Digital Case Study – eCommerce – Faballey wants you to #unfollow

For the past few days, Fab Alley’s viral commercial by NewYork based standup comedian Radhika Vaiz has created enough storm in the advertising & marketing corridors. In the film, Vaz talks about women and their struggle to conform to fashion trends.

For an ad of such boldness, it was obvious to attract the attention from everything. Since the day it is launched, the ad has gone viral & has already touched around 200,000 hits on Faballey’s youtube channel.


The views that are coming from the industry experts are mixed. While few strategists see this as a huge risk taken by the brand which may backfire due to some gaps in its execution.

Expert’s opinion about #unfollow

In one of the interviews given to afaqs.com, advertising veteran Prathap Suthan’s from banginthemiddle said:

He fears that the brand has fired all its guns at the same time by showing a very niche professional, who is an older, unconventional, and atypical model, speaking a language that’s way ahead of daily speak, and not wearing anything at all.

There is no doubt that Radhika’s ‘bare it all’ act has delivered a huge shock value and it also carries enough arsenal to shake up the cluttered e-commerce ad space which is largely restricted to daily deals & coupons. But by using this bold script, Jack In The Box team may have caused a severe harm to Faballey’s positioning by alienating a sizable chunk of women audience.

The stand up script used by Radhika in the controversial video ‘WHAT THE F**K SHOULD I WEAR?’ is too difficult to follow for an average person. Needless to say that the humor is way too above the sensibilities of a large section of indian population.

Here’s what Eshita Jayaswal from Webchutney has to say about the campaign on twitter:

But she also made a very interesting comment on the topic that shows the irony within the Fab Alley’s brand messaging and I quote:

‘While the brand asks one to ‘unfollow’ it continues to have segments like “Trends”, “Lookbook” and “New In”. If FabAlley wants to break category clutter with such powerful communication, it needs to walk the talk and break away from the typical ecommerce/retail nomenclature that has become a norm in this space.’

Fab Alley has made a bold attempt to create some breathing space in a world dominated by Shoppers Stop, Myntra & Jabong.com of the world.

CEO’s view

While the entire advertising seems to be warming up to the viral, Tanvi Malik, co-founder Faballey.com is in no mood to go defensive about their strategy. In her interview with afaqs.com, she made it absolutely clear that  her brand is here to cause some serious disruption in the thinking of women as to how they can liberate themselves from the shackles of people’s perception & judgements.

‘FabAlley wants to be an empowering, feminist brand. We do not want to operate in the shallow, trend-oriented space’ ~ Tanvi Malik, Co-Founder – Faballey.com

Click here to read the entire interview with Tanvi Malik.

Older, Angrier, Hairier, Unladylike Radhika Vaz

By no means you can call her a girl next door because she is not. Born in Mumbai, Radhika Vaz moved to New York and realized she wanted to be a stand-up comedian. Her humor can be a little uncomfortable for many as the F-word is sitting on the edge of her tongue. In one of her interview given to the Times of India, she responded about her un-womanlike mannerisms & personality by saying,

‘I am barely a woman’

I went through her twitter page, and some of her tweets are real fun to read 🙂    

Being a feminist, Radhika wholeheartedly endorses Faballey’s views about the liberty of expression when it comes to women fashion (it is quite visible in her stand up act too). She is actively promoting the brand through her social pages and in the media. No doubt, having a multi-dimensional personality who is a writer, feminist and a stand up comedian is a great advantage for any women fashion brand.

Social Media Response

The video viral campaign had every recipe to trend on the twitter timelines, and so it did. Faballey’s #unfollow campaign has asked a lot of question to their audience and people (especially women are responding to it) with absolute nonchalance.

#unfollow campaign by faballey.com

The brand has created a separate hashtag #BeAnUnfollower to capture the moods around the #unfollow campaign and engage with their potential customers. They are also prompting the audience to liberate their views & come out of cliches related to their personal fashion. Create your own style statement by not following the herd mentality.

Here are some interesting tweets around #BeAnUnfollower campaign:

My view

I think strategically, innovative tools around fashion discovery or curated fashion will create newer opportunities for e-commerce companies in 2015. To say that boldness never pays in India would be a myopic point of view. Definitely a pat on the back for the Jack In The Box team to break the cliche advertising followed by most of the digital agencies. This may just prompt a lot of retail brands to re-look at their current content strategy. However, using nudity for shock value may just be a little too much for a newer brand like faballey.com.

How to hire for bootstrapped digital startup?

Hiring for bootstrapped startup is always difficult, especially when you are building your prototype or incubating it using angel fund. A bootstrapped startup always goes through several challenges before they find the right people on board.

If you are one of those bootstrapped startup owners who is running or planning for his digital or tech startup, get ready to face the pain of your lifetime in finding the right set of people for your company.

And the below graphic would be sufficient to demotivate you further:

20 reasons startups fail

According to the above research by CB Insights, 23% of the bootstrapped startups shut down because they could not find the right team. So don’t worry, you are not alone in this pursuit.

With limited funds, poor office space (sometime no office space), lack of technology infrastructure (forget about the Macs, people would be lucky to get some decent Windows PC configuration), and absolutely no brand name, you just don’t have any negotiating or attractive proposition.

Also read: RIP Reports – Worldwide Failed startup trends

But like Friedrich Nietzsche has rightly said,

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

Here are some suggestions ( I won’t call them tips), which I’ve figured out after working & consulting with different stage startups in my career:

Stop hiring people like yourself

One of the common aspect of most of the early stage startups, is that the founders have very limited or no experience in hiring in their career. Result? They end up hiring resources like themselves so that they feel most comfortable. Eventually, they end up building a team with similar shades of skills. Most of these resources join because of fancy designations offered by the founders.

Remember that you need people who are “go go go” types with 100-percent drive, and also people who are meticulous, detail-oriented and know how to create solid internal processes.

Stop looking for ‘only’ MBA’s or ‘only premier institutes’ candidates

MBAs bring a lot of value on the table for any early stage startup, there is no doubt about that. Polished communications, problem solving skills, fresh ideas etc. But over obsessive nature towards hiring only MBA’s would make your life miserable and could lead to delays in product and brand build up strategy. Look for key skills without which you would not be able to take off your dream, instead of just MBA. For e.g., if you are hiring for a new digital media company, look for candidates who have worked as a media planner in any advertising agency or who have handled marketing operations for any brands.

Also read: Why I Don’t Advise Bootstrapped Startups to Hire M.B.A.s by Vivek Wadhwa

Hire people who make you do something crazy

Another challenge for a lot of younger startup CEOs is that they don’t necessarily have a large enough network from which to pull talent that they need. New founders will often hire friends, and there are pros and cons to that.

On the one hand, there’s a huge amount of loyalty, and you can pull in friends who are in it to win it, and who back you 100-percent. On the flip-side, they might not fall into the normal lines of authority, or you could just end up with yes men who agree to things, even if the ideas are ridiculous. The key is to hire people who will tell you that you’re doing something crazy.

Here’s a must watch video on Bootstrapped Startup hiring strategy:

 

Digital Trends showing Mobile as de-facto for content consumption

In the past half a decade, various consumer & media researches have shown a downward trend for Digital Consumption on PC, and it is no longer a breaking news for the hardware manufacturers around the globe.

Mobile is de-facto for interactive content consumption

When it comes to digital consumption for content, Smartphones & Tablets have become the de-facto device for all audience segments and hence the most preferred platform of engagement for the advertisers. In terms of media consumption, tablets are perfect devices.

More portable than a laptop and yet larger than the minuscule screens of phones, tablets are easy on the eyes and allow you to really get immersed in the content while still being able to take on the go.

In the past 12 months, Millennial Media digital trend reports that the number of internet users grew by 4% to 201 million users. However, mobile-only users grew nine times faster during the same time period while desktop users decreased by 45%.

Here’s what Millennial Media found out:

There were few content categories that were consumed on Mobile Devices more than the Desktop Computers:

  • Streaming Radio: Mobile = 95% (79% smartphones and 16% tablets) and Desktop = 5%
  • Games: Mobile = 85% (79% smartphones and 6% tablets) and Desktop = 15%
  • Social Media: Mobile = 72% (61% smartphones and 11% tablets) and Desktop = 28%
  • Weather: Mobile = 70% (61% smartphones and 9% tablets) and Desktop = 31%
  • Retail: Mobile = 53% (39% smartphones and 14% tablets) and Desktop = 47%

Content Categories Consumed on Desktop Computers More than Mobile Devices:

  • News: Mobile = 45% (39% smartphones and 6% tablets) and Desktop = 55%
  • Sports: Mobile = 44% (38% smartphones and 6% tablets) and Desktop = 56%
  • Food: Mobile = 42% (27% smartphones and 15% tablets) and Desktop = 58%
  • Business/Finance: Mobile = 38% (36% smartphones and 2% tablets) and Desktop = 62%
  • TV: Mobile = 33% (22% smartphones and 11% tablets) and Desktop = 67%
  • Travel: Mobile = 32% (21% smartphones and 11% tablets) and Desktop = 68%
  • Auto: Mobile = 24% (19% smartphones and 5% tablets) and Desktop = 76%
  • B2B: Mobile = 20% (12% smartphones and 8% tablets) and Desktop = 80%

Content Categories Consumed Equally on Mobile Devices and Desktop Computers:

  • Health: Mobile = 50% (45% smartphones and 5% tablets) and Desktop = 50%

Digital Trends : App consumption versus mobile web

  • Time spent consuming content on mobile devices is overwhelmingly huge through mobile apps, according to comScore data.

According to Mediabriefing:

2014 was the first year in which more time online was spent in mobile apps than on desktops, and mobile web barely got a look-in. That’s not the case for news consumption, but publishers should take note of those proportions are underscored by an increase in the time spent in-app for news applications, which analysts Localytics showed rose 14 percent over the past year.

While mobile responsive websites are likely to remain a priority for publishers, people are increasingly choosing to consume news in-app on their mobile devices, more and more publishers would be looking to  build their native app in 2015.

Popular categories in Apps belong to leading news content publishers

According to statista, business, lifestyle and entertainment categories are in the top app categories of 2014. If you are a Television Producer or a Programming head of any popular TV Channel, you have every reason to go ecstatic seeing the possibilities that Smartphones & Tablet can offer.

What this also meant is that content producers can no longer create & distribute their content from a myopic standpoint as it is now being viewed across multiple devices.

Mobile doing better than Tablets in e-commerce conversions

According to recent report on Marketing Land:

Device trends held steady, with mobile devices (tablets and smartphones) accounting for 42 percent of traffic and PCs driving 58 percent of shopping traffic. Smartphones continued to lead tablets, driving 24 percent of traffic compared to 18 percent for tablets.

PCs accounted for 73 percent of orders in week two of December, tablets drove 12 percent and smartphones drove 15 percent of orders.

Digital Trends : Publisher priorities in 2015

Recently, Jeff Jarvis pointed out we’re all mobile now, since the ubiquity and interconnectivity of tech means we’re essentially always connected to the internet and whatever information we need. He argues this means publishers need to focus less on delivering content tailored to individual platforms and more on the context (location, time etc.) of its audience at a given time.

All these stats point in the same direction, with tablets on the rise, consumer is shouting out loud to the media companies & brands to create responsive web experience & highly engaging content that is available across devices.

‘Social Media phase of the internet’ has ended long ago | Opinion

In his closing comments of 2014, leading New York City-based venture capitalist and blogger Fred Wilson says “the social media phase of the Internet ended” in 2014.

A lot of us would dismiss this statement immediately. And why not? After all there are 1.8 billion internet users who are accessing various social networks. But despite such a mammoth ecosystem, social is losing its sheen continuously.

In his blog article, Wilson thinks messaging and mobile have moved into the enterprise in a big way in 2014. What is also interesting to note, Social is continuously losing VC’s attention in their investment radar.

According to Carmel DeAmicis, Facebook’s IPO was a bust, the market has gotten saturated, and there’s perpetual questions over mobile monetization of social platforms.

The market has gotten saturated, some people are tired of social, and there’s a cultural pushback ranging from mocking social media job titles to compiling lists of how social is ruining your life. How many networks can a person possibly join?

Here is Wilson’s complete list of what happened in 2014:

1/ the social media phase of the Internet ended. this may have happened a few years ago actually but i felt it strongly this year. entrepreneurs and developers still build social applications. we still use them. but there isn’t much innovation here anymore. the big platforms are mature. their place is secure.

2/ messaging is the new social media. this may be part of what is going on in 1/. families use whatsapp groups instead of facebook. kids use snapchat instead of instagram. facebook’s acquisition of whatsapp in february of this year was the transaction that defined this trend.

3/ the “sharing economy” was outed as the “rental economy.” nobody is sharing anything. people are making money, plain and simple. technology has made renting things (even in real time) as simple as it made buying things a decade ago. Uber and Airbnb are the big winners in this category but there are and will be others.

4/ the capital markets have moved to the internet. we call it crowdfunding but what is really going on is raising money is a great application of a global platform that connects billions of people in real time. i don’t know the total amount of capital that was raised on the internet across all sectors (equity, debt, creative projects, charity, helping a person in need, real estate, energy, etc, etc) in 2014 but i am sure it is in the tens of billions.

5/ mobile OS has become a stable duopoly around the world. but android is splintering into google android and non google android and that may lead to new large players. 2014 was a big coming out party for xiaomi. if and when they come to the US, things will get interesting. they are the new (and better) samsung.

6/ mobile and messaging has started to impact the enterprise. slack is the poster boy for this trend in 2014.

7/ youtube became a monster. it always has been. but in 2014 youtube emerged as the place for entertainment consumption for anyone under 16. and these youngsters are going to grow up quickly. watching The Interview on YouTube was a fitting end to an amazing year for the king (and queen and joker too) of Internet video.

8/ we finally got rid of files. dropbox, google drive, soundcloud, spotify, netflix, hbogo, youtube, wattpad, kindle, and a host of other cloud based services finally killed off three letter filenames like mp3, mov, doc and xls. spending a week in the caribbean with young adults and bad internet was the tell on this one for me. they don’t even have mp3s on their iphones anymore!

9/ the net neutrality debate emerged as a national political issue with Obama’s endorsement of Title II regulation of the last mile of the internet. it is unclear how this issue will resolve itself but the public has spoken loudly and clearly and politicians understand that the internet needs to remain open for innovation and we can’t let the monopoly carriers and cable companies mess that up.

10/ cyber warfare, cybercrime, cyber hacking, and cybersecurity was by far the dominant theme of 2014. if anyone had their head in the sand on this one before this year, they don’t anymore. this is our new normal. the US takedown of North Korea’s internet last week, and the state department official’s comment that “i guess accidents can happen” is a moment to remember as we head out of 2014 and into our future.

How to handle angry clients in a digital agency?

One of the key reasons why clients hate modern day digital agency is due to poor quality customer servicing.

Very seldom you would find a digital agency who has a strong account management team at their disposal. Not that they are ignorant about the importance of an account manager, but sometimes they just choose to ignore it.

In my personal experience, most of the business I’ve won or retained is due to the quality of servicing I provided to my client at each and every stage of their business.

A powerful account manager can literally become the match winner for any business. He can navigate the client’s business out of rough waters and most importantly become a powerful bridge between the agency and the client.

One thing which most of the agencies forget is that Advertising is part of service industry and your service quality is the only differentiator between you and your next door competitor who is anxiously waiting for you to fuck up. Even the best of the agencies can’t take their business for granted.

There is no doubt that to handle angry clients is an art. I myself have gone through hundreds of tough client calls & meetings where things could have gone out of control within a matter of minutes but I kept my patience and came out victorious.

Vendors (ad agencies) cannot afford to allow client servicing team sit on the back seat forever. Client servicing needs to take the driver’s seat right away without much delay. A client servicing strategy for any agency or publisher means nothing but a customer focused strategy. The time has come when each business owners must re-look at their business priorities.

It is important to first acknowledge the fact that you are not just in the technology business or agency business or content business but you are in servicing business.

After all these years, I firmly belief that not just the digital agency but any business lose their clients due to poor account management.

 

 

5 digital marketing tips for every business

As the new year approaches each year, many of us start thinking of resolutions. It can actually feel uplifting to begin a new plan such as joining a gym to get fit, writing one page a day for the next bestseller novel, or more prosaically, keeping up with your inbox.

I am sure some of you also make resolutions in your careers & business as well and hopefully by now you might have seen hundreds of these lists, most of which are little difficult to implement or follow in your daily routine.

Here are five simple digital marketing tips that you can follow, without too much added cost or inconvenience, that will nevertheless make a big, positive difference:

  1. Focus on your loyal customers in your social media campaigns. Nothing is more important than making your past & present customers feel special. They are your biggest ally in the war against your competition. So create a separate content plan around your loyal fans. Taking the time to do this will only boost your customer loyalty, though. Schedule just a few minutes each week to check comments and social media posts and to offer a quick response.
  2. Develop your mobile first strategy & marketing plan for all your campaigns. Keep a note of your major product launches and brief your mobile vendors in advance. Make sure all your landing pages are responsive and the content looks super sexy on all devices.
  3. Spend resources & energy in building your Digital Intelligence (big data) and not just analytics. If you are planning to shift more spends into digital marketing, make sure you allocate a part of that money towards capturing & monitoring your customer & audience behavioural data.
  4. Whether you are a B2B or B2C brand, create a comprehensive content calendar in advance. Build themes around major shopping seasons, events, festivals, holidays etc. if your customer is direct consumer. If you are a B2B brand, create your content calendar around your brand & product campaigns, major PR initiatives, corporate events etc.
  5. Make your social marketing plan focus more towards engaging with bloggers & communities and not just your own Twitter & Facebook pages. It is difficult to find these bloggers and communities, but that’s where you would get your loyal customers from and it is absolutely vital for the organic traffic on your website.

Increase online sales in 4 easy steps

One of the toughest tasks for any digital publishing or media company is to increase their online sales year on year. Technology has changed the way media business sells its offering to its potential clients. Gone are the days when your brand name was more than enough to achieve your online sales targets.
CMOs have become way too tech savvy now which puts the conventional, charming, cold-calling sales & BD specialist in a tight spot.
Lets face it, you cannot fool the client over few pints of beer or cups of coffee (well, not every time at least 🙂 ). The usual charm tactics of old days can take you only so far ahead.

An online sales person’s biggest battle is to find out, what does the client really wants?

Here is a simple sales checklist that would help your sales team step into the brand manager’s shoes, and eventually increase online sales:

Building Accountability

Let me re-phrase this from pre-sales standpoint, it actually means “Intent”. If your proposition offers a bland promise of delivering x no of impressions, y% click-thru & z% conversions, Reach/ SOV etc. etc., it will not get the marketing teams excited because 99.9% proposals have the same offering.

At times it is advisable to follow the rule book, just to be on the safe side. But, in order to shine in the heap, you need to build & highlight the accountability metrics in the form of showing Intent towards achieving all marketing objectives stated in the RFP brief document. Your pre-sales efforts should be to make the client believe, that all your efforts are clinically focused towards delivering a strong value to the brand.

Relevant Experience

Lets just say, nobody wishes to put their marketing dollars in the hands of a layman. It is normal human behaviour to reduce the risk by following/doing something which is tried & tested. Today, when client has so many options, they always want to opt for the safest option first that can deliver the results. No wonder brands like Google are the biggest beneficiary of that mindset. Hence, it is highly recommended to showcase your strengths in the respective category and even if you do not have any past experience in that domain, you must demonstrate it visually through some past case study as to how you delivered those metrics for some other brand.

Knowing the Customer

Get this thing in your head, every client wants you to come prepared with your research on the basic target audience of the brand. They want you to know, not just the nuances about your own product but also the basic elements of audience segmentation. In the world of media, marketeers are paying millions of dollars, just to interact with the right audience, hence it is absolutely vital for them to know if you have a clear understanding about their market. During your Pre sales research about any prospect(brand), make sure you have created a ready to use guide about the client for reference purposes. This would include the most basic level information about the brand i.e. their core target audience, list of products, info about their most recent ATL, BTL, Online, Mobile, Social Brand/ tactical campaigns along with any other company information/development. You never know when it would come to your rescue during the marathon client meetings.

Technically Yours

If you are selling a perfume, you can glorify its fragrance only if you understand the sense of smell. I guess Technology is no different, your words would mean nothing unless you demonstrate your love and passion towards technology through Technology.

Your Sales team members should not just be knowing about the product, they should believe in their product and should be perceived as ad-tech specialists by one and all. Remember, they are your true brand custodians at all times.