A Secret That Works Well For Me

MindLet me quickly share a secret which works well.
I have been working with #socialbiz (short for Social Business) advisory services and with SME customers in many parts of the world for almost 5 years now in a full-fledged way.
Most of the times customers agree to everything I say but finally ends up with
“I am not yet ready for expenses”
It is always this, when it comes to #socialmedia.
Many of us would agree that it is not true, but we need to accept customers’ answers. What is the way out?
My way out:
I tell them: Ok. I will accept “what you can pay” or “free for certain amout of time” with two riders: 1. I will deal with only the decision-maker while working with your project or company 2. You(the decision-maker) have to put in your time and learn with me.
This is a beautiful filter. If the first objection is false, then customers will find another excuse for this and hence they are not worthy enough to cater to.
If the first objection is genuine, they will take my offer. Once they spend time and learn with me, there is no going back and understand the significance of what I am saying and see the value-for-money. So I win over the client and the trust that develops through this method is long-standing.
Its a win-win situation.

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.

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

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

The Business Impact Series: New Markets

The Cluetrain Manifesto
The Cluetrain Manifesto (Photo credit: Esse)

Just saw this in the twitter stream today:

World Population: 
1) China 2) India 3) FACEBOOK
4) United States 5) Indonesia 6) Brazil 7) TWITTER 
If this is so, dont you think that facebook and twitter becomes an important place for your business? 
As cluetrain manifesto says “Markets are Conversations”.
Especially I like the 17th one there: 

Companies that assume online markets are the same markets that used to watch their ads on television are kidding themselves.

I am sure your company has marketing guys who are country-specific. Have you thought of a “VP-Marketing” for Social Networks as a market place? why not?   Evaluate social networks as a market place. I assure you it will be an interesting exercise to start with and will lead you to a whole new world of opportunities for business.
Let me know what you can find or cannot. Send in a word here and I will be happy to hear and talk to you. 
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Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com