Posts Tagged ‘Business

02
Jun
14

Real Estate Advertising and Advertising Real Estate


Real Estate advertising is mushrooming faster than buildings. But the corny ads that stand in ovation to the utter lack of creativity are not the problem.

The problem is that most, if not all the campaigns speak to a microscopic elite in a country where over the two third of the population can barely afford a loaf of bread.
The problem is that clients lack so much marketing acumen that taking them for a ride and making them to spend an arm and a leg becomes child play. Besides lacking originality, their advertising speaks to an audience that reads the newspaper in the back of their limousines while being chauffeured to destination. An audience that does not even look outside the dark tinted glass of their cars.
I got news for those Real Estate companies: Your “target audience” as your agencies taught you to call them, will never look for a 2 million Dollars apartment on a billboard on the Zalka highway! This audience does not need advertising claiming “Paradise on Earth” (in Lebanon…) to trigger their purchase behavior!
Having said that, some potential buyers might shop for a flat on outdoor media, but then, who might those prospects be? Did you ever worry about dissecting your audience, not by how much money they carry in their mattresses, but by their propensity to fill your flats?
Because, in Lebanon, the short-term fast buck over-rules the long-term brand-investment, advertisers always choose to go for the easy route; note that it is the smartest one, or the actual golden goose.
If we want to build the country on mob money, and Gulf tycoons, then be it. But for heaven’s sake, stop bragging about patriotism, and stop using nationalistic and outdated slogans. Lebanon does not, and will not get any better with your tall buildings. The way it’s going right now, it only will get uglier.
The fact is that, by playing the ostrich, we are as morally corrupt as the mafiosi who buys the 2 million Dollars flat.
My dear real estate developers, here’s an idea to make money and sleep restfully at night. We need condos, we need thousands of flats for the average Lebanese, the honest one. We need small town houses for the thousands of daily commuters who, for a change, work honestly and hard to earn their buck. Now you do the math. But before doing so, use (what’s left) of your marketing understanding to admit that, since the late eighties, economies have undergone a paradigm shift, from a margin to a volume market. Hell! Even Apple realised it! You can make more money by selling more and cheaper, rather than selling less but more expensive. You can make more money by selling to the poor!
Here’s another insight: The rich buy your flats in good times, when economy is flourishing and the cash is safe. But when hard times hit – and they do often lately – the rich are the first to hold their horses back. The average consumers on the other hand, buy an apartment because they “need” one. Their decision to buy is not investment-based, it is need-based. And here once more I implore (what’s left) of your marketing understanding to answer the 101 question: what does marketing address? Yes, yes, “needs”.
By doing so, you win a favorable reputation, you build a better brand, you will be respected and loved by the society, your product will spread to cover the nation, and you will be one of the rare businesses where the very nature of your product is intrinsically a CSR program. You will need to advertise less, thus use your marketing cash on smarter programs, or simply stash it if you wish to do so.
No, I am not a communist! And no, I am not asking you to refrain from erecting those beautiful skyscrapers that adorn our capital. All I’m saying is that , in a country of endless paradoxes, it would be a stimulating change to see someone “think smart” about creating an equilibrium. But that’s just me.

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Real Estate Advertising and Advertising Real Estate by Ibrahim Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://ilahoud.wordpress.com/.

21
Mar
11

ON SALE, AN ADVERTISING INDUSTRY…


Back in the good old days, advertising was a life enhancer. Situations depicted a better life, a better family, a better job, etc. Even tobacco advertising, thought to be healthy back then, was about the real good things in life.

Marlboro ad – On Flickr by Todd Mecklem

Today, advertising stopped enhancing life and started enhancing situations. Indirectly, instead of showing you how to better your life, advertising is showing you how much your existing life sucks. How? Simply by enhancing situations in an unattainable way, or even worse, using situations you will never experience.

So instead of telling you how good life is and how to make it even better, advertising is telling how much your life sucks, and how worse it will get!

Advertising killed the fun.

Having said that, good advertising still pops here and there, but in the clutter of life-smashing, fun-killing ads, it can hardly be noticed.

In my early days of advertising, the toughest question in a creative brief was “why will they believe you?”. We used to scratch our heads for hours in the quest to answer it. Today, the answer might as well be “who cares”.

Citymall ad – from ibloga.blogspot.com

I will not expand my wrath beyond the Lebanese territory, and for a good reason, we are by excellence the right place to look in for cheesy, stupid, useless and utterly meaningless advertising that indulges in cheap plagiarism. Hell! We can’t even copy other’s concepts right! We are by excellence the market where any “so called” advertising agency or “self-proclaimed” ad-man can get away with ads like “Mon bijou, mon droit” for a jewelry shop of even worse “Look at my wallpaper, I said wallpaper”…

Moukarzel ad – from blogbaladi.com

We are probably the only market in the world were advertising regulations revolve around “trying” to win trophies instead of helping clients sell… and still get away with it.

I am ashamed to state that I once was an ad-man.

It used to take us years to mature and acquire the skills to create ads with an oomph. It used to take us years to climb the creativity ladder. Today, we’re simply climbing that ladder down, following clients that are already way down, instead of lending a hand to them and bringing them up. Never the race for a quick buck has been more cheap.

We simply prostituted the advertising industry! And to make things worse, we’ve exported it to the Arab world!

We still use women to sell wallpaper. We still use men to cheapen women. We still use children to sell milk. We still use politics, God! Politics…. to sell everything else! How low can we go?

I look at ads from the 50’s were women were told to cook and clean the house to keep their husbands happy and it revolts me. Trust me, I am far less revolted at these ads in comparison to what is being produced today. Telling a woman to stay at home is by far better than asking her to be a hooker who sells wallpaper, try to make her believe that her only freakin’ right is her jewels, or use her bust to promote cable TV!! Come to think about it, I wonder how these women accept to feature in these ads, but that’s another story.

Cablevision ad – from beirutdriveby.blogspot.com

There will never be a solution to the Lebanese problems, neither political nor social, and you know why? There are simply not enough brains to trigger change, and if there are brains, they’re busy exteriorizing their sexual fantasies on billboards, rooftops and quarter pages.

To a certain extent I don’t blame them. I blame a stupider client who has never worried about developing a personal marketing culture or at least breed one in his organization. Clients are the ones who pay, and it amazes me how they don’t even evaluate their return on investment based on the level of mediocrity an advertising can attain.

Both the advertising industry and the clients have helped breed the culture of mediocrity by being complacent, indulging or accepting copycats, and settling for the lesser. Although we’re witnessing today a weak attempt (or what I call a nice try) to change things, the Lebanese advertising industry, once the leader in the Arab world, has become like most of our other innovations. We pioneered television and sank to dante’s hell. We pioneered the internet and brought it to a halt. We bred the finest in advertising, and made them wish they never existed.

Diet shisha ad – from tobaccocontrol.bmj.com

If and when (actually more if than when) the industry picks up again, it will simply look just like the internet in Lebanon, finally working but centuries behind. What a shame.

That’s probably why, we’re not doing anything with the political system in Lebanon. For us, it’s simply business “as usual”!

© 2010 Ibrahim Lahoud

27
Jan
11

There IS an “I” in Team!


Maybe it’s me, maybe I have this strange genetic animosity against cheesy, nauseating clichés… such as There is no “I” in Team.

Well guess, what? There is a darn “I” in Team, in fact there are many!

I guess it’s time we woke up and realized that this is the era of micro-marketing. Orwellian strategies are dead. The power of a team is in the power of every “I” in it.

Marketing has evolved from a Woodstock massive hallucination tactics, where one gets the idea, and the others glue themselves to it and call themselves “Team”, to a more polarized view where the power of a team and the magnitude of its outcome is mostly based on the performance of every individual separately. Only then, the efficiency of a team can be measured.

The stupid “I”-in-a-Team thing, was probably the brainchild of someone who was so lazy and inefficient that he or she had to hide their failure by not being an “I” and instead becoming a team! Pffff!

My aim in this post is to revive the concept of the team, talk about it again. It’s been a while we haven’t reflected on what makes a team and why. We have been drowning in calling ourselves “team” and became oblivious of what made us one.

Let me first start by saying that based on the new universal truth of “Perception is Reality”, teams everywhere around the corporate galaxy are cheering themselves. They are doing so for successes the hero of which is embedded in the deepest layers of the “perception” of team.

Look at Social Media and how successful organizations are managing their online strategy. Social Media is about speaking to every “I” in a team, culture, society or ideology. It is not anymore, like middle-ages advertising, about talking to clusters of masses that we look at like blobs of potential buyers. Every “I” we talk to in Social Media, teams up with other “I”s to form working influential teams.

I just love dictionaries. They have this simple and innocent way of explaining things that leaps beyond our weird way of translating them:

TEAM |tēm|
noun [treated as sing. or pl. ]
a group of players forming one side in a competitive game or sport.
• two or more people working together : a team of researchers
• two or more animals, esp. horses, harnessed together to pull a vehicle.

So here it is, in the most stark contrast with our game of perception and reality, a team is always about two or more “I”, each doing his, her or its job to achieve the team’s mission.

I know, I know, some of you are reading and wondering what the hell has gotten into me now to start philosophizing on the issue! I’ll tell you what, frustration! That’s what.

I am frustrated at the way we take things, twist them, mold them, shape them and keep massaging them until they fit our own vision of things… Not that we always have a “vision” of things… Vision might be a big word for the stupid us who actually do that… The amazing fact is that we actually create “teams” to do it!

I have to always come back to Lebanon for resourceful examples, for two reasons: Who am I to reflect on the world? And two, simply because Lebanon is an amazingly fertile ground that spawns imbecilities and is constantly kept at the perfect temperature to store them, freezing!

So, looking at Lebanon and how Lebanese at large perceive the concept of Team, you can’t help but think that our definition of team is: The ultimate hideout for mediocrity that simultaneously manages to uplift our image!

Your image will become that of the team’s. In other words, you’re a nobody that does nothing and yet manages, along with other “team members” to keep doing nothing, and collect the credit earned by that poor single team member who does all the work! Wao! I’d like to do that sometimes.

I bet most of you now are thinking about the “teams” you have at work, the ones you are part of, and whether you’re the parasite or the hero… Good. Keep thinking.

As for me, I do not care about how things go at work. What I worry about is how can a country become a corporation managed by “teams” of parasites with no heroes whatsoever, and still manage to create credit, share, brag about it and earn the people’s praise. Now that, is the epitome of “Perception is Reality”.

One loophole, It takes a moron to follow a moron. We are breeding a culture of morons, where finding a single hero to inject in a team of losers is becoming virtually impossible.

Those morons are the people who established the rule of “There is no “I” in Team”. Why? Because they’re right. There can’t be an “I” in a team of morons. There can only be one entity of assimilated pea-sized brains who managed to find salt-grain-sized brains to lure!

The others – those who refuse to be morons, to be lured… or ruled by morons – have discovered a higher universal truth: “The Perception of Perception-is-Reality”, and simply refuse to be assimilated.

There are many “I” in every team where success is measured by the power of synergy, and how reality becomes perception. And there is not one single “I” in a team where success is measured by its perception rather than its reality.

©2011 Ibrahim N. Lahoud

13
Jan
11

Brand Promise my a**!


When was the las time a “Fast pain relief” medicine relieved your pain fast?

When was the last time a “30% whiter” detergent actually made your laundry 30% whiter?

When was the last time a “we care for you” outlet made you feel it cared for you?

When was the last time a “we try harder” car rental made you feel they even tried a bit?

When was the last time an “I’m loving it” made you really love it?

Oh wait, wait, here’s the best: When was the last time a “growing your potential” bank actually made your potential grow?! When they can’t even protect the heritage they “use and abuse” to sell new products and services?!

You work hard on designing a wonderful logo, a great-looking stationery, pay a copywriter to crack this amazing tagline, a top-notch architect to design your office and outlets, and…?

And what?
Nothing!

If this is how these people treat their husbands and wives, no wonder divorce rates are sky-rocketing!!

Which part of “Brand Promise” don’t these guys get?

Just to refresh their memory:

A brand does all it does for one sole aim, keep its promise. That’s how brands make money. A brand’s equity lies within its promise. A brand’s life is defined by how it keeps its promise… Just like a marriage!

So, to those luminaries who think that a nice looking logo with a cute catch line makes a brand, I say: No wonder you still think a bimbo (excuse my French) on a street corner is a bachelor bank manager looking for a date!

I got news for you: your clients and prospects are no as lame as you think. You can’t take them for a ride anymore. No sir! They know what a false promise is. Ask their respective spouses! 😉

Let’s not hide behind our fingers. Here it is straight in your face: When you break a promise, you are a liar! When your brand breaks its promise, it is as much a liar!

The thing is when you break your promise, you could, I repeat “could” try to patch things up, apologize, reverse the damage, and all it would cost you is a something like a lunch. When a brand breaks its promise and needs or tries to patch things up… Think, just think of the damages, and the costs involved in trying, I repeat “trying” and fix it!

Loosing credibility means losing the trust of followers. And when credibility and trust are wasted, what would a brand rely on to make others believe it is really sorry for not keeping its promise? This is the vicious loop a brand is stuck in when it does not keep its promise. That’s one vicious loop which, like a maelstrom, will keep dragging the brand down into the abyss of oblivion.

Some might argue, how could big famous brands break their promise? They’re doing great. Well… They are… sort of! But big brands are not always about the U.S. or Europe… Are they?

Look at big brands in Lebanon. “I’m not loving it” at all. No one really “tries harder”, and for heaven’s sake, don’t convince me that anyone really “cares for me”.

Big brands should start looking at small territories. Our notion of customer service over here is from another planet. Big brands with branches or franchises in Lebanon should keep a close eye on their outposts. When I am not satisfied, I will hate THE brand, not the branch! So finally, big brands are more at risk in smaller territories.

Now look at local brands, their promises, and how they keep them! I’ll tell you how: Like politicians! That’s how!

The equation is simple: Brand -> Promise -> Customer -> Friendship -> Loyalty.

And as the saying goes, “A chain is as strong as its weakest link!”

So, don’t say it, Just Do It, Try Harder to Care for Me. It will be the Fastest Pain Relief, allowing me to Grow My Potential. And that’s how I’m Loving It, Having It My Way!!!

©2010 Ibrahim Lahoud

20
Dec
10

Social Media; “Share and Dare” versus “Trial and Error”


What’s so social about digital media?

How did those two words come together?

Why has suddenly the Internet become the most (virtual) convivial tool?

And how did it manage to turn conviviality into a business asset?

Simple. Our crave to make contact knows no boundaries. What’s more, we are more inclined to establish contact with remote nodes rather than close ones. Remember the days when you used to write letters to your cousins in Brazil? Before they left motherland, you used to see each other on holidays only. Once they were miles away, you found yourself communicating with them more than ever, getting to know them even more than when they were closer.

This is what made Facebook so successful; not that it was its original intention.

Businesses discovered an amazing insight: Don’t get your brand closer to customers; get customers craving for your brand. The farther you keep your brand in the virtual realm, the closer you get your market to it. Paradoxical fact. No wonder Starbucks is the most Social Media savvy brand.

But don’t get me wrong! I am not encouraging brands to push away from their markets.

Here’s another metaphor: Live with someone for a year under the same roof for every single day without ever going out, and you’ll end up having nothing to talk about. Come to think about it, you’ll end up killing each other! Move away from each other for periods of time, and you’ll come back with loads of topics to chat about. The secret of solid relationships is measured by the power of people to manage contact.

The power of social media resides in its ability to offer and exchange information in an interactive and dynamic way. It is there when you need or want it only.

Social media is the “anti-advertising” communication.

Social Media does not advertise, it communicates. It does not claim, it states. It does not patronize, it educates.

We, the Digital People, hate advertising, claims and patronizing. We love communication, clear statements and education.

Social Media is the “Make-A-Friend” DIY kit of brands.

Why?

Because we choose what to browse, read and interact with. We define our digital universe, acquire the tools we feel are right for us, and most of all, we do so by learning, watching what others do and using smart synthesis. It is not anymore trial and error, but rather sharing and daring.

Think about it, trial and error are the two most scary words in business, let alone personal. Trial induces delving into unknown grounds, so unknown that it never spells “trial and success” but “trial and error”. I mean really, how encouraging and engaging is it?

Sharing puts you at par with others. So if you’re a brand you’re not condescending. You’re not “telling”, you’re simply sharing, making the receiver part of the process, a partner, a peer. Daring is exactly what you expect as a reaction. Daring is nothing like trial. Where trial sound like a jump in a dark abyss, daring is more about courage, more about knowing “where” or “what” to try. This is what make “Facebookers” and “tweeps” exchange massive amounts of information.

Look at your Facebook friends. Most of them are shy in real life, yet share so much information on their profiles. Observe your fellow tweeps and see how you can easily profile them just by monitoring their tweets.

Social Media takes advantage of a very well-known syndrome; the virtual relationship, where establishing and sustaining a contact is by far easier than in real life. This is because we feel more secure and more in control of the information we receive and interact with. The more comfortable we are, the more we dare, and the more we dare, the more we share. Simple equation.

Brands in the 21st century are striving to make friends rather than customers, advocates rather than buyers. Before, brands used media only, pushing information down our throats and expecting us to believe and purchase. It did not work, at least not as much as they expected it would. The missing ingredient to make friends and advocates was to get social.

The advent of the digital age, and the way it helped people build their comfort zones, made it ideal for brands to bring together their two ultimate dream-tools: Media to communicate and Social to interact.

Social Media, Interactive communication!

 

©2010 Ibrahim Lahoud




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Reason To Believe by Ibrahim N. Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at ilahoud.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at htt://ilahoud.wordpress.com.

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