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Teacher’s CAN DO SPIRIT more powerful than CAN’T ADVERTISE rule

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I was surprised to find this ad in the HT City of Hindustan Times. Tobacco and alcohol companies have always taken the route of indirect advertising by advertising anything ranging from soda to bottled water t Music CDs.

The CAN DO SPIRIT if Teacher’s is more powerful rule of CAN’T ADVERTISE rule of government. The question now is what are they going to sell in these cans.

This ad, while intended for Music CDs, is more than suggestive of what it is trying to sell. The use of full stop after a can and then actually using shape of cans leaves no doubt that they are trying to sell a beverage in a can. The question is what are they trying to sell. Is this something like Teacher’s whisky mixed with soda or cola or a new drink altogether?

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Expected more than this from TATA’s advertising agency

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We are used to watching photoshopped images of almost everything. We have seen before and after pictures in slimming plans where the woman surprisingly wears the same bikini even after losing 20 kilos, and even more amazingly it still fits her perfectly. We are used to watching images of fairness creams where the complexion of the skin has been digitally altered.

This one though is completely unacceptable, specially coming from an agency working for TATA. You can see the two shots- one of polished dal an another of non polished TATA dal, are in fact the same shot digitally altered. The least they could have done was make another pile of dal and shoot it and digitally modify it to look shiny and polished instead of using the same shot side by side. That way it would have looked more realistic.

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Momentary lapse of reason

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There are times and there are things for which you are willing to play more than they are worth. May be what they are worth is a wrong statement, what they cost to make is right. There are things for which you are willing to pay substantially more than the cost of production. So while a Ferrari may be worth every single rupee of the Rs2 Crore you paid for it, the margin Ferrari has is phenomenal.

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen

We all see ourselves as rational buyers but we are hardly that. What we manage to do at best is try to be rational “most of the time”. This means that there can be a few things we like to buy but we don’t because we have programmed our mind to see that they are not worth the price we have to pay. So while we are able to resist such things most of the times, there are moments of weakness when we drop our guard that small opportunity is what those things need to strike.

Lamy Safari

One such blow was dealt to me by Lamy. While I rationalized that the Lamy is overpriced and bought “full metal body” a Parker instead of that “molded plastic” Lamy and lived with that decision for more than an year, one moment of weakness at Delhi Airport saw me buying this Lamy.

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All I had to do was ask for refund

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One of the aspects of big corporation entering the market and killing off the small business is the faceless attitude. I prefer to buy from small retailers, someone who has a direct interest in the business because that is where you get the best service. Big corporations are usually staffed with zombies who have no interest in ensuring a good service and are least likely to go that extra mile to make a client happy. They are there to do the minimum that is expected out of them from the employee’s manual. “Sorry sir can’t help you with that.”

In a marketplace increasingly being populated by people who don’t give a fuck, it is very important to find ways where you are connected to your customers and are willing to resolve their problmes and I am happy to say Samsung has demonstrated that to me.

Last Saturday I got a cheque from Samsung after returning my faulty phone and while it is very easy to blame them for delaying it and not doing it till I reached a higher authority, I guess Samsung need to be congratulated for doing the right thing.

After delaying it for some time, I finally bought a phone in January. The phone I selected was Samsung Galaxy 3. Priced at INR12,000 it was a good phone. Running on Android, it had a lot of oomph. It was fun to download applications from the android market. Watching the sky, Google Goggles and a lot of other application.

One thing, however, remained an issue. The phone failed miserably at doing the most basic of the function a phone is supposed to perform - make and receive phone calls. After visiting the service center for a software upgrade and then a change of mother board , I decided to take the issue further up and see if I can get a new phone or a refund. I managed to find the contact details of a fairly senior person in the company and shared my discontent with him and he ensured that I got a refund.

Last Saturday I got a cheque from Samsung after returning my faulty phone and while it is very easy to blame them for delaying it and not doing it till I reached a higher authority, I feel Samsung need to be congratulated for doing the right thing.

So here is a message to the senior executive who responded to my complaint – Thank you very much sir. Your help is greatly appreciated. I don’t know if you would want to be named, that is why your name is not mentioned.

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Age of Whisky

Posted by Navin Harish - 3 Comments

In a market driven by demand and supply one thing that seems to defy the economic principles is alcohol. Johnny Walker Black Label, Chivas Regal are both 12 years old. There are countless others who claim to be certain age. When I think about this, I am amazed by how companies are consistently able to predict so accurately that 12 years from now we will need this much of whisky. I mean if there was not enough supply, the price would have gone through the roof, the states with prohibition are a very good example and if the demand was more than supply, such whiskeys would lose their premium image. We have not experienced either.

Has it ever happened that you have gone to a bottle shop and asked for Chivas Regal and were told “Sorry sir, we are out of 12 years old whisky… will 11 years do” or “Sir I have 13 year old whisky which I can give you at the same rate as 12, would you be interested?”

Chivas Regal - 12 years old

You tell me how is it possible that every year we have exactly the same amount of “12 years old” whisky as there would be the demand for it. Baffling to say the least.

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You make me look bad

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I will judge you by how good you make me look if you are providing me a service. It is unfortunate that you have to perform 100% to make me look average and any performace less than that will make me look bad. This is something the data and voice companies need to understand.

Currently I am not very happy with the services offered by Hathway, Samsung and Vodafone because they make me look bad. Hathway makes me look very bad when I can’t acces critical data because of downtime, Samsung makes me look bad when the calls keep dropping because of their pathetic phone called Galaxy 3 and Vodafone dents my image when I am not getting a signal.

One thing you also need to understand is how easily replacable you are.

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For the want of an empty slot…

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a broadband connection was denied.

I asked Airtel to give me a broadband connections and they have been ultra quick in their response. One guy was at my home half an hour after I made the call to collect the initial payment, a cabling guy dropped in next day. The guy who was supposed to connect it all up called me up the next working day to tell me that he will come in 15 minutes.

But.

After 15 minutes he called me again to tell me that the empty slot in the Airtel box outside my house is faulty so I “may” not get a connection. And the best thing is if they can’t give me a connections, they will refund my money in “one month.”

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The user is not a moron

Posted by Navin Harish - 2 Comments

Sometime the client or the client services people suggest things which are, for the lack of a better word, stupid. Now this is not because they are idiots, it because they think the customer is an idiot.

Making things simpler for your users in helping them, assuming they are morons who can’t tell their arse from a hole in the ground is an insult for which they won’t forgive you.

I remember a conversation I had with a client servicing person who was handling a particularly difficult client. We made a banner ad and a landing page.

“Navin, can you change the button in the banner to say ‘Click here to know more’ instead of ‘Click here’”

“Why”

“Click here for what, it sounds incomplete, why would someone click on it?”

“Anyone who surfs the internet knows clicking a banner will take him to a page with more details, as it is the button is not required, why do you want to make it even bigger?”

“I understand what you are saying, but we need to have more information”

“In that case why don’t we have the button with test ‘Click here to know how XXX will give complete nutrition to your kid and help him avoid skipping school due to illness”

He got offended but eventually we ran the banners with only “Click here”

The worst mistake you can make is assuming your customers are stupid. This image is a result of that assumption. This is an ad for Toothpaste, there is a person wearing a white gown. It is obvious that this is a doctor and since it is for a dental product, it must be a dentist. Was it really necessary to write “Dental Expert”?

Dental Expert! Oh really, I thought she was a baker

“Dental Expert! Oh really, I thought she was a baker”

Making things simpler for your users in helping them, assuming they are morons who can’t tell their arse from a hole in the ground is an insult for which they won’t forgive you.

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An exclusive deal… for everyone

Posted by Navin Harish - 4 Comments

One of the best ways to make a luxury brand desirable is to make it exclusive. People want things that are out of the reach of most people.

This is exclusive, a credit card for which people keep pestering you is not

A Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG – this is exclusive, a credit card for which telemarketers keep pestering you is not

The other end of the spectrum is things that rely on volume and trying to make them feel exclusive is the most idiotic approach. Take the example of credit cards. I got a call from HDFC bank informing me that I am among the lucky 250 people who have been selected from Delhi. The question asked when I tell them I don’t need a card is “Can you please refer someone?”

“Refer” someone for something for which only a lucky 250 were “selected”!

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Mine is smaller than yours

Posted by Navin Harish - 1 Comment

In the ongoing soccer world cup, if you watch a match between a strong team and a weak team, you are likely to notice the stark difference between the way they play. While the stronger team is content with scoring a goal and then just waste time by denying possession of ball to the other team, the weaker team is eager to take as many shot at the goal post even if there isn’t half a chance of scoring a goal and even if it means losing possession of the ball.

The same is the case with large and small companies. While is small company has nothing but possibilities, it has no problem in being aggressive and try to capture as much of competitors’ territory as it can. The large company on the other hand has worked hard to capture a market share and is now not interested in taking any more risks. It is too busy trying to retain its market share.

Of course there are bigger companies who are still challenging others but they are the exceptions, not the rule.

If we take the biggest example of our time, Google has grown into what it is from a very small company and it has been challenging competition whether it is Yahoo or Microsoft or anyone else. What future do you see for Google in the next 5-10 years? Do you see them still creating problems for the competition or do you see then on the other side where they are getting defensive about its large market share?

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