How to attract investors for digital startup?

If ever anyone ask me to describe our current era in one word, my reply would be “ENTREPRENEURSHIP” & “STARTUPS“. I am quite certain that most of you would say “I agree”.

A word, which has truly changed the complexion of our modern day global marketplace.

The world (as we speak) is no longer a bi-colored canvas of small & large enterprise companies. Every passing moment, the next billion dollar idea is taking shape in some small county of California or in the hinterlands of India, which could possibly cause serious disruption in the way people were living their lives.

While, most of us think (and some believe strongly) that our idea has the potential to become the next Facebook, Google, Alibaba or Amazon but very few people actually spend time in crystal gazing into the idea’s future.

It is a lot like visualising bond movie’s starting action sequence or planning your moves in the Chinese Checkers game. You go 3 steps forward in your head and get airlifted to see how the idea looks from the top.

Remember, the person who is investing his money in your business idea wants you forecast not just the profitability but also get him a sneak peek into the near & distant future.

That’s why I said it is a lot like crystal gazing.

The exercise I personally recommend to every budding entrepreneur, is a lot like formula 1 race track simulation where the driver races the entire track in his mind just to get accustomed to the track.

As a startup business owner, you need to see every twist & turn in your business idea even before you are actually in the race to acquire funding?

How you would operationalise the idea?

What would be the day 0 of your new business?

From where would get that first deal?

How would you reward your employees?

How would you make your customer your best friend?

Some investor are not just interested in knowing how much return the business will offer, they are also interested in knowing how will you do it?

The return on investment is non consequential if the path to success is not carved out properly.

Since your idea is your dream, your need to bring your investor into your dream. One has to learn the art of crystal gazing into the business future to attract investors for startup idea.

Remember, being a visionary is of no use if you cannot show the path to others. ~ Anonymous

Hacking Digital Media For Integrated Marketing

Today, the lives of human race is shrunk within a 6 inch device.

It is high time for media planners to rethink their approach towards digital media planning.

Talking from an Indian perspective, brands are increasingly moving towards more advanced planning methodologies.

On one side, e-commerce has opened the floodgates for sales driven planning, traditional brand advertisers are taking baby steps to convert their all branding plan to sales focussed campaigns with a clear positive intent to drive more sales.

Legacy FMCG Brands like Dabur (see Dabur Liveveda ), HLL, P&G, Rekitt & Benkiser, Nestle are investing heavily into performance driven SEO & SEM campaigns to drive higher ROI for their brands.

Some of them are even building their e-commerce portals (which may be an overkill of the idea at the moment). Incidentally, the idea of running pure brand campaigns is long gone from the market.

Online planners must do their digital media planning using these core marketing hacks before making a sales focussed plan for their clients:

INTEGRATED MARKETING IN DIGITAL MEDIA

 

The modern day digital media planning is continuously evolving from the conventional eCPMs & eCPCs.

With brands understanding the potential of online & mobile medium, they would push agencies to drive more business.

In many cases, media planner becomes an extension of brand’s sales team.

Though we always had CPA, CPL & CPS models under affiliate marketing but thats not scalable for all the brands.

A brand which has huge presence across mediums like TV, Print, Radio, OOH ( somebody like Flipkart ) can surely hope for driving huge ROI in their online efforts.

A digital planner needs to really understand how the brand is using their messaging across mediums in order to cross leverage the impact & recall in online media.

For instance, if the brand is using a particular type of communication in offline, the planner must contextualise the same in online to match the target audience.

LEVERAGE SEARCH TO REACH OFFLINE AUDIENCE

 

It would not be incorrect to say that online habits are mirrored from offline behaviour patterns.

A C-level executive of financial firm  would be an avid follower of CNBC shows, at the same time he would have moneycontrol.com, Economic Times, Financial Times bookmarked in his Smartphone browser.

This was a very simple example, a complex example would be an adventure travel enthusiast playing a strategy game on his smartphone.

With google, you can open your imagination around a world of possible keywords which your audience may look for.

As a digital brand planner, you must pass this intelligence to your media planning team as to what could be various categories of keywords in which your target segments may fall into.

This clearly is mapping of one’s offline habits into their possible online behaviour.

Digital Media planNING tO DRIVE FOOTFALLS

 

It is a tendency of most of the agencies to fall into the trap of offering digital only plan to their clients, which at times may not be the best idea. Especially for the retail which is arguably the largest spender across all ad-mediums, digital only strategy is pointless if it cannot generate sufficient footfalls in their brand outlets.

With smartphones pushing the technology boundaries, it is now possible for the planners to build a online to in-store marketing plan.

Here are some basic fundamentals and digital media planning tips that can help to make sales & ROI driven media plan for their retail client:

  • Understand & define the brand audience they would like to drive to the stores. Throwing communication is wide open & hoping for someone to catch it may not be the right strategy in this kind of plan.
  • Find the right digital channels where you could possibly reach out to these customers. Email + Social + Mobile Search would be the best combo for such marketing activity.
  • Use the map locator as the CTA for all your communication.
  • Make sure you put some coupon code everywhere so that you can track the effectiveness of the activity.
  • Drive leads and send them SMS alerts along with the google map locator link of the nearby store. This works like a charm for any brand and can drive super quick sales conversions on ground.

Successful SEO Strategy needs better Digital PR Strategy

Google’s recent focus on improving local search has not only given consumers more relevant results, it has also given small businesses more exposure to consumers in their neighbouring areas.

With local search gaining momentum, small businesses will now have a fighting chance to compete with the big boys, especially those conducting content marketing, as Google’s new search algorithm puts local search results over large enterprise brands.

Although Google is yet to give the new algorithm a name, Search Engine Land has dubbed it “Pigeon” – a reference to how pigeons always fly back home.

According to industry experts, Google’s upcoming changes are more focused towards making the search results mobile friendly as the traffic momentum is shifting towards smartphones & tablets ( read Forecast: Google To Lose $1.4B In PC Revs As Search Shifts To Mobile ) which means factors like locations & distance would now hold more value in the search result query. The algorithm is also closely tied to other features, such as Google’s Knowledge Graph.

At this stage it is difficult to determine the extent that this update will have on search results, but it is apparent across both Google Search and Google Maps. Other algorithmic updates such as Google Panda and Google Penguin, which were focused on improving the quality of content, have had huge impacts on search results.

For instance, the Google Panda 4.0 update that was rolled out earlier this year in May effected 7.5 per cent of all English search queries.

Small businesses wanting to make the most of these new changes need to prove to Google and online consumers that they are legitimate businesses with a good product or service, and one of the best ways to achieve this is by setting up a local publicity & content strategy.

Now the advantage with the Digital PR firms is that they have strong resources for creating quality content along with local audience insights that can offer them huge advantage over other digital solution providers when it comes to leveraging Google Search. Quality Digital PR content along with a focussed social media campaign & geo specific mobile search can do wonders for any small or medium size brand without causing a hole in their pocket.

Also read: Decoding Digital PR Strategy in India

Why you need a specialised Digital PR agency?

In the advertising & marketing communication world , this is one of the most commonly debated topic, does your brand really need a Digital PR company when they have a well established conventional PR agency? More often than not, the brand assumes that their current empaneled PR agency is capable of handling any contingency or marketing problem. But in today’s digital universe, that simply isn’t the case.

When it comes to the question of a digital PR agency versus a traditional PR agency, we know that digital agencies offer capabilities that are beyond the scope of firms that focus on a more traditional public relations approach.

Why you need a specialised Digital PR agency?

  • A digital PR agency is much better equipped to offer its clients reach across a range of online and offline sources. The content messaging they create is often customised to the need of modern socially active and upwardly mobile individual.
  • From online media placements to social media engagement, a digital PR agency delivers outcomes that extend beyond the limitations of a traditional PR firm.
  • Though both a digital PR agency and a traditional PR agency share the same communication objectives, i.e. to enhance their clients’ reputations and increase visibility among targeted audiences. The key difference however, is the way both of them approach a marketing problem. A digital PR company would always think of creating multiple manifestations of the marketing communication which can be leveraged across different content channels and a range of consumer devices.
  • Compared to a traditional PR agency, a digital PR agency has a lot more channels in its toolbox. Although many digital agencies also handle traditional media placements, they have the ability to leverage websites, blogs and other online placements to deliver real-time messages across an increasingly sophisticated array of global, web-based channels.
  • Traditional PR is often a one-way conversation in which the brand presents key messages for consumption by core audiences. But a digital PR agency specialises in creating two-way conversations and authentic dialogue with audiences, generating exciting opportunities for brand interaction and customer engagement.

Given the state of technology, most public relations firms are eager to brand themselves as digital. But there are several core capabilities that only a digital PR agency can bring to your business.

  1. SEO. A quality digital PR agency would always think of various ways in which it can optimise your marketing content to get better search rankings.
  2. Content. A digital PR agency would always look at content in terms of bringing not just advertising value & eye balls but building powerful thought leadership messages from it.
  3. Social. Having a specialised digital PR company would allow you to bring better social experience of your marketing idea. They can cross leverage the same marketing thought across multiple social channels and deliver a much better return on investment for your brand.

Digital Marketing Strategy for Accounting Firms

We all know Accounting is a serious business. Chartered accounting firms can make a huge impact in anyone’s business not just by managing their books efficiently but also by offering brilliant tax & finance related advice to the business owners & decision makers. But the challenge of finding newer clients & growing one’s business is an uphill task for any small firm or individual.

Continue reading

Digital Agency vs Digital PR Agency

Digital PR agencies are in the business of creating content for a long time through which they can offer lot more value to the brand in a socially dominated digital ecosystem.

As a matter of fact, PR is perhaps much better placed compared to any other player to build digital brands as they are closest to the process of influencing audiences.

Public relations companies could well change how social media is looked at in 2015. Considering digital is the core focus of all offline content providers & news publications, PR can play a huge role as the content curator for their respective clients and help them in monitor & eventually dominate social media landscape.

Is ad free internet a good thing?

So who doesn’t like an Ad free internet world? I am sure you would simply love that banner free environment in your mobile, or that billboard free road, or the commercial free programming feed on your 40 inch Plasma? It is truly fascinating to think about a world which is devoid of Advertising. The issue however is surely debatable in a larger context. I really loved some of the points mentioned by the author of this article, the most critical was mentioned towards the end i.e. Lack of Advertising can trigger a social disturbance because these ads are kind of navigation points that help us make rational ( sometime irrational ) decisions about the world around us.

Someone may argue that we were doing well even before advertising came into existence, people (and I mean humans) were transacting for a long time in the history, and it was entirely on the word of mouth, to which an adman would counter argue that the world was doing well before chronic consumerism hit our shores, and now since we have this consumerism at its peak (and climbing new heights), we would need a tool like advertising to help us navigate our way out of this madness. It (advertising) is our only chance to make a choice, and in this case the choice is not between a red or blue pill only, there is a purple, orange, green and many more pills to choose from.
The choices have become increasingly complex, not just because there is too much advertising but also because there are too many products. It is almost like the age old debate of chicken vs egg, whether advertising opened the floodgates for consumerism or vice-versa. In either of the cases, advertising has opened the doors into a parallel world within human consciousness. The ad-world is planting or rather incepting ideas & thoughts into our heads which is defining who we are. You may even look at it as a detour in the human evolution but now it is very much an integral part of our collective social experience.
Coming back to the point of whether ads are intrusive in our day to day living experience & I would actually like to be neutral in my reply here, there is no doubt that we all get bugged by these adverts every now & then, especially now when the world has gone digital & nobody wishes to spoil their experience on their personal devices like smartphones or tablets but there are few equally critical sides which cannot be ignored:
  • Commercial viability of the content / product consumed. Consumer cannot expect the content to reach them free of cost all the time. Even if it is user generated content, the very platform on which it is getting served has cost overheads & needs to
  • The benefits of having an informed consumer.
  • Making shopping an engaging social experience which opens up various new dimensions in human behavior.
  • Fear of void due to socio-political-cultural instability which needs a balm like advertising to bring some positive energy around us.

I am sure there are many more points that can be added to the above debate but for now I am signing out in order to let you contemplate about it a bit deeper.