The Subtle art of Marketing

When I was in college, we had a college festival called Rendezvous … (Gosh! I feel old) … wait! let me start from the beginning.

My First Marketing Lesson

It was 1994. I was at IIT, Delhi. Third year of electrical engineering. Rendezvous was held every year. We danced and debated and acted and competed every year. But this year, it was our turn to organize. This year, multi-nationals were competing for our youthful attentions. This year, we had a big sponsorship from coca-cola. This year, me and NK were in charge of decorations.

We bought materials and built canopies, stage decorations, mascots and ceiling hangings ourselves. We spent many a late night creating, and many mornings sleeping in class. 1 week before the festival, the G.Sec. shows up in our common room – where many of our projects were in progress, and realizes, to his dismay, that none of the decorations have coca-cola logo on it. Not a single one. And, coca-cola representatives are not happy about the red-blue canopies – it’s pepsi’s colors! Uh-oh and Duh! The sponsorship was there to advertise coca-cola to the thousands of students from all over the country who will show up, NOT pepsi. We spent more late nights fixing the decorations, and more mornings snoozing in class. That was my first reluctantly learnt lesson in marketing. Geek as I am, I din’t get much better at marketing after leaving college either.

Conor, on the other hand, grew up in a household running a pub and restaurant. Even though he is a bigger geek than me, he absorbed more marketing being in the service environment from a very young age.

Kindergarten Math Marketing Lesson

I would love to be able to keep building more apps for kids. That means earning a meaningful amount from the apps – which I am not so far. App marketing is mass marketing. Often, it is in your face. I see many apps with marketing I dislike – popups on quitting the app, forcing a review to unlock games. I did not go for any of those. I just had one dialog, when the player completed a section. They get a choice to restart the section or upgrade. Conversion rates have not been great. Most other people in this category are doing better. I need to do better.

Stuck in a rut, I came up with the idea of adding more ‘Buy Now’ dialogs. If I was a player, I would dislike that. But what choice do I have. Conor had a better idea. Grey out the part of the progress bar in Kindergarten Math Lite that is only available in Kindergarten Math. That is a clear visual indication of what the players get if they upgrade – subtle, beautiful, useful and effective. Wow! The numbers are up a day after the change.


According to his dad, Conor was terrible at the tough restaurant work. But, he was a really good bartender – subtle and effective. I have a lot to learn about marketing from him.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s