Is your Enterprise software rightly priced ?

Is your Enterprise software rightly priced ?

One of the most important decisions of a newly formed SaaS company is to determine a pricing strategy. There are two important facts that I wish to share here when it comes to pricing your Enterprise/Flagship product.

Most often the 3 most common pricing strategies used by SaaS companies are as follows,

  1. Feature based Paywall.
  2. Per- user based Paywall.
  3. Cost based on depth of usage.

So much is written about pricing strategies, however I would like to focus on the Enterprise / flagship offering of a new company and the science behind the difference in pricing.

The Veblen Effect :

The tendency to find a product desirable because it has a higher price is called Veblen effect.

In Economics, the price and demand of commodities are inversely related, a relationship known as the law of demand. The law of demand predicts that given two equivalent products, a lower price will increase demand and a higher price will decrease demand. The Veblen effect is an exception to this law of demand. The economist Thorstein Veblen observed that in some cases increasing price can increase demand and decreasing the price can decrease demand.

The Veblen effect in marketing and pricing results in the cost of the end products being incredibly overpriced. Consider the case of Zendesk, as described by Tomasz Tunguz in his blog and how they increased demand for their Enterprise offering by taking advantage of the Veblen effect.

In Tomasz Tunguz’s mind blowing article about the obscure economic idea behind SaaS pricing challenges,

The Veblen demand curve isn’t limited to the purchasing patterns of luxury goods. It also manifests itself in SaaS sales processes. Bill Macaitis, the former CMO of Zendesk, described Veblen goods behavior when he and the Zendesk product marketing team began to address enterprise customers to complement their booming SMB (small-and-medium business) business. The product marketing team initially charged a modest premium for the enterprise product. But the experiment failed. Demand was immaterial. As they experimented with other price points, the team discovered demand surged as the price ballooned.

Today, the Zendesk enterprise plans cost 10x as much as standard plans.

Enterprise buyers, like Veblen’s luxury class, exhibit different buying preferences from other segments. Because their willingness to pay is substantially higher than smaller businesses, these buyers often equate price with quality. At a very small price point, they ask a natural question: Since the product is so inexpensive, is it a a toy or true enterprise solution?

Enterprise buyers, like Veblen’s luxury class, exhibit different buying preferences from other segments. Because their willingness to pay is substantially higher than smaller businesses, these buyers often equate price with quality. At a very small price point, they ask a natural question: Since the product is so inexpensive, is it a a toy or true enterprise solution? 

While this idea worked for Zendesk, it may not be the case with your product. Most companies today price their Enterprise / flagship edition based on this idea and sadly startups adopt these methods without ever realizing how much new business and value based customer additions they can make(increase LTV) by not conforming to Veblen effect. 

This begs the question as to what is an alternate approach to fixating the cost of Enterprise software. Look no further than Basecamp.

The Van Westerndorp Price Sensitivity Meter:

The founders of Basecamp despise the idea of overcharging their products and came up with an alternate idea to price their products properly. One of their earlier methods was to use a Van Westerndorp price sensitivity meter to survey and gather insights to understand the value of their product from an SMB perspective. Below is an example of the survey screen and the expected results on this survey shown below, 

Source : Casewriter Analysis
An example of A VWPSP chart.

The intersecting points help determine the Range of Acceptable prices which will help us gauge the cost of the product.

The Van WesternDorp PSM is Common in consumer goods industry, one of the major drawbacks of this survey however is the tendency of people to undervalue a product because of Anchoring effect the existing price has on the survey. 

However, proper segmentation and aggregation of data will point unilaterally in a direction where the cost range of product can be equated to customer approval. This method helps Basecamp and many other companies stay their course when it comes to pricing their products sensibly strategy.

The Veblen pricing trajectory may sound more practical from the point of expansion and revenue but sometimes the high cost of the product eclipses the problem the product solves and more importantly shuns smaller companies from using the software which is so much customers lost definition.

SMB’s are more profitable in a company’s active business and it is recommended that your products don’t shun them away due to Veblen effect.

On a closing note, there are 9 types of company brands as given below and we can categorize any company into the following

The Veblen effect is the driving force of major luxury brands.

Business software in my humble opinion should never be a luxury to use. Its an essential commodity in todays world and startup companies should orient more towards value based offering than luxury or working with the notion of being a populist brand ,

In the end, the secret of creating a value based pricing rests in the maxim

“Charge customers what only you are comfortable paying yourselves for”

How Ikea dismantles cost

How Ikea dismantles cost

I read very recently about Ikea’s clever business strategy from 10 years ago in cutting costs and selling the Ektorp sofa (a popular model) and it was a clever supply chain business revelation. 

By reducing the package size of the sofa by 50% in 2010, Ikea reduced the overall trucks used to transport these units by 7500 trucks and in the process cut the sale price by 14%. I created a simplified visual representation below to understand more about the process.

Though the complexity of such operations cannot be captured in a small slide, the idea remains. While Ikea is a trailblazer in all aspects of business and no single article can capture the magnanimity of their achievements with brevity, how we perceive innovation in business matters and I think innovation lies in simplicity and is it not a beautiful experience?

Innovation is not a word!

Sales forecast : Working with Outliers

Sales forecast : Working with Outliers

Wether you run an online business, retail store chain or a SaaS product, one of the basic Key performance Indicators (KPI) is to track the overall New sales / New Business of a product in a given financial year or time period.

Established companies subject their sales data to scrutiny and do a lot of data analytics before coming up with targets for the next financial year. Most often targets are given from the leadership team. For those young cub sales folks and aspiring managers in start ups, the story is entirely different. The motto seems to be “Our target is to bring more new business than we did last year”

There’s just no harm in that but how successful can you be in chasing your target? I would like to share a simple statistical approach that will help in understanding how to determine your actual sales with improved accuracy.

CONCEPT

We should know that, when we plot our data( lets say sales data in this case), the resulting chart can be divided into four equal parts or Quartiles in increasing order.

Image Source : Google

First quartile (Q1/25th Percentile): the middle number between the smallest number (not the “minimum”) and the median of the dataset.

Median (Q2/50th Percentile): the middle value of the dataset.

Third quartile (Q3/75th Percentile): the middle value between the median and the highest value (not the “maximum”) of the dataset.

interquartile range (IQR): 25th to the 75th percentile.

We should note that any value is considered to be an Outlier if its value is above the maximum (Q3 + 1.5*IQR) or below the minimum(Q1 -1.5*IQR).

EXAMPLE:

Lets assume that you are a SaaS startup and selling a product online. You are launching a paid version of your product at 5 USD per user/month. Now lets assume that there were 10 new customers in the first week as shown below,

We summarize the overall sales for the entire week to be 240 USD. We naturally expect the revenue to be the same for the upcoming week. We project the same revenue to be our target. That’s perfect.

But lets look at our data again, we see that one customer has brought 14 user licenses which is out of the ordinary while a large number of our customers purchased between 2 and 6 user licences.

This particular customer who purchased 14 users is an example of an outlier. When we treat this data, we should not consider this particular customer to be normal. We should instead replace this value with the median value of the whole dateset (where Median is the middle or commonly used value in the data set) to get a more accurate prediction.

The below figure shows how to calculate Median in a spreadsheet. You can call the function = MEDIAN and select the data range for which the median needs to be calculated.

Once the median is calculated. You need to replace the outlier with Median and determine New revenue.

In our case, we realize that the new revenue predicted for the upcoming week is 190 USD instead of 240 USD. This gives some fresh perspective.

Real time data:

In real time, no data set is going to be so easy to work on. There will be thousands of transactions every day and its impossible to just look at a data set and hunt outliers. In such cases, we can use some tools to get the job done. I use Python to get the job done. Consider the yearly sales data of an online retails store with thousands of entries.

The easiest way to check the presence of outliers is to visualize the data. There are many ways to visualize data. I choose a Boxplot (which is based on the concept of Quartiles explained above)

All data points that lie outside the Whiskers of a boxplot (denoted by two boundary lines) in both directions are outliers. In this case, by adding up the ‘Total Net Sales’ column we can calculate the overall sales

We see that the overall sales/ New revenue equals 333644 USD in the given data set. If we were to calculate our targets based on this data for the next year, we should first treat this data for outliers.

Python deploys effective codes to treat outliers and replace them with median or mode. Once the outlier treatment is done, the resulting box plot can be seen symmetric and follow normal distribution.

We can now calculate the overall sales with some degree of accuracy in the upcoming year.

The actual sales for the upcoming year can be around 241000 USD as opposed to 333500 USD in the first place. We can use this data to improvise our sales action plan.

CONCLUSION :

A good sales manager will be able to predict New business more accurately by understanding / knowing how to treat outliers and use Median values of the data set using suitable tools. Hope this was helpful.

Happy selling!

Note : I have consciously avoided Jargon, deeper exploration of concepts and python codes to keep the reading light & simple. Outlier treatment is the tip of the iceberg. We can do logistic or linear regression models, time series analysis & build decision trees for more sharper insights and forecasts.Watch this space. I will be writing more on sales forecast techniques in the future)

I don’t sell Bananas!

I don’t sell Bananas!

The last time I checked the dictionary, oxymoron still bears the same meaning of things that contradict each other. I always get a feeling that the best word to describe my job would be – an oxymoron. Sales is an oxymoron because it’s easy and tough simultaneously.

I was having a conversation with my grandfather the other day and tried to explain to him what the cloud was and what I did at work. He was a bit uncomfortable when he realized that I was a sales guy. It is not uncommon to see people cringe when they hear that you are a sales guy. I went to my college alumnus meet and I was the engineer that became “The sales guy”. It’s funny when people look down on what I do. The irony of being a sales guy is that you go to war with a shield and return home alive every day.

It is remarkable how we always consider sales as a very difficult or rather easy profession like the time I was taking the morning cab back home one day and two employees were wishing that they had gone into sales because the sales team looks very relaxed and less worried. I was too tired to kiss their hands and welcome them aboard.

Ask any kid that goes to school or a teen in their final college years and I am sure that the probability of someone wanting to end up in sales should be very less or none. To all the people who think that sales is the easiest job in the world or the most difficult job in the world, please allow me to relieve you of your stereotyping. Sales is not an easy or difficult job but a combination of both. If there is a skill that people should master then it’s always the ability to sell.

Here is a quick example :

I hope most of you would have taken a train at least once. If you have, then you must have come across women selling apples or oranges. They board a compartment and shout “5 apples for 50 rupees”. If no one is interested in their products and the train closes in on the next station they know they had to sell something and they use a simple sales trick and go “8 apples for 50 rupees”. Now, this is my favorite part because the moment you hear the revised pricing you see the entire compartment coming to life, that old uncle who was engrossed in his newspaper all this time finally shoots up his head to see what’s happening. If one person purchases then it follows multiple purchases. I always think if these hawkers would have targets. Maybe it’s their target to sell a set between two stations.

The fish market is yet another classic example. We see people selling fishes piled up next to their competitors and do all the tricks to get customers. The quality of the fishes determines the sales but still, It’s funny when you hear them sell. Exhibitions and trade shows are more analogous to fish markets but in more decent and controlled environments

Have you ever stopped to wonder that almost everyone on this planet has to sell something to make a living? Even beggars sell their poverty to get our attention, empathy and of course money. If sales is so important then why do we not ask our kids to be salespeople or have the importance of sales taught in schools and colleges?

We are made to believe that sales is not a great job. Whenever we hear that someone is a sales guy, our associative memory forms a mental picture of the guy in a sling bag that waits for hours in a shop or the person who knocks our door to sell dictionaries

In my observation of my teammates and different salespeople, I realize that all these people are rather very gifted individuals in the way they communicate. Even someone who is a sales guy beyond his fate is a good person to strike a conversation with. Most of these individuals are average people all their lives and are very patient in handling things. They were the kids that went to school and did average in everything. They were the bridge between the best and the below average students. They are the same wherever they go. They are not great performers in college or poor performers. They are average. They do the one thing they love to do, which is to talk and since they have put so much man hours in talking, talking and just talking- they get very good at it. This becomes a skill over time and they have a wide source of information and get good at knowing what to speak when to speak and when to stop. They become very intuitive in understanding people and gauging behavior through the virtue of communication. The information they have gathered all these years gives them the urge to want more and they naturally seem to know/learn something about everything compared to the hardworking kid knowing everything about one thing.

When this kid leaves college, he realizes that he has nothing to offer as a skill. Has no clue what he is going to do or end up to be. He goes to interviews with nothing to sell but himself and if lucky enough ends up being a sales guy. Sales is not an easy job but the average kid is used to environments where much is expected from him in the form of sales target and he knows that he will never excel it or go below the target, just like school where he never got great marks or failed in exams. Sales always give in to the concept of “regression to the mean” and who better understands regression than the average person?

That is not all! The average kid does what he is always good at doing – talk to people and end up getting paid for that.

Sometimes people think sales is an easy job but sales is also about building relationships. The next time you see a sales guy chilling around the pantry, or taking a walk with someone from another team in prime time be sure that they are well aware of their piled up tasks and targets but are more keen in building relationships internally. This is one of the main reason why a support engineer or a pre-sales engineer is ready to help the sales guy when a customer needs immediate help. Its all about building genuine and healthy relationships.

Every day in sales is an adventure. If something should go wrong, the customer is going to call the sales guy to vent out and we are always ready to take the heat. We make sure not to pass an angry customer to any of our support folks or engineers when they have a tiresome day. All that people outside the realm of sales see is the sales team flirting with their telephone but in reality, all there is to sales is to sit holding the phone’s handset and bleed.

When its a bad month in terms of revenue, the blame game ends pointing the sales team but what is hidden is the fact that we spent an entire month defending our products and not giving a chance for the customer to criticise any of our product, service or support because we are guided by the truth that we need everyone’s help to sell a product at the end of a day and we believe in what we sell and as a rule of the thumb, what we sell is always a great product. 

The whole point of this quick article?

Sometimes we tend to look down on the sales team. We think that they look more relaxed than everyone else. We think that being average is bad and being a salesperson is being average. But the alternative of this reality is that if being average is being a salesperson then being average is good.

Again, sales is not an easy or difficult job. It’s not even a job in the first place. It’s a skill to be mastered. Sales is not a job for people who like to win always because you are expected and bound to fail in your targets when working in sales. Also every month, the book starts fresh. You must have contributed 100k in revenue on the closing day of the month but your contribution is zero the very next day ( day one of the next month). Its one of the most heartbreaking and refreshing cycles in life that fosters harmony and tranquility to the mind due to the nature of this changing reality and going from 0 to 1 and 1 to 0 every month. 

An essential life lesson that should be learned by everyone and taught to kids- to accept failure and master patience to start again and forget everything about your previous achievements. Even more than that is the vital lesson of learning to sell an idea because,

At the end of the day, what good is an idea if you cannot sell it?

Epilogue :

Sometime back in 1999

Its a regular day at primary school and the teacher is doing her best to accomplish the most difficult task under the heavens – procure the attention of kids! She tries everything and with her tricks and threats manages to shush most of the kids. There is, however this one particular kid that won’t listen or stop talking. Almost throwing her hands in disbelief she yells “Stop talking now. If you keep talking, you are going to miss the lessons and sell bananas one day.

I am glad that I never listened to her or shut my mouth back in school or college days. I enjoyed talking to people and being average all my life and I still do. As for the teacher – I am not sure if she meant it but I am thankful that she saw the budding sales guy in me back then. Thankfully I don’t sell bananas – at least for now !!!

Happy selling and please respect the sales guy!

A study in Innovation : W.L. Gore & Associates.

A study in Innovation : W.L. Gore & Associates.


There are few companies that can claim to have created products that orbit the earth, been on top of Mt. Everest and even helped mend some broken hearts. Came across “W.L. Gore and associates” and their story and management philosophy is impressive.

Founded in 1958 by Wilbert.L Gore and his wife Vieve at the basement of their home in Delaware, this humble company served the electronic market by providing manufacturing/insulation consulting and services in its early years. Wilbert used to be a R & D engineer experimenting with polymers at Dupont. The 1969 discovery by Bill and Vieve’s son, Bob Gore, of a remarkably versatile new polymer led the enterprise into myriad new applications in medical, fabric, pharmaceutical and biotechnology, oil and gas, aerospace, automotive, mobile electronics, music and semiconductor industries. As the company that invented this new polymer, expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (or ePTFE), and introduced it in the marketplace, Gore is committed to remaining a leader in fluoropolymers.

For a company with 600 plus patents to their name, 26 production facilities across the world, 9000 employees – where 24% constitutes millennials, annual sales of 3.1 Billion USD in 2018 (claiming steady growth every year since its inception) the company is still private. But that is not the catch, they are the frontrunners of innovation and technology.

How can a manufacturing company be so innovative that they manufacture fuel cells, fibre optics, bionic arteries, smartphone vents and Mars rovers simultaneously? 

It all boils down to culture and culture for Gore is not foosball tables, beanbags and sleep pods. They often say that “Gore had a culture” even before culture was a buzzword. They have a very unique management philosophy which I find interesting.

Latticwork structure :

Unlike corporates with rigid hierarchy, Gore’s major philosophy is to democratize power within the company. Managers are called “Leaders” and all employees are “Associates”. Here is a company that does not assign people or teams to managers but rather let the team choose their own managers. The Gore culture is sort of a lateral ecosystem. Leaders aren’t appointed; they create “followerships.” Anyone can pursue an idea and persuade others to join. Employees build “lattice” networks, connecting with others across divisions, to encourage the flow of knowledge and ideas. They go by the philosophy “ Great leaders attract follower-ship “

Small unit = Happy unit (The rule of 150) :

During World War II, while on a task force at DuPont, Gore had learned of another type of organizational structure called the lattice system, which was developed to enhance the ingenuity and overall performance of a group working toward a goal. It emphasized communication and cooperation rather than hierarchy of authority. Gore limits the size of all its corporate teams to 150 people. Their offices are designed into separate separate blocks / workshops for every 150 people. The size of a team is inversely proportional to the emotional bonding between its members but directly proportional to productivity they churn out. Gore achieves proportionality constant in terms of productivity and emotional bonding in teams using the rule of 150.

Rapid experimentation:

Often heralded as one of the world’s most innovative companies,W. L. Gore embraces rapid experimentation. To begin with, the company has “dabble time,” which is an expectation that approximately 10 percent of employees’ time will go toward new ideas or initiatives In addition, the company is more than willing to make long-term investments in ideas that take time to develop. The organization’s status as a privately held company, in which employees are given shares as part of their compensation, shields it from the pressure of achieving quarterly results typical at publicly traded companies. For these reasons, it is common for employees at W. L. Gore to tinker with ideas that eventually become new products.

One example of rapid experimentation is the development of W. L. Gore’s line of Elixir guitar strings. One of the company’s engineers, Dave Myers, worked in a Gore medical devices plant developing new types of heart implants. As part of his dabble time, Myers was trying to improve his mountain bike by coating his gear cables with a layer of plastic, hoping to make the gears shift more smoothly. His tinkering was successful, giving rise to Gore’s line of Ride-On bike cables. After a series of other experiments, Myers thought of using a similar coating of plastic on guitar strings to improve their durability and feel. Not being a guitarist himself, Myers sought the help of Chuck Hebestreit—a colleague who played guitar. The duo experimented with the idea without success and without management awareness of their efforts until John Spencer—a colleague who had successfully brought a best-selling line of dental floss to the market—joined the effort. Shortly thereafter, the team had a viable product. They sought official sponsorship from the company to take their guitar strings to market. The team had great success: Elixir is a highly regarded brand of guitar strings and was the market leader in sales in 2004, capturing 35 percent of market share.

The Gore strategy by : Deloitte :

The workflow of Gore as illustrated by Deloitte through careful audit. 

Image Source : Deloitte. Article

In a nutshell :

Words matter at Gore, and they do not always mean what they do elsewhere.

 

Gore is the enterprise, not the company. It has leaders, never bosses.

Associates (included in the corporate identity) is not a euphemism for staff — it reflects the fact that they are shareholders who play an active part in upholding the four founding principles of freedom, fairness, commitment and waterline. The latter means avoiding actions that risk holing the boat without first consulting others.

 

Freedom is as much about helping others grow as oneself, and is bound by further obligations to fairness and accountability to personal commitments. Gore encourages knowledge-based decision making, based on relationship building (so you know where the knowledge resides) and face-to-face communication, on the basis of which teams self-organise around the best ideas for new products or market opportunities.

 

Associates emerge as leaders by virtue of attracting followership, the only way of demonstrating leadership credentials — your business record is not sufficient. “If you call a meeting and people turn up, you’re a leader,”

Simply brilliant!

Innovation is not a word!!

Reference :

  • 1. Malcom GLadwell : Tipping Point
  • Gary Hamel : What Matters Now
  • Article from Funding Universe : Article

Logo Colors of popular SaaS companies

Been learning about Branding & color theory for some time. I was looking through this article from Forbes the other day,

Link

Was curious to understand the logo colors of the fastest growing SaaS companies from 2020. Took the first 50 companies and got their color pallete (HEX) and grouped them to simple colors for this study. I wanted to keep the study simple and simplified compound colors to primary colors.

After analyzing 50 different companies and their brand guidelines for logo color distribution. We have come to the following conclusion

Total number of times Blue was used in a logo is 39 times. Top 2 Industry contributed for over a quarter (28.21%) of overall Blue, and the Top 4 Industry contributed for over a half (51.28%)

Total number of times Green was used in a logo is 23 times. Top 2 Industry contributed for over a quarter (39.13%) of overall Green, and the Top 3 Industry contributed for over a half (56.52%).

Total times Black was used is 21.Data Analytics Industry contributed for over a quarter (28.57%) of overall Black, and the Top 2 Industry contributed for over a half (52.38%).

Total times Orange was used is 19. Top 2 Industry contributed for over a quarter (26.32%) of overall Orange, and the Top 2 Industry contributed for over a half (57.89%)

Conclusion : Most of the fastest growing SaaS companies of 2020 have shades of Blue, Green, Black or Orange in their Brand logo. A vital lesson in Branding.

A sales guy in the making

Back in 2014, I was in my final year of college. I remember worrying about my career most of the time. Those were tough times and I did not have the slightest clue of what I wanted to become or where I would end up. Having been always average in studies, with no extra certifications or no programming background I never took my career too seriously when my peers were doing multiple courses, preparing for exams or doing internship from bigger names. The only two things that I seem to have a flair for was to understand people by talking to them and giving seminars almost twice every month of my college life. Unfortunately, I never thought any company would want to hire people for talking and making presentations exclusively until,

Location : Auto expo 2014, Chennai trade center, Chennai, India.

I walk in with my friend and we saunter past a lot of cars. Almost anyone could tell that we were not there to buy anything. We walked past many cars and being car enthusiasts, we almost took long stops at all the stables and shot penetrating questions at the representatives about torque, horsepower of the car, mileage etc. Most of them took us light and simply shoved flyers on our faces and took to attending the potential prospects.That never slowed us down, we were still teens who just loved cars.

We walk into a super busy Skoda booth and most of their representatives are already taken by prospects. We wait for some clearance and there comes a very old man with a Skoda badge beaming over his shirt. He had the air of a man who commanded the world he lived in(or least the booth he lived in).He is delighted to see us, two young insignificant guys. He reaches us in no time and walks us through the then newly launched Skoda Octavia with advance features. We almost spent the next 40 amazing minutes with him and there were a few things that happened,

1.He took time to understand what bought us to the expo. Once he found that we were just students trying to learn what’s new in the market, he gave us every information we ever wanted.

2.He knew that we were not there to buy a car. He still treated us with the same way he would have treated a buying customer.He opened the door for the car, sat with us inside and gave us all the reasons in the world to get a Skoda.

3.We came up with a lot of objections and facts about Skoda and how badly they did in the Indian marketplace. He took the objection, acknowledged it and explained about the high standards of making, the safety provided, the reliability it offered which made us realize that Skoda made good cars, It was just that there were less people who could afford them.They were still a good value for money.

4.We were talking a lot about other competitors and he never took to bad mouth about any of them.He even joined forces in appreciating a few of them.

5.When we part ways, did he shook hands and said thank you?, Oh no, not this guy! He said “It was great talking to you boys!. Now if you want to test drive this big guy (pointing at the new Octavia),then I would suggest you to walk in to our showroom in Anna Salai, Chennai.There are a lots of other wonderful cars here at the expo for you to explore.see you around!”. He hands each of us his card. We exchange a firm handshake and leave.

As I left that booth, I realized that I felt someone inside. I instantly knew that this was how I wanted to make people feel for the rest of my life. I went home and revisited the encounter I had with this salesperson and concluded that what made him click was genuine talk, extraordinary presentation skills and his domain knowledge of not just Skoda but other cars as well. I knew I possessed two of the three skills he had. They were still at the kindergarten stages though and needed much grooming. 

I decided from that moment on to be a sales guy. I took it seriously and found it more interesting than any other job on this planet.

People say that Sales is a tough job,I agree to disagree with them. I think its one of the best jobs in the world.You get to represent values and morals of a work system.Many times a sale is made because of the sales person.Through all that calls, follow ups and waiting is a beautiful relationship that awaits,Like a bamboo. It grows afters years of nurturing.Now is that not a beautiful experience?

I have been in sales for 6 years and there is more for the road ahead. I am glad that I am a sales person. I spend much of my time connecting with people and addressing their needs. I go to bed everyday knowing that I change the world. 

As for the sales guy I met at the expo, I never saw him again,I lost his card and forgot his name, But I still know where I need to go if I everet a car.

Nostalgic marketing

Nostalgic Marketing


I know that most Indian men would feel good just looking at the above picture while much older men would be lost inside their mind looking at the below picture thinking about Dimple Kapadia in swimwear.

Yamaha Rajdoot was first seen used in the popular 70s flick “Bobby” starring Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia. It became widely popular as the Bobby bike soon enough. Yamaha RX 100 is every millennial’s favourite. It is much coveted by men and I personally know a lot of them who’d happily give away their year’s worth of hard earned money to get a dilapidated RX 100 put back to its pristine glory. Watching these RX 100 aficionados talk to a mechanic will remind you of that popular sentence from any Tamil movie “Doctor, evalo selavanaalum paravala, enoda thambiya epdiyavathu kaapathidunga ” (Doctor, no matter how much it costs, please save my dying brother)

Recently Jawa Motorcycles relaunched its yesteryear hit Jawa SD, which was the most popular bike of the 60s and 70s. The Vespa is yet another icon of the 40s and 50s that is gaining popularity, its like the Jawa SD of the Venusian world. These bikes simply never seem to go out of style and demand (We will get back to this later)

Jumping to Ilayaraja.

Every kid that grew up in the 90s (Tamil Nadu), know the popular Ilayaraja songs of 70s and 80s even though they were born a decade or two later, where the maestro was not even giving his best music and ARR was emulating him. How is this possible? these songs are sub consciously ingrained in our minds somehow. I remember the song “Senthalam poovil” by Jesudas, which was my mother’s favourite and it almost constantly played from our radio. My father was a big fan of “Kanney Kalaimaney” from the movie “Moondram pirai” and was singing it mindlessly while at home or putting my baby sister to sleep. As a kid, I hated these songs because my parents would snatch the TV remote from me to tune into channels that played these songs (Ilayaraja music) during weekends. My parents hardly listen to music these days but whenever I come across any of these songs being played somewhere, it takes me to the good old days, back to that home without running water and compound walls. We had little money and my mother had a tab at the local “annachi” store. Chennai back then was simple and peaceful with green busses. We have never heard about Tsunami or Ozone layer depletion before and petrol was still 18 rupees. We had telephone, TV and my father had a Honda CD 100 bike, those were expensive things at home and that made us the most sophisticated household in the entire street. I am not sure if those were good days but they were surely the happy ones. I have some of these Ilayaraja songs downloaded and hearing them helps me to reminisce in the good memories from the past even today.

The emotional journey :

Vespa or RX100 or Shakthimaan or Ilayaraja. These things seem to have a special place in our heart. Some things remind us about a period of our life and suddenly creates a strong emotional bonding. We call it nostalgia in common terms. Here is a visual representation of how I think nostalgia works.

Consider that someone is born and raised in the year 1970 and the red circle represents an object/ film/ song/bike that was directly or indirectly involved in this person’s life at that point of time. Majority of the population find that their happiness levels go down (represented by a fading green arrow) as they grow up due to increasing commitments, work pressure, relationship failures, health issues, children and social pressure. This person was a kid in 1970 and was happy. As the person grows up, the object is replaced or forgotten (faded red circle) in the memory lane gradually due to the effect of time or the object going out of fashion. 30 years after, this person suddenly comes in contact with this object somewhere and guess what? It will take him back to the time of his life where it belongs. Naturally that’s the best period of this person’s life because that’s when he was the most happiest. Happy memories are always strong and they never fade away.

Vintage to Retro

There is an increasing trend in the things of the past being reintroduced and received with much zeal among masses. This is the process where something vintage becomes retro because of the mass happiness index associated with that product in retrospective.

Bottles and Eye Glasses :

I suppose most of us would have gotten a takeaway from the “Tempteys” the popular milkshake shop. Notice that the takeaway bottles are very retro. I took one home and my mom instantly recognised these bottles to be popular when she was young. She recounted that shops in Spencers plaza sold pasteurised milk in similar bottles back then.

Another example is female reading glasses. Lately, lot of women go for retro styled glasses. (They are vintage but on their way to becoming retro once they reach their tipping point)

Check this website : https://www.zennioptical.com/vintage-style

Advertising :

Came across some really interesting concept posters made in vintage (retro?) styled art for modern day objects and they are brilliant. This could become an upcoming trend in advertising for modern day objects to engage with older audience who can identify a particular style with a specific period of their lives.



Nostalgic marketing :

Companies today are tapping into our memory lane to trigger this feeling of nostalgia to sell products. Its not uncommon to see some old elements from the past reintroduced and becoming an instant hit these days. The Jawa SD and Vespa are classic examples of companies reinventing themselves by taking advantage of nostalgia . We can expect to see something more in time come. As for the RX 100 and Rajdoot, there is much debate in the Yamaha world to reintroduce them someday soon.

Fostering Creativity : Mail chimp

Fostering Creativity : Mailchimp

I recently landed in Mail chimp’s website since many years and their new ( I am late, they re branded in 2018) branding design felt eccentric. The illustrations were very annoying at first but I got a hang of it in sometime after reading the philosophy of their design and got bowled over.Enough said, you can read about their re branding philosophy from the link below

https://mailchimp.com/design/ :

https://mailchimp.com/resources/new-brand-announcement-2018/

This remark from Mailchimp’s VP of Design is very endearing to read.

With this redesign, we set out to retain all the weird, lovable elements that endeared our earliest customers to Mailchimp, while creating space for the brand to grow and connect with even more small businesses. We didn’t want to lose our heritage in the process, so we focused on capturing the essence of what Mailchimp has always been.

We want to show our customers that being yourself is good for business by providing the tools and confidence to take risks, especially as their businesses evolve. We champion authenticity, originality, and expressiveness because it’s what helps us — and our customers — stand out. We hope to inspire them to be more bold and creative in their own branding efforts.

Wow!

This reminds me of the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. There is this line,

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings — nor lose the common touch,

Mailchimp is being used my so many larger businesses however their rebranding philosophy revolves around “not loosing the common touch “ by adjusting themselves to the likes of smaller businesses.

The art work in their website is very surreal. Some similar experiences I have had in past :

Above : Illustration from Mailchimp’s website
( Source : Mailchimp Website)

There is this Australian puppet animation film called Mary and Max, which is one of my favorite movies. The animation made me queasy at first but the narrative and the story took over moving me to tears as the film came to an end.

Mary and Max
(Source : Google Image)

Ed, Edd n Eddy
(Source : Google Image)

Ed, Edd and Eddy, was another animated series featured in cartoon network back in 90’s that I saw. The art looks very snobbish, but the humor is just brilliant. After few episodes you get used to the flow of things. Devdutt Patnaik’s illustration look incomplete at first but once you adapt to his ideas, it just feels very natural and unique. Its very easy to identify Devutt, among a sea of cartoonists. Such brilliance.

Devdutt Pattnaik’s illustraion
(Source : Google Image)

Mary & Max or Ed, Edd and Eddy or Mr. Pattnaik or Mailchimp, they are all about being creative. I understand that branding a website, cartoons and artists are as different as chalk and cheese. But someone had the temerity to take a very lackadaisical approach to branding and that someone is your Mailchimp.

The alternative to this argument is that most people wouldn’t know Ed, Edd n Eddy, or Mary & Max or Devdutt pattanik because they are not popular till date and this simply reflects that people don’t remember them which is a failure in branding.

In a world inspired by Nike and Apple based branding, Mailchimp has transcended the common standards of creativity and branding. This is a nice initiative in my own humble opinion of being bold, breaking conventional thinking process and being creative spontaneously. The website looks unlike a business leader of their segment which they clearly are.

Mailchimp : what a balance of creativity and innovation!