Patrick D'souza's blog

Mainstream media's biggest enemy: itself
By Patrick D'souza on 23-Jun-11, 20:36 in Uncategorized |

I have been in two successive meetings with clients where they’ve told me not to bother with mainstream media and put all their money into digital instead.

Their reasoning, which is value based, is hard to argue with.

With Facebook (today 2.47 million accounts strong), marketers now have access to more than half their total universe in Singapore, and virtually 100% of the more affluent set. They can opt not to pay for ‘reach’, only for ‘engagement’ – when a user clicks their ad. And Google provides an additional benefit – the ability to target users in an state of ‘active intent’ – when they are looking to buy.

The economics are impossible to ignore. Why would a marketer pay $20,000 for a one-day presence in a mainstream paper when the same money would sustain their marketing for a month, if not longer, on two highly targeted platforms where the options get better literally by the day?

Yet mainstream media owners in Singapore don’t seem to be getting it. Part of the problem is the monopolistic state-of-mind they’ve operated in for years. They do, after all, have as their clients, the biggest supermarkets, TELCO’s and retailers. What they don’t realise however is that most of these advertisers are with them only because, in a rather paradoxical fashion, they don’t pay for their ads. The brands they sell do – on a cost per square inch basis! It’s a model that’s based on subsidisation (of costs) rather than value in terms of return to the business and therefore, at some point, must come under scrutiny of a more intense nature.

The other part to mainstream media’s problems of course is their business model. For years, they were able to sell based on the argument of ‘reach.’ The web has all but killed that model. Now, ‘reach’ is FREE and ‘engagement’ is what you pay for. And this, is the hard truth that mainstream media owners need to come to terms with.

It’s not that marketers and advertisers don’t want to be in mainstream media. Of course they do – but only at a price that makes sense.

The goal for mainstream media owners is to understand therefore what the pricing ‘sweet spot’ is - an emotional exercise rather than a rational one. What price would a marketer pay for a 1/2 page ad in the ST or Today and think he or she obtained value from it – given competitive options – is the issue media owners need to investigate.

Mainstream media is facing its greatest threat ever. A threat where its competitors in the digital space are perceived to be providing greater value than they are. To survive, they must act, as Darwin advocated, not more intelligently or strongly but more adaptively.

Only then, can they circumvent, and indeed overcome, the very grave risk that at the moment encircles their business.

Read the full article >>
By Patrick D'souza on 23-Jun-11, 20:36 in Uncategorized |

I have been in two successive meetings with clients where they’ve told me not to bother with mainstream media and put all their money into digital instead.

Their reasoning, which is hard to argue with, is value based.

With Facebook (today 2.47 million accounts strong), marketers now have access to more than half their total universe in Singapore, and virtually 100% of the more affluent set. They can opt not to pay for ‘reach’, only for ‘engagement’ – when a user clicks their ad. And Google provides an additional benefit – the ability to target users in an state of ‘active intent’ – when they are looking to buy.

The economics are impossible to ignore. Why would a marketer pay $20,000 for a one-day presence in a mainstream paper when the same money would sustain their marketing for a month, if not longer, on two highly targeted platforms where the options get better literally by the day?

Yet mainstream media owners in Singapore don’t seem to be getting it. Part of the problem is the monopolistic state-of-mind they’ve operated in for years. They do, after all, have as their clients, the biggest supermarkets, TELCO’s and retailers. What they don’t realise however is that most of these advertisers are with them only because, in a rather paradoxical fashion, they don’t pay for their ads. The brands they sell do – on a cost per square inch basis! It’s a model that’s based on subsidisation (of costs) rather than value in terms of return to the business and therefore, at some point, must come under scrutiny of a more intense nature.

The other part to mainstream media’s problems of course is their business model. For years, they were able to sell based on the argument of ‘reach.’ The web has all but killed that model. Now, ‘reach’ is FREE and ‘engagement’ is what you pay for. And this, is the hard truth that mainstream media owners need to come to terms with.

It’s not that marketers and advertisers don’t want to be in mainstream media. Of course they do – but only at a price that makes sense.

The goal for mainstream media owners is to understand therefore what the pricing ‘sweet spot’ is - an emotional exercise rather than a rational one. What price would a marketer pay for a 1/2 page ad in the ST or Today and think he or she obtained value from it – given competitive options – is the issue media owners need to investigate.

Mainstream media is facing its greatest threat ever. A threat where its competitors in the digital space are perceived to be providing greater value than they are. To survive, they must act, as Darwin advocated, not more intelligently or strongly but more adaptively.

Only then, can they circumvent, and indeed overcome, the very grave risk that at the moment encircles their business.

Read the full article >>
The best thing you can do for your brand - define the idea that drives it
By Patrick D'souza on 14-Jun-11, 20:59 in Uncategorized |

It’s been my observation that behind every successful brand is an idea that drives it. An idea that consumers find compelling and can connect with.

Disney, for example, is all about ‘magical experiences’. Hasbro, about ‘the family being together again.’ Jesus, about ‘forgiveness’. And right here at home, POSB,  about being ‘neighbours first and bankers second’.

Defining, and indeed formally articulating, the idea behind one’s brand is crucial to its success. So much so, it led Martin Puris (the man behind BMW ‘the ultimate driving machine’ and Club Med ‘the antidote to civilisation’) to remark that ‘over 80% of advertising fails before pen is even put to paper because it is not based on a powerful idea.

Many brands have not taken the time to define what their idea might be. A good example is Nokia. At one time I believe Nokia was all about the ‘democratisation’ of technology. The company seemed to have a sincere intent in ‘putting a phone in the hand of every man and woman on the planet.’ Their opportunity seemed to be to extend the idea of ‘democratisation’ into the smart phone category.  Not only would this have been differentiating against Apple, and other competitors, it might also have been an idea, given their scale and stature, that could have led them to continue to be the amazing, game-changing brand they once were. Democratisation is an idea Google’s Android platform is now close to usurping and Nokia will have to find a new way to establish relevance with its audience.

Another brand that has lost its way, again due to focus (or a lack of it) is Yahoo. Yahoo’s purpose, when the brand first started out as ‘Jerry and David’s Guide to the Internet’ was clearest – a directory service that helped people ‘make sense of the web.’ A very real and relevant idea at the time. As the brand developed and added more and more services – e-mail, web page hosting (Geocities), Messenger and Flickr (mostly through acquisition) – what it stood for from a functional and emotional perspective started to get fuzzy. And today, the brand that Martin Pyykkonen, an analyst with Janco partners, described as ‘a work in progress which is what you could say about them now and for several years’ – is struggling to define what it’s about. Something it needs to do -and quickly – if its future is to be as good as its past.

What drives brand success? A clear and well articulated idea that consumers find compelling and can connect with seems to be the answer. Does your brand have such an idea? If not, perhaps it’s time to give it one.

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Who are your customers?
By Patrick D'souza on 07-Jun-11, 15:37 in Uncategorized |

One of the first questions I ask clients is ‘do you know who your customers are?’ 9 out of ten will invariably admit they don’t.

Knowing one’s customer is fundamental to the development of any effective marketing strategy. Yet, it’s an area of intelligence that is often overlooked or ignored.

If you want to know who your customers are, so your marketing can reach out to them more effectively, there are ways to find out.

1. You can look at data you already have

Many organisations have a rich repository of data that marketing departments simply don’t tap into.

During the sign up or sales process for many services, basic but key information like date of birth, gender, address, type of purchase and date of purchase are provided.

By simply looking at this data, important extrapolations can be made on the type of customer who is more likely to buy your products and who you should be targeting as a result.

If you need to go a step further, a simple variable like a customer’s postcode can help. If linked to geocoding services provided by external vendors such as Singapore Post, what they can do is help you build a richer picture of your customers – not just in terms of demographics but also psychographics, tastes and lifestyles, allowing you to better understand the way you should be marketing to them.

2. You can look at sources of media intelligence

Media agencies are a rich source of business and marketing intelligence. Most have access to key research databases like AC Nielsen’s Media Index for example – which can guide your understanding of who you should be targeting.

Based on interviews with thousands of Singaporeans, these databases use indexing to tell you which consumer sets are more likely to buy your brand and also those of your competitors.

They have lifestyle-based questions that help you understand their mindset and attitude.

In a recent project for a soft drink manufacturer, we looked at such a database to understand which customer sets were more likely to prefer the product category we were working on and also what their mindsets were.

We zeroed in on females 15 – 21 ultimately – a group the entire strategy thereafter was based.

3. You can enhance data by adding variables to it

Often a company has key variables in its data that are missing. Sometimes these can be obtained through external companies that trade in intelligence.

In a project I worked on for a firm that operated in the b2b space for example, we used SIC (standard industrial classification) codes to understand who the company’s key customers were and also how we could be targeting more of them in the future.

What SIC codes helped us do was drill down to 3 key verticals that made up more than 80% of the company’s revenues as well as the 6 key sub-verticals under each of them.

The result was a crystal clear image, based on actual sales data that showed who the companies customers were – and who they should be targeting in the future as a result as well.

4. You can conduct formal research into the matter

Few customers will grudge an effort from a company to get to know them better.

When I worked on the AUSTAR Pay TV business in Australia, we sent out a survey to the company’s entire base of 350,000 customers. 15% responded! What was interesting about this survey was that it was not digitally activated. It was an A4 sheet of 15 questions that had to be filled in and mailed back to us.

What we gained from the survey was pure gold in terms of knowledge and understanding of our customers, their life-stage, mindset, perception of the brand, consideration of competitors and intention to take up further products.

The knowledge helped drive a long term customer management strategy with clear KPI’s also being formulated for multiple divisions across the company from marketing, sales, customer service, billing and product development.

Do you know your customers?

If you don’t, there are 4 easy ways to find out.

Ways that can help you reach out to them through marketing in a more relevant and effective manner.

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