Feb 18, 2007

Telling Selling and Media

Yesterday was when I participated in a panel discussion at the Media Pulse conference organized by ISBM Pune. The topic was "There is nothing to tell but lots to sell" and it was interesting how the different panelists interpreted that same statement.

The participants were Prof. AF Matthew of Mudra Institute of Communication (MICA), Anand Narasimha, CEO of Madison Shopper Marketing, Sudhir Sharma CEO of Elephant Designs and Xavier Prabhu, MD of PR Hub and yours truly, representing the new sunrise world of social media, blogging et al.

Anand started off the session by presenting the picture of how the branding and communications industry is changing. Some quotes I took down were:

  • "Brand has become bland in today's world"
  • A quote by Sam Walton "The customer wants something more important than the product"
  • "Selling is about shouting louder"
  • "we are moving from the attention economy to the attraction economy"
  • "Marketing is about engagement rather than communicating propositions"
  • "From repetitive messages we have to move to surprising the consumer"
  • "Moving from transactions to relationships"
  • "From one way channels to interactive"
  • "Control and command to moving away to co-create and collaborate"

Sudhir stressed how the consumer is wisening up

  • "When a consumer sees a great ad, he or she is smart enough to say 'a very good ad'"
  • "A brand is not independent from the product"
  • He also shared examples of how as a design studio they get insights into a target audiences behaviors and design the products around their needs only to have advertising firms dilute that insight.

Prof. Matthew asked the audience to start thinking of how the political and economical reality of global media empires were impacting content at a local level. From newspapers to movies. He gave examples how Rupert Murdoch controls the editorial content of his 100 odd newspapers and TV channels to reflect the reality he believes in. How the common man is aware of 9/11 but unaware of what happened in Darfur, Rwanda or Kosovo. How locally produced content in France is just 10% of what what the French see on TV and movies. He also noted how the content of Hindi films itself had changed after 1991 to become more intolerant of minority groups.

Xavier Prabhu focussed on the businesses of media and advertising and his main point was that the hypergrowth of Indian industry is saving a lot of marketers from their potentially damaging world view. Some quotes:

  • "We believe we can take consumers for a ride"
  • "Consumers are smarter and once the economy slows and we have to compete for customers then it will hit us back"

My perspectives as a blogger was showcasing how slowly each of us is moving to being a small media. I paraphrased Andy Warhol's comment to "Now everyone is famous for 15 people". I also talked about the concepts of the Cluetrain Manifesto about "Markets being conversations" and shared examples of how Dell which ignored the blogosphere has chosen to join it. Putting my HR cap on, I said if internal realities in organizations are changing from a command and control perspective to collaboration there was no way that external realities will remain what it was 10 years ago.

Finally the total time of 1 hour felt too small. I would have loved to talk about the long tail, about how bloggers complement and add to traditional media and a million other things.

As Prof. Matthew said when he concluded "We have left a lot of questions open and have not come to any conclusion, but sometimes that is a good thing"