

The second answer is a bit more difficult.

Instead of trying to win the younger generation by themselves, allow their existing customers to do that for them.

What I mean here is the following: Instead of the brand trying to woo the next generation of customers and win them over, allow their existing customers (ageing population) do that for them. Then the question becomes what can the brand do for their existing customers so they can win their daughters and grand-daughters to their brand. This allows for two things to happen at the same time:

  • Strengthen their relationship with their existing cohort of ageing customers
  • Build a bridge for the new young customers to start engaging with the brand

This also means that the entire brand needs to go for a make-over and if done well, this can give the brand a new lease of life. The risk here is that if done badly, this could also very much fast track the death of the brand.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, I will only say the following: how Tiffany’s and other brands in the similar situation handle it can have a profound impact on the brand – one way or other.

 

 

PBTO58: Hunch – Where Insights and Foresights Meet! With Bernadette Jiwa

Credits: Opening music credit goes to Riju Mukhopadhyay & Pavan Cherukumilli

Who is on the show:

In this episode, we host Bernadette Jiwa. She is a best selling author of multiple books and writes one of the most popular marketing and branding blogs – The Story of Telling. Smart Company named as the top business blog in Australia of 2016Seth Godin listed it as one of the marketing blogs he reads.

Why is she on the show:

She just released her most recent book – Hunch. The book talks about how we can turn our everyday insights into the next big thing.

What do we talk about:

In this episode, we talk about how this particular book came about. She shares her insight about how entrepreneurs – small and large are getting deluded in the barrage of data and using it as a crutch to not decide and work on their hunches. She shares some very interesting stories about how Richard Turere (all of 12 years old) helped save his cows from Lions and in the process invented the “Lion Lights“. She also shares the story of how one doctor (Dr. Ravenell) leveraged the popularity and the sense of community in a barber shop – Denny Moe’s to change the lives of thousands of black men by converging healthcare and haircare.

She defines Hunch as below:

Hunch = Insights + Foresights

Simple yet elegant way to define something extremely complicated, I must say. She also talks about the fact that in order to get these hunches, we need to look at the intersection of three things.

Hunches are formed at the intersection of Curiosity, Imagination and Empathy.

There are opportunities all around us if only we stop and notice them. She shares her way of getting these inspiring stories from the everyday walk of life. She says that these stories are all around us, if only we can stop and look for them, if we find them, slow down and think about them.

We also discuss how important boredom is and how crucial having distraction free time for us to think about stuff that we have learnt and allow it to sink in and come up with our own perspective and a lot more. She shares how Sara Blakely founded Spanx with 5000 USD and she takes the long route to work, so that she can get some quite reflection time for herself almost everyday.

This is a short episode but one filled with a lot of insights and learnings.

How can you connect with her:

I strongly recommend that you buy her book – Hunch. The book is packed with a lot of such stories and also has a lot of prompts that can nudge us to practice all the three things that she talks about (curiosity, imagination and empathy) that are important for coming up with our own hunches. Also,  subscribe to her blog. She blogs every single day. Her blogs are an oasis in the middle of a barrage of blogs that dont speak to you. They are short but insightful. They speak to us in a way not many blogs do. You can also follow her on twitter @bernadetteJiwa.

PS: You can watch the TED Talks by Richard & Dr. Rayenell.

Credits: Opening music credit goes to Riju Mukhopadhyay & Pavan Cherukumilli

What Successful Marketing looks like

I see marketing as successful if

  • The focus of the effort was the consumer and she doesn’t feel like she is marketed to but feels like someone understood her better!
  • She doesn’t feel like she is part of a target market but like an individual that she is!
  • You have a conversation with her and not talk to her!
  • When she feels and interacts with the marketing activity but doesn’t see it!
  • It creates a emotional relationship with her along with a transactional relationship!

This is simple but not easy!

 

 

Lessons in Storytelling That I learnt from TED Conference Speakers

Lessons in Storytelling From TED Conference Speakers by Mukesh Gupta

Premise:

Story telling has been one of the most memorable and influential ways to spread ideas. The TED conference is so popular because the speakers in the conference are mostly good at telling stories – stories that they are passionate about and that passion spills over to the audience and we are able to connect. Also, note that the duration of these talks are not very long.

So, I wanted to learn if there are any story telling secrets that i can learn from the TED speakers. Also, I thought that it would be interesting to figure out if there are any common threads that we see in a lot of other speakers do but is missing at these TED conferences.

Here is a list of things that I have learned watching TED speakers tell compelling stories:

Keep it Short and Simple: 

The TED format makes it extremely difficult for anyone to tell a long story. The speakers are forced to keep their stories short. Telling a compelling story is not easy. It takes a lot of time, practice and learning to be able to do so. Try telling a story that is longer than 5 mins and you will know the difficulty of keeping the audience glued to your story, specially when we are speaking live or presenting over the web. So, it’s better to keep our stories short, crisp and to-the-point.

No Preamble:

I have hardly seen any TED speaker tell their audience that they are about to tell a story. They just start with a story. As human’s we are wired to know when someone is about to tell us a story. We do not have to tell the audience that we are about to tell a story. There is no preamble, just directly start with the story.

Its Personal:

Most compelling stories are personal. When telling a personal story, we instinctively access our emotions and it shows. This enables the audience to emotionally engage with the speakers as well. The second best kind of story to tell is about something that we are extremely passionate about. This passion needs to be evident in every aspect of the story. It ensures that you are able to connect to the audience.

What do you want the audience to do:

Telling stories for the sake of telling stories is a different art form. However, most of us have something that we want to do with the audience. We want them to think about something in a way that we think about or we want the audience to take action or we want the audience to spread our ideas or something else. We want them to do something. We need to be extremely clear about what is it that we expect the audience to do after hearing the story.

Practice Does Make it Perfect:

Anyone who gets invited to the TED Conference as a speaker has already done something unique, interesting or has a unique perspective, which led to their being invited to present. What makes it very compelling is that the TED team ensures that the speakers do practice their talks multiple times. The team even gives feedback on what aspect of the talk needs more work. This practice is what makes the speakers at the TED conference sizzle. If we want to tell compelling stories, we need to practice at least a few times, if not much more.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the ability to deliver compelling talks, like the one’s we see on the stage of TED conferences is a skill that we can all do well to learn – irrespective of the profession we are part of. If you look at these learnings that I have from watching countless TED talks are all pointing to one basic thing – they are simple basic skills, honed to perfection through practice.