What Earns You Respect?

This week I am teaching a class of management students on #digital marketing. What I find, especially with management students, is the tendency to use jargons. I love jargons too. Nothing wrong in throwing one’s weight using jargons. But when asked for an explanation, if you are wrong or have not understood what the jargon means, you stand exposed. Hence one should be careful. Alternatively practicing to use simple words, to explain, attracts people. It never goes wrong. Not using jargons, no one will run the risk. But using jargons and not able to explain it can undo a lot of things. So be careful while using jargons. What earns you respect is what you can explain simply. I try to teach in simple terms and then introduce jargons. Just an observation from the class. What do you think?

Growth Via #SocialBusiness : Why Businesses Are Stranded

Just Do ItI discuss #social strategies with many businesses. Everyone understands that it is the way forward. Everyone understands why it has to be sooner than later. But almost everyone takes no action and gets stranded with the decision. They do not move forward. Often during the discussions I hear the reasons.

I talk about mapping their current practices to digital equivalents. That is not easy with their current practices.

Some of the reasons I generally see are:

  • Businesses are not transparent with their employees/customers/stakeholders/partners.
  • Business owners want total control of the situation. They fail to realize that customers don’t need their permissions to talk about them.
  • The team knows they are not good with customer service.
  • Businesses know they are not sincere.
  • They know they do not have great products.
  • They know they want to retain hierarchichal structure with total control.
  • Most of them think customer education will make it difficult for them to sell/serve. So they don’t want to initiate customer education. They think explaining about their products/services, in a way to sell them, is customer education. They are so naive sometimes. They want to wait out till customer learns on their own.

They are more afraid that their not-so-good face will come out openly and hit them badly. They ask me how they can control things. They want to know if there is a way to project only the good face. They ask me if they can partially do whatever. They ask me who will take responsibility.

They are right not going #social with these drawbacks. #social is not a plug-in.

I tell them how they can start and change their businesses using #social and use it as an opporunity to both correct the drawbacks and also to have their dream fulfilled towards the future.

What Should Healthcare Marketers Know?

These are my views addressing Healthcare marketers who are coming in (with technology) for the future. A twitter conversation with @HealthIsSocial is shared to encourage you to post your comments.


Healthcare Conversations

A Lecture On Social Media And Its Impact In Business

YES Chennai 2014

I was invited to give a lecture by YES Chennai Chapter. They heard about my talk at YES Ramnad and invited to deliver this. Word Of Mouth promotion within YES.

A few years before atleast 4-5 people would argue that socialmedia was a fad and it would not work. Now there are no objections and more agreements. Atleast 5-6 people tweet and get connected right at the venue of the talk. A few people follow-up with a “follow” via social networking platforms, email and phone. Thats good sign. Everyone seems to be in agreement that socialmedia can do good and bring about the much needed growth. Hope it moves onto action and business growth in a few years. I try and put in the seed for #socbiz so that they can catch up faster.

2014: Video year for me

This time I hired a person with EOS 5D Mark II camera and had taken some clippings which I can use as promotional videos. I have been thinking of using videos for promotion and looks this year I will give it a try and learn it. This especially looks important  as I advise more customers about using videos for their businesses.

Looks an exciting year ahead with #socialmedia implementation for customers. Keep in touch to know more.

Ramnad: YES Talk Visit


 

 

Why I Am Upbeat About MSME Moving Towards eCommerce

7K0A0947I have been talking, thinking and discussing about eCommerce for MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) and posted a few thoughts in the last few posts.

The reasons why I think MSMEs will be good successful participants of eCommerce are

  • Single Owners (single can mean individual or family)
  • Own Capital (most of them run their businesses on their own capital)
  • Owners can take decisions (Decision Makers)
  • Decision Makers control and manage the business on a daily basis
  • Most of them will have experience ranging from 10-40 years in business
  • Most of them know all the business challenges of their respective businesses

Don’t you think there is a strong case for their moving towards eCommerce with such strong attributes which help the decision making and transition required. Feel free to comment or add what you think.

 

Taking MSME Towards eCommerce

foto courtesy: HubSpot offers

foto courtesy: HubSpot offers

I wrote The Vegetable Vendor And The eStore and eStore: Get Inspired By Volvo.

I had said that training programs, with basic content, educating about eCommerce will help rates of adoption. 

Training Programs

  • The training should start from introduction to Internet, mobile Internet and online market concept.
  • Businesses should be taught to think of opportunities. 
  • They should be encouraged to check with their existing customers and see some proof.
  • Seeing their name on the internet will sure encourage them to do this exercise of showing and getting more feedback.  
  • They can be taught to start from the Contact Page (even their promotion to customers can start here).
  • They will see a lot of relevance when they start from this page. They can be taught to spend a few hours everyday online.
  • Simple designs, video testimonials can be easily picked up by them while they learn. 
  • It should be explained that eCommerce can be tried as a part of overall business while they are on the learning curve with limited resources.
  • They can use Signage and Hand-outs to promote their presence online with existing customers and/or at their current traditional outlets. 

What sellers can do over the internet:

  • Learn Internet as a market place
  • Learn marketing over the internet
  • Learn actual selling over the internet
  • Learn to share information
  • Collaborate internally (with employees)
  • Learn the advantage of expanding markets, if they can deliver over the internet

Factors that could encourage people adopt eCommerce

  • Increased sales
  • Reduced costs
  • Improved customer service leading to increase in sales
  • Supply chain streamlining and solving continuity issues
  • Overall efficiency compared to traditional methods employed

Shortcomings

  • Lack of Internet access
  • Lack of skilled staff
  • Consumer indifference
  • Security concerns
A comparison of current costs, necessary capital costs, ongoing costs, timeline to experiment, measuring some of the factors discussed above and a review of all these every 3 months can be done with businesses to encourage adoption or to alert them to fine-tune to make it successful or even to discontinue. 
 
Such training programs can be done through trade associations and so many other non-profit associations which work in the welfare of MSMEs.  
 
I am sure increasingly eCommerce will become the order of the day. But those who help businesses gain advantage will lead from the front establishing themselves through conversions by creating a good ecosystem for the growing eCommerce. 

Learning Social Tools via Email: A Demanding Kind Of Joy


You have a business. You have a brand. The brand could just be you. You have been hearing that social business brings in a lot of growth. Growth in every aspect and perspective, be it knowledge, sales, service, newer areas of growth. Betterment includes internal and external. You have listened to facts how online is growing and success stories all around. You have also seen some disasters. What’s in it for you?

People often ask me these questions. Where to start? What are the next steps? How do I go about? How can I be sure? How do I learn? How do I check? What are the best ways to learn? Sometimes I feel like answering a question of enormity like “How is Life?” It can mean so much.

On this subject, we have done elevator pitches, short presentations, longer ones, workshops, training programs, reviews and what not to business people.

One real objection that stood out: Time. Overall, it looks like, it will take hours and hours to master such things. When dealing with an overload already, it does not seem a good idea to undertake such exercises even if it is in the best interests of the business and growth. How do you overcome this?

I find that people are extremely good and settled with their emails as a tool for business. So why not learn through email? Inspired by some leaders who have implemented this successfully, we tried this last year. This post is to share that it works better than current methods of ours. So we are going to do more of that this year.

We are working with clients through email. They get daily or weekly emails. We explain one aspect of a goal or tool or feature at a time in every email. They just have to read, learn and spend time only with that one aspect of a tool or feature at a time. Many prefer “weekly” so that they can practice, share and learn about that one aspect well within that week. In practice they generally become master of it. We have seen that people not only master the tools but expand their thoughts.

Such learning and sharing becomes a new culture.It becomes a everyday habit. Transition becomes easy. In due course, you shift to using social tools in the best manner that suits your business. Since it is one at a time via email, the mistakes are greatly reduced or manageable. It does not feel like you are wasting your precious work time and learning something, which you are unsure. It also gives you a break and learning re-energizes you.

Once-in-a-frequency when we meet our email clients, the happiness of learning and that standing in good stead is visible all over. It has been a demanding kind of joy that we are experiencing and sharing.

What do you think? How have you been learning?

Want to try this? Feel free to comment or buzz me. I will be happy to talk to you.

Social Business Company

I had worked with good companies that had great culture and encouraged networking as a way of work. To give you a context, this was much before email was used for business.

The companies encouraged as many “meets” as possible (read the term “meets” in the sense of “assemble” or “convene”). Team meets, Brand meets, Company meets, Distributor meets and Customer meets. It would look like the companies were inventing a reason to make everyone meet. While some companies considered these meetings a waste of time and money, the companies which got sold on this way of work encouraged these meetings by all means and spent quite a budget to make it happen.

The beauty of such meetings is people who are participants of these meets made the meetings happen and shared a lot of work and strived to create more value from their side. Everyone tried to excel with their contribution and tried to show-off by adding value.

Let me tell you a simple example of a team meeting. It involved a hotel conference room, good food, timely snacks and coffee during intervals, drinking water during the meeting, projectors and mikes, stationery, paper work, logistics of personnel and a great deal of communication.  Each activity was done by a participant by volunteering or by assignment.  Since if something went wrong it would be seen as inefficiency of that person for the assigned(mostly volunteered) task, everybody did it well to prove and also get praised. Each individual contributions used to look manageable and small but viewed in the context of the meeting, it would have simply made the meeting wonderful. The meetings involved each individual presenting on his markets and the rest of team questioning/commenting on it to exchange ideas and adding value.

Take another example of customer meets. Company will sketch out the objectives and framework to operate. Employees will add the variations for the meets depending on the area. The distributors will localize it and also involve top customers. The whole team of company executives, employees, distributors and customers will make the meet a grand success and look like a festival for the brand. Visibility, more customers and growth are the results achieved.

When people got transferred from one team to another, they carried those practices and learnt new ones and over time, people followed the best practices everywhere in the organization. We had many instances of small teams bringing in major changes within the company.

Not only team meetings with company employees, all above said “meets” happened the same way including business partners(distributors) and even customers. We had witnessed many occasions where customers used to participate as if they owned the brand and were involved as if its their own function at home. As a result, both their value and the value of the company they represented grew.

Such a way of work was possible because the company believed everyone could contribute. Such a open networking way of work taught people good lessons and improved average productivity, efficiency and learning. It also promoted competitiveness and leaders emerged from such situations. These companies were market leaders and had strong brands, ever increasing market shares, low attrition rates, ever expanding markets and never had to look out for leaders of future outside of their companies. They promoted from within.

While some companies were struggling to understand such ways of work and had highly restrictive practices, practising companies used to wonder “how-else can you function?”. This looks amazingly easy or extremely tough. It depends on the understanding and practicing of the basic fundamentals of how business happens and creating a culture to nurture the same. The companies I worked did everything to nurture such a healthy system.

The beauty of this is the fact it works amazingly and produces the best results possible from employees, partners and customers. These companies made Business a way of life for everyone involved.

Cut to Present….

Today the available tools and technologies can make such an ecosystem not only work better but also the scale at which this can be done are enormous.

If you are open, encourage participation for value creation with employees, business partners and customers to achieve your business objectives with today’s tools and technologies in a massive scale, you have a new name: Social Business Company.

Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

Where Pharma Can Start With Social Media

When people talk of “Pharma and Social Media” they think of replacing in-house reps. They think “out-of-the-box”.  My idea of pharma and social media is completely different.
Introduction
I am using the term “doctors” to denote medical practitioners in this post. In the Indian context, pharma generally refers to them as Doctors. Doctors include all kinds of medical practitioners. The general practitioners, physicians, surgeons, all specialists (including dentists) and super-specialists. In short, anyone who can legally prescribe your medicine to the patient. 
How Pharma Sells
In pharmaceutical sales, the most important customer is the doctor. Though patients buy and use the medicines, it is the doctor who prescribes it and hence doctors are their customers. Pharma companies try and visit as many doctors as possible through their representatives. In general, the numbers of visits to such doctors determine the results. Top-of-mind-brand-recall means more prescriptions. Hence they also try as many numbers of visits as possible to doctors. The whole of pharma strives to increase the time they spend with doctors who wield a lot of power in prescribing their brands.
Quality Time With Doctors
Some doctors see reps every day, any time during their practice hours. Some see on specified time every day. Some see on specified time on specified days. Some do everything to avoid meeting reps. The amount of time that reps get to spend with doctors is severely limited today. So there is an ever-shortening of the time that you get to spend with doctors to influence their prescriptions.  I don’t know how many companies have a record of the average time spent inside the doctor’s cabin by their reps. We used to have such parameters long back. This was used to plan the length of the detailing story and also the number of products to be promoted. Even patients, the paying customers, don’t get to spend quality time with their doctors. 
Challenges
Pharma faces major challenges with their sales forces today. I already wrote about what plagues the industry. Reps today are not able to manage even the normal list of activities that makes the job.  Unless your reps are extremely smart in spending quality time with the doctors and influence them, you have no chance of winning in the crowded market place today. 
My Prescription
You have to fundamentally change how you sell your products in the future. The model of tens of thousands of reps meeting doctors will not go away over-night but greatly reduce in the future. Find out how much time doctors spend online. You will be surprised it is much more than the time they spend with representatives. Go where your customers go. Online. Its not a quick fix for growth. But the way to the future. 
It is high time that the companies learn to use Social Media tools to supplement and strengthen what they already have through their reps. Pharma can use social media tools and do the following to start with
  • Opening more doctors doors
  • To gain valuable time of doctors (supplementing visit time of reps)
  • Relevant exchange of information with quality conversations (share more clinical and informative data surrounding your products)
  • Strengthen your rep-doctor relationships (because of SM activities the prescription push will become more effective and also the time spent will stretch during visits)
  • Build meaningful relationships
  • Train your reps better
  • Improve productivity of reps

This list is only indicative. We are working on a list of objectives, tools and actionable items and possibly a pilot program soon. 
What Next
Using new age tools with old strategies is a sure recipe for disaster. So you need to learn new ways of doing things to use social media tools. I believe Pharma is capable of bringing about “game changing” practices. It just needs to dedicate more time, energy and money. 
My thoughts have been shaping up well for actionable results. You can keep a track of it here http://blog.varadh.com/search/label/Pharma
 Feel free to comment. Call me and I will be happy to talk to you. 
Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com