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’.

Snapdeal vs Dealsandyou: What is the future of e-commerce retailing in India?

In the past few years, e-commerce retailing has grown in India at a rapid pace. The convenience of shopping and the increase in the purchasing power of the consumers have enabled the unprecedented growth of e-commerce retailing in the country.

Snapdeal.com is an online shopping website, which offers daily deals and discounts in various sections such as dining, beauty, lifestyle, health, entertainment, travel, etc. Customers can purchase their favorite products like apparels, mobile phones, watches, perfumes, accessories, etc. from their favorite stores and as per the convenience of location.

Dealsandyou.com is also an online shopping website which offers the best deals to visitors depending on their location. The deals are offered on a daily basis, with a time gap of 24-48 hours given to visitors to invite their acquaintances. A wide range of products are sold at discounted rates, with the discounts up to 90% on various products. Be it fashion, lifestyle, health, fitness, beauty, dining, entertainment, or travel, Dealsandyou has everything for everyone and at every location.

Both Snapdeal and Dealsandyou services are provided through emails or SMSes, where customers are informed about the exciting new deals as on that day. The customers just have to login to the website, select the item of purchase and click on the ‘buy’ button. A confirmation message id sent over the phone as well as the email, after which the customer can print the voucher and redeem it at the vendor’s store.

Because of the simplicity of the procedure, such e-commerce retail shops are gaining rapid popularity among customers who look for daily deals to enjoy the shopping experience and want to get the best out of it. The only matter of concern in such e-commerce retailing websites is the security of personal data of customers. However, these websites promise ample security measures to prevent misuse or hacking of data.

But as per industry experts, the future of e-commerce retailing in India is quite bright. People are increasingly getting engaged in their work schedules, which leaves little time for them to visit shops and bargain for the products purchased. Also, they prefer a shopping experience which is value for money, and the discounted prices of products on websites like Snapdeal and Dealsandyou do just that for customers.

This indicates that the trend of shopping in India is going to change soon, and the future of e-commerce retailing in India looks quite secure.

Things Advertising Should Learn From PR When It Comes To Social Media

Advertising Vs. Public Relations. I guess since the time I have come into Journalism, I have always learned that both of these terms are considered as Paid Media and Earned Media respectively. Advertising means huge budgets whereas PR means the tiny ones. Its been like a love and hate relationship between the two for decades. Now the question is what is more effective? Among two which of these offers better ROI? How can we work with both of them together? Should they work together?

I believe, Advertising has been the big brother in the league of this tenuous relationship. No matter its a massive budget or any other super bowl Ad campaign or maybe thousands of You-tube views, advertising always seems to receive better attention from an organization’s  point of view. Public Relations, often works better in the back ground. If you have a certain budget cuts, use PR. Want to hire an intern? Easily shift him or her in the PR team.

But now the things seems to be changing. Google being the dominant player in the search engine industry never aired a single  TV ad until last year’s super bowl. Companies now use strategic leaks for their product launches. For the 1st time in 20 years I have seen Pepsi took a back step for the $4M super bowl ad and instead used their $20M into the Pepsi refresh projects all over the world. I mean what was the use of this? Do we call this a beginning or the end of an advertising era?

Of course not. No doubt, Social Media has brought a lot of changes in the advertising industry, no matter old schools likes it or not. Now days advertisers in order to succeed in the competitive world, taking lessons from their PR brethren. I personally believe that a PR person is a better option for using social media instead of any advertising company because its in their ability to maintain and built relationships.

I would like to share some areas where advertising industry can do well if they follow the tracks of Public Relations:

1.) Advertising should be looked as a goal, like a means to an end and not an end itself.  It should focus more on views, friends and tweets rather focusing on sales, revenues and market values. An ad campaign is not successful because it had a millions of You-Tube views, it was successful because it led to larger sales and excessive customer loyalty.

2.) Honesty is the best policy in Advertising. I have always noticed that the trust of consumer  in advertising is low as compared to PR. When it comes to any company, I can trust anyone, other than you. Just create the boastful and deceptive message for the audience and be honest about your strength and ofcourse your weakness too. Suppose something is going wrong, you should tell me why it is going wrong and what are you doing to improve it. And please never gloss about it and put the blame on someone else.

3.) When you are into advertising, always remember that 50% of 10,000 > 1% of 50,000. In advertising there is no restriction for budgets unlike PR. If you just go and produce an ad and hoping to get 1 or 2% returns because of that ad, then I am sorry, I don’t think these things work anymore. In fact, spend more time in crafting messages that would have direct impact on the audience. .

4.) Being Human. No, I am not talking about Salmaan Khan’s charity house. Corporations will never work on the tunes of new networked conversations.

5.) Bring solutions and not problems. Spending millions and showing to your customer that how fantastic your product or customer service is really out of fashion. I ll give you an example here. Virgin America’s budget is far way less than American Airlines. Yet, Virgin America manages  to win in terms of customer service, customer experience and customer satisfaction.

As the years pass by, advertising and PR are bound to work together more and more. Each one of will learn from each other more and more. Without one, the other is incomplete.

Starting A Business? Make Sure You Don’t Make these Mistakes

Many students after completing their MBA from renowned institutes are rejecting job placements and moving towards entrepreneurship. They are settling their own business in their desired niche. So have you also thought of starting your own business?  And if yes, then please make sure you avoid some biggest mistakes or probably you ll end up in digging your own grave.

Slow and Steady always doesn’t win the race

One of the biggest factor why new business fail is lack of money. If you plan things in a slow direction then it will take much longer before you make your first income. If you are investing something, remember that is not more than enough. You have to be profitable in whatever you do. Maybe ball is not in your court right now, utilize this time and get your business out there. I am sure you must be thinking that while doing this you need to cut many corners. Yes, if you want to win the race you have to cut many corners.

Hire slowly

I know even you have dreams of sitting back and seeing all your employees working hard and money just keeps rolling in. I know you want this, but how will you make it possible? Its not about hiring. When you are starting any new business, its you who have to do more and more work. You have to understand that what are tasks and duties needs to be assigned to your employees. Before hiring anyone, keep yourself in their shoes and understand what they are going to go through in future.

Do not mix your Business with Emotions

Ok now lets face this that most of the time you think with your emotions. I am not blaming only you for this. We all do this. You have to develop yourself in such a manner that you make decisions based on off the logic. Many times it will happen that your emotions will tell you to do something else. But you have to deny that and make a logical decision.

It doesn’t matter what are your needs, it matters what your customer needs are

Maybe you have an amazing idea for your new business. Maybe you want to introduce a product that might bring revolutionary in the market but have you ever thought what your customer wants? Trust me nobody is concerned about what you want? After all its your customers who are spending their bucks. So, i would suggest here before you spend too much time and money in any of your cool idea, study the market well, try to understand the problems your customers are facing.

Does it matter with being in the trenches?

CEO Mr. XYZ. it sounds cool. Isn’t it? Being a CEO is not at all an easy task. It doesn’t mean you ll boss around people and order them what they need to do. It only means you are the sole responsible person for company’s well being. Be in trenches and feel what it takes. This is how you can learn things and ensure that your company is running well. Talk with your customers frequently, understand their wants and desires.

Money doesn’t fall from sky

Money doesn’t grow on trees nor do they fall from sky. But ya technically they do grow on trees, but you know what i mean. Be cautious with your spendings because many businesses fail due to lack of capital. Save as much as possible you can, you never know when you are going to need it. Maybe for this you have to negotiate a lot with your suppliers no matter he is your relative or best friend. End of the day its your money that is being saved. Remember, if you never ask, you ll never receive.

Search for a right Business Partner

There might be a possibility that when you have started your business, you don’t have enough cash to pay to your employees. So the best way to deal with this is search for a business partner. I am sure that your business partner will work harder than your other employees. What is the big deal if you have a co-founder name with yours in the company letter head? There are many big companies that are founded by two people. Google Inc. itself is the biggest example.

Think about today and not tomorrow

As soon as you start your new business, the biggest mistake that you ll commit is you ll start thinking about tomorrow. I know it is totally wise to be well prepared for tomorrow, but dude, you have just started. Think about every moment. All you need to do is just think about making more and more profits everyday. At the end of the day what matters is enough cash that will be needed for your company to survive.

Take help from the expertise

I am sure no one is jack of all trades. Questions will always arise and every time it is not possible for you to answer them all. I would suggest you that take help from people who are already expert in these fields. I don’t think there is anything wrong in keeping few mentors on whose advices you can always rely.

All work and no play will make you a dull boy

It is not possible for you or me to work 24×7 all 7 days. You have to take a break, go out, party with your friends on saturday nights. So that once you are back to work you ll be more productive. If you want you can go and attend various networking events where you can meet other  entrepreneurs and gain some free knowledge. Who knows you’ll even end up closing some business deals at these events.

So what is the bottom line?

Please do not expect that there will be some miracles on the very 1st day of your business. You will make mistakes and its a fact and your those mistakes will make you a perfect entrepreneur. A great entrepreneur is one who learns from his mistakes and doesn’t repeat the same ever again. What are the other business mistakes you think you can add up on my list?