Marketing Plan – Blueprint for Marketing Strategy

Today when so much investments are dependent on the outcome of a marketing plan, the same needs to be scrutinized very deeply so as to minimize the risks of non-performance. One such way is to ensure the proper implementation using a marketing strategy plan or a blue-print of implementation for your strategy. So what is a marketing strategy plan?

Basically, it encompasses all the activities in details that needs to be done to ensure that a campaign is successful.

  • For a marketing plan to be successful, the primary importance is understanding whether its adherence to the main marketing mix (4 Ps) is done in a well planned manner. If your objective is to deliver a service, then the 7Ps of Services Marketing needs to be checked out for planned adherence.
  • If you are focusing on extensive usage of technology, are you having ample focus on how you are leveraging the usage of technology vis-a-vis the competencies within your team? Did you take care of the Basics of Digital Marketing Strategy?
  • Have you given the implementation a thought? Is there a structured sequential blueprint to your Marketing Plan which you are planning to operationalize?
  • What is the targeted returns you are expecting from your campaign? Do a cost vis-a-vis outcome-benefit break up for the entire blue-print stage wise. Does each stage commensurate the Expected Returns on Investments (ROI) figures?
  • Last, not the least, does it go hand in hand with the internal competencies of the team that will be implementing your strategy? A great strategy may fall flat without due importance given to the implementation and the competencies of the team.

Do let us know if you need any clarification. Hope you enjoyed reading our articles. By the way, do check out PrintmeIt.com, they create wonderful flyers and brochures which you can you for your advertising campaigns.

Did you read these related articles? They have drawn a lot of attention from readers of similar articles as this one and had been shared extensively in professional networks like LinkedIn.

Jobs and Careers in Marketing

Marketing Management is a discipline focused on the practical application of marketing techniques and the management of a firm’s marketing resources and activities for the purpose of creating a demand for the firm’s products for selling the same.

The term “marketing” as it is known now, was coined in the early 1930s by the American Marketing Association presidential address. While manufacturing was then the focus in business, a subsequent need was recognized to sell what was getting manufactured more efficiently in existing markets. While marketing management as a discipline of research and application has seen waves of changes in key strategic inclination and focus, the core has somewhat remained unchanged.

So what draws most of the marketing professionals to this discipline?

  1. First, it is theoretically very easy. The technicalities are somewhat lesser than many other super-hyped fields like Finance or Technology
  2. A lot depends on the quick thinking of the marketer. Understanding and having a good business acumen is an added bonus.
  3. The careers and jobs are promising yet offer dynamic changes to every professional, suitable to satisfy a broad variety of needs. Not everyone is cut-out for every job. Understanding job requirements as a fit with one’s personality type is a must for the sustained growth of every professional.
  4. It offers choices for career shifts industry wise and role wise, must for every professional, if one faces a mid career crisis.
  5. Last, and most excitingly, it offers a track to reach the coveted “CEO” position in the organization. Most top executives have a background in marketing, if not all.

So what roles do traditional marketing roles get you into?

Jobs in marketing can vary a lot. However, besides traditional paths in sales and marketing, there are many other roles in marketing, a list of which is prepared below:

  1. Business Development in Information Technology and Services companies (like jobs in IBM, Google, Microsoft, Adobe, Amazon)
  2. Market Research institutions ( e.g. like jobs in AC Nielson, IMRB )
  3. Consumer goods manufacturing institutions in marketing, sales, branding, strategy (higher in the organization) like jobs in Unilever, Procter & Gamble or in jobs in the FMCG sector.
  4. Consumer durables manufacturing companies in marketing, sales, branding, strategy (higher in the organization) like jobs in Sony, Apple, Toshiba
  5. Product management and even in development in research labs (like jobs in 3M)
  6. Need recognition of markets yet to be created (like jobs in MR divisions in MNCs like Tata Group, 3M)
  7. Retail chain management (both marketing, sales and supply chain functions are sometimes merged) like jobs in Wallmart, K-Mart, Reliance Fresh.
  8. Social sector and NGOs. Even social marketing is a major concern in current fast paced societies.
  9. Internet marketing service professional: You may start marketing websites as a SEO expert.
  10. Affiliate marketing professional: Create your own chain of hierarchy and get the benefits of the sales from it. E.G. Make money from tweeting and making friends join you in the same using MyLikes

I hope the choices helped you out in your search for a career in marketing. By the way, do you know about the top career choices trending globally now?  Choosing a career which won’t stagnate too soon is extremely crucial for sustainable professional growth.

http://www.business-fundas.com/2010/100-fastest-growing-careers/

The 8 Ps of Services Marketing

Services are radically different from products and need to be marketed very differently. So the classical 4 P structure of the Marketing Mix needs to be modified suitably to incorporate the 8 Ps for services marketing, which was previously known as the 7 Ps only.

Services can range from financial services provided by the banks to technology services provided by the IT company or hospitality services provided by hotels and restaurants or even a blog where an author provides a service (information presentation, interesting reading etc) to his audience. Services marketing are dominated by the 7 Ps of marketing namely Product, Price,  Place, Promotion, People, Process and Physical evidence.

To know more in details about the classical 7 Ps of services marketing do visit our article on The 7 Ps of services marketing

While everyone knows about the 7 Ps of services marketing, the 8th P of Services Marketing has emerged in research very recently. The 8th P is Productivity and Quality.

In integral services management, improving productivity is a requisite in cost management; but quality, as defined by the customer, is essential for a service to differentiate itself from other providers.

It has been recognized that overall profitability of a firm may be greatly impacted by focusing on not only at the top-line by improving sales but also focusing on the bottom-line by lowering over-all cost of delivering services. In services management, often the variable costs are a lot more than fixed costs, and so incremental costs, if managed properly can have a huge impact on productivity. So for services, a firm may greatly benefit through proper re-engineering of processes and remodeling the same if required to improve productivity at each stage.

It has also been established in research that process improvements deliver better standardization and hence better quality in services. Quality perception is a crucial differentiating factor on services management and for long term sustainability of the same. Business Process Remodeling can lead to major process efficiency improvements which again can impact overall quality as is actually delivered by the firm and is also perceived by the customers / clientele .

8-Ps

Do let us know if you liked our article or if you have any questions.

By the way, have you read our article on the 4 P’s on Social Marketing?

Also did you read our article on the The 4 P’s of Marketing – The Marketing Mix strategies from which the 7 P Marketing Mix theory actually evolves?

The Evolution of Marketing Management – The History & Future

Marketing Management is a discipline focused on the practical application of marketing techniques and the management of a firm’s marketing resources and activities for the purpose of creating a demand for the firm’s products for selling the same.

Traditionally, marketing management was partitioned into three silos, namely the 3 C’s, “Customer analysis”, “Company analysis” and “Competitor analysis” (so-called “3Cs” analysis). Over the years, it has evolved into an integrative five “Cs”: “Customer analysis”, “Company analysis”, “Collaborator analysis”, “Competitor analysis”, and “Analysis of the industry Context”.

As the focus of marketing shifted from 3 Cs to 5Cs, so has the strategic intent of firms. It was recognized that a Pull strategy is way more sustainable than a Push strategy, and so has the models of integrative marketing management.

Do let us know if you liked our article or if you have any questions.

Have you read our article on the 4 P’s on Social Marketing?

Also did you read our article on the 7 P’s of Services Marketing?

These articles are highly popular posts in our educative blog.

Tsunami – What comes next ?

What a terrible, terrible incident took place on 11th of March, 2011. If there is one country which can withstand earthquakes then it must be Japan. Infact the very word tsunami is Japanese meaning ‘harbour wave’. Japan is a country which faces earthquake once in every 5 minutes. Infact even in schools the students are trained what to do in case there is an earthquake. But what happened last week is the worst that the country has faced so far. The Japanese PM has cited it to be the worst incident since the Second World War.
Because of nature’s wrath, such horrendous incidents are becoming regular in all parts of the world. This year supposedly has brought the heaviest snowfall ever in the European countries. And now the triple whammy of earthquake, followed by tsunami and meltdown at nuclear reactors have estimatedly killed thousands while more than a million has been left without food and water. The insurance companies have predicted it to be the costliest with insured lossed running into as much as 35 billion USD, without considering the loss caused by the tsunami.
The fear of what’s next is really scary. Japan has changed geologically and economically and will take long time to get back to normal. But we have obstructed the ways of nature in too many ways for the sake of development for far too long a time. And now with each stoke, the nature is taking us years back from where it would take a lot of effort to come back. Its better that we start getting sensible, else who knows what we might see in this life only…
Will catch u soon again..till then God bless us

@Priyanka

More plight to common man

Being a tax professional going through the budget changes is what we have to do as a part of our job. When the government presents a budget, the Finance Minister tries to convince that they keep the best interest of the common people in mind while imposing tax on the general public. This year through budget 2011, the Finance Minister of India has levied service tax on A/c hospitals having 25 or more beds.
The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry along with several prominent health care institutes throughout India has raised a voiced against this measure. In India it is impossible for a blood bank or operation theatre to function without proper air-conditioning. Further, the life of several patents would be at stake if they get admitted in a hospital without an A/C. The Government has proposed that they are levying such tax only on people who can afford it. But most importantly, i think the Hon’ble Finance Minister, however educated he might be has forgotten that nobody goes to hospital to relax. Most people who are admitted in hospitals are facing a life and death situation. Further, there are so many unprivileged people who put everything at stake, sale or mortgage their fixed assets to save their beloved ones.
The entire liability of service tax would be passed on by the clinics to their patients. What appears to the Government to be a mere tax collection , can make a lot of people beg on streets just to add a few more days to the life of their dearest one.
According to FICCI, India today is in dire need to expand its healthcare infrastructure which is extremely inadequate. The quantity of bed allocated is 0.9 for every 1,000 people in our country when compared to the global average of 2.7, or 3.0 in China and 2.4 in Brazil.
I really pray that the Government bows in front of the combined pressure from all areas and removed this clause from the Finance Bill. If they cant control inflation, they better not make sure to add more plight to the poor and ailing who are already being neglected by our so called “Prospering Country”.
Signing off for today
@Priyanka

PS: The tax structure of the Union Budget 2011

The 7S for Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing is basically promotion of brands using all available forms of digital advertising media to reach the target segment. In current marketing media, the popular media includes Radio, mobile, Internet, Television, social media marketing and other less popular forms of digital media like Digital Signage, Digital bill boards, etc.

Check out our article on Digital Marketing – Theories, Strategies and Frameworks

The 7 S for Digital Marketing typically is the way a Digital marketing strategy is systematically utilized.

  • Strategy: Does the strategy fit with the vision and mission of your organization?
  • Shared values: Does the strategy go hand in hand with the shared values of not only your target customer segment but also of that of the implementers?
  • Structure: Does your organizational structure support adaptations to changes in environment in response to your campaign?
  • Skill: Do you have the suitable skilled workforce to carry out the campaign successfully?
  • Staff: Are your staff equipped to deliver your strategy (location wise, access to technical resources)
  • Style: Does the campaign thematically fit with the style of your other campaigns?
  • Systems: Do you have systems in place to carry out the campaign? Is there technical support for your advertising campaigns and marketing plans?

Hope this clears up the 7S of Digital Marketing. Hope this helps your company to chalk out a successful digital marketing program. Do let us know what you think of the article, with your valuable comments.

Have you read our article on the 4 P’s on Social Marketing?

Also did you read our article on the The 4 P’s of Marketing – The Marketing Mix strategies?

Dreams

There are clubs you can’t belong to, neighborhoods you can’t live in, schools you can’t get into, but the roads are always open. – Nike
Did anyone of you dream ever ? I am not talking about a passing dream or a mere fantasy, but something that has germinated inside you, something u have thought, lived, felt so much so that it has become a part of your blood..
A dream is born in our subconscious..and then it spreads through our origin…so much so that we become an extension of what we dream..the dreams we see with our eyes open determine who we turn out to be..like a bonshayee tree it spreads its roots through our veins and persuades us to take the chances we would consider risky unless we are under the spell of our dreams..no wonder we might spend a few years trying to climb the imaginary stairs we build to reach our destiny..but then is it worthwhile to spend the whole life thinking that only at the cost of few years we could have got what we are being born to do?
One thing we should always realise is that we begin by choosing our dreams..but it ends with the dreams testing our worthiness before being fulfilled..it is only when we live, breathe and give our souls completely does our dreams realise..our dreams determine to what extent we are ready to sacrifice for it to be fulfilled…also how we come across people on our way who either scatter them or hold our hands and show us the path to destination..but at the end its our own decisions that determines the way..

I donno what awaits for me..but it doesnt matter at all….my hope has ended my fear….as someone said good things happen to good people..but it is us who defines the good..creates them..inside i have always known what I am meant to do..it is not only my dream..i shall definitely make into reality soon..experience might say it is risky..reason might say that i might fail..but the heart always says to give it a try….and i shall try till i succeed

The 4 P’s of Marketing – The Marketing Mix strategies

The term “marketing mix” was coined in the early 1950s by Neil Borden in his American Marketing Association presidential address. This is one of the preliminary knowledge every marketer must have and is considered to be the basics of every marketing theory, which emerged henceforth.

The basic major marketing management decisions can be classified in one of the following four categories, namely Product, Price, Place (distribution) and Promotion.

Product: It is the tangible object or an intangible service that is getting marketed through the program. Tangible products may be items like consumer goods (Toothpaste, Soaps, Shampoos) or consumer durables (Watches, IPods). Intangible products are service based like the tourism industry and information technology based services or codes-based products like cellphone load and credits. Product design which leads to the product attributes is the most important factor. However packaging also needs to be taken into consideration while deciding this factor. Every product is subject to a life-cycle including a growth phase followed by an eventual period of decline as the product approaches market saturation. To retain its competitiveness in the market, continuous product extensions though innovation and thus differentiation is required and is one of the strategies to differentiate a product from its competitors.

Price: The price is the simply amount a customer pays for the product. If the price outweigh the perceived benefits for an individual, the perceived value of the offering will be low and it will be unlikely to be adopted, but if the benefits are perceived as greater than their costs, chances of trial and adoption of the product is much greater.

Place: Place represents the location where a product can be purchased. It is often referred to as the distribution channel. This may include any physical store (supermarket, departmental stores) as well as virtual stores (e-markets and e-malls) on the Internet. This is crucial as this provides the place utility to the consumer, which often becomes a deciding factor for the purchase of many products across multiple product categories.

Promotion: This represents all of the communications that a marketer may use in the marketplace to increase awareness about the product and its benefits to the target segment. Promotion has four distinct elements: advertising, public relations, personal selling and sales promotion. Advertising may include using specialty packaging to showcase products, utilizing promotional products for your company, or online ads. A certain amount of crossover occurs when promotion uses the four principal elements together (e.g in film promotion). Sales staff often play a major role in promotion of a product.

So how does a marketer strategize to attain success in a marketing program, using these 4 P’s?

Offering specificity introduces the contextual customization of what needs to be done to address the questions raised in each of these 4 Ps of Marketing. What is it that the marketer is trying to provide value, through each of the “disguised value proposition” to the end consumer. In there very essence, the 4 Ps of marketing is actually a framework that allows the marketer to structure the value proposition of an existing product (or a new product at the time of launch) so as to garner the highest mindshare by distinctly structuring the same. However, that is easier said that done and many marketers fumble when it comes to playing with the real life nuances and bringing out a crisp value proposition.

Do let us know if you liked our article or if you have any questions.

Have you read our article on the 4 Cs of Marketing Mix?

Also did you read our article on the 7 P’s of Services Marketing?

These articles are highly popular posts in our educative blog.

Advertising and Marketing Programs for Small and Medium Business

Small and medium sized enterprises typically have very different requirements and capabilities to engage their target audience through Advertising and Marketing programs.  Typically, most of these firms are limited by a heavy constraint in budget and cannot rollout the kind of marketing campaigns as MNCs do. Immediate returns on investment becomes crucial in considering not only the success of the advertising and marketing programs, but also a question of survival for small and medium businesses.

Here are few things your business may benefit from while planning on such a program. Give some thought to them.

  1. Have you selected your target audience? What is your estimated penetration (both maximum and minimum) of the total size of the target consumer segment? What is their estimated consumption pattern. What scope is there in repeated consumption and at what rate?
  2. Have you decided the marketing mix for your program? If not, you should read our article on the The 4 P’s of Marketing – The Marketing Mix strategies as a starter. If you are providing a service, do go through this article on services marketing.
  3. How do you differentiate with your advertising from that of your competitors? What incremental value do you provide to your customer segment? What is the comparative pricing scenario with your competitors and substitute products/services?
  4. Have you done any market research to find out the gaps in the needs of the target segment? Have you designed your product based on the needs of the target segment? A market research is a good risk mitigation strategy, and in very helpful, especially for small businesses, and needs to be done in house.
  5. Have you decided the budget and target returns on that expenditure on the marketing program? Is the estimated expenditure clearly demarked under multiple over heads? Do the estimated returns stand in accordance to your estimated penetration level post program implementation (point 1).
  6. Have you chosen the mediums such that there is a connect between the targeted segment while they are using the medium? Using a medium like Facebook while you are promoting an online dating website may work wonders, but if you use the same for a B2B (industrial) product or even a B2C product like local food joints/products, the same will not work.
  7. Have you thought of the implementation plans such that the intent to purchase may be converted to actual purchases? Many websites showcase items which the consumer gets interested about, but ultimately sale conversion doesn’t happen since the payment/check out options are not easily available on the website.
  8. What kind of strategy do you want to use? Would you prefer a PUSH strategy rather than a PULL strategy? Is your strategy sustainable and scalable in the long run, if you have similar plans. A PUSH strategy by increasing incentives at the point of sales (maybe at the shops/retail outlets) may work best if the target segment is local or the consumption point is locality specific. Expenditures on branding may not be necessary in that case since brand loyalty does not have incremental benefits.
  9. Is your strategy imitable? Can your competitors do what you are doing, better, and beat you at your game? Are you utilizing any capability/resource which is essentially core to your business and which your competitors may not have access to? Have you thought of customer retention services post sales?
  10. Last but not the least, is your marketing strategy in sync with the social and legal framework within which your business is expected to function. Have you checked out the legal requirements.

We hope that these simple guidelines help you to develop a great successful marketing and advertising program for your business. Do write to us if you want any suggestions.

Digital Marketing – Theories, Strategies and Frameworks

Digital Marketing is basically promotion of brands using all forms of digital advertising mediums to reach the target segment. This now includes Radio, mobile, Internet, Television, social media marketing and other less popular forms of digital media.

While the talk of the day is internet marketing, the latter is only a subset of digital marketing. While digital marketing does involve many of the strategies involved in Internet Marketing, it extends beyond this by including other channels with which to reach people that do not require the use of the Internet. As a result of this decreased reliance on the web based media, the field of digital marketing expands to include media such as cellular media(sms/mms/phone calls), digital signage (digital banner ads and digital outdoor signboards), and other media like television and radio,  it is thus a much more comprehensive methodology to reach out and engage your target audience, and with a higher conversion rate for most product categories.

Previously seen as a stand-alone marketing strategy because of its extension on mediums which it covers, it is currently visualized more as a marketing effort that covers most, if not all, of the more traditional marketing areas such as direct marketing by providing the same method of communicating with an audience but in a manner using the development of science and technology and thus optimizing resources. The spectrum of digital marketing is now being expanded to support the “servicing” and “engagement” of customers, and thus cover not only customer acquisition but also customer retention.

So how should firms go about planning their marketing strategies for a successful digital marketing program? While there is no such common strategy which fits the requirement of all firms like a glove, there are few generic strategic and economic issues that firms need to keep in mind while designing their marketing program.

The first grid has three elements of your proposed strategy. Does your strategy match with the vision and mission of your firm? Does the strategy assembling platform match with the knowledge that is within your marketing team? Is that knowledge formally managed using any platform? Then comes the question of how you are delivering the value transfer from the production of value, to the assembly of value to the end value consumption in a value chain. Is your firm geared to take charge of such a business model?

As in the second half of the architecture, the business model dimensions need to be evaluated based on the digital marketing capabilities. Most important dimension for serious consideration is whether your organization structure is geared to handle the marketing methodologies you are planning to implement.  The dynamics of knowledge distribution also needs to be looked into based on this framework.

7-S-Digital-Marketing

Hope this helps your company to chalk out a successful digital marketing program. Do let us know what you think of the article, with your valuable comments.

Have you read our article on the 4 P’s on Social Marketing?

Also did you read our article on the The 4 P’s of Marketing – The Marketing Mix strategies?

These articles are highly popular posts in our educative blog.

Marketing Mix – The 4 P’s of Social Marketing

Social marketing was “born” as a discipline in the 1970s, with the increasing need to “sell” ideas, attitudes and behaviors, a paradigmatic shift from the need to market products only. Kotler and Andreasen define social marketing as “differing from other areas of marketing only with respect to the objectives of the marketer and his or her organization. The focus is on creating and sustaining demand for the product and service by market modification or even creation.

Social marketing seeks to influence social behaviors not to benefit the marketer, but to benefit the target audience and the general society, so as to create and/or modify the entire target market structure partially or entirely.  This technique has been used extensively in international health or social awareness programs, especially for contraceptives, oral rehydration therapy (ORT) and AIDS. Today it is being used with more frequency for raising awareness in diverse topics as drug abuse, socio-psychological disorders, potentially life threatening sexually transmitted diseases and organ donation.

The 4 Ps of Marketing or better known as the Marketing Mix are as follows:

Product
The social marketing “product” is not necessarily a physical offering. The products can range from intangible to actual physical products, so services (nursing, human rights violation), practices (AIDS awareness or breastfeeding) and finally, more intangible ideas (e.g., environmental protection). Since to have a viable “product”, the target segment must first perceive a genuine problem or a need, and that the product or service being marketed is a good solution for that problem. The role of research here is to discover the consumers’ perceptions of the problem and the product, and to determine which are the more important perceved factors regarding the same.

Price
“Price” refers to what the consumer must do or pay (in terms of financial, physical effort time or any other resource) in order to obtain the social marketing product or service. This cost may be financial (Dollars/Pounds), or it may instead require the consumer to give up intangible sources of value, such as time, effort, or to risk embarrassment and social ostracism. Just like product marketing, if the costs outweigh the benefits for an individual, the perceived value of the offering will be low and it will be unlikely to be adopted, but if the benefits are perceived as greater than their costs, chances of trial and adoption of the product is much greater.

Place
“Place” describes the methodology the product or service reaches the target segment. Think about where and when the audience will perform the behavior or access the new or adapted product/service. How can you make it convenient and pleasant so as to increase chances of adoption? Also think about training your sales team – the people that will take your program to the audience. By training the team on the details of the activities and habits of the target segment, as well as their experience and dissatisfaction with the existing delivery system, better adoption may be achieved.

Promotion
Use of extensive market research is necessary to determine the communication channels that will best reach your audience for easy adoption of the products or services. It becomes crucial to understand which advertising or public relations media would play a greater role (e.g., radio, newspaper, postcard racks) since that WILL VARY depending on the product/service and also on the target segment.

Few other marketing mix  ( The 8 P’s of Marketing)

There are four other P’s which along with the previously mentioned 4 P’s are often necessary considerations while marketing of ideas and lifestyle.

Public: Marketers would have different audiences that their program has to address in order to accelerate adoption of the products and ideas. “Public” could be both the external and internal groups. External groups would include the target audience, policymakers, and gatekeepers, while the internal groups would comprise of the sale team trained for the implementation of the program.

Partnership: Lifestyle and Social issues are often so ingrained into the consumer that change becomes a real challenge. Teaming up with organizations in the community helps to be effective. Organizations with similar goals to your campaign, not necessarily the same goals, need to be identified and collaborated with. Co-creation of market even with a competitor is sometimes necessary.

Policy: Social marketing campaigns could do well in stimulating individual behavior change, but for sustainability, environmental change is necessary. Thus policy changes from the government is often important and so is pitching your product and/or service to the policy makers crucial for the sustainability of your campaign.

Purse: Most social marketing campaigns operate through funds provided by sources such as NGOs, foundations, governmental grants, private donations and CSR funds. This adds another dimension to the strategy development and sustainability of campaigns, namely, planning the funding process well in advance in different stages of the program.

These are the factors a marketer should keep in mind while marketing ideas or lifestyle changes.

By the way, did you read our article on the 7 P’s of Services Marketing?

Do let us know if you have any questions.

Behold the turtle, he makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.

Bruce Levin gave an excellent insight to what ultimately is a sure shot recipe for progress. Not taking risks in life is a sure shot symbol of stagnation and ultimately death. To be progressive, one needs to take risk and there is absolutely no debate about this. But yes, one should take calculated risks.

So ask yourself this everyday, what do you intend to do with your life? Where do you see yourself in the near future and some time off? Make your decisions accordingly.

India wins the ICC Cricket World Cup

Does it sounds too good to be true for all the millions of hard core Indian fans of crickets? Yes, this is what we are eagerly waiting for and for once, the dream looks achievable on paper where we start the tournament being favorites of the same.

Justifiably or not, India had started several World Cups in the near past wearing the favorites tag, but never had that label been more authentic than now. Their bowling attack seemed to be the problem in the past, but even on their most frigid days India often possess a batting line-up capable of overhauling anything. This time the batting lineup appears even quite a few notches higher than regular, and this is what we fans are banking upon, to bring us the cup with our favorite Mascot.

India boasts of a batting lineup consisting of Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Mahinder Singh Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan. The weakest link on paper in that line-up, Virat Kohli, is also India’s most in-form batsman. And Suresh Raina, is a force on the spinning tracks in the subcontinent, is an strong option too. Each one is capable of producing a match-winning innings and producing tons of centuries and turn the course of the match single handedly. This Indian side is very capable for scoring a 300-plus total, and chasing one down, maybe even 350s.

In the bowling section, India have played just one specialist, Harbhajan Singh, in recent games and relied on a phalanx of able part-timers – Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan and Suresh Raina while Chawla and Ashwin were the other reserve slow bowlers. While Zaheer Khan will spearhead the pace bowling department with Munaf Patel, Praveen Kumar and Ashish Nehra being the others who should be able to provide more than ample support to the pace department.

Thus, the names of the stalwarts in the current team makes one wonder whether if is this not the strongest world cup team we ever had in recent times? Cant we repeat the 1983 feat again, this time under Dhoni?

Finally, for the keen fans out there, this is the World Cup Fixture to help you stay in touch and not lose your favorite matches.

The final Indian squad for the 2011 ICC world cup is as follows:

Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt/wk), Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, Praveen Kumar, Yusuf Pathan, Piyush Chawla, R Ashwin, Ashish Nehra.

Using Gmail for Business

Many small businesses are now contemplating using G-Mail for business. But is it worth it?

Google’s webmail and complimenting applications (YES, THESE ARE OFTEN FREE ALSO)  require no hardware or software and need minimal administration, creating tremendous time and cost savings for businesses. While these can be entirely browser based, the mails can also be pushed and thus accessed offline too.

Some of the features that Gmail offers ts privileged users are as follows:

  • Each user gets 25 GB of email and IM storage, which is 50 times the industry average. Gmail Business Mail for SMEs/MSEs are designed so employees can spend less time managing their inboxes, and thus increase productivity in the office. Time-saving features like message threading, message labels, fast message search and powerful spam filtering help employees work efficiently with high volumes of email.
  • Gmail is securely powered by the web, so you can be productive from your desk, on the road or at home, even when you’re offline, using your laptop, or even your I-Phone or smartphone.
  • You can Sync your emails with Outlook & BlackBerry. At no extra charge, Google Apps supports over-the-air mobile access on BlackBerry devices, the iPhone, Smart phones, Windows Mobile, Android and many less powerful phones.
  • Gmail provides excellent spam protection. Powerful Gmail spam filtering helps you stay focused on what’s important. Postini filtering lets you customize your spam protection.
  • When you trust your company’s information to Google, you can be confident that your critical information is safe and secure. Google’s information security team, including some of the world’s foremost experts in information, application and network security, are focused on keeping your information safe. Google and many other customers trust this system with highly sensitive corporate data.

So what are you waiting for? Go GET GMAIL for your BUSINESS..

Its much more than what our normal Gmail users get for a minimal price.

Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid – Marketing Strategies

Economically speaking, the “Bottom of the Pyramid” is the largest and also the poorest socio-economic class of people across economies. This consumer segment consists of 2.5 billion people who live on less than 2.50 dollar per day. The phrase “bottom of the pyramid” is used in particular by people developing new models of doing business that deliberately target that demographic, often using new technology. This segment of consumers have also been referred to as the “Base of the Pyramid” or more commonly the “BoP”.  This consumer segment has drawn the attention of the biggest marketing firms due to the sheer earning potentials from volumes of sales with low margins.

The consumers at the bottom of the pyramid have a very distinct buying behavior as opposed to the other consumers. While the rest of the consumer segment derive value from products through 3 sources, namely attribute based satisfaction, consequence based satisfaction and finally, goal based satisfaction,  it is our belief that the consumers at the BoP derive value / satisfaction mostly from the innermost ring or the first level/source of satisfaction. Because of their spending ability, this class of consumers tend to be very conscious about the core benefits obtained from the purchase of any product or services.The probability is high for success of products which fulfill the attributes of the lower bases of the consumer need model provided below.

While every the most profitable consumer segment in current economic times is the youth within the age gap of 20 – 30, commonly called the twentysumthing, the sheer volume of possible purchases in this consumer segment has become a focus for marketers. While every product offers benefits to its consumers not only from its core attributes, but also from its fringe attributes (benefits from outer levels), this class predominantly derives maximum satisfaction from the core attributes of products only. Product extensions and ego-based attributes have little impact on the consumption and buying behavior of this consumer segment, who would in fact, perceive the extra benefits as being something, they are having to shell out quite a bit extra, even if the marketing firm does not charge for them. While “extras” in the product marketing mix may consist of other value adding product extensions, care needs to be taken while deciding on the basket of goods for such consumers. Thus the probability is high for success of products which fulfill the attributes of the lower bases of the consumer need model provided below, namely which fulfill the physiological need and the security needs the most.

Pricing strategies also play a major role for the success of marketing strategies in such a consumer segment. While place and promotion offer very meager sources of value or utility, a low pricing of products is often a mantra for easy acceptance on a new product introduction. Price premiums are not easily tolerable in this highly sensitive value-sensitive consumer segment. Thus it has been seen that companies rage low-price war to capture the market of this segment, and many success stories which have been glorified are that of Nirma cake soap, Tata Namak, and other brands which churned billions of dollar by targeting this segment.

Pointers for Successful and Sustainable e-Business models

While there has been so many e-business ventures, very few actually even live to see the light of profit. A major reason for this is that business never think properly in depth before going online. There are so many aspects that the CEO needs to give time to think before going online, and not do it just because its the way others are going. Few such questions are as follows:

  • First and foremost, the top management needs to deliberate on the nature of the business and the industry. What are the core competencies of the business. Will that be enhanced by going online?
  • What about the navigational structure and the way the organization functions? Will the culture embrace such a change effectively? What are the chances of talent loss to competing firms due to the cultural changes and process changes?
  • How would the existing customers react to the change? Is there a customer retention plan in place? Will the move help to reach out to new potential customers?
  • Is the business geared with the proper technological architecture? Have the processes been remodeled to fulfill service demand?

Do keep in mind that the technological architecture has to be designed keeping the service planned, in mind. The architecture preferably needs to be custom fit with your business process. If you are doing the reverse, i.e. fitting your processes to the architecture, do try to weigh out the pros and cons of the switch of the business model to the new business model. Then the above questions become relevant even more to ensure that the company stays healthy and safe.

Top 15 Quotes from the Management Guru Jack Welch

John Francis “Jack” Welch,  is an American chemical engineer, businessman and author. He was Chairman and CEO of General Electric between 1981 and 2001. Welch’s net worth is estimated at $720 million. Jack Welch is such an authority on the subject that many master of organizational leadership programs put a focus on his principles of management. Following are few of his top rated quotes on management.

  1. Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be.
  2. If you pick the right people, and give them the opportunity to spread their wings and put compensation as a carrier behind it you almost don’t have to manage them.
  3. Give me a highly successful unionized industry.
  4. If change is happening on the outside faster than on the inside the end is in sight.
  5. Giving people self-confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do. Because then they will act.
  6. If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.
  7. Control your own destiny or someone else will.
  8. Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.
  9. An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.
  10. Number one, cash is king… number two, communicate… number three, buy or bury the competition.
  11. The essence of competitiveness is liberated when we make people believe that what they think and do is important – and then get out of their way while they do it.
  12. The Internet is the Viagra of big business.
  13. If GE’s strategy of investment in China is wrong, it represents a loss of a billion dollars, perhaps a couple of billion dollars. If it is right, it is the future of this company for the next century.
  14. My main job was developing talent. I was a gardener providing water and other nourishment to our top 750 people. Of course, I had to pull out some weeds, too.
  15. Willingness to change is a strength, even if it means plunging part of the company into total confusion for a while.

Do share if you liked these quotes from the Management Guru Jack Welch.

Simple things we forget

1. We earn to live but we don’t live to earn
2. Office is a place where nobody is concerned about anything other than self interest. I f somebody is friendly then that person obviously wants something out of you. Be cordial, friendly, but never sacrifice your own interest. Learn to say no with a smile at times. People in office love you only as long as you listen to everything they say like an idiot
3. Health is wealth, once lost it never comes back
4. If you work less one day, then you can obviously make up in the future. But if you loose your health, no office is going to compensate you for that
5. Our health is dependent on food, sleep and happiness. It is very essential to relax so that the body can sustain in the long run
6. Nobody in this world can love you or care for you more than your mother and your life partner
7. We always think that we are achieving a lot, but years later when we look back we see that we have missed out on a lot of things in life

Generic Strategies for the Ultimate Competitive Advantage

“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage” ~ Jack Welch

Today, the firms operate in an even more competitive industry dictated by an ever unparalleled dynamism. Jack Welch never said anything more meaningful. In current times, when change is the only thing that is constant, a firm’s ability to learn, and more importantly “unlearn and then relearn” creates the most important distinguishing factor for sustainable competitive advantage.

Michael Porter’s framework for competitive advantage probably explains few of the focus issues firms may keep in mind while formulating strategies at the top level.

However, this is the way to achieve sustainable competitive advantage and a firm’s top executive needs to understand the core to his firm, based on which he can take this call. However, due to the dynamism of the industry structure, he needs to continually analyze and re-evaluate his strategies, based on the core.

A firm probably has multiple dimensions of personality traits, talents, resources and skills, and hundreds of other characteristics, but what is it that when all the others are surgically removed distinguishes the character of the firm at the very core? This is essentially the key which needs to be leveraged successfully and innovated upon continually to attain that otherwise illusive competitive advantage.

So how does one recognize one’s core?

One may argue that achieving “customer loyalty” may be a step towards achieving a sustainable competitive advantage. It’s not a secret that loyal customers are good for an organization or brand. You don’t see too many executives saying they don’t want more of them. But in spite of that what intrigues me is how few companies truly acknowledge, take care of and leverage those loyal customers in a way that measurably accelerates market share and recurring revenue while mitigating competitive risk and reducing sales & marketing costs. But in spite of  “customers” being a crucial focal point for business, it is required to recognize that in current times, the very nature of business is evolving. With the very definition of a firm’s role in an industry or even the definition of the industry under such a strict evolution, it is crucial to note that the very target customers are deemed to change in this dynamic market structure. So identifying and acquiring new customers, in spite of the spiraling costs of new customer acquisitions, may play a key role for sustenance.

Thus a firm’s source of resources for the “Ultimate Competitive Advantage” is much more than the sources of revenue. Smaller firms whose ability to learn and “unlearn and then relearn”have reaped the benefits in the past. The problem started after they grew to a certain size where they couldn’t stay so nimble on their feet, and faced competition from other firms, who were more adaptive to the dynamic industry structure.

Sometimes, one tends to think that probably a firm’s organization structure and the culture is the inherent and most important source of competitive advantage. But how can a firm leverage that to quantifiable profits since at the end of the day, business decisions are based on ROI figures and financial achievements. This is probably where a firm needs to rediscover itself.

Live to earn and die saving

People spend a third of their lives learning to earn money, a third to earn money and another third of their lives to save their money. It is a matter of debate which third of their lives is more important than the others. No risk no return is the fundamental law of money, if you have less qualifications to earn good money, chances of good income are still there but people will agree that probability is low and risks are high.

What we consider here is the government’s role in defining someone’s savings pattern? The government allows a person to hoard only a certain amount of cash or assets, the rest has to be either paid in taxes or locked into the free market or with the government. While this is a fundamental reason that keeps the economy running from an individual’s point of view, it is highly perplexing what to do with his money.

On one hand the government gives you the option of depositing your money with it and losing your money like slow poisoning thanks to higher inflation rate than deposit interest rate, or losing it altogether if you belong to one of those countries whose government is more unstable than a twig in a storm. On the other hand, the government encourages you to invest in the stock market and also incentivizes you by offering tax savings on long term capital gains, the catch being you can’t get out of the market without losing if you are caught in a downturn and anyways in the long term a balanced portfolio will give you an inflation-adjusted return of only around 10% on an annual basis. A lower than 10% return with the half dozen hedges so that you don’t get a heart attack when you are being hit left, right and centre makes a common man a most unlikely candidate to succeed in saving his money too much.

While GDP defines the spending power of a country’s population is it really good to have a population which spends all of its money for goods and services, or a population which saves and increases its asset base? The answer to the question is same as whether it is better to have a perfect process line producing output from input with zero inventory, or to have some inventory in place. A perfect system is only good as long as it lasts, in an imperfect world concessions have to be made, only time will tell if the concessions provided by the government to save our income can really boost the country to the status of most desirable place to live in or just a huge economy.

With Regards,

Arindam Acharyya

Apple vs Microsoft-Who will win the battle for the crown?

Stevey plays against Billy boy again. Bill Gates of Microsoft fame and Steve Jobs of Apple fame face off for the second time, enlisting Halo’s Master Chief and Justin Long as back up. Seriously, between Apple and Microsoft, Innovation in new products has always been a race for eternity. So who will win this long battle?

Watch out for this battle of Titans, which is bound to capture the fancies of all technocrats!

 

SME Lending : A Growth Strategy

SME lending in India has been a neglected target market since the independence. Though, government tried to propagate SME lending using regulations and incentives, however, somehow beneficial impact was never visible and SME lending always remained a poor cousin to other activities of lending institutions.


It needs to be initially identified what the current constraints are existent for the SME lending. It is recognized that Government should take initiative to operationalize SFCs in big Scale, and professionally run rather than bureaucratically. Subsequent sections focus on how SFCs or financial institutions need to first evolve a strategic focus on the sector by understanding the client & his needs. The SFC needs to re-engineer the SME lending value chain with the intention to develop a long standing relationship with the SME clientele set. The modifications needs to be executed across the critical areas via marketing execution, product development , streamlining of operations through internet integrated delivery channels & application of advanced risk modeling techniques.
As the relationship evolves over time, the firm is able to indulge in relationship lending due to reduction of information asymmetry which lowers supervisory costs & increases account profitability for the firm. Through retrained & empathetic staff dealing with SME clients, the interaction level deepens. Finally the SFC by donning the role of a Financial Consultant transforms from a lending institution into a one stop solution for all the financial needs of the SME client.
At the end the concept of Fund Financing is also suggested as an approach. The focus in the further studies has been made on traditional sources of Financing as SIDBI, is coming out with processes to replicate and innovate the present schemes to suit SME needs.

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This article is authored by Mukesh who is an alumni of Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow. He has been associated with Crisil and has been recognized as a young thought leader of India.

Demand and Supply

There is a saying that toomuch of anything isnt good. Coming to thing about it, different people have different needs. But irrespective of whether someone is a lawyer or criminal, a housewife or a CFO, there is one common need which is as defining as the need for food or clothes and that is Recognition. Everybody wants to be recognised be it their work, their way of displaying love or even in silly sibling rivalry. And the strange thing is, unconsciously, what someone wants for self, they start doing the same for others. Its like an indirect signal of the hidden desire. Again when someone is denied of something for too long, something which they consider is their rightful want, they start shying away from it and often do the opposite of what they really want. Yet most people wander why they don’t get back the worth of what they are giving to others. Most people who work too hard in office complain that they are the ones who handle all the pressure while the guy who lazes around has the bonds most with the boss. Or while giving away everything for the sake of love, what most get back is distance. I guess what most people don’t understand is that the law of demand and supply work beyond economics. Whenever we give too much into something, the demand from us automatically decreases. I know its horribly unfair, but its true at the same time. By making too much of us available, we don’t let the other person miss us. When a boss gets more than what he wants for, his expectations keep on increasing, and he just knows that he has someone who can complete everything even without directions. This is why one of the chief reasons we shout first on our mom the moment anything goes wrong, while we cant do that with someone else as we know that mom is always there for us irrespective of how we behave. But if we could always control the way we behaved, then there wont be anything natural with our behaviour. We would be like human robots with just the right smile and the right words. We are the way we are by birth. But at the same time after learning the same lesson repeatedly, its better to check the way we act at times, rather than saying “ this is the way i am..cant help!!!”

Hope i didn’t sound too political.

Signing off for the time being, catch u later frds!!

Priy@nka

Top searches in the Internet in this year

For all those who follow Google trends, this would barely come as a surprise. From a research done by a group in the United States, it has been disclosed that the following articles have been the source for the hottest search globally in 2010 and is also expected to reign till mid 2011 to a large extent. The group analyzed the searches done in Google, Yahoo, Bing, ASK and AOL Search. These collectively account for 99% of the total search engine usage and are ranked as the top search engines in order, as per usage.

What was actually less anticipated was the lower rankings of the FIFA world cup, as compared to few other unexpected rank holders.

And finally, without any more ado, we present you the top 10 searched topics in the internet in 2010.

1. Haiti
2. Malema Julius
3. Earthquake
4. Bafana
5. Nelson Mandela
6. World Cup
7. Cape Town
8. Soccer
9. Zuma
10. Kaizer Chiefs

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This Article is authored by Jake Mazan, who is a guest author at Business Fundas. He is a Senior Research Analyst cum Manager at NG-Online News.

Apple’s newest product is around the corner

Apple has surprised us with many innovative product launches in recent times, some more useful than the other. Steve Jobs is known for pushing his teams to innovate beyond barriers. How about something like this for the executives so that they can work while on the move? Whats up next Stevey? Just you wait and see 😉

How to build a Successful Business Model or a Business Plan?

Business Models are crucial for the success of an enterprise or even a startup. So what do you need to focus on while building up your business from scratch? A Business model or a Business Plan (B-Plan) helps you to plan this properly.

  • What are the firm’s core capabilities?
  • How does the firm deliver value to its clients? How does the network with its partners/collaborators (value chain) add to its core competencies. How does the value chain model collaborate with the firms current strategies?
  • What is the cost structure in the business vis-a-vis that of the firm?
  • How is the value proposition unique and sustainable in the long run?
  • How does the firm manage its distribution channels and relationships / liasons with the customers?
  • How is the targeted customer contacted, acquired and retained?
  • What are the sources of revenue and the structure of the same?
  • How does the vision/mission statement adhere with what the firm is doing now and what it is planning to do in the future.

The problem of professionals

Three professionals were riding in a car: a hardware technician, a systems analyst, and a programmer. The systems analyst is driving and when they come to a steep hill he finds that the brakes have failed and the car is accelerating out of control. So, the driver starts pumping the emergency brake, downshifting the gears, and rubbing the wheels’ rims against the curb. He finally manages to bring the car to a stop.

The three professionals climb out and assess the situation.

Hardware technician: “Let’s try and fix it. I’ll crawl under the car and take a look. ”

Systems analyst: “No. I think we should get someone qualified to fix it, a specialist in brakes.”

Programmer: “Why don’t we just get back in and see if it happens again?”

Moral of the story: There’s an urgent need to come out of your comfort zone to taste success