Business, Strategy, Technology, Web

Revenues or Customers – Facebook needs to pick one!

Read an interesting article by Mahesh Murthy on Facebook and its new ways to generate revenue. You can find it in detail here, but according to me the summary is that ‘Customers used Facebook because it was a cool and free place to come together. In the process Facebook became a big company and from advertising on the sides has few billion dollars in revenue. Now to increase the revenues Facebook is trying to charge customers from their posts without understanding how dangerous it can be. People switched from Myspace to Orkut to Facebook and god knows where they might go next’.

Both Facebook and Instagram have done some big bloopers in the past few weeks. Instagram change of policy caused a major controversy and probably loss of users! Facebook charging money to promote posts is again a big blooper! I understand making money is difficult but here our a few ideas from my side for possible revenue streams!

  • Facebook Messenger vs WhatsApp: Techcrunch wrote that Facebook might be in the talks to acquire WhatsApp. Ofcourse Facebook can acquire another company but the fact remains that Facebook Messenger could have easily been more successful than WhatsApp! Facebook already had the contacts as friends list, had a mobile application and everything WhatsApp had except business development. Only Focus and Business Development were needed.
  • Dating / Matrimonial Site Integration: Whether its Match or eHarmony in the UK/US or Shaadi.com or BharatMatrimony.com in India or something else in other countries! Helping Single people meet each other has going on since centuries and now there is a way to do this and also make money! Facebook already has the ‘status’ and can easily extend this, ofcourse giving user the option to whether use this service or not and whether charge for this service or not.
  • Workplace or Competing with LinkedIn: It might not work because people like to keep personal life and professional lives separate. However I was told that one of the few things which employers first do when they get a job application is to search for applicant’s Facebook page and go through it …. so it just might work! I know applications like BranchOut have been around but a direct attempt by Facebook might be more successful.
  • Deals or Competing with GroupOn: Facebook actually closed its deals site in just 4 months! I was very much disappointed with this because I felt Facebook with all the users likes, history, location would be much better at this. Anyways a business definitely for Facebook’s Future, otherwise what is the worth of all that user information?

There are many possible revenue streams for Facebook but the common factor which leads to all of them is just one – Customers and more than 1 billion of them! Don’t alienate them …

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Leadership, Marketing, Strategy

What is the missing piece in personal branding?

People have realized that the most important brand they should work on is they themselves. Proliferation of forums,  blogs and social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are a testament to that. People have gone far enough creating sites about themselves or creating videos on YouTube.

So, everything looks complete, what is the missing piece one may ask.

One of my colleagues asked me the same question which prompted me to do some research on this topic. The results of this study might be expected by a few but may be surprising for others.

The first startling fact was that people do not believe on most of the claims people make unless

a) Someone known to them endorses the person
b) Person is endorsed in a media report or article
c) He/she has completed a degree or certification they believe in.

From above the learning is clear and the results depict what changes you need to make.

The next fact which was surprising was reluctance to share personal branding material with others, this was majorly true for people outside media, entertainment and HR fields.

a) People believe that they should not share it with colleagues as it would mean they are looking for a job, which is not necessarily the case
b) The circles are comparatively limited to their area of work.

So, they lose from both ends. These are the people who must realize the need for personal branding more than others.

For a start,  try using brand yourself for knowing how you are doing currently.

Have fun marketing yourself.

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Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Strategy

Opportunity hunting on the Internet

You have heard of so many things that the Internet has been promising to change for more than 15 years now. Whether it is the dream of online quality education, or finding dream job vacancies in Mumbai , or finding out amazing travel hotspots, Internet / companies doing online business has/have always tried to position themselves as ‘cutting edge’. I define this as ‘opportunity hunting’ – in essence Opportunity hunting is finding or discovering exactly what you want online!

Opportunity hunting has evolved –

One indicator of opportunity hunting online is the number of search visits on Google. How you may ask? Since the internet has evolved, there has been the phenomenon called the rise of platforms which unlock opportunities. Right at the start of Internet revolution in 1995, yahoo unlocked the opportunity of finding every important thing or ‘opportunity’ online on one single page. Then as the Internet started expanding and opportunities started getting created all over the place, there was the rise of the search engines, which can now be effectively put as the rise of Google circa 2002. Perhaps Google is the biggest ‘opportunity hunting ground’ on the Internet even now.

primary search engine interest graph

Number of searches of key search terms on Google since 2004

Then, in 2004 something happened. Internet started connecting people – first with the rise of Friendster, then orkut and then finally came Facebook. Facebook was a pioneer in what is called web 2.0 today and it unlocked a lot more and different ‘opportunities’ on the Internet. For one, it created social experiences – Check the Facebook widget on the right side of this page to know what I am talking about. Strat.in becomes a great place to hangout because of the people who read our posts, and that also excites authors to contact us!

Parallel to all of this, there was a rise of Wikipedia which unlocked Internet’s opportunity hunting from a knowledge perspective. Who would have imagined that the world’s most diverse encyclopaedia created is by a non-profit organisation? Or that Internet would crash the glass ceiling of knowledge which was till now reserved only for the privileged few who could attend universities? Similar examples of opportunity hunting include other such big platforms!

Right, so there are these opportunity hunting destinations – so how can you leverage them for your benefit ? Thats the moot question, isn’t it?

Here are my tips for opportunity hunting on the Internet

1. At least have a faint idea what you are looking for – That always helps! Even if you are looking for a date or an opportunity to work on a research paper with a professor from a top school in the world – knowing what you want always helps!

2. Start with Google & check out review sites – Typically, on the social web today, there are amazing review sites. Right from imdb or rottentomatoes for movies, to several book review / shopping sites for books – there are amazing ‘opportunities’ that have already been uncovered by people! Do not reinvent the wheel for opportunities such as these – to save time and even money!

3. Do not get overwhelmed with choices – Many a times, people get overwhelmed with choices. When you log on to a job site, do use filters well enough so that you can narrow down to a decent number of filters . Avoiding this situation helps when it comes to opportunity hunting!

4. If an opportunity is good enough, act on it – Indecision or not taking a decision is also a decision, remember that. Like in real life, opportunities do not knock everyday. If there is an opportunity you feel should be taken, then go for it! All great men/women have necessarily taken opportunities which others before them spurned !

What are your tips on opportunity hunting? Let us know in the comments section!

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Human Resources, Marketing, Strategy, Technology

Cheapest form of Marketing

Can you live without breathing in?

I know we can’t, but some companies try to do that.

Every company wants to increase revenue and cut costs, but then going ahead and cutting marketing is like stopping to breath to live longer. So, this post is for all those companies who want to cut costs without stopping to breath.

What is your cheapest source of marketing, you just have to look around. They are your employees, cheapest and best source of marketing. Best because the people they talk to and they will influence will rely on the information much more than any other source of marketing and cheapest because anything you spend to keep your employees happy is generating you multiple benefits i.e. human development, better products, better work efficiency and of-course marketing.

So you would want to know what are the ways in which employees can do marketing

1. The social space of employees is one area through which they reach out to hundreds and thousands of people. This space is their personal, but company can provide enough benefits and encouragement for employees to use their social network for comany’s benefit. Just one share of an employee reaches out to more than 10,000 people on linkedin and 25,000 people on facebook even for the less connected ones. Simple actions like liking company’s updates does greatly boost the reach of each of the company’s message.

2. Providing gift articles like t-shirt and bags do much more than just making the employee happy. They are your visual displays on the run. You can never imagine buying a movable display at such a cheap cost. So, provide the best messages on those gift articles so that whoever comes across those remembers them. When using this medium be careful of providing good quality as otherwise your employee will never use it or even worse, people will identify your brand with bad quality.

3. Providing referral bonuses to employees is another good way, so that, employee indirectly reaches out to his network of school and college alumni to make your brand presence felt everywhere. You can also be assured that he will say good things about the company more as he would want people to join.

Invest in your employees, the cheapest way of marketing.

 

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Marketing, Strategy

Not just Marketing – Create a trust based relationship

If somebody does a survey today on the rate of increase of companies versus the rate of increase of population, I guess everybody would know the answer to that. So, what is happening is that there are more and more businesses chasing a comparatively slower growing clientele. The thoughts of adding on more customers is on everybody’s mind and in the last couple of decades customer retention has also started moving up the top items to care about.

But what I am trying to point out here is something more than that, it is trust based marketing.

 

Generating trust might be one of the toughest things a company has to do. It is like you are trusting a person, even one wrong move can destroy that trust, but once you are in the good books there is nothing stopping you. You then don’t see your business just growing but actually booming, there are multiple companies who source 100% of their requirements from a single company if they are able to trust them.

It is those initial dealings with each customer which decide the fate of a relationship. It might be the person who initially deals with the customer or the website which you have created, invest in those and returns would be really spectacular. You can forgive small mistakes later on in a relationship, but don’t let the relationship start with hiccups.

So how does one continue building the trust that is once established?

  1. Setting up clear objectives: It is always better to set up clear expectations in relationship where you want to grow up trust. Define each of the outcomes you look forward to, whether you need support in other functions, your plans to grow the account would always be looked favorably.
  2. Communication: Make sure that thread of communication is never broken and your client does not hear you saying things behind their back. It will be end of most of such client relationships when that happens.
  3. Equality: A relationship should not become a one-sided affair, where one side always gives and other always receives. Such relationships cannot go strong, so keep that in mind when you look forward to take a lot from your client remember that you also need to give something.

Create Trust. Create Business.

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Marketing, Strategy

CRM is much more than Customer Relationships!

Customer Relationship Management

CRM ( Customer Relationship Management System ) has to be one of the biggest and most used softwares by the enterprise today collectively. So much so that the leading CRM company in the world – Salesforce- is a billion dollar company today and the leading open source CRM company ( SugarCRM) just raised a lot of money!

But that apart, CRM has a place in every company’s life. We conducted a simple Hallway/walkway test in Mumbai & Bangalore about what people perceive about CRM and these are the statements we got from people.

CRM is about maintaining records

CRM is used for sending Diwali Greetings to customers

CRM is a very expensive software that consumes a lot of time and resources to maintain

CRM is a part of SAP which only big companies can think of using

The truth is neither of this is incorrect, nor is anything close to being correct. Yes, CRM is a record maintaining tool, and is used for sending greetings, CRM tools can be expensive depending on what you choose and CRM would be a part of a custom made SAP integration in big companies. But CRM is much, much more than this.

In my opinion, a Customer Relationship Management system is every employee’s and entrepreneur’s best friend. I shall tell you how – read on –

1. CRM should be a record of every interaction with customer – A business may interact with a customer at different points of time under different circumstances. Today’s popular customer touchpoints include – SMS, Email, Office Visit, Telephone, Website visit, Website click, Website Product request, Facebook Page interaction, Twitter Interaction and so on. This itself would be great preparation for the next possible interaction prediction with customer.

2. CRM can help identify patterns – At the end of the day, for maximizing revenue, one has to hunt for specific patterns from within a CRM. For example, for a telecom firm, patterns such as ‘Customer who changes caller tune once every two weeks is a beautiful pattern .  Accordingly, offering exciting offers based on those patterns is the way to milk that customer even more.

3. CRM helps proactively identify pain points –  For example, a customer’s monthly usage of ebanking website has gone down. A CRM can help track down this and send a custom mailer to such customers asking them for the problems they faced. Such personal care means a lot for customers, who then become more loyal towards your brand.

In the next part, we shall look at CRM in more detail, with case studies.

 

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Marketing, Strategy, Technology

Samsung Galaxy note 2 – Marketing spree overview

If there if one device that is on one huge marketing spree currently all over India, that device has to be the Galaxy note 2. After the rousing success of Galaxy note, Galaxy Note 2 obviously comes with an air of anticipation around it. And Samsung is sparing no efforts to make its flagship product known to one and all.

Lets have a quick look at the marketing aspects of Samsung Galaxy note 2.

Bigg-boss-powered-by-galaxy-note-2

1. Presence on reality shows – Bigg Boss Season 6 has just started at the right time for the product launch. Branding the show as powered by Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a brilliant move for sure. It will surely catch mass eyeballs here.

2. Cricket world cup – Both TV and internet . Its a known fact that cricket is the best place to tap technology / phone buying audience. Nokia and Blackberry have used this strategy to good effect for so many years now. Obviously, Samsung won’t be left behind. Expect a lot of ads on TV, internet, mobile about the Note 2.

3. Internet – Samsung Galaxy note 2 being an eagerly anticipated product, is prominently featured on all top ecommerce sites – Ebay, Flipkart, Infibeam, Rediff Shopping etc. You name it and that ecommerce site features the Note 2 prominently. This kind of publicity cannot be bought! Here are the top 3 deals I could find for the Note 2 online ( as on Oct 9 )

So, are you going to buy the most marketed product of the season? Especially with the festive season approaching, a lot of peoples’ answer would be Yes! Let us know your reviews or anything about the note below!

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Strategy

Factorizing Success

A lot many of us spend our lives drooling over other people’s success. We keep searching for that one variable behind all of it. Is it Intelligence, Ambition or Hard Work? Let’s think for a second. Is success really a function of single variable? Well answer might not be as simple. In mathematical terms, success is a complex function of many interrelated variables. I will try and ponder over some of these based on Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”.

First and foremost is the “Mathew effect”. “For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. Simply put, Rich becomes richer, Poor becomes poorer. It is found that those who acquire particular skills at an early stage are at a substantial advantage to their peers. Those who lag behind, practice less, thus increasing the gap. People who start early get the accumulative advantage. What better example than Sachin Tendulkar. He started at very small age, practiced a lot, achieved success, which in turn motivated him to work even harder. Somewhat like a positive feedback loop. To have talent is good but tapping it at an early stage is more important.

Another factor is Environment. One needs to be in the right place, with the right company and at the right time. Bill Gates was in an exclusive preparatory school which offered Computer time to children. It was here that he became entranced with Computers. I am not saying that he might not have been as successful otherwise. But it sure did help. When parents want their child to go to the best of schools, it points to the race of being in the right environment.

Last but not the least comes the hard work. “Practice makes a man perfect”. The more you work, the more is probability of success. One of the success stories of JEE Akanksha Sarda used to hate physics during schools. But with constant practice and hard work she achieved great heights.

Just to summarize, Success = ƒ(talent, environment, hard work, timing etc)
This function can neither be differentiated nor integrated, but with right reactants it can race exponentially towards glory.

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Dropbox-startup
Entrepreneurship, Strategy, Technology, Web

Early Days of Dropbox – Drew Houston talk at Stanford

Drew Houston, the co-founder of cross platform file sharing service Dropbox talked about the Early days of dropbox here. Do check the talk out. Very interesting how Drew totally changed the paradigms of file sharing, the kinds of doubts that persisted in their team’s minds and how they overcame it.

Three key lessons :

1. If your product is good, the virality of the web can take care of advertising!

2. Build something that people can use

3. Persist (this is particularly important for me!! )

For those who cannot spare so much time to see a 58 min video – check out this Slideshare presentation by Drew about Dropbox.

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Gamification
Human Resources, Strategy

Gamifying work

Yesterday, as I was talking to a lot of bright people about how can work be made interesting, fun with a constant focus towards improving results and learning for those practically executing stuff. Basically it was sort of coming towards incentivizing teammates to do a certain task that helps grow the overall ecosystem. Clearly it was about gamifying your everyday work.

What are the essential aspects of gamification, or should I say successful gamification? According to me these are the top three –

  1. Goal setting – People should like the kick they get from successful achieving certain tasks – Obviously, you need to have your teammates or employees who love to actually gain a sort of a kick from the ‘achievement’ they would be having under their belt. Hence, the goal setting becomes critical.
  2. Rewards need to be attractive enough – The payoff for doing something extra should be good enough as a motivational tool for your team to actually put excellent effort towards something.
  3. Overall goal of the gamification should be high enough – The management view of the effort put into creating the gamification should be justified by the higher motivation levels and goals achieved.

I am personally an addict of many iPhone games – like Angry Birds, Mouse on a scooter etc. The recent game of which I am an almost-addict is ‘Draw something’. Playing that game and guessing the right word puts a smile on your and your friends’ faces. Essentially this is gamification where the game is making you play the game almost every day. That in itself is a great achievement. I have been trying to get users on Estatelister.com back to the site again and again through various ways. But then, gamification works so perfectly here, that its a miracle almost.

So, how can gamification be used at work, or can it?

Image – 1

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