Wednesday, November 17, 2010

No Money Marketing, From the Horse's Mouth

I have been always been in awe of Nikhila Kesavan. In addition to being one of the most talented theater personalities in Chennai and probably in India, she is also a successful PR professional and an ex-colleague. Nikhila is a perfectionist. Despite the fact that she was my junior, I would get jitters every time she reviewed a document that I created. She would rip it apart, highlight how pathetic my grammar was and how poor my sentence formations were. The other person who scares me equally is my wife. I am beginning to firmly believe that grammar is a girl-thing!

Back then, Nikhila and I were servicing Lason India, a leading BPO player in Chennai/India. They had a network of business associates, an innovative operations model. We were briefed that the business associate model had been taken to the next level and that Lason had set up what was probably the first BPO center in a village! Rural BPO! Though I initially suggested that we do a small press brief in Chennai, I changed it to a press junket to the obscure village in Thiruvallur District, at the last minute.

Being the person she was, Nikhila swelled with anger. She had already started working on the press meet in Chennai and now she had to start from scratch to organize the logistics for a larger event. But more importantly she was upset that we were not sticking to the initial plan. She demanded to know why the plan was being changed. And I didn't have an answer. It was a gut feel.

Thankfully, the event was a big success.

I couldn't articulate why I changed the plan. It was certainly based on the experience and understanding of what would or wouldn't work. 

Now that leads us to No Money Marketing by Jessie Paul. A veteran marketing professional who has worked with the leading software services companies in India (Infosys and Wipro) and played an important role in building the brand that they are today, she has no such articulation issues.

Also, I realize that there are two kinds of writers/authors. One who are academicians who research and look at the big picture. They give guidance with their theories and support it with observations. And then, there are those like Jessie who are doer-authors. No Money Marketing is like a ready reckoner. Read it, roll up your sleeves and get to work. The book is unpretentious and doesn't test your patience by giving models that are great to read but difficult to utilize. But it does have models that can be easily digested and provides a great framework to develop marketing campaigns. There are nuggets of wisdom which provide excellent cue to marketers who always work on a diet-budget.

This book is a must read for marketing professionals in the technology industry, especially those in the software services space. The challenge for players in this space is that most of them are Me-Too. Last time I checked the Nasscom member's list in 2007, there were more than 1000 software services company. The glory story is limited to the top 50 or 100. For the rest in that list, it is a tall order.

I liked two lessons, in particular:

  1. As I said, Jessie is a doer-author. This book is full of practical inputs for a marketer who wants quick solutions. But what is more important is that before she presents the ideas, she sets the context. First few chapters are dedicated completely for self assessment. While the tools and ideas are common, Jessie urges every company to self introspect and develop a strong unique story. She in fact provides many examples and thoughts on how it could be done.  
  2. The avenues for brand building. The chapter on Core Branding versus Surround Branding is very important. For many software services company India is not a market but they certainly do lot of brand building activities, here. While it may not directly bring in business but it does help in recruiting and retaining the talent. And of course, in a flat world, a term you will find Jessie has used just too often in the book, there is always a spillover.
As a professional who has practiced a few of the ideas and other times observed being practiced, I think this book is the ultimate guide for marketers in software services industry. A book that CEO of every software services company, especially the small and medium sized who do not have a differentiated offering and work on frugal budgets, must read. And if you need more help, there is always Paul Writer.

No comments: