Category Archives: Marketing

Infographics 101: What? Why? How?

What are Infographics?

Information graphics, or infographics as they are more often called, are a great way to convey complex information clearly and concisely [Src: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2011/09/16/blogosphere-trends-using-infographics/ ]

Over the past few weeks, I’ve read hundreds of infographics, and have enjoyed reading most of them. One, it is for very good reason that the adage A picture is worth a thousand words was coined. I truly understood the “power of images” now. Two, infographics convey a lot of information in a simple, easy to read and easy to comprehend format. Three, I’ve been tasked with creating one at work.

Since I had to create an infographic, I looked for resources on any guidelines, tips, tricks, best practices and advice on “How” to create one. Dr. Google threw up a lot of content. Sharing in this post the links I found useful

The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Infographics @ http://blog.crazyegg.com/2013/05/10/infographics-ultimate-guide/

What Makes A Great Infographic? 8 Experts Weigh In @ http://marketingland.com/8-experts-talk-about-making-great-infographics-34958

The power of infographics @ http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/01/20/the-power-of-infographics-on-your-blog/

 

Tools to create infographics

20+ Tools to Create Your Own Infographics @ http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/infographic-tools/

10 free tools for creating infographics @ http://www.creativebloq.com/infographic/tools-213197

9 Awesome Powerful Free Infographic Tools @ http://www.infographicsarchive.com/create-infographics-and-data-visualization/

70 Tools And 4 Reasons To Make Your Own Infographics @ http://www.edudemic.com/70-tools-and-4-reasons-to-make-your-own-infographics/

Five Infographic Templates in PowerPoint @ http://offers.hubspot.com/how-to-easily-create-five-fabulous-infographics-in-powerpoint

And how could I conclude this post without an infographic?

[Src: http://mashable.com/2012/07/09/how-to-create-an-infographic/ ]

Viral Content | A Marketer’s Dream, Dare, Delight or Doom?

“Viral Content” – Those 2 words can be the dream, dare, delight or doom for many a marketer.

A dream because you aspire for it

A dare because you can’t really say for sure if your content will go viral

A delight because if it does, then you are bound to be a hero / shero of some sort, in some circles

A doom because if it does not, then you are bound to be viewed with a critical lens, in some circles

And the reality of today is that “viral content” is probably the fastest & most cost-effective way to get your message out in the market place.

There are ample examples of content gone viral that it must seen easy to repeat the formula. But it is not so simple…

In this post, I am sharing from my personal experience as a content consumer what truly differentiates viral content from the rest

(1) A catchy compelling title : In today’s day of explosive content, you need to have a title which compels a reader to stop-by your content. The title has to be unique, inviting, enticing and engaging – And most important have mass appeal! Phew – Tough one to crack!

(2) Touching an emotional chord with a reader : From my personal experience, almost every piece of viral content that I’ve come across touched an emotional chord with a reader, i.e., it brought out a deep human emotion in a reader – joy, surprise, fear, contempt, disgust, sadness or anger

(3) Timing of your post : The timing of when you publish your content is critical, and surely acts as an enabler in riding with current trends and sentiments.

(4) The Zing and Zest of the post itself : I mean the content itself has to be unique, new, relevant, positive and refreshing in its message and in articulation. Pictures / Videos are definitely more effective, but there are blog posts and even tweets which have gone viral, so it really depends on the content

In this post, I’m sharing a round-up on the many views / perspectives written on the subject of “viral content”. You’d think after reading all of these – I now know the magic mantra and am on my way to create the “viral content” of tomorrow. How I wish! :) In spite / Despite so much written on the subject, this is a tough one to crack, and even all the “Content Gurus” don’t seem to have a consensus.

Nevertheless, let me share the posts..

7 Things Marketers Can Learn From 2,616 Viral Headlines.

7 Key Elements for Viral Content

 Social Media Images: 5 Ways to Go Viral

How To Make Your Content Marketing Go Viral

How to write copy that goes viral

57 Facts and Figures on the Money and Power in YouTube Viral Videos – Infographic

3 Reasons Why YouTube Videos go Viral

4 Key Elements for a Viral Video

5 Steps to Going Viral on Twitter

Top 7 Reasons Your Content Goes Viral

How to Make Your Content Go Viral

How to create viral content

When an Obituary Goes Viral

How to make something go viral: tips

How do I make my post viral?

Lastly, an interview from Brian Solis which is real, well-grounded and probably one of the best advice I’ve come across

 

 
What is your mantra? Leave a comment to let me know

The “Only Women” Social Networks – I started with an “Oh!”, and ended with “Whoa!”

I studied in an all-girls school for a good part of my early formal education. Like any school kid of the 1980’s and 1990’s era in India, I had my share of learning, studies, sports, co-curricular activities, mischief, memorable moments, childhood / school experiences, life lessons and fun in equal measure – just that it did not involve “the boys”, and that did not really make a difference. Honestly, I did not know it any other way :). Consequently, my “good / best friends” were mostly girls (And some of them are my best friends even to this date. Yes! Our friendship dates to another era!). Of course, I did interact with boys / men in the family and friends network, but then there is an implicit line drawn somewhere (like an invisible “Lakshman Rekha”), and so those experiences are usually somewhat pleasant and civil. When I passed out of school, I enrolled into a co-education school. That started my “real journey” with the “multifaceted opposite sex”. Looking back, my life has never really been the same again!! :) :( . Ah! I miss those “girlie school days”, and I also realized the importance and power of the “bonds of sisterhood” much much later.

See here’s the thing | When girls and boys connect, communicate, interact and (try to) co-exist, it is a whole new world. Things which were ignored suddenly come to limelight, things which were irrelevant suddenly become relevant, things which you were never conscious about suddenly become the center of your universe, things which never needed to be “filtered” need to be “filtered”, things which were never really important become critical to your existence, and things which never defined you become your defining moments.

Anyways, coming back to my own life – The next few years revolved around education, career, family, marriage and motherhood. And like most average people, I’ve had my share of good, bad and ugly in all of this. And as with most women who go through all these life experiences, I let-go of many of my girlfriends along the way. It was not intentional, purely incidental / circumstantial. Career, work life balance, travel, people residing in all parts of the world, lack of time, conflicting interests, changing priorities, etc. etc. etc. So before I knew it I found myself in my 30’s and wondering who my friends really are!

Thanks to technology and the Social Media revolution, I was able to re-connect with many of my girlfriends from the past. The good thing is that you have a foundation and base to build on, and you can take off from where you left. But the not-so-good thing is that you have all changed, and there may be a fundamental difference in your thoughts, perspectives and outlook to life. The other not-so-good thing is that you are almost always worried if she will judge you, and how much you can trust her. Anyways girls / women are (in)famous for keeping secrets right?

Sometime in 2010 on my journey to motherhood, I also started my journey as a writer and blogger – Simply because I needed a canvas to express myself. A canvas for my words – Words which stemmed from dreams, thoughts, observations, analysis, learning’s, conversations, view-points, outlook, views, emotions, perspectives, achievements, mistakes, failures, lessons learned, comprehensions, experiences and conclusions. Along the way, I realized that I enjoyed blogging as it was a creative outlet for my thoughts, emotions and energies, and continued to blog more. As any blogger did / does, I stressed and fretted about readership, reach, pageviews, etc. and as a solution, I embraced Twitter and FaceBook to promote my blogs. Nothing really significant, but just figuring out the tricks of the trade. And of course the usual lingering around (which by the way takes a whole lot of precious time!). A “hello” here, “You look fabulous” there. And of course, those moments which social media leaves you with. Sometimes moments of wonder at how much people have changed. Sometimes moments of awe at how far others have come. Sometimes moments of admiration at how successful and powerful some of my buddies are. Sometimes moments of joy to see and share a slice of someone else’s life. Sometimes moments of jealousy at how happy some people appear to be! And sometimes just to flow through the passage time and make the moment count (or not!?). I go through the whole range of human emotions over a span of few minutes. The unanticipated benefit of all my Twitter / FaceBook activity is that it connected to several like-minded, intelligent, interesting and diverse woman who were slowly and surely creating an impact and making a difference in their sphere of influence.

Sometime in 2013, I got invited to be part of some FaceBook groups / communities. I accepted the invitation. Honestly I did not know what to expect. It took me a while to understand the protocols of interaction, the reach, the impact and the power of these communities. I don’t know why and how, but what followed were invitations to some elite and exclusive “women only” social communities. Many of these are “secret / closed groups” where the membership is “by invitation only”. They typically include women who have common interests / beliefs or experiences (for e.g.: motherhood in general, working mothers, women in business, mompreneurs, etc.).  And that opened a whole new world for me, changed my perspective of life and has been a transformational life experience.

Here’s what I learned | A woman speaking in public is one thing, and a woman speaking behind closed doors is something else. You have to experience it to know what I mean.

To be honest when I first joined some of these communities, I was pleasantly shocked! Shocked to see the honesty with which women spoke up, shocked at how freely women shared deeply private and personal stories of strength, courage, conviction and trials, shocked to see the support women extended to each other in times of lows / crisis, shocked at the positivity and energy amidst the community, shocked at the way the owners nurtured / propelled the group towards specific causes, shocked at the larger good many of these groups were doing / further aimed to do, shocked at how unknown names and faces stood up for each other to assist and guide women through all that life threw at them.

Being a member of these communities has been an invaluable learning experience for me. Over time, I realized that I enjoyed the interactions, the learning, the friendships and bonds that were fostered and also the intellectual stimulation that these communities provided.

See here’s the next thing | There is that special something about an “all-girls network”. If you’re / you’ve ever been part of one, you’ll know what I mean. Suffice to say, today I swear by the “bonds of womanhood”. I know that the “old boys clubs / bad boys gangs / dirty old men groups” have been around from time immemorial. But as of today, I’d bet that the “Only Woman” social networks are here to stay. This is where the power lies. This is where ideas are exchanged. This is where inspiration is drawn from . This is where the thoughts are influenced. This is where it all comes together!

I have nothing personal against boys / men really; after all I am what I am partly because of all the men in my life. Just that with time I’ve come to acknowledge, appreciate and accept that men and women are wired differently. So,
(1) There are some things which only girls / women will listen to
(2) There are some things which only girls / women will acknowledge
(3) There are some things which only girls / women will understand
(4) There are some things which only girls / women will know
(5) There are some things which only girls / women will accept
(6) There are some things which only girls / women will embrace
(7) There are some things which only girls / women will counsel on
(8) There are some things which only girls / women can sympathize with
(9) There are some things which only girls / women can empathize with

And because there will almost always be those some things which are exclusive to women, therein lies the need for “Only Women” Social Networks. And these social networks are important because they provide a forum for women to
* Share what they are really thinking – However good, bad or ugly! It is the real deal!
* Share what they are really feeling deep down
* Share a real-life personal context / situation and ask for advice / suggestions / inputs
* Just express the highs and lows of what life throws at you and get a quick hug, snug, nag or niggle here and now; Real-time interaction is the key
* Share to a group of women who make you feel that you are not alone
* Share with a group of spirited woman and hear the words “It is OK. This too shall pass”
* Just get it all out and in some ways feel free and liberated!

It warms my heart to see women sharing, collaborating, nurturing, supporting, advising, mentoring and just being there for each other through the journey of life.

In all that I’ve seen as a part of my own life, I strongly believe that for any one person to blossom, flower and flourish (man / woman), there has to be (somewhere in the generational family tree) at least ONE resilient woman who nurtured / supported / guided and believed in him / her. (Of course a lot more things play their part too – divine grace, luck, hard work, passion, focus, ecosystem support, timing,. but that one woman would have made all the difference)

And for any woman to be that “resilient woman” she needs support. Not every time, every day. But during that one vulnerable moment which can break / make her. And it is in that one vulnerable moment that the “Only Women” Social Networks help a woman cross the chasm. And for only that one reason, I conclude by saying that these “Only Women” Social Networks are powerful networks. These networks are definitely a harbinger of positive change and have the potential for global transformation. They are real, and here to say!!!

That’s what I had to say. Would love to hear your views. 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

Strategy.. Strategy.. What is this Strategy???

At the start of every new year, most organizations are abuzz with this word called “strategy”. Every one is talking strategy, reviewing strategy, attending strategy presentations, drafting strategies or finalizing strategies.. Sigh! I wonder how strategically successful all these people / companies are?

Don’t get me wrong here. Having been in the corporate world for several years now, I do understand and appreciate the importance of strategy, and how it can be critical in your growth, differentiation or success. But once in a way I also think it is important to step-back, go back to the basics and see what others have to say.

Sharing some words on strategy from the wise

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” (Winston Churchill)

“Strategy formulation, then, is an ongoing requirement of good management. It is, to quote Michael Porter, ‘a process of perceiving new positions that woo customers from established positions or draw new customers into the market.’ This is a process you must permanently embed in your organization.”
(Harvard Business Review Blog Network)

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” (Michael Porter)

“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.” (Michael LeBoeuf)

“A strategy is something like, an innovative new product; globalization, taking your products around the world; be the low-cost producer. A strategy is something you can touch; you can motivate people with; be number one and number two in every business. You can energize people around the message.” (Jack Welch)

“There’s only one growth strategy: work hard.” (William Hague)

“The best CEOs I know are teachers, and at the core of what they teach is strategy.” (Michael Porter)

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” (Sun Tzu)

“In marketing I’ve seen only one strategy that can’t miss – and that is to market to your best customers first, your best prospects second and the rest of the world last.” (John Romero)

“What business strategy is all about-what distinguishes it from all other kinds of business planning-is, in a word, competitive advantage. Without competitors there would be no need for strategy, for the sole purpose of strategic planning is to enable the company to gain, as efficiently as possible, a sustainable edge over its competitors.” (Kenichi Ohmae)

“In McKinsey’s world, all of life is one of two things: strategy or organization.”  (Tom Peters)

“The real challenge in crafting strategy lies in detecting subtle discontinuities that may undermine a business in the future. And for that there is no technique, no program, just a sharp mind in touch with the situation.” (Henry Mintzberg)

“Strategy is not the consequence of planning, but the opposite: its starting point.” (Henry Mintzberg)

“In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell.” ( Jack Welch)

2014 : What I’ll be blogging here?

So its a new year! The time when everyone embarks on all new things
New Year Resolutions
New Year Wishes
New Year Changes

Well, as I mulled over what I’ll be doing here on my blog, the one thing that I was clear that I would continue to write..

So, how frequently will I post?
Once a week

And when will I publish a post?
Every Thursday at 3 PM IST

So what will I be blogging about?
Well.. The focus will continue to be on areas of professional interest which range from Marketing, Social Media, Leadership, Innovation, Strategy and Business.

So is there a specific plan for the postings?
Well yes!
Week 1 of the month – A post on Social Media
Week 2 of the month – A post on Marketing
Week 3 of the month – A post on Leadership
Week 4 of the month – A post on Innovation / Strategy / Business

Will I do anything different this year on my blog?
Well, there will be a few surprises along the way. So wait and watch.. And do follow my blog to know what these surprises are!

Till then, continue reading..
And LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE
Its one life to LIVE

Happy New Year 2014…

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

Why Twitter for Small Business Owners?

Small business owners of today are faced with several challenges as a part of their everyday business operations. First and most importantly, is the basic need to survive and break-even. Second, is the focus on top-line growth through new customer acquisition or new businesses from existing customers. Third, is the focus on cost reduction / optimization / rationalization. And last but not least is the focus on profits. Oh! I forgot to mention all the other additional aspects which running a business usually involves – like Positioning, Branding and Marketing, Innovation, Human Resource Management, Communication, Operations, Finance, Strategy, Compliance, etc.

With so many things that need to be done with limited resources and small teams, it can get really busy and overwhelming for small business owners. And it’s so easy to wonder if there is light at the end of the tunnel!

Well here’s the good news! Social Media can definitely help address some of these challenges. Not only is social media cost effective, ubiquitous, easy to learn and adopt; but if a well-integrated social media strategy is adopted, the probability of business success is significantly amplified!

In this blog, I will list specific ways in which Twitter can be leveraged for the benefit of small business owners.

First and most important is to establish the BIG “WHY?” – “Why do you as a small business owner want to use Twitter?”

The question is very simple, albeit very important. But giving the right answer usually requires a lot of thought, introspection and clarity on your business goals and strategy. Once you have this answer, the Twitter journey is a lot more focused, useful, productive and enjoyable!

Small business owners could typically use Twitter for any of the following:

(1)   Connect and Interact with Customers (Existing / New) - The only pre-requisites for this are that you should know who exactly are your customers and whether they are active on Twitter

 Case-in-point: An entrepreneur I know who runs a high-end designer fashion label was working on the Social Media Strategy for her business. During discussions, it emerged that most of her customers are NOT on Twitter. And hence, it made limited sense for her to invest time and effort in building a Twitter presence exclusively for her customer interactions, or for lead generation / business development activities.

 As a small business owner, if you’ve established that you’re customers are active on Twitter, the next step is to start active engagement with them. The purpose of customer interactions can vary from announcements of new products / services / offers / discounts, to sharing regular updates on information which is valued by your customer base.

 Take-Away: Be clear on who you’re customers are, and whether they are on Twitter. Then you can start connecting and interacting with them on Twitter.

 (2)   Create a Brand – Twitter can be an effective and powerful channel to establish your brand. The only pre-requisite is that you should be clear on what brand image you want to create, and ensure that you tweet in line with this brand image. This will determine your competitive differentiation, industry presence and positioning. For e.g.: If you are a research firm who provides research services in technology areas, you should tweet snippets about your own research findings, or interesting data / facts and references on technology related research. This will enable you to create your own voice in the Twitter-verse

 Take-Away: Clear, consistent and continuous communication in line with the brand is the key for brand creation and brand recall.

 (3)   Business Networking – One of the keys to success for small business owners is the kind of business networks they are associated with. Twitter can be a very powerful medium to establish new business connections and strengthen existing ones. Many times these business networks can help directly / indirectly in new upcoming opportunities. In addition to specific one-o-one networks / tweets / Direct Messages, active participation in Twitter chats can be a great source for building new business connections or identification of new business opportunities.

 Take-Away: Focus on building and strengthening business networks on Twitter

 (4)   ResearchOne of the most important back-end activities essential for most small business owners is continuous focus on research around specific focus areas. Twitter is a great platform to get real-time access to quality information on any topic. The two specific ways which are of great help in this regard are Hashtag search, and by following the Gurus (experts) in a specific area of interest.

 The good news is that research time can be significantly reduced on Twitter. Sometimes an easy way to get answers is to ask a question on Twitter, or ask someone with a good Follower base to post the question. More often than not, this can be one source of primary research data, similar to an online real-time survey.

 Take-Away: Be clear on the research objectives. And use Twitter to get direct feedback, responses or hear from the experts.

 (5)   Ideation – Twitter can be used as a great platform for ideation. Ideas around What next?, How to grow and improve your business?, etc. can occur several times during social conversations and interactions – especially when you engage in dialog on what would make customers happy or what are the current pain–areas which plague a specific customer segment. In addition, interacting with industry peers and in specialized forums / networks can many spark off those “Eureka moments”.

 Take-Away: Look to Twitter to hear, discover and learn what others are doing. This is the first source of new ideas.

 (6)   Continuous Learning and Knowledge Updates – Constantly learning and knowing what’s happening in your industry, within the market and getting a pulse of your customers, partners, suppliers, competition, etc. is absolutely essential for small business owners. Twitter can be a very effective in helping you do this! The easiest way is to identify your key partners, competitors, customers, analysts, publications and experts in your specific line of business, and follow them on Twitter (provided they have a Twitter presence). You will be able to gather real-time data and insights in trends, views, opinions and perspectives.

 Take-Away: Look to Twitter to hear, discover and learn what others are doing. This is the first source of new ideas.

(7)   Daily Dose of Inspiration / Motivation – The life of many a small business owner is filled with moments of uncertainty, doubt, questions and lows. And giving up is not an option. You have to move ahead! And one of the best ways is to stay and feel positive, inspired and motivations through the storms and rainbows.

Again, Twitter can be of immense help in this department. Following Twitter handles which usually share inspirational quotes, positive thoughts and motivational words / links can sometimes make all the difference in changing our moods, approach, thoughts, perspectives and responses. So, try to start your day by reading something positive / inspirational / motivational – And this can set the right tone for your day! And if you’re feeling blue, look up the tweets of someone who motivates / inspires, and that can help you sail through many a blue day!

Take-Away: Twitter can be that one channel which brings your way the much needed inspiration, motivation, support and cheer through many a low and many a high!

As I conclude, sharing below a compilations of resources which you may find helpful in your Twitter journey
How to get started on Twitter
Twitter Basics
How to Use Twitter to Grow Your Business?
Content Life Cycle on Twitter
Social Media Etiquette 101: The Basics
Why I don’t have even 100 followers on Twitter even after 3 years?

Good Luck in your ventures, and hope this post helps you in the effective usage of Twitter!

And if you’ve found a specific Twitter link / reference, do share it in the comments below so that it can help others in this community

Originally published on The Next Women; Edited and re-published here

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