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?

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.

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. 

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.

Pharma’s Social Journey Can Start With Opinion Leaders

Pharma marketing needs to concentrate on opinion leaders to get their prescriptions. It is an open secret that opinion leaders in every region heavily influence Rx habits of others. If you learn how these opinion leaders favour digital and social platforms and make a start with them, it will be a good start and learning. In this context, not necessarily and always, you need to think “product promotion”. Instead think of a differentiated relationship and “top of mind recall” for your company and people.

I think this is one of the key ways to start with “pharma and social” as each rep territory will only have a handful of such opinion leaders. You can also be a bridge among such opinion leaders and, if successful, the rest will happen automatically. It might even be worthy to consider a special team for exploring and executing.

The above few points I am typing and posting from my smartphone app. Just a thought. You can add to this and we can discuss.

Setting Sales Targets

Targets

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

Targets

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.

Will Social Media Transform Your Business?

courtesy: fb share
To understand this question, you should not start with social media tools or the technologies behind them. You should start with primary functions of your business and see what business metrics you need to achieve as results. 
Repeatedly I get the question if social media will help achieve the next month’s target. Sadly it is a “no”.
To understand Social Media and use it well for your business, think about the following:
How your business gets done–has it changed? I mean the nature of your business and how your industry/sector has changed. List out the changes.
How you do business-has it changed? With respect to your own customers, what are the changes in your activities that have been implemented or to be implemented? List out the changes. 
How you run your organization-has it changed? What are the organizational changes that you have brought in or needs to be brought in? List out the changes. Is it in sync with the above two changes?
Most importantly, what has been driving these changes? 
This will be a good starting point to understand what changes have happened and what you should change. This is the hardest part. Understanding this change. Once you realize this change, you will easily understand it has three parts: cultural, technological and operational. The first and hardest part would be the cultural change. Rest two can be done relatively easier. The first change i.e. cultural change will help you implement operational changes. You will also realize that any one individual in one of the functions cannot bring about such changes in an isolated way. It has to be across the board. The organization as a whole has to change to get the results. 
Forget the tools initially. Appreciate the basic ideas behind them and how it can be useful with respect to your business functions. This will help you understand the tools that you need. 
Now look at what kind of social media tools will fit.  You will start understanding how social media tools can fit your business. There is no one single answer. Last few years the answers have been changing. The impacts of tools are dynamically changing. Keeping track of things and catching up has been hard.
Depending on your engagement, social media tools will help you in all-round development of your business. This will include sales, better customer satisfaction, market intelligence and productivity of your employers. The list is only indicative. You can decide how Social Media will transform your business. 
Try this method. Let me know what you arrive at. Want to talk specific about your business? Just buzz me. I will be happy to talk to you.

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

Fear Of Online Social Marketing

foto: fb share
Are you afraid of Social Media? The biggest worry for marketers is that someone can detract their message. They fear that someone can contribute negatively to their existing brand reputation. They do not want negative comments. They do not want Social Media.
Consider the example of any popular product online. There will be 100s of reviews for the product. Apart from these reviews, there will be 1000s of discussions on the product. Where are they happening? Anyone with a gadget and an internet connection can talk today. Someone can talk in his blog or in a social network. Not necessarily all talk will be negative. They can also promote the product with positive statements, photos, videos and share their enthusiasm for the product. It can go both ways, negative or positive. And everyone with an internet connection can have access to these for free. Businesses also get these promotions, endorsements and loyalty free of cost. If you are using social media tools, you can monitor these and you can use these references for free in your engagement. Such positive endorsements can promote your brand much better than your messages. You can also reduce misunderstanding of your product when you monitor negative sentiments or complaints. Or even rectify and can have a better product for future in genuine cases.
A whole lot of websites today serve as a place for such positive and negative sentiments which make or break a brand. Whether you participate or not, consumers have a voice today and they are only getting louder by the day. 
Social Media is people talking to people. Hence your message cannot be controlled by you. It is not an announcement which people will just listen to. You can talk and they will keep talking too. The people whom you address are part of your message now. Hence you need balance. Their voice is equally(if not more) powerful. 
Avoiding Social Media is not the answer to this. Educating people about your objectives will help. Being transparent should help. You can handle negativity in many ways.
The only way forward is to learn and use Social Media the proper way. 

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