The 4 Facets Of Effective Brand Communication

The other evening my husband and I were having a conversation about persuasion. He happens to be a lawyer, and I, a marketer, and therefore, the art of persuasion is something we consider to be of primary importance.

Author – Team Inception

Categories: digital marketing, content marketing, CMO, Inception, Inception Business Services, Marketing, Target, better insights, Case Study, communication, Content, customer satisfaction, Importance of Marketing, Marketing Partner, ROI Marketing, Social Media, target market, Thinking, Uncategorized

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Digital Media Campaigns and Movies

Did you change your profile picture to include the light saber? Regardless of whether one has seen the original installments of Star Wars or not, today, the world has so ubiquitously come to know of the film – even millennials born way after the movies released – thanks to a clever digital media campaign. From Google to Facebook, Star Wars was a pretty interesting way to wed the internet with the intergalactic. But if you’re thinking theirs was the only marketing mix that included the digital media for the world of films, think again.

Author – Team Inception

Categories: CMO, Inception, Inception Business Services, Marketing, Movies, Star Wars, The Hunger Games, communication, Importance of Marketing, innovation, Men in Black, Social Media, Uncategorized

Brand Platforms – Some Indian Examples

In an earlier post, we explained how we believe Brand Platforms can be leveraged in the era of social media. In this post, we share specific examples of Brand Platforms, which have worked very well in India and have captured public imagination in recent times.

Author – Team Inception

Categories: CMO, Inception Business Services, Inception Day, Marketing, BrandPlatform, communication, Ideas for business, Importance of Marketing, Social Media, target market

Brand Platforms -In the Era of Social Media

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

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  [email protected]
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

Keep it Simple Silly!

Here is another blog from team IBS and one that is written by me after a long long time!!! 
So what is it that took me so long to break this jinx? Was it that I had something called a writer’s block as Mr. Stephen King calls it? No, I write my own personal blog at regular intervals. Was it that I did not find a suitable idea? No here too. There are a lot of ideas I get on and off which come as special brain waves and I have this “aha” moment where I want to wake up at 00:00 hrs and write about them (like I am right now) but when I start toying with that topic in my mind, I simply cannot find enough substance to add to it. I mean I don’t want to just go ahead and write a blog on 4Ps and 5Qs (;-p).
But here I am sitting in the middle of the night and furiously typing away (it is a pleasure to be typing away on a Mac anyways!) all thanks to Mr. Joel Spolsky (do not fret if you do not know him or have not heard of him as I did not know of this name till two days back!). This blog is prompted by a book he has written called “Smart and gets things done!“. No this blog is not about the book (I will write about this in my personal blog maladhalani.blogspot.com) but I would however recommend this book HEAVILY and it has to be one of the best books I have read.
This blog is about communication. I want to share here a few things, basics as I would refer to them, of communication which I think Mr. Spolsky has used so effectively in his book (it took me just three hours to finish the book and no it is not a suspense thriller, it is a book on how to hire people but I simply could not put it down!).
Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson
Image Source & Courtesy: 
#1: Simplicity
There is simply no substitute for simple language! It may be that you have memorized the oxford dictionary cover to cover or you simply like to keep the thesaurus word map open when you are typing something, but using heavy vocabulary is just plain inefficient! Nothing like getting your point across to someone in a simple language all the time making sure that the person reading/listening to you is understanding what you are saying the way you want it to be understood. I must admit it is quite a difficult thing to do!
#2: Humour
I am going to try and jog you down your memory lane a little bit and ask you to compare an important and serious lecture to an important but humorous lecture. No doubt on which one you remember and which one brought a smile to your face even now. Research also shows that after having laughed human beings are at their maximum level of focus. (Nah! That’s a bull crap statistic!!). It’s just so much nicer to read something or listen to someone who has included humour in the context. I am not suggesting making something frivolous here for the sake of it, but you will agree that just making someone laugh certainly ensures you of his or her attention (and happily so!)
#3: Directness
Just get to the point and do not beat around the bush. There is no need to give 10 examples to explain something when one is sufficient. Chances are that if someone does not get what you are saying the first time they will never get it! So unless there is a very strong reason for you to repeat something or explain with more than one example, don’t do it!  You are certainly putting off all the smart people and the dumb ones are not going to get it anyways!
So this is my long due but heart felt blog on communication and a few things to make yours effective. There are books that have been written on communication and I am sure a lot of them serve great value but these are just some thoughts inspired from Joel’s book. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Please do share your thoughts.

- Mala Dhalani
About the Author:
Mala is Partner at Inception Business Services. A Management & Marketing professional, Mala believes in the power of higher thinking as well as the power of on-ground execution. A voracious reader (check out http://maladhalani.blogspot.in) and a talented dancer, Mala is happiest when she is out there meeting new people, exchanging ideas and helping to make the world a better place.

Author – Team Inception

Categories: reading, simple ideas, basics of effective communication, communication

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

Customer Service: Going the extra “inch” - Team Blog#1

Team Blog by Pavithra Chara - Partner @ IBS
Customer Service is an area that always intrigues me and I enjoy observing the widely varying levels of customer service in my interactions with different product and service companies.  There is always debate on whether the extra mile that some companies choose to travel in the name of customer service is really worth the effort - that is, does it translate into customer loyalty, brand preference or free word of mouth recommendations and so on. When the extra “mile” is under so much debate, I dare to explore the concept of the extra “inch” – little things that cost really very little in terms of time and energy but in the customer’s perspective make a difference at some level.
Recently, I had reason to call the Toll-free customer care number of a leading Consumer Products brand. The reason was a mysterious refusal by our washing machine to power up and work that morning. As most women would appreciate, this is exactly the kind of morning one HATES to have and you can therefore imagine my mood as I made the call in for service support.

Having worked in the banking sector myself and having coaxed many customers to migrate to phone banking, I am usually quite comfortable with the typical call centre service. I quickly navigated through the IVR (Interactive Voice Response) portions and finally started speaking to a customer care person. What struck me during that phone call was that just after I explained the problem (or my interpretation of the problem!), the person actually said “Ma’m, I am really sorry for the inconvenience this must have caused you this morning”. I recognized it as a well-drafted sentence and knew it was part of the script. Yet the simple acknowledgment of my hassled morning was not lost on me. No needling to find out if I had a voltage problem, if I had actually plugged in the machine, if I was sure that there was power supply to that phase, etc – just simple acceptance that our customer has a problem before proceeding onto solving it. I actually felt that the company cared enough for its end customer or user; typically a woman who multitasks and uses as many resources (read people, machines, devices) as she can to run her household efficiently; to work this simple statement into their customer care training.

The rest of the call and the service support that followed it are also worthy of mention. The basic troubleshooting questions were covered in the call and allotment to a service engineer was completed. Interestingly, the company has a different way of measuring customer satisfaction with service calls. During the call, I was given a reference code, which I was to give to the service engineer after the problem was solved, and that too only if I was truly satisfied with the way the whole issue was handled. As soon as I hung up, I got an SMS alert with all the details I needed to follow up the request. As promised, the service engineer called me, fixed the visit time and when he arrived was competent enough to assess the problem, suggest a solution and make a follow up trip to finish the job – all within the same day!  I handed him the satisfaction code gladly. After all, in this world of unreliable service, this was a fairy tale ending.

The more I think back about this incident, the more convinced I am that the attention to small details such as the simple statement I have alluded to here do have an impact on the customer at many levels. Of course, it would have been useless if the company staff had just been polite and understanding on the phone and then not lived up to the actual service requirement. In this case the overall service framework seemed to be well organized and capacitized and hence the extra “inch” I think went a long way. Which is why instead of cribbing about a faulty washing machine I am writing a glowing report on their customer service?

The lesson in this for every company selling a product linked to a service or just a service is clear. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and try and replicate their mood and emotion when something goes wrong with your product. Only then can you review the customer service process to see if it has the extra “inches” to deal with the customer as a person first and address the actual problem thereafter.

ERGO:  Save the slimming for other parts of your business, as for your Customer Service, simple pile on those extra “inches”.
Author – Team Inception

Categories: Marketing, Sales, communication, Consumer Durables, customer satisfaction, Customer Service, extra mile

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