Last year IBM conducted a study interviewing 1,700 CMOs across the globe. Some key finding from the report –

“Our interviews reveal that CMOs see four challenges as pervasive,universal game-changers: the data explosion, social media, proliferation of channels and devices, and shifting consumer demographics. But CMOs from outperforming organizations address these challenges differently from other CMOs”

I was curious to know what the successful CMOs do different. And lo and behold, there are three things that we keep on teaching to our students all the time and still many never seem to appreciate them –

1. The most proactive CMOs are trying to understand individuals as well as markets

2. CMOs in the most successful enterprises are focusing on relationships, not just transactions

3. The outperformers are committed to developing a clear “corporate character”

Finally, something my marketing analytics students will appreciate –

“Our research shows the measures used to evaluate marketing are changing. Nearly two-thirds of CMOs think return on marketing investment will be the primary measure of their effectiveness by 2015. But proving that value is difficult. Even among the most successful enterprises, half of all CMOs feel insufficiently prepared to provide hard numbers.”

Read the full report here –

iPad 2 Prices Across the World

I was a bit bored yesterday. So I put together these slides comparing iPad 2 prices in 35 different countries. You may find this on other websites and perhaps with more details. But I am including the screenshots of the Apple Store webpages. Note that all the prices are for the base iPad 2 model.

Coupon Vampire – How Groupon and Likes are Sucking Small Businesses Dry

Price promotions are perhaps as old as the markets. The main objective of discounts is to attract customers in the hope that they will return and pay the full price for subsequent purchases. Let’s say that every business has product/service quality that is unobservable to customers without trying the product once. After the first use, however, the customers can determine the true quality. The customers are not aware of all the businesses either. Therefore, some businesses create this awareness by advertising while others do it by offering lower prices for trials. As a special case when all the businesses have the same quality, they will select their marketing strategy that results in the least possible costs.


Several marketing and economics models are built around this simple notion (see this excellent summary of the literature). In practice many businesses use some combination of different strategies. For example, they advertise their price promotions on local TV channels or radio stations. Although price promotions draw customers, it is perceived as an inferior marketing strategy. Marketing researchers have found that it actually erodes brand equity in the long term (e.g., see here, here, and here).

However, we now have an entire business in Groupon that is based purely on price promotions. There is nothing path-breaking about the business model for the small businesses. I think at Techcrunch Rocky Agarwal has done a great deal of analysis of Groupon’s ponzi scheme and how it is harming small businesses. In this post I am not going in those details. My objective is to highlight a rarely discussed issue about Groupon which small businesses are perhaps overlooking.

A major objection about Groupon model is that it brings in customers that are just looking for the deals and they will not repeat the purchases at full price. This is a very valid argument and I don’t think Groupon or any of its supporters have presented any rigorous data refuting this claim.  In this discussion, however, most of us tend to forget the impact of these deep discounts on the existing customers of the small businesses.

Imagine that you are a loyal customer of a diner. You eat 3-4 breakfasts at this diner every week and really enjoy the experience. The diner decides to run a Groupon deal to attract more customers like you. There is a very good chance that you—the existing loyal customer—will use that coupon, which is a waste from the diner’s point of view because you are already a loyal customer. However, more importantly, now you may start thinking that your breakfast at the diner is worth only that discounted price! This actually changes how you perceive the diner. In marketer’s language, the positioning of the diner in your mind changes because the diner is offering deep discounts. The shift in positioning may harm the diner more than anything because now the diner is perceived as a cheap eatery that is using discounts. There is also a real possibility of changes in the food or service quality at the diner because you and other loyal customers may force the diner to reduce the prices or offer frequent discounts thereby cutting the profit margins.

I strongly believe that price discounting is a horrible strategy which alienates existing customers. The empirical research in marketing supports this notion. I urge small businesses to stay away from Groupon and its likes such as Living Social and Facebook Deals, etc. They will suck the blood out of your businesses and leave you for dead. I understand the pressure is enormous when business owners see the competitors joining hands with Groupon. Groupon salespeople can also be very persistent and convincing. However, in the end it doesn’t make sense that every business offers a price discount and somehow snatches away customers from competitors. It is impossible. It is prudent to avoid that temptation and focus on building your businesses in traditional fashion, i.e., by identifying your customers’ needs and finding a unique way of satisfying them. That is the only way you can keep those customer with you.

Social Media Career Options in Small Businesses

As my class is moving closer to the end of the semester, many of the students are actively seeking jobs. I have little idea about how the career opportunities in social media marketing domain are. Therefore, we had Lisa DiVirgilio as our guest speaker yesterday. She gave a presentation entitled “Social Media in the Real World,” which is embedded below. Here I summarize some of the key points from the presentation. Note that we are talking about the jobs in the small businesses in local areas.

1. Career options: There are several levels at which social media specialists can work. For the entry level, however, the students are most likely expected to join as social media assistants or junior strategists. The salaries are relatively lower in the news media, local TV channels, etc.

2. Flexibility: The jobs have lot of flexibility because the social media strategists need not be tied to a chair and table in the office the whole day!

3. Entrepreneurship: Social media strategists in most cases have the liberty to design the firm’s social media efforts from the scratch. This is like running your own small business.

4. Performance metrics: Although measurement of performance is tough, it is still one of the most critical aspects of social media marketing.

Enjoy the presentation!

Social Media Usage by Small Businesses

Check this report about small businesses.

Some snippets from the report –

The main accomplishments from using social media include:  staying engaged with customers, developing higher awareness of the company, and identifying and attracting new customers.

Mobile marketing is still looking distant for small businesses –

Despite their use of mobile devices for routine interactions with social media, small businesses are skeptical that a broader use of mobile marketing can provide tangible value to their businesses right now. Most owners consider mobile marketing to be “ahead of its time” (24 percent) for small business or “cutting edge” (36 percent). Only 15 percent of small business owners believe that mobile marketing would be “extremely” or “very valuable” to their enterprise, and another 20 percent feel it would be “somewhat” valuable. This attitude is largely unchanged after owners hear more about detailed uses of mobile marketing.