Dear Global CMO,
Hope you're well. I'm sure you're surprised to receive a note from me, as this is the first time I'm sending you a direct message. My previous attempts of communicating through your hierarchy didn't succeed and hence I'm taking this one last chance. It's important for you to hear from me directly rather than through the filters of your colleagues and agencies. I just want to ask four simple questions and express my feelings. I do hope you will find time to read my short note and respond at some point in time.
Is marketing a new name for hunting?
I get viewed as a "thing" to be targeted and captured from masses of people that you call your audience. Your brand managers describe me in such a way that I have nothing better to do in life but to buy your brands. In fact, they seem to think that your brands are my raison d'être. I hate being bombarded with meaningless ads across different mediums, but your brands continue to push them. I hate being ambushed when I'm relaxing and there is no respect for my privacy. For years I was getting stalked on the web, but now I get stalked in my private zones like Facebook. How would you feel if I landed up in your house uninvited and started throwing things around on your walls?
Am I really the boss?
I keep hearing you (and many of your peers) talk about a philosophy of "Consumer is boss." I wonder whether you really mean that or of it's just a poster statement. I seldom get treated like a boss. Whenever I highlight my problems, which I often do via social media, I get a very standard response of "We're looking into the issue and we'll get back to you shortly." Sometimes I don't even get a response. Whenever I call your customer service hotlines, they keep me on hold for a long time and it becomes very difficult to reach a human voice. Do your brand managers behave in the same manner with their internal bosses?
Is Asia important to you?
I keep hearing Asia is the most important geography for your company and we're the future. I wonder how much time and effort your global team dedicates to understanding our aspirations and expectations better. Based on what I've observed, I have a lot of questions. How many times do you visit Asia? And do you get to meet some real people who buy your brands rather than some organized visits? When was the last time you stood at a retail counter on your own without getting it organized? If we're the future and the most important geography, why are you still sitting in the United States or Europe? And why on earth do you keep launching products and services in the U.S. and then roll them out in Asia after a couple of years?
Do you really want to connect?
I watch TV shows but don't watch them on TV. I see them on my phone or on my laptop. I read news but don't touch the newspaper very often. I listen to radio but it comes to me through the Internet. I have over 1,000 Facebook friends and an equal number of friends on my LinkedIn and other social networks. I no longer remember phone numbers or have them in analog format. Thanks to technology, I can have parallel conversations with my buddies and I'm not constrained to spend my time with only one person. I always pay attention to avatars before making friends. I keep very cool avatars and I expect my friends to have even cooler avatars. I don't want to be seen in company of "Not So Happening People." Ten years back, nobody would have imagined me falling in love over the Internet. I met my boyfriend on Facebook, got to know him well, Googled him, and checked his reputation through friends. We're currently living apart but the distance doesn't seem to matter, as we can see each other through webcam, Facebook, Skype, FaceTime, YouTube, Flickr, IM, and so on. These days it's so easy to start or end a relationship. Even though I'm confident that it will work out for us…sometimes it makes me worried as I recently heard a friend getting divorced through an SMS message.
When there is irritation or joy in my life…I broadcast it to my social network in a matter of seconds. And my broadcast travels from America to Australia and everything in between. I now have digital tools, which can help me impact day-to-day activities in life. And this makes me feel very good about myself, as I'm in control as well as contributing to society. I publish two blogs. I write reviews. I comment on products. I send in photos and videos. I broadcast my views. I'm a self-made journalist. And my content has the potential of being read by millions of people from all over the world. As a result, I'm famous. You can find 100 links when you search me on Google. I don't think becoming famous is difficult any more and all the people in my digital circle are famous.
If you really want to connect and build a long-term relationship, then you first need to get into my Circle of Trust. Once you're there…I will introduce you to my Circle of Influence. It's that simple.
With love from Asia!
A Passionate Girl who you call Consumer…
This column was originally published on ClickZ.asia on Nov. 22, 2011.
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Pushkar Sane is co-founder and CEO of Convergination Ventures - a firm focused on driving growth plus innovation through convergence and imagination. In order to keep Convergination ahead of the market he spends quality time thinking about future of content and media, impact of digitization on human life and businesses, shape of technology and most importantly human aspirations and pain points. He expresses his observations and inspirations through his blog, monthly ClickZ Asia column, articles, LinkedIn updates, and tweets. Prior to founding Convergination, Pushkar worked in technology, advertising, and media for over 14 years focusing on strategy, account management, digital, CRM, data, analytics, technology and media. He gained valuable business understanding by virtue of working with clients from diverse industry sections (IT, electronics, auto, CPG, F&B, travel, and financial services), world-class brands (General Motors, Samsung, Intel, P&G, Cartier, Diageo, Emirates, Hong Kong Tourism, UBS, Tata Motors, Amul), and geographies (Asia Pacific countries). Most recently he was chief digital officer and global head of social marketing at Starcom MediaVest Group. Previously he worked for Euro RSCG Worldwide in Hong Kong, DRAFTFCB in Hong Kong and India, and Mandar Electronic Systems and Software in India. He holds a B.S. in physics, a post graduate diploma in computer applications from MS University of Baroda in India, and a post graduate diploma in advertising and communications management from NMIMS Mumbai in India. Pushkar can be contacted via Twitter @pushkarsane, LinkedIn and Google+
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