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A new chapter in content marketing strategy for professionals

20/12/2014

The internet is abuzz with content marketing. It seems to be the flavor of the day and justifiably so. However, most of this discussion is around how to make your content go viral. What will catch the attention of the viewers? What will get tweeted by thousands and what will get most Facebook likes?

Need less to say that these strategies end up recommending the content that is eye-catching and with some funny or clever tag lines. The picture of a laughing cat or a video of some one acting silly while may bring million of of eye balls, it hardly brings the right kind of audiences for an expert who wishes to develop his/her credibility in a given discipline.

These strategies are great if you are selling milk or latest fashion items or or or…this style is highly questionable when it comes to promoting a professional image of an individual or an organization.

So, what is it that a professional seeks from the marketing perspective…

1. Establish one’s reputation in the chosen field as an expert
2. Grow the professional network
3. Engage people who may eventually become potential clients or business/professional partners

The kim kardashian style breaking the internet hardly helps you with above goals unless you happen to be in modeling/acting or related fields where overall popularity matters.

So, what can a professional do?

Historically, professionals/experts have focused on blogging, occasionally publishing a presentation and writing books including ebooks. The latest craze is about publishing on social media like Linkedin an information nugget or infographics.

While this may suffice for many, especially with high degree of activity on social media, it is hardly sufficient to maintain and grow your professional reputation at large. The time commitment, and the cost, could be prohibitive for many. After all you can tweet only so much.

The eBooks are one of the exceptions. Once the time and cost commitment is made it helps in continuously enhancing your reputation with each new reader, growing network and even create a passive income stream. So, the natural curiosity leads to the question of what else is out there that has similar or even better characteristics.

Developing online courses at Classle offers one such opportunity. Growing number of experts and accomplished professionals are joining the elite group of online educators to share their life’s experiences and expertise with students and learners globally. They are building a community of like minded people, interacting with them, and growing their reach beyond geographical boundaries. All this while generating a substantial passive income.

I believe that 2015 is the year where we add a new chapter in the book of content marketing for professionals and experts with online courses.

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What is my social media strategy for 2015

6/12/2014

The last few cocktail parties, friends and strangers alike have been asking me, repeatedly I must say, about my social media strategy for 2015. Both, for me personally and for all the businesses (O’Leche and Classle) that I am involved in. By the 4th enquiry I was really wondering, “Is it something like a new year’s resolution that I am suppose to have?” I had not given it a thought.

So, has the social media landscape really changed all that much in 2014? Is there some new social network or platform that I must pay attention to? Or is something like Y2K problem that manifests on 2014 new year’s eve. I, none the less, decided to write it down as I am sure in next cocktail party some one will ask again.

Here it is…

Create better content – When I go back and read old blog posts or look at the presentations I am left with the feeling that we could have done a better job. Whether it was to explain a topic, grammar, visuals or lack there of or myriad of other reasons, the content produced could have been better.

Explore more content types – I have always felt comfortable with slides. May be it is due to my management consulting background. It’s time, I need to go beyond blog posts, pictures and slides. The next thing in my list are videos and creating a course and may be some infographics.

Be consistent – In past I have either been too involved or simply disappeared for an extended period of time. This breaks the flow and I end up doing more damage than good. So, I am building a schedule (twitter especially) and sticking to it.

Explore the less travelled paths – Frankly, same old same old is getting a bit boring. There are a lots of smaller, niche social media sites and mobile apps. It’s time to make new friends and grow the circle.

Go old fashion being social – I see a direct correlation between my offline activities (startups, travels, parties, hobbies…) and the size and quality of my network. So, I am planning to turn off my iPhone and be more involved in real life next year.

That’s it. As the Panda would say, “There is no secret magical sauce!”

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How to enhance the employee engagement – a case study

24/11/2014

In a recent Gallup survey worldwide only 13% of employees are engaged at work. Need less to say that it directly affects the bottom line in terms of lost productivity. That by some estimation is $450-500  billion annually for US alone. To me this number sounds high but even if we cut it in half it is still big.

So, how does an organization deal with the employee engagement challenge? The engagement issue spans across educational, geographical, gender and age boundaries implying that there has to be a missing common thread. While, I do not proclaim to be an employee engagement expert would like to share one of our project in IT industry that may shed some light on this issue.

The situation

A market leading IT services company that operates in multiple countries. To manage the growth and growing business they need to hire a large number of students straight from the college at a substantial recruiting cost. The lead time between making the offer to joining is 6-12 months. What they found that in spite of a good offer many of the recruits simply did not join the firm leading to an escalating recruitment cost and management bandwidth.

The strategy

We decided to increase the level of engagement with potential recruits with Classle’s cloud campus solution. The recruits were offered free online courses which were led by the senior employees. A learning based community was created that actively did the IT projects in small teams, shared content and learning and much more.

The result

Number of recruits who did not join dropped by 20-30% depending upon the college and semester. Even more, the recruits who joined were much better skilled and had a high degree of brand awareness and loyalty that helped in future recruitment drives.

Why can’t we extend the similar concept to existing employees. I believe that the shared learning experience not only enhances the employees skill set but also increases the engagement.

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Detergent in milk. Really?

23/01/2014

I have heard of mixing water in the milk but detergent! It’s a real low.

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India’s mass market milk supply chain

29/10/2013

First of all, I am a fan of India’s milk supply chain. And what is there not to like. Consider…

  • Production: Thousands of farmers with 1-2 cows or buffaloes across thousand of villages manage the animals, feed them and supply milk to local cooperative in few hours. The milk is a mix of what ever animal the farmer has – cows or buffaloes.
  • In-bound supply chain: Milk is collected in large containers and shipped to processing units in a matter of few (2 to 10+) hours depending on the distances
  • Preparation of milk: All the collected milk is mixed, broken down into its constituent part like fat and water, reconstituted to exact specifications like fat percentage, pasteurized, and packed into poly-packs or more expensive tetra-packs.
  • Out-bound supply chain: send to retail stores to be sold to customers

While it may lack the distinct quality of pure milk it is an efficient model for the mass market needs of the country. It provides employment to a large number of people while supplying a decent quality milk across the nation at a good price point. Something, which has been largely missing in other agricultural products like Onions.

 

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Inventory glut at mid-size manufacturers in India

26/10/2013

Last few months, I had an opportunity to visit around 15-20 mostly medium sized manufacturers of variety of products around Delhi/NCR region. Not all related to dairy and milk supply chain but across the board. It was disheartening to see the mountains of inventory everywhere especially of the finished products.

The owners clearly understood the financial and operational strain that high inventory levels puts on their company. They, however, did not understand enough of the supply chain management to deal with the problem. The usual blame game –  fickle clients, changing products, unstable markets, unreliable labors – was the norm.

The issues over and over appear to be:

  1. Poor understanding of the market demand. These companies either did not have a forecasting process or if they did it was merely the rubber stamping of the owner’s wishes. The best of the bunch derived its forecast from the desired financial targets of the company.
  2. Lack of production planning. In most places it was driven by two factors. The priority was given to a customer order at hand and then not to leave a machine idle. If that means producing something or anything, they just did it. Guess where all that unwarranted production goes to.
  3. Product packaging. Rarely a thought was given to what product packaging variation (think 6 vs 12 in a box) they should consider. Multiple packs of different designs and quantity were every where.
  4. Crazy inventory policies. In one case they simply kept 90 days of inventory of all products at all locations including at their dealers. There were too many of these types of weird policies.
  5. Complete lack of distribution planning. It was more of get a truck at the best possible rate or from a friend/relative. Multiple shipments, lack of geographical consolidation, less than a truck load (LTL), rushed shipments etc. were routine practices.

These manufacturers were big enough to put together simple but effective supply chain policies. May be even start automating some of the processes even if it’s just a spreadsheet model.

I think that there is a market for an integrated supply chain system that is easy to use and cost-effective for small to medium size manufacturers in India. A training of key decision makers in fundamentals of supply chain management could also go a long way in solving the inventory and other related issues.

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