Friday, December 30, 2011

Lokpal Movement: Why Anna Hazare should be a case study in Management Schools

India is a land of many issues. We have issues of poverty, health, nutrition, sanitation and  what not. But one issue that lies at the core of every other issue is corruption. It renders every fight against every issue useless. That is when Anna Hazare stepped in. Though he has been fighting corruption for many years now, he found a national platform thanks to the national media and the kind of followership he amassed.Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter were also abuzz with support to this new Gandhi

How is that a guy as simple as Anna Hazare could influence the educated, the literate and the barely literate class to come together in such large numbers? It's almost as unique as what Mahatma Gandhi himself did decades ago - uniting the whole nation. There are nay-sayers all the time, but that has not deterred the supporters of this movement. 

What makes this movement worthy of study by every Management school is the dynamism of leadership. In an age where corporate bigwigs like Raju of Satyam went on lecturing in places like ISB and IIMs on corporate governance and ethics and fell from grace, Anna Hazare used his intrinsic strength of honesty and modesty to unite a fragmented society. He provided unity of objectives and a clear direction to lakhs of people. Though Anna himself is not a legal expert, he has stalwarts in this area to guide him in the right direction : another trait of a successful leader -to nurture the right talent. So charming is his simplicity that even those who did not participate on the street demonstration wished they could some how contribute to this movement. And all this against a behemoth ( competitor ? ) like Congress Govt.  

It's time we bring this quintessential and timeless qualities of leadership to the fore and make them a part of every Management study where the definition of a manager is one who "gets things done" by hook or crook!!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Global is the new Local: Relevance of cultural localization in the new age media

The often quoted mantra in the new globalised era is "Think Global Act Local". It is also advocated that marketers should incorporate the local cultures into consideration before planning their communication.

However, some of the recent trends and especially the marketing communication practices of large and new entrants have pointed to something else. Brands are not approaching each market with a localized offering. The explosion of television & online media seem to have made uniformity a new market reality. National television channels, international news and happenings, Youtube videos, Facebook comments and constant tweets make people realize that they are a part of a greater cause, a bigger geography and therefore a bigger identity. Thus an "emotional uniformity" seeps into their thinking.

We are now becoming global citizens. The pain and aspiration of an African kid is now as real to us as a guy in Delhi or Bangalore. Real time media has played its part in bringing people from across the continent closer. We can now relate to their emotions, pains, pleasures and even needs. This gives the companies an edge in communication, where they need not localize everything. Because what is global is also in effect local.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Healthy Mobile Services: The new gap in the mobile market

The recent studies by WHO(World Health Organisation) indicating that mobiles and even other devices emanate cancer causing radiation, has actually thrown open a new market!!

The mobile operators and manufacturers will do well to remember that their continued foray into the segment is now in danger. If more and more studies reveal serious risk to health, the entire industry may take a hit. It's time for these players to start research into bringing mobile phones, accessories and applications that are healthy for use by the public.

It is often argued that the ones "within the wave" are not the ones to "create the next wave". Refrigerators were not created by  ice factories and biotechnology is not created by manufacturers of refrigerators. If there is an opportunity for the mobile players, it is now. In fact, in the new scenario, it is the ailing Nokia and its big cousins who have a natural advantage. They have been bitten badly by the likes of Micromax and Karbonn through a series of launches that are rich in features and cool in prices at intervals that simply beat the R&D departments of big companies. But Nokia, Alcatel, Philips and the likes have big R&D centers which they can now re-orient towards building of devices that are healthy. And this itself will become the next big differentiator for the companies.  

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Marketing to the Minority Communities: Identifying gaps and new opportunities

As a growing adult, I found it quite difficult to mingle with boys of my age. The simple reason being that they all centered on “bollywood” or “cricket”. There were hardly any other things discussed and even if I initiated such a discussion, it was either considered too big or something to be joked about. I am sure everywhere you will come across such people who do not associate themselves with the mainstream interests of men. The “minority men” or “minority women” as I would like to call them, actually are not too different. Even they have the need for excitement and entertainment. But they seek it outside these two main indulgences and thus become minorities.

And as a market segment, they surely have a different psychographic profile if not a demographic one. Marketers are increasingly beginning to cater to such segments everywhere. Cinemas like “Peepli Live” & “Taare Zameen Par”, Channels like “World Movies” are some popular examples catering to such minority communities. It is not necessary to be a minority yourself to understand this community. The World Movies channel is from the same stable which has launched “UTV Bindaas” aimed at the massive youth of India. The size of this minority community is also growing, emphasizing a need to cater to them with specialized products and services.

Is this niche marketing? This is not necessarily the same as “niche marketing”. Niche markets may still cater to smaller markets comprising of mass audience. Media offers immense opportunities in this area. Recently a popular FM radio station, created a slot for the Indian classical music on their station. The program captures the potential of this minority community, especially in those slots, where a mainstream program may not fetch the desired rating for the programs. Even Sony Pix is now beginning to air some rare movies of the world on late night slots.

Going further there will be more specialized services for the minorities.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Single sports mania is so Un-Indian!

Let me be honest. I thoroughly enjoyed the India-Pakistan match in the WC. There is no doubt cricket is the most dominating sports in India. But it’s simply un-Indian and very unlike India. Can we imagine idli-sambar being the most loved breakfast across India? Or “Paneer Mutter” being the most popular gravy of India? Nope. The same goes with our clothing, language, culture and all the diverse nuances that India is known for. But when it comes to sports, the heavy tilt towards cricket is unbelievable. Not only the people but even the Government and media are skewed towards this game. The un-briddled attention that it gets makes it sound to the young boys that it’s the only game worth playing.

In my childhood, we used to play a variety of games, many of whom were kind of local inventions. They encouraged us to think creatively, use all our skills and faculties and help us understand our strengths and weaknesses. Today I see almost every boy running around with a bat and a ball. The imagination begins and ends with that game. This is definitely not a healthy trend for the sports diversity of India. The Govt. should take steps to ensure that even other games get their due attention. This will be in the interest of all the youngsters whose power of knowledge, skills and imagination is just taking wings. A well diversified sports-engaged nation is the beginning of a truly healthy India.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Google +1 : An open invitation to Black Hat SEO?

It is quite ironic that Google +1 comes in the backdrop of the penalty from Federal Trade Communication(FTC) on the Google Buzz issue. The very fact on which Google Buzz got nailed down upon, is the new marketing fact that will drive Google +1. It is a tool that will now "with a consent", open your private browsing patterns to the whole world. Sneakers like Govt., competitors, rivals( personal and professional) will soon see what you have seen.

The question now is how Google is planning to control the flip side of this tool by black hat SEO guys. These guys will create fake Google profiles, search for their favorite results and start +1. And if Google starts taking the +1 markings into their ranking algorithm, it will surely impact the SERPs adversely.

With Google Buzz issue still fresh like an unhealed wound and in its rush to compete with Twitter and Facebook, we should hope Google will not jump guns in the matter of +1.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Who should be incharge of Social Media in your Company?

First things first: Who interfaces the Social Media in your company most of the times and Why? The answer is clearly the "Marketing" guy from the Marketing dept. But why? This is slightly tricky. But here is a try. Because, the very first expectation of the management is to eke out maximum benefit from this newly discovered channel. But that's where the point gets missed. Social media is truly social in nature. It's a place for everyone. It brings people of all functions from within a company.

Linkedin for example is a victim of such false expectations form a social media channel. The vast no. of communities inside it have been created and moderated to seek out pre-determined marketing results. The comments have vanished and recently Linkedin had to make an amend to its email notifications where instead of saying "zero" comments they have started saying "add a comment", just to sound more positive. Plus they have brought in "open groups" concept to get more participation and conversation flowing into the groups. Similar has been the fate of many other social media channels; the falling levels of engagement. One can today see that he is a member of many groups on Facebook, Linkedin or Orkut, but they are visited very rarely and eventually the interest level falls. The monotonous comments on Twitter & irrelevant followers are also an ample evidence of falling engagement.

Social Media should be just what it is. Truly social. The suggestion that others in your organization should also participate is a little scary to begin with. But with careful mentoring by the marketing department and the management, a company can in fact see a surge in their social media presence. Different functions of the organization bring in their core expertise to the channel, giving authenticity to the conversation that a company is having in the channel. In fact, I have observed that groups who are moderated by functional experts/ subject matter experts are far more engaged and active than those formed by marketing guys with a pre-defined goal of ROI.

It's time, we allow the social media to take its due hold in the organization freeing itself from the water-tight compartment of the marketing dept.