Monday, January 28, 2008

Customers are smarter than you think...

Marketing is THE most difficult, painful and important task for any consumer facing business. All of us who are in the process of building a consumer brand will recognize that and will agree that often times it's tempting to do things that arent' quite right. But, what the heck! In the long run, we figure, when you are a "BRAND", no one really gives a damn about a few wrong things you did while getting there.

That is, ofcourse, true if you are still living in the 90s. Things have changed. And thankfully, whenever I am tempted to think otherwise, I come across stuff that keeps me honest. Here's two recent posts I came across recently, about two internet brands in India that are quite big and I quite respect.

The first one is apparently a complaint by a BharatMatrimony user being spammed by the company despite unregistering. Feedback from others - mark them as junk, and you will be saved from further pestering.

Individually, we consumers, may not be as smart or as big as a business is, but as a community, we are much smarter and much smarter. Lets ship stuff that helps leverage this power and not get caught in pretty short-term gains.

The second one, though quite different, is interesting, nevetheless.
Cleartrip apparently is cross-selling hotels to air customers. This is a common strategy, and almost everyone does it online. And those who don't do it are either stupid or dead. The difference here is that cleartrip seems to do it on the phone, through voice! And while this might work for a number of their customers, one of them got irritated and wrote back on its blog.
Hrush acknowedges, and hopefully they'll stop.

The reason, I hope they do stop, is because online travel is largely a business of breaking "ties". When price is equal across all, and inventory is the same, we consumers decide on the intangibles. Having read this post, now I am worried that I'll receive calls from them after i make a booking and I'll be reminded of this every time I am on their billing page and they ask me for my phone number. Ouch... not a good thought for your consumers to have, when they are just one-step removed from paying you money.

Build it slow... build it right. And if you fail, just because you didn't cheat, that's ok. Die with dignity!

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