Collaborative growth

Posted by on Jan 28, 2011 in EPM World, Marketing, Branding, Start-up business | 0 comments

The scope and approach of marketing has been an ever evolving affair ever since the Online / Internet era came into being.  Economic globalization is the other contributing aspect where service providers or product manufacturers had to come up with ingenious measures to promote their products and services.  Among the other measures, collaborative marketing and online presence have taken the priority slot owing to the flexibility, dynamics and cost effectiveness they bring in along.

Collaboration in the areas of equity, technology, research, marketing, human expertise and branding are some of the options in vogue.  FDI is the regular activity in developing economies.  This is highly evident in India where investments have been made in various sectors like manufacturing, retail, realty, hospitality, health care and in many other areas.

The glaring difference, however, has been that the collaborative development is restricted to major industries or corporate businesses because of the financial strength, market reach and human expertise they possess.

Entrepreneurs in SSI & SME sector too must study this trend where they could showcase the advantages to prospective collaborators in the matters of technology, research, manufacturing capacity expansion or service competence.  This in turn will help them in realizing big dreams taking the counter advantage of collaborators who could bring in equity, global reach and process excellence into the organization.

The major challenges faced by SSI & SME sector have been credit, marketing and technical know-how.  Going for bank credit towards market expansion or branding may not be a viable measure where collaborative growth is possible.  The SSI & SME sector must focus on building online presence while working for collaborative marketing so that an early growth is possible with promising future.

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Communication – The barrier and the bridge

Posted by on Jan 24, 2011 in EPM World, Marketing, Branding, Project Management, Self-employment | 0 comments

There are two perpetual processes that happen within us.  The first one breathing which is a life long process and which happens involuntarily whether we are in sleep or awake.

The second one communication.  We communicate with people around us or communicate within our-self when we are not in sleep.  Besides, we also keep communicating unconsciously in our dreams during our sleep.  Dreams may not be regular, but dreams are a sort of communication with the unknown things and depths.

While breathing gives us life, communication makes our life.  While we have nothing to do with the process of breathing unless during the time of Yoga or Meditation, it is the process and act of communication that we have every thing to do with.  All the words like who, whom, when, what, how much, and where apply to communication like:

  • what to communicate
  • where to communicate
  • how to communicate
  • how much to communicate
  • when to communicate
  • who to communicate with whom

These observations play a vital role during our interactions with the God, parents, spouse, elders, children,  colleagues, senior colleagues, strangers and many others.  Over communication to our-self and within our-self (introversion) is also undesirable.

Communication as we all know is passive, active, verbal, oral, written, bodily, multilingual, multilevel, and multidimensional.  Communication should always be precise, concise and tender.  Atharva Veda says communication should be soft and tender worded.

We achieve our personal and professional objectives through communication.  Right communication wins over a girl friend.  We know what happens if the same goes wrong.  A project is achieved through communication.  Whether it is a meeting, written document, drawing, diagram, visual piece, dispute, argument, trust, secrecy.  Every thing is a communication.  Project management consists of only these things or more related.  Thus, if we are able to maintain right and precise communication we can achieve successful projects.  One can become a successful professional.

A composed, cool and pointed communication can win over your enemies.  The content of your communication how much ever precise and contextual it may be, it will not bring in desired results when conveyed in anger or outbursts.

Every other situation which went wrong or which went right has some thing to do with our communication.  It could be personal relations or professional interactions.  A Doctor’s kind word works better than the vials he inject, an empathetic tone acts as a succor, a magic word makes the project team more productive, and a silent communication with the God can give us an eternal peace.

There is always some thing to correct in our communication as life is a perpetual learning process and we need to live our life in peace and harmony.

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Untapped human resources

Posted by on Jan 6, 2011 in EPM World, Marketing, Branding | 0 comments

One perpetual requirement in business is committed manpower.  Especially in the areas of marketing and business development.  There is a vast unwillingness among the job aspirants to get in to a job that demands periodical sales target achievement or market reach development.

Contrasting to this trend, I regularly find at city traffic signals several homeless migrants (who live on foot path) earn their livelihood by selling miscellaneous merchandise like toys, tooth buds, dusting cloths, umbrella, and many such items.  They are the people who lack absolutely NIL education, who never had any training, who hardly knew what is sales and who never expect big returns. More over we can find among them male and female of all age groups i.e. 10 years to 60 years aged.  They obviously would go by sales targets i.e. to earn their days’ or more income. Is this not appreciable?

I suppose this situation should be a learning tool for many who fear sales and marketing jobs.  Employment or any livelihood avocation is always a challenge.  Challenges make a person more thoughtful which make him apply his hitherto unlearned intelligence.  It prepares him for more challenges leading to more success rate.

Let us learn a lesson from those un-found and untrained human resources.

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Judicious spending on promotion

Posted by on Jan 2, 2011 in EPM World, Marketing, Branding | 0 comments

Promotion of business offerings of an organization is a regular agenda.  However, the cost and means of promotion and advertisement becomes a definite mooting point considering the phenomenal costs especially of news paper advertisement and TV advertisement.  The question?  Should we prefer News Paper advertisement?  Who should prefer means of TV / Visual promotion?

The base criteria in deciding the means of promotion would be the targeted geographical reach or focused consumer class or both.  Other factors:

  • Density of competition: To understand competitor presence and the efforts required to push our products against such competition.  If the competitor is highly aggressive in terms of price, service or brand position, it would be very difficult for a start up and new business to spend that kind of budget and to wait for the markets to accept his product or service.  Hence, it is not prudent in the initial stages of product roll out to focus on such market geographies.
  • Market size: Business is judging the Return on Investment.  We need to understand the sales volume that could be achieved in the target geography so that you could size the promotion budget accordingly.  There could be an acceptance of your product in the area.  However, if the market size is very small, you could address this at a later stage or through dealer network.  I have seen several instances where highly reputed brands couldn’t squeeze even a small amount of sales against their big campaigns in certain geographies.  It may work for bigger companies, but for the small businesses it is never suggested to experiment their budget.
  • Dealer / affiliate network: Should consider appointing dealer or affiliate network who can push the product in to the market through their established network or proven presence.  Customers, stakeholders generally accept their recommendation.  This will alleviate the pains of reaching direct to the customer.
  • Capacity of supply chain system: Does your present supply chain system i.e. marketing personnel, means of transport, tools to coordinate and review sales and service can meet the requirement in the geography?
  • Capability to extend after sales service in the target region: This is the most important factor.  The first metric to survive in the business is after sales service.  Did you build required service network?  Can you extend prompt after sales service to the customer in the area.
  • Price competitiveness or pricing sensitivities: What is the ruling price of services or product in the area.  Is your competitor very aggressive in the region?  Do you need to compromise on the margins through discounts, free offers etc.,  Can you afford such competitiveness?

Once we have the data as required above, we should focus on the cost effective means of promotion through following channels.

  • Institutional sales
  • Direct selling
  • News paper inserts
  • Mobile hoardings
  • Cluster based campaign
  • Road shows
  • Collaborative promotion
  • Online marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Localized news paper or TV campaign
  • Consumer awareness weeks (Seminars / Workshops / Consumer participation)

There is never a one rule with respect to means and cost of promotion and advertisement of your business offerings.  It always based on market assessment and number pragmatism.

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Corporate & Professional – How do I give this identity to my organisation?

Posted by on Apr 3, 2010 in EPM World, Marketing, Branding, Uncategorized | 1 comment

When an organization truly competes the characteristics of its line business, in a more transparent way, it could be called a professional entity. When an organization defines its business objectives in clear terms duly indicating the strategy and the delivery mechanism, it paves way for professional development. We could enumerate the following aspects in an enterprise to understand the level of professionalism adopted by it.

  • Scope and clarity in service offerings
  • Vision & Mission
  • Culture, values and ethics
  • Strategy & Planning to achieve its Vision
  • Brand conscious and brand positioning measures
  • HR and Communication flow in the organization
  • Policy provisions and delivery mechanism to achieve organizational productivity
  • Implementation of Best Practices and Certification standards in the functional areas
  • Transparency while dealing the issues of discrimination, grievance, disputes
  • Implementation of technology
  • Statutory identities
  • Clean financial and taxation system
  • Social accountability

Further professionalism is more of an accountability and transparency. It is possible to achieve these aspects when an organization deploys related processes to implement the above provisions. Let us understand process as any given transaction or task to be achieved in the functional or departmental context. For example, performance appraisal of human resources is a process, raising an invoice is a process, quality check list is a process, exit formality is a process, and any report document is a process. At this reckon there will be hundreds and thousands of processes that an organization has to effectively deliver in order to achieve the true performance levels.

The process could be a hard copy format or a digital document. Organizations inevitably follow both the formats as total automation and paperless environment is still not feasible in our business environment. As an example for digital processes, any CRM application at the minimum shall have numerous processes related to sales and after sales support. An ERP application is the true mirror of enterprise-wide processes.

Further, every process should be flexible for due customization. The technology tools like ERP application invariably enable deployment of a given process, modification of the same with due controls, monitoring and measuring it for performance. Still an ERP application enables to integrate the enterprise wide functions and processes so that enterprise productivity and performance is reckoned periodically by the top management with due checks and controls.

Finally beyond all the above, it is the conduct, attitude, accountability and commitment of employees that brings in right identity to the organization as a whole. Hence, in today’s business the HR development is given top priority to match to the organizational vision and mission. Employees should also realize that the positive identity and values achieved by an organization shall invariably enhance the professional value of their individual profiles.

Professional identity and corporate culture brings in stakeholder loyalty (employees, vendors, suppliers, customers, partners …), creates brand value and develops business. Thus any investments made in this direction shall bring in the Returns on Investment (ROI).

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Marketing – The Business Driver

Posted by on Apr 3, 2010 in EPM World, Marketing, Branding | 0 comments

Companies irrespective of their size and age need to work on market development. We find, the bigger the company, the larger the marketing and promotion activity they undertake. As a matter of fact, the companies grow big through consistent marketing. Notwithstanding other requirements.

How does small start-up Company with smaller budgets, promote its business?

For such start ups, I have drawn the suggested marketing measures in the picture herein. The steps indicated are not exclusive or compulsive for a business. Right focus could be arrived once the nature of business, company’s vision and strategy is known. The approach is to put on high priority all the marketing efforts that wont cost big monies. The marketing measures for Start-ups from Phase-I to Phase-III hardly need any budget. You should have one or two right executives (who understand well your company’s product / service range and who takes-up the ownership of his role), in the initial stages.

You will need specific budgets only from Start-ups-Phase-IV onwards where you go for outdoor advertisements like lollipops, mobile media which are inexpensive while providing constant reminder of your products to people. By this time, the efforts under Start-ups-Phase-I to Phase-III will yield you reasonable business.

Similarly, when your marketing efforts under Start-ups-Phase-IV bring in good business, you could take-up measures indicated under Profit-zone stages. Whatever may be the company’s journey stage in the marketing matrix, you need to focus on every preceding measures with consistency. This will keep your business very active against any competition levels in the market.

The marketing matrix above is drawn to judiciously manage your business budgets. Say, you are doing well in the business with the measures indicated under ‘profit-zone’. Do you really need to go for expensive marketing measures like print media and visual media appearances? Yes, there is never an ending to the business growth. I mean it should not be so. Marketing through print & visual media would place you in the larger business league. This in turn will create confidence levels in the existing customers and prospectives to invest in your products or services. This is an essential factor considering the tough competition in the market. Such expensive measures may increase the production cost, but it will always not effect much on the end-user price considering the mass quantities of production that you undertake to meet the market demands. Such campaign will also achieve you increased support from all the stakeholders as it signifies your growth and firm presence in the market.

The effectiveness of marketing depends on the creativity in communication. Every marketing measure is a communication that you address the present and prospective customers. It could be an e-mail, a flyer, a blog, a hoarding or a TV commercial. It could be a personal visit of your executives to a customer. This obviously indicates that you should develop an effective and creative marketing collateral so that your communication reach the public in the way they should understand you and your product.

I strongly feel that every organization should collaborate with a creative marketing agency who will understand the organisational vision, culture, strategy and customer profile. Only then, they will be able to design right communication that will raise the requirement of your product in the audience.

Further, to gain consistent results out of your marketing efforts, it is indispensable to have impeccable delivery and support mechanism in the organization. If not, all the investments made to generate customer base will go in vain.

And we should remember ‘service after sales’ is the eternal secret of business success.

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