Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Personalization gone wrong

Today I have received another email from Robin Sharma (remember ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’). No, he doesn’t know me but I get his mailers on a regular basis because I have subscribed to his newsletter. The content is worth reading and I take out time from my schedule to go through it word by word.

This time my marketing antennae caught something weird in his mailer which was directed at my inbox with an aim of trying to soothe or connect with me. We marketers believe that the best form of personalizing an email is to greet a person with his name and our job is done. So even this mail opened like ‘Hi Mandar, …’ but lost sense of personalization in subsequent paragraph. It reads ‘Those of you who have secured your seats from across the planet…’ This clearly tells me that he or his marketing team doesn’t know whether I have subscribed to his upcoming event. So he/they chose to address everybody by leaving the personalization to greeting part of the email only.

They could have easily done two lists, one who have subscribed for the event and other for people who aren’t subscribed, and written two separate copies. But choosing to save little time exposed their gimmick of personalization. Nothing bad with this. This is better than lot many others who don’t even know who have subscribed for their content. But this was not expected something from Robin. Anyways, it’s a great learning for other fellow marketers!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Time is of the essense

If you are in service industry then there's no other option for you but to respond on time. I know I would not sound wise when I say that. But such small and petty things are tossed big time in some organizations. It is really difficult for me to fathom 'why people do that?'

If you are not equipped with information as to what needs to be responded to client or any other stakeholder then I can probably understand. However, when you have everything that is required to notify the other person and yet you don't do that then it raises a question on your ability to work in professional setup and sensitivity towards other people who are waiting for your response.

I remember one such incidence when one of the department was expected to respond to some client query. The function got this update on day 0. The news got circulated to concerned people internally on day 1. The required information and the solution was provided back to the team with all other required explanation on same day i.e. day 1. Nothing happened on day 2. The person who should have sent the information on day 1 offloaded the responsibility of response to somebody else on day 3. And I really don't know when client actually received the information.

Such things would pose a great difficult for the growth of the organization. And organization that will work on such small and little human things will succeed for sure.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Agile team at work

Few things we see and experience on a daily basis and that make us blind or ignorant about them. We start taking them for granted. We never think about gravity every time. We just know that whatever goes up is bound to come down. We slowly forget cause and remember only effect. 

I had some work with another team working in my office. As part of my job I interact with different teams and people on a daily basis. So today I approached a person from this team for work. He was occupied with some client work and it was not possible for him to help me with my task. He then asked his teammate a favor. A 'favor' because his teammate was not bound to help him on this request. His teammate nodded and my task was passed on to him. Such a simple thing. But wait. 

Things that appear simple have complex systems working behind them silently. I am sure this kind of experience is not new for many of us. But we have become ignorant about the great spirit that goes in to building these agile and connected. Let’s dissect. 

  • The team members had respect for each other. And hence respect for each other’s commitment. 
  • There was no reason for a guy to take shoulder some other guy’s responsibility. Could be an investment for return favor but I can pass that as a positive sign. 
  • The guy who offered help was not proficient at task I was asking for but he agreed to jump in. He demonstrated risk taking ability. 
  • The first guy had courage to give the task to another guy when he knew that other guy is not as good as him at it. And even if another guy was doing the job his name would be tagged with the deliverable. This shows faith in ability of fellow team members. 
  • One guy takes job and understands the concept and another guy works on it calls for same vocabulary. Unless they interpret things in right way they can’t deliver the output. 

So many things are at play here. So next time you see any cohesive team give it a thought. Unless you understand what makes a great team you can’t build yours. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Tattoo and a job

One of my LinkedIn contact posted that her candidate lost a job because of full-body tattoo and asked whether this is right or wrong. I know what she must be feeling but I am of an opinion that it completely depends what her client company thinks of their brand and the position.

If your job involves meeting people with different ethnicity, culture and mindset then neutral appearance is always good (except for hospitality industry/function where you might have a theme for your dressing style). You would certainly not want to offend your prospect with your attire or the way you carry yourself. If you are working as a back-office employee or developer then you can have a leisure of wearing anything that pleases you and which is decent enough. But people-facing jobs demand more from you. You have to impress people with your work and you have appeal to them too.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

5 criteria for idea selection

Infosys is trying various things to remain at the top of industry. One of the activity to keep holding the top position was to come up with new ideas to work on. For this they have crowdsourced ideas from within. They got nearly 2,600 proposal and out of which 68 were finalized after a series of filtering rounds. I liked the filtering criteria that they have applied for choosing the ideas to work on. 

The criteria feels simple if you get to know about it but I am sure they must have had good discussion to arrive at such criteria which covers interest of all stakeholders. And appealing to all stakeholders is the real key for the selection criteria. 

Five elements of the filter are:
  1. Desirability - This is for clients. The idea has to have appeal for the customers. Ultimately they are going to use the product/solution. 
  2. Feasibility - This is for the company. Idea should be within their circle of capability. This will ensure that the speed of development would be fast.
  3. Potential - This is for the benefit of the masses - market. Idea shouldn’t solve the problem that are not worrying people at large. The solution for very localized and pocket problems can come from any startup but big organizations should focus on solving bigger problems. 
  4. Clarity - This is for the people who would be the part of the project. If clarity is not there people will not understand vision of the product/solution. 
  5. Viability - This is for the investors by large. The viable idea will be sold at the right price creating value for the investors. 

So in summary, Infosys has tried to consider the aspirations of clients, organization, market, project team and investors.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Three learning I got after losing Rs. 50

I learnt few important lessons for my life at cost of Rs. 50 at Funfair organized at our company.

The event was organized for raise money for charity. All the revenue collected through this would go to NGO so I had set my own budget apart from our team contribution to support NGO financially. But interestingly I got to learn few important things.

I was playing Below 7 or Above 7 game. In this game you have to just guess the total of two dices thrown. If you win you get double of your bet. Before play I had done my homework and decided to bet for below 7 all time since the probability of win is 50% statistically so it was the safe move per say. But when I played my belief and faith in statistics based decision got tossed.

I learnt that

  • Decisions based on stats only is not a good way to go with - My play strategy was solely based on statistical analysis yet I lost money.
  • Go with your heart - Many times during play I disobeyed my internal voice and got ruined
  • Failure doesn't sadden always - Since I knew the purpose of play and was completely convinced failure didn't make me sad

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Corporate e-Newsletter Initiative – How to go about it?

If you are thinking of starting up a e-newsletter activity at corporate level then below are few tips that might help you in the course. I have divided a newsletter activity in three phases viz. planning, construction and distribution.

Planning phase

1. Attention grabbing name

The name of the newsletter should grab attention of the audience. If your brand is highly recognizable in your business community then only use that name. If that is not the case then use any other name that will represent the aim of your newsletter. For example, if you are starting a newsletter for cloud services then have the name something as ‘Envisioning the Cloud’.

2. Decide your target audience

It is not always possible to have different newsletters for different segments of your market due to budget and resource constraints. In that case you will have to choose your first market segment that you will serve as a pilot campaign. Based on its success you can go on adding segments in current newsletter or starting different newsletters for each category.

3. Subscribers database

To be able to send newsletter to your target audience you should have their contact details available in the form of database. The required details are name and email whereas designation, company name, industry, city, phone etc. are good to have information about your suspects and prospects.

It is advisable to have the list that is organically built from scratch on your own. The rented lists may violate SPAM ACT and your company may face legal issues.

4. Decide medium for e-newsletter

You can have either of web, email or PDF format for your corporate e-newsletter activity.
In web newsletter your content pages (HTML files) are published over internet so that those can be accessed by billions of potential people around the globe.

In email newsletter your HTML page is emailed to your prospects. If you have many article pages in that release of newsletter then you write a summary about each article and provide a URL for detailed article on your website in your email.

Note: In case of email newsletter it is very important to check the template for accuracy on all email platforms such as Outlook, Thunderbird, Yahoo mail, Hotmail, Gmail etc. You can find free and quality email newsletter templates at http://www.campaignmonitor.com/templates/ and http://freemailtemplates.com. Select and download the best suited template for your company and change logo, name and other things.

In PDF newsletter format you have to email a PDF file through email or provide a link in your email for the file through which your subscribers can download it.

5. Decide subscription and unsubscribe management method

If you are using third party services such as www.mailchimp.com, www.constantcontact.com and www.verticalresponse.com then you don’t have to worry as these services has builtin feature that takes care of this. But if you are using any desktop software or managing your subscription list in MS Office Excel (however, this is not advisable) then you have to be very particular about managing the subscription and unsubscribed users list. As a part of your process you may want to check the unsubscribe request before every newsletter release and avoid sending your corporate newsletter to those individuals. Remember, sending unsolicited mails and newsletter is illegal.

Construction phase

1. Topics for you to cover in your newsletter.

There is no hard and fast rule about what you should cover in your newsletter. After all it your newsletter hence you are free to write anything you want. Just remember one thing that your prospects and customers are going to read it. So if you write things that don’t interest them then they will simply stop reading your newsletters shunting the objective of starting this complete initiative of having a dialogue. If you want to have a clue kindly refer my earlier post at http://www.mandarthosar.com/2011/04/corporate-e-newsletter-topic-guide.html.

2. Write your newsletter content objectively

There is no doubt that newsletter activity is about promoting your company’s product and services but it should not look like a sales brochure. It should promote your products and services subtly without losing objectivity of the article in corporate newsletter. So you can have an article on ‘Best practices for developing softwares’ and within that talk about how you follow industry best standards without yelling how good you do it.

3. Try to express, not impress

The purpose of a corporate newsletter is to connect with your prospects and customers. Connection can happen only through expressing your company philosophy, attitude, work style, methodology and culture. You should sound casual yet respectful and conversational. Don’t use too much of jargons when simple words will express the same meaning.

4. Front page to draw in readers

The front page of your corporate newsletter i.e. your HTML email that lands in inbox of your prospects and suspects should contain interesting and useful articles. Many will decide whether to read it or put it in trash based on what they read and absorb in first 5-10 seconds. Also remember that articles and news that are important to you might not be important to your subscribers. So think from their perspective.

5. Proof read, proof read

When you write and write-off several times you unknowingly sow grammatical errors and sometimes typos. Sending a newsletter without proof reading it would be looked upon as unprofessional. And with your newsletter you are representing your company. So proof read yourself, get it proof read through somebody else and precautionary proof read third time from somebody outside your organization (may be your friend). Ask them if they understood the meaning and message properly through what you have written. After every change repeat the process.

6. Catchy subject line

Every newsletter release is like a new soccer or cricket match in a knockout tournament. If you want to win then you have to win every game. You will be successful only if your subscribers open your newsletter and read the content. That will only happen when you have creative headline for your corporate newsletter that will entice your audience to take out time to click and read in their favorite email client.

Below are the few DON’Ts for your subject line
  • Don’t use more than 50 characters in subject line
  • Don’t use words (such as free, discount and great etc.) that might just trigger spam filters of your readers email client.
  • Don’t use all caps for your subject line

Distribution phase

1. Whether do it yourself or outsource

If you are comfortable with handling every operational issue with respect to distribution then I will recommend that you should do it yourself. But if you are not confident then you can simply outsource it. There are many good service providers available in the market.

Your decision of doing it yourself or outsource can be based on following points.
  • Subscription management (opt-in and double opt-in)
  • Spam score check
  • Rendering issue with different email clients
  • Un-subscription management
  • Tracking (open and click-through rate reports)

2. Frequency of release

Many feels that a newsletter should be released at fixed interval such as monthly, quarterly etc. But I think you should have newsletter when you have news that is worth reading for your prospects, customers and stakeholders. Having a monthly newsletter with uninteresting stuff will your audience off which you don’t want to happen for sure.

3. Don’t leave it in between

Last suggestion – be consistent with your corporate newsletter initiative. Any initiative takes time to mature so don’t get impatient and don’t demand results too early.

With all my inputs I wish all the very best for your corporate newsletter activity.