Business, Strategy

User Privacy or Website metrics – A tough choice

The other day, one very interesting question came to me, from Raj, one of my students. He was referring to the ad below –



I browsed for some TShirts and shoes on a top Internet Website. And those kept coming back to me! Again, and again! Everything I do, is being tracked. I get a feeling as if I am being watched! And I don’t like it one bit. 

The problem –

The main issue concerning Raj was the lack of choice that these websites gave him regarding his browsing preferences. There was no choice given to him by respective ecommerce websites regarding what the websites can/cannnot do with his activity. Raj went to the activity settings, and tried to remove the tracking, but to no avail. When he deleted cookies, he found browsing becomes clumsy, because of the absence of tailored recommendations etc.

How much is too much?

All businesses, particularly VC backed ones are under immense pressure to grow their users, revenues and activity. For this, they are ready to take the data battle to the next level, by using advanced techniques like activity targeting, retargeting, social retargeting etc.

Behavioral retargeting (also known as behavioral remarketing, or simply, retargeting) is a form of online targeted advertising by which online advertising is targeted to consumers based on their previous Internet actions, in situations where these actions did not result in a sale or conversion.

What often gets missed in this mad rush is the user himself. Are we taking care of the user? Are we understanding user concerns when it comes to the ads that get planted in this rush to get revenue? Are you scaring users away by these tactics, particularly female users who are very concerned about privacy?

The true question – How can right balance be achieved?

Message me on with your views and we would publish them with your permission.


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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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Only Businesses that THRILL win in the long term!

Around 80% of startups close down within their first year of operation. While some of these go down simply because of part time involvement of the founders, lack of persistence and fizzling out of passion, a large percentage go down during their transition from a Startup(Micro) phase to a Small Business phase. A business can aim for the long term only when the owners have vision and concentrate on building a value system based on THRILL – Trust, Honesty, Respect, Innovation, Loyalty and Love. Since most of these are subjective, many businesses don’t believe in writing them down or have policies to define the role of THRILL in their company. But a closer look at each of these factors tells us how important it is for each one of these to be a part of your day to day business activities if you are seriously looking at building a company that grows consistently.

If your customers don’t trust you, they are going to buy from someone else – no matter how good you think you are. If your employees don’t trust you, they are going to treat your customers badly. If your vendors don’t trust you, they are not going to extend any credit to you. So trust is a factor that forms the basic foundation pillar of pretty much everything that is your business. So how does this trust develop?

If you , the owner of the business, think that you are going to get away with treating people with anything that is not totally honest, you will just be fooling yourself. Not being honest is sooner or later going to land you as the owner in the shoes of someone like Dick Fuld of Lehman Brothers, Ken Lay of Enron or Ramalinga Raju of Satyam Computers. If you don’t do what you said you will, you are going to shake up the integrity of the business. Sooner or later, your employees are going to follow suit and it is going to lead to nothing but degradation of the culture within the company. Honesty and fearlessness go hand in hand. A simple example of this is telling your client that you have not clearly understood the exact requirements for the second time in a row instead of feeling embarrassed to ask again and working with half an understanding. Or not letting your customer know that you are not going to be able to deliver in time. Committing fake product features. Sometimes, this may lead to some short term profit, but it is going to cost you heavily in the long term. Dishonest behavior is almost always going to create a communication gap, reduce trust and boost corruption Being diplomatic may seem to be a simpler affair most of the times, but it is honesty and straight forward attitude that’s going to hold the company together in the long run.

To a certain extent, honest behavior can be embedded into the business through policies – but respect is one factor that is born within the organization and must seep through from the owners to the management and finally to the employees. You cannot treat your employees rudely and expect them to be sweet and caring to your customers. In your absence, your employees are going to treat customers just the way you treat them. You are going to command respect only if you give respect. And a culture of respect is born only when the owners lead with example. If you come across a company where the employees are frowning all the time, check their immediate bosses or the owners, most often than not, that’s where the root of the problem is going to be. Dedication and passion come from people who feel good about themselves and have a high level of self respect which comes from being treated with respect all the time. This also applies to the quality of the product/service you deliver. If the employees observe that you are sloppy and not worried about the quality of the final delivered product, they are going to nurture the same attitude.

Innovation is basically trying the same thing in a different and more efficient way for better results and a higher level of excellence. Anyone who says that this is the best way to do something and there is no need to look for alternatives, is giving an open invitation to competitors to come and screw their business. Change is essential because companies who don’t adopt change are going to be stagnant and are bound to be hit by competition. If you, as the owner are not prepared to adopt change and do not encourage people to go through some apparently unpleasant changes for the future of the company, you are just going to keep digging into unsuccessful rut for years. The entire American car industry had to learn this lesson of innovation the hard way when Japanese car makers started taking them apart. Businesses that show the willingness to embrace change during difficult times are the ones who are vibrant and show sustained growth. It is companies who are continuously finding better ways to market, manage HR, log in accounts, handle cash flow, and are striving hard to consistently achieve excellence in every aspect, who come through sailing smoothly through thick and thin. And for those who don’t believe in measuring and improving continuously, sooner or later, they are sure to go out of business or just stay a mediocre business that keeps dragging along for years.

Loyalty :
Loyalty is an automatic effect of the points discussed above and is the cause for amazing level of faith, increase in productivity and gain in competitive advantage. Loyalty within the company is going to lead to high levels of morale which naturally results in low absenteeism, higher levels of dedication and smoothening out of day to day operations. A growing business means that the owner has to move out of the day to day operations and concentrate on the business rather than stay in the business. Responsibilities can be easily delegated if the level of loyalty in the organization is high. Any owner caught up in the daily activities is just going to find himself doing a mundane job and not running a business. And unless loyalty is developed within the company, delegation is always going to be a tough task.

If we have a look at the most influential business leaders like Sam Walton of Walmart, Richard Branson of Virgin, Dhirubhai Ambani of Reliance Industries, Steve Jobs of Apple Inc (after his return to Apple), Narayan Murthy of Infosys etc., one thing that we observe is their ability to lead with love. They command so much love that there are people whom they have inspired to sacrifice their whole life for their mentor’s ideals. A more precise way to look at this is to look at so many smart people who don’t step ahead as influential leaders. You can be exceedingly smart, but unless the smartness is backed with the instinct of doing something good, you are going to be just momentarily impressive to people. Crude smartness starts to stink after a while unless it is backed with the willingness to do some good. And this is good for anyone who is running a company with 5 employees or 5Mn employees.

Anyone approaching employees, customers and vendors with anything that is less than the 6 points of THRILL is not looking forward to a long term relationship with either one of them. Try judging businesses on the scale of THRILL and you will find that the ones who score high are the ones who have the ability to achieve excellence and sustained growth and more importantly, higher levels of overall happiness throughout the business. After all, isn’t happiness what we all are seeking!

(This is another post by Rahul Rane. You can refer to his profile in his earlier post. He is currently based out of Melbourne and blogs at – for politics,economy and gossip.)

(To write a guest-post on – Check up our Write-a-post section. )

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