branding/advertising communications

When the pupil is ready, the master….

I Stop Shooting in the Dark.

After spending decades in mass media, I began experiencing a fatigue and burnout, whilst simultaneously getting introduced to the online domain, which I found enchanting, to say the least. Mass media was like shooting in the dark, but the digital domain, besides being one-on-0ne, offered the high potential of engaging with the audience, which delighted me.

Getting More Exposed to Online.

So I decided to explore this medium a little  intensely, by getting more active on Social Media, content writing, etc. Each channel or platform gave me a glimpse of the other, thus increasing my quest for more learning. I registered for an online course in SM, but perhaps due to my own inadequacies or lack of exposure, did not find it Value for Money (VFM), and so was reluctant to add to my expenses. At the same time, the fire was burning.

Increasing my Network and meeting my Mentor.

Thanks to FB, my network increased and also got virtually connected to different individuals, all willing to lend a helping hand. That is how I first got introduced to Nevil Darukhanawala – as someone who was in need of content writing. Our first meeting was conducted, like many others, in a Coffee Shop, where I explained to him my journey and destination. Subsequent meetings led me to a branding/communications assignment for one of his to be launched Apps. I then discovered that Nevil himself was a digital expert, having learnt and practiced the profession in USA and had recently opened shop in India.

Getting introduced to the School of SEO.

His SEO business experience in India was not up to his expectations, so just recently, in 2015 to be precise, Nevil began conducting online courses in the digital domain. (http://www.schoolofseo.in/). Luckily for me, we did a barter with my content writing. So passionate and convinced is he about this service,  that he actually offers a money-back guarantee!  A student from one batch can switch or catch up with another batch -another unique advantage.

Once Darukhanawala begins, the passion exposes itself in his voice, articulation and gesticulations. So deep is his knowledge on the subject, that at times he gets carried away and tends to drift from the topic, and needs to be brought back to focus -time is not too consequential, but imparting knowledge matters to him.

Unlike many of today’s coaching classes, with just the basic infrastructure, Nevil’s class room is well furnished, with a huge monitor, and more than adequate air conditioning, which one has to at times request him to turn down.

I also “Spott One Consulting Pvt Ltd”

Darukhanawala has the good sense not to restrict himself to just preaching, but also practices. Thus he has some top corporates whom he consults with and conducts workshops for others. Besides, he also offers his SEO services, with a small and dedicated team to a few top corporates, under the brand Spott One Consulting. This ensures he is abreast of the latest trends in the market place.

If my exposure to SEO is beneficial, thanks to Nevil Darukhanawala.

 

This post purports an attitude of gratitude.

 

 

 

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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!

 

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Personal Life

My experiences in Online Networking.

Networking to me, online or in reality, was never a need. But in the past year or so, decided to use the net for connectivity, at times anonymously. It has been a very good learning.

Instant Connectivity:

I found that most people connect easily online. Some may be using fake profiles, I admit, but they do connect, for motives they know best. Many are overwhelmingly friendly and reach out. At times and selectively, online connectivity leads to real-time contacts. I think the google meet-ups are a good case in point.

No Bias:

Perhaps, besides the anonymity of the net, people are generally friendly by nature, and not knowing another person, take each other at face value, and are open to discover and explore, with no prejudices, hangups or biases. I find this attribute most attractive. Many such new-found connects have gone out of their way in lending a helping hand online.

Little potential for Offline Connectivity:

However, with the exception of a few, my learning is that online contacts wish to observe status quo and remain online, reluctant for real-time meetings. Often, promises are made, but seldom observed and I cannot fathom the reason for the promise.

Integrity of contacts are channel/platform dependent:

My  experiences with people have been very unpredictable, leading me to my own conclusions. To me, the most genuine/loyal/dependent contacts are from the blogger fraternity. Perhaps they all share a common agenda of getting likes/comments to their writing and eager to promote each other. Next on the loyalty ladder would be the Linkedin connects, which I suppose is due to sharing of professional interests. FB although hugely popular, has me on my guard and have come across of mix of people on this platform, genuine and fake. The Twitteratis of this world have my guard up 24/7. They are on the channel for sheer instant gratification so to them, tweeting is of prime importance, often with less regard for honesty, as hype takes precedence.  Their main aim is to gain”Followers”and since Twitter is all about instantaneous connections,, Tweeples wish to build their base overnight and become celebrities. Most often they form cliques. Of course, this is a generalization and there are exceptions.

 

Need for Protection:

Whatever be the platform or channel, I think there should be a strong need for protection. Am often surprised how so many personal details are revealed,with scant regard for security. Yes, there are “block” “reporting” options, etc but does one really have to resort to that?

I prefer being safe to sorry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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branding/advertising communications

Discovering and exploring digital marketing fun

Journeying towards the online platform

After decades of brand communications on the offline/mainline platform, the digital medium catches my attention. So just wanted to discover and explore this promising and vibrant mediumm as an enthusiast. I was clear that the effort should not take me far from home, with too much physical distance to cover. (After all, is online not about closing physical distances, lol?)

A single thought/proposition or idea

With this objective, first visited several websites. In the offline space, a campaign creation involves a single concept or idea, which then gets adapted to other media – press, tv, hoardings, etc. Thus most ad agencies showcase their “creative” talent, branding skills, etc. on their websites. Not too sure if the online medium permits such a creation. The websites themselves, of most digital marketing vendors,  to me, was a mixed bag offering of a plethora of services ranging from SEO/SEM to ORM to Brand conversations to Advertising Solutions. Thus there was no definite promise or focus.

Common attributes

So decided to physically call and meet only the heads or owners of these providers. And guess what? Learnt that Bandra itself was full of such. In a small Bandra confine, not more than 10 minutes by road, met about half a dozen. Most or nearly all of them shared some common features:

1) Filled with youngsters in the  20 to 30 years age group.

2)  The owners too were either in the same age bracket or not far from there.

3) Almost all of them operated out of private residences or apartment/flats.

On chatting with the owners, some facts caught me by surprise. Was informed that the “employee life cycle” in such companies was approximately 18 months, with evaluation/appraisals every 3 months.  One of the heads was very certain as part of “employer branding”, the company would never shift out of Bandra. Reason? The employees just loved Bandra as  a hang-out.

 

Will Bandra become the next Madison Avenue? Could be interesting!

 

 

 

 

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branding/advertising communications

Is offline branding better than online?

What makes a brand?

If it is agreed that branding is about physical, mental, and emotional connect/association of a product/service with its target audience, then is it easier to brand online or offline, is a query that begs consideration.

 

The question is: which half?

When it comes to offline, we are talking about print, tv, exhibitions, etc as the vehicle, or rather media that addresses the masses. The medium that speaks to the largest section of the target group is considered to be the best and therefore, selected. The image or message that the product/service conveys is consumed by the masses, and most often, it is a singular message or a unified one, that goes through. Often called, single-mindedness. Undoubtedly, mass media has the disadvantage of spill-over, where the message reaches outside the target group, which led to the famous saying, by John Wanamaker: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

 

Online is one-on-one and more personalised.

Online is a different ball game altogether as it is a one-on-one platform. A tweet about the speed or price offered by a marketer tends to position that company for its speed or price and may  not provide a holistic brand image. It tends to get attribute-driven.  Also online has limited capacity in creating a buzz or generating word-of-mouth publicity, which is not as powerful compared to addressing the masses offline. Hence mass media or offline, scores for better branding.  Online can be best used for promotions and other tactics on a one-to-one basis, where there is also the feel of personalization.

Offline for brand launches.

A product or service is best launched on the main or mass media, which creates that hype or aura. The online medium is not too well equipped for such launches. But if it comes to crisis management, then online where the message can be tailored to individual needs, works best.

A marketer who uses a mix of both, online and offline, according to objective, can be assured not only of success, but budget optimisation.

End of the day, it depends on the right platform selection.

 

 

 

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Corporate Life

Online shopping versus Online, or versus Offline?

 

Tweet or Twit?

Came across this tweet recently. The words are not mine, but share the sentiment:

It’s so many days..I didn’t went for shopping..but I’m shopping online…n now bored 😛

Was this twit bored with online shopping? But the trip has only just begun. Online shopping is the buzzword of today. It offers convenience, huge price bargains and free home deliveries. Makes an ideal window for impulse purchases, fmcg, personal products, sex toys, etc. Little wonder then, that such items find favour with Tier I and Tier II audiences who are withdrawn and more conservative, where the anonymity of the net is a big boon.

NaMo’s second D – Demographic Dividend.

Factually and as per NaMo’s second D – demographic dividend – 65% of the Indian population is less than 35 years. We are looking at a huge youth market that’s impulsive, permissive, vibrant, brand (?) promiscuous, seeks instant gratification, and has an attitude. A super audience for the online marketer.

The Three C’s of India.

Now pan a bit to our desi culture.  A  country that loves the three C’s – crowds, chaos and confusion. Indians love to shop, not just for the products, but to hangout in groups, shout and scream sans inhibitions.  A mentality best suited and encouraged at Malls.

There is more discipline on the streets and Malls in the West, than in Indian schools and educational institutes. And Indians being averse to discipline, offline shopping helps. Can they keep away from such malls and hangouts for long, and confine themselves to solitary, disciplined online shopping?

If online was such a big advantage to shoppers, then the developed nations would have taken to it like a fish to water. But malls and shopping complexes are a huge success there.

The tried and tested Trial Room.

Online shoppers get no trials.  Most Indians like to “try and feel”- anything and everything. (Ask any female!).  If they resort to online shopping, the trail rooms at malls would be idle, and get rented out by the hour, (or for a few “quick” minutes!), thanks to Indian ingenuity.

COD is a double-edged sword.

Indians know Indians best. A young 14-year-old gal revealed to me she would never purchase her garments online, as she cannot trust the fabric, cut, style, etc. COD can also act like a double-edged sword. Once delivered, how do the products that do not match expectations or promise get returned? Would the online marketer also offer free pick-ups? The Indian judicial system is not yet so tuned or developed,  that quick and easy justice can be offered to online shoppers.

How long will online shopping reign supreme?

The online shopping euphoria will die out gradually.  An equilibrium will come into play between online and offline shopping, just as  between the malls and kirana stores today. A few online marketers have foreseen this and come up with brick and mortar stores.   And the twain shall hug and meet.

 

Till then, Happy Online Shopping, with huge discounts and without the boredom!

 

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