Corporate Life, Personal Life

November TiTBiTs

I wrapped up November, having gained a few experiences and learnings.

Commercial Front:

The month began on a promising note, with 2 clients agreeing to work with me. One was in the medical-tourism domain, who wanted me to undergo a test. Having succeeded, I was assigned for a start, 2 articles. I enquired what would be the benchmark for evaluation and was informed the task was to attract viewers to the site. On further inquiry, I learnt that the article would feature in the blog section of the company website! And how would traffic be generated to the site? The company was still working on that! Anyways I decided to work on just one topic.  As anticipated, the expectations were very different. So requested the client to give the same inputs to another writer, and then share the write-up with me, which would also be a learning for me. Client now does not respond to my emails.

Learning:  At times, one needs to stand up to the courage of one’s convictions.

The second client was a Bangalore based startup providing news and information to other startups. I must admit, they were much more professional and ethical. Defined their reader aged between 20 to 35, 75% males. The agreement was for me to provide 2 rewritten news articles per day. The client drew a line between news and trends, defining the latter as write-ups which covered interviews, research etc which were the rights/property of the respective media, hence were out of bounds to be published by me. 2/3 of my articles were thus rejected as they were classified as trends, a line that I must confess I have yet to properly identify.

Learning: There is a fine line of difference between “News” and “Trends”, the latter I yet need to identify.

Personal Life:

3 years ago, a common friend had recommended to me, a third party for medical insurance, whom I signed up with. After a month of chasing him for renewal of my premium, he lands up at my home, wanting me to change my service provider since the provider had discontinued the product. He suggested a few others where I could get insurance portability – similar to mobile number changes – I did not know it existed in insurance too, so a new learning again. And guess what? To avail of this portability, I was asked to provide the cheque within 4 days, since the scheme ended in 30 days and the agent had let 26 days lapse. On investigation, I learnt that the person was not an authorised agent but part of a brokerage network.

Learnings:

  • Do not go by recommendations alone. Do your own homework.
  • Check which industries offer portability schemes for the future.

With just a few days in hand for portability, did a thorough online and offline search, and shortlisted CignaTTK online. After disclosing my medical history to the sales team and verifier, I was told to submit my cheque. Then I received a call from a doctor so repeated exactly the same history (can history change?), who was very cooperative.  I suddenly received an email, rejecting my proposal. On intensive follow-up for the reason, was given a reason that the underwriter’s decision was final. My point was, the same history was disclosed to the sales team, etc and I was informed that this was a company policy. So I responded that instead of disclosing their company employees to an external audience, why don’t you educate your own internal teams. I received no proper responses so resorted to tweets. (One will be surprised at the power of tweets). Also escalated the matter to the highest levels where more light got thrown, but not to my entire satisfaction. However, decided not to pursue it and now still looking for a medical insurance provider.

Lesson:

  • Insurance is a highly complicated maze. 
  • Pick your battles – don’t sweat the small stuff.

Welcome December, Hello Santa!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard
Corporate Life

Net-neutrality v/s Free Basics – a False Choice?

My Curiosity Aroused

With the hype of Mark Zuckerberg’s recent visit to IIT-Delhi coupled with the controversial issue of internet neutrality, my curiosity was aroused, rather late perhaps, so I decided to do a little homework on the subject.

Net Neutrality Defined

“The principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites” is how google defines net neutrality. And what happens if I do not have internet facility to even google net neutrality?

Net access, a Moral Responsibility?

Let’s look at FB founder’s take on this. “Those pushing for net-neutrality have access already. Those not on the net can’t sign a petition for access. We have a moral responsibility (toward) people who do not have access”. Sounds good and rational, I thought.

Enter “Free Basics” by Facebook.

This perhaps justifies Facebook’s introduction of Free Basics, or internet.org.  So I went back to google, lol!  Was there a life before google? “Internet.org is a partnership between social networking services company Facebook and six companies (Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Opera Software, Nokia and Qualcomm) that plans to bring affordable access to selected Internet services to less developed countries by increasing efficiency, and facilitating the development …” In other words, offering basic low band-width and text services for health, employment and education whereby subscribers can access them free of cost. This will particularly favor and help build developing countries like Bangla Desh, Africa, India, etc. Currently, approximately 15 million people world-wide access such services and once exposed to them, tend to upgrade to full subscribers of the internet.

Free Basics, a Restricted Usage?

Protagonist for Net neutrality, Nikhil Pahwa, has a different story, when he states that FB is creating a “false choice” as free basic users will access FB and its associates, thereby restricting usage of the open web, which goes against the principle of net-neutrality, since net neutrality is all about free access to all sites, without prejudice or bias to any particular site. Certainly a good counter-point to Zuckerberg.

So the controversy rages on…….

Now, if one needs to take an online vote on this, will that be courtesy Net-neutrality or Free Basics?

 

Standard
branding/advertising communications, Corporate Life

  A Peek in to the Cyber World of Millennial Teens

                                  

 

Refuel Agency, through Monkey Survey, conducted a study of “Millennial Teens”, aged between 16 to 19 who were born after the introduction of the Internet and Cells. What is it like to have been born in this generation? Some startling and some not so surprising revelations. The survey was conducted with a sample size of 684 teens as recent as June 3 to 9th, 2015. Can they be considered as “non-conformist trendsetters” looking for “instant gratification”?

 

Life becomes miserable without their Top 10 Products.

Besides the Cell/smart phone which expectedly, was on topmost of the list of things that the teens could not do without, surprisingly food, clothes and shoes ranked high in this list. Water, the essential zenith of life stood last at 10! The other items were Video game console, Tablet, MP3 player and Television. To put the items in perspective:

The Topmost Brands in their lives.

When asked to specify brands without which this target group could not do without,  Apple scored the highest, and surprise of surprises, the popular social networking site, which catapulted Mark Zuckerberg, as a household name, stood 10th or more specifically, last!

 

 

A good total of approx. 73% time in a day is spent on gadgets.

When asked how many hours in a 24 hour day they spent on devices, the computer and TV tied with each other at 3.5 hours, and again, (no prizes for any guesses), the good old, (or is it new?), smartphone was declared the winner with almost double the time at a good 6.3 hours! The Tablet was the poorest at 1.9 hours.

Focusing on gadgets that governed the life of Millennial, the Smartphone or Cell stood first at 55% and the TV as expected last at No. 5. The list as ranked:

Cell phone/ Smartphone 55%
Computer/ laptop 18%
Tablet/ e-reader 12%
IPod/ MP3 payer 8%
Television 7%

 

And pray, how does the young adult use the cell?

Again for sheer everyday usage, texting ranks highest at 66% (the contents of the text were not surveyed, but perhaps can be imagined!) Social media, games, camera and browsing approximating 50% each.  Emails and actual were as low as 33% and 24% respectively! (Surprising?)

 

 Does the Teenager make for a good Shopper?

So what does he or she look for whilst shopping? A good deal of research is done by the Millennial with 45% doing price comparisons to ensure the right purchase price. Reading Reviews stood at 44% whilst researching product details at 39%. (Perhaps this justified the 55% of the time spent on Mobiles?)

The Preloaded Browser makes a huge difference

Manufacturers and Marketers may be disturbed to note that 33% of the targeted audience is not likely to change the browser preloaded on their gadgets with a high 67% moderately or highly likely!

 

The Teen is sharp and wary with the browser

They cannot easily be taken for a ride with 70% and 68% of them wary about their security and privacy respectively. 54% considered web page loading speed as important to them. Social Integration featured at just 21%

Looking at Streaming Platforms

When it comes to Streaming Platforms, no prizes for guessing that You Tube scored the highest with 75%. This was followed by Netflix and Pandora with 55% and 39% respectively.

Time spent of Social Sites/Apps

Expectedly, 64% of their time was consumed on You Tube. But here again is an irony, whilst Face book stood 10th amongst favorited brands, 51% of the Millennial Teens time was spent on this site.

 

How “public” is the Millennial Teen’s Life?

65% of them are “very/somewhat willing” to “post something publicly on Social Media” – perhaps accounting for “In a Relationship” or it’s “Complicated”? “Not willing” were 23% and “Unsure” were just 12%

 

                                        

The Social Media used to keep up with the latest in Music, Games and TV shows.

 

With this background on the Millennial Teen, we can be assured the future is bright and exciting! Console

  1. Tablet
  2. MP3 player
  3. Television
  4. Water
  5. Cell/ Smart phone
  6. Food
  7. Computer/laptop
  8. Clothes
  9. Shoes
  10. Video game console
  11. Tablet
  12. MP3 player
  13. Television
  14. Water
  15. Cell/ Smart phone
  16. Food
  17. Computer/laptop
  18. Clothes
  19. Shoes
  20. Video game console
  21. Tablet
  22. MP3 player
  23. Television
  24. Water

 

 

Standard
branding/advertising communications, Corporate Life

Journeying to the Online Customer

Recently accompanied a friend wanting to get into an ecommerce venture. Sharing some learning/experiences here.

Reaching Out to the Online Customer?

As the owner of a Mom n Pop stores/Kiranawala you now want to reach out to the online customer.

Before doing this let us define our business model. What kind or product or service are we offering? Durables, FMCG, or?  Are we accepting online payment or COD?  Will we be doing our own deliveries? Do we have an exchange or return policy in place? How important is the image or product picture to the purchase? Our e-commerce venture will need to take into consideration all such factors.

Get a feel of the Online Space First.

Perhaps we could get the feel of the online space first, without the expense of our own site, and transact business by becoming a vendor to aggregator sites like Flipkart, Snapdeal, Jabong, Amazon, eBay, etc. For this we will identify one whose terms and conditions suit us best and register with them. Let us keep in mind that this arrangement can be a win-win situation.

We could take a slightly bigger step and register with some online shopping platforms like shopify.in, zepo.in, magento.com or a host of such. Platform dependent, the terms will vary –monthly rentals, software availability, etc which can be selected to meet our needs. All that we need do, is arrange a meeting with them and then need dependent, select a platform of our choice. The shopping platform is an intermediary between the pains and expenses of launching our own site and becoming a vendor to an online aggregator.

Or go the Vendor Route

In the vendor route the focus will be limited to sales, customer experiences etc whereas the online shopping platform is a closer step to launching our own e-commerce site, and therefore experience rich, but investment friendly.

A lot of technical issues will arise in the platform model like software selection, content creation, image loading, right sizing, etc for which technical expertise may be required. In most cases, they are available with the site authorities.

Driving traffic to the site

Presuming we have opted for the online platform route, we will now need to drive business to the site. As a startup on the learning curve, the promotion could be done in phases, beginning with perhaps our home page where content will need to be written. Experts are freely available for this either on assignment or contract basis. Remember we discussed product pictures earlier? These will now need to be uploaded. We will then need prospects to visit our site. One route is SEO or Search Engine Optimization. This is a very simple process, where terms or words that are searched by the potential customer are identified as key words and used by us so that our company website shows up on the google search engine. We can also create our own ads on google adwords. When a customer clicks on the ads, s/he is directed to our homepage or landing page.  The advantage of this approach is that we only pay if the customer clicks on our ad.  But there also is a small negative here. Often after the customer clicks, if we are unable to engage the customer to make a purchase, then we have lost that customer and the money paid to Google. Hence conversions become important, unlike SEO where no payment needs to be made. However expertise is required here for which many SEO experts or digital agencies are available. You can also pay for ads that will appear on different sites by bidding for the same based on the number of impressions or ad appearances.

Other routes for site promotion could be FB marketing, Twitter, Instagram, etc. which can be learnt on the journey ahead.

Till then, a happy journey!

 

Standard
branding/advertising communications, Corporate Life

The importance of Feedback

A couple of years ago, was leading the relationship of a new client for the Agency. When we were first introduced to the client team, the MD had designated a client manager.  However, the said relationship manager within the first week itself began deputing other assistants, thus leading to total chaos on the account. Several client visits, emails, telephone calls just could not set the tone right as every client individual brought to the desk, his or her own perceptions, tastes and beliefs. Since each individual has a different set of aesthetics, particularly in terms of colour and design, the clashes were many. So right from the word “Go”, a productive relationship could not be established.

Observing a 2 way process.

Then came a feedback meeting. The client’s inputs, as was expected, were very negative. Since I believe that to consolidate a relationship, there has to be a meeting of minds, explained to the client, the dire need for a single individual or at the most 2/3, who could be the interface. However, for cost saving purposes, this was not possible, and the Agency expected to coordinate with various individuals at different points in time. Every fortnight or so, a new individual would call, so a new name and contact details added to the Agency list. The game of “chinese whispers” continued.  Of course, the MD was informed that the Agency was provided feedback. (Without considering the Agency’s inputs)! So no 2 way process honoured.

Providing criticisms – positive and negative.

To be fair to the Client, the courtesies, response time, etc observed by the Agency, were appreciated and positive criticism given. A bond was formed, but at a superficial level. The big grouse and negative criticism was, the client’s taste and expectations could not be satisfied. How does one satisfy the subjective taste of so many different individuals?

Constant Feedback.

Since a 2 way process of feedback was not honoured from the beginning, constant feedback was not possible. I believe that, had that happened, as in many other earlier cases, the relationship would have flourished. Constant feedback and updating of information is important for the success of any transaction. And given continuous feedback, most relationships flourish!  

Standard
branding/advertising communications, Corporate Life

The importance of Feedback

A couple of years ago, was leading the relationship of a new client for the Agency. When we were first introduced to the client team, the MD had designated a client manager.  However, the said relationship manager within the first week itself began deputing other assistants, thus leading to total chaos on the account. Several client visits, emails, telephone calls just could not set the tone right as every client individual brought to the desk, his or her own perceptions, tastes and beliefs. Since each individual has a different set of aesthetics, particularly in terms of colour and design, the clashes were many. So right from the word “Go”, a productive relationship could not be established.

Observing a 2 way process.

Then came a feedback meeting. The client’s inputs, as was expected, were very negative. Since I believe that to consolidate a relationship, there has to be a meeting of minds, explained to the client, the dire need for a single individual or at the most 2/3, who could be the interface. However, for cost saving purposes, this was not possible, and the Agency expected to coordinate with various individuals at different points in time. Every fortnight or so, a new individual would call, so a new name and contact details added to the Agency list. The game of “chinese whispers” continued.  Of course, the MD was informed that the Agency was provided feedback. (Without considering the Agency’s inputs)! So no 2 way process honoured.

Providing criticisms – positive and negative.

To be fair to the Client, the courtesies, response time, etc observed by the Agency, were appreciated and positive criticism given. A bond was formed, but at a superficial level. The big grouse and negative criticism was, the client’s taste and expectations could not be satisfied. How does one satisfy the subjective taste of so many different individuals?

Constant Feedback.

Since a 2 way process of feedback was not honoured from the beginning, constant feedback was not possible. I believe that, had that happened, as in many other earlier cases, the relationship would have flourished. Constant feedback and updating of information is important for the success of any transaction. And given continuous feedback, most relationships flourish!  

Standard
branding/advertising communications, Corporate Life

Requisites of a good client-servicing person/ad executive

A client-servicing or account management person plays a generalist role. That being so, it is easy for anyone to play the same role. So what makes the servicing person better than the rest?

Establish Credibility: Credibility here transcends reliability. It also encompasses honesty, integrity, punctuality, etc. All easier said than done, and not very achievable, but once accomplished and retained, can become extremely rewarding. It makes a client certain that a date given, will be honoured by the servicing person, come hell or high water, one of the few advantages of credibility. The benefits of credibility cannot be over estimated.

Often today, an accusation of misdemeanour,wrong or fault, requires the backup of proof.  So no proof is akin to no fault. Or so we believe. But that is applicable only in a court of law and not to society or to the general public. The corruption of our politicians is rarely proven, but how many of them have credibility? Blaming traffic jams for tardiness at meetings, often cannot be proven, but does it hold any credibility?

And credibility is like an inflated balloon, once punctured, very difficult to reestablish!

Update relevant Knowledge: Undoubtedly we are today in an age of information explosion, thanks to technology. Any or all information is easily accessible, hence not so valued. The stress today is not just on information or knowledge, but on relevant information which can be of value.

Many years ago, whilst launching a new herbal tonic, I had to study the product consisting of  32 ingredients. At the internal agency briefing, was asked by my superior if all information on the product had been gathered by me, which I confirmed. He then threw me off-balance by challenging me to name the ingredients and their respective qualities! How on earth did that help in projecting the ultimate product benefit, I fail to understand till date.

And since we live in a super fast changing world, knowledge needs to be updated regularly, just to remain in the rat race.

Knowledge on the product, consumers, competition, insights, etc are crucial to the success of an ad. executive.

Sharpen Analytical Skills: Mere knowledge is inadequate since as said earlier, knowledge is easily obtained and hence in good supply. The challenge today is in processing that knowledge/information and analysing the same, thus making it productive. In his book, “The magic of Thinking Big”, Dr.Schwartz says “the thinking that guides your intelligence is much more important than how much intelligence you have”.

Get Networked: The power of networking is awesome, to say the least! In agencies, most often copy or content writers are networked in the same category and so abreast of happenings. The true networker is connected with groups or categories, of different people in all walks of life, which makes it not only interesting, but also rewarding. One never knows when a client can become a friend or vice versa!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard