How to do “more” Marketing with fewer people

“I wish I had more time and more money” – this is something we eternally hear entrepreneurs and business heads saying a lot! If you are one of these people, be assured that help is at hand. Read on to know how to get more hands and brains to work for your business, allowing you to do and get more done.

With reference to marketing initiatives, many businesses still shy away from taking the first step. Some of the successful businesses say they have got thus far on the engine of great sales, so why waste precious time on Marketing. Some others definitely want to get their marketing function working better but are intimidated by the idea of hiring, managing and directing a team of marketers. Some others still are simply daunted by the thought of increased investment in marketing, without knowing when or how it will start paying back some ROI.

We have numerous instances of clients who have held back from rolling out even basic, cost-effective marketing initiatives  - such as email newsletters or social media presence. Why? Simply because they don’t know how to get started or how to sustain the effort, when it completely depends on their own time/availability.

We, at Inception, do understand this hesitation. We understand that when you build a brand and business with painstaking effort, you don’t want sporadic attempts at your marketing effort to confuse your target audience. If one had unlimited resources and expandable managerial bandwidth, perhaps it is possible to hire the best marketing talent and also put in required time to get things moving the way one wants. But buckling under resources constraints, we see businesses that let the status quo remain.

Hear it from us here - why you don’t have to let it go at that!

The comforting truth is that today, given the spurt in new ways of collaboration and interesting ways to outsource work, you don’t need huge budgets or a fancy marketing team to get your marketing initiatives see the light of day.

Freelancer, ODesk and Elance are some places where you can find efficient and effective freelancers to take over many parts of your marketing execution. Just be mindful and  pick someone who has a credible track record of completed work on the portal and also who understands/belongs to a similar diaspora as your business or target market.

Another relatively recent trend is to hire an entire marketing team on an outsourced basis. At IBS, we offer growing businesses an option to hire us as their marketing teams. We take on multiple marketing projects or even very specific marketing activities to help diffuse the bandwidth clogging faced by business owners. We bring not just specific individuals who will think, plan and execute a client’s marketing function but a team of enthusiastic marketers to back them up and handle the every day nuts and bolts work that goes into marketing.

Talking to us at Inception will get you not just an “agency” but a Marketing Ally - who works with you to set your marketing goals, helps you figure out what kind of email marketing would work for you, how your social media pages could be used better and not just that – what is your overall budget for getting everything done. Early on, we figured that growing businesses have a limited pocket and whether they are paying our fees, the email marketing software cost or FB ads  - the money all needs to come from the same place. Which is why, we come to every client with a CMO mindset. Our first job is to translate what you say you need from Marketing into specific areas of work that are best likely to deliver those results. And then see what are the best ways to do so within your overall budget.

Are you still finding excuses to not spend time on your marketing? Start somewhere simple - like email marketing or blog & content or social media. Now you know, where to find the right kind of help :-)
           

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: Inception Business Services, Marketing, Work, Customer Service, Importance of Marketing, innovation, Marketing with fewer people, Outsourced Marketing, Strategising

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

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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