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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.

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Google set to launch free Videoconferencing

10 Nov

Google guys never fail to amaze me ..

 

Accoring to this online news Google is all set to launch free Videoconferecing . A threat to Cisco perhaps ?

the accidental Brand Manager

21 Mar

This part of my life was never planned . This part of life of becoming the Brand Manager for BODYFUELZ was as serendipitous as it can come. Becoming a Brand Manager was always part of the plan. Just then I became one a bit too early.

So here I am , Brand Manager of BODYFUELZ. What we do , you ask ? We help some of India’s top sports players, endurance athletes , serious bodybuilders and fitness freaks to reach their fitness goals via performance nutrition.

So we have someone like Sushil Kumar using our highly advanced , bio engineered Aminonutriton products to build lean muscle mass, strength and stamina to reach his peak performance for his game.

We have the Indian Hockey Team use our products like FASTCHARGE and PWRSPORTS to  in their game to build endurance and stamina and prevent fatigue while playing.

We have been helping people develop lean , ripped muscles using our product called MUSCLEMAX .

We enable people in the weight loss program in the most safest , effective manner possible.

And those who connect and buy from us directly either through mail (pmt@bodyfuelz.com), call ( 044-42014141/9884592632) or via facebook community , we give free diet/fitness and nutritional guidance.

Our in-house nutritionist will guide them all round the year.

My Role :

As the Brand Manager I connect with users to help them understand concept of next generation sports nutrition both Online and Offline.

Online –  You can find us here in facebook community –  BODYFUELZ Facebook Community

I believe in the future of social media marrying PR and Viral Marketing .  That is also one of the reasons why i exited from an advertising in industry.

Future  connect :

Starting from now my blog will mirror all that we do in the social media sphere . It would include very precise and practical ideas on building a brand using websites, blogs, rss, social networking, widgets and how to connect that with online PR.

Social Media Chennai Chapter :

I also aim to start a social media group based out of Chennai. A bar-camp – unconference style where i would like to invite brand manager, marketing managers, web designers , chief marketing officers, advertising and public relation executives and the likes.

The agenda would be simple . We will meet to connect and share ideas, best practises, discuss case studies, new trends in the social media sphere and how we can help our clients improve  their reach to their customers.

The only criteria would be that you should be passionate and believer of digital/social media marketing.

Drop in a mail – spartanvikas1983@gmail.com,

call me   – 9884592632

or drop in your comments here and spread the good word.

Look forward to some dynamic response from you guys ..

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

Mozilla wants your vote

14 Dec

I am a staunch believer of Open Source Software and I love using Mozilla browser as compared to IE.These days I enjoy using Google Chrome a lot too 🙂

Mozilla is now planning to spread the good word and like a true Open Social Software company it is inviting people from its community ( basically all those who download and use mozilla browser) to vote for its Marketing plan. These plans are submitted by regular people ( its a wow democracy ) like you and me . Of the 300 entries, 10 has been shortlisted. All you need to do is go through the plan and cast your vote.

Vote for Mozilla Marketing Plan here :

Impact Mozilla

Zestadz now sell ads in facebook mobile platform.

4 Jan

It is now official. ZestADZ, India’s leading mobile advertising platform is now ready to sell ads in facebook mobile platform.

This means, that mobile site/content owner in facebook who offer services via SMS/WAP or other rich media format can now monetize it, from India traffic, by embedding ads from leading advertisers in India.

Mobile-worx, which conceived and created ZestADZ, is the first Indian company to offer such services.

Here are the advantages of ZestADZ:

For publishers:

  • Monetize WAP/SMS inventory via traffic from India.
  • ZestADZ shares revenues only with publishers. Earn better revenues!
  • Transparent and real- time reporting system.
  • ZestADZ can send ads anywhere in India. Pan-India access.
  • ZestADZ can deliver ads in all mobile platform- SMS/WAP/ Rich media content (videos, games, mobile TV episodes…etc).

For advertisers:

  • Send highly relevant and contextual ads anywhere in India.
  • Highly interactive and personalized communication.
  • Spread brand awareness.
  • Generate leads.
  • Under customer better.
  • Advertise in all forms mobile platform.
  • Get real time analytics info and fine tune campaign accordingly to have better ROI.

 

Press release links here :

Ndtv Profit reports

Exchange4media reports

 

 

 

Facebook Becon – privacy issue- Product Managers take note

1 Dec

Going by The Hindu’s op-ed report (a New York Times news extract), Facebook seems to have been caught in the wrong foot with its new hyper-targeting ad system called Facebook Beacon. A Beacon is nothing but a mini-feed which lets you see your friend’s online buying activities.

Let me give u an example: lets say you buy a book from a particular book shop owner, who happens to be an advertiser teamed up with facebook. Facebook watches your action and puts it up in your news feed section announcing to your friends that you have bought an “x” book from “abc” bookshop owner. It is like you are endorsing this advertiser when you are buying this “x” book from him and giving an assurance to your friends saying that you can trust the advertisers to buy books from him in the future. This is an extension of user generated advertisement and believe me, this is a quiet a powerful way to advertise and reach your customers.

This concept is called online tracking & advertising, a popular method wherein the service providers keeps track of where users are going, and send ads according to their interests , thereby making it more relevant and interactive . Companies like Microsoft, Myspace or Google do it all the time; the only thing is we don’t notice it at all.

What facebook is trying to do is, instead of tracking user’s actions and sending ads behind the scenes like the other companies do, they are being more transparent about it and sending it as mini-feeds.

But the problem brewed up, when around 50,000 registered members dint like it when facebook started telling their friends what they are buying and from whom they are buying it. This they considered as a breach of their privacy. So when Moveon.org took up this issue, these 50,000 users went ahead and singed up to show their dissent.

For Mark Zuckerberg (23), Beacon is going to be an interesting and important issue to deal with. Facebook was started, during his Harvard University days studying for his under graduation degree, to help students inside the campus (with a valid university mail id) to stay in touch with each other. Today, facebook has grown into a 35 million strong community and surely becoming a fierce rival for MySapce which has over 50 million users, not to mention Bebo.

Beacon will be used to turn this service into a profit making machine and testimonial to this is the fact that Microsoft recently took up a stake by paying 240 million dollar , which means Facebook is valued at 15 billion $ .But i personally think the whole release process and the way it was released was wrong from a “product release” point of view.

As a rookie product manager for mklix.com, I would be keeping an eye on what Mark is going to do next(or what he says) and how he is plans to execute the Beacon program. I will let you know some of the product management aspects on this issue in my next post.

See you soon…