Sameer Agarwal

His views, thoughts, introspection and rants

Archive for the ‘Ideas’ Category

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

Tagged with

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

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

Fighting terrorism

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I won’t talk about the recent shameful and dreadful terror attack on Mumbai per se – but on what to do next. My thoughts on how to fight this menace; not that I’m an expert… but just my two cents I guess.

We can’t hope for situations like this to get addressed by mere rhetoric or patriotism. We do need an investment in basic police infrastructure so that a Karkare doesn’t die fighting AK56s with a .303 rifle and a half sleeve bullet-proof vest! So that a bunch of boys do not come sailing in boats, land on the Gateway of India and start firing indiscriminately and take hundreds hostage; without the Information Bureau having no clue about it!

We do need a solid security infrastructure to fight this; maybe we already have one. But beyond building infrastructure we need reforms as well – why can’t we pay our armed forces and police better? Why do we raise a hue and cry over the 24 eggs that an army officer gets? You pay peanuts and you get monkeys… right?

And, we need to leave politics behind when it comes to fighting terror. Why do we need a Shivraj Patil as the home minister who has no idea about what he needs to do and has the audacity to continue staying in office despite terror attacks every few weeks? Now that he has quit (or fired) it seems fixed – but is it really? Is it about Patil himself, or is this a larger issue? Why does LK Advani have to say “Oh this is worse than the last time…”?

And, we need to fight corruption. It takes a bicycle, and not a passport, to come from Nepal/Bangladesh to India and then 200 Rs for a ration card. How can we allow this to happen? How can we sell our country for 200Rs? Is this how we grow at 8% year on year I wonder!

The Bottom-line: the main culprit is our so called ‘spirit’ to move on… heck how can we get so thick skinned. We’re concerned today, but will soon forget it like the hundreds other terror attacks in this country before. I think we only deserve it. I liked what Suhel Seth said yesterday on a TV channel – we need surgery not band-aids… we don’t need elections; call a national emergency and fix it NOW…

Written by sameer

December 1st, 2008 at 6:11 pm

Do you really need Knowledge Managers anymore?

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The trigger for this post is an interesting article from Atul Rai here. Atul articulates that from a ‘tacit knowledge sharing’ perspective (call it Web 2.0 or social networking if you have to) communication is probably not that relevant. He cites the SMS and twitter phenomenon has changed the way we communicate as people. Fair point – SMS hs chnged rules qt a bit & its nrml fr cnvrstns 2b lk ths.

But is communication all about the way we write, or speak. Isn’t their more to it? Bloody well yes, communication is about effectively transmitting a message from a sender to a receiver. While articulation (for traditional, ‘explict’ kind of KM) requires good writing skills, and for Web 2.0 kind of KM it does not, the realm of communication is much beyond articulation alone!

‘Communication skills’ is about an understanding of what mediums work best to be able to most effectively ‘transmit’ information. As Knowledge Management, or Knowledge Sharing professionals isn’t our job to create an environment conducive for effective collaboration? How people collaborate, what appeals to them and what doesn’t – including the medium (say Web 2.0) and language (say twitter/SMS kind) – is something that will fall in the communication realm for sure.

Of course you can argue that it really is about understanding human behavior, but ‘communicating’ with humans effectively to get the desired behavior is key, and ‘that’ definitely is the task of a master communicator.

In a corporate setup you’re trying to reach out to employees for a whole lot of reasons. Employee engagement,  knowledge management, information dissemination and a whole lot of other things. Poor employee! There are too many voices, too much clutter, too much confusion. Why can’t we have one voice, why can’t we align the communicators and the knowledge managers?  Is it because the knowledge managers think more in terms of processes and systems while communicators more in terms of info bytes? But isn’t knowledge management just a name now – is it not about knowledge sharing – sharing of knowledge bytes. Isn’t Web 2.0 breaking the structures and the processes out of KM? If yes, then aren’t communicators and knowledge managers inadvertently converging at “employee engagement”? Both trying to make sure employees know what they need to, and tell what they ought to…

Think about it. And if you agree, then well do you really need knowledge managers anymore? Isn’t it better to have a bunch of people who understand human behavior and the mechanics of bringing people together (broadly in the realm of employee engagement) run the show? Isn’t that very close to what communicators typically are anyway expected to do?

Footnote 1: Of course some technology may be involved in setting the mechanics up – but that can always be outsourced.

Footnote 2: I do a dedicated “KM” job as well, and am at an equal risk of losing my job if people buy in to what I said!

Written by sameer

July 15th, 2008 at 4:10 pm

An evening of a lifetime

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Champagne. Bouquets. Several courses of meal without the hassle of deciding what to order (that’s a big incentive to me!). Birthday cake. A linen jacket that I wanted for several months, or maybe years! All this without the slightest hint. Yes, that’s what Sakshi did on my birthday on Jun 9.

Sakshi - the host, and my wife!She insisted on picking me up from work to go to Taj Residency even though her office is close to that place and it just didn’t make sense with Bangalore traffic. The booking was for 7 PM but we were on our way at 5 so we decided to have a couple of drinks. Sakshi was careful in avoiding that ‘one drink too much’ for me despite my insistence, and without leaving a hint of what was in store.

So we arrived at around 7:20, and the restaurant I discovered that we were going to was called “Graze”. It is a beautiful, Victorian, poolside restaurant, that is quiet and niche. This was only the beginning of discoveries for the evening. Quickly I realized that the table was already chosen, and the servers already knew Sakshi. Whoa! Even before I could digest that, champagne came rolling, and I was already feeling royal!

Cheers, and then the flowers came. Then the first course. Then flowers and then the next course. Man it just couldn’t get better. Wait – there was a cake and a linen jacket for me as well!!

It was all so well planned. Right to the last detail. Completely based on what I like and what I don’t. So much thought to make your husband happy. God – I don’t deserve her at all! As Richa said, “I’m a lucky dog”!

Written by sameer

June 12th, 2008 at 9:36 pm

Imagine: 1

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I keep thinking of these little ideas every now and then. Thought it will be a good idea to share them on my blog and also archive them to track how much I imagine! So here goes the first in the Imagination series!

Imagine. A mobile phone application that allows the user to click a text snippet as a picture, analyze the language and allow translation options. I imagined this while having popcorn yesterday. The Act II pack has instructions in three languages but I was wondering how someone who only knew Kannada for example would be able to make out anything. With an application like this, all the end-user will need to do is click a picture of any text snippet (there will be some bordering options maybe) and voila, you’ll know what it means! How handy will this be for electronics purchased from Singapore that typically only come with Chinese/Japanese instruction booklets!

Maybe such a device already exists. I’ll like to know.

Written by sameer

May 21st, 2008 at 10:41 am

Honey I’m late again

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Oh yeah I am and I feel like kicking myself. For months now I’ve been thinking of an idea to link up the stock market with social networking. I mean using the “wisdom of crowds” to decide which stock to pick. After all don’t we follow tips given by analysts and friends!

Good idea, yeah… but the trouble is that I just kept thinking and someone else executed! Stumbled across CafeStocks which is still in beta doing exactly the same thing that I kept thinking about for several months. I mean it’s exactly the same thing that I was thinking – sharing tips, ranking stocks based on tips received, ranking people who provide tips, the works! 

So many times we just think, and think, and do nothing beyond it. I remember Michael Dale (corporate trainer) once saying this, and it’s so apt:

You’ve it all figured out in your mind. Now DO IT!

Hope I take some learning from this and don’t miss the bus the next time I’ve some idea.

Written by sameer

May 19th, 2008 at 12:25 pm

Engaging people…

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Some personal experiments – e.g., creating a ‘retro’ video for Divya’s engagement gave me a potent way of engaging people in ‘formal’ settings.

Talking about work settings, you can capture an event as “Minutes of Meetings” but that to my mind is not very effective anymore because that does not excite people enough; doesn’t give them the full picture.

I’ve been flirting with the concept of Unconferencing (credit: Kiruba Shanker, Raj Dutta; google for more info) and more so on blending the unconferencing ‘event’ with regular unconferencing sessions. We did an experiment – it was more or less a brainstorming session which was positioned to be more informal (with a yellow ball to throw around at people who faffed) and which was recorded both in an audio and video format. What followed was an article on our internal blog, with video and audio segments embedded at ‘interesting’ places. And this seems to have worked…

Watch this space for more on my latest ‘area of interest’! (In quotes, because as young boys, the quoted referred to girls!)

Written by sameer

March 14th, 2008 at 10:10 am

Posted in Ideas

Because your audience knows more than you do

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In a recent seminar I attended, I discovered the concept of Unconferencing (lookup Kiruba Shanker on Google). This post is not meant for talking about unconferencing even though I’m very excited about this concept. It’s about something else…

I met an HP colleague at the seminar. Both of us knew that we existed but had never talked to each other before. In fact we (at least I) didn’t even know that both of us will really meet at the seminar! A couple of sentences exchanged at the “networking” break and she told me that she “knew me better than she should” because she found my blog!

Now that indeed is a small world. And maybe dangerous too!

SB – guess “How much do you want people to know about You” will be interesting research work esp. because it’s difficult to control what people can find about you. Do some ego surfing – type your name in quotes on Google and you’ll know what I mean :)

Written by sameer

November 19th, 2007 at 7:29 pm

Posted in Feelings,Ideas