In these times of smart marketing tactics and fast selling products, I was recently overjoyed on seeing an ‘original marketing man’ while on a bus journey. What a pleasant change he was from the plastic characters in everyday ads on TV who desperately try to sell products in contrived situations with predictable expressions on their faces. No wonder we resort to channel surfing as soon as the ads begin to play.
But back to Vikas Kumar, our homegrown marketing man. He hopped on to our Volvo bus, in an action that can best be described as alarming alacrity, just about a kilometre before ISBT Kashmere Gate. The bus had stopped for fuel at a petrol pump when our man squeezed in despite being admonished by the driver and conductor.
This man could give a marketing or creative team in an ad agency a run for their money. No closed-door concept meetings over endless cups of chai (green tea rather) and rings of smoke in the air, no surveys to fall back on and no smart copy writing. Our man just goes for the kill, his target audience, whose profile he has no clue about. He has the gift of the gab and uses it to good effect.
Although tired from a long journey, I couldn’t help but break into a smile. I remembered seeing so many such faces as a child on bus journeys. They used to sell key chains, pens, plastic toys and what have you. And here was Vikas Kumar, selling something as trivial as a cheap plastic table cloth in shocking colours.
My first thought was, “Does he actually think that someone who spent Rs 700 to travel from Dehradun to Delhi will buy this cheap plastic cloth worth Rs 35?” But lo and behold! Five minutes later, I was his first customer! And I bought two on a special offer of Rs 50. Within the next ten minutes, our man had sold his entire stock – at least 12 pieces. He even gave one with a bold green and pink flower print as a sop to the driver!
Believe it or not, he rattled off at least 10 reasons why we should buy his table cloth. I remember some of them. The spiel began with, “Sahiban yeh dekhiye mein aapke liye kya nai cheez laya hoon. Iss table cloth ko aap kahin bhi bicha sakte hein. Centre-table par, computer ya dressing table par, kitchen mein bhi istemal kar sakte hein. Yeh na kate na phate. (Sir, you can use this table cloth anywhere. On the centre table, computer or dressing table and even in the kitchen. It won’t get cut or torn).”
But here’s the kill. There was one table cloth with the world map on it. Says our ad man, “Isko apni jeb mein daliye aur apne bachon ke saath duniya ke kisi bhi kone mein picnic manaiye, Australia, America ya Canada!” (Just put it into your pocket and take your children on a picnic anywhere in the world, Australia, America or Canada.)” Guess what? I went on a picnic. I bought two of the world maps.
Today, I found good use for them. Had they been in a marketplace or a shop, I would never have even looked at them. My shelling out Rs 50 was a tribute and salute to the original marketing man.
A few days later, I saw this toy seller squatting in Nehru Place. He never says a word but lets his toys do the talking. He keeps winding up the keys of about 6-7 different toys throughout the day, one after the other. He never lets one stop, even for a second.