Posts filed under 'Social Media'
Facebook is supposed to be building a professional network, but for now, I believe LinkedIn is still the default professional social network for many people. But maybe the two aren’t so different after all. I found this info-graphic by Brighton School of Business & Management and feel that everybody here should have a look at it to understand the differences between the two networks in somewhat holistic manner:
December 29th, 2014
Social media sprouted at the latter part of 20th century; and had a vibrant impact on every business, bringing distinctive solutions for all the business requirements. Perhaps every other day, a new technology is coming up to manage the rising demand of social media in the marketing platform to bring up sales. Both small and large businesses have started utilizing social media as an important tool on every aspect that gives a better revenue for their brand, therefore it is no wonder that social media gives a wide opportunity for the people who are venturing to have a business of their own.
Many newly raised organizations and entrepreneurs use social media channels like Facebook, twitter, myspace, pinteresst, instagram, google+ any many others for their marketing and promotion strategy. Effective online presence of a start-up through social media gives a wider reach at a lesser cost and time. Below info-graphic shows 15 top uses of the social media :
(Image Credit: Saleoid.com)
December 28th, 2014
All companies should have a blog, to demonstrate their expertise in a particular subject matter and provide a vehicle for two-way communications and engagement with their customers.
This blog that you are reading now is an example of that. I, as the Founding Partner of CellStrat, a consulting and start-up mentoring firm, am trying to come across as an expert in startups who has lived through the same battles you now find yourself fighting through. Not to mention, for many of you, this is your first time ever hearing about CellStrat. You may be asking, “why should I trust this firm to help me solve my startup-related problems?”. Well, hopefully the quality of the content on this blog not only educates the readers on various topics, but it also instills trust to get prospective clients to actually pick up the phone and engage with me on their various needs.
Also, this blog gives my readers the chance to voice their agreement or disagreement with various points that I am making. For example, when I wrote a guest post on Apple Pay on a famous social media site, two readers gave their contradictory and supporting views respectively. Hence, further enhancing reader education on the topic, and creating a two-way dialog with my readers, so they too feel like they are participating in the discussion.
There are two other clear marketing advantages of writing a blog. Firstly, search engines love rich content pages, and the more content you write, the more free search traffic you will drive into your website. For example, this blog is about 7 years old, and is getting 10000+ visitors per month, largely coming from people searching for information related to the posted topics via Google and some through our regular followers. That is a lot a traffic for a small consulting firm, which I didn’t have to spend one penny on, other than the 30 minutes or so that it takes me to write one post.
The second key marketing advantage is the virility of the content on social media sites like LinkedIn, face book and twitter. And, since our connections and followers are largely business people related to startups/ technology or the digital media industry in which we have worked for the last 35 years combined, there are very high odds that: (i) the articles are not only interesting reading for them; but (ii) they will most likely forward or re-tweet the articles to their thousands of collective connections and followers of their own, all ripe new prospects for my own business.
So, for the reasons above, consider a blog a vital component of your website, search marketing and social marketing strategies. And, don’t forget to ask for new followers, as I do in my last sentence below in all posts.
For future posts, please subscribe to our newsletter at: www.cellstrat.com
December 11th, 2014
I am a firm believer of an old age adage, “it is not what you know, it is who you know” and resonates particularly well for startup entrepreneurs. And, it holds true across most sales departments of large corporates as well as most all areas of a startup’s business, including driving sales, hiring employees, raising capital and securing key partnerships. Therefore, establishing, nurturing and mining a deep network of relationships can often make or break the success of a startup. I know many of you may be uncomfortable with networking, but hopefully this post will help you understand the importance of networking and the need to break down any barriers between you and your network. Let’s discuss the various types of networking opportunities available to you.
Firstly, when people think networking, they think attending events to meet people that may be able to help them. This could be industry specific events related to your business, (e.g., strategy, marketing, technology) related to certain specific business needs, or other events bringing together like minded individuals (e.g., fellow CEO’s, fellow startups). Do your best to stay abreast of all of these types of events via your respective industry trade associations, professional associations or local startup groups with the calendars posted on their websites.
I used to think time spent on networking was time away from the business, and tried to avoid it. But, over time, I quickly learned, a strong network can actually help me build my business faster than I could on my own, and should be a vital part of a startup executive’s efforts. You never know what new client, investor, employee or other business colleague will come out of events like these.
But, you do need to be sensitive to investing your networking time wisely, to get the biggest bang for your buck. When assessing in-person networking opportunities, I try to have a good sense to:
(i) the expected size of the event (hoping to meet more people than less).
(ii) the quality of the attendees (hoping to meet more CEO’s than lower level staff members).
(iii) the location of the event.
(iv) the type of event itself (e.g., hoping to avoid dinner events where locked into one table of people, instead of roaming the room)
(v) the reputation of the hosting organization.
Equally importantly, I want to make sure I have a clear mission for the event (e.g., what specific companies or executives do I want to meet based on announced presenter or attendee lists made available prior to the event). And, keep in mind, you don’t always have to be the “hunter” at networking events. Sometimes you can get in front of more people faster, by being the “hunted” as a featured speaker or panelist at the events. So, figure out a reason for you to be the “featured attraction” (e.g., “one of the hottest startups in town”, “pro in online marketing”), which can also save you on any event fees.
But, your networking efforts should not be limited to in-person events. Networking has never been easier with the internet. You should be an active user on networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or other sites. This means having a rich profile page that positions you as an expert in your field, posting relevant news and updates to your status updates and joining/ engaging with the relevant “sub-groups” within that network. But, remember, when networking online, it should not be a “one way sale” to the audience; it must be a “two way conversation” to get the dialog started. So, an example, answering forum questions (in a “non-salesy” way) can also be a great way to make new relationships.
We all know how busy you are as a start-up executive. But, you can’t bury yourself in your office, and you can’t be bashful when building your business. Start building your network, and great things (e.g., new clients, employees, investors, and partners) are sure to follow. And, don’t forget, networking is more than simply the networking event itself: you are building long term relationships and need to follow up with these new colleagues after the event, and over time. So, manage this network nurturing process accordingly.
December 5th, 2014
Offline Shopping(shop from the physical store) was the only option for almost 20 years ago, but then came into picture the E-commerce, leveraging Online Shopping model with deals, discounts, offers and much more to the customers. At early stage many prefer to look at a product online and then shop offline from the store, now it’s changing from going to store first, selecting the product and then shopping online from site. Here are some factors, including 4P’s of marketing on which we can differentiate both the models:
1) 1st P – Price/Cost/Initial Capital - The main factor behind any business is to raise initial capital and finally convert it to profit. Looking at Offline Store, it costs much more for renting the land, building the office and infrastructure. Either you alone can handle the store or you need 2-3 persons to contribute. While the Online concept can easily be implemented without having office space, even some incubators can help initially. You just need to build a online store connect vendors and start selling. But yes, it takes much less time to start a physical store as online needs technical things to be build up first.
2) 2nd P – Place/Location/Access - The traffic of the customers depends on the location of your store, which place it is setup and how easily public can access it. This issue always remains while dealing with physical retail until you start building-up your chain of stores across the glob. Offline stores can be started with only one, mostly, whereas online store can be accessed anywhere in the world with just internet access. Scalability is much harder to achieve in physical store, because more you build the stores, more capital you need. Online is much flexible in this scenario, just develop a site with cart, host it and let any customer from anywhere purchase products from it.
3) 3rd P – Product/Category/Quantity - Giving customers a wide variety of choice increases his second shopping and loyalty probability. This is an challenge with physical stores, they can’t include much categories, their many sub-categories and wide range of products in each sub-categories. This happens as it again requires high intensive capital and warehouse issue. Even if you consider every products, one can’t afford it in a large quantity. Whereas in online dropship model, you can accommodate as many number of products as you can because you neither have to purchase it nor store it, when order arrives, inform particular vendor with product code, they’ll ship it to customer’s doorstep. The category/product management can be the challenge in online store as per the various vendors you are signing, but can be adjusted. Touch-Look-Feel is the main challenge in online shopping as none of the customer can feel the product, get chance to touch it, and try it and that’s the reason why high end products can’t be sold online.
4) 4th P – Promotion/Deals/Coupon/Discounts - Only two things that customer thinks of while purchasing product are, Price & Brand, and that’s the reason for brutal competition in retail business. If one sells 10% disc, you’ve increase to minimum 15% to increase customer traffic. Though offline stores are having these factors to attract customers, but online stores are leveraging these factors day-by-day, focusing on price discounts. You get coupons with discounts, vouchers on sign-up, credit balance that can be used in next purchase, combos and much more. Availing these all things are very hard in physical stores, as you can’t give vouchers to customers as they enter your store, can’t have discounts or credit balance on next purchase and so on.
5) The M – Marketing - Customers will not know your existence in the market until you market your brand. For physical stores, most of them relies on word-of-mouth strategy to increase the traffic, or pamphlets in newspapers or posters in various buildings. Most of them don’t use most common strategies like newsletters, social media, digital media, testimonials, etc. This is the place where online store overtakes the other as most of them are well aware of these marketing techniques and keeping them as their base, word-of-mouth comes as secondary.
The above post was related to start-ups and medium level businesses. Yet many other factors still were not emphasized as the above are the best ones. Offline or Online depends on the personal experience and thinking about to start and grow their model, it’s still two sides of coins, neither of them can be balanced nor compared in every aspect.
July 25th, 2013
From the physical store meant for selling goods to customer face to face, a new trend arrived in India from 2000, converting this physical store to online store called E-commerce Model. The basic model remained the same, selling goods to end customers, but as the time passed new innovations were meant to be done in the Online E-commerce on seeing the cut throat competition in the market. And today, the competition is such that it takes just 5 seconds to lose your one customer.
Here are the some factors that reflects the customer satisfaction, trust and loyalty to your E-commerce Web-portal:
1. Loading Speed Of Website - Seriously, no one wants the user to wait for 20-30 secs to open the home page of the website, it should be within 5 secs. If the first loading takes too long, there is 75% chances that your customer will switch on to another website looking for same product. Make the technical changes for increasing the loading speed.
2. Replicate Same On All Devices - You may think that once you’ve created website then you’re done, but you are pretty much wrong. The world is now accepting Smartphones, Mobiles, Tablets compared to Desktop & Laptops. If your website don’t response well on above devices, your customer is gone, first impression is the last impression.
3. Look & Feel, UI - Though you are very professional in business terms, but don’t be too professional in developing the website that has no good look and feel. The User Interface is also one thing that interacts with end customers while purchasing the product, after all your end users are youngsters and ladies, in most cases. Enhance the product images to give a 3-D effect, 360 degree views, close material view, great zoom, easy navigation, etc.
4. Easy Checkout Page - Most of them consider it as a negotiable issue, but if a customer has made his/her cart and your checkout page takes 4-5 clicks to finish whole transaction, customer will not be interested to purchase from you next time. Make the checkout page as one page itself or at least use advanced tech to avoid more user clicks while checkout process.
6. Various Payment Methods & Options - Understanding the customer behavior is a headache in online shopping, you don’t know what he’ll purchase, how he’ll purchase, etc. Give all possible options to customer in terms of Payment Options, you never know customer is related to which bank or which card customer is having. Also include COD as one of the payment option, most of them opts this option itself and thereby gaining loyalty from the customer for the next purchase.
7. Social Media Integration - 94% of the world population that can’t live without using Social Media in their daily life. Allow users to share their views about your website to their friends, colleagues, mates, etc. Let them comment about your product, getting likes on what they really like, collecting this data helps you to determine some what customer’s behavior.
8. Customer Service & Feedback - E-commerce means dealing with end-customers(mostly) daily and lacking to provide excellent customer service will make you fall from mountain. Fulfill any customer demand, have it 24/7 functionality, accept and react on their feedback, it can be positive or negative too. As hotel manager servers you as his customer, same would be for you in online customers.
9. Related Products - Want to increase the sales directly by customer, try to integrate the related products section in products view page. This concept will make customer more eager to purchase other related products and thereby increasing your sales. Even if he doesn’t buy it, he’ll at least inform his colleagues about the product. One view to customer is enough attract for that product.
10. Search Capability - What if customer didn’t find he came for to your site, do you have proper search functionality to satisfy his demand? Search makes easier for any customer who came directly to your website for letting him search and get what he came for. Even filtering mechanism should be integrated based on many attributes like color, size, brand, material, etc.
Above were the 10 most critical issues that has to be there, even some them attributes are there which are covered above, like, having proper categories & sub-categories, comparing items, wishlist, etc. Somehow these are very common that now a days most of them are implementing, but above 10 were mostly neglecting.
July 18th, 2013
E-commerce (eCommerce) or Electronic Commerce, a subset of ebusiness, is the purchasing, selling, and exchanging of goods and services over computer networks (such as the Internet) through which transactions or terms of sale are performed electronically. Contrary to popular belief, eCommerce is not just on the Web. In fact, eCommerce was alive and well in business to business transactions before the Web back in the 70s via EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) through VANs (Value-Added Networks). E-commerce can be broken into four main categories: B2B, B2C, C2B, and C2C.
1. B2B (Business-to-Business)
Companies doing business with each other such as manufacturers selling to distributors and wholesalers selling to retailers. Pricing is based on quantity of order and is often negotiable. The whole organization has to target other one rather than focusing on individual customers. Though the customer would be focused as the goods and commodity B2B has deal with, its going to be used by the end customer.
2. B2C (Business-to-Consumer)
Businesses selling to the general public typically through catalogs utilizing shopping cart software. By dollar volume, B2B takes the prize, however B2C is really what the average has in mind with regards to eCommerce as a whole. Having a hard time finding a book? Need to purchase a custom, high-end computer system? How about a first class, all-inclusive trip to a tropical island? With the advent eCommerce, all three things can be purchased literally in minutes without human interaction.
3. C2B (Consumer-to-Business)
A consumer posts his project with a set budget online and within hours companies review the consumer’s requirements and bid on the project. The consumer reviews the bids and selects the company that will complete the project. Elance empowers consumers around the world by providing the meeting ground and platform for such transactions.
4. C2C (Consumer-to-Consumer)
There are many sites offering free classifieds, auctions, and forums where individuals can buy and sell thanks to online payment systems like PayPal where people can send and receive money online with ease. eBay’s auction service is a great example of where person-to-person transactions take place everyday and now a days its growing in numbers. This business can also be treated as Marketplace, where users get online login in one web-portal itself and these users are nothing but one being buyer and another being the seller.
Companies using internal networks to offer their employees products and services online–not necessarily online on the Web–are engaging in B2E (Business-to-Employee) eCommerce.
G2G (Government-to-Government), G2E (Government-to-Employee), G2B (Government-to-Business), B2G (Business-to-Government), G2C (Government-to-Citizen), C2G (Citizen-to-Government) are other forms of eCommerce that involve transactions with the government–from procurement to filing taxes to business registrations to renewing licenses. There are other categories of eCommerce out there, but they tend to be superfluous.
July 12th, 2013
Marketing is very powerful tool that every business model has to deal with, either a small or giant, tech or non-tech, online retail or offline retail. Until you are not spreading your business name, you’re not doing business. The Brand of the business depends on the effective use of marketing strategies, people shouldn’t know you by your name, but by your business brand. Let’s take a look at various marketing techniques.
1. Direct Marketing - Direct Marketing deals with spreading your business by interacting with customers/business executives, face to face. It can be very effective as you are talking with your direct contact inperson, expressing your feelings and emotions that he/she can get very straight idea about your model. It can even be time consuming process as a single meeting can be minimum of 2 hours.
2. Outbound Marketing - Outbound Marketing is what most of them opts for. It gives an opportunity to cover nice number of audience and getting some of them as your loyal customers. It can be implemented by brochures, pamphlets, newspapers ads, etc. You are forcing end customers to view your ads and may create a feeling to go for it. This is an expensive technique as it requires some of your money power to be invested.
3. Inbound Marketing - Its bit reverse process of the previous one. In this form, you have to let your customers reach you for the need of product, instead you approaching them. This process starts in very slow manner but when expands rapidly, you have created a good brand of your business. It can be implemented by Search Engine Optimization(SEO), word of mouth, desperate customer need, etc. This is very inexpensive technique as you are not investing much in spreading your word, customers themselves are doing on behalf of you.
4. Social Media Marketing - A very niche, booming and effective technique that most of them now-a-days are going for. There is no need to prove the previous line as 95% of World Population are engaged at least 2 hours daily in one of the Social Media Site. It can be implemented via some social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, etc. This technique can be implemented in both the ways; expensive way where you have pay for ads, or in inexpensive way where you can use the platform with limited resources.
5. Newsletter Marketing - A very old and effective technique that most of them are using as their default marketing strategy. Nothing more has to be done here, simply create a mail database in thousand numbers and start sending them the newsletters covering all the stuffs of your business, product, service, etc. But yes, newsletters requires a very useful information that should attract the end customer to open it, read it and redirect them to your website directly. Newsletters can be represented in informative way, graphical way, hybrid form, etc.
6. Article/Magazine Marketing - Don’t get confused with Outbound and this one, both are logically same but physically different. In this one, you can’t cover a large number of audience as Article/Magazine Subscribers are very few compared to newspapers. But, the customers that you’ll get here would be mostly above middle class and professional & luxuries in nature. The company creditability increases highly as you are making a good relationship with the genuine customers and even the cost of publishing is bit higher.
7. Promotional Marketing - One of the great and effective way to attract the customers to your product/site/business is Promotional Marketing. Everyone knows 85% of customers will see the price first then the actual item, whether its branded good quality item or average one. This technique targets 3P/4P of Marketing, that are, Promotion-Price-People. Promotions are the only thing creating a very cut-throat competition, no matter you are able to make Profit or Loss, but what you get is good number of traffic. This can be done by using discounts, deals, offers, coupons, stock clearance sale, etc.
8. Viral Marketing - This type of marketing relies on the message of a marketer being spread quickly through various social networks in order to increase brand awareness. The name viral marketing stems from the rapid spread of viruses in general. Typically, a viral marketing campaign will not last as long as other marketing efforts, but if a company can come up with a good idea for viral marketing and reach the right people, it will become highly successful in a short amount of time.
9. Mobile Marketing - Even this form is emerging along with Social Media/Internet Marketing techniques. As mobiles(smartphones actually) are very common to see in every individuals hand, marketer is targeting a large number of audience. It can be done on all of the Mobile OS platforms and many manner. Showing ads while playing games, showing related apps while downloading one, direct SMS of your new product, etc. There can be even scenario where user can mostly neglect your ad if it doesn’t suits to his/her requirement, and that’s the reason it has to be done in very effective manner giving at least 10% clicks of the target.
10. TeleMarketing - A very expensive way to show your business/product to end consumer is this form of marketing. This includes TV ads and it requires a lot of financial capability and that’s the reason why only big companies go for it. This technique can’t be adopted by mid-level or start-up firms, in-fact it shouldn’t be adopted. The way of displaying your ads is the main thing to concern here, by hook or by crook, you have to convince your consumers that why your product stands out from others, and its done.
Excerpts – Bruce Jones
July 2nd, 2013
Apparently, Facebook “Home” is not to be, not yet at least.
The Android application launched by Facebook to create an FB overlay on the Home screen of the phone was supposed to be the big bet by FB to control the first touchpoint screen for a smartphone user. But due to poor reviews by initial analysts, Facebook is said to be revamping the FB Home application. The device which was supposed to launch this was HTC One and in US, AT&T was to be the exclusive carrier for this. In UK, operator EE and Orange were planning to launch it. The social network is said to be encouraging the carriers to delay the launch to give the firm more time to create a more palatable user experience.
The battle for the phone user is becoming more intense as time goes by. With smartphones overtaking web users globally, it is of paramount importance for tech firms to own the phone customer and drive more and more smartphone traffic to these firms’ offerings, in order to attract ad revenue and other commerce monetizations.
Without a doubt, Facebook social network application remains one of the top apps on all mobile systems including Apple iOS and Android. But Google, Facebook, wireless carriers and other media are jostling for more and more of user attention on phones as well as real estate on the limited phone screen, which are the next evolution of internet cycle.
Facebook released the following statement on Thursday evening via Engadget: “Following customer feedback, Facebook has decided to focus on adding new customization features to Facebook Home over the coming months. While they are working to make a better Facebook Home experience, they have recommended holding off launching the HTC First in the UK, and so we will shortly be contacting those who registered their interest with us to let them know of this decision. Rest assured, we remain committed to bringing our customers the latest mobile experiences, and we will continue to build on our strong relationship with Facebook so as to offer customers new opportunities in the future.”
HTC First aka “Facebook Phone” (Photo: Courtesy / HTC)
After extremely disappointing sales of the HTC First, Facebook will reexamine the Facebook Home before expanding its operating system to more phones in more countries.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has said he would’ve rebuilt Facebook as a mobile exclusive app if he had the chance, so clearly offering a solid mobile experience means a great deal to Facebook. In this regard, the Facebook phone was a brilliant idea and makes a great deal of sense — like Google and Android, a true Facebook phone would allow Zuckerberg & Co. to have complete control over the user experience and ad strategy. The HTC First was the company’s first attempt at such a device — Facebook would focus on software while HTC would focus on hardware — but with the phone failing so soon after its initial release, Facebook will need to take a long look in the mirror.
Failure of the HTC First may be blamed on Facebook’s decision to make Facebook Home features too accessible to other mobile users on Android and iOS, or maybe Facebook will realize that the Facebook Home features were not that stellar to begin with.
Facebook has fumbled on mobile before, when it launched it’s first mobile site using the mobile browser channel – with poor user feedback on that approach, Facebook later changed course and focused on more cleaner mobile apps, but this was much later in it’s lifecycle; Facebook mobile has a history of bouncing back. The early years of Facebook mobile efforts were limited to working on a common mobile website version of it’s platform addressing multiple platforms like iOS and Android with one approach. It later realized that that approach did not augur well and got into building platform specific Facebook apps, which have been superb hits since.
The last note above take one back to mobile site vs mobile app debate, which continues to simmer in the mobile development world. So far, it seems, the Apps are winning with many firms (eg Financial Times) having switched from a common http://m.xyz-firm.com approach to custom mobile apps for each mobile platform. More on this later in this space.
(with extracts and ideas from International Business Times article dated May 24 by Dave Smith)
May 26th, 2013
After spending these many years in educating oneself, the one and only ultimate goal is to get a Job…! But how to get it and why most of them are not getting it? Is it the recession hindering or competition is tough? All these question’s answers point to one thing- Same Resume Content.
Recession and Competition inversely varies each other, balancing it is bit difficult. The thing that only matters is: How your resume stands different from others? A very simple answer lies in Tech & Skills part. That’s what you have to do, upgrade your Resume with one of these booming tech domains and see the difference. Let company approach you, you don’t have to approach them…..!
1 . Mobile OS – Trend has been changing so dramatically that now you won’t find silly Mobiles in everyone’s pocket, most of them are using Smartphones, Tablets, iPad, etc, and world is pivoting towards it. It’s all about Android, IOS, Windows, Blackberry, etc. The functionality and graphics provided by these OS’s are simply awesome! Learn the tech, develop an App and launch it to the App Store and you are in the market and if you really bombard the market, one of the Mobile developing companies will hire you…..!
2 . E-commerce – Who cares to go to the shops and purchase a thing? Everyone wants to relax at home, view the product on site, compare it, place an order and they’ll deliver to your doorstep. That’s what E-commerce means and its growing and growing day by day. Learn various E-com technologies like, Magento, WordPress, Prestashop, etc,. Develop a basic E-commerce site for yourself and launch it or highlight in your resume about your knowledge or start a service base program with your friends where you can develop an E-commerce website for others.
3 . Social Media Marketing – Everyone is aware with Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin, Pinterest, etc,; Most of them are aware with Marketing like sales, product, etc,; But very few are aware with a thing called Social Media Marketing. This is the field where all companies are going for, Marketing via Social Media in most inexpensive way. Who wants to pay 1000 bucks for advertisement where it can be achieved by 10 bucks. Get familiar with and try implementing instead of surfing it.
4 . Cloud Computing – Cloud is very cutting edge technology in the market and still most of them doesn’t know about it. Amazon, IBM, Eucalyptus, etc., played a major role in Cloud Computing. You want to access a resource from point A to B Cloud will help you, want to download in a faster way Cloud will help you. Still India is yet to flood with this concept as it is quite expensive and rare thing to implement and execute., but future is in and within Cloud.
5 . Big Data– The name itself suggests what it is, it’s like Big Dam storing trillions gallons of water….! On any field or domain, one has to deal with data storage and manipulation and it never decreases. Big Data has already influenced the market on very large scale. Facebook, Google, EMC and most of them are on this side of Big Data. Master in it and go for it.
May 21st, 2013