Marketing

Marketing An Independent Feature Film

(The following article was first posted on the Paul Writer website here.)

Aside from my day job of marketing of software services, I’m also helping a friend to promote his upcoming independent Kannada feature film “A Day In The City”. This film, directed by Venkat Bharadwaj, is a Kannada commercial feature film that is set to hit the screens in the month of August 2014. The film explores how government officers function and talks about topics such as effective governance and national integration. More details about the film can be seen here.

As part of the integrated film marketing campaign so far, we have been featured by the likes of Bangalore Mirror, Citizen Matters, India Glitz, Radio Fever and Times of India. While going through the journey of film marketing, one of the first realizations that I had is that the film is a product. I needed to look at it like a product and needed to use some good old product marketing tactics to sell this film. Here are a few more insights that I have gleaned over the past few weeks, on how marketing a film is a different ball game altogether.

Digital Marketing

Like every new product in the market, we also needed a website that talks about our film. The Kannada film Lucia, that was recently crowd sourced had done a great job with it’s website. We created a simple website using an elementary WordPress template and are able to track user visits. We are able to inform our prospects (viewers) about what our movie is all about and why they should watch the film. On the digital side, we are also working on creating a page on IMDB, SEO and Social Media marketing using the Facebook page. Post the upcoming audio launch, we plan to allow for digital downloads of the songs on various music websites.

Design

Like in all marketing jobs, design and visual representation is key to create an image in the mind of the consumer. We realized that the “first look” poster of the movie needed to arouse curiosity in the mind of the viewer. The trailer also had to be really crisp but impactful. These were the collaterals that we have to showcase to the viewer, a preview of the film and help them make a decision to watch the film.

Distribution Challenges

What we realized is that the movie market is essentially a distribution monopoly. It’s really hard for an independent film to create a dent in this system, unless you are well connected and can pull some strings.

Along with traditional distribution systems, we are also exploring options such as Amazon’s CreateSpace and Video On Demand tools such as iTunes and Reelbox. To curb piracy we will be reaching out to the Anti-Piracy Cell and see how they can help us.

On the television front, we realized that Doordarshan would probably need our film in a DVC Pro format if at all they agree to showcase our film. Theatre owners on the other hand might need us to show them the film in 2K resolution. We are also figuring out how to make our DVD available on Flipkart and other e-commerce channels. Also in the mix is the exploration of the pre-order option.

The film festival route will also be an expensive process, since we would need to spend monies on courier, censor board and conversion to DigiBeta format. A couple of festivals that we are targeting include BFI & Panorama. The best marketing tool for a film, is winning an award. So we are keeping our fingers crossed!

We have decided to not make BluRay discs, since the demand for this is really low in India as of today. Again, this is an example of knowing what the market is like and fine-tuning your approach accordingly.

The other revenue sources include ringtones and satellite rights from television channels. We also plan to send the film to UTV & Anurag Kashyap films and see what they have to say about the film. We also want to explore the route of corporate screenings and see if companies would be willing to use film as a medium for employee engagement.

Important Lessons Learnt

During this journey, we tried to reach out to a few film festival coordinators. The surprising thing that we didn’t expect is they were asking us for a fee to showcase our film in their festival! In another incident, we met up with a Public Relations Officer, who promised us some media attention. He went on to say that we need to do a press screening at a five star hotel, offering each of the journalists a 1500 Rs worth “gift hamper” and dinner! While interacting with radio stations, we realized that reaching out to the Programming Directors of the radio station is the best option, since the final call on content is taken by this person. The other key learning from film marketing is that endorsements by industry stalwarts really add a lot of mileage. The likes of Aamir Khan and APJ Abdul Kalam are usually encouraging of socially relevant films. So in case you are doing a launch party for your film, ensure that you have celebrity around during the release.

In this age of really short attention spans, we also think that 10-second teasers would be a great way to target users who view video content on their mobile phones. We did a press release and that did bring in some amount of traction for us.

Three tips for the discerning film marketer

- Be super responsive to mails. Have your content ready to go, since you never know when a reporter will ask for what!
- Build a fan base. Try and engage with your fans.
- Look at other marketing options such as merchandising and mobile apps to promote the film.

Conclusion

The best marketing tool for any feature film is obviously the word of mouth. For me, this journey of doing marketing for a full-length feature film was new and exciting, since it offered many new challenges. I was also able to apply technology-marketing tactics in film marketing. So this was a great experience and something that you should try too!

How Startup Marketers Stay Productive

<The following post was first published on the BrightPod website>

For our fifteenth interview series, we feature Rajiv Mathew, Head of Marketing at Compassites. Compassites is a niche technology firm that has expertise in big data, cloud computing and cosumerization of IT space.

In this interview, you can read more about his work at Compassites, favorite marketing tools, productivity tips as well as his advice for budding startup marketers.

Your location: Bangalore  

Your favorite gadget: My Google Nexus 5

You start your day with: Green tea on some days and Museli on others. Wanna try lime water + honey more often though.

Your favorite time-saving trick: Am a chronic checklist builder and can’t do without lists to manage all the tasks at hand.

Your top 3 blogs you read daily: TechCrunch, FirstPost & Youtube Trends

“Online marketing is one of the best ways for brands to stand out from the clutter and reach out to consumers in a proactive manner.”

Describe an average day at Compassites?

An average day at Compassites is fairly hectic & chaotic! We really don’t follow any particular schedule and things are different everyday. Some days are more to do with meetings and discussions and other days are quiet, as we focus to get the job done that day. The flexibility to manage one’s own time and tasks gives people a sense of empowerment for the work that is assigned to them. Hence, everyday is a new kind of adventure waiting to be explored.

As a startup marketer, what are some of your favorite productivity hacks?

I would say that Trello is probably the best productivity hack. It’s a general-purpose project management tool, which helps you to track all the things that need to be done on a digital wall. It helps you break down any major product into small and easily digestible parts.

Also I’ve tried to get to zero inbox by unsubscribing to all unnecessary newsletters and mailing lists. Having fewer emails to read is surely one of the best productivity hacks that one can think of!

Lastly, I’ve tried multiple workarounds to cut down on commute time to work. It’s really not worth getting stuck in traffic. Its takes off a lot of energy and positivity from your system and drains you out completely. So avoid traffic as much as you can.

As a person who is well-versed with online marketing, I’m sure you rely on a few marketing tools to automate your efforts. What are the top 3-5 tools you use?

I’ve used Marketo and Hubspot quite extensively and find them to be excellent automation tools. I would also highly recommend these two tools for the easy of use and the value that it can provide to your marketing campaigns. I’ve also used a tool called EngageB2B in one of the previous organizations that I worked at.

How has online marketing evolved in the last decade?

Online marketing has totally redefined what marketing is all about by wiping out a lot of traditional approaches to marketing. We live in a digital world and companies/brands are increasingly unable to avoid getting on digital platforms. Consumers are more empowered now and with the smart phone revolution, consumers have access to any data at the tip of their fingertips. With Internet speeds really getting better by the year, the amount of data that is being produced and being consumed is unprecedented. Hence online marketing is one of the best ways for brands to stand out from the clutter and reach out to consumers in a proactive manner. I’d also go to the extent to say that brands that don’t move to a digital presence over the next decade, could face extinction due to stiff competition. Hence the impact that online marketing experts can have is all the more profound.

Is there any advice you’d like to give to budding startup marketers to help them work smart and stay productive?

Marketing is all about execution. It’s all nice and fancy, to build castles in the air and have flashy Powerpoint presentations, but marketing success is a result of real grunt work in the trenches. As you struggle through the initial years, your learnings and experiences, will enable you to truly appreciate the invaluable asset that marketing can be to any organization.

Attention to detail is one skill which would be great if you were to pick up early on. Getting that keen eye for detail takes time, but once you reach a good level of observation, nothing will escape your eye!

Lastly, the last mile of marketing is sales. Anything and everything that you do in marketing should lead to some sort of a sale. It could be the sale of an idea, a product or a service. Unless a sales of some sort happens in the mind of the consumer or through a purchase done by the consumer, marketing would not really have made an impact. Hence the closer marketing teams can get to the business, the better things would be. Sales enablement & lead generation is probably the number #1 KRA for any budding marketer, especially in a startup setup.

Mistakes clients make while dealing with PR agencies

<The following article was first published on the PRMoment website>

The PR market in India has slowly matured over the years and consolidated itself within a few agencies, taking the game to the next level. As a marketing expert, I’ve been dealing with multiple technology PR agencies for a quite a while now.

As a client, you do tend to make mistakes while dealing with agencies are here are my list of mistakes that a client can avoid to ensure a successful PR campaign.

Boring stories

PR agencies have a very competitive job. They need to jostle for space in an already crowded media arena. As a client, you can’t afford to give them bland or boring stories that just won’t sell. Ensure that you always give your PR agency something unique. Guarantee that any journalist would be really excited to work on the story that you have lined up.

Avoid boilerplate

A lot of press releases are very standard and offer no new creative ways of communication. Is there a creative way that you can communicate the news through your PR agency? Press releases are a dime a dozen. So how can you differentiate? Many companies that do PR by press releases often fail.

Being prudent

Understand that you need to be practical about what story you pitch and at what time. Do not pitch stories that might be inappropriate in a given context. For example, when your competitor has just done a story on planting 10,000 trees, it might not make sense to do a story of your company planting 500 trees. Essentially the market context needs to be kept in mind while pitching stories.

Avoid repetitive stories

As a client, you need to ensure that you avoid similar sounding stories. For example, if your competitor recently did a story on CSR, its best that you do not pitch a similar story. Ensure that you do enough research to be able to dig out distinctive and compelling stories for your company. 

Collaborate with journalists

Your approach with journalists needs to be collaborative. Ensure that you do not pester journalists through your PR agency. You need to understand that they work under certain constraints and priorities. Once your data and details have been sent, just sit back and wait it out. Give the PR agency some breathing space to work with the journalist. Don’t pester them if they don’t include some photo or fact in the story that gets published.

False claims

Speaking the truth while doing PR stories is essential and critical. You need to share authentic data and facts. If you end up making fallacious claims, then there are chances that they would boomerang back on to you! False claims reflect badly on the integrity of your company.  

Hard selling

The primary job of your PR strategy is to tell stories and not to sell.  Hard selling is a major turn off for journalists and PR agencies. Hence you need to tone down the selling aspect and see how you can influence through softer means of communication.

Lacking a plan of action

You need to have a clear strategy for your PR activities. If your messaging is unclear, it will create a lot of confusion with your readership base. So work with your PR agency and come up with a quarterly plan of action and stick to it. That way, your management will also be able to see the real traction that PR is able to generate for the company.

Poor Content

Badly written content is the bane of good PR. It’s worth hiring an expert content writer to write up some thought provoking content for your brand. We live in the age of information overload. Hence you need to ensure that your content really stands out from the clutter.

Hyper expectation

You might have very high expectations from your agency. This holds true, especially since the agency might be on a retainer fee. You need to set realistic expectations with the agency before you sign them up. Understand the nature of the PR market in depth. 

Lack of media training for spokespersons

Many companies make the mistake of not making time for their spokespersons to undergo some kind of “media readiness” training. Also you need to ensure that your spokesperson is prepped up for any interviews with journalists. Many companies make the mistake of only training the CEO. Ensure that you have at least 3-4 spokespeople for your company at any given point in time. 

I hope these tips have given you some insight into how the world of PR works. Wishing you all the very best for all your PR endeavors!

Essential Marketing Reading

I recently asked my friend V C John to recommend some good marketing reading and here is what he recommended. 

  • Michael Porter - Strategy
  • Derek Abell - Strategy
  • Jim Collins - Strategy
  • Gary Hamel - Strategy
  • Regis McKenna - Strategy
  • Clayton Christensen - Strategy
  • Theodore Levitt - Marketing
  • Geoffrey Moore - Strategy
  • Al Ries - Marketing
  • Jack Trout - Marketing
  • Neil Rackham - Sales
  • Larry Friedman - Sales
  • David A Aaker - Marketing
  • Jay Levinson - Marketing
  • Edward de Bono - Analysis
  • JK Galbraith - Market Behavior
  • Stafford Beer - MI 
  • Hugh Mackay - MI

Remembering Mohan Kuruvilla

India's B2B sales guru, Mohan Kuruvilla is probably the one person that has influenced me the most with regards to sales. He is a master story teller and his sense of humor is legendary amongst b-school students. His lines are truly memorable and they make you fall in love with B2B sales. Here are a list of his punch dialogues which I found on some old notebooks and well as some online forums/blogs.   

"Jabardast! Kya jabardast case study hain!"

"Marketing is an intoxicating subject."

"Ek baar mann lag jayega to itna anand aata he, puchiye mat Sir. Jabardast anand aata hain."

A student was asked to present facts in his class. To him, Mohan Sir keeps on saying, "Aap kuch padh lijiye sir, aapko sochne ka mauka de rahe hain!"

Of course the most memorable are his favorite 3 questions. 1. Usne kahan se MBA kiya hain? 2. Did he have a subject called Sales Management? 3. Who taught him that?....Aur tab mat bolna ki maine aapko sales padhaya hai"

"Anand aa gaya Sir..." 

"CEO phone ghumaya usko aur khoob gali diya". So he came back to his room and then "Ek black cofee piya, aur boss ko khoob gaali diya! Ek coffee bhi kick deti hain"!

"Ab sab kuch hum hi thodi na bolenge, kuch to aap log bhi bol dijiye na Sir!"

"Kuch bhi bol dijiye. Aap jo bolenge sab sahi hoga."

"Sir, humko bhi sun lijiye na Sir."

"Kelloggs bolke ek company thi. Abhi bhi hai!"

When he wraps up the class, he would say "So, thats all for today."

His song to the customer would often to "Hame tumse pyaar kitna, .Yeh hum nahin... " 

"Sir, aap sey kuch nahi maang rahe hain, par agar kabhi apki company mein aaye to contract hamein hi dijiyega."

When a student uses high funda technical worlds, he would reply "Yeh sab tho author ne kaha hain, aap kuch bol dijiye."

 "Purchase manager ka saara khoon paanv se chehre pe chad gaya. Corporate Yoga Sir!"

"The MD started looking out of the window."

"Kotler ne kaha hain, hum nai kahe."

"Nadi kinare baithe the Sir" 

"Maine apne professor ko phone lagaya jisne mujheB2B padhaya tha."

When he wins an order from a new customer, he would sing this song - "Pehla nasha pehla khumma naya pyaar hai maya intezaar.."

"Ek garam chai ka cup or a sealed mineral water ka bottle hi toh mangte hain hum, Sir"·

Statistics reveal that more than 90% of the world's CEOs began their career with sales. "Kyon ki jo sales nahi kiya, uski zindagi to customer banke reh sati hai!"

"Kitna sundar likha hai."

 "Sir, agar price badana hai tho purchase manager ke paas math jaiye. It's daylight robbery!" 

When you attend a client meeting, you need to gauge who has the most influence. For instance, "Agar marketing manager hai, tho sab poochenge - "Sharmaji, aapka kya kayal hai?" Everyone would look at Sharmaji."

"Nadi kinaare jaa ke sone me bada anand aata hai. Agar nadi na ho to ek balti pani hi rakh lijiye"! 

"Arey! Hum Bihar se hain na. Ek cup chai aur pilaiye…"

The travails of the technology marketer

<This post was first featured on the Paul Writer website> 

The modern marketer is witnessing conventional brick and mortar companies going digital in a big way and there is no escaping the digital marketing tsunami. Having worked in the technology marketing space for the past few years, I’ve always wanted to consolidate and share the key challenges that you are likely to face if you are planning to set foot on these tricky waters! Marketers face an assortment of challenges as digital and traditional marketing techniques converge posing tougher questions in a crowded market space. Let us look at what are the key conundrums that you are most certainly bound to face in your quest for marketing excellence.  

1. Audience generation

With the advent of the mobile phone, the attention span of the target audience has shrunk even further. Getting consumers to notice your brand is a Herculean task. The customer needs to be constantly educated about the brand. The marketer needs to weave the story in such a way that the customer is the protagonist in the story being told. The audience that is generated by marketing efforts over a period of time feeds the sales funnel. Hence driving traffic to your brand is a big challenge that the marketer must readily take head on! 

2. The soft sell

I’m a strong believer that marketing should be a key lead generator. Being allied with sales goals is indispensable and marketing is ideally placed to help in acquiring new customers. The marketer needs to ensure that potential prospects are not subject to “death by spam”. The art of writing an email subject line is probably something that you could write a book on! Your story telling should be so compelling that customers flock to you like moths to light. Many a time the marketer would be able to generate dozens of qualified leads, but they don’t really matter if revenue does not come in. Recent trends reveal that marketing teams are morphing into “inbound marketing engines”. For instance, all leads that come from online sources can be credited exclusively to marketing efforts. Email marketing, corporate websites and online customer communities are all domains from where marketers can source leads.

3. Keeping up with change

In today’s world, technology updates happen at the blink of an eye. During my MBA days not reading Economic Times every morning was considered a cardinal sin. Now, not skimming through TechCrunch or Technorati every morning is a cardinal sin! Keeping up with trends requires patience, rigor and discipline. A combination of offline and online reading works well for me. As a marketer you need to be skillful in connecting the dots on what you have read so that what you say is relevant with the times. Your customers are consistently giving feedback about your product or service. Are you engaging social listening platforms to listen to your customer’s voice and change accordingly? Technology has the habit of spurting out new ways of doing things every alternate day. The question is how agile are you at playing catch up?

4. Adopting the right strategy for your target audience

As traditional marketing takes a back seat, adopting the right strategy is decisive in managing customer expectations. Your marketing goals are going to be pretty intense and hence having a clear vision for the brand and following it up is paramount. Every company worth its salt does a press release. So what can you do different? How can the marketing team do something unique that creates real value for the brand at a low cost? The fact is that the entire marketing spectrum has had a paradigm shift from the days of Kotler. Your marketing strategy also ensures brand consistency across various platforms. This is where integrated marketing becomes a priority for the technology marketer of today.  

5. Serenading the customer

The only way that your customer will remain loyal to you is through the exceptional value that you bring to the table. Sales cycles are tougher as there is increased competition in the market. A niche product or service can remain niche only for about 6 months.  In such a scenario, the digital marketer needs to create a connection in the minds of the customer. The marketer needs to work over time to ensure that competition will not wrest away the customer that you worked so hard to get. The digital marketer needs to think about how the customer can accept a long-term commitment and not a one-night stand!  If the marketer can make the customer experience something memorable, then the interaction would be something more than just a “sale”.

6. Clinching the right budget

One of the most difficult conversations for a marketer to undertake is justifying budgets to the management. In the B2B space, most often the marketing budgets are a lower priority and the “left over monies” are given to marketing. This is because in many cases you will not be able to exactly quantify the ROI on a campaign. This is where reporting tools and dashboards come into play. If you could use big data analytics to analyze your CRM data, you would be able to come out with justifiable numbers when you present your budget proposal to your management.   Once you get the budget, the next challenge is allocating the right mix so that you get the proverbial bang for the buck. Spending lakhs on a one-time television ad might not be really worth it if you are a mid size firm.

7. Content is king

Everyone knows that content marketing strategies are here to stay. The biggest challenge is ensuring high quality content on a consistent basis without diluting the brand equity. Content also needs to be structured is the form of some dialogue and not a monolog. Hiring a content person would be one of the best investments that a CMO can make. Another factor that you just can’t ignore while generating content is the rise of creative conflicts. Since marketing related design work is visual in nature, every Tom, Dick and Harry will have an opinion about the fonts and the color palette being used. The experienced marketer will know how to handle creative differences and put out something that will be acceptable by majority of the stakeholders.

8. A role with many moving parts

Marketing is pretty much a juggling game. The customer touch points are manifold and hence managing all of them can be pretty draining. You can be rest assured that you will be pulled in multiple directions and hence you need to ensure that you don’t spread yourself too thin. There are hundreds of events to attend and dozens of blogs to write. Be cognizant of what will provide the best value for your firm. To get inspiration, read up on marketing websites like www.hubspot.com orwww.marketingprofs.com. Starting the quarter with a well-defined marketing plan that ties in with business goals is critical so that you can manage all that juggling you need to do.       

9. Understanding the nuts & bolts of technology

If you are a marketer in the IT industry, it really helps if you understand some of the technology terms that are being thrown around. I have met with many marketers who are afraid to talk technology. I used to be one of them but have gradually overcome that fear of talking to a CTO across the table. When I went to Singapore to do some business development for Compassites, I was thrown into technical conferences and CTO forums. This is where I learnt to talk some of the tech stuff.  Some of the terms surely techies use initially seem like Greek & Latin to you, but once you get your head into it, it gets addictive to know how the tech folks think. 

10. Demonstrating clear ROI through analytics

With the CFO breathing down your neck to show metrics, the role of the marketer is to prove the value that is being provided. As a marketer you need to ensure that reporting mechanisms are in place to show that you had made optimal use of the resources at hand in order to provide a certain value to the organization. Measuring how effectively marketing is creating revenue is critical and there are many tools in the market that can help you do this.   

For me, marketing has always been the art of gentle persuasion. We are the guys who do the soft sell and make the brand look “sexy” in the eyes of the customer. Obstacles are bound to come by, but the smart marketer is capable of handling these and a lot more. To be a good marketer you need the tenacity to stay the course and pursue your objectives. May your tribes increase! 

 

Good content is like the Venus fly trap!

 <This post was first published on the Leading Thought website>

We live in the age of information overload. Today’s consumers are unable to digest the deluge of data that they are exposed to every single day. Consumers have become immune to advertising.  They are more receptive to intriguing content.

As clichéd as it sounds, good content IS king.

Part of my role as head of marketing at Compassites Software involves inbound marketing where thought-provoking content plays a vital role. It’s important that we only offer content that is truly beneficial to the consumer, thus showcasing our thought leadership. We’ve discovered that when content is tailor made to what the audience is looking for, in terms of providing solutions they couldn’t have thought of themselves — or find anywhere else — then you get more points on the thought leadership scoreboard in the consumer’s mind! We have improved our thought leadership by talking about niche topics that are intended for a targeted audience using a solid narrative.

Selling your thought process

The days of making a sale through just a handshake or meeting are over. Customers want to know about your thought process. They will do research about your company and will be keen to know your opinions on various factors in your industry. This is where thought leadership through well thought out content can be a differentiator.

While chasing the elusive “thought leader” title, you need to have an agenda. For instance, we recently accomplished the target of writing 100 original blogs across the company. This is fairly unique for a company of our size and this differentiates us in the eye of the customer. But each blog needed to provide content that was useful to the reader, not just blatantly pitch our services. We have avoided self-serving content as much as possible.

I’ve also made mistakes–by not engaging in dialogue with our followers on Twitter, for example. This oversight is high on my radar this coming quarter and we intend to change our approach on Twitter so it’s more conversational!

What inspires?

What helps me is being inspired by how my favorite thought leaders think and what they do. I absolutely love the content produced by websites like Cracked and HuffingtonPost. Also dig the articles on www.hubspot.com. In India, everyone knows that you need to read The Hindu newspaper, if you need quality content. For many years, I used to subscribe to multiple magazines like India TodayOutlookThe Week & Tehelka. But now I subscribe to only Open Magazine, due to the sheer quality of thought-provoking content! My 7 years in marketing has taught me that good content does get you a loyal fan following.

So how do you create content that inspires thought leadership? Here are some of my thoughts:

1.   Attention spans are notoriously short; ensure that your content is crisp. Ideally you want the consumer to skim through your content immediately, rather than the bookmark the link for later.

2.    Whitepapers & press releases are passé; everyone writes them. Witty blogs and creative info graphics are examples of content that are more likely to compel readers to act.

3.    Track websites like Quora, Yahoo Answers and LinkedIn, where your potential prospects are asking questions. Then answer them in ways no one else has thought of!

4.    Remember that thought leading content needs to be original as well as relevant. Be paranoid about quality. 

5.    Have a clear vision of the reputation you want to build. Revise that vision, based on feedback from customers.

6.    Drop the salesy approach.  Think of content marketing as a way of contributing to your community.

7. Set an intention to become better at storytelling so your content becomes infectious. One way to ensure your content is sharable is to do what I do when I tell the Compassites story: Make the client the hero!

Remember to set milestones and be patient about results. You won’t be a thought leader overnight, and considerable effort needs to be put in for people to recognize you. Curating others’ quality content in the interim is a great way to discover what makes your thinking and perspective unique. 

Good content is like the Venus flytrap. It draws you in and hooks you!  No one can guarantee if your content will go viral or not, but if you ensure that your content is compelling, relevant, and thought provoking, it may inspire others to consider you a thought leader. The fact is, people are tired of being sold to. They only want to engage with brands that make them feel genuinely happy.

Every consumer is on the look-out for something new and inspiring; for something they hadn’t thought about before. Set aside that sales pitch and let your content inform them how you have a different perspective on their problem that they likely haven’t thought of before. After all, that’s what thought leaders do, isn’t it?

Ben Settle's Top 10 Marketing Courses

1. Gary Bencivenga's "Farewell" course

2. Gary Halbert's "Boron Letters"

3. Dan Kennedy's "NO BS Time Management"

4. Ken McCarthy's "System Club Letters"

5. Eugene Schwartz's "Breakthrough Advertising"

6. Gary Halbert's "The Gary Halbert Letter" issues (all of them)

7. Paul Hartunian's "Million Dollar Publicity" course

8. John Carlton's "Kick Ass Copywriting Secrets" course

9. Dan Kennedy's "Magnetic Marketing" course

10. Yours Truly's "The Email Players Playbook"

Are you leveraging LinkedIn?

After a bunch of conversations with a few friends, I realized that everybody seems to be logging onto Facebook on a daily basis. For a few it could be on an hourly basis. But LinkedIn as a platform is not being regularly visited by the masses, inspite of having a mobile application.  The power of LinkedIn is something that each one of us could tap into, especially if you are in a sales and marketing role.

LinkedIn is the ideal platform that is recommended by professionals universally to build your network. This is an exceptional professional networking tool in numerous ways. As a user, you get business partnership pitches, job offers and network inquiries weekly. This tool really gives you an idea of hire-able you are. LinkedIn offers an upscale social networking experience, which a Facebook might not be able to offer. The analogy in this case would be to think of LinkedIn as a classy fine dining experience and Facebook as a visit to McDonalds!

Bumping into friends

LinkedIn is useful to be able to search for people (and be searched for) in a rather strong professional database. It is also useful to be able to ask questions to other professionals in your relevant industry. The tools LinkedIn provides are useful enough, but what it makes it endlessly compelling is the fact that you virtually "bump into" people you know. This is why it helps actually build relationships, rather than just being something mechanical and impersonal. It is that bumping into people virtually during the course of doing something useful for your business. When you see those names of people you know, take a minute or two to view their profile and see what’s new with them and drop them a note. It’s a great way to strengthen the relationships you already have without a lot of effort.

Making connections

Most sales guys would vouch that LinkedIn is the best business development tool available on the Internet today. With a sizable network there aren’t many companies that one can’t find a connection in - even if its 3rd degree, you can use Inmail and get a response. You can also take advantage of the ‘wisdom of crowds” by using features such as Q&A. When it comes to “networking for life” it is always true that you “give to get” and the private messaging capabilities is turning into a wonderful way to make virtual introductions.

Getting insights

Steve Jobs spoke about famously “connecting the dots”. LinkedIn is one such platform that allows you to do so. You can develop a better understanding of industries, markets and people through the platform. You actually develop a better understanding of who you know out there, what they are up to and how you are intertwined. Spending time nurturing your network and joining various LinkedIn groups can only help you grow.

No spam!

LinkedIn rocks since it does not spam. For those of us trained in old-school marketing this is counter-intuitive. Traditionally, we want to hit as many prospective buyers with our message. What that mindset misses is the astonishing power of leverage. Although it has millions of members, LinkedIn isn’t the place to blast a mass audience with spam mail. It is the place to find the one networking connection that will transform your business. Most people would rather spend a lot of money on an ad to get a thousand leads than cultivating a relationship that might net them a million $ deal.

The power of networking

LinkedIn is a living reminder of the power of network marketing. Log onto LinkedIn and start linking to leverage your contacts! Finding connections on the Internet has always been somewhat of a hit or miss process. LinkedIn provides the tools necessary to professionally reconnect with colleagues and friends you’ve known over the years. More importantly, you can now gain access to their network and their network’s network.

Many people I know log on to Facebook on a daily basis since it has the “stickiness factor” which makes people addicted to it. LinkedIn too is bringing in that factor with the amazing blogs that you get to see these days on the platform written business thought leaders.  To conclude, I’d like to state that the LinkedIn platform has matured enough to be on par with Facebook and maybe you should consider logging onto the platform every morning!

Pre-Sales Checklist @ Conferences

As a marketer you often get to attend conferences and various business related events. Conferences and events are the perfect avenue for making new connections and getting introduced to potential prospects. The biggest constraint at any conference is that you probably would get just 5-10 minutes to speak with the prospects. 

So what can you do in the 5-10 minutes to gather ample data to help your pre sales team to setup a follow up call with the prospect? The feedback from pre-sales teams have always been to gather a minimum set of data points so that they understand where this prospect really comes from. The first 5 items of the checklist can be easily obtained once you get the business card of the prospect. Hence, make a conscious note to ask the remaining 10 questions during the course of your conversation. Of course, you might not be able to capture all that is needed, but the list below is fairly indicative of what your pre-sales team would like to know.

Getting to know the prospect

  • Client name:
  • Brief background about the organization: 
  • Website:
  • Phone: 
  • Email id:

Probing Questions

  • Understand the current business landscape and business competitors. Based on their answers, talk about how you have solved similar challenges in that domain. 
  • Business need or pain areas: The best way to do identify this would be by asking some intriguing questions about their domain. 
  • Current tech setup  
  • What has been their previous experiences in outsourcing this kind of work to vendors?

The Finer Details (will be hard to get these, but worth a try)

  • Decision makers:
  • Decision making process:
  • Timeframe or deadlines:
  • Preference of technology:
  • Budget and funding available:
  • How much support does this project have at the executive level?

If you are able to capture the above mentioned details in a crisp manner, this will provide ample fodder for your pre sales team to get thinking on the prospect at hand and about which angle to approach him. The next call with the prospect will be much more focused and customer centric since your inputs would help your team to prepare accordingly.