carrjump1-master675“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.
What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
– Antoine De Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince
( as quoted in “Pour your heart into it: How Starbucks built a company one cup at a time” by Howard Schultz, Founder CEO Starbucks Inc.)

A. The case for marketers needing to cultivate an especial attitude
It’s – I believe – taken somewhat for granted that successful marketing requires mainly (a) a knowledge of marketing concepts and the assimilation of some skills, both of which can be mastered if one does marketing courses such as those taught in an MBA and (b) a few years work experience in marketing roles.

I would argue otherwise viz. that successful – rather outstanding – marketing performance requires above all a unique attitude. (And that mere qualifications and experience produce by themselves only mediocre marketers). The cornerstone of this attitude is a personal quality I call HAH, and of which more later.

B. Five Marketing Paradigms
To derive this quality, let’s consider the discipline of marketing from five different perspectives:

1. Customer delight
“It is no longer to satisfy customers, you must delight them” – Philip Kotler, Marketing Management, 13th edition). But how do you delight them? Surprisingly, in this seminal tome – there isn’t any to do list i.e. content – not one paragraph, leave alone a chapter – on how to delight the customer.

Nor do I remember seeing in my two and a half decades long marketing career any books or articles on how to delight the customer.

Why so?

2. Customer experience
When I learnt marketing in B School back in the 80s, it was about the 4Ps, about putting together and executing clever little strategies that could give you additional market share or make your launch a success.

But marketing has changed. Marketing is now about cultivating customers. And cultivating customers means being customer-oriented, building customer relationships and experiences, not pushing products. Here is one narrative:

High (marketing) performers excelled in their ability to leverage customer insight, communicate a societal purpose, and deliver a rich customer experience…..
Marketers understand consumers’ basic drives—such as the desire to achieve, to find a partner, and to nurture a child—motivations we call “universal human truths. …Companies are increasingly enhancing the value of their products by creating customer experiences. We believe that the most important marketing metric will soon change from “share of wallet” or “share of voice” to “share of experience.”
– The Ultimate Marketing Machine, HBR July-Aug 2014 (based on a study of 10,000+ marketing executives)

How did these high performing marketers create customer experiences? To my knowledge, there is no cookbook to enable this. It is not something that one can train for or learn by experience alone.

3. The successful marketer
Again, let’s say you are a marketer working for a corporate. The chances are you were hired for this job because your employer is in a competitive industry. That is, your company created the position you hold only because it is in a competitive business. (Non-competitive, pseudo-monopolistic industries, such as say oil & gas refining or mining, don’t have any real marketing roles).

Which means the chances are that your employer’s competitors also employ marketing people. (Cf. HUL, Godrej, Marico, ITC, Colgate, P & G in the FMCG industry in India). So, as a marketer, to earn your chops, you have got to be better than your peers. How do you do it? Is it by deploying more cunning, more esoteric marketing tricks? Or by better use of marketing analytics and processes?

Nah. Your competition has hired MBAs from the same business school. Some of its marketing team may have earlier worked for your very own organization.

So how do you become a better marketer than your competitors? Will you get confined to incremental improvements, which are soon copied by competition?

How do you do outstanding marketing that’s really required here?

Tip: There is one company in the ultra-competitive, fragmented global mobile handsets industry, which accounts for over half the industry profit. How do they do it? We’ll come back to this company.

4. The paralysis of market research
McKinsey says building brands requires creating both relevance and differentiation at the same time. (Better branding, McKinsey Quarterly, November 2003). And that identifying the brand attributes that enable this relevance and differentiation can be determined by sophisticated statistical techniques and modeling.

However, getting data for such analysis often requires framing very elaborate questionnaires. I wonder: Is such a complex exercise always practical? Is there an alternate way to discover such attributes.

Secondly, even if customer insights are obtained, these have to be synthesized into identifying the marketing actions that matter. How can a marketer do this synthesis well?

5. Social media marketing
Let’s consider digital marketing, social media in particular, which every brand worth its salt now swears by, and within that let’s consider content strategy for social media. How do you (whether yourself or via your social media agency) decide what content to create and post? There is no ‘formula’ to tell you what to post that will be most liked by the consumer. You need to do some inspired thinking to develop the content.

Summing up
Each of the above five marketing perspectives – delighting the customer, creating rich customer experiences, developing a marketing organization that outwits the competition, developing brand attributes which zonk the competition and doing effective content marketing – call for an attitude which I deem to be the #1 quality of an outstanding marketer.

And a mention of this quality, as I said at the outset of this article, is missing from marketing textbooks, from the curricula of business schools and in general from most discourse on marketing.

C. The #1 Quality of a Marketer

The #1 quality of an effective marketer is an attitude I call “HAH”. Short for “Have a heart”.

“Have a heart” so that you can provide the most-est, outstanding value to your customers. Everytime. Anytime.

Outstanding marketing requires feeling, not just thinking or doing.

If you mainly a “thinker” (as many engineer-MBAs or B School marketers in India especially are), how do you ensure that you HAH? Engineers are not known to be people who ‘connect’ with other people or emote very well.

If you are a “doer” (think “sales types” and “production types”), how do you listen hard to catch that customer’s whisper?

Executives differ in the extent to which they possess HAH. (And organizations differ culturally in the extent of adopting this. Brand consultancies, can you and do you measure this?

Having a deep understanding nay empathy with one’s customers, the desire to provide real value to other people and – finally – delivering the product or service as per and above customer expectations, requires an attitude of ‘having a heart.’

In fact, the word Hindi word “Dil” captures the attitude better: I could not find an equivalent in English, other than “Have a heart“. “Dil hona chahiye” (literally “one must have a heart” )is a fairly common phrase in Hindi, unlike “Have a Heart” or any equivalent is used in English.

Put another way, to be an outstanding marketer, you need to be in touch with your feelings and sensitive to those of others.

D. The man who had HAH

So who has had HAH or DIL?

Steve Jobs. The person who built the world’s most valuable brand (Apple: Interbrand, 2014). Whose iPhones contribute 50% or so by value in their category.

Here is an article that elaborates on how product development of Apple’s devices flows from having a heart.

How does one develop DIL ? This is a separate and bigger question. Not sure I a definitive answer.

Maybe: Read the likes of Steven Covey ( ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ and his other books) or listen to the Dalai Lama (watch him speak here on “Develop the heart”).

When and how did DIL get nurtured in Jobs? Was it when in his twenties he visited India and experienced and adopted the principles Zen Buddhism? It’s something to think about…


Enabling Digital India for its billion+ people

by rohit on September 3, 2014

A. What’s Digital India
The last fortnight saw the emergence of a new buzzword in the media: “Digital India”. This is the Modi’s government’s name for the initiative to take Internet to the masses, and recently got Cabinet approval. It constitutes one of five key programmes on whose implementation the government is supposedly keen on focus on for now. The other four are financial inclusion (the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna, launched last week already), Swach Bharat Abhiyan (rural sanitation), implementation of the Goods & Services Tax and Make-in-India (local manufacturing-for-export initiative). .

Many of the ideas in Digital India are not new: existing initiatives (the National Telecom Policy 2012 for one) seem to have been combined with a few new ones. Apart from the repackaging, what’s new is this level of prioritization. I don’t remember any Indian government saying the Internet (ok, digital) is one of its topmost priorities. This new one is saying so, so let’s take a closer look.

B. Highlights
The highlights of the Digital India programme, which has a target date of 2019 and which will cost INR 1.13 Trillion or INR113,000 crores (includes projects under implementation), as reported in the Press:

Extending broadband connectivity to all towns and cities in the country and – importantly – to all villages with a population of over 500. These number 370,000 or so of the country’s 593,000 villages. The target is 600 million broadband subscribers by 2019.

The villagers will be serviced via a Community centre or a Common Service Centre in the village, that will provide the e-services given below in each village.

Provision of e-services viz. e-health (telemedicine), e-education (textbooks on a tablet et al), e-governance and e-banking (which ties in with the newly launched financial inclusion scheme).

The e-governance services have lately been in the news. These will consist of a digital identity for every citizen (linked to Aadhar no doubt), availability of all documents and certificates online, as well as online availability of public services.

E-commerce and e-entertainment are other e-services which are foreseen to prosper as incidental outcomes of Digital India.

A Smartphone for every citizen is envisaged.

Digital literacy: Creation of 20 to 40 hour modules in regional languages on digital literacy; these will definitely be video/multimedia, with the objective of educating the common man on what the whole Internet thing is about. To be rolled in partnership with the IT industry, and so far called the National Digital Literacy Mission.

Making available Wifi to 250,000 schools, to all universities in the country as well as enabling 400,000 public wi-fi hotspots for citizens (presumably in select cities, details unavailable)

Domestic manufacture of equipment: Manufacturing clusters are to be set up in Jharkhand, Maharashtra and M.P. for mobile handsets, chips, set top boxes etc. so as to reduce electronics imports to zero by 2020. Currently, electronics imports are at about $100 billion and if left unchecked can exceed oil imports, growing to $400 billion by 2020.

Training 17 million people in Information Technology. These appear to refer to the training of people for jobs in I.T. (details unavailable).

C. Some interesting features
As can be imagined, the plan has a heavy rural skew. Urban India already has reasonable Internet penetration and does not need heavy handholding by the government. The possible exception is the Wifi initiative above, which will benefit urban areas. Having wifi for schools, universities and public hotspots will be great.

Another facet of the Digital India plan is its integral inclusion of mobile. Since much of the last mile Internet access is expected to come from mobile, enabling smartphones for all and enabling the mobile infrastructure is a vital part of enabling Internet access. I could not locate how many of the target 600 million broadband subscriptions are to come from mobile, but earlier plans had this close to 40% , the balance being mainly cable and DSL.

The infrastructure being laid is to have a minimum bandwidth (upload speed) of 2 Mbps, which can go on an on-demand basis to 100 Mbps. Till 2010, broadband was considered as 256 Kbps+, it got redefined a year ago as 512 Kbps+ and will soon be redefined as 2 Mbps+.

D. Digital India: Implementation issues
If Digital India can really happen, it would be awesome. So we need to consider: what are the key issues in its implementation? In this regard, let’s look at three of the above initiatives: broadband, e-services and smartphones.

Extending broadband connectivity is a key bottleneck for Digital India. The target is ambitious, it seeks to create 600 million broadband subscribers by 2019, as against 60.9 million broadband subscribers as of March 2014 (the most recent data available). Note: Of these 60.9 million, 14.9 million are wireline (DSL, cable mainly) and 47 million are mobile (cellphone, dongle etc.).

Extending broadband connectivity is not new, efforts have been on for over a decade. However, unlike the runaway success in telecom subscribers, the growth in number of Internet subscribers has been very slow. Nothing has quite seemed to work.

In 2003, a target of 20 million subscribers was set for 2013, but by this date only half this number was achieved. In 2012, a new broadband initiative was unveiled as part of the National Telecom Policy 2012. This includes a programme to lay a fibre optic Internet backbone, called the National Optic Fibre Network. As per industry regulator TRAI, however, in these two years, only 0.05% of the cable laying target has been met . Though with the new government showing interest, there is a feeling that it can now still be made to happen in another two years.

There is a humungous amount of trenching, ducting & cabling work of hundreds of thousands of km involved, let’s see if this actually gets done. Also, for last mile access, making the ISP business lucrative for cable operators and getting 3G services (which is what mobile broadband means) going, will take some doing.

As regards e-services, it is well recognized that the usage pattern in villages will differ from those of the cities. While in urban areas, e-mail and information search are the two most popular applications, in rural areas, other than e-mail, music and video content are the preferred applications.

In fact, most of the applications presently available on the Internet are in English. As comprehension of English as well as literacy in rural areas is low, video will be a most popular application. E-education and e-health services can be expected to have high video content. Thus, the bandwidth requirement in rural areas will be high due to usage of multimedia.

Other than this, there remains the task of making available content available in Indian languages. As per a 2008 survey by IAMAI-IMRB, there were only around 1,250 websites providing vernacular content. There is also a need for a higher proliferation of vernacular user interface (keyboards, software etc.) to facilitate usage of local language content.

Content creation for the rural masses is a challenge. Who will bell the cat, the government or the private sector? And what will be the killer app? Videos or photos on Facebook ?

While the number of cellphones in use is now 900 million, only a fraction are “smart”. Having a smartphone for every Indian seems possible. Last week, prices crashed below the INR 2K mark, so by 2019, smartphones may well cost just a few hundred rupees each, enabling ownership by all. There are already dozens of manufacturers jostling for space. New open source/ low cost platforms (Firefox, Android One a.k.a Android L) are coming up and many new initiatives and technologies will surely emerge given the size of the market.

Summing up implementation, let’s remember that to succeed with Digital India, we need to D.I.A.L. it.
Internet infrastructure
Apps and
Literacy/languages (digital literacy+ local language content)

It is fascinating to imagine how the Internet market in India will transform itself in the coming years. 5 to 10 years from now it will bear very little resemblance to the Internet market as it exists today.

P.S. There is also a ruling DEITY of the Internet, yes that’s right, a GOD. This is the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, which is the nodal government department for Internet initiatives 🙂 Check them out at Like everyone else, they now answer to NaMo. So if you want Digital India to happen, chant NaMo Shivah!


Upping the stature of the Marketing function in India

August 24, 2014

After a break of four plus years, am back with a post on Marketer’s Kaleidoscope. In August 2010, I set up Interskale Digital Marketing and Consulting, a digital marketing firm, which has kept me very busy. I now intend to find time and write with some regularity. As usual, the posts will be mainly (though […]

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Growing online video in India

May 8, 2010

Online video will be a ‘killer app’ for the Internet (along with social media).    I said this on this blog in 2007. Online video is certainly on the up. 45% of India’s Internet users watched online video or music in 2009, compared to only 32% in 2008. (Source : ICube 2009 , the annual report […]

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The Real Story about why YouTube is streaming the IPL cricket tournament

March 19, 2010

The IPL cricket tournament is currently so much in our face, that I cannot but write this piece about it and – my favourite topic – the Internet. This post has an ambitious agenda ! A. It informs us about the recent growth of You Tube B. Suggests why online video / You Tube is […]

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‘The 20th Century’s most remarkable entrepreneur’ – II : Lessons for today

March 15, 2010

PART I  OF THIS POST : A RECAP The previous post described how Konsuke Matsushita (KM), the founder of the company with brands like National and Panasonic, achieved stupendous success – in business and in other fields – over a seven decade career. A success earned in the face of formidable odds. This earned him […]

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‘The 20th Century’s Most Remarkable Entrepreneur’ – I

March 12, 2010

Am back on Marketer’s Kaleidoscope – after 67 days. No blogger worth his salt (keyboard ?) likes to miss posting regularly. No excuses to offer really. To make up, dear reader, here’s a long but inspiring piece, in two parts : I recently read a couple of biographies of business people that I found stimulating. […]

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Reinventing Marketing

January 4, 2010

Rethinking Marketing. That’s the title of an article in the Jan- Feb 2010 issue of Harvard Business Review by Rust, Moorman & Bhalla (subscription required). The plea ? Reinvent marketing as customer management. Not much new here, but the case is presented well. Highlights : What reinvention is this ? Marketing departments are usually designed […]

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On India’s burgers, pizzas and cafe latte market – VII of VII : Ten take-aways

December 28, 2009

So what’s the future of the Quick Service Restaurants or fast food services market in India? Here are 10 take-aways from the operations of the 7 biggest players in this market viz. McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, KFC, Subway, Domino’s Pizza (these 5 are American), Café Coffee Day & Barista Lavazza. Let’s call these seven “chains”. The […]

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On India’s burgers, pizzas and cafe latte market – VI : Domino’s Pizza

December 16, 2009

This sixth post in the series on India’s Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) brands is on Domino’s Pizza. With this post, the series has so far covered seven leading QSR brands. The concluding post in the series tomorrow will be an overview on the QSR industry. Domino’s Worldwide  Domino’s, the leader in pizza delivery (32% share of U.S. […]

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