Is this a Cruel joke by the Congress on we Indians ?

20 Jun

The lead article in The Hindu – Move afresh to secure Anderson extratidion : GOM must be seen as a cruel joke. How else can you explain the logic ?

What diff would it make for them to bring Warren back to the country when he is in 90’s and one leg in the grave ? The only thing the Congress can do now is to reveal and accept the truth on what they did , accept that the ministers of the highest level were involved in letting Warren escape and give better compensation and rehabilitation to the victims .

There is no point in bringing Warren back. And even if they make the moves to bring him back, what is the point ?  the process of extradition will take so long that by the time it is done Warren will either be dead or we will forget the entire issue.

Clearly a very cruel and cunning plan by the Congress. Shame on them !

You know, this is the only reason why I dont aim seriously for IAS exams ? Because the system is so corrupt that even if I want to do something for the people of the country, the politicians will never let it happen. I will always be under the rule and directions of the politicans and do the work what they want and how they want it . In fact, joining IAS service will be like doing things unpatriotic .

Be it BJP, Congress or Left . Corruption is across the party lines . Nothing can be changed.No one will allow change. It is all dynasty politics everywhere !

Explain this : How did a man incharge/responsible for 20,000 deaths escape from the country ? Someone please explain ..

Love what Stray Factory is doing in Chennai

19 May

I just submitted couple of my blog entries at “The Great Indian Blog-ologues” conducted by Stray Factor in collaboration with Indie Bloggers.

Never heard of Stray Factory until  today. Actually, there was an article in The Hindu: Group comes up with innovative exercise in collaborative entertainment which I dint take seriously enough. So, I was definitely in for a surprise when I checked out their site.  I was like , “Hey, these guys are doing something interesting and cool !” .

They are into collaborative entertainment (whatever that means but sounds juicy enough to me). But I guess they are more interested in Theatre than other forms of entertainment at this point.Chennai has a vibrant theater culture anyway.  l would really these guys to succeed in whatever plans they have in the future.

Dint like their website though!  Doesnt have enough info or links are not really working. But hey, These guys have started something new and it will take some time to get things moving .

Great stuff, Stray Factory… Keep going!

check out the competition here : http://www.indiblogger.in/blogologues/

Does your Brand have a Brand Song?

18 May

Very few companies have kick ass accessories (Manchester). Many Companies have great tag lines (Nike). Loads of companies have Jingles (AIRTEL). Almost all companies have a recognizable Brand Logos (Apple).  Now ask yourself this question:

How many companies do you know which has a Brand Song?

I got thinking about this during my Organizational Behaviour class last Saturday. Thinking about it for some time, I connected the thought process to the brand I was working with previously – BODYFUELZ. BODYFUELZ has great products & accessories, no tag line and no recognizable brand logo. The name in itself is the brand logo. And it definitely dint have a brand song. Come to think of it, I find very few companies have brand song.

In the lingo of tourism marketing, a nation has a brand song which is used to woo customers both from abroad and domestic. For India, the national anthem is a great brand song. It is one of most loved brand song ever made. The minute you hear the national anthem, a sense of pride swells into your heart. You connect yourself o India. And if you have heard it enough, as foreigner, you would know the Indian anthem anywhere. It’s a beautiful song.

Even, Vande Mataram , though not the national anthem, is a brand song in its own right in connecting it to Brand India ( thank you Lataji & ARR  for taking it to the world)

The big point is this: If a nation of billion people can be moved with a great national anthem, usher in patriotism and loyalty, why can’t an organization have a great brand song?

When are you going to get a brand song for your company and its brand portfolio?

A great brand song:

  • Immediately connects the customer, the employee, the stockholder to the brand and its attributes.
  • It is a great differentiator
  • Will make the customer feel part of an elite group whose products they use which has a kick ass brand song.
  • Builds brand loyalty
  • Gives the customer a sense of pride in owing the product
  • It also gives you a chance to go viral

Brand Song, Social Media, Word of Mouth:

Do you need a Bharth Bala or ARR or Black Eyed Peas to get you a great company Brand Song? Fo-fo… Not at all! You can get a great brand song from your customers. Better still; go ask the whole world to make you a great brand song. Go Open Culture.

All you need to do is to ask them. Nicely.  Politely. And you better be sincere about it.

Here is what you can do:

  1. Create a separate webpage in your website inviting people from all over India/world to contribute to a great brand song. You will have budding artists, visual communication and music students, potential bathroom singers, husbands, housewives, your own customers, someone from Somalia may upload a brand song for you if you give them the opportunity.  This is crowd-sourcing
  2. Ask them to upload their brand song in YouTube and pull it to your website and invite people to vote for the brand song.
  3. Use public relations not advertising to spread the word about this campaign.
  4. Invite famous people (see if you can get ARR or Chitra) to judge the brand song.
  5. Invite comments from other people about the brand song.
  6. Recognize and honour the brand song maker by putting up their name in your website, press releases.
  7. Not many people want money, they want to be respected for they do. Acknowledge them for their effort. You may pay them but see if you can give them a platform to showcase their talents.
  8. Next, short list and give exclusive access to your customers and ask them to choose what the song they like. This is interactivity. No point in having a brand song which your customers hate.

Done? Then, produce the song yourself. Again, you don’t need celebrity artists to make it for you. Go to colleges which run visual communication and media courses and invite students there to make that brand song for you. I know of many engineers working in big software companies who are weekend music makers with their own band dying to get a chance to be part of something like this, so find them and ask them to make it for you. You are not going to pay them a bomb here; instead they will thank you for the opportunity.

Finally, unleash the Idea Virus (as Seth Godin so eloquently puts. Thank You Seth!) :

  • Release your company brand song in your website.
  • Go ape in Youtube/vimeo/metacafe
  • Create ring tones and pass it on to your company employees and customers and request (not ask, mind you) to spread to others. They will. You know why? Because they built that song. You made them part of the process. You recognized their value and contribute. Heck! You even made them feel great!  So, why won’t they spread the song?

Spread the song and the brand name spreads.

Journalists love the juicy stuff and will start writing about your company and what the company has done in newspapers and websites. Treat these journalists with respect. Give them the info what they need.

You are not done yet though.

Go to the bloggers. Ask the bloggers to review the brand song in their posts.

Go for barter system here. Exchange your product or service for their review. And if you tell me that you don’t have anything to give them, stop reading this post, get to your R&D and make a kick ass product and then follow the thoughts above.

Finally, use social media, facebook fanpage, twitter, social bookmarks and take it to greater heights. But like Jeremiah( my mentor cos of who I fell in love with social media ) says – Always have a social media strategy when using these tools.

So, who says you can’t have a Brand Song?

[If you like my thoughts here, i would greatly appreciate it if you spread it around with your twitter/facebook/orkut /linkedin account. Thank You, Very much]

Three subjects I love in my MBA program.

26 Apr

As you all know, I am pursuing my PGDM (part time executive) program at IFMR, Chennai. Love the college and the profs there.

Of the many subjects I learn during this 3 year course, I enjoy 3 in particular. Here is what they are and why:

Organizational Behavior:

One of my favourites. It’s a subject which teaches you how to run the people aspect of any business successfully. It’s about how EQ & iQ can help you work with your team members in complete sync. This course also teaches on traits to be a successful leader, a good team member, or how to recruit the right person for a job, and what kind of HR practises we need to put in place to foster a good culture. OB (as it is usually referred to..) is also about strategies you can put in place to make a company a great place to work .

I learnt the dynamics of group behaviour and , conflicts and negotiations and various other theories on managing teams and on how to become a good manager.

Learning it part-time helps me connect what I learn in class to what is happening in my organization.

Course Materials include case studies and text book : Organizational Behavior by  Robbins, Judge and Sanghi

Economics:

I majored in this subject during my UG . Again, love the subject . There are days when I wish that i had become a pure economist and a researcher than becomea marketing guy. I get to understand the Indian and world economy from Macro and why people but and do what they do from Micro Economics. Through practical examples and theory from Greorgy Mankiew books , I love reading reading up on economics .

Marketing :

The bastard son of Sales.  I am a complete marketing guy. And I love Brand Marketing specialization because I am all about communications and relationships. I have always known that one day I would become  brand marketing and communications guy. I just honed in on digital marketing and e commerce at later stage of my career .

I am not a great fan of advertising but love the idea of building brands through publica relations, BTL, word of mouth and digital .

Why should Shashi go out and Raja still remain?

24 Apr

Will someone please tell me, why did the Congress Govt buck under the pressure of opposition and remove Shashi Taroor over a speculated charge and yet allow a minister like A.Raja to continue function as the Minister of Telecom? Even the CAG has pointed out under in its report that under Raja, the telecom industry has lost hundreds and thousands of crores of money.

Why send off a well educated oxford scholor like Shashi Taroor ? His mistake – trying to help his so called gf .

I would really the Govt of India to answer my question

Review : cottonworld Print Ad, Website and Social Media

22 Apr

Love the new Cottonworld ad which features Ashish Hemrajani, the guy who runs Bookmyshow.com

Why I like th ad?

  • No celebrity.  Real success story. I never really like or believe celebrities are good for brand building unless it for a cause.
  • Check the ad. Look at the tag “comfort zone”. Check out the cop – “Comfort is about being yourself…” The tag line, the copy is in complete sync with a simple ad about the guy wearing a very stylish and yet simple dress.
  • Then you have couple of lines on his success story. You immediately associate the brand with being casual, entrepreneurship, and success and yet are simple and down to earth.
Big Iea : You can be simple and look great and be successful at that .

Simple ad. Great execution.

Big Thought : Makes me want to buy cottonworld dress

My next stop: www.cottonworld.net

Love the website. It is clean white, has great content and again syncs completely with the brand core message (or the latest campaign theme): Casual, celebrating entrepreneurship and success and yet simple and down to earth.

The website features some great success stories of people who follow their heart in did what they wanted to do.

Great ad shots as well!

Kick Ass thought: Someday I would love to be featured in their website

My criticism:

The “club cottonworld” page has very little info on what it is all about. 5% off on any purchase? Conditions apply (as always ) ? Dint really get the idea of it. I wish the website had more info on the loyalty program.

I then moved on to their Facebook fanpage.

As far as I can see, they have a good fanpage running. You have customer testimonials and some good interactivity. But I thought , more can be done to increase the interaction between the brand and the customers.  Maybe they just started the fanpage.

The twitter page is nothing much to write home about.  I see 5 tweets  as I type this post.

Conclusion:

  • Great Print Ad
  • Clean website but wish it had more info on the kind of clother available, price range etc .. ( suggest dell website which has a similar theme on entrepreneurs )
  • Nice fb fanpage
  • But I felt that there is no clear Social Media Strategy in place. It is good to have a fanpage but bad to have it just for the sake of having one without a clear strategy. In the long run things will get blurred. So , they need to have a vision for social media .

If you like the post or the brand, may I request the reader to share it with others? You can share it it twitter , facebook or delicious

Co Creating Value with your customer. How a Saloon can use social media to build its brand reputation

21 Apr

I was waiting for my turn for a haircut at the regular saloon shop when I started talking to the guy in charge also who happened to be the brother of the owner. We were discussing latest mobile phones, laptops, fitness etc,When I asked him – “Is that computer connected to net?” He replied with an affirmative.  I asked him if his saloon had a website or a facebook fanpage or an orkut community group.  No, his saloon did not have any online presence.

So I ask him – “How many branches you have in this city”.

Reply: 12 branches in Chennai. 3 in Coimbatore.

“What kind of customers do you get here? Age group? “, I ask.

Reply:  Customers come in all age groups.Male and female.

I understand from the cost of basic haircut that the shop reaches out to middle and upper class.

I tell him – Guess what? I can help you expand your business. Grow your customer base, improve sales and more importantly build brand loyalty which will generate word of mouth.  And you don’t have to spend tons of money. Are you interested?

Reply: Absolutely…

I became a Social Media Consultant for him.

Here are the points I discussed with branch head. Maybe you can use it too…

Website:

Start with a simple website. Simple content should suffice. Don’t worry about SEO and SEM. You don’t need that here. First, cover the basics:

About the company, who owns the company, History of the company, what are the services you are offering, prices for each of your services, meet the barber

Let us focus on 2 features:  Services offered and Meet the Barber page

Services offered will have different hairstyles with pictures for the customer to identify each hairstyle. Also, why not a video testimonial of a satisfied customer? Host the video testimonials to a youtube page which will have other similar customers giving you 3 min testi of your services.

Meet Ur Barber Page: Will have the name and profile of the barbers you employ with ratings section. Your customers can rate the barber in an open transparent system. Every month the barber who gets the maximum ratings gets incentive. Thus, you also build morale and a healthy competition which in turn will improve productivity.

The website can also have a page dedicated to latest hairstyle in vogue. Your customers can chose the hairstyle, get the name and when they visit you next time, then can mention the name and get it done.

Let your website also have a space for your customers to submit ideas. This is your UGC (user generated content). This is important. UGC has power. Give your customers power and give them platform to share. That is why you need…

Facebook  Fanpage :

Your facebook fanpage should be integrated to your website so that your customers can connect and collaborate with each other online. Here are the things you can do:

–      Post pics of latest bollywood, Hollywood heros and heroines with their latest haircut. Ask questions and generate interactivity with fans.

Eg: Post in your fanpage wall – Check out Brad Pitt’s latest hairstyle ( post the pic). Kool huh? Who wants this hairstyle? The first 10 people, who wanna have this haircut, comment here and get 10% off.

Or,

Eg : kareena latest haircut ( post the pic) . You can get it done at any of our branches. Just drop a mail with your details to fix an appointment.

Or,

Eg : Our new facial for summer is out. It’s a blend of (this and that). The first 10 who post a comment here get 30% off on this new natural facial.

–      Post videos of your customers in youtube and pull it to fanpage

–      Offer tips on grooming

–      Offer sneak peak and special discounts exclusive to online customers

–      Ask your customers to directly post pics or videos of their fav good/bad hair moment

–      Invite your customers/fans to post ideas, seek advice on hairstyles, good hair maintainance tips etc…

All this will go in building a good brand name and generate word of mouth buzz.

Twitter:

Twitter should be next in agenda. Use the content which you have and post it to twitter. Today, loads of Indians have twitter handle, why not connect with them?

Twitter is important because Search Engines now give importance to social media feeds.

Use blogs: Start a corporate blog. Comment on other blogs which has content on grooming, facials, hairstyles etc…

Write to online local/citi portals to feature you.

There are huge load of things you can do with social media.

( if the reader of this post wants to discuss more ideas, get in touch)

The branch Head then had a big question for me:

“Vikas, how to bring fans or bring customers to facebook fanpage?”

Answer:

Simple! From now, every time you give a bill to a customer, ask him for his name and number, mail id, and ask if he has a facebook, twitter or a blog presence .

Then tell him, this – Sir, we have a facebook fanpage and we have plans to have a website, may I invite you there? Is it ok if I send you an email invitation? You can also give us your ideas on what and how the website should be

If the customer agrees, then later send him a mail. This is Permission Marketing. You are not blasting spam; you are asking the customer his permission.

This is social media at its best and the customer will appreciate it.

Crowd sourcing:

The saloon has all sorts of customers who use their services. Why not run a contest inviting web designs? The best web design will become the official web design and the guy/gal who wins get 3 haircuts free with the name featured in the website.

Some of you who read this may argue , why is that I am going to such lengths in discussing social media for a saloon.

You are obviously missing the point.

The point is – Social Media is not confined to big brands. Social Media is sometime best suited and most effective for small business owners who wanna build big brands.

I am always open to crtizism or better ideas.

You can tweet me @spartanvikas

If you like my post, may I request you to share it in twitter, facebook or Delicious?

Dedication :

I would like to dedicate this post to C.K Prahalad, the pioneer behind the idea of Co Creating Value with the customer. He inspires me to give the best I can give to my customers.