Category: Work

Monday Reads – 13/01

my-life-journal-unsplashPhoto Credit   My Life Journal

In which I list down articles that can help us in our daily lives…

Beat the clock: how you can save two hours a day – It’s interesting to see the increase in articles these days that speak about how to reduce time wasters and focus on one’s priorities. This article has an interesting suggestion for how one could actually put this theory to practice. In this article, author Marie Forleo, suggests that one should aim to free up two hours a day by first understanding where one’s time is presently being spent. It might sound tough, but there are some useful tips on how one can achieve this.

The Mental Health Benefits of Having a Daily Routine – This might seem counter to the popular notion these days that flexibility is one of the key requirements for success. But I strongly believe that having a daily routine can be a powerful tool to help us achieve our goals. In addition to providing an anchor in this fast changing world, it can help reduce stress and help us sleep better. Interestingly, both this and the earlier article emphasises the importance of developing a good food habit as well.

The morning routines of successful people – I am a morning person, and, naturally, this article appealed to me. While developing your own routine, pay close attention to what your morning looks like.

In the Beginning, Anything is Possible – So, if all of the above articles have helped you decide that you need to make a change, and you are wondering where to start, then this excellent article might just be your best starting point.


Ring in the New!

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

As we begin a new year (and possibly a new decade!), here’s a brief look back at what 2019 had to offer:

Visit places, new and old – While we did not do as much traveling as I would have liked (:-)), I still managed to see quite a few new places – Pench, Shivanasamudram, Talakadu and Annamalai Tiger Reserve – while revisiting some places I had last been over a decade ago – B.R. Hills and Ahmedabad. Most of all, I enjoyed spending a couple of weeks in my hometown, Mumbai, showing my kids some of the landmarks of this unique city.

Bird-watching – I have been watching birds for well over 35 years now, and this year was a good one. Highlights include observing over 90 species over 4 days at Pench, spotting ‘lifers’ at Ahmedabad and Attakatty, and reconnecting with my old bird-watching group in Bangalore. I ended the year with my e-bird checklist showing 163 (with 149 in 2019 alone).

Healthy lifestyle – While my journey to a healthier lifestyle started in 2018, I managed to stay focused on this in 2019. I have tried to make healthy eating, exercise and yoga a part of my daily life and do feel that it’s been beneficial.

Teaching – Again, while 2018 was the year I started teaching, I was lucky to have more opportunities to teach in 2019. This also enabled me to revisit Ahmedabad and the IIM-A campus.

Consulting – 2019 was the year when I expanded my consulting business. I was lucky to work with some exciting brands and great founders.

Writing – I started consciously focusing on writing in the second half of the year. It is something that I have been wanting to do for a while now, so I am glad I finally gave it serious attention.

Reconnecting with friends – I was fortunate to meet and reconnect with a lot of friends in 2019, from my student to working days. This will definitely be one of the highlights of the year.

Spending time with my kids – My kids are growing up fast, and I have been extremely fortunate to have spent some good quality time with them this year. And I am very grateful for that.

So as I look forward, on this first day of the new year, I hope to be able to do more of each of the above.

Here’s wishing everyone a very happy 2020!

Monday Reads – 30/12

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As we near the end of 2019, and look forward to what 2020 holds, here are some websites / newsletters that I found particularly helpful and insightful over the past 12 months and that I will continue to reflect on in the next year as well:

The Minimalists – I am sure that, by now, minimalism is a fairly well-understood concept / philosophy thanks, in no small means, due to the popularity of Marie Kondo. I came across this website by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus while reading more about minimalism and have subscribed to their newsletter. While I admit that it’s not easy to adopt completely, I try to keep the mantras of ‘less is more’ and ‘throw away what you do not need’ front and centre while going about my daily life.

Farnam Street – The aim of this blog by Shane Parrish is very simple – ‘Understand how the world works’. And his weekly newsletter is possibly one of the most useful ones I receive.

Nutrition Science – I have written a few articles on healthy eating. I attended a workshop conducted by Dr. Achyuthan Easwar in 2018 and have been consciously trying to apply the principles to my diet. I believe it has helped me tremendously.

Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik – I have been following Avinash’s blog for a while now and it continues to be one of the most insightful Digital Analytics blog out there. A must read for any Digital Marketer.

Happy 2020!

Digital Marketing is not just Social Media

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Photo by Startup Stock Photos on

A couple of things prompted me to write this article. One was an article I came across on LinkedIn on this topic. The other was a commend made by one of the participants in the Digital Marketing course that I take at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), Bangalore.

There is a tendency nowadays to equate Digital Marketing with Social Media. Sure, a lot of users spend a fair bit of time on Social Media. And there could be products and services where it makes a lot of sense to spend a majority of your marketing efforts on Social. But this might not be the case for many brands who might end up missing the forest for the trees by focusing too much attention and effort on Social Media.

The field of Digital Marketing is over two decades old and I have been fortunate to have been associated with this field for over 19 years now. During my professional career, I have been closely involved with multiple facets of digital marketing including website marketing, digital analytics, email marketing, banner advertising, search advertising, community engagement (the precursor to social media), search engine optimisation (SEO), app marketing and of course, social media.

A typical business would need many (if not all) of the above channels to be in play to drive a successful digital marketing programme. A good framework that can be used to understand these channels is the Paid, Owned, Earned Media (POE) framework.

Paid Owned Earned Media Framework

When I advise clients on Digital Marketing, the first step is typically to understand and define explicitly the Customer Value Proposition. This exercise, with the help of analytics and insights, usually forms the bedrock of the marketing strategy. It helps create a good understanding of the brand’s target market, the problem statements of their potential customers and the messaging strategy that can most effectively communicate how the brand can satisfy their needs.

Once this is in place, I usually advise my clients to be start on their Owned Media channels. These are assets that the brand owns and directly controls and is, in my opinion, the most important part of the media strategy. There is very little point in launching a Paid Media campaign unless your owned assets are not completely primed to communicate and deliver the value proposition and user experience that the customer expects.

A brand’s social media channels are also part of the Owned Media bucket. So, once the website is in a good shape, the focus can shift to the Content and social media channel strategy. At this stage, it is important to understand the specific role of social media (and other channels) within the target customer’s research and decision making process. This should dictate the choice of channel and content strategy.

The attention can then shift to the Earned media bucket. Assuming that a brand now has a good Owned media strategy, they should expect to have some engagement with their customers. This could be in the form of reviews, social media mentions and, of course, email / sms marketing. The brand should be in a position to engage with their customers on these channels in a timely and effective manner.

Finally, Paid Media. It is very tempting, especially if a brand has money to spend, to immediately launch Paid Media campaigns. In my experience, this can be highly sub-optimal unless the other two buckets are functioning effectively. Brands can fall into the trap of jumping to the conclusion that it is Paid Media that is not working efficiently when results do not go their way, without acknowledging or accepting that the fault might well be that they lack a strong Owned (and Earned) Media strategy, or indeed that they might be lacking a strong customer value proposition.

In conclusion, if you are looking for ways to ramp up your digital marketing, take the time to think through exactly what you are trying to achieve, have an integrated strategy across all channels and be prepared to continuously learn and make adjustments on the basis of actual performance data.


What’s your (Digital) Creative Strategy?

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Display advertising is a very difficult channel (strategy) to get right. There are a set of challenges that it faces (ad blockers, ad blindness, viewability, etc.). Even if your audience do get a chance to see the ad, it is very difficult to attribute the impact of seeing the ad on your business goals. Yes, we have View Through Impression tracking, but that frankly tells nothing.

Having said that, there are benefits as well. It allows a brand to reach users at the right place and context and can have a role to play in specific product categories (high lead times, multiple visits, high value).

Once you have decided that you want to run a display advertising campaign, there are a few elements you need to think carefully about – your audience targeting strategy, pricing / bidding strategy, measurement strategy and, very importantly, your creative strategy.

Simply putting up an attractive banner is not going to cut it anymore. The message has to be relevant to the user and communicating something of value. And this is where I felt that the below creative failed.

Display Banner

Yes, it was contextual, as I was served this banner on a travel related site. But I was left confused by what the banner was trying to communicate. To begin with, notice the price of the first flight. Rs. 45,000 for Delhi to Dharamshala? No, thanks! It looks like the banner has been dynamically created. If yes, then the advertiser should have put a rule in place to not display flights over a certain price.

Then notice the destinations mentioned – Chennai, Madurai, Bangalore, Jammu, Dehradun, Delhi, Dharamshala. In this day and age of data, the least an advertiser can do is to personalise their message as much as possible. In this instance, the advertiser could have leveraged IP to show me flights to and from my destination.

Finally, there is no mention of any reason as to why I should click on the banner. I do not wish to ‘Learn more’ about flights from random point A to random point B. There was another banner from the same advertiser elsewhere on the page with the message ‘Your flight is a click away’. Dear advertiser, I am seeing your banner on a website in late 2019, yes, I do know that I can book flights through clicking! This space could have been better utilised by talking about what makes you unique or different, or some other statement to drive more immediate action.

I would love to know how this campaign performed, but my sense is that they will struggle to see any meaningful impact.

Please contact me if you would like any help with your Digital Marketing.