Po: Ooh, so um, I should… stop talking?
Shifu: If you can.

Brand management in the traditional marketing world was a top down, internally focused, political and money based approach. Now, due to the elimination of production & distribution costs, technology is allowing the growth of communities on a massive scale and this increased fragmentation of the consumer is governing that a new order of marketing take shape.

Marketers in Pakistan however are unwilling to risk the plunge of allowing consumers to control their communication messages. Despite the growing frequency of desperation of brands using the traditional approaches, to the extent of even breaking their role as good corporate citizens of the country (as this answer to the recent comment on Engro Pakistan using public property such as ‘Unity Round About” in Quetta ‘ (an act of Forced Marketing) which was posted on Marketing 360’, a Yahoo! group shows:

“…Your ethical concerns are true but in these times firms are desperate in breaking the clutter and will exploit any opportunity they get. Soon you may see walls being painted with advertisements by these big groups. In Karachi I have seen Pepsi painting on walls giving their owners a meager monthly rental…” – Munawar.)
marketers are still trying the push approach towards consumers, insisting on increasing the advertising budgets rather than innovating in new approaches. The way to increase Brand Scores on ‘Attribute A’ is still more ‘Share of Voice’.

Yet increasingly the consumer in Pakistan is becoming ‘Consistently Connected’ (35 Million + Mobile Users and 21 Million Internet Users (Source: International Social Media Research Wave 3)) and the increasingly fragmentation of the consumer due to the 83+ channels and 12+ radio stations has resulted in the fact that the one message fit all is going to die soon, if it’s not already dead.

Marketers take a note out of the Kungfu Panda Movie by Dream Works released in 2008. Oogway’s lesson to Shifu is very applicable to the marketing world of now.

Kungfu Panda
Shifu & Oogway

Oogway: My friend, the panda will never fulfill his destiny, nor you yours until you let go of the illusion of control.
Shifu: Illusion?
Oogway: Yes.
[points at peach tree]
Oogway: Look at this tree, Shifu: I cannot make it blossom when it suits me nor make it bear fruit before its time.
Shifu: But there are things we *can* control: I can control when the fruit will fall, I can control where to plant the seed: that is no illusion, Master!
Oogway: Ah, yes. But no matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple or an orange, but you will get a peach.
Shifu: But a peach cannot defeat Tai Lung!
Oogway: Maybe it can, if you are willing to guide, to nurture it, to believe in it.
Shifu: But how? How? I need your help, master.
Oogway: No, you just need to believe. Promise me, Shifu, promise me you will believe.

Yes! objectives vary, but increasingly the way to reach the Pakistani consumers (esp. for brand building) now is through non-traditional media. A combination of Activations & Digital can  [perhaps] be more expensive, but does offer real & measured results. Why should advertising money be wasted on e.g. a moneyed individual being communicated to about a third-tier product when other more focused alternatives are available. Alternatively, Facebook Pakistan has 500,000+ of the most moneyed class of the country, shouldn’t the local marketers try to connect to them about what they want and value especially since this class doesn’t indulge as much in traditional media as the other classes of this country.

This is increasingly becoming the new marketing reality and the way forward to leverage and tap into the zeitgeist will be to create communities around your brands. One way could be to appeal to the passionistas, the people who score high on NPS (Net Promoter Scores).

This is not a new philosophy. Just a less understood one. Seth Godin In His Book ‘Tribe Management’ has been emphasizing on the same philosophy for years now:

It starts with permission, the understanding that the real asset most organizations can build isn’t an amorphous brand but is in fact the privilege of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who want to get them.

It adds to that the fact that what people really want is the ability to connect to each other, not to companies. So the permission is used to build a tribe, to build people who want to hear from the company because it helps them connect, it helps them find each other, it gives them a story to tell and something to talk about.

But this is not the only lesson to be learnt. Don’t forget the most basic lesson of them all:
Po: [breathing heavily] I know you’re trying to be all mystical and Kung Fu-ey, but could you tell me where we’re going?

Kungfu Panda
Kungfu Panda

Remember, one often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.

Go On! Prepare For Marketing Awesomeness!
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