Silly Me @ Times

Past couple of weeks I have been “dismissing” the morning alarms (yes, plural) on my phone, which once used to be snoozed to death before I would even consider calling it a new day. With eyes wide open, I wondered what could be wrong? Did I finally satiate my body and mind with the slumber that it had been craving for all these years OR am I an insomniac now? The plethora of possibilities and webMD did not present a good picture…the endless web of internal links landed me on the most dreaded page called “cancer symptoms”. Time for some positive thoughts, I said to myself, and decided on a very generic prognosis for my unusual sleep pattern – STRESS. Surrounded by scented candles, essential oils and green tea mugs (both empty and filled) I thought the de-stressing game was on point…at least the Instagram pictures would make you think so.

As I crashed after a soulful day, the thought of waking up just in time to manage looking like a human for office made me smile. Next morning with eyes wide open and the phone screen shining bright on my face, I had two questions on my mind…What is wrong with me? And Why is green tea so over rated? It was then, 4:30 in the morning, that an email notification which read ‘win a diamond ring’ made me go AH HA! While I was still connecting the dots in my mind and working out a possible cause, a series of email notifications started a frenzy of vibrating fits on my phone. Diamonds, grocery free codes, discount coupons, mall offers, season collection…you name it and I had it in my inbox at 5 o’clock in the morning! That’s like 2 hours before my first alarm goes off, are you kidding me?

This ‘vibrating-ping-pong-notification-fest’ has been keeping me awake all this while. Pheww…it’s not insomnia but now I’m definitely stressed about how to stop this noisy morning ritual which I don’t even recollect starting in the first place. For the first time I was opening emails that were either ‘too good to be true’ or ‘too much to be real’. And the irony…as a marketer I often work on content for email marketing and newsletters and being on the receiving end of it was not quite pleasant. With a heavy heart and serious doubt for my profession I decided to unsubscribe and stop receiving these emails and newsletters.

The first was an online apparel site where I have never bought anything but I do like to check out what’s in store so I gave this one a pass. Next was an online grocery which had a coupon code and some simple steps to use it. After I was done grocery shopping and efficiently using the coupon to avail discount, there was no way I was going to unsubscribe this one. It took me 2 hours to realize that I could safely unsubscribe 2 emails that were completely useless in my inbox the rest (13 of them) were in fact of some use for me. This was a bitter sweet moment for me… when I appreciated my profession that allowed communication of such life changing offers and also dreaded the sleepless early mornings.

I was startled by the “nothing else matters” ring tone on my husband’s mobile phone when he said those golden words that would change my mornings forever…. “can you put that on silent please”.

Duh! right 😛

Can “Cold Calling” lead to “Hot Selling”?!

Are you on the other side of the phone, with a script that has no emotions and a target that has no logic? If your answer is YES, then this blog is for you because you got it all wrong bruh :-/

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But…If you are on the other side of the phone, with a strategy crafted for the person you are calling that will initiate a meaningful business relationship? then go chill!! you have it figured out 😀

So you know what I am talking about…Cold Calling. If you are a noob then here is a wikipedia definition for you – “Cold calling is defined as the solicitation of business from potential customers who have had no prior contact with the salesperson conducting the call.” You get it? all the credit card, health insurance, property dealer calls you get almost every day! It goes by a more professional term called telemarketing btw.

As a marketer I have no doubts that telemarketing is a very useful, result oriented and sophisticated marketing tactic that can generate leads, convert sales and develop business relations. I mean just think about it…you (a consumer) are chilling on a sunny day thinking about a luxurious foreign vacation and wallah! the phone rings and a warm voice tells you how a credit card with travel benefits can make your dream come true. I mean this is the story of modern age genie you guys!!

Sadly in real life this is how the scenario unfolds…you (a consumer) are overworked in your office trying to catch up with the pending to-do list and damn! the phone rings and a high pitched voice starts narrating a story that’s just  mumbo-jumbo words with very little sense in it. And you just slam the phone down hoping to never hear that voice again. Some who have lost hope even block these numbers to be sure!

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So where is it going wrong? It all sounded good when you were presenting the strategy in the conference room…100 calls per day > 50% response rate > 10% pipeline ….the numbers were magical! then what went wrong?

“Knock Knock”

“Who’s this”

“Your strategy that needs better EXECUTION”

* i use humor as a defense mechanism 😀 😀

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So Let’s talk about Useful, Result Oriented & Sophisticated cold calling (yes it exists) and how these simple pointers can really change the game for you:

1.WHO AM I?

FYI, this is deep. Before you pick up that phone to dial an unknown number please be sure who you are. Find an answer to who (your company) and what ( your role and offered solution) gives you the power to make this call. I say this because many a times I get a call from “someone” from “somewhere” telling me things which are secondary part of a conversation. Please take some time to introduce yourself and your purpose before you jump right into the tele script.

2.  IS IT A GOOD TIME?

If you are not asking this question before you nose dive into a long conversation with a complete stranger…please don’t complain that chivalry is dead, cause you are killing it! Please appreciate other person’s time and give them the option to opt in or out of the call basis their present state of affairs. If they are busy ask more a suitable time to call back and please call back.

3.  SCRIPT OR NO SCRIPT?

I am not saying tele-scripts are useless but they are redundant. I was once given the task to make a tele-script for IT solution sales and believe me there is no end to the number of possibilities how the conversation would go. So i just took the most likely situations and made a script (or what turned out to be a list of FAQs) that was meant to give direction to a telemarketing rep. So step out of it and use it only for directions! try to sound genuine, add a personal touch and go with the flow of the other person’s response.

4.  OK I HEAR YOU, NOW WHAT?

Ever happen to you? you get so busy planning for the worse that you run out of reactions when it all works out? After a dozen unsuccessful attempts when that one God sent angel says the golden words like…”yes, I’d like to know about this” OR “yes, I want that” OR “yes, Ok” what then? You are probably dancing on your seat thinking of the deal you just won. Na ah! stop dancing and get real…tell them the steps that follow, call to action that includes signing up right now or a meeting request.

5.  ARE YOU THANKFUL?

Yes you are in the above scenario…the guy just signed up for your service. But are you thankful when someone says “sorry, but I don’t need this”? probably not much, but you gotta be! Not wanting to sound preachy at all but that’s the rule. Thank them for their time, any information that they might have shared, their patience while you were finding the right answer and most importantly their interest (if any).

I guess this helps every telemarketer who is armed with a phone that has a lot of potential. Let me know your thoughts…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Content Marketing 2022

Hail the power of sharing!

Not so much the “sharing is caring” moral science lesson we all got as kids…but that small share button by the corner of everything you read and watch online. A one click reach to all the watchful eyes who are ever so keen to know what you are up to!

Honestly I am not much of a sharer because I tend to apply a lot of filters to what is good/bad/interesting/politically correct about a post and by the time I am done contemplating the subject…its too late. But  you can still appreciate the power of the share button being on the receiving end of it. Everyday I come across such amazing reads, updates and happenings around the world about something as random as walnuts and as specific as my interests. So while I am still sticking to the long checklist of do’s and dont’s before sharing something online (which btw is a good topic for a blog), here’s a good read on content marketing that a connection shared on LinkedIn.

Content Marketing in 2022: Very Personal, No Silos, and Lots of Voice

content-marketing-2022-cmw-experts-talkWhere do you see yourself in five years?

Do you hate that question as much as I do? While I’m not a fan (perhaps because I’ve never had a great answer), I understand why it’s asked. The interviewer wants to know that the job candidate has considered the short-term future and wants to see how the candidate’s potential path for success fits with the company’s.

With a professional twist, we asked the experts presenting at Content Marketing World what they see in the next five years as the biggest changes in content marketing. This isn’t a list of predicted tech advances or outlandish guesses – it’s practical and proactive. You could take one or all 25 and begin working on them today (if you’re not already) – to plan strategically for short- and long-term success.

We’ve segregated the answers based on the five emerging themes – personalization, formats, implementation, voice-activation, and data.

 

http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2017/08/content-marketing-2022/#.WYCOrfdjvHU.linkedin

doing my bit of sharing 🙂

 

 

 

 

Are you asking the right questions??

OK, this has happened with me many a times. I’d spend so much energy and time scheduling meetings with clients, preparing the presentation, confirmation emails to and fro and of course navigating to the office location. But all of this is a prep work for the final few minutes (depending how much you have been granted) that you get with the client. Once you are through the usual greetings, one liner puns to ease the tempers (for being late in my case :-/) and exchange of business cards….the time starts ticking for you to make some sense before its time to wrap up. Now you know how important this topic is??…and realize how easily you can turn a crucial meeting into a futile exercise if you DO NOT ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS!

I am going to write about some of my meetings with clients and how to I prepared to ace it. As a marketing professional I meet clients who are looking for marketing and branding solutions, and that’s what I am going to talk about here. Believe me…its the worst feeling coming back from a meeting and saying this↓↓↓ to yourself 😀

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Scenario I:   Introduction Meeting

There are times when the agenda of the meeting says “get to know”. do not fall for the trap and take it as a typical networking meeting where you exchange cards and check out the other person’s clothing (#judgemenot). If the client wants to “get to know ” you there is always some scope of work which s/he does not want to disclose straight away. And so it becomes your onus to get that scope of work out of them during the meeting. Think of it as an interrogation only set up in a corporate environment and no gansta talk 😛

So here are 5 questions that you MUST ask when meeting your client/prospects for the first time.

#1 About the organization

well i know the name says abc motors or xyz construction…so its pretty obvious. But do not shy away from asking the client about their company because then you know what and how they describe their business. believe me they always gives away a lot of additional information that you will not find in their ‘about us’ section of the website…like what are their business priorities, expansion plans, subsidiaries and so on.

Also, read between the lines when they say we are planning to set up a team, acquire some business or maybe shut some part of the business. That is where either you are required or you can pitch for your services.

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#2 How did you come to know about our company?

The benefits of asking this question is twofold…here’s how. My company’s marketing investment is focused on Google SEO and Adwords. So if we get to know that companies are reaching out to us after they see our ads or spot us in the top rankings of Google search, we know its money well spent. If companies are hearing about you from other industry players…then you must be doing your job right!

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#3 How can we help you?

Its simple and straight forward. Up until this time in the meeting the two parties have “known” each other quite well so let’s stop the dilly dally and talk business. Of course before you ask this question introduce your company and all the services that you provide. So that the client/prospect is not wondering if you are the right person to ask for help. It is always better to have a company presentation, brochure or profile so that the client gets to see your work.

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#4  Do you want to know more?

It is like breadcrumbs you leave behind to let the conversation flowing. Yes the client needs something that you can provide as a one time job. But if you see more scope of business where you can definitely impress the client, here is you chance. Talk about how you can send them some more information via email of schedule another round of meeting to discuss in detail. The client’s response will also tell you about his interest level in doing business with you. So think of it as a litmus test of your performance so far.

Also if the client is interested and wants to see what you have in store, take a note of all that you gotta share and please do not forget to share the same!

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#5  What next?

This very question prompted me to write this post. Only that I asked this question to myself  on my way back from the meeting…What am I supposed to do next? You know the meeting went well, there is scope and it would be great if you could do business with them…but what do i do immediately after this meeting so that all of the possibilities become come true!

It is no good asking yourself this question…it is rather too late. Confirm the next set of actions before you sign off. Be on the same page and make a note of what key information/communication has to be exchanged between the two parties. You will be surprised as to how much a even a short meeting can lead to.  It is also a good practice to share minutes of the meeting (MOM) to have a record of the points discussed and it can accompany the ‘thank you/pleasure to meet you’ email.

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I hope this helps your next meeting 🙂 and don’t fall asleep during one 😉

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Value Innovation

Reading ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ by W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne. My first attempt at reading this book was during my MBA days because it falls under the “must read” category for all business students. But then we had a project submission…you know what i mean (wink wink). I feel NOW is the right time for me to read this book because what i learn will not end up in a hefty answer sheet…it will be used in the current business environment!

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I couldn’t agree more with the authors about the over emphasis on beat the competition strategy by companies who are trapped in the red ocean. No wonder the first few slides of all my presentations are competitor analysis. I am not saying that don’t keep an eye on your competition, their products, pricing and marketing approach but it is not exciting anymore to just up your game (enough to beat the competition) on the relative scale. Obviously the plan is not going to work for a very long time because your competition has been watching you all this while and planning their next move.

I understand the momentary sense of victory that teams and companies experience when they see sales rising by percentage points in comparison to the former market leaders but is that real victory?! consumers today are not the loyal kind, they are mindful explorers who hustle through the supermarket rows to find the right stuff for them. Offers excite them, discounts please them and yes don’t forget the service that follows.

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So what then? 

That’s what this book is about…

  • Make competition irrelevant
  • Create a leap in value for the customer
  • Open new & uncontested market space

 

Sounds good but…Howzat??

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Innovation is a buzzword these days and companies are trying hard to foray into this domain and join the “tech-forward” bandwagon. Interestingly, innovation cuts across business units and verticals in an organization. Production and storage innovation for instance can uplift a company’s operations but the consumer does not directly benefit from it. Also, technology innovations that are way ahead of its time and cost a fortune do not create value for customers.

Value Innovation is a critical strategy that aligns innovation with utility, price and cost positions to allow focus on both differentiation and low cost. The diagram above speaks volume and explains the concept beautifully. So next time I am surely going to include a slide on value innovation for my clients who are seeking strategies to grow their business and come out of the bloody red ocean.

what do you think?

Festive Season Marketing

It is my fourth month in Doha, Qatar and my first ever experience of staying and working in the middle east. Coming from India, where i got my education and started my career in marketing, I am now excited to explore this new part of the world and know it’s culture and traditions from of the eyes of a marketer.

Living here you cannot stay untouched from the flow of emotions during the holy month of Ramadan. It did not come to be as a surprise because a multi culture land like India certainly opens you up to different religious belief and practices. But here Ramadan becomes a part of your every day life during this one month.Be it the early morning work hours, the way you greet people, the sense of oneness in having a meal together…it leaves you feeling loved and blessed irrespective of who you are and where you come from.

While most people practice austerity and charity during this time, one cannot miss the loud festive marketing that lures you to the amazing sales and offers in the mall. When you step out on the streets there are ‘Ramadan Kareem’ wishes all around you…and they are mostly coupled with some great offer details that you wouldn’t want to let go. But this is not new, it is exactly the same during Diwali in India…from electronics to automobiles to gold… every store front is wishing you a prosperous Diwali and selling you stuff to make it prosperous.

But its not just material…Emotions are the driving force behind every festive season marketing. Case in point is surf excel ad, a well known and used detergent brand all over the world. Most surf excel ads beautifully capture how stains are effortless…both getting one and getting it off. But here is their Ramadan ad which instills in our mind the importance of kindness during this holy month. #NekiEkIbadat being the core messaging for this ad, I love how this ad pulls all the right strings of emotional attachment with the occasion and the brand.  It is inspiring to watch and learn…