Archive for February, 2014

Precious Platinum Wins The First “QR360 Code Of The Week” Award

Friday, February 21st, 2014

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We’re seeing an increasing use of QR codes of late, especially in magazines, posters and B2B newspaper ads. However, there’s a drastic difference in how different brands implement the technology in terms of size, placement, CTA, and so on.

For example, Harvard Business School, Vodafone and some brands even bungle the basics (e.g. inadequate visible margin), as a result of which their codes don’t even scan. Whereas Cafe Coffee Day and some others leverage many best practices (e.g. For the Mobile, On the Mobile, Mobile Power).

Despite their near-ubiquity, it’s clear that all QR codes are not equal.

Their diversity has prompted us to call out one brand every week for excellence in deploying QR codes. We’ll follow the below guidelines described in our QR360 Framework to judge different QR codes while selecting the winner:

  1. The code scans on a wide range of smartphone cameras
  2. There’s a natural transition from the print / online / TV worlds to the mobile world
  3. The microsite is mobile-optimized
  4. The CTA can be conveniently performed on a smartphone
  5. The CTA leverages the power of the smartphone.

Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, the QR360 Code Of The Week award goes to PRECIOUS PLATINUM.

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Precious Platinum

This QR code features prominently in the jewelry chain’s print ads over the last week or two. We especially liked the following things about the code:

  • Multipurpose Microsite: The microsite is mobile-optimized and, apart from usual suspects like TVC and Facebook Like, supports Design Gallery, Ring Size, Store Finder and other features that are useful for a prospective buyer.
  • Auto Location: The microsite automatically recognizes the user’s location via GPS or network.
  • Navigation: The Store Finder feature provides driving directions from the user’s current location to the brand’s nearby stores in a seamless manner.

Congrats, Precious Platinum, for winning the first QR360 Code Of The Week award and best wishes for using QR codes in many more useful ways in your ads and other promotional materials going forward.

PS: We’ve instituted this award on a weekly basis assuming that we’ll find at least one qualifying QR code every week. If our optimism turns out to be misplaced, we’ll either skip the award for a given week or give it to the best QR code of the lot we come across during the week. In the interest of maintaining a high standard for this award, we’re inclined towards the former option but we’re open to hearing from our readers before arriving at a final decision. Please share your thoughts in the comments below or by emailing me directly.

Increasing Sales-Marketing Alignment: Big Bang Doesn’t Work

Friday, February 14th, 2014

sma03Fixing the misalignment between Sales and Marketing is a challenge that probably harkens back to the inception of business itself. The 4.3 million results you’ll find when you Google for “Sales Marketing Alignment” testify to the humungous amount of chatter on this subject.

On the other hand, there were merely 20 searches for this keyword last month (Source: Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool). This seems to suggest that people have given up trying to find ways of resolving this age old misalignment challenge.

This is sad because a company can’t afford to ignore conflicts between sales and marketing.

Funny thing is, the underlying reasons for the misalignment have stayed virtually unchanged in the last 20+ years that I’ve worked in both these functions. To recap, these are:

From marketing perspective:

  1. Sales does not follow up leads generated by us
  2. Sales does not use the marketing collateral developed by us, instead cobbling together half-baked content for each prospect
  3. Sales rarely updates us about the status of individual opportunities
  4. Sales never shares feedback from prospects and customers on our content

From sales perspective:

  1. Marketing wastes our time with leads that will never buy
  2. Marketing comes up with pitches at 20,000 feet level that fall flat when we try them on individual prospects
  3. Marketing is drunk on the Kool-Aid of industry megatrends (read Gartner / Forrester reports) whereas our prospects are least bothered with anything beyond their company or industry
  4. Marketing shoots off high level ideas for additional business from existing prospects and customers without adapting them to individual situations
  5. Whenever Marketing fixes sales meetings, prospects have unrealistic expectations about our company and products.

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If the root causes of misalignment haven’t changed so much, why hasn’t the problem gone away?

After seeing many attempts at solutions, I’m driven to the conclusion that the big bang approach used so often simply doesn’t work.

It’s time we changed tracks and tried to solve this problem, one step at a time.

Let’s take the first reason related to handover / takeover of leads between marketing and sales. In my blog post When Does Marketing End & Sales Start?, I’d dwelled on this topic and suggested an approach to reduce the friction inherent in this process.

In a series of posts to follow in the next few weeks, I’ll share my thoughts on how to address other causes of misalignment – one reason at a time and one post at a time.

“Watch this space” seems a bit passé in this digital age, so please sign up for this blog or follow @GTM360 on Twitter to receive our regular updates.

Beware of Credit Card Reward Redemption Theft

Monday, February 10th, 2014

ccrrt02In Will The Sad State Of Logistics Hurt eCommerce?, I’d alluded to how DHL, FedEx and other multinational courier companies are 8-10X costlier than the local ones, and are, therefore, used only for high-value consignments.

I recently went through an experience which highlighted the risk of sending anything valuable via couriers.

I placed an order for redeeming my points on one of my credit cards in the middle of September. As frequent card users know, such rewards can be quite valuable. Three weeks later, I still hadn’t received the ordered items and called the bank. The CSR who came on the line was shocked to hear my complaint since the bank had apparently shipped the consignment the day after I’d ordered it and promised to follow up with the courier company immediately.

Lo and behold, I got the parcel within the next two hours.

As an external party who is not privy to what goes on between banks and couriers, here’s what I suspect happened:

From the external marking, the courier company could easily make out that the package contained valuable items – even gift vouchers are sent out as bearer instruments. The courier sat on the delivery, hoping to pocket the reward if I hadn’t followed up.

ccrrt04I suspect something similar happens in the case of my FORTUNE magazine deliveries. I’ve been subscribing to FORTUNE for over 10 years. Virtually every year, I go through one or two times when I don’t receive a single issue for two months, a period in which four issues of the bimonthly magazine are published. My complaints to the domestic distributor of the magazine normally go nowhere. I start getting heard only when I email the magazine’s Asia Pacific HQ in Hong Kong. Finally, I receive two or three of the missing four issues a day after I send a fax to FORTUNE’s Regional Vice President. (For reasons unknown, I’ve never managed to extract the email address of the person or persons holding this position over the last few years that I’ve reached out to them, so the word “fax” in my last sentence is not a typo.)

While these attempted thefts might be isolated acts of a few of its employees, I hold the courier company guilty of omission, if not commission, in the process.

Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions. If you can think of any alternative explanation for the aforementioned incidents, please let me know in the comments below.