Monday, October 15, 2012

Why magazines are even more relevant today

If there's a commodity that perishes as swiftly as it is created, it is news.  The longer it takes to create, the higher its longevity and by corollary, news produced by the second, dies by the second. 

We want our gratifications without any waiting period, we want to gulp down our food, build instant abs, get rich immediately and also know everything now. We are also anxious to know more and more, and information has become a status-according social currency. Fortunately, acquisition of knowledge does not have a finish line and so it behaves quite differently from instant abs or instant noodles. 

In this hurried age, magazines play an important role by balancing societal myopia with perspective; need-for-speed with understanding, and anxiety with patience. The magazines analyze and opine like the elders of society - and hence also play the role of elders in the information society. In an age when every new opinion becomes news, magazines bring perspective through considered information, often correcting the many hourly and daily twists that news takes, giving balance to society in the process. 

Magazines are among the nice-to-have ingredients in life - much like flowers, family, chirping birds and mountains. Things that give  meaning, values and culture to life. 

Without that we are nothing but monkeys who have managed to come down from the trees. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Google is passe, so is flipkart.


Humans are animals of habit. If we sit in a particular seat in any forum, we will automatically gravitate towards it the next time, if we walk on one side of the road, it will almost always be the same side every time. We lessen the use of our brain by using more of 'muscle' or mechanical memory - the known and comfortable route we know to be safe.

Marketers bet on that. Whenever marketers bet big on a campaign, they know that there will be a 'trial' spike in sales after which the cliched 'new normal' will settle at a higher base because of the  neo-converts. Once you've become a convert, another change is not easy. So not only do you make a convert of one through a campaign, but the brand also ensures that this customer  has been blocked from future conversions. We have evolved to believe that if we've tested a method/product/service out any new experimentation is an unnecessary waste of effort.

However, in the new age, nothing could be further than the truth. New offerings are better than the old ones, newer companies serve you better than age-old ones to make you their partner. Two such examples came to light during our experiments with 'Decoding Communication'. The first is the search engine Bing and the other is the online bookseller HomeShop18.

Unfortunately we were so programmed to using the usual Google and Flipkart that we never even noticed that there could be a better deal. We just chanced upon Bing when for some reason Google was not working, and this suddenly showed us how much better Bing was than Google. A simple search for the term 'Decoding Communication' showed up so many more relevant results that we began to think that Google was passe.

Then it was time for another providential intervention. Someone wanted to buy 3 copies online and flipkart had only one in left in stock. So this enterprising person tried HomeShop18 (which was also offering a super discount of 33% on the book as against zilch on flipkart) apprehensive about the delivery time. But guess what? The book arrived in 3 days flat. And in great shape (and a free pen thrown in for good measure).

We were fortunate in having discovered this. Now we'll be recommending these to everyone for a long time to come. After all, we're creatures of habit.