The Power of the Personal Brand or How a Personal Brand can help You and your Business

Today, or rather last night, my state lost a dynamic leader – Selvi Dr. J Jayalalithaa, fondly referred to as Amma. This post is not a political tribute or even a personal eulogy to a tough stateswoman.  In her passing however, and in replaying the most remarkable aspects of her public persona, I was reminded of the incredible power of the personal brand.

Author – Team Inception

Categories: branding, Inception, Marketing, People, Perspective, Visible expertise, better insights, Business, Ideas for business, Importance of Marketing, Personal Branding, Strategising, Thinking, thought leadership

Five things a newsletter can do for your B2B business

As a marketer in a business-to-business (B2B) company, have you been wondering if a newsletter is necessary for your organisation? Or have you launched a newsletter but you are not really sure of what to expect from it?
Even in this era of social media, email newsletters are one of the most effective and cost-efficient marketing strategies, particularly in B2B scenarios. A newsletter that is relevant and engaging can complement your other marketing initiatives and have a positive effect on your business.

Author – Team Inception

Categories: mailchimp, Business, email, email marketing, marketing, sendy, Uncategorized

WHAT SOMEONE MEANS WHEN THEY SAY, “I WANT A NEW WEBSITE”?

I am sure many of us have woken up one fine morning and felt, I am not looking right! Perhaps a dire change of wardrobe is needed, maybe a new haircut, maybe it’s the glasses that need changing or could be a great tattoo. A need for personality change or improvement applies not just to people, but to businesses too!

Author – Team Inception

Categories: Inception, Inception Business Services, Marketing, Business, communication, Digital media, Importance of Marketing, marketing, Thinking, website

Marketing -Fodder for Sales

In a meeting, a wise gentleman once summarized my marketing pitch for the company, made a few calculations, saw the ballpark investment I was asking him to make and exclaimed “I don’t even pay my sales guys that much!” In my personal opinion that is the exact exclamation that determined the destiny of his brand.

Author – Team Inception

Categories: Inception Business Services, Marketing, Business

Who needs a CMO

Being a Consulting & Outsourced Marketing firm, we at IBS get to meet business owners with varying sizes and types of businesses - from bootstrapped start-ups to profit-making mid-sized companies and even the large companies. One of our key observations is that, no matter what the scale of the business, marketing as a function and area does not always get the required attention.

This is not just the case for new age/digital marketing areas like social media or inbound marketing, but this issue spans across time spent in basic marketing thinking like brand positioning, value proposition to creation and deployment of marketing collaterals and communication.

The comforting truth is that today, given the spurt in new ways of working and collaboration, interesting ways to outsource work and available options, one does not always need huge budgets or a fancy marketing team to make all of this happen. To flip the question of this very blog's title - perhaps we should really ask “Who doesn't need a CMO?”

A CMO typically supports the Business Owner/ CEO by thinking, planning, strategising, executing and recalibrating the various aspects of the organisation’s marketing. She would help prioritise spends, research and understand the customer needs and help translate the business vision into an actionable marketing plan. She would add the tools needed in the organization’s marketing arsenal, choose the best vendors to work with and manage the results one wants from Marketing for the business.

So why don’t many organisations have a CMO yet? High hiring costs, requirement to spend time in on-boarding the CMO, lack of a basic team to support the CMO in her execution, or maybe it is not a full time requirement right now, the reasons could be many.

For such organisations, working with a shared or outsourced CMO-on-hire is a great solution at the current life stage. By doing so, they can:

  1. Get access to this kind of talent at a portion of the cost
  2. Get access to a full-fledged team of marketers without having to invest in the people or infrastructure
  3. Begin with the end in mind - get a sense of metrics, what to measure and so on for what gets spent on marketing
  4. Invest little to reasonable time from the CEO / Owner level to make this happen

At IBS, this is one of the core ideas with which our journey began. By offering this very service – of an outsourced CMO or outsourced marketing team to growing organisations, we are able to ease a significant part of the business owner / CEO’s bandwidth. This in turn, allows them to do more with their time and resources. It is also a very fulfilling proposition as it gives us a sense of tremendous ownership and satisfaction, when our work directly impacts the intensity and quality of an organisation’s marketing efforts. Needless to say, there are challenges and constraints in the model, that need to be addressed right from the start. Nonetheless, given the benefits, we increasingly find, quite a few business owners, who are ready to embrace the idea of an outsourced CMO.

If you would like to understand how this works, give us a call or mail in to inception@inception.net.in, We have some interesting examples of how CMOs-on-hire work. Besides, we love nothing more than talking to different businesses and understanding their approach or expectation from marketing as a function.

About the Author:  
Pavithra is Founder & Partner at Inception Business Services. A Marketing & Management professional with a keen interest in people and passion for ideas, Pavithra moved from being a Banker & Wealth Management professional to entrepreneur. Working with start ups, Brand management, Customer engagement, Content creation and Coaching/Training are areas of work that most excite her. She is a multi-tasking entrepreneur, mother of a 4 year old and wife of a businessman. Mail her at pavithra at inception.net.in
Author – Team Inception

Categories: CMO, Inception, Inception Business Services, Marketing, Planning, Start Ups, Business, Executing, Outsourced Marketing, Strategising, Thinking

People for Start-ups

CAPITAL P
While doing my research for this article, I was amazed! When you type ‘resources for start-ups’ the most common and top of the line entries focus on financial resourcing, idea resourcing, design resourcing and so on. So little has been said about ‘people resourcing’. Getting the right people is half the battle won, for after all, they are the ones who will take the company forward.
Here are some important things to keep in mind while hiring for your organization.
Sharing the vision:
In this day and age of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Job sites etc. it is easy enough to get applicants to see and apply for a job at your company. However, irrespective of which level you are looking to hire for, an important criteria in the process should be to ensure that the candidate shares your company’s vision and truly believes in your proposition. The candidate should understand the values on which you have established your start-up, the path you chose to expand the business and be able to identify and contribute to these through his or her own skills. Fantastic growth and hence immediate increase in pay, on-the-job perks etc. are things that many candidates look for when they join start-ups. While growth in Start-ups is definitely faster, the expectation of immediate rewards can lead to disillusionment and disappointment in newly hired candidates. So while recruiting for your start up, remember to give a balanced picture and focus on the vision rather than on the compensation.
The Law of Averages:
When recruiting for your start-up you will find a lot of young talent applying for the positions. While it is tempting to hire fresh young candidates to keep the enthusiasm and energy going, it is equally important to have a few seasoned employees on board. Senior team members tend to bring in a practical angle and are great at handling relationships given their years of experience. They discern the possible and the probable and add tremendous value with their insights. The cost of such resources may be higher but well worth the investment. The ultimate goal is to have a good mix of young talent that is enthusiastic and buzzing with ideas and having experienced hands giving direction and shape to the organizations development. Once the balance is achieved, you have a winning workforce!
Equity- A start-up’s best tool!
What happens when you start a company with minimal capital and are keen on hiring talent? Today, the trends are shifting towards offering a part salary and a part equity stake. Many start-ups are extremely successful in attracting the right talent by offering compensation through equity- wholly or partly. The advantage of this set up is that often you will end up attracting those who are genuinely interested in the company’s business model and want to be part of it. “The people you want to attract to your business are the people who want equity”- Bill Harris, founder of Paypal (See what else Harris says here ). People come on board for the challenges that the start-up offers and are happy to be compensated for their work through equity. As an owner, you are also sure that your liability is limited to the performance of the business and are not taking on the burden of fully salaried employees.   The flipside to this though, maybe that your relinquish decision making to some extent. However, if you can find a perfect trade-off, this approach may serve you very well in the long run. You can read up on how to calculate equity here.
Keep looking- even if you are not hiring right away
Almost every guide on hiring for start-ups has this point. And yet I believe it is not emphasized enough! From personal experience, I have seen that keeping your mind and doors open can land you resources you would have missed out on had you believed otherwise. So many hires happen without it being part of the plan. If you meet a like-minded person who you think will fit into your business scheme (maybe not today but sometime in the future), express your desire to have them on board. Even if they do not consider it immediately, they know that there is an opportunity open to them to consider. And even if they will never consider it, they may know others who will form a good fit for your organization. So stay open to networking, not just for business but also to procure the right talent for your organization.
People contribute directly to the organizations performance, and hence getting the right people and offering them adequate reason to stay will put your company’s growth on the right trajectory!
If you’d like to read up some more on hiring for your start-up, here are some reference links:
For more interesting perspectives on People and Talent for start ups and young organisations, join us for Inception Day on 1 st June 2013. Our People Panel promises to be a great forum for talking about this. To confirm your participation at the event, click here:  http://event.ayojak.com/event/inception-day-2013

About the Author:  
Madhumita Ganapathy  - Associate Consultant at Inception Busi ness Services
Madhumita is a brand marketer known for her exuberance and zeal for getting things done. An MBA grad, Madhu started her marketing career at ITC and has been with IBS since mid-2012. She has contributed immensely to shaping  some of our young client brands. She now supports us in her new role as Associate Consultant based in Connecticut, USA. Apart from her passion for brands & marketing, Madhu loves classical Indian dance, travel and writing.
Connect  Madhu on LinkedIn.
or
Connect with her via email at  madhumita@inception.net.in
Author – Team Inception

Categories: 4P's of Marketing, Inception, Inception Day, Marketing, People, Start Ups, Business, communication, Customer Service, Empathy, Employees, innovation, P's of Marketing

The Saga of Sales - Team Blog#2

Team Blog by Mala Dhalani - Head, Marketing Services @ IBS

For someone who dreamed of the “Brand Manager” designation while at B School, I have spent the first four years of my corporate life in Sales. As if being a Sindhi was not enough, numbers assumed a different level of importance in my life because of sales. Targets, Pipeline, Month-Ends, Pressure, Cheque - all became an inextricable part of my vocabulary. With pressure levels at most times being higher than the humidity levels in Chennai, I have seen many a people try their hand and succeed or fail at this art of sales. Now, no longer a “salesperson”, I can stand back, take a look and weigh exactly how much of a value add the last four years have been and I am amazed. Some very important learning’s as I look at them:

Empathy – Sales has certainly taught me to be more human. I no longer shoo away salesmen of vacuum cleaners or brash fully disconnect the call on a credit card salesperson. I know the grit, the hard work, the motivation and the sheer courage that it often takes to either land up on the doorstep of a stranger or to try and convince someone you do not know to buy something (in some case they do not even know what they are selling J ).


Getting over your biggest fear “Rejection” – If you are afraid of rejection, I strongly recommend a sales stint. It happens so often that you have no choice but to get over it! I would rate this as one of the top three learning. Sales has made me tougher, helped me get over my inhibitions, be more confident and most importantly helped me accept “NO” as an answer graciously (sometimes not so graciously too).


Quickest way to fame – The feeling of success in sales like no other. First and most importantly, there is the personal satisfaction of holding that cheque in your hand and knowing that you have earned your salt. Be it any value, the sense of being a contributor to wealth creation in the organization has given me very many instances to smile. Second, it is the easiest way to get recognized by the higher ups. Be it in a team of 1000 or 50 people, being in the top quartile gets you a guaranteed tete-a-tete with “THE BOSS”!


Geographical Understanding – Although I was born and brought up in Chennai, I never understood the geography of the city quite like I understood it when I started my first sales role. From knowing the secret routes to gaining ability to interpret directions (most likely received verbally from junta on road) I learnt the art of travelling through a city. Even in my second stint, where I handled a relatively small territory of five districts, the learning of the places, the modes of travel, exact places where you find roads (and not potholes), understanding of maps and shortcuts have been great takeaways.


Starting from scratch – No matter how your “Month-End” has been you always start the next with a “0”. The scoreboard is cleaned up and you need to run again. This particular learning has helped me immensely not just in business but life in general (had to get philosophical at some point). You could have been a star on the 31st and celebrated with a few beers or you could have been on zero the entire month and drank a few beers anyway (in depression) but on the 1st you are back on the starting line. It lets you move on, from your zone of comfort or discomfort and start afresh again and again and again, till it becomes a habit.


Growth and learning – My greatest learning comes from meeting and interacting with people from various walks of life. The last four years in this respect have contributed immensely to my learning curve hence making it very important to me. (I need to mention here that I have been in direct B2C and B2B sales where I have interacted with customers and users of the product/services directly). I have had the good fortune of interacting with people from industrialists to teachers from corporate honchos to fresh recruits from NRIs to farmers (and sometimes the not so good fortune also of meeting people with abysmally low IQ and EQ levels). Each of these engagements has been extremely enriching to say the least.


Business Perspective – In my view there is no other function that can give a better view of how the business runs than sales. As a sales person I interacted with almost all functions of the business - Marketing: salespeople are their direct customers; Operations: Only then is it possible to make relatively realistic promises to clients; Finance: They do not spare you unless you have your receivables all collected and kept in the bank. Now that I am spear heading our own business from scratch, I can understand most aspects of how a business runs thanks to my experience and in-turn also able to apply this learning to our clients businesses; because at the end of it I have realized that no outflow is justified if it cannot bring in the necessary inflow.


Staying the difficult times - The most important learning – to face customers when all goes wrong. I worked in the financial products sales from April 2007 to Aug 2009. The market levels during this period resemble an erratic ECG graph of a person during heart attack. It is not easy to talk to someone when you know that it any small way you are perhaps responsible for their wealth and hard earned savings becoming one third the value. But I did and I learnt my most important learning – people buy from people and stay with people. Most people have a bigger heart than we think and at the end each one respects that you have stayed the most difficult period and that’s mostly what matters and helps build some of the most cherished relationships.


All the pressure, the tensions, the rejections and the difficult conversations notwithstanding, the last four years have been a great experience (and some great money too – Incentives!!). Try your hand at sales atleast once, I guarantee you your own set of wonderful experiences. Happy Selling!

Author – Team Inception

Categories: Lessons, Marketing, Perspective, Rejection, Sales, Target, achievement, Business, communication, Corporate Sales, Empathy, Learning, Month Ends, Sales Pressure

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