Collaborative Team Efforts: A Revolutionary Tool for Start-up Success

Collaborative Team Efforts: A Revolutionary Tool for Start-up Success

Any entrepreneur with a vision can initiate a new business or start-up. However, entrepreneurs who embrace the “single army” approach usually regret it later. It takes a collaboration of many people to achieve success. Multi-skills, experience, and competencies are required for success. Collaborations help to fulfil this goal.

In a highly competitive and unpredictable environment, one needs to change their organization to rapidly recognize and adapt to new opportunities and threats.  “Collaboration” is the new buzzword that paves the way for accelerating innovation, improving agility, increasing adaptability and cutting costs; all in a single go!  But, for the traditional and independent entrepreneur, adopting a collaborative culture is not so easy.

Based on the fact that our brains work better individually, and tend to break down in groups; most people are seen to prefer working independently on a task. Certainly, it’s not without good reason. Take the case of programmers, who are much faster when coding as individuals. Artists rarely collaborate, and when they do, it is not all that well.

However, there are exceptions to every rule!  If so many struggles on being team players, why is collaboration such a premium? It must be noted, that things that are good for one aren’t always easy.  For every industry, there are huge benefits to creative collaboration. In today’s fast galloping world, collaborative efforts are proving to be a revolutionary tool for start-up success, let’s discuss how:

Feeling of a “win-win” Situation: It’s the feeling of a win-win situation that collaboration results in, opening a lot more possibilities and opportunities.  As the saying goes, “Two heads are better than one,” Seventy-five percent of employers consider teamwork and collaboration as being very important to the success of any business.

Effective collaboration helps a business network to gain exposure. Being successful in business requires to consistently make connections and form alliances. Every contact one makes may not result in collaboration, but every time one reaches out to someone to explore the possibility, one is expanding their network. Mutually complimenting and benefitting each other, collaboration and networking go hand-in-hand. They are both crucial to the long-term growth and potential of an organization.

To keep up with market demand and competition, it is critical for businesses to find ways to innovate at a faster pace in this continually connected world. Partnerships and collaboration between start-ups and corporates help to generate and sustain creative energy.

Starting at the Top: Trust forms the basis for any successful collaboration. Company culture via the actions of the founder requires to treat everyone with respect along with giving regular constructive feedbacks.  Large organizations usually seek the innovative power and focus of start-ups. So, It holds no secret that innovation is the key to success for both start-ups and corporates.

Collaboration between the two worlds is mutually beneficial.  Most start-ups have the mind, skill, and tool-set along with an entrepreneurial passion and focus to facilitate their growth.  But these start-ups often lack access to clients, capital, and resources; which the large corporates have in abundance. Apart, the larger corporates have the distribution power to grow successful innovations fast and are experts in executing known business models. Therefore, connecting with corporates can provide start-ups with useful connections, access to resources, market expertise, and brings in revenue.

Access to More Constructive Inputs: Good ideas can come from various quarters.  More the voices, the better. These ideas or inputs that come in from various sources are critical in arriving at a clear decision taking into account:

  • What is important
  • What is possible based on constraints
  • Coordinating effective actions to produce successful outcomes

Collaboration enhances personal communication skills. When the team members interact and play to their strengths, they learn to be authentic and genuine; thereby increasing their effectiveness as well as skills. Collaboration enables to reach agreements faster.

Depending upon the culture, education, background, or life experiences; each person develops a unique quality.  When individuals collaborate, they bring thoughtful ideas to the open for discussion. This collaborative approach is a great way to re-invigorate and ignite a business with spontaneous energy.

Embracing the uniqueness of each employee and contributor and being truly receptive to their ideas; a business earns a wealth of new ideas.  As we see, an environment of collaboration generates creative energy that helps a business to drive innovation and stay competitive.

Improving Return on the Initial Investment: As per studies conducted, the gains emanating due to collaboration ranged from three to six times. This Return on Investment (RoI) is generated by avoiding costs, reducing costs, optimizing business, and arriving at faster business decisions.  It should be noted that the chief executive officers of both the corporates and start-ups share the most common strategic goals of growing their company, improving competitive positioning and generating revenue.

The start-ups have limited time and resources to prove the robustness and viability of their business model, and have to manage their time as efficiently as possible to deliver a Return on Investment. Engaging with a large organization can help them in achieving their goal successfully.  Innovation can be fostered between technology start-ups and large corporates benefiting both sides. It helps larger corporates to enter and create new markets, while on the other hand, it helps start-ups to develop and scale up their products.

A company achieved a greater RoC (Return on Collaboration) when it understood and smartly decided to use centrally-managed services and gained metrics as seen below:

  • Increased productivity by reduced average meeting time
  • Faster start-up time for meetings
  • Increased collaboration
  • Across-the-board travel costs reduced by more than a third
  • Quality of life of its employees improved because they did not have to hop on a plane as often.

It’s quite well known how start-ups like Uber, Airbnb, and Facebook disrupted traditional markets. Larger corporates try different ways to harness innovation by tapping outside potential. In order to stay innovative, it is necessary for larger corporates to collaborate with start-ups.  As we conclude, one can see, once better tools are deployed within a collaboration; the return on investment improves gradually giving shape to a collaborative culture. A collaborative team effort is indeed a revolutionary tool for start-ups.

Disclaimer: This blog was originally published in website: Digital Doughnut

Top Myths and Facts about Entrepreneurship that will Blow your Mind

Top Myths and Facts about Entrepreneurship that will Blow your Mind

Entrepreneurship is commonly perceived to be incredibly rewarding. But, is starting a business the best decision for everyone? There are a lot of things to consider before one takes the plunge, and it’s always advisable to know the myths and facts associated with entrepreneurship.

It’s a well-known fact that, most entrepreneurs are successful when they execute exceptionally out of ordinary ideas.  At the same time, it’s also a fact that starting a business is the best decision to make in an effort to being a successful entrepreneur.  Are entrepreneurs born or made? Do college drop-outs make better entrepreneurs? Are entrepreneurs very high techies? Does family life suffer on account of entrepreneurship?  These are some of the queries that instantly prop up with the very mention of entrepreneurship. So, it’s quite interesting to study and note some of the most talked about myths and facts about entrepreneurship.

Myth:

Entrepreneurs are born and not made. That’s totally wrong.  Entrepreneurship is all about attitude and hard work, and not just talent that is inborn.  Many a times, this topic becomes common for group discussions and MBA interviews too. There is no guaranteed route to entrepreneurship. Even if one has seen leaders who were college drop-outs and who formed highly successful businesses, for example Bill Gates of Microsoft or Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook; this type of category is very much in the minority.

According to an Ernst & Young study, more than half the respondents they surveyed, had some experience away from the world of entrepreneurship before they actually launched their own ventures. It is some form of business experience that is considered to be a basic and important foundation that increase the chances of future entrepreneurial success along with attitude and hard work.  Thus, it completely destroys the myth about entrepreneurs been born and not made!

Fact:

Successful entrepreneurs use their innovative passion. If one can dream it, they can even do it!  Wisdom holds that, it is ‘passion’ that is the key ingredient that fuels the drive for economic growth and business sustainability. Being passionate right from the start can take one a long way going forward.

However, it must be borne in mind that, passion depends more on emotions rather than reason, and so it is also prone to being unpredictable.  It is the innovative passion that is more likely to succeed and surpass all expectations – one prime example being that of Walt Disney, one of the most innovative entrepreneurs of all time whose grand vision was simply to make people happy.

Over the years, one has seen the rapid advancement in technology leading to a transformed world. Vision and passion have been the roots of innovation. Going one step further, it’s rather the innovative passion that’s the road to successful entrepreneurship.

Myth:

Entrepreneurs are happier, have freedom and more fulfilled. Though entrepreneurship can be extremely rewarding, starting a business is not for everyone. Being an entrepreneur, chances are that one is going to find themselves involved in a lot of things and working round the clock for a very long time. Work could become their only life! Even if work is worship, not everyone will feel to have more freedom or control, as is being perceived in general. Fulfilment has nothing to do with entrepreneurship.

One can even have a feeling of fulfilment when working in a big or small company. It’s often perceived again that, most entrepreneurs live a glamorous lifestyle, and that is also not true. If they did so, their investors would crib. In reality, entrepreneurs are usually frugal, hard-working and opportunity-obsessed – they have very little time for any outside activities.

Fact:

Most new ventures start from personal savings, credit cards, or mortgages.  Entrepreneurs waste a lot of their brainpower in order to raise money for their venture. Raising money has almost become like a disease! However, it is no secret that the most popular source of financing for a startup, is through that of the business founder’s personal savings.  Some even get onto a part-time job when they are in the startup phase.

Most often, an entrepreneur will invest their personal cash balance into a start-up which is the cheapest available form of finance that is readily available. This decision by an entrepreneur to start a business is mainly due to their urge to create a change in their personal circumstances, it could be either redundancy or an inheritance. By investing personal savings, it maximises their control over the business.

At other times, re-mortgaging is another popular way of raising loan-related capital for a start-up. After taking out a second or larger mortgage on a private property, some or all of the money is invested into the business. The big risk involved in this is that, if the business fails, then the property will be lost too. Borrowing from friends and family is also common, and also quicker and cheaper to arrange.

The repayment terms too can be more flexible than a bank loan. However, borrowing in this way can add to the stress faced by an entrepreneur, particularly if the business gets into difficulties. Credit cards is one more surprisingly popular way of financing a start-up. An advantage that entrepreneurs see is, the access it gets to a free credit period of around forty days!

Myth:

Technology and outsourcing killing all jobs as reason to become an entrepreneur! That is a shocking reason – not true at all. If one thought technology to be destroying or killing jobs, then isn’t that the most lucrative and fastest-growing industry? If one is unable to find a job, chances are that they lack the latest skills or education. In that case, one may well consider to start a small business which does not require any particular exclusive skill sets.

Certainly, building a business with purpose, and building a business to just make money; makes a big difference. For knowledge workers, technology has weakened the geographical stranglehold – now with the right infrastructure, a digital marketer or a visual designer can be as efficient and effective working from a cabin even in any far-away remote area.

A study by Gartner predicts Artificial Intelligence to create more than two million jobs by 2020. So it’s shocking for anyone to switch over to becoming an entrepreneur just out of fear that technology is killing jobs. So, the myth that technology is killing jobs, and so one should move towards entrepreneurship, is completely exposed.

Fact:

Most successful entrepreneurs concentrate on minimising risk. Entrepreneurs are mostly seen as people having an appetite for taking risks, but that’s just a perception. Due to popular press mythologies, the general public is led to believe that successful entrepreneurs are simply great risk-takers than the average person. What separates a successful entrepreneur from an unsuccessful one is that, successful entrepreneurs vary their decision-making styles. They rely on systematic analysis.

Contrary to general opinion, most entrepreneurs, who succeed, before taking a plunge, carry out a systematic analysis of their market entry strategy risk, market and opportunity risk, competitive risk, financial risk, technology risk, operational risk and environmental risk. So, it’s very much a fact that most entrepreneurs thoroughly concentrate on minimising their risk factors.

The mind-blowing myths and facts surrounding entrepreneurship as seen above, one can very well conclude that being an entrepreneur isn’t just hard, it’s really hard. One’s entire life is likely to get dedicated to developing their business, and chances are that it could even fail.  It’s always advisable for someone planning to start a business to have a planned strategy in place before taking the plunge. If possible, one should even think of getting an expert or a consultant on board which could help one to get on track sooner than later.

Disclaimer: This blog was originally published in website: Digital Doughnut

Redefine the Customer Experience with a Right Content Strategy

Redefine the Customer Experience with a Right Content Strategy

Customers are the number one priority of every company. There cannot be a business without customers of course. Customer Service and Customer Experience (CX) are two different aspects, often confused to be the same. Customer service is part of CX.

Customer experience is the interaction between the brand and the customers, from the awareness stage, including the purchase cycle and the post engagement phase. According to The Digital Marketing Trends by Econsultancy and Adobe, 22% of companies felt Customer Experience was the single most exciting opportunity for the organization, ahead of even personalization.

59% customers switch brands due to a poor experience, and 40% are will to pay, for better customer experience, according to a study by Oracle. Content marketing is at the top of the trends in 2018. A good content strategy will help the companies know, what to say and when to say it, influencing a resultant good ROI. Every step of the customer experience is crucial, so the need to build a content strategy that helps sustain attention and create a ‘feel good factor’ is a necessity. This, when done right can help companies turn customers into evangelists. According to the Oracle study, 74% of senior executives believe that customer experience can influence the customers to become a loyal brand advocate.

Five Things to keep in mind before building the content strategy:

Customer experience is not focused just on gaining new customers, but also to retain the existing ones. 75.9% of the organizations believe, customer experience (CX) is important and needs due attention. Though a majority of the companies believe customer experience is important, only 8% of customers agreed to have received great customer experience. This is in contrary to, 80% companies who believed they had a great customer experience flow. These statistics, make it essential that companies invest in building a good customer experience and run a periodic survey to know if their CX is working and is good.

The journey to redefine the customer experience with content strategy needs some preparation. The following five things need to be checked off the list, to build an effective content strategy for a great CX.

  1. Create a CX Vision Board

The top-down approach to build customer experience is always advantageous. Create a CX vision board, which outlines the flow and marks the various customer touch points. Creating a vision board will also help you, prioritize the various aspects of CX. For example, the first email to the new customer is critical, and the returning customer UX on the website is also crucial. There is a need to build a connection in one case and retail the relationship in another. Creating a Vision board will help build the bigger picture, without losing focus on the intricacies.

  1. Understand your Customers

An important step in building customer experience is understanding your audience (target group). Data is what comes in handy. Tailor making CX for each of the customers is impossible, so this is where customer personas are the saviors. Grouping or segmenting the customer based on demographics, behaviors etc., can help identify common characteristics and in turn help create customer personas. Customer experience can then be tailored to these customer personas. This does not only help to build CX, but also help customer service teams to deal with customers reaching out to the brand.

  1. It’s all about the emotional connect – Brainstorm ideas

Writing content with an intent to connect with the audience better, will help meet the objective of customer experience. Emotional connect should be a definite goal while building a content strategy. It is not just, what you say but also how you say it. One of the main ingredients of an effective content strategy is to choose the right channels and the medium to deliver it to the customers.

According to research by the Journal of Consumer Research, more than 50% of the experience is based on emotions and in many cases, emotions are the decision drivers. A study shows that organizations that optimize to include emotional connect in their CX strategy outperform their competitors by 85%. Isn’t emotionally connect also the reason, customers become loyal advocates to the brand?

Brainstorm ideas to see how you can, use content to connect with a customer and improve the overall customer experience. This done right can be very advantageous to companies and can even influence a viral effect. For example, the Titan ads that uphold women empowerment connects with the audience and in turn made the ads viral. The emotional connect has also helped the brand retain it’s ‘household name’ status, as one of the leading brands in watches across India.

  1. Include channels to capture real-time customer feedback

The need to capture real-time customer feedbacks has to be at the top of any customer experience strategy. Building a CX blindly with an assumption that it is a great one, is a recipe for disaster. Periodic customer feedbacks can be captured through automated surveys, emails and calls. It could also be part of the customer service KRA, to have a set number of outbound calls for customer feedbacks.

Do not ignore customer feedbacks in your CX strategy; it will only help you understand how you are faring and also highlight the areas you can improve on.

  1. Measure ROI influence due to the delivery of customer experience

It is important to observe and study the influence of customer experience on ROI. Content strategies are built with an objective to bring in revenue, increase customer engagement and for customer retention. As the customer experience evolves, keep a keen eye to observe and monitor its influence on the ROI.

How to define the road map?

Content strategies are built, mainly with a focus on improving customer engagement, brand communications and to play an indirect influence on revenue generation. Content strategy can help you redefine the customer experience, ensuring both customer and brand-centric goals are met. Optimizing customer experience throughout the customer journey can be done with content. The beauty of it is, content can be customized to suit customer personas (as discussed previously). Content gives you an upper hand, at being relatable in your customer experience.

Content strategy needs to include two main customer category – new and existing customers. The customer experience should then be tailor-made to suit these customers. Returning customers are a priority as, according to BIA/Kelsey and Manta report, returning customers spend about 67% more than new customers. It is important to build a new customer base, but it is critical to retain the existing customers.

Redefine customer experience with content strategy by incorporating the following tactics and plans:

Create Content that is relatable, social and shareable.

Once you have understood your customers and built customer personas, build content around these personas to make it more relatable. In this way, it won’t end up being a ‘One-size fit all’ kind of content. When the content is relatable, it will also have a shareable factor to it. Meaning, the customer may share this content on their social media or talk about it to others. Personalizing content through the customer experience – may it be for websites, emails or any engagement, will lead to building better connections between customers and companies.

Storytelling is one of the best content strategies adopted by companies, making brands seem more human and approachable. Customer experience strongly lies in this connection companies make emotionally with their customers. CX, as it says clearly, is an experience and not just an automated flowchart. When you build a content strategy, create content that is more conversational than sales. You can influence purchases indirectly, by showing value rather than flashing just the ‘Buy here’ communication.

Stay clear and don’t complicate the experience.

Content copyright that is simple yet relatable clicks right away with the audience. There is no point in writing complex content, as at the end of it if customers don’t have a valuable takeaway, the content campaign is in vain. Many content and marketing gurus stress on the need for content creation to be simple and have something valuable as a takeaway for the audience. This does not imply that complex content will not work, but it emphasizes the fact that everything solely rests on the customer personas. Simple formats can work much better than complex ones that take time to build and execute as compared to simple ones. Focus on valuable and meaningful content, then trying to make a show of complexity.

Create content that is fast and appealing.

Content auditing is a great way to remain relevant. Website content specifically needs to be straightforward and have scheduled periodic updates. Website content audits, help repair broken links and realign content to be fast. A major chunk of customer experience now lies in website load time and user interface. Blend the content in it to give the best customer experience. All the elements of the website – images, content, videos, and design, etc., should be responsive and be able to realign to a desktop, mobile and other devices.

Make the content you create appealing. Video contents are in demand now, with over 53% of the audience wanting more video formats of content than any other. Leverage the trend wave and blend it into your customer experience. Use infographics, videos to tell the brand story and make the customer experience more visual.

Optimize periodically based on feedback.

Smart marketer and organizations always listen to their customers. Keenly. No matter how good the content creation is and the company strongly believes it is of the highest standards, neither of it can be considered true until it has the seal of approval from the customer end. Customer experience is solely based on and for customers, so ensure customer feedbacks are taken into consideration seriously. Optimizing the content, through audits and surveys will help remain relevant and have increased engagement. No wonder, successful businesses optimize, revamp their customer experience and continuously invest to better the customer experience.

Conclusion:

Content strategies are one of the easiest ways to redefine the customer experience. It gives you the opportunity to interact more with the audience, understand the target group better and in turn build a good customer experience. Content marketing also creates an opportunity to innovate at fixed intervals and bring in newer experiences for the customers.

It is imperative to keep in mind that the consumers today are bombarded with a lot of marketing media. Businesses need to stand out from the many and make a connection. Content strategies can help you ace it, by making a relevant, personal connection with the customers and leading them to a memorable experience. When the customer experience is great and satisfactory, customers will transform to be brand advocates who will not only bring in new customers but will also stick around longer. Redefine the customer experience with a content strategy using the above simple methods. The conclusion of it all is to listen to your customer and incorporate their feedback into your content strategy.

Use content in the right way and at the right time, with varied formats to continuously engage with the audience and build a customer experience that makes your brand, a part of their lives.

Disclaimer: This blog was originally published in website: Digital Doughnut

Entrepreneurs: Measure the Right KPI when it comes to your Start-ups

Entrepreneurs: Measure the Right KPI when it comes to your Start-ups

The need for measurement is most evident when a start-up competes with itself. This is the best sort of competition for two primary reasons. Firstly, doing better than you did the previous year is a sure sign of growth. Secondly, self-competition is the perfect stimulus for self-motivation. Comparison with an external entity can sometimes have a damaging effect. But, competition with oneself creates a drive to get better and leaves no room for excuses.

The most elementary questions that cross our minds, when we think about measurement are why and how. I urge you to answer these questions before you read on.

Why should I measure? Right from marking one’s height on the wall as they are grown from a toddler to an adult, to using a stopwatch to measure Usain Bolt’s speed in training, measurement is the key to improvement. If you are unsure of what to beat to get better, what are you competing against? You need a benchmark to measure progress. A performance index at the end of each year is the best benchmark for the next, considering a constantly growing start-up.

How should I measure? There are many ratios which act as progress indicators. They can be classified under the broad category of Key Performance Indicators.

KPIs are vital to the growth of a start-up. There are numerous KPIs that can be used to measure every facet of your business. However, using every available KPI can be illogical and redundant. Picking smart KPIs for most relevant measurement is truly a challenge. The choice of KPIs for any business depends on the industry. The rest are specific to the way each business is modeled and managed.

Here, we will deal with the most common KPIs, which hold good for any start-up to accelerate growth:

Customer Acquisition Cost:

Every business – product based or service driven – needs customers to sustain operations and consequently grow. But, how efficient is your approach to acquiring customers? This can be answered when you calculate the average resources spent on gaining a customer. When compared with customer retention rate and attrition rate, the customer acquisition cost makes more sense and acts as a good indicator to know if your start-up is improving its assets or bleeding finances without apt compensation.

Lifetime Value:

Over time, the term brand loyalty has become so cliched, that its significance in the business world has faded. However, brand loyalty could be the difference between a sustained business and one that looks set to end before it can establish itself in the market. Customer lifetime value is the net value of all transactions, across the entire period of an average customer’s relationship with your business. The higher this number, the better for your business, because it significantly reduces the stress placed on finances by the customer acquisition cost. It also justifies the resources spent on acquiring a new customer.

The ratio of lifetime value to customer acquisition cost is known as the golden metric in business. When calculated, a number under three is considered to be poor. However, until a start-up establishes itself in the market, it is hard to acquire a customer following or brand loyalty. Keep your eye on this number to ensure that it rises with every passing year, but don’t get disheartened if your golden metric starts off below 3.

Profit margin:

The bottom line of every organization is directly affected by profits margins, making it the easiest to grasp of all metrics. Simply put, the profit margin is the difference between the selling price and cost of production. Its simplicity should not tarnish its importance, as this metric is a very good indicator of sustainability and growth potential of a start-up.

There are dozens of other KPIs that are specific to varying industries. Some KPIs are used to measure your business against industry standards or leaders. Though these may seem a bit much for budding start-ups, it’s never futile to measure KPIs and device strategies for improvement. These smart tips should come in handy while selecting the right KPIs for steady business growth:

The salmon strategy:

It is fascinating to watch salmon swim upstream, against the current, to spawn in their home stream. Sometimes businesses must take a page out of the salmon’s book and work backward to solve certain problems. The most notable quandary faced by start-ups is the choice of KPIs. Sometimes its easier to choose KPIs based on the data that is readily available to you. A balance sheet is mandatory for any organization, making most of the primary KPIs easily attainable.

From over two decades of experience, I have noticed that the hardest KPIs to measure are the ones that are related to marketing. With the advancement in technology, it is relatively easier to keep tabs on your marketing team. The use of link management platforms is a novel method to erase obscurity and measure marketing campaigns purposefully. The analytics on these platforms are so comprehensive that precision is never compromised. Social networks, such as Facebook, provide their analytics but do not explicitly state the number of bots that have clicked on your link. Invariably your measurement is flawed.

Split the responsibility:

Division of labor, based on one’s skill set is the best way to tackle any challenge. In keeping with this axiom, measurement of KPIs is often split into few sizeable chunks and assigned to particular teams. Not only does this ease the burden of measurement, but ownership also ensures that these teams take upon themselves the onus of improvement. Such motivation is a key ingredient to the growth of any start-up.

Measurement without action is futile:

The sole purpose of measuring KPIs is to improve upon existing business tactics. Without such impetus to improve, measurement is like a mirage of success. Be it to up the bottom line or expand the business, the need for progressive action is only surpassed by adept execution.

Concentrate on the most important KPIs:

KPIs vary in importance depending on the type of business and strategies employed to achieve business goals. The most important KPIs for a start-up may be the customer acquisition cost, whereas an established brand, in the same segment of the business, may consider customer lifetime value to be more significant than the rest. Whatever be your elixir to accelerated growth, the right KPI must be measured and monitored on a regular basis to stay on track to success.

This blog was originally published in website: Digital Doughnut

Entrepreneurs: Measure the right KPI when it comes to your Start-ups

Entrepreneurs: Measure the right KPI when it comes to your Start-ups

The need for measurement is most evident when a start-up competes with itself. This is the best sort of competition for two primary reasons. Firstly, doing better than you did the previous year is a sure sign of growth. Secondly, self-competition is the perfect stimulus for self-motivation. Comparison with an external entity can sometimes have a damaging effect. But, competition with oneself creates a drive to get better and leaves no room for excuses.

The most elementary questions that cross our minds, when we think about measurement are why and how. I urge you to answer these questions before you read on.

Why should I measure?

Right from marking one’s height on the wall as they are grown from a toddler to an adult, to using a stopwatch to measure Usain Bolt’s speed in training, measurement is the key to improvement. If you are unsure of what to beat to get better, what are you competing against? You need a benchmark to measure progress. A performance index at the end of each year is the best benchmark for the next, considering a constantly growing start-up.

How should I measure?

There are many ratios which act as progress indicators. They can be classified under the broad category of Key Performance Indicators.

KPIs are vital to the growth of a start-up. There are numerous KPIs that can be used to measure every facet of your business. However, using every available KPI can be illogical and redundant. Picking smart KPIs for most relevant measurement is truly a challenge. The choice of KPIs for any business depends on the industry. The rest are specific to the way each business is modeled and managed.

Here, we will deal with the most common KPIs, which hold good for any start-up to accelerate growth:

– Customer Acquisition Cost:

Every business – product based or service driven – needs customers to sustain operations and consequently grow. But, how efficient is your approach to acquiring customers? This can be answered when you calculate the average resources spent on gaining a customer. When compared with customer retention rate and attrition rate, the customer acquisition cost makes more sense and acts as a good indicator to know if your start-up is improving its assets or bleeding finances without apt compensation.

– Lifetime Value:

Over time, the term brand loyalty has become so cliched, that its significance in the business world has faded. However, brand loyalty could be the difference between a sustained business and one that looks set to end before it can establish itself in the market. Customer lifetime value is the net value of all transactions, across the entire period of an average customer’s relationship with your business. The higher this number, the better for your business, because it significantly reduces the stress placed on finances by the customer acquisition cost. It also justifies the resources spent on acquiring a new customer.

The ratio of lifetime value to customer acquisition cost is known as the golden metric in business. When calculated, a number under three is considered to be poor. However, until a start-up establishes itself in the market, it is hard to acquire a customer following or brand loyalty. Keep your eye on this number to ensure that it rises with every passing year, but don’t get disheartened if your golden metric starts off below 3.

– Profit margin:

The bottom line of every organization is directly affected by profits margins, making it the easiest to grasp of all metrics. Simply put, the profit margin is the difference between the selling price and cost of production. Its simplicity should not tarnish its importance, as this metric is a very good indicator of sustainability and growth potential of a start-up.

There are dozens of other KPIs that are specific to varying industries. Some KPIs are used to measure your business against industry standards or leaders. Though these may seem a bit much for budding start-ups, it’s never futile to measure KPIs and device strategies for improvement. These smart tips should come in handy while selecting the right KPIs for steady business growth:

– The salmon strategy:

It is fascinating to watch salmon swim upstream, against the current, to spawn in their home stream. Sometimes businesses must take a page out of the salmon’s book and work backward to solve certain problems. The most notable quandary faced by start-ups is the choice of KPIs. Sometimes its easier to choose KPIs based on the data that is readily available to you. A balance sheet is mandatory for any organization, making most of the primary KPIs easily attainable.

From over two decades of experience, I have noticed that the hardest KPIs to measure are the ones that are related to marketing. With the advancement in technology, it is relatively easier to keep tabs on your marketing team. The use of link management platforms is a novel method to erase obscurity and measure marketing campaigns purposefully. The analytics on these platforms are so comprehensive that precision is never compromised. Social networks, such as Facebook, provide their analytics but do not explicitly state the number of bots that have clicked on your link. Invariably your measurement is flawed.

– Split the responsibility:

Division of labor, based on one’s skill set is the best way to tackle any challenge. In keeping with this axiom, measurement of KPIs is often split into few sizeable chunks and assigned to particular teams. Not only does this ease the burden of measurement, but ownership also ensures that these teams take upon themselves the onus of improvement. Such motivation is a key ingredient to the growth of any start-up.

– Measurement without action is futile:

The sole purpose of measuring KPIs is to improve upon existing business tactics. Without such impetus to improve, measurement is like a mirage of success. Be it to up the bottom line or expand the business, the need for progressive action is only surpassed by adept execution.

– Concentrate on the most important KPIs:

KPIs vary in importance depending on the type of business and strategies employed to achieve business goals. The most important KPIs for a start-up may be the customer acquisition cost, whereas an established brand, in the same segment of the business, may consider customer lifetime value to be more significant than the rest. Whatever be your elixir to accelerated growth, the right KPI must be measured and monitored on a regular basis to stay on track to success.

B2B Marketing Trends that will Rule 2018

B2B Marketing Trends that will Rule 2018

Would 2018 be the year of innovative marketing? Well, just saying yes would be an understatement. This year also expected to be a promising year of better engagements with the audience and increased lead generation. But the critics have their worry hats on, wondering whether 2018 will also, be a year of fast-changing trends that will leave the marketers in a dizzy black hole writes Neel Sinha, Founder, MyLnk.

As a marketer, the best way to tackle the fireballs is to be well prepared and to have an understanding of the trends that will emerge and grow stronger in the year ahead. 2017 saw many B2B businesses trying marketing strategies, used by B2C companies. Some worked while many did not. The lines have blurred between the B2B – B2C marketing strategies, but it calls for attention on stronger customization of in the delivery of it, based on the audience.

Being aware of the B2B marketing trends that will rule 2018 could make any organization among the forerunners, as it would result in a well-informed marketing team that can plan better. B2B marketing success will still rein on the strategy that combines each of the below trends. B2B trends that will rule 2018 is strongly influenced and extrapolated from the year 2017, more so based on what worked and what tanked altogether.

Let’s run through the B2B marketing trends that will rule 2018,

  1. Building a Brand, Not Just A Company

The market has drastically changed in the last decade. It is not enough to just be the company that supplies products and services. B2B companies have buckled up and are working on being a brand. The clients now expect you to be more human and more approachable. Having social media accounts and random posting is not enough.

Social media, as a channel to brand building, is one of the most trending aspects of B2B marketing. Many organizations use their social media presence as a means to connect with not just their clients, but also with the end users. Facebook (89%), LinkedIn(81%) and Twitter(75%) are the three most used social media channels by B2B marketers. About 40% of the companies in India are B2B, so to not just be one among the crowd, it is essential to be a brand.

B2B companies are also turning to Instagram to build the audience and add additional channels to generate leads. Brands like Hootsuite, MailChimp, IBM are utilizing social media at length and turning end users into evangelists.

  1. Customized Marketing Strategies that are driven by Data

Data-driven marketing strategies have been a trend for a few years now, and it will continue to be on the pedestal. Data scientists or analysts will play a stronger role in the planning marketing strategies and also in the sales cycle- from lead generation to conversions. The amount of data available has also evolved over the years. Thanks to Google and other social media platforms, the target audience can be narrowed down and studied further. This would, in turn, mean data can be used not just to build an audience but also to convert the leads to sales. The B2B marketing trend in 2018 will be, Data will drive each level of B2B marketing and sales. It becomes utmost essential for companies to hence collect, as much data at every aspect. Additionally, it becomes imperative to collect quality data that scientists can then eventually use to ease the marketing efforts of the company.
Customization aspect of Marketing: In 2018, B2B marketers are predicted to follow the trend – maximum sales from minimum customers, i.e., the customers who tend to buy will be focused on to increase their spend basket. This focus will be driven by personalized marketing campaigns.

According to Marketingprofs, there was a significant 19% increase in sales when businesses personalized web experience. Personalized email campaigns improve CTR by an average of 14% and conversions by 10% according to CampaignMonitor. Statistics show that customizing marketing campaigns based on the segmentation of audience can lead to exceptional results.

The key to personalized marketing is to understand your audience and position the product or service in a way that is appealing to that specific group of prospective customers. For example, as B2B Billing SaaS Company, you could be targeting Hotel segments different from Retail. This will give an edge to your marketing efforts, wherein the prospective client will connect better with your messaging. According to Campaign Monitor, Marketers see an average of 760% increase in revenue from customized, segmented campaigns.

Customization is not limited to just emails or web services but also in every aspect of marketing. May it be PPC ads or links shared, personalization is a way for B2B to gain maximum results. Link shorteners and customizer tools like MyLnk, help to personalize the links you share across platforms for your marketing campaigns.

  1. Content Marketing will lead the way for Marketing Strategies

Content marketing was the star of marketing strategies in 2017. 93% of marketers in India are using content marketing over traditional marketing. B2B companies are also looking at content marketing as a promising strategy to brand building, generating leads, building an audience and making that sale. Previously confined mainly to serious content, B2B companies now have social media channels to experiment with content. Each social media brings forth different kind of audience and an opportunity to tell the brand story. The following aspects of content marketing are seen be one among the B2B marketing trends that will rule 2018,

Compelling brand stories & Interactive Content will be in demand: The most effective B2B marketers spend 39% of their marketing budgets on content marketing. The time wherein the content for brand communications being just informative, is long gone. Any content strategy built now should champion the brand story. Storytelling hit a high in 2017, with brands focusing on sharing their story and attaching an emotion. 2018 will also be the year of interactive content, wherein B2B marketers will turn to GIFs, videos along with image format of content. Reach amplifiers have also become an essential part of content strategy. It is not enough to create quality content, but also to give it a boost to reach the maximum audience. Reach amplifiers, i.e., blogs and websites should be reposting, publishing or promoting brand content.

Videos will take over 2018 Content Marketing Strategies: B2B marketing is no more confined to just traditional ways of marketing. Thanks to the boom in digital channels. According to Brandwatch, in 2017 4.1 million videos were viewed on Youtube, 1.8 million Snaps were created, and 15,000 GIFs are sent via Messenger. With Facebook’s strategy to move completely to video content in the next couple of years and the other social media channels like Twitter and LinkedIn following, Videos will be one of the most consumed forms of content in 2018.

B2B companies will also slowly transition to include more videos as part of their marketing outreach campaigns. Not just product demos but also as a way to communicate the brand. Videos will form the crux of storytelling for brands. Videos also give an opportunity to build a strong brand, displaying the values and ethics of a company. Be wise while you embrace the videos as part of your marketing strategies.

LinkedIn Thought Leadership – An emerging trend in Content Marketing: For B2B marketing, the content marketing had been confined to just Blogs with ‘How to,’ product launches. But with the LinkedIn Publishing taking on a bigger platform, Thought leaders are gaining the spotlight. The B2B companies will need to involve their management team or key players to become thought leaders, to influence the use of LinkedIn platform as indirect marketing. This strategy will also bring credibility to your company through employees and be a showcase of their expertise in the field.

The focus here has to be creating high quality, focused content that will impact the reader. Flaunt the expertise, because 2018 will be all about quality more than quantity.

  1. Lead Generation via Innovative Channe

Lead Generation will remain the top priority for B2B marketers . But the means to do it will be innovative in 2018. The B2B marketing trend of using social channels as a stronger means to drive leads and combining it with traditional means with a touch of customization will also be the highlight of this year.

LinkedIn will become a stronger channel for lead-generation and Brand awareness: LinkedIn has been there since 2009, but over the last few years, LinkedIn is emerging as a strong marketing promotional platform for B2B companies. LinkedIn has become a source for lead generation and also brand awareness. 79% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn as an effective source of lead generation. Additional to the Company profile, the option to publish content as Thought Leaders or employees of a firm is used as leverage for content marketing by many an organization.

LinkedIn is known as the professional social network, where work-related posts, discussions are exclusively done. So the presence on it, for any Company has become mandatory. 2018 will see a lot more B2B companies leveraging the reach of LinkedIn as a networking and sales channel. 92% of B2B marketers are said to prefer LinkedIn over other social media channels for marketing. LinkedIn also drives brand awareness, 46% of the website traffic to companies is driven through LinkedIn.

Build a strategy around reaching out better, as a combination of content, ads and networking. 2018 will be the year of goal oriented usage of LinkedIn. Smoothing the sharp edges and figuring out a way, to drive sales and brand awareness will continue to be the focus.

Email marketing with a touch of personalization will be a stronger channel for lead generation: Social Media is slowly getting congested with umpteen brands trying really hard to catch audience attention. Though it is a must to have a social presence, it may not be advisable to solely depend on just that. Email marketing is one such traditional marketing technique that will never go off the trending list.

Email Marketing has taken on a new direction in 2017 and will be seen to be paving newer pathways. Emails are no more just about transactional or promotional but rather CONVERSATIONAL. 2018 will be the year of innovative email marketing and personalization along with segmentation of email campaigns.

Personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates  according to Experian. Additionally, there was a 26% increase in the open rate, when the subject lines were personalized for the audience. With the barrage of emails coming into anyone’s inbox, to not move to the unsubscribed list, it is important to hold their attention.

Many B2B companies are taking this as an opportunity to discuss their forte of expertize and be of value to their existing and prospective clients. For example, MailChimp shares with tips and tricks to get better at email marketing through emails. A subtle way to showcase their features and helping the clients get better in their marketing efforts.

Email marketing is a great opportunity to stay connected with the clients. It also opens a window to acquire new clients through referral or converting a passive lead into a sale. Plan the email marketing well and combine it with the content marketing strategies to reap the best results.

  1. Influencer Marketing is here to stay and rule 2018 

There was a time when celebrities could drive sales for a product or a service. Now is the era of YouTubers, Bloggers. Influencer Marketing saw a major boom in 2017. It will only grow substantially in 2018. The interesting fact is Influencer marketing has been one of the most successful marketing strategies in 2017 for many brands. This, in turn, is influencing others to try it out. By 2020, there will be 600 million internet users in India and many more YouTuber and bloggers who will hit record-breaking subscribers. 12% sales were driven by Influencers in 2017.

Influencer marketing is one other trend that will stay on top throughout 2018. The main reason Influencers are working the sales magic, is because their recommendations or thoughts are seen to be more genuine as compared to any celebrity endorsements. So as a B2B company, try to get your clients and possibly software reviews to give out testimonials endorsing your product or service. You will see the value of influencer marketing much more than spending a high budget on random strategies that may not be even suitable for your brand.

Choosing the right or relevant influencers is important for a brand, to reach an audience who will become your potential buyers.

The way ahead – The Right Marketing Mix

B2B marketing trends that will rule 2018 will strongly influence the ROI of your marketing campaigns positively when combined in the right way. Personalized campaigns is one trend that is a must be implemented by every B2B company in their marketing strategy . Along with choosing the new marketing trends to be implemented, it is advisable to look back on 2017 and see what worked out and what did not. Build on a strategy that is a combination of effective campaigns and new plans. So this way, it will be a win-win situation with enough room to experiment but at the same time, not being in a blind spot.

Let 2018 be the year your B2B company becomes a brand with successful marketing campaigns that are on trend and relatable to your audience.

Disclaimer: This blog was originally published in website: Digital Doughnut

Five Ways to Acquire More Customers Right Now

Five Ways to Acquire More Customers Right Now

In today’s ruthless world of business, brands are faced with challenges aplenty. The most significant of which – an ultimatum of sorts – is encountered when a brand is a knee deep in business stagnation. The question of whether to grow or go has visited the minds of CEOs the world over. However, it’s very unlikely to encounter a decision maker who chooses to go instead of growing. A decision well worth every applause, but is it deserving of a standing ovation? Certainly not, until the brand has harnessed the potential to grow, filled its sails with desire and ambition, and most importantly traded its dinghy for a galleon.

Customer acquisition is one of the most important drivers of business growth. A larger customer base equates to increased profits, which in turn acts as the seed for business expansion. But, how do we gain the attention of potential customers and convert them into loyal brand followers? Digital transformation has ushered a barrage of changes, a lot of which have had a detrimental impact on traditional marketing approaches. With the influx of several low-cost channels to reach out to customers, the need for expensive advertising is on the decline.

This trend has also overturned the ideology of hard selling and replaced it with more intuitive inbound approaches, which focus on exceptional customer service. ‘Value’ has never been more appreciated, by consumers and businesses alike. Present day consumers are always on the lookout for brands that offer more than just an array of exceptional products. Businesses, on the other hand, are equally appreciative of value, as it is an inexpensive way to get noticed by potential buyers.

One such unique value addition is found in link management platforms. These platforms allow for the personalization and analysis of marketing links. The rocketing use of personalized links, by world-renowned brands, to reach out to their target audience has caught the eye of many a customer. Branded links stand out for their novelty, making them click-worthy. It also works well for smart marketers who can now use links to promote their brand message.

Mountain Standard, an outdoor gear brand, has fully espoused the trend of digital marketing, so much so that they do not own a physical store to sell their products. Most of their sales take place through their online channels, while few customers buy from non-traditional pop-up stores in the U.S. The brand uses the contemporary strategy of smart content and incredible service, which have become cornerstones to the brand’s success. Their vision is simply brilliant! It reads -Premium goods at an honest price = More money for your adventures.

How does Mountain Standard sell premium goods at affordable prices and still manage to churn out a handsome profit? The theory is simple. They save a significant sum of cash in overhead costs by boycotting traditional retail stores that charge an exorbitant price just to place a product on their shelves. That’s all there is to it. But, practically, to sell goods without a chain of stores is much harder than it seems. The company makes this possible through their impressive website, which showcases every available product. A crossed out standard industry cost of the product is displayed next to the product, and the Mountain Standard cost – 40% to 50% lower – is placed next to it. A discount as such is sure to incite sales. The brand also conducts annual surveys to understand the changing requirement of their online consumers. In doing so, their website is always customized for better customer experience. It is said that in today’s digital world your website is the front of your brand, as opposed to office space, not so long ago. Mountain Standard has certainly brought this statement to life!

Not all brands can be as astute in their endeavor to garner customers. Some brands adopt a more direct approach to marketing. Very often direct marketing and hard selling are used interchangeably. However, hard selling is no more a marketing technique. In fact, it is a sure way to drive customers to your competitors. Here are five ways to draw customers to your brand:

Social influencers continue to grow in importance:

Social influencers have gained significant momentum over the past couple of years. Though it may seem like this trend is bound to decline sooner rather than later, brands continue to employ influencers in different capacities. Innovative ways to reach out to customers coupled with the trust they have in influencers has worked wonders for brands.

Traditional approaches such as guest blogging are one sure way to attract attention. Social media networks create a buzz whenever an influencer has an opinion. In due time the message reaches relevant audiences and brands benefit from the seed which is sown in the minds of potential customers through influencers.

More recently smaller organizations have started using bigger brands for promotion. It is known as the ‘host-beneficiary’ arrangement. In this case, an established brand promotes a product in their email to regular customers. This offers a chance to market to a new database of like-minded customers. In exchange, the smaller business may pay for the cost of emailing or offer commission on sales.

Press for press coverage:

The press will never become obsolete. It has withstood the test of time and is still considered to be one of the most powerful forms of media. A press release will do your brand a world of good. Not only will it ensure a good deal of readership, but it will incite trust, as it is coming from a recognized source. This is sure to be an expensive affair and should be undertaken after careful consideration.

Content marketing is at its peak:

Ask google what is the single most influential marketing tactic, and the answer is sure to be smart content! Content can make or break a brand. Right from SEO to social posts, content is the game changer! An expert content anchor can run a marketing campaign into a pot of gold. Great content without direction is a wasted effort. It is futile to have good content without a content strategy. Content creation and distribution go hand in hand. When you hit the right balance, you will see marketing miracles unfold before your very eyes.

If customer is king, customer feedback is the signet ring:

Brands have spent millions on customer surveys and test groups to analyze and improve upon existing products and services. The budget is set to increase in the days to come with the onset of personalized marketing. Without such feedback, it is impossible to create personalized products, service or marketing campaigns to sell the former. Brands with the best personalization strategies will make it big in 2018.

Focus on improving brand loyalty:

Brand loyal customers are hard to attain. Especially with the many choices in today’s market, one mistake is all it takes to lose a good chunk of loyal brand customers. However, these customers are sure to bring in a horde of new customers if their needs are met with value-added services.

2018 is certain to change the landscape of marketing. As marketers, we live in exciting times, when competition is driving mind-blowing innovation. I, for one, cannot wait to see what the latter half of 2018 has in store for us.

Disclaimer: This blog was originally published in website: Customer Think

5 steps for start-ups to run a marketing campaign

5 steps for start-ups to run a marketing campaign

Marketing is self consuming, once we get in there is no way we feel we have had enough of it . We always want that additional few likes, Extra viewership, Extra Reads, Extra Leads and such. While we may be right in wanting the ‘extra’ and the ‘additional’ it requires  an exceptional campaign to get there. While not all exceptional campaigns require resources, most do. It is therefore important to attempt to create a good clever campaign without the need for resources burning  us out. Here are few things to consider

Step 1.  Identifying the right audience. Knowing whom we are selling to i.e.  the target market whom we want to address is first most important thing. It is important that we understand the profile of the person/s we want to target our campaign to. For example –  In a B2B scenario a campaign targeted for Purchase or vendor Management teams could be different from  a campaign targeted to CEOs of companies for the same solution, product or services.

Task : List down the profile of the desired audience in a simple excel sheet. (Hints: What type of Companies, Who within the company, His Level of Experience etc.)

Step 2.  Messaging.  Once we have got the profile of the audience, identifying and creating the right message, for our audience inline with what the audience wants is key. Often times, we get carried away by the exceptional product that we have and focus on it ‘more’ that what our audience wants. A simple example would be our desire to talk about the great underlying technology of our product while the problem that our audience wants addressed is maybe just a simple and secure way to share data over the internet. While technology is important, we would lose crucial attention seconds to technology tidbits which we would rather have for the audience to figure out how to reach us.

Task : List down the simple problems we have set out to solve. It could be technical if the audience we are going after is technical or simple life problems or business problems if the target audience is such. (Hints: Improve data crunching for higher data throughput in a cloud transaction or simple way to identify stock-outs in a retail store).  It is important to keep in mind that the same message can be represented in multiple ways. Once we have the messages listed out, brainstorm on them till we arrive at one or two most powerful messages (keeping in mind the delivery mechanism- for e.g. a message for a mail campaign with the reader’s own interpretation could be different from a print message where we could have visuals guiding the message)   

Step 3.  Getting the delivery mechanism/vehicle right. This is what, which generally takes away the resources. Marketing campaigns are run through expensive media Ads, Print Ads to downright and significantly inexpensive email campaigns. Generally a right combo of multiple delivery mechanisms work. In our case of Start-ups and SMEs, a combination of email campaigns alongside a well designed website and a dose of social media could help create the visibility and therefore the perception of availability. It would not serve the purpose if we reached out with a good email campaign and we did not have a good (within our means) website to support our claims in a campaign email.

Task : As a takeaway a from the step 1 derive the best and the 2nd best possible hang-out where the audience is available ,  Once we have identified  that, the decision of choosing the Delivery Mechanism is a function of the budget and resources . It is important however to know the trade offs in going for the 3rd best hangout due to resource and budget constraints. However, in a IT service/product business the most economical delivery mechanisms may often be the best delivery mechanisms.

Step 4.  Creating and executing the Campaign. Creating the campaign is an involving activity and a culmination of our knowledge about our identified audience, understanding the messaging that we want to project, the time we have, tuned for the delivery mechanism we choose. Once we have the above 3 steps in place and we know our budgets, it is a mixture of creativity and resources (that our budgets define) and the available time. Therefore the key here is to assign a budget and identifying the time by when the campaign needs to be executed, for example a holiday season or a Financial year closure. Budgets and time also define the creation of the target pool – the email databases for email campaigns, the Blog topics for Blog campaigns, Phone numbers for Phone-out campaigns etc. (not touching the print and media campaigns which focus more on the content)

Task : This is the most time consuming part of the Campaign Preparation. Our creative team, the marketing Team (Including the leadership) works on developing the content, design and the message. Another team identifies / builds the target market list/database, complete with email IDs, phone numbers, company profile data as required. A plan for running the campaigns is created covering sequential and parallel runs and the plan is executed accordingly.

Step 5.  Yield Management – Measuring, tracking and follow up. Good marketing campaigns always have this step well thought out before the campaign is executed. Lack of preparation of post campaign activities can be disastrous. Imagine not having enough sales force to address request for meetings before a holiday season across multiple geographies. The prospect that responded to our campaign of ‘let’s meet’, if not met, will most likely never respond to our future campaigns.  Also, not being able to measure the number of  responses received , type of responses etc. in mail campaign would deny us of crucial learnings to be accounted for in our next campaign.  Our preparation for this activity could also influence our messaging and the vehicle of choice for our marketing campaign.

In all Marketing Campaigns are involved activities, much beyond sending out random emails and tele-calling and the success depends on how much preparation goes behind. While resources are required, smart and less resource intensive ways of campaigning can also yield desirable results.

Task : In case of email Campaigns, create a simple excel sheet with the number of emails sent, day, time, messages and capture the responses, both negative, positive and neutral and build action items for all responses that require action. Collate the info and use the analysis for the next campaign.

Happy Marketing !! 

Frugal Marketing and Sales

Frugal Marketing and Sales

New entrants by their nature of operations have limited resources at their disposal and after investments on their core products/services have very little for their Marketing and Sales activities.

Pitched against the might of behemoth companies in almost any field of service or product leaves only few options for the new entrants, unless they are ground breaking ideas and/or are driven by a set of extremely nascent technologies which take off on their own.

Till the time the Start-up or an SME is funded it is important to follow a frugality in approach and measure every spend aspect against an expected ROI. Though there may not be a direct ROI for many of the activities in marketing, still it is good to keep the end result in mind.

Splurging on a media campaign will surely get us the ears and eyeballs but if we are not prepared to capitalize on the attention we generate, the marketing campaign would not yield the desired result. Therefore while planning for a marketing campaign we must include a clear plan for absorbing the results of the campaign and taking it to the next level. For example the advertisement for a patient management software product meant for hospitals could attract interest across multiple cities and if we do not have pre-appointed sales/sales support folks available who could engage with the hospitals for a demo/discussion, the impact that the marketing campaign made, would be lost and the huge investment with it.

A frugal approach would be to go through a restrained campaign through emails and social media, which can be controlled to a great extent. The investments are limited, however these campaigns need to be sustained over a period, therefore requiring a greater degree of planning and sustained efforts in execution. However tactical it may sound, it would be proper to invest in a basic in-house sales+ marketing team which could anchor the campaign.

The preamble of a Marketing campaign would be to clearly know The specific Product or the service that would be considered for the initial campaign (It becomes very tempting to use a single campaign to promote everything that we offer thereby diluting the message and the impact our limited budgets can make )

Since Marketing is akin to show business, there is never a way which could not have been done better with more resources. A first step towards a measured campaign would be to define budgets.

The next step would be to identify the audience and the hangout most frequented by the majority of the audience. This could be Social Media, Office (Office Email), Mobile Phones for FMCG it could be TV and Radio.

The next task would be to freeze on a media (email, Social, radio, TV) or a combination of media to reach out to the audience. Primarily the budgets and volume and distribution of the audience would determine this. For E.g. A combination of Drip marketing and social media presence could do well for marketing a Technology Event.

The objective of Marketing is not just creating an awareness and impact but benefitting from the impact, otherwise it would become journalism. Once the budget, audience and the media is frozen, it is time to plan for capitalizing the effect or impact that we would generate. i.e. we should have a ready list of FAQ answers for possible queries that our targeted audience may have when they call in, after a campaign or we should be prepared with enough resources to handle Demos in various locations quickly if the campaign promised a demo and our targeted audience asks for it.

If you notice, the focus of this Blog has been more on the less expensive means of marketing namely Email Marketing, tele-calling, Social media Marketing, Blogs and Drip marketing.

Typically a combination of vehicles / media used works and there are many more ways of expanding visibility – some are expensive while some or not. Some have great ‘Value for Money’ while some others are just hygiene factors and must be done. If we are into ‘Frugal marketing’ it will be great to explore few other ways to Market ourselves. Few online options

  • Networking (with a significant supply of Business cards) at RELEVANT events is a good way to spread the word,
  • Alliances with eco system partners – both large and small and to ensure that we get a mention in all/some of the marketing material/web pages that they have.
  • Getting featured in few Industry Magazines  and eZines (if the articles are good – they sometime come free)
  • Other options, apart from regular Social media Tools (FB, LinkedIn etc.) is to Blog regularly
  • Participate in discussions and Blogs of others and in groups

The success depends on planning and relentlessness of execution (rather than brute force of being available everywhere and hence visible and therefore making the chances of being recalled by the audience is higher).

Happy Marketing !!!

Marketing is an Attitude. Sales, is a Culture

Marketing is an Attitude. Sales, is a Culture

Marketing is all about building the right perception and Sales is the grit behind this suave perception. While it is critical to have the determination and perseverance needed to sell, a culture that amplifies the values of the organization is what creates differentiated organizations.

It is not just the job of a marketing team or an external agency to create the external hype, which we call Marketing, it is much beyond and actually goes deep inside the core of the organization.

The way the company represents itself, communicates, deals with its internal organization, and its employees behave while faced with their peers in other companies is what represents the company and this defines the marketing Culture of the company.

While it becomes difficult for smaller organizations to create a visible culture, which can be resonated by its employees, certain steps can be taken to ensure that the entire company brings the same face of the company to the outside world. Lot of it is to do with communication.

Going tactical, marketing cultures can be created right from standardizing email signatures to the way MoMs are recorded and circulated. Aligning of websites with marketing collaterals create a perception of seamlessness across other aspects. Uniformity in communications to customers slowly but steadily helps in creating a brand that an organization stands for.

Therefore a facet of Marketing is into spending big on creating visibility and perception, it also has a lot to do with the culture an organization chooses to adapt

While Marketing can be equated with ‘Soft Skills’ of a human being , sales is the actual character of the organization. While sales at the very minimum an exchange of product, solution or services in exchange of money, in practicality the sales is the process that leads to this final act when the exchange takes place. The tenacity with which the organization conducts itself, the perseverance, the innovation in positioning, efforts and investment in relation building defines the attitude of the organization.

A luxury brand can be in demand because of its ‘don’t care for buyer attitude’ while a similar attitude for an organization with a product which has multiple competing products can spell doom for the organization. A services company expecting repeat sales from an organization would do great with dedicated account managers, while an organization with low cost product line would sink with investments if it chose to do the same with all its buyers.

The attitude of an organization would therefore determine how it takes its product/solution/service to the market and the position, in terms of quality, price and value that it commands. In simple terms, this attitude determines, how we negotiate, concede, refuse and win business deals. This attitude defines the nature of not only the organization’s sales force but the entire leadership of organization that contributes to the sales process.