We just concluded Day 1 at the Social India Conference in Bangalore. Really great to be here looking at social media through more of an Indian lens, with some pretty heated discussions taking place over what does and does not make sense in the Indian social context. Thank you to Mr. Kapil Gupta for stimulating the discussion, even after lunch – it definitely reminded me of the first time I saw a movie in India a few years back. Ironically it was James Bond (the controversial subject because of his marketing of the Bond girls for an HBO India campaign)… everyone kept standing up during the movie screaming, “Go James!”, and “Get him! Kill him! You can do it!” It was probably the best time I’ve ever had at the movies, and I felt that raw energy in the conference room today. This is exactly why I love this country… #IncredibleIndia.
So if you couldn’t tell I am not Indian. I’m actually from California but working from and living the dream in Mumbai. I studied in Banaras for ten months a few years back on a study abroad program through the University of Wisconsin – Madison (Go Badgers!!), and came back mainly because this country continually fascinates me; everyday is truly an adventure, which is very important for a kid with no attention span, trust me. Even with over a year of living in the country in three different places, writing content and engaging for a couple of our larger Indian clients has been pretty stressful; not because it’s not fun and somewhat intoxicating (in purely SMM terms of course), but because even with all the research, feedback and trial-and-error experimentation, it’s somewhat unsettling to be constantly thinking of how to frame posts for an Indian audience versus an American one. If this is the most of my worries, though, I think life is going pretty well right now.
Anyways, a lot of really interesting information is being shared by experts in the field, and I thought I’d take a moment to pass on some of the highlights.
THE ACTIVATION CHALLENGE (dun dun duuunnnn)
How are you going to overcome the Activation Hurdle? How can you get fans of your company to become advocates? Stefan Kolle, Founder of FutureLab, spent a good amount of time on this and it is something that we all struggle with in the marketing world. Acquiring loyal customers is not difficult with a good business and good business model, but getting them to discuss your brand and essentially go that extra step is a horse of a different color.
Doing the small things, though, is one big way to bridge that divide. Adding links in emails, blogs and even on business cards; making small fliers and placing them in the company’s physical location, saying, “We really appreciate your business… it would mean a lot to us if you would review our performance on <social site>”; educating clients on directly and sincerely asking people for reviews and recommendations; this is what it’s all about.
People like people and people like helping people; you just need to make access to these channels more accessible by feeding it to them directly. If you provide the links and ask them to review your business, odds are they’ll do it.
WHEN OPPOSITES ATTRACT
There is a simple truth that is central to both business and life in general: many people often get stuck on their limitations and become incapacitated by them. Sure we see and hear about people overcoming obstacles against all odds all the time – and don’t get me wrong, they’re very heartwarming and inspirational – but for the most party it’s a lot easier to become paralyzed by roadblocks than to use them to our advantage.
As Shashank Nigam, CEO of SimpliFlying, beautifully pointed out, successful businesspeople turn their constraints into strengths. Small budgets and an overall lack of resources often work against many companies, but instead of seeing this in a negative light, think of it as an opportunity to bring out the true potential of your brand. What are your specific strengths? How can you use these strengths to increase your marketshare? This is where marketing really gets fun. Turn your “disadvantages” into advantages by focusing on what you’re skilled in, and exploit that.
For example, are you a local auto glass repair and replacement shop with virtually no marketing budget, yet still need to keep up with and even surpass the competition? Well why not use free resources like Google Places and FourSquare to create a community of fans in your location? You can even incentivize it by giving the ‘Mayor’ of your store 10% OFF their next windshield repair or replacement. Think about it; it’s a win-win situation: you encourage them to come to you by giving them a discount, you encourage them to talk about you with their friends (both consciously and unconsciously), and you still make a gross profit even with their 10% discount. Little budget? Yes. Less profits because of it? Nope! This creativity and ingenuity is the soul of marketing and it’s the key to unlocking the vast potential of your brand.
This is the motto to live by in the worlds of SEO/SMM/LSM/SMO/everything basically, and was put forward today by Gillian Muessig, President of SEOmoz. Having just gone to the 2011 PRSA International Conference in Orlando, Florida, last month, where these words were tossed around like cricket ball, it honestly didn’t have as much of an impact on me (although they are very important to always keep in mind, no doubt). What really hit home with me, though, was her story about starting SEOmoz, when she was mired in debt with three young children. I can definitely relate to this… well, kind of.
My mom started her own PR firm when I was a newborn and she had just been recently divorced. She was working out of our home because that was all she could afford (and she couldn’t even really afford that). Now my parents had a joint custody deal, so I would spend one week at my dad’s, then one week at my mom’s and so on. Whenever I was with my mom she would give me her (for the most part) undivided attention while still working in our bonus room (AKA home office); but right when I went to bed she would get in the zone and work nonstop until 3 or 4 in the morning. And when I wasn’t with her… well, that’s a completely different story.
That was 1991 and 20 years later she is celebrating a very historic anniversary for Morgan Marketing & Public Relations, is known as a guru in the PR world and was just inducted into the honorable College of Fellows at the PRSA Conference in Orlando last month. I am extremely proud to say the very least, but here’s what I’m trying to get at…
It’s not the undeniable passion that got my mom and Gillian to the top of their game. It’s not their drive to rise above life’s obstacles. It’s not even their ability to use their creative genius to create new industry standards. Instead it’s their ability to use those moments of weakness – those moments that deter many of us from maintaining focus – as an opportunity to fuel their career fires. They didn’t see them as limitations; they saw them as an excuse to take a risk and go for it all. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, right? You need to take a chance, follow your heart and have faith that the dots will connect down the road.
So excited for Day 2 tomorrow!
Christopher Morgan Herrera
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Ajay Prasad is the Founder and President of GMR Web Team, a leading healthcare digital marketing agency. He guides small and medium size healthcare practices/businesses in customizing their online marketing strategy, focused on building a loyal base of patients and improving their patient acquisition. Ajay believes in an improved patient experience as the key to successful healthcare business, which can be accomplished with the right marketing plan in place.