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To the ladies of Lorong 18 Geylang…

January 17, 2011

Firstly, thank you for waving to me as I crossed the street in search of a lunchtime treat. (food, of course!) And a special thanks to the one who pursed her lips as I passed by her umbrella. All of your actions caused me to reflect on my situation. And for that matter, on yours.

Let’s look at you for a minute.

There are over a dozen of you on every street (or Lorong, for the uninitiated). And while some of you do drift across to unmanned corners (no pun intended), most of you tend to hang around in groups. Not very useful if there is just one man walking along. How is he to choose between largely undifferentiated offerings? In this case, the advantage rests with the “outliers” amongst you who are looking for niche corners. Of course, the financial viability of that strategy in the long run depends on the amount of traffic that goes to those niches. But for the moment, let’s say there is enough to go around.

Now lets talk about me. I have just set up an ad agency with a couple of partners. Like you, we too find ourselves on the streets having to drum up business in a crowded marketplace. And while we are busy staking out some “niches” that we think will offer better returns, at present we are like any of the 350-odd agencies in Singapore. Hungry.

Which brings me to the elegantly coiffured Madame I ran into on Lorong 20. She was standing at the entrance of a large gated residential building. I forget the name of the building. Probably best that way. Anyway, as I passed by, I saw that she had just used her passkey to open the main entrance to a man and his woman. As she turned back, she saw me pass by. She raised her eyebrows and waved her key card. Now the advantage this woman had was that she was close to the scene of the action and had just shown me a live example of “success”.

Quick, back to the world of advertising and marketing! If we are able to show clients that we are not just dreamers but can actually deliver results, and have done so for “x, y and z” clients, we are more likely to see a relationship develop. This explains the plethora of case studies that one finds in an average agency presentation. But are case studies enough?

Needless to add, I did not take the bait from the gatekeeperni of Lorong 20. In spite of the case study she dangled before me. So what is the solution?

I have two words for the lady, “Think Geisha.”

Get to know the client’s real motivations. Realise that, in most cases, it isn’t the sex he is after. There are other reasons why he wants to forget his life / boss / wife / loan shark for a while. Or as Sir Jagger so eloquently put it, find out why he “can’t get no satisfaction” in his daily life.

Likewise in fields of advertising and marketing. Find out why clients can’t get no satisfaction from their current business. See if you can figure out a personlised solution, like the famed Japanese Geisha, who knows the intimate needs of all her clients. And present it to them in an elegant manner.

Once you’ve got the answer (it isn’t 42), do pop down to Lorong 18 or 20 and put the ladies out of their misery.

Compliments of Ram & Litmus!

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