Digital Marketing: Will You Lead Or Follow? You Decide

Gone are the days when launching a brand and creating a niche in the business community needed a one stop appointment at the leading advertising agency offering tie-ups with the best market gurus. In this era of rat race, one wrong move by the CEO or the PR Agency can cause the entire goodwill that took ages to build up a business empire to topple over like a pack of cards.

One of the most paradigm shift that the Indian market has witnessed over the years, is more and more capital being added to the marketing aspect of a product rather than the product itself. So what I am trying to hint here is that today the business houses are focusing more on the packet of the product than what lies inside it, since better the packet, greater are the chances of it attracting consumers and voila! Product sold. Thus in turn we have escalated sales and a new brand in the block.

Digital Marketing - Lead or Follow?

The Era of Digital Marketing

In my earlier blogs I had emphasized on the facets as to why it is extremely important to connect your business with a social media platform. For a businessman the most important key is to sell a product or service, and this can only happen when you reach out to your consumer base. Today’s end users believe in reading news over Yahoo and Livemint rather than flipping over pages of the Hindu and a rape on the city would make it to a status update first and later to the headlines of a news-channel. Hence going by the same trend, if you want your business to grab eyeballs, it has to be on the social media and this is where digital marketing comes into the picture.

Digital Marketing is nothing than digitally promoting your product through the use of apps, social networking sites, blogs, instant messaging, electronic bill-boards so on and so forth. And the best part about this form of marketing is that you do not necessarily need the customer to reach out to you and thus shell out loads of cash to Google to feature among the top searches, you can take your brand to the customer through ‘push marketing’, just as Dominoes sends me a text message every Wednesday reminding me of their one on one treat or Shoppers Stop lets me know of their sale preview first hand by dropping a mail in my inbox.

The Mad Marketing over Digital Marketing

One of the most ironical aspects of Digital Marketing is that the business experts had long before predicted the shift in the strategy of marketing from print medial to digital media and this has resulted in the mushrooming of various online portals that would promise to teach and train you on this new found tool to attract customers- be it a diploma or a crash course, be it that top grade business school or the social guru over the net- everybody is out there to make money through digital marketing- they would tell you whom to follow over twitter and what is worth a retweet, they would tell you how to make that diplomatic yet smart statement on the company blog, hell! They would even tell you how to make that Facebook fan page of your really active and increase those likes. But here is what you need to decide, do you want to beat the rat-race by participating in the rate race and wait in the line to take the escalator or strategize a new form of digital marketing and reach to the top by taking the empty stairs.

Act Like an Entrepreneur and not a Salesman

There is a reason why every start-up does not make it as a successful investment and not every CEO makes it to Forbes, the reason is simple- Ideas can be stolen, not innovation. Digital Marketing has got its own limitations in the form of rapid competitors, racket of digital mediums and immense data volumes, however the tool can create immense social control for those who have learnt the tricks of the trades.

There are three golden rules of Digital Marketing:

First is to convey what you want to convey and not what other social experts expect you to say, second is to stop assuming and use statistics and facts to build up your opinion over the media and third is to engage the customer and most importantly to make them trust the brand by listening and working on their feedback. If these basics are known, you do not need to follow anyone out there or learn any stereotypical strategy to get to your consumers.

Remember that there is a reason why some people are called entrepreneurs while others as businessman, because everybody can make money but only few people can build brands with trust and loyalty and ‘earn investments’.

How Marriage Matrimonial Services Are Utilizing Social Media?

So, the other day, during one of my regular hang-outs with my friends at CCD and over a cup of hot chocolate, we began a conversation on something totally dreaded by Guys, yes “Marriage”. Well it was not really random, since this time, it was one of my best buddies who had decided to ride the horse. Ecstatic as he was and discouraging (in a good way) that we were, he began to tell us the tales of how he met his lady love over this online matrimonial site and within months it was a whirlwind romance, as they decided to tie the knot. As he went on with his ramblings, one of my friends blurted out “Long Ago Marriages were made in Heaven, Now they are arranged by Facebook and concluded by Shaadi.com”, as we cracked down with laughter.

shaadi.com facebook

Back at home, after a long tiring day, I opened to check my news feed on Facebook, and there it was, staring at me on one of those sponsored ads on the right hand side of the page, an advertisement of Jeevansaathi.com picturing a gorgeous woman with the most enticing smile and a conversation bubble introducing herself. And that is when the thought stuck me, that may be what my friend said wasn’t really in toto a joke, but a cynical truth! They had finally turned the institution of marriage into Business.

Why Mommy says no Dating

A quint essential Indian is always conditioned to believe that the concept of ‘Dating’ or having any affair with an individual prior to a marriage that is ‘arranged’ is wrong. Although a lot many has broken through these barriers of idiosyncrasies and entered into relationships ranging from ‘Love-Marriages’, ‘Live-in’, ‘Speed-Dating’, ‘Blind-Dating’ to name a few- but the societal assent was always missing. And this is what I feel the Marriage Matrimonial Services has capitalized on i.e they have combined the ‘desi with the videsi’. Today almost 75% of the individuals in their mid-life crisis has a Facebook or a Twitter Account, hence the strategy was to first grab the eye-balls in places that are most frequented and secondly combining the human psyche of dating through the veils of marriage. In an era where the 2G pack in mobile is less expensive than the sms pack- the Online Matrimonial services has taken to the internet to have a look at your prospective grooms while you stalk that profile of your crush on the social media- more like achieving the end with a twisted means.

Arranging your Love

Let’s accept it, at one point of time everyone of us had dream of endearing that blissful feeling of love and taking those vows with that special person. However for some that never did happen, and it was actually that relative who brought about a match and after the basic background checks and societal status match-up the knot was tied- and though some might call it a compromise, one fine morning ‘they did find their platinum day of love’. This is another human earning that the Online Matrimonial Services has listened to and answered.

Today the specific community matrimonial sites have very categorically selected their customer bases and only those would crop up during your social media sessions- for instance a Punjabi guy on Facebook is more likely to see a an advertisement from a Punjabi Women in that space right hand side than a Marathi. Thus whoever said Love cannot be arranged obviously needed a good PR.

Band-Bajaa and No Kharcha

Another key area that these online Matrimonial Sites had marketed on is realizing the issue of both time factor as well as expenditure. Marriage is definitely a lavish endeavor, however gliding from place to place to select that perfect match can be both tedious as well as expensive. With the provision of opening a profile on any of these portals totally free of cost and the added benefit of being contacted by people customized to your taste (since it is only charged when you are trying to connect to a profile for further communication), the chances of frivolous matches are rare. All in all, it appears to be a total win-win situation, both for the Service Providers and the Married-to-be.

Thus all in all, it can be said that today the Online Matrimonial Services (even extended to online dating or speed-dating) are changing the dynamics of forming and maintaining relationships in the global community by trying to abridge the gap between dating and arrange marriages thus consequently evolving both the societal norms as well as technology. The incorporation of these services within the social media has made socializing among opposite sexes much more easier at the same time keeping intact the traditional notions of compatibility in relation to particular castes and sects.

One of the most added benefit being women get to play an active role in the process of finding a life partner without being projected as boisterous and parents still remain the final arbitrator. Thus all in all, I don’t think it should be a big deal if business for some, helps in building home that unites one.

Why It Is Important For Any Indian CEO To Blog

An hour from watching the most inspiring and thought provoking movie of recent times namely the ‘Social Network’, that one catch phrase “I am the CEO, Bitch” got me writing on this one. The recent statistics reveal that irrespective of their individual field of education, most of the graduating lads these days are hatching the visions of an Entrepreneur and not the typical 9-5 working types. With the mushrooming of start-ups and Project Financing in almost every sector in India today, the designation of CEO is not only that of status and power but also coupled with the responsibility of building an entrusted brand which would not only be a value addition to the revenue but may even be that spark which launches the product in the first place.

ceo

Connecting your Business to Social Media

If you thought that starting or running a successful business requires only Capital, then let me burst your bubble. Obviously it is a nascent fact that any venture requires a principle amount to be invested into it, but that’s just the start. The key to survive the rat-race and leaving an impression is ‘Publicity’ and ‘Marketing’. It does not matter how qualitative or functional your product is, until and unless the same reaches its target audience i.e. the consumers or the end-users and it is this projection that needs to leave an impact. Obviously the B-school Guru’s would suggest you Viral Videos or Catchy Jingles to grab that attention, as they say “Jo Dikhta Hai, Wahi Bikta Hai”, and this is what the Social Media promises to do for you minus the cost incurred for hiring these ad agencies.

It’s not me, It’s Statistics

Nowadays, every major brand has a Facebook Page, a RSS Feed, a Twitter Page and associations with several other social media tools and there are reasons attached to it. The BRAND Fog 2012 CEO Survey states that more than 82% consumers are expected to trust a Company whose CEO is involved in the social media one way or the other and 72% would like to be involved with a company whose values and goals are projected by identified figures of the Company in the Media. Consequently a research by IBM in 2013 witnessed a sharp increase in CEO participation in the Social Media by a raging 16% over-all.

Blog Scores over Tweets

Although a variety of social tools may be available for the CEO’s to create a market for their business, the one that tops my list would be blogging. This concept has more perks that can be listed. For one blogging coupled with social media is the most beneficial combination to generate both customer feedback and ideas as a consequence thereof. For instance if today a CEO writes a blog on a new service or product that they are going to launch or is already in the market, the consumer feedback can help them either better the product or even generate new product suiting the needs of the market- hence it can be classified as a general brainstorming process.

Secondly, blogging is extremely well associated with ‘Branding’ a product, since where the someone as authoritative as the CEO of a Company is out in the public to divulge classified information, it not only shares the vision of the Company but also generates a buzz around the product and services with a name or figure attached to it. But then again do not forget the contacts and the publicity such branding generates which would attract potential investors like bees to honey.

Thirdly, blogging creates a more sensitive connection between a Company and its Consumers as well as attract the best of Employees. It always works for the benefit when people see a face that they can trust, and an ear that is listening to them. Not only does blogging personalize the concept of trading with a human touch but also builds a thread of trust, transparency and faith.

When it’s Wrong?

Though the social tool of blogging holistically achieves everything that is needed to keep your product within the limelight, it needs to be exercised with extreme caution, since one wrong move and the Company can face serious consequences. For instance a CEO once starts blogging cannot be irregular or boring in his approach- he needs to be understanding, patient and most importantly diplomatic. Further a novice CEO can be a complete PR Nightmare if he does not tastes his words before jotting them down.

And although monitoring a CEO’s communication in the social media is extremely crucial, no one likes a rehearsed speech on a diplomatic podium. Let the inner entrepreneur in you communicate with the world at large, humor those money-bags into generating the revenue for you- go ahead and score!

Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai Who’s Next?

It was another regular day in Kolkata, when I was sitting and scrolling through my news-feed when this update popped up “May be they would look for a more TRP sensitive name this time, Damini was just not enough”, as I continued scrolling, I could not find the context as to why the Delhi rape case would suddenly hit the headlines again. The optimistic Indian in me thought may be the judgments are out, the beasts must have been punished – so I Googled, and there it was, staring back at me, another one of us has been raped and this time in the city of Mumbai.

The Connecting Lines

If Rape did not already characterize itself as one of the most heinous crimes that the world has seen, what has recently been “trending” is a series of Gang-Rapes. I use the word “trending” since that is all that makes sense today- every time this offense makes the headlines, we see thousands of tweets, updates, blog posts, discussions, debates, news-hours, candle marches, political stances followed by nothing, absolute nothingness. A month or two later, it is only the family of the victim (the survivor) who makes those uncountable visits to the hospitals, police stations and courts while everybody gets back to “What’s new”, till that sometime in the nooks and corners of the city, our ignorance and in-sensitiveness gets raped again.

Mumbai Gang Rape

Everything that begins need not necessarily ends

2012, early February, the City of Joy saw the shocking revelations of an Anglo-Indian woman- a mother of two being raped at gun-point, more popularly known as the Park-Street Rape. If the system failure was not shameful enough, what followed was a political mud-slinging where the Chief Minister of the State went to the extent of tagging this case as a fake gimmick poised by the opposition and the consequent transfer of Damayanti Sen, the IPS Officer who was diligently solving the case- withered the faith of the common people. So what initially was a rape case, went to the back drop and the political bubble made it to news. Something very similar yet in a far degraded and aggravated form hit the Dilliwaalon ki Dillii on December, 2012.

This one not only crumbled the faith of every women in the country over the administration but promoted a very strong message, “If you are a women, you are not safe anywhere- neither in the mother’s womb nor on this Earth”. The horrors of the Delhi Rape Case did not only restrict itself to the monstrosity of the crime- where a girl interning in Delhi and in the company of a male friend, was repeatedly gang raped in a bus by 6 males- 2 of them being minors plying into the city during the continuance of this Act with the most objectionable items inserted into the private parts of the victim that caused the intestines to burst-but also to the outburst at the India Gate that was to follow.

There was the blame-game- who was to take the brunt- the administration, the laws, the victim, the gender or the society? But what identifies this case was the appointment of the J.S Verma Committee to recommend a far more rigid and stringent legislation related to rape laws by either amending the existing laws or bringing in an entire set of new laws. And just when things looked a bit brighter, there it was- the mockery of the decade- another case of Gang Rape and this time in the City that never sleeps- Mumbai!

The news story involves a journalist (intern) who was gang-raped in Central Mumbai in the compounds of the Shiv-Sakti Milla, and was later admitted in the Jaslok Hospital by the male friend who was accompanying the former for a research piece. Latest news screams the potency of the Mumbai Police that 2 of the 5 criminals has been arrested, while I wonder is the number only 5 or there are more of them out there?

What Causes Rape?

Now, this might sound extremely absurd. How can something possibly act as a cause or a signal that it is okay to rape somebody? Well, there are certain intellectually challenged and sick people out there who believes that not all is the fault of the rapists, may be the victim deserved it? And when and why would she deserve it? Well, it is when a women is dressed provocatively, when she is out on the streets at anytime after 6 p.m., when she is alone and not accompanied by a male friend, when she is drinking, when she is at a discotheque or night-club. And no, the list does not end there, according to the unworthy son of Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, it is when a women is “painted and dented”, According to Asharam Bapu, “it is when the victim does not begs for mercy from her perpetrators by not calling them brother”, According to Sheila Dixit “it is when a girl is out there late at night”.

If these are not enough to amuse you, Mamata Bannerjee has also come up with some solutions, according to her “There is no need to hype certain crimes such as rape, we need to take it more sportingly”, and may be inspired by such line of thought Sunny Leone was not far behind to tweet “Rape, is not an offense, it is surprise sex”- which obviously ended the latter in much more controversy than the former.

So here you go girls, the next time you step out of the house, remember all the above points, and may be, just may be, you could come back home not violated, molested, harassed or worse raped. Because this country even after 67 years of Independence and in spite of numerous laws out there, can do nothing to protect your dignity, they can neither catch your perpetrators nor punish them, they can only give you a “To Do or Not To do List”, but remember exceptions to them always exist.

Stop Rape

The Solution

In the last one and half years, I have witnessed several solutions to these atrocious crimes against women, the most common being bringing about more effective laws and smoother functioning structures, it is only the fear of being punished that can act as a major deterrent, another line of thought advocates capital punishment and castration with public hanging, yet another line of thought advocates legalizing prostitution and a more rigid one advocates to follow the to-do list as mentioned above – off-course all of these have their own pro’s and cons.

I am not sure, if any of this is going to change the situation, since over the decades we have just debated but never implemented any of these, and the results are staring at us today right in the eye- it is never going to stop- even rape is going to become a trend. I know this sounds harsh, but after a few weeks, the news articles would suddenly start covering the propaganda of Narendra Modi and the Dip in Dollar, the display pictures in Facebook would change from black dots to smiling faces, even the blogs would start featuring what’s hot, till the point of time- the lightning will strike somewhere again and claim a life- in fact more than that- claim the consciousness and humanity of an entire generation.

So if you ask me, we all commit rapes. Everyday, by sitting and watching and debating and politicizing but never ever implementing and putting into actions any of those. So if you want to change something, change yourself, change your thoughts, change your surroundings- every single effort counts. Remember today its them, tomorrow it can be someone you know and worst it could be you.