Tag Archives: marketing

3 Easy Ways to Royally Screw Up Your Marketing

This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.

We’ve all heard it a million times: “We’re a customer-focused company.” Or “We aim to accomplish customer-led growth.” Most companies claim they’re consistently delivering superior customer experience across all touch points. Really? Then how come you and I (as consumers when at home) are wary of brands hammering out mute marketing and advertising messages at us even when we don’t want it. The Wolf of Wall Streetmentality still persists in the market. And, we all hate that but most of us still do it when at work.

Ever wondered how many advertising messages a mere mortal gets exposed to every day? More than 5,000. Yes…that’s true!

Now let’s talk a bit about customer experience. Take a look at this graph below.

One of the key reasons contributing to this delivery gap is the reluctance of brands to invest their time, money or resources in building relationships with the potential customers/customers. With consumer behavior changing incredibly fast, a large number of brands are either not able to keep pace or establish the right dialogue with the customers. And it’s not going to get any easier in the future.

So what’s the differentiator between those brands that are super successful in marketing or getting ready to be ones and those that are prepping up to fail miserably? Of course, it’s the willingness to invest in learning more about customers and executing some lovable marketing campaigns.

Over a professional career of more than a decade now, I’ve met and worked with, spoken to many marketers offline and online from across the world. Based on those interactions and my professional experience too, let’s face it – it’s not uncommon to see plain bad marketing. In fact, marketing that sucks, that’s far from lovable.

So if you are looking for some easy ways to create marketing that sucks, look nowhere. Keep reading.

3 Easy Ways You Can Easily Botch Your Marketing

1)  Hire mediocre marketing talent 

Often times, bad marketing is a reflection of the poor hiring approach. And, poor hiring is usually the outcome of a clear vision about the role, metrics, and the business objectives, and more importantly rash decision-making.

The widening gap between brands delivering awesome customer experience and ones that lag behind stems from the stark reality that there is a fierce race going on in the industry today to hire mediocre marketing talent and keep putting that on/off the marketing vehicle, without even knowing which direction the vehicle is steering toward.

On the hiring advertisement banner of most companies, we often find this “We hire only the best” Here’s an excerpt from one of the finest articles (written by DHH, Founder at BaseCamp) about the “delusion” created by many companies that say the above.

“How many times have you heard a company claim that they only hire the best? The top of the top. The crème de la crème. Most of them, by sheer necessity of math, are delusional. There just aren’t that many “the best” to go around. What these companies generally mean is that they hired “the best” of the candidates that applied. Whoopty fucking doo. That’s what all companies generally do (the special ones hire for best team, not just best candidates). Failing to see the difference between “best candidates who applied” and “the best in the business” is exactly the kind of Dunning-Kruger thinking that deludes companies into these grandiose proclamations.” (Read full article here)

Another example.

How many times at marketing conferences, webinars and anywhere on the Web, have you heard any or all of these concepts/phrases: “Content is King”, consumer behavior, customer experience, personalization, and yadda yadda yadda? We all know, content is the lifeblood of marketing engine and is integral to delivering a great customer experience across all digital touch points. Agree?

Here comes a startling revelation!

Statistics on the state of Content Marketing in Asia Pacific in 2016 reveal that the key issues with managing content marketing in this region are the creation of quality content and developing a strategy.

So let’s talk about this critical marketing role – Content Creator / Content Strategist. If the market has multitudes of good storytellers aka digital content creators that companies hire claiming to be “only the best”, why does such a gap exist in terms of quality? Not saying there are not good content creators in this region, but very few in the number who’ve mastered the art of storytelling, and are digital, analytical with an outstanding reach to amplify the content that they write.

My start-up friends, mentors, peers – we all discuss the content bit of marketing, and the ever increasing challenge of content quality is one of the most commonly discussed topics. I’ve interacted with some “experienced” content creators working for giant corporations/big startups with zilch or little knowledge about the dynamic modern marketing (or content) industry trends (such as story telling), tools, hacks and even basic modern marketing terminology. These interactions are a reason that I can totally relate to the latest HubSpot content marketing report statistics.

Such content hires are a bit scary for two reasons:

  • These do not exhibit core behavioral traits (inquisitiveness or adaptability) and key marketing skills (incredible writing/learning, product knowledge, or analytical skills)
  • Such lack of passion for their job roles can have a drastic impact on the juniors within the team. This role, in particular, requires a person who can be a great mentor to the interns/junior team members.

A slide from the presentation of @dharmesh (CTO, HubSpot) at @EshipMIT

Coming back to the point, it’s all about hiring few but only exceptionally smart, hyper-rational, adaptable and decisive marketers. A brand has to be awesome at recruiting the right marketing talent for delivering superior customer experience. It won’t work any other way.

2)  Adaptability is not your game.

You have a fixed mindset. Good.

You have marketing leaders who do not invest time in studying your industry and consumer psychographics. Even better.

You have a marketing team that does not challenge the status quo. Nothing beats this.

You can truly be a rock star in screwing up your marketing.

Now let’s talk about an approach that can blur your dream of botching up your marketing. The amazingly fast-changing marketing landscape and dynamic consumer needs have created a serious need for the marketing function to be adaptable to the changes and take decisions in real time. But wait. This does not call for rash decision making but decisiveness.

Marketers meet surprises at work every day. The most passionately executed marketing campaigns might underperform or a simple tweet might go viral. Good marketers know how to adapt and react to the changes quickly. The ability to react and act on signals is one of the top skills a marketer needs to possess today for competitive advantage.

With the Internet-induced transparency in the marketplace, these signals are evenly available to you and your competitors. Adaptive companies with sharp and analytical marketing function can apply advanced data mining principles to identify signals and leverage the capabilities for faster adaptation. The 21st century marketers’ adaptability trait can bring them back into the game despite so frequent algorithm updates by Google.

Many companies still rely on the customers’ demographical data sets available to them for executing their marketing campaigns; however, it’s important to understand that this information only scrapes off the surface-level insights. Behavioral data forms the core of adaptive marketing. It gives a deep understanding to the marketer about the likes, dislikes, preferences, motivations, goals, challenges and interaction with the brands. These future-forward insights help marketers devise relevant marketing campaigns likely to drive conversions.

In lack of adaptability, your marketing function is most likely to push into a futile cycle of strategizing and executing, without yielding any significant results. Adaptability can help your brand build a sustainable and meaningful relationship with your potential customers and customers.

3)     You love falling into plotholes.

If you want to ruin your marketing, one of the best approaches is to get your strategy as much lip service as you can. There are good numbers of marketers today, who look at marketing strategy as a laundry list of wishes, goals or objectives.

Getting 3X leads isn’t a strategy but an outcome or a goal. It’s not any strategy. How you aim or plan to achieve those goals is what marketing strategy is.

Many organizations during their brainstorming session (if any) or review meeting(s) – in which some nice (sounding), high-level ideas are bounced off – get pretty excited about some new trends or concepts and instantly jump into execution. That’s falling into plothole leading to a pothole. It’s not surprising to see many campaigns belly flopping when you’ve marketing managers, who knowingly or unknowingly steer the team into executing a campaign without setting goals and a plan to accomplish those goals, leave alone the most important aspect of aligning different team members or even functions around that campaign. That’s nearsightedness of the leadership in marketing.

With that said, strategic planning is not every manager’s cup of tea. It calls for a vision – that of a leader, who can chart out new horizons of growth. Marketing is no different. It’s not about hawking your products/services at customers or doing a monolog It’s about delivering experiences – that can make a difference to the lives of the people your business is out there for. And delivering experiences isn’t cakewalk. It requires an in-depth understanding of the customers, their pain points, goals followed by meticulous strategic planning that leads to seamless execution and finally delivering those personalized experiences to your potential customers/customers.

Apple’s return to glory

When Apple was fighting its survival battle against the tough competitors like IBM and Microsoft in personal computing, it turned back to its founder – Steve Jobs – who had faced an unceremonious ouster from the company a decade back. It was the sheer strategic brilliance of this visionary that went into devising amazing tech and marketing planning that took Apple from bankruptcy to billions is mere 13 years. It’s the greatest corporate comeback story of all times.

He had realized that it was the apt time for Apple to stop competing in the personal computing space and transition into high-end consumer electronics selling at premium prices. He launched the Think Different advertisement campaign and re-connected the brand back to its novel values and mission.

This new dawn at Apple (that marked the advent of iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, AppStore, retail strategy, etc.) also shed lights on three aspects:

  • A clear vision
  • Superlative execution
  • Reductionist stance that entailed selling only their simplest, most aesthetic offering

Keep these tips in mind if you want to ruin all the hard work you put into building the marketing function of your business.

I’m sure you’ve toiled hard to building a good product. So, do not let it go to waste simply because you now know the 3 easy ways to royally screw up your marketing.

How else do you think people mess up their marketing? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.



Why Inbound Marketing? Why Now?

Having spent good 8 years in online marketing domain and worked with multinational companies of high repute and also dozens remote service buyers, I can say with authority that Inbound Marketing Methodology is here to stay.


With all the digital noise around and benefits of embracing inbound marketing being thrown in the faces of marketers day-in and day-out, companies seem to be inclined towards adopting it but largely suffer from the lack of patience required to let inbound do its magic and yield results. Without team, budget and other resources required to build a good inbound marketing team and cultivating content culture within the company, most CMOs seem to be in a rush to see skyrocketing figures on metrics charts from the word “GO”. I know, I know, there’s lots of pressure from the top but believe it or not, inbound does take time, indeed lots of time. Why? Simply, because it does not treat Customers as entries in the CRM or marketing contacts databases. It focuses on talking to customers as HUMANS and triggering interactions not between brands and customers, but HUMANS and HUMANS across both the sides of the conversation. And, you know good HUMAN relationships do take time to get built and nurtured.

Back to the blog title – Why Inbound, why now?

Gone are the days when as a marketer, you could be inconsiderate to interrupt your audiences anytime, anywhere with your cold calls, cold emails (better to call them SPAMS), annoying ads, etc. This was the outbound or tradition way of marketing, which has now gotten replaced with new-age marketing or INBOUND MARKETING, which is customer centric and that uses content as a beacon to attract audiences and help them find your brand on their own. That’s why we call it “inbound” after all. inbound-marketing-image

Customers or buyers are more connected and informed than ever. Most of them have already researched well before they find your brand to connect with. So they will make their purchase decisions, whether you reach them or not. So, it’s best to adopt a marketing strategy that acts like a magnet and help them find you while they are aggressively researching for solutions to their problems/needs.

Here it’s important to know that to formulate a successful inbound marketing strategy, you got to know your target audiences, really really well before you empower them with information or means to find your brand and engage with your products/services.

  1. Create Buyer persona
  2. Study Buyer Journey
  3. Create remarkable, helpful content
  4. Leverage that content

It’s not enough to create great content. It’s equally important to get that content out in the world. Content distribution adds context to your content. And, content + context = successful inbound marketing. Right?

More about Inbound Marketing in my next blog…….Stay tuned!

Decoding the Secrets of Successful Content Writers


I love to strut around poofy-chested, when my work wins me plaudits. All inbound marketers do. Content creation and marketing go hand in hand. Content forms the core of inbound marketing methodology today.

Though many content creators buckle under the pressure of hammering out content real fast, and produce boring, mediocre quality content, there are some, who’re real good content creators. So what are those habits that help these content builders produce top-notch, relevant and remarkable content?

So before you run your fingers on the keyboard next time, take a glance at few habits, which only successful content creators have. Those you’re not going to cultivate these overnight, still if you start realizing their importance, you’ll be starting your journey to become a rockstar content creator.

1)    Read, Read and Read

Creating valuable content calls for extensive reading. Reading what? Industry-related news, insights, reports, case studies, competitors’ content and lots more.  A good content creator skims the entire web for the most relevant industry news and squeezes the same to craft a stellar copy, back with cues and facts. Such content is most likely to resonate with your target audiences.

Start bookmarking and using saving all the data on cloud. Set Google alerts of industry-specific keywords to receive relevant content in your Inbox daily. Figure out where your target audience spends most time online, and monitor those online destinations daily.

2)    A Copy a Day Keeps the Writer’s Block away

Losing the knack of writing is quite easy. If you don’t write for long, next time when you sit up to write, you might end up gazing at your computer’s screen without the cursor moving by even an inch. It’s vital to flex your writing muscles every day. This keeps up the constant inflow of ideas, and your fingers churning out good content regularly. If in the humdrum of corporate marathon, you don’t get the time to write a well-structured blog post every day, you can at least set apart half an hour every day, when you can pen down your thoughts, ideas or something of your choice. Grab a coffee and do some free style writing every day so that you don’t have to face that most dreaded, big monster anytime – Writer’s block.

3)    Network

It’s useless to highlight the profound significance of networking in this digital marketing era. A good content creator is one, who’s open to connect with seniors, peers, thought leaders and industry experts to listen to their ideas and observe their work methodologies. Seize the zillion opportunities of networking on different professional networks and forums. Keep an eye on the posts shared by them and skim these to filter out useful information to enrich your knowledge, and use the same while you produce content in the future.

4)    Curate Only Good Content

Today, anyone and everyone is curating content . What distinguishes successful content creators from millions of self-proclaimed content wizards is their zeal to cement their stature as experts, who love to interact with their target community effectively on the Internet. Add a layer of value, when you curate content, and give your community remarkable, engaging and useful information. They are going to love it, and you’ll see your content sparking debates and discussion thereby making your content curation turn into an interactive session (Bonus!)

5)    Be Curious

Great content creators crave for more and more information to quench their curiosity. It’s their  solid analytical abilities that help them to decrypt the gained knowledge and draw inferences and valuable insights to craft useful content. Curiosity, deeply embedded in their nature, is something that makes them stand out from the crowd as they dare to question the status quo of anything and everything that’s happening around them. Critical thinking stems from their curious nature and makes them great content contributors.

Post your opinion in the comment box below if you want to add some more habits of successful content creators. Your suggestions are precious to me and would help me hone my content writing skills.


Online Surveys – A Great Feedback Mechanism to Improve your Marketing

You might be a celebrated marketing champion but sometimes even the best ones fail. You may find yourself on the wrong side of a tongue lashing every time your CMO views the marketing results and ROIs.

Icy pause.

Sitting in stony silence – What strategy to adopt next? How to keep retention numbers high? How to create new opportunities for growth?

Well, it’s time to resurrect your marketing arsenal with only the relevant digital channels that focus on building relationships with your target audiences. Online survey is one such strong marketing tool. 


Online Surveys – Great Feedback Mechanism

Now the question pops up – What marketing challenges are addressed by online surveys? To begin with, online surveys are strong feedback mechanisms that help you get better insights from your community. Besides, these help you in:

  • Market Research
  • Marketing Optimization
  • Internal Communications
  • Thought leadership
  • And most importantly, aligning the two arch enemies – sales and marketing teams within your organization.

A market research survey helps you in building your brand awareness and positioning your brand on the competitive landscape. Also, it helps you in creating your buyer personas and understanding the attitude and preferences of your customers w.r.t  to your competitors. However, only relying on survey results to draw inferences would be incorrect. These results need to be backed up with behavior-based analytics as this reflects the true data about your audience.


Marketing Research Survey – Analyze and position your brand better!

You can improve your marketing efforts by using online surveys. The survey details can help you improve your email marketing manifold as you can then focus on sending out the relevant emails to a particular buyer segment of your target audiences. Further, you can also leverage online surveys for improving the quality of your marketing messages. You evaluate your content strategy by directly asking your audiences about their preferences for your content pieces. Based on the feedback and subsequent analysis, you can tweak or overhaul your content strategy and devise a new road map for better inbound marketing results (since content creation forms the core of it!).

Event planning and success rate is another aspect, where online surveys can play a miraculous role. You can pass on the volley of questions head on to your target audiences about their preferences for the arrangement. The survey results would be a mirror to the aspirations of your event attendees. You can plan your event accordingly without much fuss. Surveys do play a crucial role even after the event is over. You can send out feedback surveys to all, who dropped by your event. This would help you analyze the success rate of your event and also help you filter the quality leads to follow up with.

Like blogs, online surveys can also help you tremendously in establishing your thought leadership in the industry. And, eventually generate more inbound leads and better marketing results. Based on the survey results and actionable steps, you can publish your data-driven report and establish your credibility as a thought influencer. This helps you drive more PR exposure and also tremendous business opportunities.

Next is the aspect of internal communications. Trust me on this one – an online survey is a terrific organizational tool that can help you get an early product feedback, plan company meetings and calculate Net Promoter Score (NPS).

Let me wrap up the post at this point! I will be talking more about the methodology and approach to launching online survey in the next post of this series. Until then, happy marketing!!!!

Social Media Marketing: Are You in this Game of Business Promotion?

Social media marketing is a pack of online marketing techniques that uses the power of social media to promote your online business. This efficient and effective strategy will help you establish links and drive in heavy web traffic to your website. In other words, social media marketing lays the foundation of strong brand image by helping you market your products and services on varied online social media venues.

‘Social Media Marketing’ or Web2.0 Marketing that gained entry into the business world(web)  a few years back has made the use of web even more popular among the marketers. It is a marketing method in which the promoters of a brand are not necessarily the employee of the company. Social media actually helps to get products or services endorsed by the users or the target audience.

Social Media: Still to be tapped lot more!

Social media marketing has two important aspects. The first, Social Media Optimization, which refers to on-page strategies through which a webmaster can improve a website for the age of social media. Such optimization includes adding links to services such as Digg, Reddit and Del.icio.us so that their pages can be easily saved and submitted.

Second is having an account with these social networking websites and consistently participate in the various activities talking place at these sites.

What is Social Media Marketing?

Web 2.0 is an application that enables community members to talk, share, participate and bookmark online thereby encouraging open discussions, creating blogs, posting articles and videos on YouTube, voting, knowledge sharing and feedbacks.

Web 2.0 marketing: Cost-effective promotion tool

With Web 2.0 marketing, you no longer depend solely on costly electronic or print media for setting a stage for powerful marketing campaign to entice a large number of people. Using Web 2.0, now even the average users can learn the marketing strategies and get real business prospects thereby opening multiple revenue channels for themselves.

Web 2.0 marketing has given rise to Social Media Marketing. It is a collection of online techniques that facilitates advertising or promotion through socializing. Unlike conventional media which promotes unidirectional broadcast, social media marketing is bidirectional and promotes effective communication between you and your prospects.

To put it in simple words, social media marketing weaves your content effectively into the social web by helping you connect with your target audience as friends and communicate with them in real time so that you can respond to them accordingly. In fact, it is a potential method that will give your business triumphant online presence and make your website reap great profits over a period of time.

Why consider Social Media Marketing?

  • It creates online buzz for your brand: It sets a viral effect leading to the word-of-mouth popularity of your product or services by the user itself.
  • It increases brand visibility: Very soon you can make your brands popular among your target audience because of the viral effect created through social networking sites. These viral processes can be word of mouth or may be in the form of audio-video clips, Flash games, ebooks, softwares, images etc.
  • It helps in building credibility: When the users of a product are recommending the same, it adds credibility as there is no marketing of self interest underlying in doing so. It is mere brand loyalty in the mind that prompts users to spread the brand message.
  • It is cost effective: This method of marketing on web till now is considered as one of the most cost-effective method of marketing as you can easily spread your message for very low cost. Most of the social networking websites allow you to freely create your account and start posting your messages.
  • It enables focused marketing: The messages you are spreading for your brand can be highly controlled, as you can post messages for particular community. For example, if you are looking to promote a website that sells book, you can easily find 100s of book communities and use these communities to spread your brand message.
  • It boosts website traffic: Since a large number of people hang around these social networking sites, the chances of your products getting exposed to this traffic are also very high. Social Media Optimization can significantly boost your website traffic overnight.
  • It lends share and gain marketing insights: It helps you consistently evolve as an intelligent marketer. You learn from the efforts by other SMO professionals, when you interact online, to promote a product. You experiment with some of the good methods for your product and it helps you evolve consistently. You position your product effectively without paying exorbitant fees to marketing consultants.

With this information, you are all set to take a plunge into the world of social media marketing. However owing to the pressure of numerous business tasks to handle, you may find yourself stuck up with the difficulty of developing social media friendly website. But now you can easily find good freelance web developers, with sound knowledge of SMO on different freelance websites.