Sameer Agarwal

His views, thoughts, introspection and rants

What do you enjoy doing most?

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Well I haven’t been blogging for ages now. Blame it on my lifestyle. Or Twitter. Or Facebook. Or the world! But the fact of the matter is that I haven’t been inspired to write for a really long time. Perhaps like I have not been inspired to do several other things that I like, or shall I say liked doing.

I am caught in a stupid rat race. Of beating the inflation (well even that was satisfactory performance during the recessionary times). Of staying at par with who I think are my peers. Of just being one of those millions, if not billions.

The times, they keep changing though. And a series of events lately have made me think quite a bit and re-assess myself. My priorities. My purpose. No clear answers yet.

But I did look back at my life. My professional life too. And in there, I realized that I enjoyed coding the most. It’s been many, many years since I’ve coded. But coding is indeed poetry. Perhaps that was the one thing I REALLY enjoyed doing. The irony is that when I used to code, I wanted to do ‘bigger’ things in life. But the fact of the matter is that the ‘bigger’ things just meant faffing around as much as I could and making stupid PPTs.

Hmm, so anyway. I was discussing this with Sakshi the other day. And she has already given me a task. I need to now build up a website for her as her Valentine Day gift!

Inspiration… Where are you?!

Written by sameer

January 28th, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Free Tips on how to use Social Media to sell your products!

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A dear friend recently setup a shop on eBay to sell brass statues/idols – here. So that was a good trigger to think of some free ways to promote products using Social Media. Here goes – will love to get more thoughts:

  1. Setup a shop on eBay. Of course!
  2. Make sure the tagging for your products is appropriate. Think like a buyer. If you were to go on eBay looking for similar products what will be the search terms that you’ll type. What category will you look under?
  3. Setup a blog, preferably on your own domain. Keep posting information about your products there. It will serve as a catalog, and another channel for your shop. You could download the WordPress API and deploy it on your domain in <20mins.
  4. Submit your blog (as created in Step 3) on blogging aggregation sites – like IndiBlogger.in.
  5. Setup communities for your shop on Facebook and Orkut. Send invitations to your communities to your friends on the respective sites. Don’t just setup the communities and sit idle. Keep posting offers. Make sure you post at regular frequency so that people can notice your offers on their walls.
  6. Create a twitter account. Make sure you tweet often. The tweets will be about your products, special offers etc.
  7. Syndicate your blog feed, communities feeds, twitter feed on your personal Facebook and Orkut profiles. Also make sure that the various social media assets you create are inter-linked. E.g., your blog should syndicate your Twitter, Facebook and Orkut feeds
  8. Add your blog address with a catchy tagline on your mail signatures – Gmail, and whatever other mail services you use
  9. Keep posting offers on your status messages – Facebook, Orkut, IMs (GTalk/Yahoo etc)
  10. Create a promotional electronic direct mailer (EDM) with links to your blog, facebook community, orkut community, twitter account (with options for people to ‘follow’ you or become ‘fans’) and send it to your friends. Request them to forward it to their friends.
  11. Try SMS campaign. Sites like Way2SMS.com and 160by2.com may come handy. Send the text messages to your friends/contacts initially. Remember, charity begins at home! There are agencies providing databases for SMS marketing – but remember this is an intrusive medium. So exercise caution.
  12. Create a video of your products with information on how to buy them. If appropriate, post videos on how to use the products. Post the video(s) on YouTube. Embed the video on your blog

Well these are some. I’m sure there are a zillion others. Will love to hear!

Written by sameer

August 27th, 2009 at 1:32 pm

Posted in Entrepreneurship,Ideas

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What’s the buzz about Digital Marketing?

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Seriously. Everyone seems to be talking about it. Suddenly. Maybe it’s just the world around me. Maybe it’s just the world in me. But it seems that everyone has recently discovered Digital Marketing as a strategic area for focus. And yes, I’m using the word ‘everyone’ in the corporate sense here.

What’s so new about it I ask? Is the term ‘Digital Marketing’ being used because of the trigger provided by ‘Social Media’? Why, the internet has been around for what seems like forever now. Isn’t that digital? Weren’t companies marketing on the internet? Was that not digital marketing? What is so different now?

Maybe Social Media is what is different… Maybe it’s about mobile marketing. Well, what maybe! I think that’s what IT IS. Analyst after analyst is talking about this huge opportunity. In the B2C (no surprises here) and in the B2B space (whoa!). Sure why not. After all it’s all about user generated content. Your users are your customers. And they are building content now. And they are listening to their fellow customers and not You or the Press necessarily. So you go where your customers are. Because customer is king.

So fundamentally the marketer is doing what she ought to do. Good for them (marketer). Good for us (consumer). Just that the marketer is closer to the customer now. Not a bad thing for sure! And that I guess is the buzz about digital marketing…

But what’s so fundamentally different about Digital Marketing I ask. Nothing really. Just that the technology is different. Or is there anything more? Has the ‘different’ technology impacted the behavior, or sensitivities of the customer?

Well I think it has. The customer today is much more informed and empowered than ever. To my mind, marketers have but no choice to be completely naked before their customer today. No more fancy designer clothes to enhance your endowments…! (pun certainly intended). You are what you are – and there’s no escaping it – just do your best job to be seen everywhere. That’s quite an irony though! By that logic a “less endowed but easily available” ‘thing’ will attract more customers!

Some things never change I guess….Digital Marketing being no exception.

Written by sameer

August 10th, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Go green – Umm really!

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Pick up any statement from a utility or financial service provider and you’ll read pleas urging their ‘valued’ customers to subscribe to email statements and hence save a tree. Noble cause you’d say. I agree. And hence I did whatever in the Tree’s name they asked me to do to subscribe to email statements. The result – well I did start getting email statements but the paper statements never stopped!

The culprits (in the order of their ‘plea strength’) – Vodafone, Airtel, Reliance, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank. These are the service providers where I explicitly requested for paper statements to be stopped. The one surprise exception here is Citibank but that’s perhaps because the banking product that I have (Suvidha) was never designed for paper statements.

Written by sameer

June 14th, 2009 at 6:27 pm

Posted in Introspection

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Social Investing – Try MoneyVidya.com

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Imagine you’re a 30 something who has some money to dabble with and are NOT an i-banker (or the likes). Actually take out the 30 something bit; you could be whatever age but meet the following criteria:

  • Have some money AND want to invest in stocks
  • Internet Savvy

If you meet the above criteria, how do you pick which stock is right for you? Do fundamental analysis? Yeah right! Do you have the skills, the time and/or the patience to do it? Well of course you could access some syndicated research, or read opinions from ‘experts’. But then, so many people are saying so many different things. What else could you do? Umm..

Well, you’ll ask your dad, or your friend who always seems to be making money in stocks, or a random colleague… a someone you trust. Now don’t lie. MOST of us pick stocks like these – do what our ‘circle’ is doing. Right?!

How about this? How about getting opinions from your dad, your mom, your pan-wallah, your friend, an analyst and another analyst, and your friend’s dad and your friend’s dad’s friends and their friends and their sons and their pan-wallahs and their sahabs and their friends? Whoa! More complex than fundamental analysis? Well not really. How about having a community of random stock buyers who share their picks and then leverage that collective opinion? After all, the stock markets (Indian stock markets being no exception) seem to react more on perceptions and emotions than anything else.

Buy that point? Go to moneyvidya.com and check it out for yourself. There are reasons I am advertising/reviewing them:

  • This concept is close to my heart. Read my previous entry in this regard – Honey I’m late again
  • I think the MoneyVidya guys have done it as good as/better than I visualized it
  • This is a useful concept and perhaps readers of this blog could get some leverage for their stock-picking from MoneyVidya

Ok so I said I’m advertising and reviewing MoneyVidya. Let me do the latter now:

Pros:

  • Great UI – easy to use, intuitive
  • The copy on the site is great! Very easy to understand, concise; very professional
  • Registration process is simple; the data-capture forms are pretty neat
  • Navigating the site is pretty simple. I did not have to struggle moving from one section to another

Improvement Areas:

  • Registration/all forms on site.Clicking on Submit gets a “Web page can’t be displayed”. Refreshing/reloading the page solves the issue. But many people may give up there. Don’t know if it was just me? I was using Chrome browser.
  • “My dashboard” could have “what’s this/help” links. For example, I was clueless about how I acquired the “Improver” and “Helper” friends. Same goes for all pages – for example when you’re posting a tip it won’t hurt to explain what “Stop Loss Limit” is.
  • In the search results, it will be great to have ‘mouse-overs’ on the Buy/Sell sentiment percentages. For example, if it is a Reliance Ind 100% sell sentiment then it won’t hurt to know if 100 people think so, or just one. Also, for stocks that don’t have any ‘sentiments’ could perhaps be indicated as such. Overall, I think the search results UI could improve. 
  • It may be technically complex, but it will be great to have search crawl over all ‘searchable areas’. For example, if I searched for ‘Reliance Industries’ I expect to see buy/sell sentiments, discussions, polls; everything about this stock. Again, I think the overall Search/Advanced Search module needs improvement

However having mentioned all the improvement areas that I did, I still think MoneyVidya is your best bet. Kudos to Gautam and team (people behind MoneyVidya).

Written by sameer

March 23rd, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Request you to take this survey

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Sakshi (my wife) is contemplating starting a new venture. The whole idea is about “making your special days even more special”. Currently doing some primary research. Can you guys take this survey please (<5 mins to complete)? Do send the URL to your contacts as well. Thanks in advance!

Link for Survey: http://tinyurl.com/ctq8sb

Written by sameer

March 12th, 2009 at 11:17 pm

Posted in Thoughts

Tagged with

Get on the fast lane

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Well, quite literally so! Get nitrogen for your car tyres and feel the difference for yourself. If you’re in Banaglore, you can get nitrogen for your tyres at the HP petrol pump on (Old) Airport Road. If you’re coming from Marathalli, then look for a Pizza Hut on your left. You’ll find this place immediately after the crossing. (Before Manipal Hosipta; Leela Palace across the road).

The guy charges Rs 30 per tyre for the first fill. The fill apparently lasts 6 months. Subsequent cost is Rs 10 per tyre. Following benefits:

  • Car drives smoother (can vouch for it)
  • You don’t have to worry about air pressure for six months (need to verify)
  • Less likelihood of a tyre burst (need to verify)
  • Better mileage (need to verify)
There may be other places in Bangalore offering this service. If so, please update those locations as comments on this article.

Written by sameer

February 9th, 2009 at 6:12 pm

The Big 3 of 2009

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Suddenly I’ve some amazing clarity about what I most want to do professionally this year. Don’t know why but am putting them here – perhaps to look back and reflect; perhaps to get some discipline; perhaps!

Alright, the first thing I want is the HP Circle Award for a submission I made recently. This is in the employee engagement category and I made my submission for iKnow – the knowledge management/communications program I designed and executed for my business group in HP.

The second thing I want to accomplish is setting up a Web 2.0 platform for all HP India employees – the project is in pipeline; have a sponsor… just a matter of doing it; and doing it right.

The third goal is to set up a collaboration space for market research professionals in HP globally. Again, have the signoffs, the mandate… just need to do it.

So ok, let me get started. Will be more than happy if I get all three. Don’t really care about all the other stuff that I’ll have to do along; but as long as these are accomplished,, the next big  step should emerge automatically.

And trust me, I’m feeling so much better after really knowing what I want (at least professionally) this year. Hope I get the same clarity personally too!

Written by sameer

January 19th, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Posted in Feelings

Take Light!

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I was at the gym and was getting irritated with this obnoxious trainer – for lack of customer service and in fact being arrogant. Cut back a few hours and I was getting irritated with things at work; people at work. Huh. Getting irritated with everyone; a gym trainer of all people, imagine! 

And then I thought. Take Light. Is anybody worth it. Chillllllll!

Think about such things very often; but I sure hope I can live it – stay unaffected.

Written by sameer

January 12th, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Posted in Feelings,Rants

The Startup Event – Proto.In, Bangalore – Jan 23, 24 2009

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‘The Startup Event’ is scheduled for Jan 23, 24 at Bangalore. So all ya budding enterpreneurs, click on the graphic above and perhaps make the first step to follow your dream (heck I should be paid for advertising this so well ;)

Written by sameer

January 9th, 2009 at 10:19 am

Posted in Entrepreneurship

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