Get paid for practicing democracy

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Imagine getting paid for practicing your rights in a democracy., a local search engine, recently launched community credits which aims to do the same. Onyomo is rewarding its users for speaking out and voting.
As a rewards program for encouraging user activity onyomo is offering redeemable points for every positive contribution to the site.

- writing a review on their favorite joints
- voting on a review as a great review
- inviting their friends to the service
- adding new outlet

Onyomo is being quite generous in rewarding the users as the no. of points for each activity is quite high. The concept of rewarding users for there contribution is not new but Onyomo has gone a step ahead by giving quite high rewards. The Indian users do not seem to be taking to the idea as the growth is pretty slow. May be its too early to comment on this. We will have to wait to see how it turns out. till then do give it a spin and share your experience.

How to convert words into loyality

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You must have heard of those contests where you are asked to write about a service or product to enter a big-prize raffle. Something like, "Describe in no more than 30 words, why you like our product".
Well, what do you think those words that you have written are meant for? Testimonials? Yes, but thats not it.
The 30 words that you used to describe the service/product actually go on to become binding promises that make you keep coming back to the product. Its human nature to respect ones own words, even if you know its a lie, you will tend to live up to your words. You do that just to prove that you were not lying and that people should not find you dishonest. Marketers bank up on this aspect of human nature and create those competitions.
Its important to know that the hard work(survey and research) and creativity is involved in framing the right question. The question would typically depend on the kind market you are targeting and how do you want your product to be seen. For a cola brand the questions could be put up like:

A. Why do you think eViral cola is best thirst quencher?
B. Why do you think eViral cola is very refreshing?
C. Why do you always think of eViral cola when you feel thirsty?
D. I always drink eViral cola because.....
E. I drink eViral cola everyday in lunch because...
F. I always carry eViral cola when i am traveling because...
G. Eviral cola is the the best cola because....
H. I always make sure there is a can on eViral cola in my refrigerator because...

There are endless questions that could be framed but it depends completely on how you want to place your product in the market.

Now, of the above questions, B would get people scratching their heads but would rarely bring them to something they can write (until one knows the secret formula of the cola).
E,F and H are strictly targeting a particular segment of the market. G is an all rounder.

Decide what kind of words would your customers feel committed to and get them to write that. Feel free to share a few interesting questions that you can think of.

PS: never drink a cola with that kind of name.

Important points for a successful brand makeover

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some random points for a good brand makeover

1. make sure the coverage is big
2. have some connection to old color and logo
3. do not look for a complete change but an evolution
4. do not change the domain name yet
5. convey the message first to your employees. If they don't get the idea then you don't get your target.
6. the announcement should be at one go and not slowly spreading to other regions like you do with a product launch

Getting them to say yes

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You must have read a lot about getting people to say yes before you actually put in the real question. It does work and is important in selling to humans.
Its just about the inertia. When you have just said 3 YES to my 3 questions, you have actually made a short relation with me, my questions and my thoughts. So now when i put in the BIG question you actually find it an obligation to say Yes. It just that your brain believes that by saying NO you are betraying the short relation that we just made. You don't want to carry the burden of being a betrayer so you just say yes, even if half hearted.

Get media attention in one line, Facebook style


People are dying to get media attention and this fact would go good even for the already rich and famous. Anything simple action or word can get media talking about your activity. This was recently proved by Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. In his internal mail, which was purposefully leaked, Mark writes:

“Hey Everyone –

I’m writing from India to share with you the good news that Elliot Schrage will be joining our management team as.....

And this one line got all the bloggers speculating Facebook's India launch. The original article on TC has more comment relating to this one line than the actual news of the article. Indian technology blogs have already started spreading the speculation.
Even if there is no India launch, Facebook will surely manage to get a lot of media attention in India. This will be enough to get some more Indian accounts signed up on Facebook.
Good work Mark!

Sulekha: Creating word of mouth

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With the marketing strategy called BlogPrint, Sulekha is jumping into cat fight of bringing in serious bloggers in their bag. They will be publishing chosen blogs and posts as books and sharing the revenue with the bloggers.

"...One blogger will be selected every month whose blogs will be featured in a book. It will be a 'Single author' book dedicated to featuring the contributions of one featured blogger on and will showcase a selection of his work..."

By this promotion Sulekha is sure to catch eye of some serious bloggers and also some of the newbies who buy the very idea of blogging just for money and not for passionate writing. Sure Sulekha will be successful in its approach to rope in the best bloggers that there are and also some good writers who are yet to take upon this idea of blogging. The new writers will be the ones who will be driving traffic to Sulekha and get their friends to read their posts. Its like the social network's friends invite system that will actually go on to create a WoM for Sulekha.

New look means more business. Really?

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I had blogged in my first post that i would be changing my blogs lay out very soon. And here it is, the blogs new look. I am not sure when i will be giving my blog a makeover again, but i am sure i will so i am posting a snapshot of the current layout as a time capsule.

Well the question arises why did i change the layout. Well in my case the older layout was very broad so the posts did not take much length. The sidebar on the blog did not run in neck with the posts. I also did not want to increase the number of posts in the main page to increase the length. So, all the reasons turn out to be non-technical ones and just to make the blog more attractive and appealing to the first time visitors. Get them to read the posts, make sure they find value and subscribe to the blog. Isn't that what marketing is all about?
My point here is that the real appeal should always be in the product, in this case, the posts, but to get people to try the product your packaging should be appealing.
So, how important is a makeover for brands? Brand makeovers are all about giving your brand a fresh start. When you have a change in ideology, your motives or change in target customers, a brand makeover helps you deliver this point to the world.
But there should always be a reason for brand makeover. Some times brand makeover can be done just as an excuse for the new ad campaign or just for the sake of change, like Ceat did.

From to

In the past, we have had UTI Bank changing to Axis Bank. The reason in this case was the end of contract between the bank and the parent company but it did wonders for the bank. It helped create a more trustful name for the bank as the name UTI had lost public faith after the US-64 issue. Others in the banking industry in India who opted a makeover in the recent past are Bank of Baroda and Canara Bank. For both the banks the new look helped target a new market and get a new set of loyal customers.
Brand makeover is a costly marketing initiative but can do a great deal to lift the company's turnover if planned properly and executed with all other factors and the real product in proper shape. Remember its the product that will ultimately get your cash register ringing and marketing is just an art that can help.

No one reads what BlogRush syndicates

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So, you are finally reading the posts here. Well if you have arrived here from the BlogRush widget on some other blog you will be happy to know that this is the first post on this blog that is receiving readers through BlogRush.It could also be that you are the first reader here through BlogRush. If so, i must first congratulate you of this distinction and also myself for finally getting my first reader through BlogRush. Well my earlier post had been syndicated 359 times but did not receive any readers.

Is it only me or is this the case with other bloggers as well. Given the fact that i am new to blogging and using tools such as BlogRush, there are two possibilities that i can think of. Either my titles are not too attractive and catchy or may be readers do not really bother about those widgets.
If the first is true than i believe i should start giving some misleading titles or change the subjects that i cover on this blog. But if the second point is true than we will soon see the end of BlogRush and other distribution media as well. John Chow in his blog reported that even with 24K subscribers through Feedburner his revenue percentage from Feedburner was lowest.
So let me know if you really think there is a future for such media. Also drop in numbers for your percentage of readers who reach through Blogrush. Is Blogrush only eating up space or is it really worth it? For those advertising through Blogrush, please give it a thought.

7 ways to spread Word of Mouth

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Word of mouth is the best to market any product or website. A trusted word of mouth is sure conversion from prospective customer to loyal customer. But then what are the best ways to generate WoM. You might find some of the following ones useful.

1. Give user an interesting fact about your company.
2. Give the user some incentives, not money but fame.
3. Let the user know that he is a unique user in his area for a certain action that he performed.
4. Give out freebies. Tell freebies announcement blogs about it.
5. Do something cute and stupid and let the world laugh about it.
6. Do something for the community just for the sake of it. Avoid hidden gains or cheap things like, we will donate $ 0.001 to charity for every user registration.
7. Deliver a good product or service.

add some more in the comments

Important points for registration page of your website

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So your homepage has managed to convince the user and drive them to the registration page. Now what? How do you make sure that he signs up?
The registration page of your website should be like the reception of a brick and mortar office. Its like the beginning of a new relation between your website and the user. If a user returns from the registration page of your site he will never come back. This will not only result in loss of a prospective user but this lost prospective user(oops! no more prospective now) might even go on to spread negative WoM about your service.
First and foremost thing to be kept in mind while designing your site's registration page is that the user should feel welcomed to the site through this page. It should not be a pain to fill in the registration form. The following points should be kept in mind while designing your registration page.

1. Keep the registration page short.
2. Categorize the fields under proper headings and also mention which are required and which are optional.
3. Give a default value for the objective fields(option, check box etc). This default value should be the one most favorable to your business.
4. Ask for only relevant fields. Do not ask for any redundant information that you think is not required now but you might need it later. Such information can be asked later by directing the user to account update page when he logs in.
5. As mentioned in the above point don't ask for all information on day one but instead ask questions and get the form filled up little by little each time the user logs in. This kind of habit should be followed depending on the service offered by the website. For eg. if it is a blogging service user wouldn't mind spending a minute extra to fill in a requested information but in case it is a free SMSing site, user would be annoyed by having to wait an extra minute to send the SMS.
6. Make sure whether you want the user to fill in their real names or some screen name. If you keep a single field for name the user is most likely to fill in a screen name (user name). So, if you want him to fill in the real name than ask for first name and last name separately.
7. Clearly indicate what are the valid parameters for each field. If you do not want any "_" (underscore) in the user name, makes sure you let the user know this fact. Don't just say "invalid parameters" but also mention what are the valid parameters. Consider giving examples.
8. All the possible validations should be done in client side scripting. Repeated error submissions to the server will not only increase load on server but also irritate the user.
9. Do some kind of validation if you do not want multiple accounts form the same user. Although the conventional way is to send a validation email for this purpose but since multiple email accounts are quite easy to create so one might consider validating the mobile number of the user by sending a validation code in an SMS and the user would be required to provide the code during the registration. Allowing single registration for each IP address is not a good idea since dynamic IP addresses might be allotted by the ISP.
10. If you are going to provide the user with an individual page, make sure the page ID is not a serial number. Like "", the userid is actually a serial number in this case so it might be very easy for other users to know the total number of registered users when they sign up. Good, if this number is too high but in the initial days of the website it can be very tough to get the user to believe in the acceptance of the service if this number is too low. Also, even a little exaggeration in press releases about the total number of users would not be possible. Try a longer userid with alphanumeric characters.
11. Make sure every jargon is properly explained or the mentioning of such a term is linked to a page where all explanation is done.
12. Instead of having multiple pages for registration trying keeping a single page with different sections minimized under category heading.
13. Some of the FAQs must be mentioned in the registration page itself but very neatly. The answers to these must open in a new window. Make sure the registration page is never lost because, as mentioned earlier, the user is not likely to visit the registration page of a website twice.
14.. It is not a bad idea to keep a small registration box in the homepage itself.
15. After a successful registration directly point the user to their first action.

The list could go on. Will add some more in upcoming posts. Please share if you can think of something mentionable.

Persuasive vs Provoked selling: continued

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[ for those new to this series please read the earlier post.]

Provoked selling can best work when it is played as an offense to the target audience. for eg. imagine a campaign for encouraging use of male condoms. Instead of telling the normal benefits of using rubber and the safety/ precautions that it has to offer, attack their manhood. I might sound a little offensive already. A typical line that you could communicate is, "It needs to erect before you can cover it". If a rubber is tough for you to buy the idea, say you have a web hosting company which provides great service, 99.9% uptime (everyone seems to be offering that), fastest servers etc. A tag that can go best for you is "Its for those serious businesses". Such messages tend to provoke a thought and also drive the users to check out your service, and as i said earlier, from thereon the conversion depends on your sales team. Another good example could be the closed beta launched of Gmail. By not being able to directly join one believes that the service is meant for special people and everyone wants to feel special.

There are a lot of messages that can be delivered for a single service but each needs to target a certain niche in the market.

Now, if we try the same idea of playing offensive for say, a beauty product, will it work? I doubt. The point that i am trying to communicate is there needs to be a differentiation in the audience as well. Nobody is "beautiful" or is "not beautiful", so saying that, "its for those really beautiful people" will leave people in a dilemma because nobody for sure knows if they are beautiful. In such a case the best suited would be a persuasive selling. You tell the audience about all the goodness of the product, what happens when you use it, you try to build a fascinating story about the after effects... and the list goes on.
There cannot be a clear line between what product falls in to which category. Its up to you to decide whats best for your product.

Persuasive vs Provoked selling: Which is best for your business?

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There is lot of discussion and research that goes in to decide the right marketing campaign for your business. One wrong survey stat or not so well placed campaign will not only prove to be a waste of money and resources but might even prove to be critical for your brand's survival and ultimately affecting your business.

I personally believe that there are two type of selling that marketers can follow. One is the persuasive way, that we normally see. This kind of selling is best when you have a very competitive market and the product differentiation among competitors is not done over a clear boundary line. Suppose, you are selling flight tickets online, unless you have made a clear distinction from the other OTAs(online travel agencies) or created a niche market for your portal, it can be seriously harming for your brand if you do not persuade your perspective buyers and convert them to loyal customers. In such a case, a TVC or other form of media is used to communicate what are the good things that happen when your product is used or in this case when your portal is used. You do not discuss the current situation of the perspective users, you only talk about the goodness of the product. In such cases you are actually convincing or even begging to the audience. So, does the audience really care? Truly speaking, no. It could work to create an awareness about your existence but they wouldn't really bother to buy until a trusted WoM(word of mouth).

In the second method that i am calling as provoked selling you actually tend to communicate with the audience about their current situation. You tell the audience not what they would get if they buy your product or use your service but instead what they are missing by not doing so. This kind of message followed by a call for action number would indeed get your perspective buyers talking to you and from thereon its up to your sales department to take off the conversions. A good example would be the print ads from Australian Tourism that shows you a beautiful scene and says, "So where the bloody hell are you?". This kind of campaigns do not need any complementary WoM, though a little of it could always be used.

Recently i was going through the TVC campaigns for encouraging public participation against Polio in India. One could easily distinguish that the videos fell broadly into the first category that i call persuasive. In this kind, there were celebrities asking the audience to go to polio booths for there child's safety. But one of the ads that i would call as provoked selling, featuring Amitabh Bachchan(one of the most well known actors of Indian Cinema) did not ask to do anything. In this TVC the ambassador actually thrashed the audience for being responsible for there child's condition, he shouted on them for there carelessness, he even warned that your(the audience's) child could be the next victim of this disease. And that was it, this not only got the audience talking about polio and free polio booths(spreading WoM) but even got the audience to buy into the idea of taking there child to polio booths.

By provoking a thought you make the customer feel proud that he took the decision of buying your product or service. This feeling of pride and confidence is shared with fellow mates or on product reviews and testimonials, thereby spreading a stronger WoM. So every customer becomes a brand ambassador.
More on this in my next post. Do share your curses and thoughts if you are not yet sold to my points.


Why everyone (including you) should have a Blog

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Welcome to eViral. This is my first post after a tiresome 2 hours of fixing every setting that Blogger has to offer. I have attached Feedburner, that Google recently(at the time of posting) acquired, for traffic(includes you) and Adsense for selling that traffic(not literally). I had to choose a lot of so called optimization(just a web word for "Making good") tools and also figure out how to use them. i believe i will change the layout in some days so i am posting a pic of the first day layout.

So much pain just because i was sold to the idea that everyone should have a blog. And through this article i will sell(you dont need to pay cash) the idea to you (lemme try atleast).
Probably this is not the first blog post that you are reading so don't expect me to tell you what a blog is.
Well i have been reading and commenting on quite a number of technology and media blogs and have always had something to share. Something that i think deserves a separate post space and not a comment(excuse me for that ego, wont happen again.).
Blogs are the best place to express your views on something that you like. They can be a great marketing tool for your business, irrespective of whether you offer service or product. Good and regular posts can always help you increase your social contacts that your business could use. Blogs also serve as a great tool for communicating with your service users or even showing off that new office space that you rented.
Marketing gurus believe that every single activity of your business should be put up on a blog. Depending on the nature of activity, whether an acquisition or eureka, you decide whether it should be on your company's internal blog or a public blog.
For individuals who do not have any business(like me), blogs can serve as a media to bounce off every little idea or thought that you have. Even i am starting the same.
i am not sure if it is enough because this is my first post. So, if you are sold to the idea by now, drop in your blog links in the comment section else you are welcome to share your 2 cents along with curses.