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Do you think your data is safe online?

Online Privacy is a well disguised illusion

An illusion that we continue to get pulled into, in exchange for lucrative convenience.

Have you ever seen your favorite brand advertisement while swiping through your instagram stories? Well because you use the brand and they know your ‘preferences’. But the game changes when your very ‘preferences’ are sold to third party agencies or data harvesting giants like Google, Facebook and upcoming Amazon. 

Ever wondered why you saw a Sushi ad on your Insta feed and creepily remembered a conversation you had about good Sushi restaurants in town with a friend earlier that day. Think about your own scenarios of ads showing up out of your personal conversations. 

A ‘recommended’ ad for hotels in Goa after a few minutes of your flight booking to Goa. A notification from your food delivery app saying “salad time” when the clock strikes 1 pm. Or that expensive watch you searched on amazon popping up on different websites on ‘Sale’. 

There lies a parallel world of data barter between companies and agencies, between Corporates and the Government. More or less all apps and sites are sharing some form of your data with Google and Facebook, simply put. Amidst this trade, your ‘interests’ and ‘preferences’ are bidded upon in different currencies of the world, basis metrics like relevancy and ethics. Yes a part of your behaviour, state of mind is pinned on that digital stock market of advertisements.

Thank the stars for some level of ethical advertising.

We can’t blame them much, as we instantly agree to ‘privacy policies’  at the time of registration without a second thought. This is where we willingly give our data out to be used for any desired purpose. (at the end of the article, we have shared interesting snippets from the privacy policy of some of the biggest and most frequented brands.)

They know it all

Google and Facebook both have acquired & funded a substantial share of large and small sized companies that they source viable information from. And unless you follow their news, you may not know it all. (Example: Facebook has in its kitty Whatsapp, Instagram, Meesho And Google has HTC mobile, Looker, Dunzo in India)

Whether you have an Alexa / Google Home or not, these companies know more about you at any given point of time and can even predict your move using their artificial intelligence technology (AI) on whether you are going to eat a burger or a taco based on your past history and your current location. They know what time you wake up, your breakfast preferences (remember, you registered on the app say Big Basket, using your Gmail account). 

“big data” companies analyse these behaviour metrics to automate and improve the efficiency of their services and the content fed to you. While this practice is purely beneficial, but asking for consent and letting the user know upfront and regularly via emails is an expectation of the investment a user puts in to the business. 

Experience without ads is a premium privilege,

that you only get when you pay. A double edged sword where YouTube now shows 2 pre-video ads and multiple in-video ads on a popular & lenghty video, it pushes you to desire an ad free world. Both ways, the company benefits, leaving the user frustrated. 

And just when you thought that it’s only Facebook, Google and Amazon companies robbing your data, there are names of companies you often use or perhaps look up on.

These may seem like first world problems in light of hunger, water crisis, women’s safety among others. However, data trading and advertisements is an interconnected, million dollar business. 

You can always fiddle with the app settings to prevent excess data sharing with third parties. Sadly, there’s not much you can do on your own. But together, we can demand to be informed, demand to take consent.

Interesting privacy policies:

More reads:

att-location-data-tracking-lawsuit-electronic-frontier-foundation

google-location-tracking-cell-tower-data

these-apps-are-stealing-your-most-private-data-and-it-should-be-crime

facebook-privacy-data-information-ad-settings-how-to-protect

google-admits-to-listening-in-on-private-conversations-via-assistant

10-companies-using-big-data

tech-companies-stealing-data

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BETA LABS Experiment-1

How to promote an offline event

We believe in the basics, of sharing the unspoken success stories or challenges because it’s often too small in magnitude to talk about. 

The challenge we cover today is on the lines of conversions, from a set of impressions to a lead and from a lead to an offline visit. 

We are a start-up digital agency and believe in a sharing economy of information and knowledge. We realised thought leadership is a topic that’s not only been trending for a while but also is needed by entrepreneurs, freelancers, start-up founders and co founders. We have had prior experience of speaking at co-working spaces in Bangalore; considering its a space where a part of our target audience sits, we went ahead with holding our event @Wolfpack Workspaces at Vasanth Nagar in Bangalore. 

We have put together a quick guide of how to go about creating and promoting an event here in this video. Also sharing below step wise data for your future reference. 


Sites in India to list your basic free or paid event:

  1. Townscript
  2. Eventshigh
  3. Explara
  4. Allevents
  5. Meraevents
  6. Insider.in (for high end or big ticket events)
  7. Trumpcard: Google events
  8. Default: Facebook events

PS: our preference is Townscript, as their team frequently communicates via useful emailers with little tips to promote your event better. And of course because it got us leads!

However, listing on Google optimises the listing on organic search for keywords related to the events. In our case, it took us by surprise with views and engagement on our business page.

Experiment with Content:

We planned our content strategy over a promotional timeline of 16 days with alternate day posting and chose a mix of formats, including the intimidating ‘video posts’ that we had to go the DIY route to create. 

Some of the posts:

Our first attempt at a DIY video post 

Our founder was coaxed to do a selfie video

Content distribution strategy:

A mix of channels, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, YouTube

We distributed the same content (11 unique posts) across these channels and shared selected ones in a few relevant LinkedIn and Facebook groups.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1298982173495733/?ref=groups_discover_tab
https://www.facebook.com/groups/615828881814154/?ref=group_header
https://www.facebook.com/groups/bsi2013/?ref=group_header
https://www.facebook.com/groups/207369636082104/about/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/985734744817825/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/blrfreelancers/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/bangaloreentrepreneur/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/Startups.BLR/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/132351440651035/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/2Dilekjaan/

https://www.linkedin.com/groups/2093852/
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/5132746/
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/1518287/
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/767147/
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/2299619/

Confusion of too many landing pages:

There is always a conflict of priority when you have external landing pages like event websites in addition to having the booking option available on your own site. This happens in many industries like Travel (hotels & resorts), Technology (mobile, other products) or small scale businesses.  

We decided to add a Townscript widget on the page to make it convenient and to increase website sessions, reduce bounce offs.

While the website sessions increased by 122% post promotion period (yeaayy) but the leads only came through the Townscript website. The widget didn’t do much, but we will keep trying in the future too.

Let us know if you have had another experience than this. 

If you would like to read the blog on thought leadership, here it is: https://aarrrmor.com/diy-your-own-thought-leadership-portfolio/

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Game of Marketing to Throne’s Fans (*No Spoilers*)

Now that the mass mania of Game of Thrones is over (Click on the link if you want spoilers), it is time to see how much it has effected our lives.

There is absolutely no doubt that with the copious loads of marketing and advertising budgets($20 million for the recent season) that were thrown in for the mega-series, you maybe in one of these 3 categories:

  1. Watched the series completely
  2. Watched the series partially
  3. Never watch, never intend to watch and is constantly annoyed by the 1st two categories

The show has a huge fan basean average same-day tune-in of 17.3 million viewers, and where there are potential consumers, there are brands.

Brands have jumped into the conversation with extreme enthusiasm. 

For months now, marketers and advertisers at of Oreo, KFC, Pepsi, AT&T, Hotstar etc have been on strict GoT diet.

I hope they get a break, 

and I really feel sad for the people in marketing who fall under the 3rd category.

But you know,

Sometimes jobs are bad… 

Now companies which have hitched their wagon to the GoT brand have done something called as “Topical Marketing” or “Newsjacking”

You know when your consumer base is already engrossed in something that is happening right now 

&

you feel it is your moral responsibility to crash the party? 

Annoying as it might seem but topical marketing is something which drives results.

There is partial data of people who watch Game of Thrones (Insights are coming) and they can be impulse buyers (Yippee! for companies), and also favour the companies which have associated with GoT because they might feel that these brands “get them”, whatever that means.

Obviously, this data is not exhaustive and may not reflect purchasing habits accurately 

but it’s something 

a brand is not willing to ignore. 

Topical Marketing

Indulging in topical marketing, first of all, needs budget. 

It also needs you to know through some user research that the topic you are hijacking overlaps with your target audience interests. So, you can imagine that not all companies must be taking advantage of all the current topics, because they might be irrelevant to their customer base and they might end up spending their budget frivolously.

This sort of marketing increases your brand visibility, gives your brand a personality (something which all brands crave for), maybe show off your sense of humour or cleverness or boldness, all of which can be positive or negative depending on how your ad is perceived by the intended audience. You also need a team which keeps an eye out and responds quickly to such opportunities and is available to successfully complete the campaigns which sometimes might be short-lived, unplanned and hectic.

Because it doesn’t take more than a few hours for people to lose interest and move on to the next shiny object.

One of the most influential marketing phenomena in recent times is the Game of Thrones inspired marketing and advertisements.

Not to forget HBO’s marketing of the show itself, which saw a worldwide scavenger hunt for the throne, a #ForTheThrone campaign to donate blood and hijacking Budlight’s Super Bowl spot.

But we are not going to talk about that… 

Initially I thought I could write about some of the ad campaigns, but the more I researched it, the more I saw that there are literally 100s of ad campaigns catering to GoT (You can find them HereHere and Here)

So now, this article is about how good or bad some of these are 

whether you, as a brand, must indulge in topical marketing or not.

Most of these ads don’t make much sense and are simply using the points of popularity to suck you into an absurd place with loads of commercial products to sell.

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Look at this. 

Who would want to have a game of straws? 

If anything people are understanding that straws are something we shouldn’t be using, and are happy to not use them. Why would a popular brand, which is guilty of increasing the consumption of something clearly unhealthy for our future want to flaunt the very thing they are guilty of?

Not cool…

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And then there’s this. 

FastTrack’s GoT inspired watches. 

For the die hard fans, it makes no sense. 

You can’t simply put the name GoT on random products and expect fans to buy them. 

But these kind of products cater to the show-offers and they routinely fall under the category of people who have watched the show partially and want to be considered cool by adorning such products.

No alt text provided for this image

And then there’s the Adidas GoT inspired sneakersOreos’ limited edition pack of Game of Thrones-themed OreosUrban Decay’s GoT inspired MakeupWhite Walker by Johnnie Walker and the tons of experiential marketing done around this series.

However tempting it might be for you to jump into something which is catching waves, 

do a quick check on whether you should:

  • Does it resonate with your target audience?
  • Do you have the budget for it?
  • What is the goal you expect to hit with the campaign?
  • Do you have the team equipped to carry it out?
  • Is the management on board?

Only when you the answers nudging you in the direct of taking up topical marketing should you get into this game where big brands with unlimited pockets come out to play. 

Make sure you are in it completely and for all the right reasons.

Like and comment if you saw a Game of Thrones inspired “something” recently, 

I certainly have 🙂

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Ethics of Business

While discussing client’s and projects with my team, I hear a lot of interesting conversations.

One of them revolves around who we should work with

Our Partnerships:

Everyday, a diversity of business and startup owners talk to us.

They cater to different problems, industries and have their own unique take on the products and solutions required for their market.

This way, we get access to new, exciting and cross-industry learning and insights.

And some of these solutions are incredible, and we can’t stop talking about them. But a lot of them are not, and we face a moral dilemma.

Mostly, this means that we don’t trust the business owner’s intentions.

This has made me realise it’s not the business in itself but the intention of the leadership and their values which reflects in their approach towards business.

The business or startup owner is responsible for making decisions about acquiring customers and delivering quality.

And if they are not serious about doing a good job, but simply wants to pocket money from the market, we feel uneasy.

Taking up a project means working closely with another business.

It means a partnership, a relationship and something we don’t take lightly.

Our relationships impact us and the way we work, so we are intentional about the kind of people we work with and the kind of work we do.

We make it a point to promise at the outset that we’ll not engage in unscrupulous activities in the name of marketing,

even if that means losing an account.

Our Beliefs:

  • Communicating clearly the scope of our services so that we don’t overpromise and drain our team’s energy.
  • Talking openly and often about expectations
  • Not take up tasks simply because someone asked us to do them.
  • Brainstorming on the best course of action for our clients.
  • Saying no to sub-quality requests and projects , &
  • Suggesting data-backed alternatives.

We also go out of our way to deliver quality work instead of chasing many clients and doing subpar work.

But we only do all of this if we believe we’re doing the right thing.

& sometimes we slip, because we’re not perfect but we’re learning everyday even though we make mistakes.

We never make sweeping guarantees,

but if we had to, we’d guarantee that we are committed to

  • Learning
  • Experimenting
  • & Talking.

We would rather focus on quality than quantity.

Whenever we take up a project, we don’t do it simply for putting money in the bank.

We take it up to invest in our learning, contribute to making our culture and processes efficient and building better resources for the industry

Ethics in business is important for us.

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Why we don’t have a rate card for digital services

We have been often asked, sometimes unintentionally by business owners themselves, for our market rate to create a website or managing a content portfolio.. Some of you agency folks would relate to this, and without meaning any offence to our existing or future prospective clients, we take pride in our quality of work from start to end and therefore none of our services come in a one size fits all.

This is what a regular rate card looks like.

And what it should be:

Very few understand the effort that goes into ‘research and market study’ that accounts for not only onboarding a client but also defines the foundation for work ahead and in some cases, as a course correction for the client’s ideas of digital needs. Very often, the cost of this aspect of work is not budgeted.

There’s a lot that goes behind the scenes of telephonic meetings with business clients. Each of them come with a different level of understanding and aligning the bar of knowledge is more or less time consuming, although productive from a long term vision. But nobody accounts for that time and effort in man hours.

We at AARRRmor believe in customisation for the client business needs, basis the digital footprint goals of the business from a quantitative & qualitative perspective. Sub-domains of digital such as Social media, Website & SEO, Adwords, Display – all of this depends on several factors.

  • Personal experience 1: the CPC of a Facebook ad for a baby photography business wouldn’t be the same as that of a preschool franchise business despite the geography or target segment being similar.
    The reach will differ as per audience targeting.  
  • Personal experience 2: building a thought leadership portfolio for an individual using LinkedIn can be confused for an automated or a mechanical activity, but creating an opinion driven, perception driven content demands extensive understanding of the thought leader, his or her style of writing and industry research. This is the pipeline towards building an informed content strategy.
    And ours being a start-up digital agency, we live the DIY life and don’t take time for granted. 

We are not competing with other agencies or even with the ownership of knowledge. We are working towards contributing to the sharing economy of open source and collaboration, to be able to do good work. 

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How to prioritise your biggest business challenges?

And escape the cycle of meeting, meetings and more meetings:

As a business owner, you are stretched in all directions.

You never have enough hours in the day.

Still, you try your best.

Everyday you begin with the intention of giving your best and growing your business

& everyday you get sucked into the petty urgency of trivial tasks.

& everyday you feel bad about not prioritising right.

Find yourself in a similar position?

I totally understand.

I was a 1st time manager to a team of cross-functional teams of Marketing & Sales, Customer Support, Admin & Logistics and Legal departments.

It was a humungous challenge but I was prepared to ace it.

Once I got the hang of basics: the people, the challenges and how to manage change;

I started taking time to plan, prioritize and implement what I thought moved the needle the most.

At times, it means taking a break, working on yourself, getting help or simply hiring.

If you fail to identify your biggest challenges, you won’t solve it.

And if you want to solve it, you have to be serious about solving it.

What that means is that finding the important thing to optimise for.

Only you can tell whether out of the 100 tasks that occupy your plate every single day, taking 10 sales calls, or taking 10 interviews or taking a few hours of online tutorial is worth your time.

As a business owner, you have to evolve.

Every stage of your business demands a different you

&

You have to understand what your business needs from you today.

As a business grows, you might have these questions:

  • How to fight my competitors with deep pockets?
  • In a constantly changing environment, how to keep up?
  • How to learn a new skill with so much clutter online?

Marketing specific challenges you will have:

  • How to hire for marketing teams?
  • What channels should I be using?
  • What kind of content converts?
  • How to build an audience and acquire new customers?
  • Is social media marketing worth it?

It’s a lot to process…

Start by identifying what’s bothering you the most

I know, it’s a huge list.

Find your top 5

Now, look at this list and ask yourself.

“If I solved these 5 problems, would my business look drastically different than it looks today”

If sales is the #1 challenge, you have to learn or gain the capability to do sales for your business. Whether it’s B2B or B2C, your problems need to be fixed before you create a grand vision for the future of your business.

Similarly, you might have other problems…

Like hiring or marketing or retention or business development or processes

My point is that it can be anything, but only if you identify that this problem is what you will prioritise today, you’ll be able to solve it.

Stop optimising things which are already working or which if improved don’t make a drastic impact on your business.

And start prioritising 20% of tasks that will bring 80% of the returns

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Foundations of Marketing for Business Owners (Read this before you spend a single marketing rupee)

To all the founders out there.

Also the founding team members

And a handful of committed marketing team members

In short, for all business people tired of doing everything all time.

I have bad news

Marketing is magic doesn’t exist.

And Digital Marketing is magic doesn’t exist.

But I want the magic

Yeah, who doesn’t?

The only real magic is in the hard work.

Learn the basics of your market, learn the message, channel and creatives that work best

or

If you have money, spend it on the person you’re asking to do this work

That’s the only magic.

Build the foundations of your marketing.

&

If you don’t fail to get this right,

there’s really not much use spending time, energy and money in the wrong direction.

Are you ready to work for it?

I advise all my clients to do their own research first.

Recently, at an Entrepreneur Masterclass, I asked the attendees.

“Are you ready to put to understand your market?”

Only if the answer is yes, there’s any reason to talk more.

About Digital Strategy and Execution.

Else, there’s no point.

Don’t get me wrong,

You can (and should) take the help of experts, people in the marketing industry, communities, online resources etc., but you are the one who has to figure out the space you are operating in.

Some of the non-negotiable things you have to learn:

You can only build a repeatable scalable marketing and distribution channel when your marketing foundation is strong.

Work on building that.

An employee or an agency can only help you reach your market if you’ve done the groundwork and set them up for success.

Learn your marketing

I and my agency is a strong advocate of getting founders to learn about marketing.

Don’t panic.

You don’t have to be an expert,

Remember when you started, you didn’t know much about anything?

But you learned, right?

Similarly, you’ll learn the foundations of marketing your own business.

Some of the points that you’ll have to research are:

And once you have done your homework,

you can give out the execution to someone one.

Remember, no one will experiment and learn the way you do.

As an marketing agency head, I request founding team to do this work.

It obviously works better for me if you give this work to me….

But I am okay to let that money go.

Why?

Because I have seen too many business and startup owners make the mistake of giving way too little importance to marketing

And once they have launched their business, and they’re not getting any customers,

they start to panic…

And make mistakes.

Falling victims to scams, inexperienced marketers and unscrupulous agencies whose only motive is to make you spend money so that they end up earning more:

Marketing works but it’s not a magic bullet.

It is an art and science much like any other business function.

You make assumptions, benchmark with industry standards, research your market, experiment.

All the time.

And hopefully you learn 🙂

Contact us if you have any questions about how to get your foundations of marketing right.

We are happy to help!

The full slideshow that I used for a recent event is here:

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