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Friday, January 28, 2011

Discount Shopping News in Bangladesh!

Good news for Bangladeshi shoppers and marketers. Deshbazar.Co.CC offers a win-win service for Bangladeshi buyers and sellers.

Deshbazar.Co.CC is number one source for Bangladeshi shoppers to get discounts, hot deals, special offers, free offers and money savings shopping news from Bangladesh. That site finds the best and latest offers from Bangladeshi market and posts them for public. Have fun and happy shopping!

That website also recommends all Bangladeshi marketers or sellers to inform the site admin about their hot deals. So that the site admin can publish the special offers (consumer promotion) directly from the manufactures/importers/service providers to the target market. Thus Deshbazar.Co.CC could able to communicate to the customers and consumers to let them get the advantage of your latest offer(s).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Money Mongers

Lately, I have been busy arranging and taking interviews of a whole bunch of fresh graduates for my firm. Considering the business is advertising and the firm being Ogilvy & Mather; I genuinely had expected a lot of good buzz from the "graduate market". It wasn't too far-fetched an expectation, since almost all of Hollywood has in one way or the other pictured admans to be the coolest, most sought-after and playful professionals right after George Clooney in any role (i.e. negotiator or thief) and Brad Pitt as a renegade (fight club, troy, kalifornia etc.). Even in our fashion/trendz go-to country India has colorful advertising personalities hitting the headlines quite regularly (Prasoon Joshi - Lagaan, Balki - Cheeni Kum and the critically acclaimed Rahul Bose; all hail from advertising). But when in comes to Bangladesh, just as many other "brainiac" industries; advertising is always referred as an industry in its nascent phase. Saying this, I guess its very clear to the wandering mind how hard it is to recruit good talents for the industry...

At the beginning of my career in advertising (which was not so long ago), I was told by one of my earliest mentors in this industry... your career is like a race, either you sprint start and get juiced out by the middle of it or you could run a marathon and live up to the Aesop's fable of "the hare and the tortoise". In both ways, its a race and running is imperative... there is no easy way out but its not only about raw power and brute strength either. The smartness lies with the "mode" you choose and also how effectively you make the most of the path chosen. Philosophies aside, it is very uncommon in today's youth to be accredited for being a marathon runner. For there is no prize for starting small to make it big one day, but only to start big to be the biggest in no time :) Sadly, we fail to realize... as Mr. Paul Arden rightly puts, "Its not how good you are, its how good you want to be". The word "potential" is more common in people than the word "successful" and one doesn't have to dig too deep to figure why?

The great talent-grabbers of past - BAT, Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser and Standard Chartered are still there at the top of the food chain. But its the more hyena like newcomers who have actually redefined the job prospects of a newbie. Upcoming and promising local banks (Brac Bank EBL, Dhaka Bank), conglomerates (ACI, Rahimafrooz), communications superpowers (GP, Blink, Warid/Airtel, Qubee) are all who operate in the upper-mid food chain and consume the most of talents. I am no communist, nor do I see myself resenting for not starting in any of the companies mentioned above... but I am pragmatic  and in no way can I justify some of the absurdest amounts that I hear of as "starting/basic package".

The US of A, the great capitalist superpower, the mother of dreamlands, the country which sets the benchmark for these "martian" salaries has a PPP (per capita GDP) of $47,123 and a minimum average MBA starting salary of $73,000 (the least a MBA graduate would start with). Makes sense; considering "ivy league" is a word coined by them and them alone, and almost 90% (figuratively) of the world's Top 500 universities are from mainland USA. Interestingly now, if we look at Bangladesh, a developing (a gentle word for poor) country from the third world with a meager PPP of $1565 (that to, after consecutive years of near-to double digit GDP growth), average starting salary for a decent MBA graduate is in and around the region of $5000 (taking in reference the average starting salaries posted in recruitment ads). While the US MBA grads enjoy a nearly 1.5 times valuation (as opposed to the general mass), its an astounding 3.2 times for a Bangladeshi MBA. And just to add more juice to the irony, no Bangladeshi university even features in the Top 500 and there is no sign of one making into that list anytime in the near future (According to webometrics, BUET the highest ranked, is 2916th in the World).

Its really good to be on the receiving end of such astronomic sums at the month's end... and I don't see any harm in watching these children (I couldn't find a better word for the freshlings) become complacent over time. Its not because they are right in doing so, but because in the rat-race of hiring the best talents, we have actually gone beyond the logical sums that rightly valuate a fresher's talent and capacity to contribute to the hiring organization. At the end, these companies do perhaps get the best of the best, but only to lose them in a few years for a better/sweeter deal to a competitor. This chain of offering better to get the best is indeed never-ending (only to the point when one becomes too expensive to maintain or simply, just redundant). The money we make... makes a lot of difference in our daily lives (after all, that's why we work to begin with) but we fail to realize the money cannot be the ultimate decisive factor in choosing careers. Religious Teacher, Doctors, Firefighters, Teachers and Police make the top half of the "most satisfying occupation" list in US. And when you wonder how would these occupations actually suit in Bangladesh terms, all you are left with is a grim expression.

All said and done... there will always be a disparity between the highest paying jobs and the most satisfying ones. It is for us to determine for ourselves which suits us the best, and not only that pays the best. A career is not about how fast you start the race, but how high you actually finish it. And finally to end it, I look back on the the apt words of Baz Luhrmann from the song "Sunscreen",

"…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bangladeshi TV ads in YouTube

One thing I must say I miss watching are the TVCs by the Bangladeshi companies. It has been quite a while that I have been requesting quite a few movers and shakers in the Bangladeshi brand-wagon to have a central archive of Bangladeshi TV ads online, preferably in YouTube or Vimeo. I had even approached academics who preach branding and advertising to undertake some sort of an internship project for a group of students who might volunteer to setup a dedicated YouTube channel for Bangladeshi companies. I am afraid all these efforts have fallen on deaf ears and our representation and exploitation by Bangladeshi businesses on YouTube remains at best – scattered and unorganised. There are individual efforts by some enthusiastic viewers to take the pain to record and upload online the TVCs mostly by mobile telecom operators, but that too, is not planned, organised or even patronised by any company officially. (you might want to read a related post regarding your company being WEBFFYT).

Now why would I advocate that either Bangladeshi businesses think seriously of maintaining an active presence in YouTube or why should I urge the brand-gurus, business magazines of Bangladesh to consider setting up a centralised channel to feature TVCs from all companies whose ads are being shown in the private and nationalised TV channels in Bangladesh? There are a few reasons.

Firstly, the immediate audience of these ads are not going to be Bangladeshi consumers inside Bangladesh, as they are getting exposed to those ads through TV channels in any case. They should be primarily targeted towards non-resident Bangladeshis and foreign investors, advertising professionals, film-makers, partners etc. who might be interested to know more about 1. what are the latest ads 2. their quality in terms of storyboarding, composing, shooting, messaging, execution etc. or 3. even just to know what a certain Bangladeshi company is up to lately with relation to their products, services and offers.

Secondly, uploading and making available TVCs in YouTube or Vimeo or a certain video sharing website will enable the viewers who are the ultimate consumers not only to comment on those ads but also to share it with their networks through social media and other means if the ad is worth sharing or really funny or controversial. I strongly believe that ordinary consumers can come up with interesting insights and observations about TVCs and we always don’t have to wait for Mr. Know All Ahmed to write reviews in monthly business magazines and business newspapers in Bangladesh. The viewers are the best reviewers too.

Finally this might open up another opportunity for event management companies or corporates who love to give away awards as a means of self-promotion, to actually arrange a crowdsourced best Bangladeshi TV ad award. In this case, the voting can be made open to worldwide viewers and not left on the hands of a jury made of business leaders, teachers, gurus who know each other well and prefer to keep a closed-door community.

So what do you think about this? Please share your views.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cricket World Cup in Bangladesh - 8 ideas for your business!

How is your business gearing up for the greatest cricketing event of the world when it kicks off in Dhaka on February 17th? As the cricket lovers from all around the world will either get glued to their TVs, computers and phones to get latest updates from the grounds of the sub-continent and while many of them will arrive in person to root for their favourite teams – how as a Bangladeshi business, you are preparing yourself not only to cash in on the opportunity but also to play some role whatsoever in upholding the local norms, cultures and traditions to the world media, to visitors in Bangladesh and to viewers abroad?

Might be a good idea to steer clear of the controversies and chaos ahead of the big event next month. Already quite a lot of chaos has been reported in relation to clashes for tickets, regarding the event managers of the opening ceremony and their involving Indian celebrities and the more serious concerns about adequate accommodation facilities for the foreign visitors. We can’t talk about all these in this post and neither we are in any position to provide solutions for them. Rather lets stay focused on opportunities. Not in any particular order or preference, some thoughts are as following –

  1. Reengineer, rename and revamp your menu

If you are in the business of food, takeaways, fast-food or restaurants, how about renaming some key popular dishes in your menu according to the cricketing themes, teams or even players? We already have seen our love for opponent-named dish items when we had beaten Australia and New Zealand in form of kangaroo curry and kiwi bhorta special! So be innovative and go ahead rename your cocktails as ‘Captain Courageous-Shakib Special’, burgers as ‘Tornado Tamim’ or spicy items as ‘Mashrafee Masala’. Possibilities are endless.

  1. Eat, sip and cheer

Again this goes out to those in food businesses, make sure you have TV screens, large and small, installed and supported by UPS to show matches as they are being played. Quite a great opportunity to lock in your customers to enjoy the match in your restaurants with specially discounted food prices for the duration of the match may be, or for an innings only or even for the first fifteen overs only!

  1. A win for Bangladesh, a win for the food-lovers, shoppers and mobile users

Don’t wait for the politicians and governments to flood our players with accolades and awards incase we steal some thunder during this world cup, you can do it yourself from your business perspective, you can do it early on and by rewarding not the players but their numerous supporters and fan from around the country. Announce early on through your websites, social media pages, or put up a banner and print in your menus that you will offer free meals or free drinks all throughout the following day of a historic home win! This might be your gesture to show gratitude to Tamims and Shakibs incase they bring some much needed glory for the nation form the cricket war fields.

In the same tune, if you are a retailer, the world cup offers you a great external hook to offer discounts for a day, week or based on a match by match basis to your customers. Its just a matter of how you show your brand to be completely drenched in the world cup rain and how passionately you want to share this spirit with your customers.

Finally, the mobile phone companies can always offer their subscribers free minutes or free SMSes incase Bangladesh wins, so that the good news can be shared faster and wider among friends and families at home and abroad.

  1. Freebies with every wicket, freebies with every six

Again this idea might work on a match by match basis and can be limited to the day of the match only. You can announce beforehand that every time Bangladesh is playing a match, every time an opponent wicket falls or everytime a Bangladeshi batsman scores a six, you offer a free coke to all who are present in your restaurant at that moment.

  1. The glorious cricketing moments in DVD

We’ve talked about this before in an earlier post. No occasion will be as great as this to finally showcase in the form of a DVD/CD the historic winning moments of Bangladeshi cricket and make them available for purchase or as prize items competitions in your points of sales, business premises.

  1. Patriotic marketing and patriotism merchandising

A great occasion yet again to print out t-shirts, mugs, key-rings, wrist-bands, stickers, photoframes etc. with the Bengal tigers on it. Even better that if you are a charity or as part of your corporate generosity towards the development of the sport in Bangladesh, you can decide to donate either the full or a certain percentage of sales to skills searching, developing initiatives for Bangladesh cricket.

  1. Tourism and sightseeing – if a festival doesn’t exist – invent it and have fun!

There is no doubt that travel agencies and the tourism board of Bangladesh are gearing up to woo the foreign sports tourists to various scenic locations of Bangladesh. Many among this group might actually arrive in the sub-continent with a view to not only enjoy great games of cricket but also to make a touristic discovery of India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in the same breathe, which is certainly a good idea. It might not be the best idea to compare tourist attractions of Bangladesh with other countries as we have what we have and we can change things overnights, merely can try to improve them over time. Something we can certainly do is to innovate rituals or activities at or surrounding our tourist locations and relate them to cricket in such a way that even after the world cup finishes, we can continue with the trend and festivities years after years.

For example, how about a beach cricket tournament in Cox’s Bazar? The format of the game, rules, prizes etc. might require a whole different post but the key idea here is to innovate something unique which doesn’t exist as a tourist attraction related to cricket anywhere in the world- or certainly not in the Indian sub-continent. We have the longest unbroken sea beach in the whole world stretching 120 kilometres. A fun to watch 20-20 cricket match at every 5 kilometer of the stretch over a period of 2-3 days might draw enough participants and tourists alike to visit each location for the fun of it, and thus discover the unique beauties of the coastal Bangladesh in a different sporting way.

  1. The cricket bat of best wishes

Although a bit late for this may or I am not entirely aware if anything similar have already taken place- but it would be nice if a massive cricket bat could have travelled to all district towns of Bangladesh where the fans could have signed in their support for the home team. If travelling to each corner of the country sounds improbable within a month then atleast visiting the divisional headquarters would be nice. In the end of the day, the world cup in Bangladesh will be more about the fans and lovers of cricket than about the players themselves. So the common public have every right to be a part of this festivity from outside the stadiums too.

So just some random thoughts here, let me know how you are preparing for the fun with the bat and ball next month.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Social 999 and Information Dam - How to deal with social emergencies with technology? - Part 1

Today - a post not directly related to businesses or branding as such, something more related rather with my work with social networks, technology,development, human rights - social change in general. Inspired by the latest conversations in the field, especially by the pioneering thoughts of Clay Shirky, I had been thinking along the lines of a concept which I term as 'social 999' and a related concept of 'information dams' and how, I wonder, we could use these to precipitate social change. These are very embryonic thoughts and will require further research, ideas and investigation in days to come.The key question is how would it be if we could use social networking platforms as some sort of a social 999 or a social 911 in which case we could use a combination of existing social media channels where the look-alikes of typical real life emergencies such as 'policing, medical and fire-fighting' could be dealt with by the community members themselves?

If you look at how the emergency numbers and the services that are provided across countries by calling the usually three digit emergency number, you will realise that there are several characteristics related to the emergencies. Firstly they concern with loss, damage or deterioration of properties, health or even life of an individual or a community as a whole. Imagine what happens when a fire breaks out in a block of buildings and there are women, children and elderly trapped inside. Think about a theft or a crime occurring which effect a household or an individual which require police to address the case immediately. In the same breathe, imagine when the paramedics rush with their ambulance to attend to the deteriorating health situation of any unfortunate ailing person in pain. All these circumstances include the threat to health, property or law and order which can influence individuals and communities alike.

Secondly there is this aspect of reaction speed. Imagine what would happen if the fire brigade arrives to a burning block of flats after say 2-3 hours when the whole infrastructure might get reduced to ashes. Similarly what's the point if the paramedics arrive at the scene to attend a heart patient in distress after an hour or so? How quickly the emergency service providers can react is one of the key critical success factors that make 999 or 911 effective and useful for the community.

Thirdly it's important that perfectly skilled professionals are standing by to respond to our emergency calls. How terrible it would be that a bunch of amateurs wearing uniforms would show up with water buckets to extinguish a fire? Even worse if they hesitate to plunge into the fire risking their own lives to save others. The brave-hearts fighting with fire are expected to be brave and well trained. Similarly you will not want amateurs to attend to a patient who have just had a heart attack.

Finally there is this issue of abuse of the system. Imagine the amount of false alarms the emergency services in real life must have to deal with on a daily basis. This can range from old widows calling 999 to help look for their missing cats to panic struck health freak who calls for paramedics after mild chest burns which may be due to trapped wind. In majority of the cases I guess emergency service providers have no other way but to respond and attend to such calls, incase the issues are life threatening, even if they end up with a pure time wasting experience.

Now lets take this opportunity to replace these emergencies with some kind of a social emergency, violations of human rights of some sort against any individual or a community and imagine the services- as actions against those violations. How could we conceptualise a ‘social 999’ like scenario where the user groups, communities of best practices, groups, tribes, tightly or loosely connected networks – whatever you call it, will use social networks to deal with a social emergency, a man made crisis of some nature, which might require urgent addressing by all involved to tackle the challenge. Lets look into some more details of social 999 and the concept of ‘information dam’ in the next release.