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?

Study Quarter 2013 : Digital Analytics Fundamentals From Google


As a part of the above said “study quarter”, I found this course on Digital Analytics Fundamentals to revisit the fundamentals of digital analytics for the month of October 2013 and just starting with the course.

Sharing so that you can take a look and take a plunge, if interested.

More to come…

The iPhone Skin

iphone fixed2

foto credits: sandhya.varadh.com

I dropped my iPhone last month on the tar road. It looked like it broke into pieces. Felt so bad. Luckily it fell on its backside and the screen side was ok and hence could continue to use it. Thanks to Prasannan, got it fixed with a skin bought from dbrand. Now it kind of looks much better. Feeling better now and more importantly still working fine.

iphone fixed










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


  • 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. 

eStore: Get Inspired By Volvo

I posted The Vegetable Vendor And The eStore.

It attracted comments as follows (Taking the liberty with Sumant and Rajesh to post it here).

I believe that people who offer eStore  like Net My Store can start a new trend and help people maintain their customers and also improve upon them. The vegetable vendor is only an example. There are so many traders/other vendors who are struggling to keep up their businesses with increasing costs and loosing customers fast. They have no clue to what hits them. Most of them have to shed what they have been doing for generations and look for new work. That is not easy. They suffer a lot.

I was thinking about Sumant’s question of  “Are they “equipped” enough to use it?”. Good question. Answer is “obviously, they are not”. Through the last one-week it was running in my mind.  Will they be “equipped” ever? That looks tough if we think standing on their shoes. So the next question: Is there anything that such people who promote “eStores” can offer to them?

Take a break. Another thought today.

In recent years, we find Volvos plying everywhere. How do you think they have won? It is just not their vehicle. If they had kept talking about only their vehicle and has left it in the hands of those who are not “equipped” to handle it, it would have been very tough for both them and the buyers. I think their success can be attributed to their investment on Driver Training Program. Read this page here.

Now back to what we were discussing. I know a lot of differences exist. I know acquisition costs will be higher if you do the training as part of your selling. But let us forget the differences. Is there any learning that we can capture from it? Can the eStore guys put together an “Online Store Training Program” ? Will it make a difference? Can it be sold? If yes, it should be done through channels like trader associations which will make it easier.

I am sure such training programs with basic content (will write about it sometime later) will be very attractive and might even create a lot of new jobs in other areas of work. What do you think?

Or will these stores prefer to wait for them to be “equipped”? And is that the right thing to do? Just thinking loud.

Feel free to comment. I am here to listen.

How To Start Pharma Digital Journey

courtesy: HubSpot offers

courtesy: HubSpot offers


I recently had a discussion about “going #digital” with a pharma executive. I showed him this. He confided that he believes digital as the way forward but simply does not know how to propose to his management. He also said that it all looks fantastic to talk but when you want to start, you go nowhere. He was sure that his management will not accept any proposal which talks about a budget for gadgets.

We shall go about discussing some aspects of it to the extent a blog post would allow it. I confine this discussion to what pharma can internally decide and execute because that’s where I want them to start with their learning curve. I welcome you to join this discussion by reading, making notes of your thoughts and sharing your comments.

Pharma Campaigns

Pharma marketing operates with 3-6 campaigns every year. On an average, a minimum of 4 meetings (one per each quarter) are called for, to meet with the reps within the company. The expenses incurred for such a campaign briefing meeting (every company has different names for such meetings) include

  • Expenses of Reps travelling from the towns they are based to where the meeting is held (to and fro)
  • A place for them to stay for 2-3 nights
  • Food for them on all these days
  • A meeting place
  • Paper-based stationery and training material
  • Going by our own experience, atleast two working days get spoilt other than these meeting days (yeah! you can contest that)

What happens in a campaign briefing meeting? The following list (indicative but not limited to) gets discussed

  • Product priorities (seasonal, new launches etc.)
  • Mapping the product priorities to the Drs List (a term pharma people understand well)
  • Sampling strategy
  • Detailing strategy
  • Detailing priorities within that individual detailing strategy
  • Follow-up calls (Number of times to visit each category of doctors)
  • Targets (primary and secondary)
  • Training/briefing reps to execute these
  • Analysis of last  quarter sales figures or YTD sales (year-to-date)
  • Announcements of incentives against achievements and for future achievements

You will find that most of the above are mere communication except the training part. In my experience such meetings will not allow time for individual attention of reps and hence not much of individual discussions happen during these briefing days. They happen with respective bosses after these meeting days (mostly while working in the field).

Now consider the fact that most of these can be done through digital platforms with much more efficiency at a fraction of the costs that are currently incurred.

Efficiency because

  • The training material as videos can be played back any number of times by the rep to learn without additional costs. A series of 2 minutes video learning in between Dr calls might be more effective than once in a quarter learning.
  • Mock sessions through digital platforms, which will improve the rep, costs next to nothing and can be a continuous process as part of the work regimen.
  • Product quizzes can be done online and can be part of the evaluation for further training.
  • Feedback Systems that I spoke about here

Generally I get two objections:

1. Nothing like physically being together for motivation, team spirit, blah, blah, blah…(I come from the traditional background and hence I know every inch of that territorial objections to give soltuions).

2. Investment costs of gadgets are high

1. Being together:

You can do the 3-6 campaign briefings through digital platforms and use that savings to take your reps to exotic locations for being together, develop team spirit and for unwinding once or twice a year. That way, you fund yourselves and, I bet, the reps will like both being sophisticated in work with the gadgets, learning and also the exotic unwinding trips. You will start a trend which others shall follow. You will attract the best talent too.

2. Investments

This is a false objection. Because you dont need to be a maths genius to know that if you calculate the costs of all those campaigns over a period of 1-3 years you can fund yourself for the gadgets and still might save some money. And listen, the benefit is not just the cost. Imagine how your company will get transformed through this and also how customers will perceive your reps and your company. Hence investing(initially) and transforming your company through digital platforms should be a no-brainer. It is an investement that pays itself off and also ensures your future. In the long-run you can have huge cost savings too. All those digital creations can be used in the training departmernt for new comers. That again is a big benefit because these are created for real situations and a huge experience with instituitional memories come along. Such realistic company owned training materials will stand you in good stead for years to come. So much of ROI. Think about it.

Have Both?

Some still might feel that their successes live on their physical campagin briefings. Even if you conduct your briefings in a traditional way, digital platforms can help you increase effectiveness by follow-ups in a bettter way. Traditional ways and digital ways are not the same. Hence a word of caution here. Old strategies with newer tools dont work. But you can make a start by demarcating some parts of it to go the digital way. This is not something that you have to achieve overnight and it is not possible too. But you can make a start towards survival for the future.

My question (or rather answer) to those pharma executives

As pharma person, you know from where these false objections come from and why. You also know how to overcome them. Why will you not apply them interally and convince your management to move forward? We are not even talking about rep-physician relationship or relationship with distributors, chemists and finally patients. We are talking about internal implementation with your own people. What say? You are the best judge.

Is there anything that I did not factor in? Add them. Feel free to share your comments. I will be willing to talk to you if you need help.

Where Participation Is As Good As Winning


I have been associated with Pharma and Healthcare for more than two decades now. I always have ideas how Pharma and Healthcare should go about functioning in the interests of the patient. I also know enough ground realities and hence I think my ideas are practical enough to implement and produce the needed results. Hence I take every opportunity that comes my way to participate in discussions around Pharma and Healthcare.


Recently my friend Prasannan (The Mobile Specialist) brought this document Grand Challenges in TB Control to discuss. It is one of the best documents I have ever seen in terms of clarity of purpose, scope of solutions and acknowledging the challenges with respect to reality.

We discussed the document well and came out with some possible solution ideas to be aided by technology and have submitted the same as prescribed by them. The latest update from them states

Of the 122 proposals received, 78 are still under consideration. If you are receiving this mail, you are in the 78.

I feel good with this. I am sure there are lots of competent authorities who must be participating. But the fact that we passed the first round of filters shows that our thinking has been in the right direction. A big win to start with.

The organizers have defined the next step as:

From the pool of 78, 30 will shortlisted to make a presentation to an expert panel. We plan to have the presentations in Hyderabad on October 24-25, 2013. You will be given sufficient time to prepare if shortlisted for the presentation. We will keep you updated on the progress.

It might be tough to be in 30 as existing hospitals and healthcare providers might be competing at the top. Nevertheless this gives us the motivation to keep thinking about how to bring technology to solve healthcare problems and we shall continue to participate, think and come up with solutions for the future.

Any discussions on these lines, feel free to buzz us.

Setting Sales Targets


Happened to see a thought provoking update by Anup Soans in Linkedin MedicinMan group.


Targets are never an arbitrary figure. There are many ways to arrive at them and each situation is unique when you arrive at a target. I share here some easier and established ones that we have practiced in the past.

In general, there are two types of target setting possible: Top-down approach and Bottom-up approach. It is better not to mix up both. Companies can follow one of the approaches throughout to make it transparent and get the conviction of the team to achieve it.

Top-down approach:

For each product, a company can decide on the growth percentage it wants to achieve and can set the targets accordingly. The company shall do so basis their reports on market research on overall market growth, competition, trends etc for each product. The company shall also analyze their resources and advantages and set the target for the product for the company. Once such a target is set, it is split basis contribution levels down the line and passed on as targets to achieve. Since the contribution levels will already reflect market conditions of each market (like growth, competition and others), accordingly each is given a target basis their current/past contribution (of respective markets). Each target shall be the same percentage growth on their respective current/past volumes. The numbers are arrived by applying this growth percentage on current volumes or past volumes. Of course, managers shall re-distribute the same according to other parameters within their zones, markets or teams. A similar approach is followed for allocating resources to achieve the targets.

Bottom-up approach:

Every team is asked to set their own targets basis their current volume, market potential and other parameters as they see fit and such targets are collated to arrive at the company’s targets.  Here everyone justifies their numbers basis the respective market conditions and such a basis is followed till the top and the company arrives at its target and plans its growth. Accordingly resources are planned and given.

Two important things in target setting

If you are a market leader you will be thinking of increasing your market share % and need to think on how to get this percentage growth from either market growth or from existing competition of other brands or from similar range of products. Here one needs to be innovative and has to lead with creativity and originality to be ahead of the market increasing the lead and picking up more market share in %.

If you are not a market leader, then you already have a bowl established by others. You just have to think how much you can take from the existing bowl basis your own capabilities.  One can be innovative and do what the market leader would do, but that is not a must as there exists ways to grow by just taking the share of others.  For such brands, past is not an indication of future trends. They can go after as much as they can, to convert, depending on the resources they have available with them.

Targets are never arbitrary. Targets are not just some numbers. They tell you everything about your business and how you run it.

If we put up targets and don’t achieve them, one of our managers used to say, “Sugar will not be sweet, if written on paper and licked”. Targets are sweet when we achieve them and celebrate the achievements.

A Test That I Failed Today And Social Media

Today I was going through my daughter’s English paper and she tested me with this


Rearrange the above words to make a meaningfull sentence. Now dont continue to read the rest before you try it. Did you get it? Good. I failed. But could not stand the curiosity and hence asked my long-time friend Amar Bantwal on Twitter.  Here you go with the rest of the conversation:

9th Std English