On my recent travels I was fortunate to have gone trekking in the Kathmandu valley of Nepal with my brother. During our stay, there was news of a Maoist strike planned for Kathmandu city. This threat ended our trekking tour prematurely – as we were forced to drive into Kathmandu a day early.
Now the trekking tour manager informed us that he would make up for the lost night and dinner included in our package. So he offered to take us on some excursions around Kathmandu the next day, as the Maoist strike was later canceled!
He never showed up the next day. And why would he? He already had our money. Whats it to him? A whole lot. The fact that I didn’t get full value for my money is not what most bothered me, but the fact that this guy lost any goodwill I’d have of spreading word about his company to my family and friends.
All he had to do was offer something, anything to make me feel he cared about my experience. Just some effort to appease the customer on his part would have helped his company far more long term, then this short term gain.
This post isn’t to persuade others not to travel Nepal. It’s an awesome, outer worldly experience from the modern bustle of North America. Walking around buildings, temples that are thousands of years old is an experience you can’t quantify.
However, if someones asking me about trekking tours in Nepal, I will say it was a decent experience. It could have been an awesome experience, but it was just okay because of this encounter. Whether this trekking company manager realizes it or not, he also represent Nepal tourism to me, my first impression. I will be more cautious agreeing to a tour next time I visit Nepal. But others who encounter this kind of service might never return to Nepal!
Whats the point?
The best kind of marketing is actually giving a damn. Make your customers experience with you a positive one. Something worth remembering. You want them to leave your business being an happy, enthusiastic, walking spokesperson for your company. Focus on this far outweighs all the thousands some companies spend on marketing brochures explaining all there nifty products and services. Listen, have some empathy and you might win a customer for life.
Over the holiday break I watched quite a few movies, and many of them were influenced from a recent trip to India. It got me got thinking about what’s currently happening in Bollywood aka – the Hindi Film Industry – and how it could be marketed better to get more appreciation around the world.
Hindi Films have a monopoly on the Fashion/Music/Wedding industry
I wish Bollywood would go more global, but you have to first understand the Indian entertainment culture. There are certain limitations it puts on itself and that is simply due to the market it caters to.
Hindi films are a unique art form that exists in South Asia. Up to recent times, a lot of the films have these set pieces that are focused on NRI audiences (Indians living abroad). The story that is presented has this superficiality – the characters wear these designer clothes, and finally there are these formulaic “filmy” songs. India doesn’t have a strong mainstream music industry like we do in the West. Because of this, the venue to show songs is through the power of Hindi films. Thus majority of the songs being generated come from film. The songs in the film also become a venue to showcase all the latest fashion styles for the upcoming wedding season for Indians living abroad. You see the cycle here? Its one big entertainment/fashion package! It’s an art form is very close their hearts of Indians and to alter it completely would be betraying the audiences expectations.
In 100 years, there has yet to one breakthrough hit to come from Mumbai that both West and East can appreciate. Bollywood is very good at copying ideas off Hollywood, but Bollywood hasn’t had one copied from Hollywood. I mean one of the biggest and best Hollywood movies of the past decade, The Departed, is remake of a Chinese movie – Infernal Affairs. The biggest sci fi movie of the past summer was District 9 from South Africa! Slum Dog Millionaire is the only one that can be considered a cross over hit. But it took an English director to take an Indian story, with Indian actors in an Indian setting, to be presented in a way that appealed to people in LA and Mumbai. India is the home of Mahabharata and Rāmāyaṇa. It definitely is a country of story tellers! And stories have universal appeal. That storytelling talent just needs to be refined and presented in a manner that will allow Indian films to become global hits.
Lack of Realism
Indians love making these classic “masala”movies – boy meets girl, girl ignores him, some conflict or twist, eventually fall in love, big wedding, lots of songs in-between. Okay not exactly like this, but they do have a formula that just doesn’t translate as well as it used to. Its gotten predictable, just not interesting enough.
So sometimes now you will see the 1st half of the movie with songs, the 2nd half something else. I find the Indian film industry is going through a transition period. So the goal for new directors is to make it commerical but also take it to another level – the content, the humour – not play it up the way its usually done in Hindi Films. These kind of movies are now becoming big hits in the Indian box office. Watch movies like Rang De Basanti. Yes, it has songs, but there is realism, in that it ties along to pushing the story forward and in many cases adding to the overall flow and mood of the film. Janne Tu Y Janna Na, Paa and 3 Idiots (hilarious, amazing film) also come to mind, in merging song-story cleverly. Audiences are getting smarter, perhaps the directors have awakened to this fact now.
In some cases no songs are used, such as in the terrorist film, A Wednesday and also none in the office politics of Rocket Singh. In the instance of Wake Up Sid, the music is there, but its cleverly used in the background in the montage of shots. No lip synching! More focus on reality based stories and less on the music and sometimes no music. A refreshing change. Monsoon Wedding by Mira Nair was sucessful in capturing the euphoria and fun of Indian culture, and it did without switching from one village scene to some wide angle shot of a couple dancing on the mountains of Switzerland. Sell us the fantasy, but make it somewhat imaginable!
They spend all this money making the film, but then only pay 5,000 rupees for the English subtitles. Honestly, go rent a hindi movie from your local Blockbuster and you will laugh at the absurdness of the translation. It just sounds so childish, and that is not because of the dialouge, but mostly because not enough attention is paid to this. If the Bollywood big whigs want more foreign revenues , apart from what they already receive from the Indian diaspora, then it needs spend some of its budget on this! You may argue that they speak some English in Hindi movies, so this is a non-factor. Wrong. You can’t just do a direct translation or subtitle the jist of the scene. The context in which the dialogue is spoken in a particular scene – that needs to be worked on. It has to capture the feel of that moment in the movies progression. Western audiences love the dancing, but for them to take it more seriously it needs subtitles that capture the small nuances. Yes some cultural jokes still won’t come across as funny to non-native Indians. But still more effort needs to be made on this front as well.
What am I getting at with this? There is this myth that Bollywood is already global. That just because you pick up an Raj Kapoor dvd in Hong Kong or see a Hindi Film billboard in Mexico. However these are only small pockets of influence and that popularity is declining. The only reason you can say Bollywood is global is because there are global Indians watching. It remains a product mostly made for Indians.
There is a new big budget Hindi film coming out soon with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, called My Name is Khan. And guess how much the budget was ? 15 million USD. Now that is the same amount many A-list actors get in Hollywood. Some Chinese films are made for 50 million USD. Only way to generate such budgets is to capture more from the global pie. Number one way to do this? Invest in the storytelling. Bring some realism to the plots. It has world class directors, excellent actors and great production values. It just needs to focus more on story telling. Slumdog Millionaire did it and reaped the benefits big time.
First of all, every minute of this movie has something to teach you, so please go and watch it if you haven’t already. Its based on the novel of the same name, Fight Club.
Now the message? Anti-consumerism! No that isn’t exactly what I’m addressing. But what I can safely say is just about any kind of material good is now available in about any place in North America. Go to any climate controlled shopping centre and you will find entire sections of the mall devoted to home theater equipment, or 30 varieties of cell phones, or 14 different doggie biscuits. You want it? you got it!
And for some reason we’ve gotten so used to this that it doesn’t seem so remarkable anymore. If you told about this world to your grandparents back in the day they would be awestruck. They lived in a world of scarcity, but changes in modern life has resulted in a world of abundance.
In one of his countless examples he notes that we have so much stuff that an entire industry has been created to cater to this “extra stuff”. Self storage has become a 17 billion annual industry in the US! What does this all mean?
In pop culture, in movies and television shows like Heroes, there is this overwhelming trend of people needing transcendance and meaning in there lives. Were getting richer, better standard of living, but hasn’t increased our happiness. Exotic practices such as yoga and meditation once thought as very niche subjects in North America have now gone completely main stream.
What does this mean for marketing? This spiritual war that Tyler Durden addresses – this constant consumerism – isn’t going to satisfy the need for meaning. We now desire more. This abundance has resulted in push for more beauty and meaning in the products we buy and companies need to know this to continue. Its not enough anymore to create a functional product.
Recently I bought a box of Maynards candy and each box bought goes toward a brick in constructing a school in Africa. I love it! Not only am I rotting my teeth but its helping people improve there lives. Now I bought the box of candy cos I love the candy, but when I read that its going towards something greater that made me feel good. A company that promotes this form of social entrepreneurship creates a story that there consumers will share with one another.
I want to purchase shoes from TOMS one day, not only because they make quality shoes, but because the company has meaning. And isn’t this an idea thats worth spreading? In a world of material plenty, we now have more significant desires. Companies who know this will have a huge advantage.
There’s a story there about a study conducted on people placing bets at the horse racing track. People were interviewed about their chances on winning – both immediately before, and immediately after placing a bet.
What the researchers found was immediately after they placed their bet, people were more confident in their chances of winning – even though nothing about the race itself had changed.
Why? Because they made the initial commitment. People will go to great lengths to behave consistently with previous actions they have taken.
So whats the practical use of this? Well ask clients for their feedback on their previous purchase and as soon as possible. This is when customers are most committed to their decision, and it’s the easiest way to get ten star testimonials. Ask while its still fresh in the mind – when they remember how good it felt to get the product from you. Not a few months later when they have possibly forgotten about your product. Booyah.
I’ve recently came to the realization that my 3 year contract with Rogers (Canadian Wireless company) has come to an end. Now I can finally get an Iphone! However my happiness lasted about 10 seconds when I realized the lack of options for us Canadian Iphone lovers. Were getting ripped off big time people. Check out the below chart, courtesy of Andy Peatling.
The costs are based on Iphone 3G in 2008, so there are some adjustments for the 3GS, but it remains roughly the same – obscene prices. I mean only 400 mb data? THAT is the WHOLE POINT OF GETTING THE IPHONE – to use the amazing online apps!!! Feel like banging my head in mirth.
I also a big fan of shoddy service. Why didn’t they inform me my contract was over back in July of this year? Why should they I suppose. They can do whatever they want in Canada. Rogers has exclusive rights for the Iphone and thus have been maximizing revenues off Canadians the past 2 years. However, now there is upcoming competition with Telus and Bell getting rights to sell the Iphone.
What Rogers doesn’t get is users are less likely to switch if the customer service is great and if the prices are reasonable. With the economic slowdown they could have easily secured there market share by not charging such high prices and lack of service. Too late now Rog. As soon as Bell and Telus or any future competitor comes out with a better plan – sayonara.
Lots of people are always searching for the BIG idea, that one idea that will make them millions of dollars. They will ponder for days, months turn into years, addicted to all the power porn they’ve been reading in Fast Company waiting for the epiphany to hit them straight in-between the eyes. I am telling you right now that hasn’t worked for me yet and its probably a BIG WASTE OF TIME and ENERGY for you as well. I went with the idea of starting a blog.
Easy. Welcome to You. Inc What do you write about? Anything you want. Any ideas you feel are worth spreading. Start small. You might think its a good idea but perhaps its not for you. I definitely thought it was a waste of time until I started to get a few responses at eyeknow.wordpress.com. I used to post about some cool electronic or a book review I did or some tunes I liked and people responded! It became addicting, so kept on keeping on.
Execution of idea is far more important than just having an idea. Cos anyone can have an idea. I know this is gonna sound cliche, but the best thing about ideas is they’re free! They only result in value until you act on them and make it a reality.