Category Archives: Branding

Why will anyone read a blog? Here are 15 good reasons

One of the main reason why any blogger publishes his / her posts is to be read. With the explosive growth of blogs, and the mind boggling volumes of content available online I many times wonder why will anyone read a blog – Be it my blog / your blog?

Here are 15 good reasons:

(1) I know you and hence would like to read what you have to say

(2) Because of who you are. You are famous / on the way to the top, and I want to know more about you and be part of your journey in some way

(3) I’ve read you before, and I’ve liked what you had to day

(4) The blog title you chose was awesome! I just had to read it

(5) Someone shared the link with me, and I stopped by to see what this is all about

(6) I’m interested in the topics / subjects you write about, and hence stop by to learn / read more

(7) I had time on hand, and your link showed up. I clicked, randomly

(8) I admire you and want to be like you some-day. If not one-o-one time with you, following your blog is the next best thing for me

(9) I feel like you are speaking to me – so relevant, and contextual. There is some connection here!

(10) I can’t explain, but your words touch deep within

(11) Google / XYZ Search engine recommended you :)

(12) I get answers to my questions

(13) I exercise those gray cells up within when I read your posts

(14) I just feel good reading them. Your words are poetry to my soul..

(15) Just like that!

Why do you read a blog? Why do you read my blogs? Leave a comment to let me know

Love Thyself? Learn something new

Let’s start with questions | Are you 30+? When did you last learn something new?

Some of you may respond with all your wisdom by saying “everyday” as there is learning in every experience, and every day is a new beginning. Indeed that’s true.  You can learn from people, observations, interactions, reading, mistakes, emotions, thoughts, actions, events, conversations, social media (FaceBook, Twitter, et al.), books, food, movies and life itself. It all depends on your thirst for learning, your ability to assimilate and absorb the lessons from everyday experiences and internalize these learning’s.

Some of you may respond with silence.

Let me now modify the question | Are you 30+? When did you last learn something new ‘formally’?

The vast majority would respond with a silence. This was my response too last year. Looking back at my own life, after I completed my management education at IIMB way back in 2006, I’ve not really formally learned anything new!

Here’s the thing | For many of us who are 30+, you are somewhat settled into things and an everyday way of life. Life pretty much revolves around work / career and family / friends. There’s really no time for anything else – especially if you are a woman or a working woman or a working mother!

Being a working mother myself, I was no different. However, the silence bothered me for a long time and I decided to take action. So here’s what I did. One, I enrolled for a paid professional technical certification exam. This meant intensive reading, learning something new and a tough examination to crack. Thankfully, I cleared and that enhanced my knowledge and resumeJ. That done, I registered for a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) on Social Media Analytics. Being online and self-paced with only an end date to meet, this was again a great learning experience for me.  The good part was that it also had an online assessment and I was awarded a certificate at the end of the course. Lastly, I took up a structured course on “Creativity”.  And I loved it!

The whole practice of “formal learning” has been a wonderful personal experience over the past few months [apart from the fact that it also inspired this post :)]

So what did I learn from all these experiences?

You learn because you really want to learn – Up until you are 30, you mostly learn because you have to learn and because you don’t really have a choice. But for most of us after 30, formal learning actually becomes a matter of true personal choice. So you can learn what you love and what you really want to learn. And there is immense joy and great personal satisfaction in learning a subject you are deeply passionate about.

One of my closest friends wanted to learn a musical instrument formally for years but it just never happened. Now in her mid-30’s, she is well settled in her career and life and decided to take this up. So she enrolled into one of the best music institutes in the world to pursue her quest for this learning. At this phase of life, you can afford to fund your own learning and you may be able to afford the best-in-class teachers and best-in-class institutes. Looking back at my own life, I can definitely say that learning from the masters in any field is truly unique and  an unparalleled experience. And if you can afford it, then it is worth your time and money!

There are so many things to learn – Whenever I speak to my peers and friends well in their 30+’s about formal learning, many of them ask me “But what to learn?” followed by “How to learn and Where is the time?”. I had these questions too. But as I discovered over the past few months there are just so many things you can learn “formally” based on your personal interest, even after you turn 30.

 Let me list down things you can learn (apart from the things you need to learn for your career / work) – Cooking, Driving, Painting, Photography, Doing make-up, Puppet-Making, Pottery, Baking, Dancing, A musical instrument, A sport, Yoga, Aerobics, Calligraphy, Sketching, Caricature, Writing, Programming, Stoy-Telling, Marketing, Social Media, Public Speaking, Communication, Personal Grooming, Management, Magic, New Languages, Designing, Technology . You name it, and you can learn it – both offline / online. For e.g.: 10 years back who would have thought that the common Indian could learn dance from Madhuri Dixit. Today, you can from her online dance school Dance With Madhuri.

 Another childhood friend of mine has always loved art and paintings but never got around to take this up seriously. Now that she is well into her 40’s, has teenage boys who are independent and is the Vice President of an international bank, she dedicates her week-ends to her art-work. She has a home tutor who teaches and guides her in her learning process. When I recently saw some of her paintings I was blown over! Each one of them was a true masterpiece.

 There is value in formal learning – The best part of “formal learning” is you actually learn within a stipulated time-frame. So your knowledge base expands and your comprehension of old and new things is significantly increased. Of course, you can informally learn lot of things, and I don’t discount it at all. But for many of us in this phase of life, the challenge is that we start with great gusto and are just not able to keep up with the informal / self-learning for an extended period of time even if we are deeply passionate about the subject. So if you learn formally you are more focused and do make/ take out the time .The icing on the cake is that if you are awarded a certificate of course completion that is definitely a feather in your cap.

 Now I know that value is personal and subjective, and to each his / her own. But there is something else that I do know for sure – Formal learning can add value to your resume, to others perception of you and most importantly, to your own perception of yourself. All three matter and do make a difference in the long run.

Learning provides opportunities for building new friendships and networking – In your 30’s, I can’t decide which is harder – making friends or keeping friends. Both have their issues and challenges, and many of us let-go of friendships and after a point we wonder who our friends really are!  

One of the best things about formal learning in your 30’s is that you get to meet and interact with new people who have an interest in a common subject. So you can build new friendships and networks due to a common passion.

Last but not least, you feel good when you learn something new. Like the runner’s high, there is a “learner’s high” – I speak from personal experience here. You just feel happy, energetic, positive and really really good when you learn something new. After my first innings of my learning high last year, I have made a formal list of things I want to learn in the future, and I am pleasantly surprised to find the list size is increasing by the day! Honestly, I am fine if I learn one thing at a time or even one thing a year.  But what I know for sure is this – I do want to be a lifelong learner.

And if this post inspired even one reader to learn something new, then that would be the best return gift in writing this!

Happy Learning. Learn, Laugh, Love – It is one life to live!

Originally published here

CMO – Chief Marketing Officer or Cheap Marketing Officer?

Its the close of another year 2013. And looking back, I can definitely say that Marketing is increasingly becoming a very important function across the globe – Be it books, schools, services, organizations, individuals, social media, e-commerce, consumer goods, etc etc etc – You name it , and there are ample examples of how marketing made all the DIFFERENCE! And organizations are cognizant of it! And with that, the role of the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) is increasingly becoming more important and powerful!

But then there’s the other side of the coin. The one in which as a marketing professional – I can’t help but rant about the constant pressures, advice and suggestions on cutting marketing costs year-on-year!

Don’t get me wrong! Let me make my point with a few examples of situations which most marketing professionals typically face:

Scenario 1 – Its start of the year. The time when everyone in an organization does a grand budgeting exercise. And most marketing teams work on their plans and budgets for the year. In most instances, only a partial marketing budget approval in received ; And that too 1 – 2 months into the year (So precious time is lost!). After all, time is money; and since most marketing teams are lean – This “lost time” significantly adds up to “loss of productive and tangible output”

And then when any marketing expense is to be accounted, it needs “management approval” – which involves putting up a business case, and providing explanation of Why? – What? – How?.  And then comes the “approval” / “questions” / “rejection” – Again, usually delayed (So precious time lost again). All the precious time lost in waiting for approvals is completely unaccounted!

Scenario 2 – Everyone wants to go Social. Everyone wants to have a grand social media presence. Everyone wants to drive customer engagement on Social media. And they expect the current marketing teams (In most cases – who have limited  / no knowledge on Social Media) to make Social a success, with limited / no additional budgets at all. Does the math add up? Of course, NOT!

Social Media is a different “Beauty and Beast” – As you want to call it! And the beauty needs to be enhanced, and the beast needs to be tamed. And that’s not the core skill of every marketer – especially if what you do on Social is “real-time” and has “global reach and impact”. So the best way to do Social is to hire consultants to guide you on how to do it OR hire experts to do it for you OR Go slow on the Social strategy. Expecting current marketing teams who don’t understand Social to define a “brilliant Social Media strategy” for your organization may not in your organization’s best interests! And then, investing in the right Social Media tools also come at a price.

Whatever you pick – It comes with good & bad – Be cognizant of this!

So coming back to why I started this post -  The point is increasingly a significant majority of individuals and enterprises want to “cut down” on “marketing costs“. Some of the most common explanation is – “Go online“, “Go social“, “Go lean

yes Sir, yes Madam -
We can look at cutting costs,
We can go online,
We can go social,
We can go lean,
But they will still cost us – in terms of minds and time (people) and tools and technology (hardware and software)
And they will come at a price – in terms of gains and losses – of customers and brand-value

Are you willing to pick up the costs?
Are you willing to pay the price?

And yeah! Till then Do you want to consider calling your CMO – Cheap Marketing Officer instead?

Awesome Quotes on Marketing

“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.” BY Milan Kundera

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” BY Peter F. Drucker

“It is all about marketing; that is where the real craft comes in. The best actors do not necessarily become the biggest stars. And vice versa.” BY Dirk Benedict

“If you have more money than brains you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing.” BY Guy Kawasaki

“Marketing takes a day to learn.  Unfortunately it takes a lifetime to master.” BY Phil Kolter

“Give people what they want and they will like you for now. Give people what they need and they will value you forever.” BY Simon Sinek

“The sole purpose of marketing is to sell more to more people, more often and at higher prices. There is no other reason to do it.” BY S Zyman

“What really decides consumers to buy or not to buy is the content of your advertising, not its form.” BY David Ogilvy


Whats your favorite quote on Marketing? Leave a comment to let me know

The Online : Offline Marketing Mix

In a recent discussion among fellow-marketers, there was a debate around getting the Online : Offline Marketing Mix right…

Some said “Online : Offline Marketing Mix should be 100 : 0″
Some said “Online : Offline Marketing Mix should be 80 : 20″
Some said “Online : Offline Marketing Mix should be 60 : 40″
Some said “Online : Offline Marketing Mix should be 50 : 50″

And it ended there. No one suggested that the Offline Marketing should exceed the Online Marketing…

After the discussion, I was mulling over this.. I mean in theory, we can all argue about the right Online : Offline marketing mix – And come up with very scientific, logical, analytical and data-driven explanations for our argument  – And rightly SO!

Whatever one is trying to market – Books, Blogs, Products, Services, People, Organizations, Brands, etc.

Have we reached the level of maturity where the Online Marketing should be at the very least the same as the Offline Marketing mix?

Here’s my view – The Online : Offline Marketing Mix would typically be based on:

(1) Where you’re existing / potential customer’s are? At the end of the day, the purpose of marketing is to reach your existing / potential customer to trigger a potential sale. And the mantra for marketing success is to reach and connect and communicate with your customers.But firstly, do you know who you’re customer is? If no, then find out!

If you’re customer is going to be more receptive in the online world, then do marketing online.
If you’re customer is going to be more receptive in the offline world, then do marketing offline.

Take-away =>  Know who your customer is. Go where you’re customers are. Online : Offline Marketing mix is incidental

(2) Your industry ecosystem Every industry has certain dimensions which are unique to it, and create a distinct ecosystem. For e.g: The way you market agricultural machinery is very different from the way you market a book is very different from the way you market an IT service. And the online : offline marketing mix will be influenced by the industry ecosystem. Sure, you can innovate and leverage best practice from other industries, but the core of how in industry functions takes decades to change. So ensure you’re marketing strategy is aligned accordingly

Take-away => Align you Online : Offline Marketing mix in line with the industry ecosystem

(3) Your brand-image Every product / service has a brand. And a brand is really a “perception in the minds of your customer”. One of the factors that influences your online : offline marketing mix is your brand image. For e.g: When I was consulting a high-end designer fashion label, the designer mentioned that she DID NOT want to do too much online marketing as it could negatively impact her brand image. She had her reasons based on her clientele – And rightly so! So we devised a marketing strategy which had significantly offline marketing, and she continues to do well today!

Take-away => Brand-image is important, personal and subjective. Ensure your Online : Offline Marketing mix is in line with your current brand image, and the brand image you want to create for the future

(4) Your marketing objective Last and most importantly, what is the specific marketing objective you are working towards? Is it awareness? Is it customer engagement? Is it sales? Is it brand re-enforcement? Is it re-positioning?.. Whatever it is, your online : offline marketing mix should be aligned with this objective.

Take-away => Your Online : Offline Marketing mix should be in line with your marketing objective

In my view, there is no one and right answer. It depends on what you’re marketing objective is.

What do you think? Leave a comment to let me know

Marketing in Public Toilets?

Over the recent past, I have been surprised to find a great deal of marketing material in public toilets (in malls, at the movies, etc.) – Initially, I was surprised to even find posters, banners, even audio clips, etc. in public toilets. From soaps to laptops to clothes to footwear to exciting deals – They were all there! Initially I was surprised. But as I observed more consciously over the past few weeks, I recognized that it was intentional, and also probably a BRILLIANT MARKETING STRATEGY!

Here’s why? – The Number 1 Challenge of MOST MARKETERS today is to get “CUSTOMER ATTENTION” to what you have to say… Simply because (1) Everyone has so little time; and (2) There are just so many options for any customer.. – So how do you get “customer attention” to what you want to say.

As I think logically, I guess a public toilet is a great place to get “CUSTOMER ATTENTION” /”AWARENESS” / “INTEREST” to what you have to say. Here’s WHY?

(1) People have time, and their “eyes” (& “ears”) open : A public toilet is one place where many people are usually found waiting, i.e., they generally have time (& no specific agenda or nothing specific to do apart from wait for your turn). And in most instances, you probably don’t really like to indulge in small talk with others. So you find many people idly looking at the walls, mirrors, ceiling, etc.

Now as a MARKETER, if you recognize this window of opportunity (say 30 seconds to 3 minutes) to get customer attention on your product / service, you can use this time effectively

(2) Mobiles are a NO-NO : The other real challenge for most marketers is to get people to look / hear to what they have to say; and mobiles can be the real “villain” in getting customer’s time and attention. (I mean I know of people who call their mobiles their only LOVE in LIFE!).

Here’s the good news for marketers – The “villain” is usually not in the picture in a public toilet. Most people (at least from what I know) usually don’t like to use their mobile phones in the toilets (Again, I personally know of exceptions here, But then there are exceptions to everything in life)

So as a MARKETER, if you recognize this window of opportunity when your target customer is without his / her mobile, you can use this time to create awareness on your product / service

(3) People are usually relaxed : The other challenge for most marketers is to connect with the customer when he / she is probably relaxed / open or in a neutral state of mind (People will more likely to listen or see any marketing material when they are relaxed / less stressed). Most people are usually relaxed after they use a public toilet, and hence are in general in a reasonably “open” state of mind to listen / see what’s around them.

So again as a MARKETER, if you recognize this window of opportunity when your target customer is relaxed, you can leverage this time to generate interest in your product / service

These are the positives; and there are some negatives too

But then it is an opportunity to “connect” with your customer…

So, what’s your view on MARKETING in Public Toilets

Leave a comment to let me know

9 Must Have’s for a Senior Marketing Executive

Over the past decade, technology companies have realized the importance and difference the Marketing function plays in their external brand image.

The success of the Marketing function is directly linked to two important variables:
1) The organizational priority associated with Marketing
2) The individual / team that shoulder’s the Marketing responsibility

Many business leaders are often plagued with the question “What is the right profile for a Senior Marketing Executive in a Technology company?

The Top 9 Must-Haves for a Senior Marketing Executive in a Technology Company are listed below:
1) Techno – Marketing Knowledge and Experience: A good blend of technology and marketing knowledge and experience is a definite pre-requisite. Pure marketing knowledge & experience can help one plan and strategize great marketing initiatives, but many times fall short in execution as there is a complete dependency on the technology teams. Over a period of time, this will impose severe limitations in what one can achieve. On the other hand pure technology knowledge & experience will impose restrictions in what one can even strategize from a marketing perspective. Hence, a suitable profile could be either one who has worked in a technology role for a few years, then studied Marketing and followed it up with relevant marketing experience OR one who has studied Marketing and then worked in the Marketing function of a technology company & upgraded their technology knowledge along the way. Additionally, if one has worked with a successful Senior Marketing Executive in their careers, there is a great amount of learning that can be amassed.

2) Understanding of the Organization’s Marketing Philosophy: Every organization has a marketing philosophy which in unique to its overall vision, values and offerings. If one is new to an organization / the Marketing role, it is imperative that some time is invested to understand this. Clarity and comprehension on the organization’s marketing philosophy go a long way in ensuring that any marketing initiative is in line with the organization’s overall marketing philosophy.

3) Focused & Objective: While focus and objectivity are essential for any job function, it takes a different meaning for a marketing role. Simply because, many times the Marketing function gets limited time, support and recognition from internal stakeholders. And yet, the marketing outcome is non-negotiable. So it is important that the individual / team is focused and objective on what needs to be achieved by the Marketing Function; & continuously strive towards achieving the same.

4) Leverage New Marketing Platforms: Firstly, this requires awareness on what new / alternate marketing platforms exist & how they can be utilized to achieve the organization’s marketing objectives. Secondly, openness of mind and perspective to effectively leverage these platforms for marketing. For e.g.: Social media. Quiz many Marketing executives on why they embark on certain marketing initiatives, what marketing platforms they usually leverage & what marketing channels they typically operate on; and one will realize that the only reason some of these are being used today is because of legacy, i.e., simply because they were always being done this way for several years. Thirdly, to get the buy-in of internal stakeholders to pioneer these marketing initiatives. And lastly, to successfully roll-out these initiatives.

5) Creative : Creativity is one of the most important elements of marketing. One needs to be creative in thought, creative in expression and creative in resource mobilization. If one is creative, there is no limit to what can be achieved.

6) Networking Skills : To be successful in a marketing function, great networks and relationships are vital – Both inside and outside the organization. Inside the organization, marketing executives needs to build relationships with Internal Marketing Teams, Technology Teams that they are associated with, Business Leaders, Support Functions, etc. Outside the organization, relationships with Customers, Analysts, Third party agencies, Marketing professionals in other organizations, etc. go a long way in what and how much one can achieve. While building the relationships is one side of the coin, maintaining these relationships over a period of time is the other side of the coin. And this requires intent, time and conscious efforts. But definitely, well worth it in the long run.

7) Collaborative : The real world is full of constraints. Constraints in finances, Constraints in resources, Constraints in time, etc. And one of the time tested ways to work around constraints is to collaborate. A marketing executive should successfully collaborate with internal and external teams to achieve the desired marketing objectives.

8) Holistic View of Marketing : Senior marketing executives need to maintain a fine balance between macro and micro issues of marketing. Hence, a holistic view of marketing is essential. There are some aspects of marketing which are based on hard facts, data and numbers. They can be analyzed, critiqued and objectively evaluated. However, there are some aspects of marketing which cannot be measured and quantified. They are soft. They are subjective. They are based on perceptions. And yet they really exist and make a difference. One needs to be cognizant and sensitive to these aspects of marketing and work constructively to maintain a fine equilibrium between the hard and soft aspects.

9) Personal Brand : Last but not the least, marketing executives need to have a personal brand of their own. What this means is a mind of their own, a voice of their own, and a presence of their own – Both in the real world and in the virtual world.

Originally published here

What truly differentiates SUPERIOR Service?

I’ve been part of the IT Services industry for more than a decade now. As a service provider, have been involved in providing different IT services [Consulting, Advisory, Implementation / Development, Marketing, Maintenance and Support - To name a few] to customers across the globe.

On the other hand, I realize that all my life I have also been a Service Consumer [for more than 3 decades now :) ]. I have consumed all kinds of services – from from education services, to telecom services, to training services, to hospitality services, to tourism services, to luxury services, to healthcare services, to beauty care services, to cleaning services, to security services, to home maintenance services, to postal services, to courier services, to financial services, to transportation services, to dining services, to lifestyle services, to automobile services, to customized personalized services, to plumbing services, to information services, to research services…etc. etc. etc

As a service consumer I ask myself what truly differentiates SUPERIOR Service?

Is it the first customer response?

Is it making an attempt to understand the customer’s explicit and implicit requirements?

Is it the level of customer involvement in the decisions around service delivery?

Is it listening to the Voice of the Customer?

Is it the price of the service?

Is it consistency in service quality?

Is it service quality in line with customer expectations?

Is it communication with your customers? – w.r.t the level of information shared and frequency of communication updates

Is it providing personalized customized services?

Is it honoring your service commitments every single time?

Is it investing, building and nurturing customer-centric relationships?

Is it managing your customer expectations over a period of time?

Let me explain with 2 personal examples of what I consider SUPERIOR Service

Example 1

A while ago, I had to make personal booking for an international travel. It was the first time I was doing it (Prior to this, it was always taken care of by someone one – Friend, Family or Organization), and so I asked some of my high-flying friends on how to go about it. All of them suggested it is best to go through a Travel Agent, since it is easier to handle travel changes (if any). So, I asked a few contacts for the references of good Travel Agents, and I got a long list. I sent a mail to all of these travel agents with my specific request, and the initial response I received from 3 of them gave me confidence to proceed to the next level [Lesson 1 : Initial Service Response makes all the difference in perception of Service Quality].

Next, I spoke to all 3 of them and short-listed 2 whom I asked for a quote. One of them called me immediately and asked me a lot of pertinent travel related questions (For e.g.: Was it a first time travel? Are there any special requests / conditions that I have? My flexibility of dates?, etc etc). This made a HUGE difference in identifying the right travel itenary [Lesson 2 : Understanding you customer's explicit and implicit requirements goes a long way in the Quality of Service you can render]

After that, the travel agent shared with me 3 travel options in line with my requirements and with the best rates, along with pros and cons of each option. She also took the trouble of following the mail with a call to explain all the important points so that I understood it right [Lesson 3: Involving customer in the decision making process, by providing transparent information goes a long way in gaining customer confidence and trust]

After we agreed on the best travel itenary, she booked my tickets and I had them in my mailbox within a span of 24 hours! Wow! I was mighty impressed with the service, and I definitely consider this a case of outstanding service quality. Not only was I grateful to her for doing such a good idea, I also recommend her to anyone who asks me for a reference [Lesson 4: One positive customer experience can be the origin and source and unlimited future business potential. Value each customer, and give them their due]

Example 2

The next example that I’m going to share is about my experience with my family dentist. Our association started when he had just started his dental practice way back in the 90’s; and I’ve been going back for the past 2 decades. Back then, and even now – Most people dread a visit to the dentist. Simply because most visits to the dentists do cause physical pain, mental anguish, emotional distress and financial payouts (many times, more than what you’d ever imagine) I mean imagine going through all the torture and then pay for it! Not to mention, that most dentists (at least those I know or have heard of) have a serious, grumpy and unfriendly expression most of the time – Wonder if it’s part of the syllabus in Dental school ;)

In every single visit to the dentist – you can be guaranteed of a few things. One, a warm smile as soon as he sees you, followed by general greetings and pleasantries & he usually remembers your name and little details about your previous conversations [Lesson 5: A genuinely warm and friendly welcome is always welcome – Especially in the Services business, makes a huge difference for the overall customer experience ]

Next every single time, he will ask you for your current ailments and actually listen with attention to every single word you say [Lesson 6: Listening to the Voice of the Customer usually goes a long way in providing the right customized service. And providing customized  services is one of the key contributing factors for superior service]

Further, he always explains to you what he intends to go with your teeth, which teeth and also provides general information on the amount of pain that you could possibly experience [Lesson 7: Explaining how you intend to solve the customer problem / pain-area makes an ocean of difference in customer confidence, gaining customer trust and a positive customer experience]

Last but not least, he always provides a personalized pricing for every service – something which is proprietary to his services, and I also find the pricing competitive [Lesson 8: The price does make a difference for any service, and price is usually seen in conjunction with the overall service experience, not just the service itself ]

So what’s your view? What truly differentiates SUPERIOR service? Leave a comment to let me know


Schools, Marketing and More…

As a parent, the last few months have involved running around schools (20+ schools in all) for my child’s school admission. The whole experience has had its share of highs and lows, ups and downs, disappointments and highlights, surprises and shocks, observations and lessons learned – In terms of my baby’s performance, In terms of our own performance as parents and of course in terms of the changing face of schools and educational institutes!

But the entire experience also made me realize that Marketing is such an important and integral element of a school. After all, From a school’s perspective – How well you market your school determines how many parents admit their kids into your school, and that adds to your top-line. After all, all schools / educational institutes are commercial enterprises at the end of the day!

In this post, I am sharing some observations, lessons and learning’s from my personal experiences:

* Marketing Initiatives from schools appear to depend on the following parameters:

(1) How old / new the school is? for e.g.: Newer schools are more aggressive in marketing and promotion (You can see them everywhere especially during the Admission Season – On posters, banners, newspapers, flyers, etc. etc.). The older / more established schools rely mostly on the powerful word-of-mouth referrals which get them new students every year

(2) The Brand Image the school has. for e.g.: Is it positioned as an elite school for elitist society? Is it a school for the middle-class parents? Does it have a legacy / great achievement to boast of? Does it have an alumni which have done the school proud? – A lot of the marketing collateral and positioning is usually centered around this!

(3) Marketing Budget which the school is willing to invest – which is a function of the owners / trust / management of the school, and their “mind-set” / views on the importance of marketing

* Almost all schools (old / new) have “beautiful-looking” web-sites. I must say some them were really impressive, in terms of their philosophy, visuals, achievements and the user experience. And most of the web-sites have such wonderfully written text. And trust me, if I share the “text only” version of these web-sites, you can never say which text belongs to which school. So much for differentiation!

The other observation I made (rather sad to state this) is that if you see the web-site and then visit the school, you will be in for a complete shock because of the disconnect in how the schools position themselves on their web-site, and what they actually are! So much for initial disappointment!

* The newer schools focus and market way too much on infrastructure, modern facilities, and very “materialistic parameters“. Should there not be more focus and rigor on “education” in ways it matters to an individual and society at large?

* The “front-end staff” (those interacting with prospective parents) were always smiling, nice and undigestibly sweet (almost as if it were their wedding, and they were posing for photos the whole time) – especially in the newer schools (Read as schools which had more supply than demand). In other schools (Read as schools which had more demand than supply), the “front-end staff” were rude, indifferent and cold in their interactions with prospective parents (probably there’s no better way to deal with infinite demand and the same questions day-in and day-out)

* Most schools spoke about “Holistic Education” and the emphasis on Studies and overall student development. It’s good to see the emphasis on academics; as well as overall child development – And I do hope that schools focus on both aspects in the “right spirit”. Though from my interactions, it appeared that “academic rigor and focus” was way down in the priority list for many schools! In my view, “academic rigor and focus” should be one of the top priorities for any school. I mean “How many parents send their children to schools with the primary aim of getting them to ride a horse? or play golf? or getting them to sit an an A/C environment the whole day?”

* Surprisingly, not a single school I visited ever spoke of a subject called “Moral Science”. When I was a student, Moral Science was a mandatory subject everyday for 30 minutes – From 1st standard to 10th standard. In today’s day and age,  would it not help to touch and discuss topics / subjects dealing with moral values and have it integral to the school curriculum?

Just my thoughts, what do you think? Leave a comment to let me know

Creativity – What is it?

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. BY Steve Jobs

The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. BY Albert Einstein

Creativity is a great motivator because it makes people interested in what they are doing. Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea. Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting. BY Edward de Bono

The chief enemy of creativity is “good sense” BY Pablo Picasso

Creativity is merely a plus name for regular activity. Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better. BY John Updike

Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun. BY Mary Lou Cook

Creativity defeats complication with simplicity, overcomes fear with empowerment, and discovers order by achieving balance. BY Michael Rawls


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