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Disguised PR in Bangalore Aero show 2009 & on why we shoud not buy F-16’s!

15 Feb

Every time I change to CNN IBN news channel , I see this senior editor guy all gung-ho and ready to fly the F-16 plane. And the news reader would go like , “One of our senior editors took to the skies flying one of best fighter planes  around, a legend  and survived the ride to tell us about how thrilling the ride was and how to defend the skies” .. 

Bollocks ! absolute bollocks..

Why would the Americans want to fly a senior editor of a news channel on a old outdated fighter plane spending thousands of dollars on aviation fuel ? look! IBN has the CNN tag – so connections with the phirangis ( ahem .. did i get the spelling correct?)  help too ! 

Abhiva Bindra took a ride in one of the old-F-16 planes, didn’t he ?

It is a classic case of good PR and subtle marketing .. 

Shame on the reporter trying to convince Indians on the merits of F-16’s ! 

Let’s get certain things straight  here , shall we ? 

First , F-16 is a 2 decade old fighter plane. 2 decades .. 20 years old. Of course it is a legend ! But then , who needs a legend when our Indian Air Force ( IAF) should be flying the most sophisticated and modern fighter plane available today ? 

Our American friends are offering us the “upgraded” and “India specific” F-16 and F-18 Super Hornets. And the bonus : Technology Transfer !

 Guess what ? They are now phasing out their F-16 and F-18’s and replacing it with F-22 Raptor. The next generation fighter plane. Which means, they are trying to sell us an old technology and 126 planes for $10billion dollar contract.

Blasted Americans! They shouldn’t even be there in the contention for the contract ! 

Think about it! Why should we buy these planes when we are cash rich ( and no excuses on the security of the nation , please!) to  afford the raptors?

Why cant the Indian govt ask Americans to offer us the new F-22’s or the B-2 Bomber , also known as The BUFF ( Big Ugly Fat Fucker )!

Americans and their lingo.. man !!!!! 

And biggest pain-in-the-butt ( ass, if you will) reason is that F-16 and F-18 is part of almost  all the  third world countries air force. Outside USA and Isreal, Saudi  Arabia must be having the largest number of F ( Falcon) series planes. Why? Our very own Paki’s have it .. Every ally of USA has it ! 

So imagine one day we go to war with PAK ( god forbid it should never happen) , the Air Force general on the other side would chuckle and say ” Bloody Rascals! we know the avionics and weapons platform of F-16’s in and out . We can out guess and out perform the IAF piolts any time … Thank the Yankees for that ! ” .. And if the war gets more intense Saudi Arabia would chip in and say ” Yo… Muslim brothers .. we have some F-16’s to spare .. about an 100 of them .. we would gladly help you guys , just say the word”

Not a rosy scenario eh ? 

Here is the biggest catch : If someday we disappoint our Yankee friends by ,say, testing a thermo-nuclear bomb or signing a pact with IRAN for gas  or support Palestine or get too hunky-dory with Russia , then Americans would rap our knuckles and say , ” Dude! remember .. we can stop the supply of the spare parts for [should be read : our] the F-16’s.” That should do the trick, no ? 

Don’t Trust America :

Russia has always been our largest supply of weapons- Our MBT ( Main Battle Tank) is T-92 from Russia , our front line squadrons are MIGs followed by Sukhoi’s  , our nuclear submarines ( i think it is kilo class .. i need to update that info) are leased from the ruskies. Hey ! we even developed the Brahmos with them ( the best in the super sonic missile in its class anywhere on planet earth).

Better yet ! they have never stopped  the supply when we needed it the most ( remember the wars with PAK ?) .We ought to thank Indira Gandhi ji for cementing the ties with Mother Russia !

If you recall ,the Americans refused to supply us nuclear fuel for Kalpakkam nuclear power plan when we tested our first Pokran nuclear bomb. 

The point I am trying to make is we can never trust the Americans with our security.. NO Sir! 

Why the delay ?

It is been donkey years since we floated the tender to buy the 126 planes for the Indian Air Force. Every time a new defense minister comes to the helm , he puts the file on the back-burner , leaving it to the next minister to come in and take the decision . The NDA could have done something about it !

The UPA should have had the guts to take the decision . They didn’t either .That is 10 years gone !

Come on yaar! the plan to buy new fighter planes was hatched in 1980’s ! 

How can we call ourselves a super-power in the making when we cant even take a decision on the nation’s security issues ? How is that we have the audacity to claim air-superiority over Asia ,when our front lines are MIG-21’s and MIG -25 and worst is very spending loads of money upgrade and maintain  them .

Alternatives : 

It is time to take decisions… 

We can definitely go in for the recently out MIG – 29’s or 30 series  from Russia . The Russians make their planes big , brutal and they are definitely technologically advanced. We could also look into the new Su 40 series from them as well.

Since we have a long standing partnership with this country . We can bargain hard to get more number the fighter  planes at the same price with a technology transfer. This would help a lot in goodwill for Indo-Russia plan to jointly develop the fifth generation fighter aircraft. When we  have the LCA by 2010-2015 , we would be having a formidable line up and really claim air superiority.

The other option would be to go in for the Euro Typhoon which RAF ( Royal Air Force) and other European countries use . They are the latest and best in technology . The problem would be the cost and using their missiles as weapons platform. Which means we cant adapt , immediately that is , our exciting AA ( Air to Air ) and AS ( Air to Surface) missiles and hence while we buy the planes at a very high cost we will should also buy their missiles . Cost goes up.

India has long association with the French. They are trusty worth and their Mirage series are well tested. Instead of looking at 200o series we should be looking at 2005 series . Since Indian pilots are already familiar with the Mirage avionics system , our pilots can easily learn to fly the plane. 

Sadly , in the past we have :

  • Signed the nuclear pact under immense American pressure – therefore help America’s sagging nuclear industry 
  • Voted against Iran in United Nations assembly again under American pressure – puked our foreign policy
  • Still haven’t signed the Iran gas pipeline . No big surprise there . Iran comes under “axis of evil” list !

The least we can do is not compromise on our country’s security issue and make the right choice and take that decision soon! 

Should anyone who reads this post have difference of opinion or would like to share thoughts , please go ahead and shoot it out in the comments section

ps: I have nothing against the citizens of USA and the country. I am just angry at the divide and rule policy of the american law makers! 

 


Blog surfing at its best – love this site

30 Jan

I am sure most of you guys here are familiar about StumbleUpon. If not, check out their site.

StumbleUpon discovers web sites based on your interests. Whether it’s a web page, photo or video,the personalized recommendation engine learns what you like, and brings you more.

Today I literally stumbled upon a blog surfing site called Condron.us. Coldron is to blogs what StumbleUpon is for websites.  Here is what the makers of Coldron claim about their site

Condron.us is a blog surfing website.
(Basically like channel surfing but for blogs).

If a blog surfer finds a blog that interests them they can stop and read it or bookmark it for future reading.

How does it work:

Condron.us provides bloggers with free exposure to large groups of potential readers by pulling recently updated blogs at random from wordpress and blogspot.

If you are a blogger, journalist, PR executive then you must use condron to index your blogs . The forum in the site helps you connect with fellow bloggers from all around the globe as well!

Great social media tool !

Check out the site for yourself and let me know what you think.

I loved the site from the word go!

Business Development and Sales Management – Best Practices for sales pitch

30 Jan

Never underestimate the importance writing down your sales pitch even before you go about making that cold call which will bring in business.

Here are the essentials

First Rule: Watch and Learn:

Making a sales pitch is an art not rocket science. And to learn art you need to learn it from the guru. So, before you make the first sales call watch how your Senior (anda  successfulone at that) sales guy does it. Watch him, understand the pitch he is using and learn from him. I am not asking you to ape him. I want you to learn is modus operandi and tweak the sales pitch the way you see it fit.

Second Rule: Ink it down:

No point in watching the guy do the stuff, nod your head and walk away! That won’t do. You need to watch him do it form. If you have a VP of sales, in your company, and if he is the amicable kinda guy then watch him giving the sales pitch. I have always noticed that the best sales guys are always ready to impart knowledge. If he is the nice-types, then ask him to show you how it is done. And no, dont ape him. Learn from him. Do it 20 times for 20 days if you have it.
And write your own sales pitch. I mean it.. literally.. Write it down, mono ami. Write down your sales pitch word by word, syllable by syllable. I don’t care how long it will take you to do it. If you are smart enough – 1 day. If you are bright then – 2days. If you are the hard working type- 3 days. Anything more, then you are gonner!

LOL… Just Kidding. Take your time but get it done.

So, get the first draft ready, think about the pitch, the product you gonna sell and refine it.
Dont worry the pitch will get further refined as you go down the lane of selling.

Third Rule: Get the decision maker on the phone:

No use in dilly- dalling with the guys who cant make decisions. At best he can help you connect with the top guy. But when you make the call ask ” Can you please connect me to the head of Marketing” or ” Head of Business development” or do what i did when i made my 10th sales call,       ” Can you connect me to the Chairman of your company , please” .. Of course you wont be connected to him, but if you aim high you are bound to hit couple of inches down that, right? So someone will connect you to top dog in the company. Make sure he is the decision maker.
And go ahead and make your pitch, Sir!

Fourth Rule: Get Rejected:
That’s right! If you get the sale done in your first call then where is the fun, dude? You need to get rejected like zillion times to become the great sales guy you wanna be! So go ahead and fail and fail royally! But make sure you learn your lessons from it. If you dont know where you are going wrong, then ask your sales head to sit with you when you are making the call. That ought to do the trick. He will point out the mistakes to you. Now, he may not be the best judge but at least you will get a start, right?

And throw out your blasted ego and pride here… will ya?

Fifth Rule: follow… follow.. Follow-up:
This is really important. If you are gonna be the sales guy in your company, dont ever forget the cardinal rule.

After you make you sales pitch send in a follow up mail saying – “It was great talking you. I will connect with you (at time at Date) as agreed. Meanwhile, you can reach me at the following contact coordinates”. And then go ahead and give your contact details.
And if the sales call was a successful one then follow up it with a mail on the details of the product/service you are offering in the form of pdf format. send in your details in your pdf format only!
And hey, remember the rule, follow up.. Keep doing the follow up thingy. If he doesnt reply then mail him after couple of days (you will instinctively know when). If he still doesn reply, then call him . Remind him. Be nice. Be polite. Sound enthu (not over enthu).

Big Idea: Crying child gets the milk

Seventh Rule: Maintain a pipeline report:

Always maintain a proper pipeline . It should have the following fields:
Company name, Web address, Phone number, Mail id , point of contact name, and the decision maker, status of the sale, expected closure time.

I am not really a sucker for CRM. I rather put it in my excel sheet and share it with my team. And no, am not advocating that CRM is bad. But this is my personal choice. You take the call on this. Most companies insist on using CRM solutions. But my advice to those companies is that they need to get their sales people get familirize on how to use a CRM.

Most sales guys use Ms Excel anyway!

Eighth Rule: Keep in touch:
Your job is not over once you are done with the sale. You need to keep in touch with your client. Build relationships of trust. Do not disappear from your client’s radar.At least once a month shoot him a mail asking him what he thinks of your product find out profile of the  end users of the product are etc. If you give a analysis to your product manager it help me improvise on the product/services your company is offering.

Dont give him a chance to come to you when there is an issue. At the same time let him know where he can reach you and that he can reach you any time he wants.
This ensures that you have already a solid groundwork done before you go ask him for a sale again.

Ninth Rule: Build Trust:
This is paramount. People dont do business with products or company brand name. They do business with people. People who they can trust. So make the right moves for him to trust you.

Be fantastically good at giving him world class service even if you are not a world class company. You don’t have to be HP or WPP to give world class serice. Gain his trust with good service. Simple things will do – prompt reply to his mail, regular follow ups etc… Find your own ways to keep him happy.
These days almost everyone is Linkedin, facebook or Orkut.
Go ahead and connect with him there. It is ok to get a bit personal. Social Networking is ok these days !

The Tenth Rule: Love your customer’s, customer.

I dint say “love your customer”  … Read it again! I said – Customer’s customer. Your client’s end user.
The book by Ram Charan ” what the customer wants you to know” was not exactly the best sales book ever written but i did like what he said – Understand your customer’s end user. If your product can make that “customer” happy then rest assured your client will call you to give you the sale.

So what is it that you’re waiting for? Go ahead and do your research!

Here is an article from the business week which caught my attention and upon which i put up this post –

Sales Stuck?  Try Sticking to script

Other blog posts for you to read :

Successful Sales Starts with Listening

Tips To Being A Great Sales Person
Look forward to your comments on this…

NREGA – read FrontLine magazine for ..

4 Jan

NREGA ( National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) started by the UPA govt in 2006-2007 was unprecedented in its scale and scope.

According to the Act ,anyone who is willing to do manual labour at the statutory minimum wage is entitled to being employed on local public works within 15 days, subject to a limit of 100 days a household a year.

The Act itself made great sense in terms of its coverage and consequent economic development and social equity. A crown Jewel in the UPA’s reign indeed.

The act however had its own skepticism from noted economists , activists and the likes

Where is the money going to come from ? The govt had to dish out money for both public spending and the payment of wages for the laborers . It was no brainer that the money would be channelized from the tax collection. Fair enough!

but ….

What about the implementation?  Corruption will be rampant. Crores of common man’s money will be redirected to politician’s Swiss bank accounts etc…

In fact , if you pick up the current FRONTLINE magazine you will see how the NREGA act has progressed sinc inception.

The cover story by JEAN DREZE AND REETIKA KHERA is been extremely well researched and very insightful in presenting the facts and stats ( note : please follow the links to know more about the authors ).

You will read how the scheme has progressed in the past 2 years since inception and what are the problems the laborers are facing , the crimes committed against the backdrop of this scheme and what has to be done to improvise.

Kudos to the journalists and the students who helped them in the survey  for bringing out such a great article on the most important rural development scheme in modern India.

I therefore implore all the readers of this  blog post to buy latest copy FrontLine magazine to read more on the same.

alternatively, you can read the article on the web- The battle of employment guarantee. But, what is the fun in reading such important articles using the electronic media when you can do it the old fashioned way?

About FrontLine :

Coming from the stables of  The Hindu publishers , Frontline as always been considered the best magazine in the country for serious journalism and insightful articles and in depth surveys .

The magazine has always been considered ideal for preparation for Civil Service aspirants and other govt exams.

That is exactly the problem as well. Why only Civil Service servants ? why not regular college U.G and P.G students of management and media studies? why is it considered that only “old men” read Frontline otherwise?

Frontline is one the best magazines around to give you a complete no-nonsense ( refreshingly without too many print ads) information of whats happening in India and across the world. It is one of the best magazines you can read to improve your English language. A great magazine to quote from without worrying about its authenticity .

Tell you what ? Why don’t you guys go in for an annual subscription? It is gonna cost only Rs 265. You wont regret the investment. Just sacrifice on some outside food and direct it to the magazine. And it has  its own perks …

  • People who otherwise don’t give a hoot about you, will definitely start noticing you with raised eyebrows .
  • Chicks love it when a guy is serious about his reading choice. And I am serious!
  • Your parents for once will really appreciate what you reading and you can almost hear them whisper, ” Hamara beta sudargaya .. ”

Seriously .. go for it

How Dell uses social media as PR tool

19 Dec

Dell Inc is one of the top companies who have used social media and corporate blogging as an effective PR tool for marketing and driving sales.

Here is an article on how Dell does it   from PR communication blog

Dell Drives The Social Media CRM Market

I think Dell has one of the best website in tune with using Web 2.0 tools

About time we looked at Rural India !

16 Dec

My uncle wanted to know if I was preparing for IIM exams ( notice that he dint ask me Cat or Xat but IIM) i dint have much to answer him except that , ” No, I am not interested in IIM’s or XLRI’s or any of the so called top colleges” … he gave me the incredulous look that you would have have when you hear that “Kumari” Mayawati has become the PM of our country.

And so when he asked me what my future plans were . I had to give him the truth . I told him though i am in the advertising field I would like to explore opportunities in Rural or Health care/fitness marketing . I also told him that 5-10 years down the lane I would like to specialize in marketing/branding for rural areas and start a non-profit company.I am very passionate about using the tools and knowledge of marketing and integrated PR in Health care/fitness Industry or Rural Marketing.

He gave me that OK-i-don’t-get-your-stupid idea look with a you-aint-gonna-go anywhere – with-that kinda nod and changed the topic. But not before it got me thinking about , ” why not rural India ?” .

Prahalad_0131877291_PB.qxd

Have you guys read the phenomenal book ” Fortune At the Bottom Of The Pyramid” by C.K Prahalad? If you haven’t yet .. then run to your library or better still buy yourself a copy of the book and  read it . Now is the right time to read the book. As global recession is going south bound and no one has a clue to what to do next .. here is the book which will give answers to the big MNC ‘s and entrepreneurs alike .

(This is not a book review. As a personal principle , I don’t write reviews. I recommend books to my friends but i never give them  a review of the books I read. Who am i to take a judgment call on another man’s work ?)

Getting back to the crux of the post and in conjunction to blog title , I think multinational companies in India and abroad should start looking at reaching out to rural cities/villages to stay afloat during recession. Or prevent another recession in the future.

Most SME’s and MNC’s ignore rural areas because they believe that people in such cities/villages have no buying power. They are considered poor by most global standards. But, that is exactly why we need to see them in a completely different perspective . C.K Prahald challenges the myth that considers poor people as poor when they are not . He quotes the work of Hernando De Soto’s book “The Mystery of Capital” which postulates that poor countries ; people from rural areas are not really that poor. They are often asset-rich and capital -poor. To quote from the book , ” Assets cannot become capital unless the country guarantees a rule of law- primarily the law of contracts – whereby the ownership of assets is clear….. For example, he ( Mr Hernando Soto) estimated that the trapped resources of Mexico are about $ 300 Billion” .

That is a phenomenal number! Imagine what potential can India have when 80% of India’s population in the Bottom of The Pyramid (BOP) slab will be able to quantify ? This 80% currently accounts for 67% of the current consumption. Aint that an awesome information to behold ? India is quite simply and easily one of THE  richest nations in the world and all that potential waiting to be  tapped and unearthed. We should be doing that now!

The Big Idea ? If MNC’s and SME’s ( Small and Medium Enterprises ) can come up with innovative, cost effective and customized products for the rural markets we would unleash a massive wave of marketing and innovation revolution in India. This would also force goverment to work with private companies to set up better infrastructure, proper health care and free education.

Here are my thoughts on a macro scale where we can make some mega changes in this sector :

Not just 4 metros : Metros are so termed because of the huge population and infrastructure growth. I suggest the state govt with the center remove the metros tag altogether. metros means metropolis. Taking TN as an example, let there me more metros in TN alone. Identify and improve those cities . say – Trichi, Coimbatore, Erode..etc .This idea can also be reflected in other states ..

Infrastructure : Have you been noticing that the number of cars in Chennai increasing  and really pissing you off ? Ever wondered why ?The answer is obvious, the middle class are getting prosperous and buying new/more cars. But why only chennai ( and other metro cities across the country) city alone? Because every year, of the lacs of engineers,diploma holders who pass out of universities come to cities like Chennai to work. Because MNC ‘s are well entrenched in metros. Simply put – they seek out better job opportunities and enhanced standard of living. Why not give these Young Turks opportunities in their home cities? Why not prevent them from migrating to the cities? Instead provide opportunities in their native places.

Young Turks : Have better local knowledge: These Young Turks ( as i would like to call them) can be better exploited or rather groomed by companies as they will have better working knowledge of the people in their area. Give them proper training and they will reward you with a better perspective on marketing, product development and sales, much better than IIM grads. And hey, you don’t have to pay top dollars for these turks . Pay them not with just good salaries but show them how they are contributing to their society through the company and you would even reduce attrition rates. Make them not – sales executive and stop their career growth. Give them titles like – Sales Manager or Marketing Manager of the area.. This will usher in sense of ownership as well. Unlike high funda grads these guys are more loyal to companies than most.

Streamline these grads – take care of them : Assign a experienced mentor and segregate these grads to become experts in Rural Management,Micro Finance, market research,rural marketing etc , step up teams and send them out to the field to visit the villages . Make the job profile exiting.A team can consist of 1 rural management expert– he will evaluate and micro manage, 2 market research experts– 2nos because this involves number crunching , 1 micro finance guy – who will identify how and how much loan to provide and 1 marketing expert – he will conduct survey and collect customer info and come up with ideas on marketing. The marketing guy with the rural managementguy can work on business development and sales. 5 in a team for one area/district, as necessary. 20-50 teams can be supervised by a General Manager . 10 General Managers can come under one Head . 5 Heads will report to Vice -President Operations of that Area – say South Market .. etc ..

And when they are out in the field- in villages and rural cities  for days – give them the sense of security that their families are taken care of when they are not around. You will  see ever lasting commitments to the parent company from these guys. Indians from rural cities give more value to relationships and sentiments than money and luxury.

Teach them to be innovative : Pick the latest copy of Businesswold. You will read the cover article about “The Real Nation builders”. They are not from IIM’s or IIT’s . what i am trying to convey here is if you can teach grads from rural areas to be innovative they will bring in results. They will give you great ideas . The MNC only has to identify the right idea , ideate on it , strategize and implement them. There you may need the IIM and XLRI graduated guys with Mckensiey background to do the work.

Use technology : The best software is not good enough if it cant deliver. India is already a tech/software giant. Software companies can then join hands  with services companies and launch customized products in rural areas and benefit from that .

You don’t have to depend too much on global money when it is right there to be taken from our backyard.

Rural India is a gold mine waiting to be tapped.  MNC companies wont just rake in profits but also built a nation in its truest form. All they need to do is understand customer demographic profile clearly and launch products according to them.

Welcome your thoughts and ideas on this .. If you like what you read here.. spread the word around and would love discuss more of the same- here in my blog.

Further reading from Economic Times :

Rural spend,housing to rescue growth