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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]

Work Less, Earn more : be happy and content: becme entrepreneur

29 Nov

start business,work less , earn enough, be happy http://ping.fm/O5STX

Convert your photos to sketches – trust me .. u will love this one!

9 Jan

Got this from Wikinomics blog. You will love this one…

How about converting you digital photographs into sketches for a change? And what if  you can do it for free?

Befunky, does that for you ..Befunky enables you to convert images into sketches, digital paintings and comics.

According to their website ,BeFunky helps people turn their offline personalities into powerful online visual expressions”.

Brought to you by engineers and artists , Befunky has 2 mouth watering applications you are gonna love .

  • Cartoonizer – Converts your online/desktop images and photographs into sketches  and other digital formats.
  • Uvatar (…and I love this application) – This application helps you to customize/creates your own digital avatars. What is new about this one is that you don’t have to improve among exiting avatars you find in Yahoo or Second Life but create  your own which you think suits your personality.

Other funky thing you can do is –

Ecards – Design your own E-card . Lets say you have a pic of you with your spouse/gf/bf and you just don’t seem to find a kool E-card anywhere online which you would like to send . No problemo .. Why not create your own ? It is more romantic,  fantastically creative and damn fun!

i know for a fact that if i go to distance and make a E-card and give to my gf, she would love it, appreciate and cherish it for a long , long time to come..

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Not just for romantic stuff but say , if you wanna apologize to your dad/mom/best friend, then instead of buying a card, design it here and give it to them.

Log in ( it is free of course) and try converting couple of your pics to sketches before you upload them to Orkut or Facebook.

Now all that is needed is to unleash your creativity ….

Save money using Webinar for lead generation and sales

7 Jan

When I was working for mobile-worx, a mobile advertising company , we had to connect with lots of prospective clients and customers. Our office is based out of Chennai and we had our clients coming in from other cities of India and Abroad. As a start up company we dint have enough resources to travel all the way to these cities to talk to our clients , talk about our product and give a demo.  To cut costs in traveling we instead chose to use online meeting tools .

Here is what we used to do :

First we identified our client – either an advertiser or content developer.

We then made our first cold call , connected with the head of sales or marketing and gave a brief intro about our product.

I then followed it up with a mail , a document ( let me remind you guys that when you send a document about your product to prospective clients always use pdf) about our product and a tentative time to fix the next call meeting.

Once we fixed the call meeting we informed our client that while we wont be able to come to their city personally we can give a demo of our product online itself. It was simple. We log-in to our account, generate a url and pass on the url to our client with his log-in details. Once the client log’s into his account he can easily watch the demo sitting in his office through his computer screen while we used to run through our product online. There was no cost involved for us except for the broadband connection and a monthly/yearly amount we used to pay for the services.

While giving demo , we used Skype to talk to him, simultaneously explaining every step involved in using our product.

It would be like remote accessing the images from my computer screen in yours.

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I personally thought it was a fantastic way to communicate with clients. It helped us reducing lots of time and tons of money which would have otherwise been spent on traveling, hotel stay, commuting, food and other miscellaneous expenses which would be obviously paid by the company. It also gave us more time to focus on improving our product and connect with more clients and customers.

This is not to say that one should not to go out to meet clients personally. Meeting clients in their office is still the best way to connect and build relationships in business. Meeting them in person creates personal rapport with them which an online meeting can never compensate. But there are times when one can use Online meetings tools such as these and still make a great impact with clients and customers.

All i am trying to do here is to show you how you can use Web technology to connect with clients and use it for lead generation. A  tool like this is extremely useful for start up companies and SME ‘s . For an SME owner , he may have his client in Netherlands or Alaska . It is not possible for him to go all the way there to meet a “prospective” client and seal a deal. There is  no guarantee that the deal will come through in the first place. For him Web conference technology will come in very handy.

Go To Meeting , product of Nasdaq listed Citrix Systems Inc is a great online Web confercing tool. You can conduct online meetings using  Goto Meeting and Webinars using GoTo Webinar. You must visit their website to know more about their products and what they can do for you and your sales team.

They have now released a White paper on how companies can use Webinars to

  • Generate Leads
  • Increase Awareness
  • Build Loyalty , and more.

You can gain access to their White Paper here : 9 Management Practices for Exceptional Webinars

I think this is a great way to use a social media tool t to promote a brand and service – White papers, podcasts, webinar’s etc ..

Also read about Web Conferencing in Wikipedia to know more.

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 ?” .

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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