Look out for the crevice

Just a few moments ago, I met James at a coffee shop. He is an iPhone repair expert. Lack of money and infrastructure but compensated by talent with humility. I watched a few minutes while he deftly repaired a device, the young owner paid for the services and thanked.

While I walk upto him more impressed than curious, he receives a call. ” I Phone Repair!” he answers in a crisp well mannered, business like tone. I wait till he finishes. The prospect has called up to make sure he is still at the coffee shop where he is available everyday.

If you have a costly smartphone it is a crime (yes crime) to break it within a few months.Even if you have insurance it works like the auto insurance claim, where the deductible portion works like a penalty for aspiring to have a costly smartphone and then- breaking it ! People like James are a blessing to this world of distraught youngsters who are most susceptible to the predicament.

The title of today’s post might be a trifle naughty. But I could not think of anything better.(so quickly). We have case studies of smart entrepreneurs effectively use niche marketing strategies while planning marketing campaigns, especially useful strategy for smaller companies with limited budgets and products or services that are targeted toward a certain segment of the population.

In a mature market place, there are niches galore, niches exist within niche markets. So the smart entrepreneurs need to find a hitherto unattended need to get a foothold for themselves by conducting authentic-seeming conversations with target customers.How ? Easy!  First find where exactly the shoe pinches. Provide a solution which is prompt, seamless and cost effective.

Rather than having to trek to 9 different stores to find the perfect black dress there are online stylist, who once they get to know your style and size, arrange to send you a boxfull of clothes and accessories selected just for you, according to your budget with a worry free return if you do not like some or all of it.Saves time and money and is a boon for people who find it a bother to take a trip to the mall. And, if you’ve got a special occasion coming up, it’s a great way to find the perfect outfit without having to make a bunch of trips to a bunch of stores for shopping and making returns.

The eyewear industry was dominated by a single company enabling them to keep prices artificially high while reaping huge profits from consumers who didn’t have other options.Buying glasses should be easy and fun. It should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket. With this objective a company created an alternative by offering higher-quality, better-looking prescription eye wear at a fraction of the going price.You can even choose a frame online and try it with 3D digital mapping done with your webcam.

Men were wary of paying higher price for their daily shave for high priced blades in oligopoly built by two leading traditional consumer products marketing companies ,with the pricey blades kept in locked plastic doors at stores.There came a e-commerce company, which   built a unique association with the target customers by blending of a cheap and convenient product with entertaining content thus providing a reason to snatch customer’s attention away from traditional razor sellers.

In a digitally  connected world consumer demands and expectations are constantly progressing.Today’s consumer is technologically more empowered and a marketplace that gives them increasing control over their brand relationships, younger consumers are even more demanding than their older peers. Every Brand is susceptible to this changing customer sentiments. Therefore the real winners shall be those who can find the crack, slit it open and create a new positioning which addresses the unattended need of the consumer.





E is for Engagement

Waiting at an Airport terminal to catch a flight looked up the commercial playing on the TV monitors lined up at the terminal’s waiting area , finished your lunch and there is still time on your break and you are just passing time watching the TV in break room , Or you picked up the remote of your home TV and just turned on any channel out of curiosity – in any of these situation there is something that catches your attention, momentarily, but engaging enough to arouse some curiosity and interest, something different not the usual.

“Engagement” –distracting enough is the mantra to get a continuous attention of your customers who are your target audience in a marketplace cluttered with plethora of offers and the ‘veiled’ rip offs by businesses elbowing anyone to maintain a foothold in their crowded marketplace.

What did a Minnesota based entrepreneur who makes $100 Mns/year by spending $45 Mns/year advertising a pillow do? or what did a powerful YouTube video by the founder of a e-commerce startup offering weekly shave as low as $3 to men itching to find an alternative to the high-price blades sold by Gillette and Schick do? They Engaged the audience with something really unique, but addressing a daily need that really mattered in a most cost effective manner.

During customer survey, rather than using a generic scale that might range from very satisfied to very dissatisfied, as is commonly found in Likert scale questions, the Semantic differential questions are posed within the context of evaluating attitudes. Where the lowest rating could start from (P)oor–>(F)air–>(G)ood–> (E)xcellent. Similarly E is for Engagement nothing beats this strategy for  getting constant attention of your customers continuously pestered with promos,ads and offers.

With due respects to Ries and Trout the father of positioning strategy and also Late Edward Chamberlin  for his 1933 Theory of Differentiation. The take away from both these is the art of Engagement,the key maintain a sellers impermanent position in a queue where every marketer is vying for the distracted customer’s attention.

More about such unique engagement strategies in my next update. Meanwhile , guys please use good engagement tactics to keep the attention of your Valentines.

That coin for expectations

I am travelling tonight, and I need the services activated right Now !

I did not authorize this charges and want a refund Now!

I have traveled all this way to attend this event so can you please issue the admission Now!

Every business faces any or all of the above situations, there are customers not calling for a solution but actually calling  with ‘a solution’ and an ‘expectation’ attached to it.

A wonderful post by Satayantan Roy about Indigo Airlines [www.linkedin.com/pulse/old-man-air-hostess-surprise-sayantan-roy on @LinkedIn] and how the lead hostess used her acumen of empathy, which made more business sense then charging a passenger for a meal that would normally be charged for on a no frills flight.

There are businesses who stick to the policy and procedures to their y‘s and s. But the customers want businesses to take care of their needs in unique situations. This is where the business managers need to take a call. In the proverbial hamlet soliloquy -to be or not be customer oriented and do away with what laid down script?

“The customer is always right”  a motto or slogan which exhorts service staff to give a high priority to customer satisfaction, was popularized by pioneering and successful retailers such as Harry Gordon Selfridge, John Wanamaker and Marshall Field. They advocated that customer complaints should be treated seriously so that they should not feel cheated or deceived. This attitude was novel and influential when misrepresentation was rife and caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) was a common legal maxim.

The retailing giant Walmart loses about $3 billion every year from theft, or 1% of its $300 billion in revenue.Samsung, The South Korean electronics giant will lose approximately $3.1 billion on the fateful Note 7 recall.Amazon’s net shipping losses exceeded $1 billion in last year’s total. All these businesses are consciously taking this kind of hits to build a reputation and gain customer confidence in a calculated manner focusing on the quantum business turnover covering this kind of loss.

This is the coin spent for building and keeping a reputation which will be worth more in bigger denominations of currency notes.


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