Brand Update : Thums Up has a variant Thums Up Charged

In a surprising move, Coca-Cola launched a new variant for Thums Up celebrating 40 years of glorious challenging existence. The new variant is named Thums Up Charged. According to the company, the brand has more thunder in it compared to the parent product. 
Thums Up Charged is currently running the launch campaign featuring the brand ambassador Ranveer Singh. As we know, Ranveer Singh replaced Salman Khan in 2016. With the new brand ambassador, the brand had also changed the narrative. While Thums Up always had the theme of the protagonist chasing the product and doing what it takes to get hold of the product, the new theme completely destroys the core promotional theme by making the protagonist a superhero with the brand as a sidekick. 
The new variant also follows the same theme of the hero doing unbelievable stunts and brand is positioned as an enabler. The current ad is hyperbole at its worst and one wonders what the brand is trying to communicate. 
The act of racing in reverse gear is something I cannot comprehend even in my dreams. While the earlier campaigns featuring Salman or Akshay, there was hyperbole but in those ads, the fact that the stunts are done for getting the brand made sense. There Thums Up was the hero, not anymore. 
The logic of launching Thums Up Charged is also intriguing. What can be the possible reasons?
The stated reason is to expand the brand and fuel growth. Often brands use product-line extensions as tools for growth.  But the question is whether a brand like Thums Up needs a variant for growth. My understanding is that Coca-Cola never aggressively pushed for growth for Thums Up. The brand is so strong that it doesn’t need a variant for growth, only focused efforts from the company are needed. 
A conspiracy theory from my side is that the company may be trying for a taste change for the brand. According to newspaper reports, the Thums Up Charged have a higher amount of caffeine which gives it more punch compared to the original one. The new variant will test the new taste and if the consumers accept the new taste, then slowly the variant will replace the original one in future. 
The performance of Thums Up Charged would be an interesting thing to watch for months to come. This summer would decide the fate of this variant and the future of original Thums Up. 
However, here is wishing a Happy 40th Birthday to Thums Up. 

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Advanced SEO: Digital Summit Slide Deck

Advanced SEO cuts through abstraction. It doesn’t add layers of fixes and workarounds to mask SEO problems. Instead, it removes the problems themselves.

This deck is my talk from Digital Summit 2019. There are a lot of slides. If you’ve seen me speak you’re used to that. If not, don’t let it scare you. Every slide has a single link, idea, or tip. It’s a fast read that I’ve hopefully crammed with useful stuff.

Ask questions in the comments below, or find me on Twitter: @portentint

Or on LinkedIn:

The post Advanced SEO: Digital Summit Slide Deck appeared first on Portent.

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You Don’t Need A “Growth Hacker,” Just A Data-Driven Marketer

The following is my latest monthly Analytics column, originally published on ClickZ. You can read all my previous columns on ClickZ here.

Silicon Valley loves fancy job titles. It’s just something we do, and software and technology lend themselves to it. But it’s not always helpful. In many cases, these new titles are simply a reinventing or coopting of a practice that is already well-served by existing practitioners.

This brings us to today’s topic: growth hackers. I know many are well-intentioned and not all are consciously trying to shroud what they do in nebulous terms. But, unfortunately, there are many who attempt to sell services surrounding growth hacking with messages such as: “other marketers are behind the times / not data-driven / not digitally-savvy etc, so you should hire us.”

But let’s take a step back. What exactly is Growth Hacking? As defined by Wikipedia (emphasis mine)

“…a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business. …. It can also involve online community management and social media outreach or highly personalized outreach to news outlets to improve performance metrics such as driving customer acquisition and selling products.

I’d invite you to read the entire Wikipedia page, because you’ll quickly see growth hackers are simply marketers by another word – as the intended goals are in alignment with traditional marketing. For example, in the quote I bolded, using digital channels to improve performance metrics is the domain of marketers of all types. Even the ones with boring titles.

If it’s not already obvious by now, I’m not a huge fan of the phrase growth hacking or the job title of growth hacker. The simple reason is, it’s not needed. It’s redundant and unnecessarily distracting. It isn’t that actual growth hacking tactics might not work or don’t belong within the tactical mix of your marketing. It’s that they likely already are there.

Consummate marketers use data to A/B test effectively, conjure creative ways to acquire users organically, optimize the reach of their content, etc – things growth hackers pride themselves on. So, it’s not that what growth hackers are doing is “wrong”, it’s just that things like data fluency are table stakes for all marketers as I wrote in a previous column.

The problem with many Growth Hackers from a measurement standpoint

Many growth hackers obsess over KPIs like increasing social media followings (and frequently use automation to do so) or short term traffic to a brand’s website for the sake of increasing numbers. But this is simply not sustainable. As I shared in a previous story on increasing organic marketing metrics, you want to chase increasing, sustainable returns, not spikes which are low quality and unpredictable.

Organic KPIs improved directionally rather than chasing spikes is the hallmark of quality online marketing

Growth at any cost without considering loyalty is wasted effort

Many growth hackers I’ve talked to over the years, while talking a good game about web analytics, show a misunderstanding of other critical business metrics. I once heard a proud self-proclaimed growth hacker at a tech conference triumphantly talk about how they rapidly grew app installs to exceed their aggressive goals in a short period of time. Which by itself sounds great, except a year or so later I saw a story in a tech trade in which that company was undergoing layoffs because the app just wasn’t working out. Maybe if they had a better understanding of the CLV (Customer Lifetime Value) of users generated through their “rapid growth” tactics they would be in a better situation. Or even simply look deeper into their app analytics to see loyalty metrics and didn’t just focus on installs without understanding if they would stick around.

Growth hacking, empathy and user experience

Great marketers understand the importance of empathy and respecting users. On more than one occasion, I have seen growth hackers cause users and potential customers to loathe them, all in the name of trying to chase KPIs. Which shows the danger (and, to be blunt, the stupidity) of a “growth at any cost” strategy. Two quick examples.

  1. A chat app recently caused users to inadvertently text spam their friends in an attempt to gain users.

Tweet source

Recently, a new app called “Chitchat” disguised “invite” as “add” where the UI made it unclear that you’re “inviting” friends via texts (nearly everyone considers this spam) as opposed to simply adding existing users. The entire thread linked above is worth reading if you’re curious the type of user outrage and negative PR growth hacking tactics can provoke. To add icing on the cake, TechCrunch soon after called this company “Silicon Valley’s spammiest new app.”

  1. Running Facebook ads targeted at users who are fans of the ACLU in an attempt to stem negative PR

Tweet source

For the sake of brevity, I’m not going to go into the entire story of what happened (feel free to click the Tweet source link if you want to dive in). But what occurred here is Uber’s growth team made the decision to specifically target supporters of the American Civil Liberties Union to try and stop the damage of not so flattering news about the company. But in a world of transparency, users are going to determine how and why you are targeting them – especially in cases that involve reputation management issues. In this case, an experienced marketer with a broad understanding of messaging and ad targeting would understand it’s inappropriate to use the ACLU as a vehicle to market their messages.

Quick conclusion

What I would be excited to see in the coming years is that marketers by all names and titles embrace a more holistic and broad view of digital marketing/measurement and how we help improve our company’s results. In an increasingly social and review-filled world, where spam tactics are always called out, ensuring we don’t just grow, but delight, our users will separate the winners from the losers.

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T-Shine : 100% Organic

Brand: T-Shine
Company: Jyothy Laboratories Pvt Ltd

Brand Analysis Count: 582

In 2017, Jyothy Laboratories ( JLL) launched a new product in the small but growing toilet cleaner market in India. Branded as T-shine, which probably is shortened version of Toilet-Shine, JLL is entering into a market dominated by Harpic.

JLL always launches the products with some uniqueness which has helped its brand beat large competitors. It launched Ujala in the liquid form, Exo with anti-bacterial properties which forced the market leaders to scramble for points of parity.
In the case of T-shine also, the USP of the brand is that it claims to be 100% organic. The Point of Difference is based on the allegation that the existing players in the toilet cleaner market use harmful acids which can cause respiratory issues.

 T-Shine claims that since it is 100% organic, it is safe. The market leader Harpic’s USP is the cleaning capability. Harpic has been effective in communicating that to the consumer. Having a sparkling toilet is something of pride – as per the brand communication. Domex, the other major player has been focusing on killing germs. T-Shine is trying to create a separate identity focusing on the organic nature of the product.
With Patanjali also aggressively entering the space, we will see a slew of organic variant launches in this segment.                                                         

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You Can Lead a Horse to Insights…

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Is your customer experience transformation work stuck at good intentions? 

One of the biggest showstoppers in customer experience transformations today is execution – actually, it’s the lack thereof. You’ve got a ton of data, insights, and intentions, but action is the key – and it’s not happening. Customers can feel it.

No brainer, you say? Not so fast. If it was a no brainer, would I call it one of the biggest showstoppers today? I think not. You know it’s a problem!

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Q&A With Ad Students: Advice For Marketers Just Starting Out

The following is my latest monthly Analytics column, originally published on ClickZ. You can read all my previous columns on ClickZ here.

Presenting to students at UF Ad Society in Feb, 2017

Recently, I visited my alma mater, University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, to speak with advertising students about digital marketing, analytics and how to start a career in our field. As I had expected, I received many questions from students, both after my talk and via email. I decided it would be more helpful to answer several of the best questions as this month’s column to share thoughts with students everywhere who may have similar questions.

So if you’re new to our sector or someone on your team is, today’s post is for you.

What are some of the essential tools every marketing student should know going into their first marketing internship/job?

Well, of course, Google Analytics is one critical tool. We even have online courses and a demo account to help new users get up to speed quickly and become proficient at making decisions with data. But while understanding specific tools is great, it’s probably more important, when first starting out, to understand how to create a digital marketing strategy, which always comes before tools and tactics.

Being proficient with not just Analytics, but CMS (content management systems), CRM (customer relationship management) tools, programming languages like HTML, etc would all be good ideas and core to what we do. If you don’t know everything yet, that’s normal. Even the best experienced pros are still learning daily.

What do you think makes certain interns stand out from the crowd?

I think the best thing you can do is begin building a sandbox project (a place you can test and tinker on ideas without worry or oversight) from the ground up, without help. Create something real and tangible you plan to grow long-term in your free time such as a blog, an app, an e-commerce store selling something you’re passionate about, or another side project. Find a friend if you want, but also document your process and be sure to be involved at every step. Resist the temptation to outsource things at first.

You’ll learn so much as the result of experimenting on your own and be forced to go through the entire process a start-up or brand will when conducting digital marketing, including creating the actual product – something far too many marketers skip. You can’t get the same, real life, hands on experience in school or through certification. Smart brands and managers, the type that are really essential to work with at the start of your career, will value this greatly.

What are daily habits you believe a successful marketer should have?

Keeping your analysis skills sharp is probably the single most important thing you can do. Good marketers know not just how to record metrics and what KPIs matter, but how to use that data to influence decisions at the strategy table and get buy in for new projects. This involves both left and right brain thinking, as you can get pretty creative with how you use numbers to tell a story. Becoming proficient with data-driven storytelling requires lots of practice so working on it daily is helpful. Moreso, there’s big demand for analytics-savvy professionals so having this skill will provide a leg up.

What are some good readings marketers should have read?

To be an effective marketer in a world of constantly-changing communications trends, it is essential to stay at the edge. Embrace this and take the charge personally to follow sector news. Read case studies, industry trades, relevant blogs – create a system (email subscriptions + labels, RSS, whatever you prefer) to get the right information and data coming to you every day without spending much time. I’m less concerned with where you follow our sector, just that you follow. It’s important that all marketers do put in the effort to stay informed s things change so fast.

How do I choose between going agency and in-house?

This is a personal choice. I personally started my career on the agency side and think it’s a great decision because you get a view into many different types of companies and sectors. You also get to implement all different types of strategies and tactics as your different client’s marketing needs are unique. Agencies are a great way to get your feet wet in our sector and gain a diverse skill set. If you find a company you really love right out of college, go for it. Your first roles will be great learning experiences no matter where they are.

How do I make my resume really stand out?

There are countless articles on making a great resume so I’ll offer another idea: do something creative, in addition to the resume, which gets noticed by targeted companies or key executives. For example, ad copywriter Alec Brownstein targeted creative directors at advertising shops in New York via clever search ads driving traffic to his website. From this, he received two offers. He then made a YouTube video showcasing the results which has received nearly 1 million views. The point is he knew what he want and did something creative and specific to achieve it.

One more story: a friend of mine, Eric Friedman, tells the tale of his job interview with renowned VC firm Union Square Ventures in New York. During a pivotal second round interview Eric sat down with one of the partners, Brad Burnham and presented his resume. Brad told Eric to hang on to it as he just wanted to chat. When Eric pressed him as to why, Brad responded with something remarkable which went like this: “You can work really hard on crafting a well written, organized, resume with bullet points of accomplishments – but you can’t fake 500 blog posts.” On the web, it’s “show me, don’t tell me.” Showing dedication through consistency is a powerful way to demonstrate you’re a cut above.

Final thought: get started today mapping your journey

Our industry is still growing rapidly and the demand is there, everyone who puts their mind to it can have a great, fulfilling career as a digital marketer or analyst. Think critically, make a career plan and start executing on it. If you try I am almost certain you’ll succeed.

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