Use Me

From a marketing perspective, the “USE ME” sign on waste baskets around the world, is a magnificent piece of copywriting. Much like the ‘Got Milk?’ campaign, but only non sponsored and adapted in the gazillion or so countries in the world.

You will be allowed to think that the Use Me tagline has been wasted. Pun should be obvious. But this post was not about marketing, but more about life, hence the title. Tsk. Scratch that. Rewind.

Life sucks. Maybe. Depends. It’s getting better. Life rocks. Maybe. Depends. You are confused. No, you are alive.

You use stuff. You are built that way. Consider:

Religion. One God. Prophet. Not one but many. Blessed all of them. So many believers. So convenient for you to just use it. You use it to ‘write off’ thinking about the philosophical stuff. You know, the stuff you quote to impress people – quotes from people with impressive-sounding names you can’t pronounce. You write off the ‘why are we here?’ bit with the ‘this is a test’ answer. You use it. Why? Because it fits? Does it? Why wouldn’t it, it has been fit for so many gabazillions of humans. Yes, gabazillions. But the answers fit. You keep saying that till it does fit. You find your tribe, your click, your posse. People with the same tint of faith and the same tilt on life. You are set. You use what you get and do not bother with the rest. Your gather all junk in one big, black bag and shove it down the bin that screams ‘USE ME’ and you do exactly that; use it to categorize the ‘philosophical puzzles’ of life.

Business. You use business models that suit you. You sometimes do it subconsciously, much like what you do with religion; you find a bin that does what you want it do and then use it. You are into retail because you understand that, so you don’t learn the workings of say, wholesale. Why bother? You would have to learn wholesale to do what you are already doing i.e earn money, so why bother? You use the bin and get on with the program.

Let’s make this more personal…

You see me. I am convenient. You use me. How am I convenient? Because I am geographically nearer than anyone else perhaps. It is not because I ‘fit’ your description of someone who can be used, but more probably what you have to dish out fits me. I say USE ME without knowing it. You use me knowing it very well.

I can go on with this for miles. So what’s the point? The point is that you USE stuff all the time, so why not ‘choose’ what you use rather than letting the stuff choose you? Either way, something will get used. Choose it rather than letting someone else choose it for you. A choice will be made either way, like it or friggin’ not.

Presenting yourself

By God’s Grace, I have been able to get along with presentations quite successfully. Since I first started giving them at college (PICS, now UCP), I have been on the top of this game. So much so that during college, I actually intended to write a book titled presenting for your college courses. And for good reason: my friends were placing ‘bids’ on me to join their presentation group — ‘one baryaani, one coke and three cigarettes’ was my going rate :P. Let’s just say that I have been at the winning side of the bidding wars :P

But that was not all. Because I had started off as a copywriter at a now-established ad agency and was giving presentations that won nothing but acclaim. By God’s Grace. Even when I had left the agency (while still at college), the owner would call me up to set up presentations and go over ideas.

After college, I was once involved in tailoring a business idea and presenting it to one of the Secretariats for approval by the Punjab government. By God’s Grace, that went so well that the then-secretary – after openly praising the presentation and the business idea – instructed his officers to ‘copy’ me. I have this little incident mentioned in my CV/profile that is used for business consultancies gigs (which are very rare, I must confess).

I once – after three years out of college and practically zero corporate/job experience – just to see if I can still make it in the ‘job world’, applied at a Lahore based management consultancy firm operating in US with clients like Boeing and Virgin. Their foremost requirement was that the applicant be a LUMS MBA graduate. I am a BCs from PICS. I applied anyways, making a CV as a challenge. I went through seven interviews, with the Director flying in from the US to have the final interview. I asked 50 % more than what they offered me as pay and they showed me the door. Happily.

Now why am I saying all of this?

Continue reading Presenting yourself

Be gone, fool

Hate this to the core.

Focus.

It makes life so easy.

Hey Mister, yeah you sir, with the muffler hanging low on your shoulder, how about a little bit of this and little bit of that for a little bit of gain?

No friend, not now. I have focus. There is a charm in wandering around. That is pretty much all that wandering has to offer; charm. Focus makes you useful.

Your resolve looks like intimidation, sir and your cold, steely eyes have learnt this new stare. What is it that you hold in your heart and store in your soul, sir that makes you so stay so close to the One and the ones that matter, sir?

Be gone, fool.

So many things on your plate, my oh my, what a big plate you have sir. What are you trying to prove sir? What is it that you need when you claim to have all that you ever need sir?

Be gone, fool.

Is not life to be lived in Technicolor sir? Your clear lines of black and white make me nervous and your grays seem so peaceful. Is this a new trick or some voodoo that you won’t teach sir?

Color helps me separate the white, black and grays. It helps me waste my time. It helps me live a bit more everyday. Is rainbow only as useful as the pot of gold that it leads to?

Bended Truth

All marketers are liars.

Well not really. Even an average marketer will never lie. Why? Because it is bad for business, that is why. So what do they do? They bend the truth. Put another way, they present the truth in digestible forms. I also believe that is the best way forward; to present the truth and nothing but, in a way that helps you sell your client’s (or your own) stuff.

The below-average marketer

The below average marketer will bend the truth in a way that borders towards a lie. That is easily catch-able.

Somewhere in the middle are these folks:

List of top blog hosts, really? (click to enlarge)
List of top blog hosts, really? (click to enlarge)

Now, they have a list of top blog hosts, with the number one offering everything unlimited for USD 3.88 per month. That not just cheap, that’s cheap cheap, three times over. So the best blog host will set you back a measly 3.88 per month. Nice, right? Well, in the text of the above screenshot-ed table, they say, and I quote:

Note from the Editor: The Blog Hosting plans displayed are rated by the best value for the price. Overall value is determined by price, uptime reliability, quality of customer service, and user feedback found on forums.

I have bold-ed the ‘overall value’ bit, because that is where the straight out lie (of the list being the Top Blog Hosts) becomes a bended truth (only if you are considering the price).

The point where truth doesn’t bend but breaks into a lie

Now, anyone who has a pusle will tell you that the one offering the lowest price in many cases, is not the best option. I have been in web hosting and design for almost a decade (I actually feel old in this), and I can say without flexing a muscle, that in web hosting specially, cheap means bad. If you are a techie or a web developer, you can get raw storage for as low as USD 0.5 per month, thanks to cloud computing/hosting services from the likes of Amazon and Mosso. But that is not what web hosting is, it is not raw space. It involves highly crucial variables like:

  • Bandwidth
  • Uptime
  • The all-too-important after-sales customer service
  • the features on offer as compared to your requirements

And that is just for starters. A good host will not necessarily cost you that much (anywhere between USD 6 to USD 35 per month flat), but any list of good hosts has to take into account at leas tthe above four variables. If someone says, ‘here is the list of the cheapest blog hosts’, then that is fine. But it does not have the same punch as ‘list of the best blog hosts’, now does it?

How many of us bend the truth that actually gets broken into a lie? Not only in business but in daily life? Something to watch out for, for sure.

Going ballistic

I have been neglecting a sizeable part of my life for quite some time now.

The Net.

Oh I have been on the damn thing for ages. Given that I like to write, I am naturally drawn towards the whole blogging thing. (Blogstarta being the newest addition).

I am currently creating and revamping websites that I control as a jaalamaster :) (Jaala is Urdu for ‘web’). As I have hardly been a webmaster for my clients (I have been an online service provider of sorts), the 15 or so websites that I own are creating bit of a problem. And given that I treat all other businesses as exactly that, businesses, I need to treat my ‘online presence’ as a business as well, which I must confess, I have not been doing so lately (read: for the last 8 years :/ ). And that in itself, I feel, is the lamest thing I have done in a while.

Now, I hope, this will change. For the unfolding of this saga (oye hoeyyy), stay tuned. (zzZzzzZzz)