What Constitutes Marketing Aptitude?

Hi readers,

This is another subject that my sales  team members would often take up for discussion during our Saturday meetings.

I based my assessment of marketing aptitude on my personal experience, inputs from peers who had impeccable record in marketing and by developing an understanding of the subject by observing my VP marketing at work.

According to me, the 9 key attributes that constitute marketing aptitude are

  1. Business and operational savvy. Visceral understanding of what constitutes business success, strong finance streak, capable of P&L responsibility and flawless execution.
  2. Passion for the product. Passion for every aspect of the product or service the company markets. Detailed knowledge of the competitive marketplace and what it takes to win.
  3. Big picture. Keen understanding of all the moving parts of the entire industry’s food chain, logistics, and infrastructure.
  4. Inspirational and insightful. A visionary capable of big insightful ideas, plus recognizing and inspiring them (and innovation) in others.
  5. Customer savvy. Passion and empathy for the customer relationship and the user experience.
  6. Promotion savvy. Intuitive understanding of what it takes to get above the noise, create a buzz, and build a brand. Detailed knowledge of all major promotion vehicles from grass roots to mass market.
  7. Communications skills. Adept at communicating vision, ideas, and emotions to a broad range of audiences from the board of directors and employees to customers and partners.
  8. Leadership skills. Capable of driving diverse groups of highly opinionated individuals to consensus and action.
  9. Left brain – right brain balance. Marketing intelligence combines the ability to think, reason, and act logically and methodically, with the ability to connect emotionally and inspirationally with one’s self and others.

Women centric rape law the need of the hour

A simple rule that gives higher weight to the claims of a rape by a woman ( a woman has more to lose being raped; have you ever heard of a man being raped??), followed by swift presentation of DNA results by an independent lab, within 12 hours of the charges being files ( charges to be filed immediately, WITHOUT cross questioning of the woman, with proof of burden on the rape accused).

You might argue, What about the rights of the man? To this my response would be- the man would have to be very very careful henceforth- if AND only if his intentions with the woman that he is with are clear, should he, and would he, dare take the matters further than they need to- yes its true, this stringent law may be construed as draconian for men, but again I ask- how many men are raped?? It is true that a strict law, that has a strong bias FOR Women, will probably hang like a sword of Damocles over the heads of ALL men (me included ) in our country, BUT then in order to put the fear of GOD and DEATH in an entire population of testosterone charged , frustrated, sexist men in India, THIS is perhaps, THE ONLY ANSWER.

My argument for the law being biased to women, and for burden of proof falling on men is this-

Under what situations would a woman bring rape charges against the perpetrators? They could be any one of the following

  • Her sentiments and emotions have been abused by the man that she is with- she has been emotionally exploited, and finally sexually exploited, with the man simply walking away from her when his lust was satisfied- SO WHO IS THE VICTIM here- the WOMAN.
  • The woman is kidnapped by a stranger, a  man (or men), threatened and violated- she is left emotionally drained and physically abused- SO WHO IS THE VICTIM here- the WOMAN.
  • The woman is kidnapped by a known man (or men), threatened and violated- she is left emotionally drained and physically abused- SO WHO IS THE VICTIM here- the WOMAN.

NOW let’s understand, under what circumstances would a woman connive to falsely implicate a man?

  • The woman has been paid off by someone who harbors a personal grudge against the accused- so the woman falsely accuses the man of raping her.

Note- Since the burden of proof is on the man, he can derive support from the DNA report that will be made available to the presiding judge within the stipulated 12 hours- here you might argue that the independent lab in which the DNA samples were analyzed could be open to malpractice and the report doctored; yes that’s true, given the rampant corruption in our system, BUT that probability is small price to pay for a long term redress of an ineffective law that has no teeth. Remember – NO SYSTEM is 100% perfect, BUT a toothless law is better consigned to the dust bin than rolled out for the benefit of rapists and politicians.

SO WHO IS THE VICTIM here- probably the MAN.

A score of 3 versus 1 is enough to warrant a law that has a strong bias FOR WOMEN, and where the BURDEN OF PROOF is on the rape accused, THE MAN!!

AND may I also suggest that when delivering verdicts, the following may be enforced

  • After presentation of the DNA results, the results may be taken as conclusive proof of the crime, with the accused being asked to disprove it within 15 days.
  • Failure to provide adequate proof of innocence by the accused within 15 days be taken as admission of guilt ( too bad you did not have an alibi, could not provide 5 witnesses who could testify to your being present with them when the crime occurred) and the sentence passed on the spot.
  • Choice of sentence may be given to the accused- hanging, lethal injection, or by firing squad, AND  to be implemented within 12 hours.
  • The victim, her family to be given the choice to see the sentence being carried out.

NOTE- some sentences to be done publicly to have the desired effect on would be rapists and their families – onus also to be on the immediate families of rapists.

Why are our politicians really pushing for chemical castration for rapists?

National media in India is continuously running news feed of leading politicians from the ruling party speaking of commitment to introducing chemical castration for rapists and molesters.

Please note : This response has come forth after deliberations running into some 12 days now after the protesters took to the streets in India. 12 days, may please be noted.

What do you think has been happening over these 12 days?

Well here is my take on what has been happening.

The politicians, ALL POLITICIANS, have been talking behind closed doors and counting the number of rapists, and criminals in their ranks.

In order to pacify and lull the angry mob on the street, they ALL have come together to think of a clever hood wink, that will appease the mob , AND  provide an escape route , NOT only to the rapists and criminals in their respective party ranks, BUT will also enable rapists and criminals to use rotten, corrupt judicial and police system to practically get away with murder.

Let me explain how-

  • First of all, the “new” law will definitely mention the word “rarest of rare”- the description of this sentence will be so vague and open to a million interpretations, that in the judicial rigmarole, the essence of the case, the plight of the victim will be lost in never ending , useless banter, that will veer towards protection of the “legal” rights of the rapist, and as usual, the case will go on forever- justice will again be denied , having been lost in literal translation, and the victim will be victimized by the system, penned by our “law makers”, the politicians, YET AGAIN!
  • If the first hurdle would have been passed, and the judge were to pass swift judgement ( as is being spoken off in shrill voices to get brownie points from the angry mob), the system would look something like this- the chemical castration injections would have to be documented for the courts, and signed off by the police officer in charge , along with the government medical officer who will administer the injection. NOW, lets look at the scenario of the rapist politician who gets convicted of his crime (statistical probability of that happening, extremely poor , given our pathetic , corruption ridden system). This politician uses, coercion, corruption and inducements to get the police official and the medical officer to sign off on the dotted line; best case scenario for the politician is that no chemical is in fact injected, and worse case scenario, he gets injected with water and its signed off as chemical! NOW if the politician can do it, so can the criminal, because the police official and the medical officer are such pathetic representatives of what we stand for, have little or no courage of conviction, that they would sell their souls for crumbs- hence in all probability, the rapist will be able to gather enough from  friends, family and his KHAP panchayat, that he too like the rapist politician, will be able to walk free, providing the mirage to the mob of justice having been served by the Government. AGAIN the implementation of justice will have been found seriously wanting, with NO ACCOUNTABILITY on part of the law makers, law implementer and the judicial system. AND YES you need to understand that for chemical castration to work, injections have to be administered well over 4 times! AND also be mindful, that in ALL PROBABILITY, the police officer and the medical officer in charge of this initiative, would be men, sexist, sympathetic to the “poor rapist”!
  • The politicians and their favored spin doctors are busy playing mind games with the mob and the angry (urban) masses, and being mindful of their vicious control over a nefarious, corrupted, system , works as their concubine, they will be able to kill 2 birds with one master stroke- the mob will have been lulled into silence after the swift passing of the “new decisive law” , not being able to comprehend the loop holes that would have been deliberately put into the “new decisive law”, AND best of all, the rapist politicians in their rank and file , will in fact be free to go about their private activities (criminal, sexist) and importantly, the political activities, working as thugs of the political parties, representing the “grass roots”!

 

How to Do a Successful Marketing Pitch

Hi readers,

In my 7 years of marketing experience, I found marketing to be extremely challenging in terms of deliverable.

The fact that my mandates in marketing were qualified successes gave me tremendous insights in understanding what constitutes a successful marketing pitch.

It all begins with the MARKETING PITCH folks…and here is my take on the subject.

First, get over yourself. Marketing is about facilitating business; it’s not an end onto itself. If you can’t relate your project to developing market-leading products or increasing market share, revenues, or profits, then selling it will be infinitely harder and justifiably so.

Make stakeholders part of the process. As a marketing manager, your key stakeholders include product development, sales, HR, finance, and in many cases, executive management. Make them part of the process – bounce your ideas off them and get their input one-on-one before pitching to the group.

Don’t shove it down their throats. Instead, build a top-down story that relates your project to key corporate goals or business fundamentals. Explain using data and logic your audience understands. Think teacher-educator, not pushy salesperson. Encourage debate and grow thick skin.

Stick your neck out on tough metrics. Offer up aggressive metrics that will raise eyebrows. If you end up falling a bit short but the project is still a success, nobody will give you a hard time. That said, don’t go over-the-top or you’ll lose credibility.

Learn how to build consensus. Be prepared for a long haul, iterative process that may take several meetings and revisions. Still, you need to keep it moving forward toward a consensus plan. Learning to walk that fine line takes experience and maturity.

Stay tuned!

 

Reasons why the current spate of protests in India will amount to nothing

It is heartening to see so many young protesters out in the streets of the major cities across India , venting their heart felt anger at the treatment of women in our country and the blatant impunity with which lumpen elements stalk our streets and sit in our parliament.

BUT these protesters do not realize that their is a logical reason why the politicians are not feeling the heat and will use time to their advantage- they will play the waiting game, pay lip service to addressing the grievances of the masses, shed crocodile tears in apparent solidarity with the protesters, and bide their time.

Reasons are the following

  1. The politicians who sit in our parliament proclaim their legitimacy on the votes of the largely rural population. The rural population, majority of whom live on less than $ 2 per day, poor, destitute, illiterate, poor educated, are easily misled by these politicians , who appeal to caste affiliations, promises (empty) of providing for better infrastructure in their constituencies, or buying their votes outright through cash and kind inducements, with free liquor thrown in for good measure! For poor destitute people, often HOPE is their undoing, and in their simple analysis, some one from their region or caste offers a relatively better chance of perhaps delivering on his promises. The politicians exploit this line of thinking and have been for the past 65 years. With no threat of right to recall, the politicians rest easy, that once the vote is in their favor , they need not really deliver, and in fact they control the sentiments of the voting population, by controlling the rate of development in their constituencies! For a population that has no reference benchmark, even a ramshackle toilet in the community, seems to be a solution straight out of star trek! and these simple folk are glad that they even have that, even if it means that the same toilet disintegrates into a shamble after 4 months of use, only to be rebuilt again with tax payers money (yours and mine) with the politician and contractor ( and perhaps the District magistrate) taking a huge cut! Its all part of the game. SO since those of us in urban centers, who are so vehemently protesting against the abomination that is Indian penal code, need to understand that since we constitute only 30% of the voting population, OUR vote does not really matter to these smug politicians…and hence they will play the waiting game till eternity…till they tire you out. As long as their voting base in the rural heartland of the country is NOT STIRRED into action, they have nothing to fear from your protests and your actions.
  2. We Indians, from across the country share some common traits. These are, accepting our lot in life ( perhaps because the real burden of earning a daily livelihood is such an endeavor, that it is like a chore and extremely demanding and it derails any traction that we may have generated) and seeking solace in GOD’s will! We  succumb very easily to platitudes and offer of solidarity given to us by our politicians, who we know, are not sincere ( we succumb  to HOPE! that they will finally deliver). We take any promise of action by our politicians at face value and leave an initiative that we started, mid way, unfinished ( the seedy politician will take this first opportunity to dump his actions mid way and at best set up a commission, using tax payers money, waste time , fattening themselves and judicial experts for years together, ultimately achieving nothing; by that time the issue would have dies of natural causes- death by delay)
  3. With an estimated 50% of all politicians, in every party, with criminal records, and rape cases, it is NOT in the interest of the political parties and the politicians to actually support stringent laws against offenders- for , it will mean, delisting and jailing their owned elected representatives, which will mean that they will be in the minority. The only solution would be that they implement 33% reservation for women in public office at the very least ( I personally think it should be 50%, since 50% of the population is women). Women, who in all probability will be more sincere, definitely not rapists and criminals, may disturb the chauvinist politicians in our system, who pretend to understand the angst of women in our country, but in reality are scared to give away their turf to women, who will perform better than them. SO the male politicians, ( and their women counterparts) will DO nothing to disturb the apple cart and the movement will eventually fail ( the women politicians will do nothing , because they are not really interested in pushing the envelope for real changes, and are here as mere rubber stamps, earning their share of the “spoils” and planning for their retirement and nurturing their children to take their mantle , when and if they finally retire!!)

This may sound cynical to a whole lot of optimistic folks out there, but personally this comes straight after travelling the world and living in various geographies and getting a sense of what democracy is really all about.

These are not the words of a cynic, but of a realist who sees the way democratic principles have been twisted by a corrupt, elitist, pseudo democratic class that in effect has “ruled” our country and NOT “led” them as model citizens.

How to Be a Great Marketer

Hi readers,

I have been speaking extensively on sales management for all these days. Time to switch to marketing.

This is my insight based on the 7 years of marketing experience that I have, from the 18 years of total experience as a business management professional, working in some very challenging economies.

If you’re new to marketing, welcome to a function that nobody understands and everybody thinks they know better than you do.

  • Sales is your friend. The whole “natural tension between sales and marketing” thing is a dysfunctional crock. Sales owns the customer relationship. As a marketer, one of your key functions is to facilitate sales’ ability to sell your products. You need each other and your goals can and should be aligned.
  • Be patient with your boss and peers. Not coincidentally, strong leaders and managers often tend to be controlling individuals. That means they can become easily frustrated with things they don’t understand, i.e. marketing. Be patient and pay attention to their feedback.
  • Remember, you have way more customers than you think. The executive staff, your peers, product development, manufacturing, sales, finance, HR, employee communications, they’re all stakeholders in the marketing function. Treat them as such.
  • Bond with the development and product people. This goes way beyond educating and teaching. These are very smart people with a strong, vested interest in what you plan to do with their product. Bond with them, listen to them, understand their issues and concerns, make them partners in your “process;” it’ll pay off big-time.
  • Teach, teach, teach. Successful marketers are strong communicators and educators. Spend as much time teaching and educating internally as you do networking and meeting with customers externally. Again, it’ll pay off.
  • Measure and communicate results. The biggest slam on marketing is that it’s an expense black hole with no metrics to measure results. Be disciplined. Spend 10 percent of your budget on metrics for key programs and take the time to communicate results – both good and bad – to stakeholders. Do it.
    • Listen, listen, listen. Most of your “brilliant ideas” will come from others – internal stakeholders, vendors, and customers. Make them part of your “process.” Your job is to actively listen and then crystallize these gems into product and corporate strategy and positioning. It’s a real skill to learn, but it starts with listening.
  • Get out and visit customers. Balance internal focus with external focus. That doesn’t mean waste customers’ and sales’ time to suit your agenda, but meet with customers when you’ve got something important – from their perspective, not just yours – to discuss. Ask open, leading questions and listen to their feedback. It’s invaluable.
  • Get close to your competition. I don’t mean study their products, I mean get close, really close. Introduce yourself at conferences or other events – they’ll be there. Get together from time to time, have lunch, whatever. They don’t bite. Just remember to learn more than you share.
  • Be accessible to the media. PR and the media can be an incredibly powerful tool, but like all tools, you have to learn to use them properly or they can work against you. I’m not saying be reactive; it should fit into your overall communications goals, strategy, and messaging. Creating a buzz is an art form; just look at Steve Jobs and Apple.
  • Make key vendors part of your virtual team. If you pick the right vendors, they can be tremendous strategic resources, since some of the most capable PR and advertising people have their own firms. To benefit from their knowledge and experience, bring them into the fold. Make them part of your virtual team, just like the rest of your staff.
  • Be visible, network, attend conferences and events. It’s easy to become too internally focused within the four walls of your company. You can lose perspective and start to breath too much of your own fumes. Get out, network, meet people, and bat some ideas and concepts around. If you don’t do it, who in your company will?
  • Listen, listen, listen. Most of your “brilliant ideas” will come from others – internal stakeholders, vendors, and customers. Make them part of your “process.” Your job is to actively listen and then crystallize these gems into product and corporate strategy and positioning. It’s a real skill to learn, but it starts with listening.
  • Get out and visit customers. Balance internal focus with external focus. That doesn’t mean waste customers’ and sales’ time to suit your agenda, but meet with customers when you’ve got something important – from their perspective, not just yours – to discuss. Ask open, leading questions and listen to their feedback. It’s invaluable.
  • Get close to your competition. I don’t mean study their products, I mean get close, really close. Introduce yourself at conferences or other events – they’ll be there. Get together from time to time, have lunch, whatever. They don’t bite. Just remember to learn more than you share.
  • Be accessible to the media. PR and the media can be an incredibly powerful tool, but like all tools, you have to learn to use them properly or they can work against you. I’m not saying be reactive; it should fit into your overall communications goals, strategy, and messaging. Creating a buzz is an art form; just look at Steve Jobs and Apple.
  • Make key vendors part of your virtual team. If you pick the right vendors, they can be tremendous strategic resources, since some of the most capable PR and advertising people have their own firms. To benefit from their knowledge and experience, bring them into the fold. Make them part of your virtual team, just like the rest of your staff.
  • Be visible, network, attend conferences and events. It’s easy to become too internally focused within the four walls of your company. You can lose perspective and start to breath too much of your own fumes. Get out, network, meet people, and bat some ideas and concepts around. If you don’t do it, who in your company will?

10 Ways to Know When Someone Is Bull Shitting You

Hi readers,

This blog goes out for the clients/customers, as well as all “internal” clients in the enterprise- CEOs, COOs, CTOs, CMOs, line managers, team leaders, P&L heads etc.

BS is seen in many forms within many verticals, in different functions in a matrix enterprise. Those in sales are often seen as masters of BS; this is accepted as an integral part of their “arsenal” and skill sets.

I beg to differ here.

BS is at best a short cut to some success you may score in the short term and a profound weakness in the long term. As a sales rep, once you have tasted success as a BS practitioner, you will erroneously start to believe in the “power” of the BS speak. This goes for those who practice this in other functions within the organization as well.

Therefore, according to me,  the most unheralded success skill as a manager and as a client is knowing when someone is full of it, full of themselves, trying to pull the wool over your eyes, or maybe even trying to fool themselves.

In any case, knowing when someone is BSing is absolutely a key to success in business.

Why is that?

Well, your work life presents thousands of options, opportunities, paths to go down, people to hire, people to work for, people to align yourself with.

Or not.

But you only have one work life. You have to learn methods to narrow the field. Knowing whether people are being genuine or not is key to narrowing the choices, and narrowing the choices is key to picking the right ones.

  1. The story changes. You can ask them the same thing three times and get three different answers.
  2. They act dumb but they’re not. It’s disingenuous, not a good sign.
  3. They act smart but they’re not. Not necessarily disingenuous, but also not a good sign.
  4. They try too hard. That’s got to give you pause.
  5. They appear nervous when they shouldn’t be.
  6. They look scared when they shouldn’t be.
  7. They repeat the question. It buys them time to think of an answer.
  8. There’s something in it for them. Anytime somebody’s trying to sell you something, there’s a good chance you’re being BSed.
  9. They’re fanatical. Fanaticism, fundamentalism, call it whatever you want, it’s a one-sided view of an issue that cuts off debate. Not good.
  10. They only present one side. Same thing.