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  • Marketing Agility: a brief guide for businesses

    What is marketing agility? Marketing Agility is a term that is often used to describe the ability of a brand or organization to switch gears quickly and effectively in response to a change in their market environment. Marketing Agility includes the ability to understand the market, anticipate its changes, and react with speed. It is closely related to strategic agility – which refers to an organization’s ability to revamp its strategy at scale. It’s important for marketers today as they are faced with ever-changing consumer needs, technologies, and business models. In this context, marketing agility has become an indispensable part of every marketing program. How to achieve marketing agility to effectively meet changing customer expectations? Marketers need to be agile to keep up with the rapidly changing expectations of today's customers. The challenge for marketers is that customer preferences and behaviors are changing so quickly that it is hard to stay on top of what customers want. The success of your company depends on how agile you are in response to changing customer needs, and the way you can create value for any given customer segment. In this section, I will discuss how you can achieve marketing agility to meet changing customer expectations effectively. There are some steps that can help you become more agile in your marketing efforts: 1) Identify customer pain points and needs 2) Use data-driven insights to design relevant messages that resonate with your customers 3) Engage customers in conversations where they feel like there is an open dialogue In order for a company to be agile, they need two things: A flexible mindset – this means that the company is able to see different perspectives on a situation and adapts its strategy accordingly. A fluid process – this means that the company needs processes and tools in place that can allow them to change direction quickly without slowing down too much. Why is marketing agility important for your business? Agility is crucial to the success of any business, which is why marketing agility is so important. Marketing teams need to adapt quickly and efficiently in order to compete in this ever-changing market. The term "agility" comes from a military strategy used to make quick adjustments and get out of an enemy's path. In marketing, it refers to the ability of a company's marketing department to respond quickly and effectively to changes in their industry. Marketing's ever-evolving landscape demands a marketing team that can adapt to the changing environment without hesitation. This is only achievable by hiring bright, creative problem solvers who can think outside the box and by building systems that allow for fast data retrieval and decision making. 4 steps can you take to achieve marketing agility Step 1: Measure marketing performance to identify what is working and what needs improvement Marketing is an essential part of any business. The objective is to create awareness and make sure that your services/products are in the minds of people who might be interested in them. In order to measure marketing performance, it is important to set metrics for success and then track these against a benchmark. Step 2: Decide how much time and budget you are able to allocate to marketing Marketing is important to the success of any company. It's not just about paying for advertising or having a website. Marketing is about getting your company in front of the right audience at the perfect time and this takes time and money. Step 3: Identify the channels that are most relevant to your business The channels you use to market your business should reflect the kind of product or service that you offer. For example, if you are an e-commerce business then your channels could include social media, blogging, email marketing, and more. If you sell physical products then it would be important to have some kind of physical presence. Step 4: Collaborate with your team. Marketing is a team sport. Leverage each person’s strengths Even if you are a marketing superstar, you will run into obstacles. Set up a meeting with your team to identify what you are good at and what they are good at. Encourage everyone to share their knowledge, skills, and talents with one another. You can also include them on email chains so they can get a notification when something important is happening or coming up. Best practices for becoming more agile in your marketing efforts As a marketer, it's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks. But there are smarter ways to manage your time and energy that will help you stay afloat and proactive. Here are some key concepts for being more agile and proactive in marketing. Being agile is about taking action in a situation where you have no viable options or resources. You don't wait for someone else to come to your rescue, you take matters into your own hands. Being proactive is about being aware of what is happening around you and being prepared for the changes that may occur. By leveraging these two concepts, marketers can be more efficient with their time and energy, which will lead to better results over the long run. Agile marketing is a way to quickly respond to customer needs and market changes. It is a process that relies on short iterative cycles, close collaboration with customers and research, continuous adaptation, and rapid experimentation. It results in better products because it provides fast feedback loops for the development team. This helps them to know what works and what doesn't work before investing too much in one direction. It also allows them to make incremental improvements quickly instead of big changes that take longer. Agile marketing has been successful for many companies because they are able to adapt better than their competitors. When marketing to millennials, there are a few key concepts that have to be considered. The first is agility. Millennials care more about the product they are buying than how it is marketed. This means brands need to be quick and responsive in order to effectively market their products. Agile marketing can help marketers build trust with their audience by responding quickly to customer needs and feedback, while also being proactive in anticipating customer Building a modern communications strategy as part of agile marketing With customers moving to digital spaces and social media being the new frontier for brands, organizations need to ensure that they are building a strategic communications plan to stay ahead of the game. These days, marketing strategies come together as part of an agile marketing approach. In this approach, organizations prioritize customer experience over understanding the “right” message or response. As a result, it’s now important for organizations to build a communications strategy that balances both their customer's and stakeholders' needs with their own brand needs in order to succeed in today’s rapidly changing landscape. Building a modern communication strategy is essential for today's marketing teams. In the constantly changing world of work, the millennials care about different things than their parents, and a 24/7 connected world makes it tough to come up with an effective plan that is always on. We need to rethink how we communicate with customers. A few simple changes can go a long way in bringing your brand to life and getting it into people’s hearts and minds. Our communications strategy should be agile, interactive, and personal. Concluding thoughts on market agility Market Agility is a practice that is often overlooked by companies who are more focused on their customer experience and only looking at what they can do to make things better for their customers in the future. They forget that they need to look at what they can do now in order to be agile enough to react and adapt faster when the market changes. AI has given us new tools that we could use in order to be more agile and innovative. It has also opened up new opportunities for businesses in order for them to test their ideas before launch, which will give them a way of finding out whether or not their idea is viable. The market’s ability to change and grow has always been a factor in the success of a business. Companies that are able to adapt quickly to the changing environment can more easily stay afloat. The future of marketing is all about being agile. Being responsive, being creative, and understanding the customer's needs are key aspects of successful marketing in 2021-22.

  • 5 reasons why Netflix is the best OTT video stream service

    About Netflix Netflix is an American entertainment company that provides online streaming of content. The service offers a variety of TV shows, films, and documentaries for a monthly subscription. Netflix has been an OTT platform since 2007. The company was founded in 1997 in California by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph. It was originally created as a DVD-by-mail service, but Netflix now offers a wide range of programming including movies, TV shows, and documentaries for streaming online and through mobile devices. Today, it is the world’s leading subscription service for watching TV episodes and films. It has over 125 million members spanning 190 countries. Netflix allows you to stream TV shows from anywhere in the world. They have over 80 million hours of TV shows and movies to watch from around the world. What Makes Netflix the Best over-the-top service platform? Netflix's success is part of a larger trend in the entertainment industry. The increasing popularity of on-demand services is due to people who are willing to pay for content. As more and more people stop buying physical media, there is an increase in the demand for streaming services. It has a 77% global market share and has become the go-to place to stream new TV shows and movies. The company has been in a strong growth trajectory, and it has over 130 million subscribers. Netflix has been able to stay ahead of its competitors because they release their original shows first and have created a specific algorithm for their recommendations. This algorithm makes sure that we always get something that we will like, and it ensures that we don’t have to go through all of their shows ourselves. This article reviews Netflix’s position as an over-the-top (OTT) service platform and looks at what makes it stand out from its competitors. 1. Easily watch content on multiple devices With Netflix, you can watch movies and TV shows on your phone, tablet, computer, game console, or smart TV. One of the most interesting features of Netflix is its ability to sync the viewing experience across different devices. So, if you start watching a show on your laptop, you can seamlessly resume it on your mobile phone without missing a beat. Netflix is one of the most popular video streaming services in the United States. Its global presence has made it an international phenomenon with over 117 million subscribers around the world. The service has been pioneering new ways to provide its content to viewers by providing a variety of options for how they can watch their favorite content. 2. Netflix offers a quality content selection for all genres Netflix has been an innovator in the movie and TV show streaming industry, with its focus on creating a personalized experience for its viewers. They are available in 190 countries, which means that there are always new shows for viewers to discover. Netflix’s business model is based on subscriptions and the company uses data gathered from viewers’ viewing habits to decide what content to produce. It offers a broad selection of movie titles with high-quality ratings, as well as original content that is exclusive to Netflix. As a result, this makes it easy for consumers to find exactly what they are looking for. Netflix provides: Quality of Content Selection for all Genres: Netflix offers a wide range of options, which includes both movies and TV shows. They have created a hierarchy system for their content to allow the viewer to find what they are interested in, whether it be Comedy Shows, Political TV Shows, or Dramas. They have also created the Netflix Originals category for their own exclusive content with high-quality productions. Interactive Ways to Browse Content: Netflix has done an excellent job creating a platform that is user-friendly and interactive; this means that the viewer is able to search through a wide variety of categories and subcategories, as well as by genre or rating level. The viewer can also watch previews or read 3. Netflix offers original shows & movies that inspire viewers to binge-watch Netflix offers a wide range of content that appeals to all interests. People are always looking for their next show or movie to watch and Netflix is the place to find it. The streaming market leader offers original shows and movies that people never knew they would love, such as Stranger Things, Gilmore Girls, and Mindhunter. Just like many other services, they are constantly updating their content so viewers never get bored with what's on Netflix. With new shows popping up every year, there will always be something new and exciting for viewers to binge-watch on Netflix. The strategy behind Netflix's original content is to provide its subscribers with more than what they're expecting. The company wants you to watch one episode of a show and then want to continue watching for hours, just like the next episode of Stranger Things or Black Mirror. 4. Personalized recommendations based on viewers' history, preferences, and genres Netflix has greatly expanded its library of TV shows and movies in recent years, which is due to the increased success of its personalized recommendations. Netflix's personalized recommendations are a perfect example of how AI-based technologies can be used to create a more enjoyable experience for their users. A lot of the content displayed on Netflix is based on a user's viewing history and preferences, as well as those that are relevant to the genre they watch most often. This allows the streaming platform to be able to provide more accurate recommendations based on what you have watched before. Netflix is using data from its subscribers in an effort to provide more personalized recommendations. This data includes each subscriber's viewing history, which is a minimum of 25 hours of TV or movie watching annually. In addition, they also use indicators such as "a person's country, age gender, and mood". 5. Household sharing makes it easy Netflix has made it easy for households to share their account. They can connect all of their devices to a single account and share the password with whomever they want. Netflix is doing an excellent job at making its service as accessible as possible to everyone. The company has done this by allowing users to connect all of their devices to a single account and share the password with whomever they want without any kind of restrictions or limits, which makes it easier for households to watch Netflix together. Concluding thoughts on why Netflix is the best OTT platform Netflix is the best OTT platform because of its high-quality original content, wide range of content, and price. Netflix introduced its first and most popular original series, House of Cards, in 2013. Since then they have released over 100 original shows including Stranger Things (2017) to critical acclaim. Netflix also offers a wide variety of movies to suit all people’s tastes with over 1,000 different films available to choose from on the website or through mobile devices.

  • Marketing for Dummies: Learn the Basics in 2 mins

    What is Marketing? Marketing is the process of communicating a company's ideas to its customers in order to generate sales. Marketing is important for any organization because it is responsible for increasing awareness and sales of a company's products and services. Marketing can be done through different channels which include media (TV, radio, billboards), social media, direct mail, word-of-mouth marketing, and many more. Every type of marketing technique has its own pros and cons. The purpose of marketing is to find out the needs of customers or potential customers and then satisfy those needs by providing the right product (or service) at the right time at the right place. Being different than being better is the secret to successful marketing. - Tausif Mulla What is a Marketing Strategy? A marketing strategy is a set of guidelines and plans for marketing a product. A company's marketing strategy should be specific to its own business and align with the company’s goals. To develop an effective marketing strategy, companies need to find out their strengths and weaknesses in terms of resources such as money, time, knowledge, etc. They also need to assess the market situation. The key is to identify what the company's best marketing opportunities are and to exploit them in the most effective way possible. What is a Marketing Plan and how to use it? A marketing plan is a document that summarizes the strategies and tactics to be used for marketing an entity's products or services. It covers the who, what, when, where, why, and how of a marketing campaign. Marketing Mix - The 4 P's of Marketing: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion The marketing mix often referred to as the 4 P's of marketing, is a set of four broad categories that need to be considered when developing a marketing strategy. Product refers to the goods and services that a company offers to potential and current customers. Price reflects what customers should pay for the product. Place refers to how and where a company makes its products available for purchase. And promotion refers to all efforts made by a company to increase consumer demand or interest in its products or services. Also read: ATL and BTL activation for dummies Marketing today There are many myths about what marketing is and who marketers are. While this may have been true in the past, today's world is different. Marketing has become the game-changing skill that organizations need to stay relevant. Marketing used to be a more passive activity where you would create a campaign and see if it worked. Today, marketers have to find solutions to problems on the fly and create campaigns that will resonate with their target audience as well as drive conversion in order for them to succeed. In today's digital and data-driven world, marketers have an even greater responsibility. They need to know what their customers want as fast as possible, all while trying to stay on top of technological advancements that will change the way they do business forever. For more content subscribe to ScroogeMarketer.

  • Shortform App: an easy way to learn and generate ideas

    Since the time I decided to turn into an educator from a marketer, one thing that I have made sure of is to keep learning. One common feedback that I've received after every completion of a module is that I bring creative ideas and relate to the subject with relevant examples from across the industries. My learners (both MBA and undergrads) often ask me "How do I keep myself updated?" My usual reply is "regular reading". The immediate response to this is "Oh we don't get time due to our busy schedule." If my facial expressions could speak, it would have replied sarcastically "Yeah, right. We academicians have all the sweet time to learn" (pun intended). Each one of us is surrounded by so much noise that things needing our focus are easily ignored. As a business management faculty and a Ph.D. candidate, it is vital to keep oneself updated with current trends in the business world. Today, information is produced at a colossal level than it did almost a decade ago, we still have the same amount of time as we did before. This thought inspired me to create this blog post. Photo by Matthias Groeneveld from Pexels In this post, I will share the secret (Duh!! no longer a secret now) to keep yourself updated even when you are busy. Consider reading summaries of books and articles. Summaries cut through the fluff and are best for reading on-the-go. What’s not to love? Subscribe to the Shortform application and thank me later. Shortform is an application that provides summaries of non-fictional books and articles. According to Allen Cheng (the founder of Shortform) "Our mission is to make sense of the world’s information and make it actionable." Instead of reading the whole book that might take anywhere between 5-6 hours or even a few days for you to complete, with the Shortform application you can learn in less than 10 minutes. Shortform not only summarizes the content for you but also makes the best ideas actionable. One might ask, "what's the difference between Shortform and Blinkist application? Here's how Shortform is positioned in the market as compared to its competitors. Source: Shortform Though I like both the applications, Shortform has been my preferred choice because 3 reasons: 1) Content curation and presentation Comprehensive Shortform covers every chapter and the key idea that could be important to the reader. For instance, I recently learned a new concept called adaptive leadership by Alexander Grashow, Ronald Heifetz, Marty Linsky. From the summary of the book, I learned that there are two kinds of problems organizations face today: Those with known solutions only require the application of existing knowledge and workflows to solve. Those with unknown solutions require innovation, experimentation, and adaptation to survive. Adaptive Leadership is marshaling people to tackle problems with unknown solutions and thrive while doing so. Quality over quantity. Being a start-up, it is growing but that team has taken a cautious call on quality over quantity of summaries and articles. Respect towards readers' time As Shortform is targeted towards people who have the excuse of not having time to learn, it respects the reader's time and provides only what is meaningful. Brings clarity A book author can take a long route to make a key point but in Shortform the big ideas are brought in front and center for better understanding and forceful, compelling logic. Action-oriented Shortform not only provides summary but actionable activities that enable critical thinking. Multi-disciplined Shortform caters to various disciplines from career, self-development, productivity, leadership, communication, and much more. Source: Shortform App Active community Shortform has an active community that you can be a part of and engage. You can read other people's top tips on books you're or considering or reading, and get advice on your own problems. 2) Not only covers books but also articles With Shortform, you not only learn from the bestseller books but also from insightful web articles from sources such as Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Economist, New York Times, Quartz, Bloomberg, and more. For instance, I recently learned from a web-article curated and summarized by Shortform - Why (and How) Amazon Created the Kindle and Changed the Book Industry Forever. It helped me understand that Amazon developed the Kindle and transformed itself and the book industry when Apple’s iTunes threatened Amazon’s CD sales. Amazon’s key decision to invent instead of copy is a lesson in handling #digital-disruption. 3) Affordable pricing Another advantage of using Shortform is its affordable pricing. If you pay annually (I recommend an annual plan) it will cost you $9.50/mo (i.e AED 418.70) less than Netflix $13.99/mo (standard). For me, any day investment in knowledge is far better than spending on entertainment. Don't go for my word but try it yourself. Shortform offers a 5-day free trial to all its features. Give a try to witness a surprising change in your learning. While you are here, why not subscribe to ScroogeMarketer? Happy learning P.S: Reading the whole book is always advisable. This is my way of learning quickly and may not suit your learning style.

  • 7 principles of Homeopathy that can be used in Business Management

    Homeopathy is a school of medicine that provides an alternative to the allopathic school of medicine. It was created in 1796 by the German physician, Samuel Hahnemann. Its practitioners, called homeopaths, believe that a substance that causes symptoms of a disease in healthy people would cure similar symptoms in sick people; this doctrine is called similia similibus curentur or in simple language the “law of similarity.” Often doctors and marketers make mistakes while diagnosing (analyzing) a patient or a product. For instance, if a patient has caught a cold & cough, the doctor would say it is because of the change in weather, similarly, a marketer would say it’s because of the change in the external business environment that we aren’t able to sell more of our product. The science of Homeopathy believes it’s not because of the change in weather that caused a patient to catch a cold, if that would have been the case then every single person in the locality would have caught a cold. The patient never asks why he/she is suffering while his/her neighbor is fit and healthy. It is less to do with the external environment, but more with internal immunity. Likewise, in business, Toyota performs so well whereas GM performs badly in the same sector (environment). Related: Strategic Management Lessons that we all can learn from Rajiv Bajaj In this article, I will share 7 principles of homeopathy that can be used in business management. Differentiation In homeopathy, the doctors look for what is uncommon in a patient and not what is common. Similarly, every business needs to have a differentiating factor. For example, the differentiating factor between Bajaj Auto and Hero MotoCorp is the design of motorcycles. Hero MotoCorp motorcycles are considered to have high mileage whereas Bajaj Pulsar motorcycles are considered to be powerful with cool design. Implementation In homeopathy, there is a concept called "posology" meaning how you give the dose to the patient. Similarly, in management, we need to constantly review and improve as we go along. For instance, the functioning and approach of Apple and Microsoft have a stark differences. In the last decade, Apple has been leading the curve whereas Microsoft has been following the curve. Similarly, in recent times, P&G is leading its iconic brand with social causes with its campaign #TouchOfCare. Individualization What makes me who I am? In management, the business model should be unique to the company and not mere replication of others. Often, businesses replicate the business model of the west, ignoring the fact of the demographic features in the local market. For example, Airbnb has been a success story in the west, but in the middle-east, they are yet to make their mark. One reason Airbnb has been unsuccessful in the middle east market is because of the market-specific laws that don’t allow people to sublease the property. In this market, Airbnb needs to adopt a unique business model that’s different from the existing model used in the west. A holistic view of the situation Understanding the market is important. Companies need to take a step back to analyze what’s happening and where they are heading? With Bajaj Auto, Rajiv Bajaj asked its thousands of laborers to take up voluntary retirement and still get paid until the retirement age. This was necessary as the existing workforce (the ones that used to make scooters) wasn't capable of manufacturing word-class motorcycles. Vitality In Homeopathy, we are all born with an internal force and a natural ability to heal. This is known as our vital force. In business, according to Boston Consulting Group (BCG), vitality is the capacity of a company to explore new options, renew its strategy, and grow sustainably. Preserving past advantages and positions does not thrive in today's complex and dynamic business environment. In a fast-changing world, only the vital will survive. As per Rajiv, Bajaj Auto was weak in its R&D as they depended on their Japanese counterparts to bring innovation. He strengthened the R&D at Bajaj Auto with only four engineers, and that resulted in the Pulsar brand. Like-cures-Like Homeopathy is based on the core principle that ‘like cures like’ i.e. a substance which can cause symptoms if taken in large doses, can be used in minute doses to treat similar symptoms. For instance, a snake bite is treated by its venom. While growing the business, the company should first enter a similar market, then a challenging market, and eventually, focus on the most challenging market. Bajaj Auto entered similar markets to India such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and then moved to more complex markets. Measured steps Homeopathy has a principle, all the locals should be present in that global. When Bajaj Auto introduced the Pulsar motorcycle, it had everything a consumer wanted such as fresh design, powerful engine, decent mileage, and affordability. According to Rajiv Bajaj, the biggest mistake start-ups make today is taking big jumps and not measured steps. Today, brand Pulsar is the output of small measured steps over the years. A talk by Rajiv Bajaj inspired this post. You can check the full video here. Subscribe to my blog for more educational posts.

  • Life lessons from a movie

    Often we come across movies that leave a lasting impact on us. Being a complete movie buff, I have learned a lot of things from movies, be it Hollywood or Bollywood. Movies such as The Pursuit of Happiness, 3 idiots, Captain Philip, Man on a ledge, etc. have left a positive impact on me. In this post, I will share leadership lessons we all can learn from one of my favorites. About leadership Leadership is not easy. It has its ups and downs, its successes and failures. Even the people who have leadership skills don’t always agree on what leadership means. From movies, we can learn a lot about what makes a good leader, the lessons that we can take from them, and the mistakes that they make. Leadership is an art form that consists of many different skill sets including communication, conflict resolution, negotiation, the delegation of tasks among others. However, while these skills might be seen as essential to leadership in movies, they are not necessarily so in real-life contexts. They do not require any particular career background or subject expertise to practice effectively. Some movies share leadership lessons that can be applied to the workplace. For example, "The Matrix" shares a lesson about gaining control by breaking things down into smaller pieces. Here are some of the key leadership lessons from the movie "Sully" that are applicable to our personal and professional life If you like the content, do subscribe for more.

  • 9 Management lessons from the street vendors of Mumbai

    In most developing nations, the highest contribution to the GDP comes from the unorganized sector i.e. the businesses that aren't registered and pay taxes. In India, the unorganized sector contributes almost 50% to the GDP and hires almost 80% of the workforce. On the flip side, Indian Inc i.e. the organized sector is cutting jobs. For these companies, their stock price and market valuation are increasing but they aren't hiring as much as the unorganized sector. To address this problem, we need to learn a few management lessons from the street vendors. 9 management lessons from the street vendors of Mumbai ROI per square feet ROI is exponentially higher for street businesses as compared to the corporate even after paying the municipality and other charges. Marketers struggle for shelf space, especially in the FMCG sector. The roadside seller needs to design his product mix in such a way that only the fastest-selling goods are carried. This product mix is testified by his sweat equity. Learning: For any marketer, when your product becomes a part of the product mix of the street seller, you have arrived. Image Source: The Better India Equitable distribution of equity A street seller shares his profit with the whole supply chain starting from his vendor to the customer. A corporate only shares a small percentage with the supply chain. Photo by Veera Jayanth on Unsplash Degree of empowerment A large conglomerate will take weeks to accept a 5% discount but a street vendor will give you a discount immediately. The decision is quick on the street. Photo by Sudarshan Poojary on Unsplash Change management A street business changes its business 12-15 times a year. Change in products to match festivals. Change in segments to match the demand. Change in the sales pitch to cater to the respective target audience. Photo by Akhil Chandran on Unsplash Smart planning without using smart applications The street business plans ahead to meet the demand. They do all the planning without ERP application or any other automation. Equal opportunity market The only market that hires everyone. Doesn't look at your education, religion, caste, gender, domicile, etc. Corporate houses talk about gender equality but these street businesses implement it. True opportunity cost A corporate company will not mind if they miss one opportunity in a quarter as it can be substituted in the following quarter. A street entrepreneur will leave no stone unturned to sell the product as he knows that if he doesn't sell, he will have to sleep on an empty stomach that night. Know the decision-maker A street beggar is persistent. He doesn't budge unless he gets the money. The beggar knows who exactly is the decision-maker whereas in the corporate we don't even get the opportunity to talk to the decision-maker. Once the beggar gets the money, he goes back and tells his team to approach the same decision-maker. Incorporate, one account is handled by one person and no business goes to the other person from the same company. Know when it is enough A street entrepreneur knows when it is enough but a corporate will always go for higher market share, acquisition, new markets, and more. To co-exist you need to fulfill everyone's plate and not accumulate what can be for others. We don't need unicorns i.e. $1 billion valuation companies but we need million 100,000 valued companies. For this to happen, Captain Raghu Raman has suggested creating a WEE SEE fund (not VC). It simply means when I see I can make a difference, I do it. It's not necessary to help people with only money, it can be via sweat equity, assistance, sharing of ideas, etc. This post was inspired by a talk by Captain Raghu Raman, here's the video. I will try to make more posts on my learnings from such leaders.

  • 5 rules of leadership studied from actions of world leaders amidst COVID-19

    COVID-19 has transformed a lot of things, mainly how the business operates. Most of the sectors of the economy are in red. For instance, aviation, tourism, manufacturing, and financial services, etc. have witnessed a dip in the growth of about 14.6% to 19.5%. Business leaders have been struggling to maintain falling revenues by taking harsh decisions such as lay-offs, salary cuts, delayed salaries. Apart from businesses, the leadership skills of world political leaders have come under the lens. Leaders like Jacinda Ardern (Prime Minister of New Zealand) showed the world what it takes to fight an unprecedented pandemic like COVID-19. Here are 5 rules of leadership studied from the actions of world leaders amidst an unprecedented pandemic: Serve the people His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai had quoted “The purpose of government is to serve the people, the aim of public administration is to serve society, and the role of government procedures, systems, and laws is to serve human beings.” A leader should always remember that s/he is a leader to serve the people of the nation/community. This is much related to “Servant Leadership” a concept coined by Robert K. Greenleaf and brought to the mainstream by Sir Ken Blanchard in his book Servant Leader. Set your plan When you do not have a plan, you are setting yourself up for failure. Few leaders such as Chancellor Angela Merkel and Jacinda Ardern took early steps to handle the crisis effectively. Both the leaders showed trust in their healthcare system and gave a centralized message to their people. The majority of world political leaders panicked and that resulted in the chaos that we see today. Constant monitoring His Highness Sheikh Mohammed directed his government to monitor the condition closely and take the necessary steps when required. So far, the UAE has performed well to tackle COVID-19 by taking measures such as lockdown, restriction on public gathering, switching schools, and offices to work-from-home, and most importantly rigorous testing. On the flip side, some leaders like Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro adopted a “hands-off policy” and discouraged citizens from following public health measures taken in other countries. Communicate and be optimistic Amidst the chaos, the right communication at the right time has been the key. Leaders such as His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, PM Jacinda Ardern, and Chancellor Angela Merkel maintained communication with their people to bring optimism. In the US, every state had its own message, this decentralization led to vastly different actions by respective governors. Brevity Currently, we all are going through a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA). Our leaders need speed and agility to navigate our way forward. Only a few leaders have shown brevity in these testing times.

  • Strategic Management Lessons that we all can learn from Rajiv Bajaj (part 01)

    Everyone has their favorites, be it brands, sports, or personalities. Over the years, I have learned a lot from various business leaders such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Al Ries, Jack Trout, and more, but the one that has been my go-to for strategic management is Rajiv Bajaj. If you aren't aware of him, let me share a brief introduction to this dynamic business personality who was ranked 42nd in India's 50 Most powerful people by India Today magazine. Rajiv Bajaj is the managing director of Bajaj Auto, a leading Indian global brand producing two-wheeler and three-wheeler. Source: Bajaj Auto This blog post is a part of a series of Strategic Management lessons that we all can learn from Rajiv Bajaj. According to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, there are over 30,000 new products introduced every year, and 95 percent fail. As per the Nielsen BASES report, a study showed the failure rate of U.S. consumer products at 95 percent and European consumer products at 90 percent (Melgarejo and Malek 2018). Bajaj Auto has strived to defy this statistic. It is a widely accepted notion that principles of management taught in Harvard Business School bring in good business. As per HBR, the vast majority of products don't succeed because they don't create a market they serve a market. Successful marketing is having the motive of being different rather than being better. 6 strategic management lessons we all can learn from Rajiv Bajaj 1) Marketing Warfare Deciding your strategy is crucial for any business. The organization’s approach towards the strategy will decide its future. According to Rajiv Bajaj, being better (in terms of product) is a defensive strategy, being different is an offensive strategy, being opposite of the market offering is a flanking strategy, and being unique is a guerrilla strategy. To gain a competitive advantage in the market, the organization should use the perception of people about its product as an advantage, and the same should become the positioning of the product. Engineers often get confused between Replacement and Displacement in features of a product, in reality, they are opposite. As per Rajiv, the perception of people towards your product won’t change if you improve your product by 10% - 20% but a change of 23% - 30% will lead to a change in perception. When Bajaj Auto brought 10% - 12% efficiency in fuel, consumers didn’t show any excitement, but when Hero MotoCorp brought 15% efficiency in fuel, the market praised them. This is because consumers will accept marginal improvement from the leader but won't accept the marginal change from the challenger. If a company wants to adopt a guerrilla strategy, it will have to create a new segment in the market. Learning: Customers don’t expect better changes but significant changes. 2) Avoid the trap of generalization To launch unique products, companies can go for either individualization i.e. being unique or differentiation i.e. being different, but the majority of the companies prefer generalization. The principle of individualization led Bajaj Auto to foray into motorcycles. In 2007, Bajaj Auto shut operations of manufacturing scooters to start the production of motorcycles. Learning: Be a specialist in one thing and do it the best. 3) Immunity of the organization Being an ardent follower of Homeopathy, Rajiv Bajaj claims that the business climate i.e. the external market that the organization operates in does not affect the organization in a bad way but the organization’s immunity to the climate affects it. The immunity of the organization is based on its R&D, marketing, and supply chain. For instance, Bajaj launched a quadricycle called Qute that is exported in all markets except India, due to market regulations. Learning: Emphasize building the organization's immunity 4) Building a strong brand Creating a new product only increases the product line of a company, but creating a story behind a product builds up emotion and eventually creates a Brand. A product is just a part of a brand. When we think of coke, we think of many other stories and things that come to our minds. He quoted products are built only in the factory, but brands are built in the minds of people. As a brand strategy, Bajaj Auto acquired the metal of India's first aircraft carrier INS Vikrant and used it in the production of Bajaj V. This is a perfect example of Nostalgia marketing. Source: Financial Express Bajaj V was not just a simple product, Rajiv and his team created a story around it and made it a limited edition motorcycle. Product + Story + Experience = Brand Learning: If you need to create a brand don't just create a tangible product create a story behind the product. 5) Marketing is counter-intuitive According to Rajiv Bajaj, “what your customers want is important, but what your competitor’s permit is even more important”. In order to be ahead of competitors, it is important to attack the weakness in their strength rather than the weakness. Source: Maxabout For instance, Hero Motocorp’s weakness in their strength was/is that consumers consider Hero to be high on mileage but not the powerful bike. Bajaj Auto attacked its weakness and launched the brand Pulsar, a powerful bike with a fresh design and decent mileage. Learning: Attack the weakness of your competitor's strength 6) Doing less can be more For Rajiv, narrowing the focus or doing less is a successful marketing strategy. In order to communicate the product to the target market, a company must give a reason to buy the product. Bajaj Auto’s reason for its customers was a stylish motorcycle. In order to be successful in marketing, it is better to be quiet and observe the environment and then make decisions and act on those decisions. Do one only thing, but make sure you are the best in that one thing. Learning: Less is more, narrow your focus References: Melgarejo, R. and Malek, K. (2018) Setting the record straight on innovation failure. Nielsen BASES. Available at:

  • Webinar on Improving Online Research for Academic Writing

    The amount of information on the internet is overwhelming - limitless websites and sources of information. There is no good way to save, annotate, and track the important things you find. Bookmarking, leaving tabs open, and copy/pasting content into docs are a headache. Introducing PowerNotes - a browser-based extension to take the pain and frustration out of online research. PowerNotes is the first online research platform that not only saves what's important but also keeps it organized for you PowerNotes is built on academic experience and frustration with digital research and writing. Until now, tools have not been developed specifically for today’s research process and the transition into writing, leading to inefficiency and frustration for students and instructors, who must resort to using products built for other purposes. PowerNotes is designed to address the challenges inherent in source-based writing in the digital environment. It seeks to improve writing quality with tools that provide an efficient and continuous workflow through the entire digital research and writing process. Register for Webinar: Click here Date: Thursday, July 16 at 3:00 pm (GMT +04:00) Asia/Dubai Co-presented by: Tausif Mulla

  • 10 reasons why start-ups should aim to be CAMEL rather than UNICORN

    Businesses are feeling the heat due to the pandemic caused by the rise of the COVID-19 virus. Additionally, the consequent national shutdown has brought most businesses to a halt with no clear direction. The most impact can be seen on start-ups. In the US, half of the start-ups engaged in layoffs and have terminated less than 20% of the workforce [1]. In 2020, we again face a significant economic downturn, challenging the ability of economies and the creative capabilities of start-ups to sustain themselves. Since the beginning of 2020, we have heard a lot of dismal news surrounding the start-up ecosystem, mainly towards start-up unicorns. Unicron is a term used for a privately owned startup company valued at over $ 1 billion. In 2013, the word was coined by venture capitalist Aileen Lee who chose the mythical animal to represent the statistical rareness of these valuable ventures [2]. Similarly, Decacorn is a term used for companies that are valued at over $10 billion, while Hectocorn is used for a company worth more than $100 billion. When Aileen Lee first coined the word unicorn in 2013, only thirty-nine firms were recognized as unicorns. Unicorns are leaving the race Startups raise and spend huge amounts of capital to invest in growth, often subsidizing consumers' costs to drive higher usage which leads to the high cost of customer acquisition. For instance, SoftBank Corporation has invested over $7.6 billion in Uber and $7.5 billion in WeWork in the last three years intending to drive growth [3]. Reasons for the rapid growth by Unicorns Get Big Fast (GBF) Strategy: According to analysts and academics, investors and venture capital companies are following the get big fast (GBF) strategy for startups. GBF is a tactic where a startup seeks to grow through broad funding rounds at a high pace and cut the price to gain an advantage on market share and take a lead over rival competitors as fast as possible. Company buyouts: Many unicorns were created through buyouts from large public companies. Cash-rich companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google focus on acquisitions instead of focusing on capital expenditures. These blue-chip companies would rather buy out start-ups than creating new technology or business models themselves. Technological breakthroughs: Startups are taking advantage of the new technology of the last decade to obtain Unicorn status. Innovations in technology including mobile smartphones, P2P platforms, and cloud computing have aided the growth of start-ups. For Unicorns like Uber, WeWork, Airbnb, Oyo, etc the focus by the founders has been on growth over profitability. Recently, the SoftBank group published that its Vision Fund businesses lost around $17.7 billion in the last fiscal year 2019 after writing down the value of its investments in the two unicorns, WeWork and Uber [4]. In an economy with a weak financing outlook, the days of running cashback to acquire users may not be feasible and would need an alternative model that has profitability at its core. Start-ups need to now ditch the UNICORN status and adopt being a CAMEL that survives in harshest conditions and still proves productive. The founders of Camel start-ups recognize that starting with a strong base that will last, is a basic fundamental in creating a successful company. The entrepreneurs of camel start-ups show us that an alternate model does exist. While these start-ups still follow and expand rapidly, they balance it with other goals such as cost control and a fair price for goods and services. Entrepreneurs harness network effects and enjoy enviable rates of growth. However, their scaling trajectory may not have the same perfect exponential “J Curve” growth. Instead, the focus is on sustainable growth from inception. Alexandre Lazarow in his article quoted "In emerging markets are companies we can learn from because they have survived harsh business climates with less capital and ecosystem support. These startups are more akin to camels for their ability to adapt to multiple climates, survive without sustenance for months, and withstand harsh conditions. And unlike unicorns, camels are not imaginary creatures. They are real, and they are resilient." In this article, I will relate 10 characteristics of a CAMEL that can be adopted by startups to build a  profitable business: 1) Body Temperature A camel can adjust its body temperature to adapt to the environment thereby conserving body fluids and avoiding unnecessary water loss. Similarly, a start-up needs to be agile and adapt itself according to market conditions. 2) Color Camels come in every shade of brown, from cream to almost black. Likewise, a start-up should also have multiple portfolios in the market. For example, ZOHO CRM is available for blue-chip companies as well as small start-ups. 3) Ears A camel’s ears are small, but its hearing is acute. Similarly, a start-up needs to have its ears open and to the ground for consumer feedback, regulations, and policies by the government. Only when you listen attentively, you will be able to make the right decisions. 4) Eyes Camel’s have a sharp vision and their eyes are protected by curly eyelashes that also help keep out sand and dust in the desert. In the same way, start-ups need to have an eye on the market movement that may be caused due to external factors like the current pandemic. With early signs of disruption, the start-ups need to respond quickly and come up with a defense strategy to safeguard their position. 5) Feet Camels have strong feet that are needed to carry weight. When the camel places its foot on the ground the pads spread, preventing the foot from sinking into the sand. Similarly, start-ups need to have their feet on the ground after raising capital. With several rounds of funding, the valuation increases and so does the pressure to turn profitable. 6) Food A  camel can go 5-7 days with little or no food and water and can lose a quarter of its body weight without impairing its normal functions. Likewise, start-ups need to build cash reserves that will help the company to stay afloat in tight economic conditions and a weak business environment. With COVID 19, one of the major factors impacting start-ups the most is low cash reserves which are resulting in layoffs of their workforce. 7) Hard Skin A camel has dry skin which is needed to survive the extreme temperature in the desert. For start-ups, hard skin is a strong business model. More revenue streams are better for the start-up as they can help maintain the cash flow in tight situations. For example, a start-up in the education sector that has online learning apart from the traditional on-site in its portfolio, the cash flow isn’t much impacted. 8) Hump Camel does not store water in its hump, contrary to common belief. The animal draws energy from a mound of fatty tissue when food is not always easily found. For start-ups, the hump will be its strong customer base. For start-ups, if the percentage of repeat customers is higher as compared to its competitors, it will act like a hump and help the company to perform better even in the worst economic conditions. 9) Meat and Milk Camel’s milk is lower in fat and lactose, and higher in potassium, iron, and Vitamin C. Also, camel’s milk is considered to be the most expensive milk due to its high demand and low supply. A camel is not only used as a carriage and for milk but also for its meat. Similarly, a start-up needs to have at least one cash cow in its portfolio that can play the role of either milk or meat. 10) Weight A fully grown camel can weigh up to 700 kgs. The capacity of the camel has been well documented over the centuries and its niche in human history is proven. A start-up should have a focus on profitability rather than rapid growth. Also, the mindset of the founders needs to be like a camel and not as an imaginary animal unicorn. If you liked the article, feel free to share it with a backlink to this post. For more content, subscribe to my blog. References: Alpeyev, P. (2020) ‘SoftBank Vision Fund Posts $17.7 Billion Loss on WeWork, Uber’, Bloomberg News, 18 May. Available at: (Accessed: 28 May 2020). Dunas, M. (no date) The amazing characteristics of the camels, Camello Safari. Available at: (Accessed: 28 May 2020). Rodriguez, S. (2015) The Real Reason Everyone Calls Billion-Dollar Startups ‘Unicorns’, International Business Times. Available at: (Accessed: 28 May 2020). Sherman, A. (2019) Masa Son’s multi-generational vision is running into a brick wall: The public markets, CNBC. CNBC. Available at: (Accessed: 28 May 2020). Stangler, D. (2020) COVID-19 And Startups: The Ugly, Bad And Good—And How To Help, Forbes. Forbes. Available at: (Accessed: 28 May 2020). Lazarow, A. (2020) ‘The New Hot Startups Will Be Camels, Not Unicorns’, Medium. Marker, 27 April. Available at: (Accessed: 28 May 2020).

  • Streamline Your Research With PowerNotes Extension

    Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash In the learning process, technology has made our lives so much easier now that every piece of information is available at our fingertips. But trying to find and keep the relevant information for your project or task organized, you would be in a state to pull your hair or close to it. Be it a college student, blogger, or Ph.D. scholar, we all need to work on research projects that are part of either the college assignment, client brief, or research paper. For any research work, one has to curate information from journals, company websites, blogs, etc. to understand the problem and look out for possible solutions discovered by other researchers, this process is called Literature Review. According to the Royal Literary Fund, “A literature review is a search and evaluation of the available literature in your given subject or chosen topic area”. A literature review (also known as lit review) can be conducted with various objectives depending on the researcher’s profile. Students and research scholars would conduct a lit review as part of their academic learning, whereas a blogger or professional may conduct a lit review as a part of a client’s project. Over the years, the content from newspapers, magazines, journals, textbooks have moved from print to digital but “researching” has still been a laborious task of finding, gathering, and organizing the right content. The solution to this daunting problem is “PowerNotes”. As per Wilson Tsu, the founder & creator of PowerNotes, “it unifies the processes for screen reading, saving content, organizing, outlining, and citing sources into a single workflow that efficiently transitions into writing and studying.” Steps to use PowerNotes PowerNotes is an extension that you can install in Chrome and Firefox to enhance the research process. Here are the steps to use PowerNotes to make your research process simpler: Step 1 Start with installing the extension for Chrome or Firefox browser. Once you have installed the extension you need to create an account. Log into your account and click on the PowerNotes logo to go to the homepage. Note: In a free account, the researcher can only work on one project at a time. Since I am a paid user of PowerNotes, you can see multiple projects in my account. Step 2 The next step is to name the project that you will work on and add a description to it. Click on the project to add topics. In PowerNotes, topics are the themes or the categories that you want to organize your research into. You can start with 4-5 topics and then eventually increase as your research progresses. Step 3 Once you have added the topics you can start your research by going through different sources such as journal articles, websites, blogs, newspapers, etc.. Use your cursor to select a sentence or entire paragraph that you feel is relevant for your research. When you stop dragging, a menu will pop up with all the topics that you created. Select a relevant topic and add your comments, your work will automatically save. The selected text will be highlighted in yellow. Next time you load the page, you will see the same text highlighted in yellow. Step 4 Repeat this procedure until you have collected enough information on the research area. Click on the PowerNotes floating icon to check the outline of your project. For every topic, you can see the number of sources you have collected and accordingly rearrange the topics if needed. You can even filter the content based on Highlights, Notes, citations, and more. For example, if I would like to see all the sources where I have put my comments only, I can select the filter “Notes” to get this view. Step 5 Once you are satisfied with the content that you have curated, you may export it to Word, Excel or, RIS format. I prefer exporting to Excel format as I get a better view of my research content. Here’s how it looks when exported as an excel sheet. This sheet is called ‘Literature Review Matrix’. I will start paraphrasing each block and skip the ones which I don’t find relevant for my paper anymore. Once I complete the paraphrasing I simply copy-paste the “Paraphrase” sentences in my Word document and start adding correct citations. Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash Since the time I have started using the PowerNotes application, my research process has become much more streamlined. I encourage you to try this super productive application and make your research work more productive. If you are a doctorate or a research fellow like me, this will benefit you. You may consider starting with a free account and if found helpful you can upgrade to the premium paid account. I have discount codes for monthly and annual plans. With my discount code, you will be charged $3.99 per month instead of $4.99 per month and if you are interested to opt for an annual plan (recommended) then you will be charged $39.99 per year instead of $49.99 per year. You can consider this as a small investment in yourself that will reap long-term benefits in your career. If you are interested kindly email me at with the subject line “Need PowerNotes coupon code.” #MBA #Research #PhD #Education

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