Friday, November 28, 2014

What’s common between Narendra Modi, Sholay, Microsoft and The Beatles?

Narendra Modi is the new star of the political world, whose charisma refuses to fade. He has given hope to not just his nation but the world too. His success run just doesn’t seem to end. However, if you look closely you realize he is not a one-man army. There is another person always next to him, his close confidante who is equally responsible for the thundering success of BJP and Modi. The man is Amit Shah. Together, the duo is creating magic. They are the best partners and their partnership is the secret of their success.

Modi and Shah are the new age Jai and Veeru of Sholay! The iconic film and its unforgettable story of two friends is the best example of what a great partnership can do.  

History is full of examples of great partners. Be it Narendra Modi and Amit Shah or Sherlock Holmes and Watson. It’s the pairs that together have done wonders and achieved great results. Man is a social animal and the smallest possible social unit is a group of two. However, the dynamics of this group has rarely been studied in depth. Numerous success stories have had a pair at the center. Look at the rock band The Beatles. At the heart of this were two extremely talented people John Lennon and Paul McCartney. They were both extremely talented individuals and when they paired up, they helped ignite the hidden fire within each other. As a result, together they produced music, which was a class apart. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


More than forty years ago, Peter Drucker had said, "The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him or her and sells itself."

The key words here are ‘know and understand the customer’. Never in the history of marketing has this point been more important than now and never has it been easier to know and understand a customer than now! The relation is simple – the better you know them, the better you can serve them and the lesser you need to market to them. Personalization is nothing new to business. A lot of companies have been following this business strategy for a very long time.

Take the case of Dell. It’s been personalizing its computers for decades. Nike and Adidas allow customers to design their own shoes; the BMW Mini has a facility where customers can design the roof of their car online and it will be made accordingly. Even banks are giving customers the option to design their cheque books and credit cards. Ikea lets you customize your furniture.

Extreme Personalization
Personalization is not something new. Marketers have been practicing it for long. However, mere personalization will not suffice this time for now is the era of ‘extreme personalization’. Sephora is one such beauty brand that has found how personalization reflects directly on the balance sheets. It has a loyalty program named ‘Beauty Insider’ which can define your skin tone and show you a list of products that match it. Once the customer becomes a part of this program, her profile can be accessed through the mobile or desktop or even the iPad at the store. This makes the job of the salesperson much easier as she knows which products would suit the customer best. The customer goes back satisfied and sure that she has got the best match.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


In June 2014, Google launched a new version of Android named AndroidOne that would help smartphone makers to make very cheap smartphones. This latest software platform will be launched in India first in collaboration with three smartphone manufacturers: Micromax, Spice and Karbonn. Google has partnered with these three manufacturers so that they can pool in resources and make high quality, low priced smartphones.
The mission?
Google and the head of its Android division Sundar Pichai want the next one billion smartphone users to be their customers.
Google will do all the hard work. It is figuring out all the material costs and giving support to all the low-end smartphone manufacturers. And not just the software support, but also the hardware support. This is being done to decrease the total cost of the phone to try and keep it under $100. Add to this the fact that Google will also invest Rs.100 crores with its partners on advertising and marketing of the $100 smartphone!

Why is it doing this?
It’s putting in this hard work on the hardware and software fronts so that eventually, these smartphone users start accessing Google’s services like Google Play, Google Store etcetera, and this would in the long run increase Google’s profits. More importantly, it would help it fight competitors like Nokia (Windows platform from Microsoft). Not just this, but having more users means more data and more advertisements... and consequently more money for Google.

Monday, June 23, 2014


Michael Jackson returned to the stage last month in May to dance to the beats of the song “Slave to the rhythm” from the recently released ‘XSCAPE’ album. A ‘virtual’ Michael Jackson took on the stage and set it on fire. He made it to the headlines across the globe. The general public, the fans, the music lovers, the media itself could just not stop talking about it.

Back in India, in May, another superstar used the same technology to address dozens of rallies in the remote towns all over the country. From Andhra Pradesh to Bihar, from Allahabad to Nainital, he addressed more than 800 such gatherings leaving the voters awe struck and mesmerized. Yes, that was Modi, who too like Michael Jackson used the ‘hologram’ technology to reach out to the maximum number of people and convince them to vote for BJP. Going by the results, it seems to have worked out fantastically well for both Michael and Modi.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


The world is moving at a very fast pace and everybody is working hard to get ahead in as short a time as possible. As a result, people are cramming up their calendars with more and more. Their ‘to-do’ list just never seems to end. The ability to multitask seems to be the most essential requirement in the work environment. However, the fact is that no one has ever been able to achieve much this way.

To be successful in life – Focus on one thing!
Research has shown time and again that the human mind is not meant to multitask. Not just that, research now even proves how long-term multitasking is actually harmful for the brain. A study done in 2009 by Stanford proved that frequent multitaskers were not able to use their brain as efficiently as non-multitaskers. The scary part is that frequent multitaskers were less effective even when asked to focus on one activity. Trying to get too much done in one go is not a good idea. It will not get you quick success; rather, focusing on one thing at a time, nurturing it and developing it slowly is the key to success.

The bottom line is – multitasking is out. It’s a myth that people who can do multiple tasks simultaneously are more effective and efficient. Rather, the ones who keep their focus on one thing and give it their undivided attention are the ones who over time develop focused expertise and eventually take the lead. If one were to have a heart problem, one would prefer to go to a heart specialist rather than a general physician. Well, the same rule applies to business. Everyone likes to work with a specialist. So if you really want to achieve a lot, go one step at a time. Plan well and focus on one thing at a time. You will become a specialist in that one area. And very soon, your productivity too will skyrocket.

Monday, April 21, 2014


Jeff Bezos has done it. Zappos has been doing it for a long time now, and soon, many more companies would follow suit. The new trend catching up is of companies paying their employees to quit!

Yes, it’s no more the era of receiving incentives just for living up to the target; today, one may even get an incentive for not living up to the target or expectations!

THE PROBLEM: You need to have the right skills and the right attitude
The secret to a successful organization is the spirit of the workplace. If there is positivity and enthusiasm, then everybody is motivated and works to the best of their potential. But there are just a handful of organizations that can boast of such a work environment. According to a study done by Gallup in 2013 (State of the American Workplace report), only 30% of the employees are committed to working sincerely. There are 20% people in most places who are actually counterproductive and bring about negativity and discontent among their coworkers. The rest 50% just put in their time, and their contributions are hardly significant. The group to worry about are the 20% counterproductive employees. They cost the company a lot. These unproductive employees, apart from negatively influencing fellow workers, also have high absenteeism rates. They invariably provide poor service, which drives away a lot of potential customers. All this in the long run culminates into a huge loss for an organization.

If we go by the Gallop survey, then these unproductive employees cost the US economy around half a trillion dollars every year, which is a huge waste. The same would be true in every other business environment. So it becomes extremely important to weed out from your organization these kind of employees as soon as possible. A creative way of doing it is to follow Zappos and Amazon.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Amazon is today the one of the largest retailers of the world. Most of us have bought or at least browsed through the zillion things the site sells. Most of us have also patiently read the numerous customer reviews before proceeding to check out and finally buying the stuff. Now, here is an interesting fact. Most of the reviews are written by people whose job is to review products sent to them by Amazon. So they are not normal customers like you and me for they did not pay for the stuff they are reviewing. The important thing to note here is the fact that ‘customer review’ is an important factor today in building market share. It’s proved that products which get a feedback, that is are reviewed, are sold more than products which get no reviews. So Amazon has developed a program called ‘Vine’ where some trusted reviewers are invited to be a part of it. Through these reviewers, it populates its site with reviews which can help customers.

In the virtual world, to be successful, you need to be reviewed, to be noticed. It’s similar to the real world where ‘word of mouth’ is responsible for most sales. Today, we all depend on feedback and reviews before deciding on anything. Even before deciding which movie to watch, we check reviews. Before deciding where to dine, we look for what other customers have to say about the place. No wonder, sites like Zomato, Yelp are such big hits. The key word here is feedback. If you want to be successful, you need to get feedback from the market. In marketing terms, this used to be called ‘buzz’.

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions”. Ken Blanchard said this years ago and it’s so true right now. A great leader is one who gives great feedback and a true achiever is one who is constantly asking for such feedback. The same rule applies for all successful companies also. They are those who have learnt the art of talking to their customers and seeking their feedback constantly. In today’s digital world, it’s become all the more easy to connect with your customers and find out what they actually need.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


It’s the month of love! Couples all over the world are celebrating Valentine’s Day and professing their undying love for each other. However, only a few relationships can stand the test of time. A close look reveals that only those based on mutual trust and understanding last long. You need to be great friends, good partners first to eventually become good lovers. Everybody can do with a good companion. After all, life can get tough and a trustworthy companion makes the journey easier. If you can choose the right companion, half the battle is won. A love affair will last long only when you choose your partner with care. A hasty decision in this respect will only end in a broken relationship.

Business too, is also all about relationships and affairs. Having an ‘affair’ is actually good business. Ask any Bollywood (even Hollywood) actor and (s)he will tell you how a rumour of an affair between the lead couple just before the release of their film is bound to get the audience more interested in the film and contribute to increase in ticket sales. It’s a time-tested trick and always grabs the maximum attention and media coverage. However the ‘affair’ we are talking about is a ‘corporate affair’. And in that regard too, it is a time-tested trick to grab the attention of the consumer.

In today’s fast moving and competitive world, one of the fastest ways to spread your presence in the market and get noticed and talked about is to find the right business partner. Look at Coca-Cola. Its success story is based on partnerships and alliances. Be it the bottler (in 1899 it started its first bottling agreement and today has 300 bottling partners around the world), the supplier, etc., all are partners of the brand and its success depends on the efficiency of these partners. However the biggest partner of Coke has been McDonald’s. Coca-Cola products are sold in over 31,000 outlets of McDonalds spread across 100 countries. Coke entered the Russian market with the help of McDonald’s. In US alone, 5% of Coke’s market share comes from McDonald’s. It’s all thanks to Ray Kroc – the man who made McDonald’s such a successful QSR chain. Back in 1950, Ray Kroc persuaded a young Coke employee to supply him Coca-Cola. Since then, the relationship has grown from strength to strength. The point to note here is that not a single McDonald’s restaurant serves Pepsi, even though there is no document that prohibits them from serving Pepsi. It’s a partnership that has benefitted both brands. If you look carefully, you will find that every dollar that Coke earns comes from some partner or the other – be it a bottling partner or a distribution partner.

Friday, January 3, 2014


As the new year begins, let’s resolve to truly create happiness even when none exists. Meditate upon what actually makes us happy. Surprisingly, these very factors [of joy] that we discover are closely connected to our businesses too. These are the very things that make our customers happy.

We don’t need much soul-searching to conclude that things that truly make us happy, actually come for…free! A smile from a loved one, a hug from your child, an unexpected call from an old friend…and the list goes on. In business too, ‘FREE’ is the word that can trigger a cascade of smiles and happy reactions amongst the customer community – or “maximum” sales as you call it – and is arguably the best deal that you can give to the consumer.

‘Free’ is Actually a Good Marketing Strategy

The one man who has shown the power of a tempting freebie is none other than the new CM of Delhi – Arvind Kejriwal. Free water and free electricity have made him the darling of the masses, giving him a definitive lead over strong political rivals – BJP and Congress.
Last year, Apple too used freebies to beat its competitor Microsoft. It announced a free upgrade of its software OS X. Users of OS X (versions Snow Leopard and higher) were allowed to upgrade to their latest OS X (Mavericks) at absolutely zero price. It was also announced that in future too, all OS upgrades would be free. The Cupertino giant also announced the free inclusion of an alternative to Microsoft’s Office suite in all Apple laptops in future! Anybody’s guess this – Tim Cook has found a way inside Microsoft’s head. It’s got the software giant guessing beyond just who would replace Steve Ballmer in time – what should it price Windows 9 at?
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