20 Apr 2014

Why You Must Read Geoffrey Moore 'Crossing The Chasm'

Blanket marketing is dead, according to renowned author Geoffrey Moore. One can no longer approach the entire market at once and expect their product(s) to fly off the shelf. In his insightful book ‘Crossing the Chasm’, Geoff Moore explains what it takes for a product to be successful – or viral, in today’s world. While the book talks about high tech products, the concepts can be applied to new products in established categories as well.

I laid hands on this book because a few authors I revere gave its reference in theirs. Malcolm Gladwell and Carmine Gallo are 2 of them. Both authors have built upon Geoff Moore’s concept of 5 types of consumers. They are:

  • Innovators – Who like to be associated with a product in its conceptualisation & early development.
  • Early Adopters – Visionaries who see the potential in a product and work on ensuring it matches their vision.
  • Early Majority – Pragmatists who see the value proposition and offerings of a product and then adopt it.
  • Late Majority – Who use the early majority for references and testimonials and adopt a product once its offerings encapsulate everything they use.
  • Laggards – Who adopt a product when they have no choice i.e. when what they use becomes obsolete forcing them to change their consumption pattern.
The 5 Consumer Groups
This concept is now calls for a mandatory mention in all business management textbooks. In fact, it provides a better understanding of how the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Matrix works and how it can be leveraged.
Geoffrey Moore states that most firms commit the cardinal sin of trying to take their product (tested or untested) to the whole market. He further points out some more mistakes firms make when trying to launch new products. Some include:

  • Hiring inexperienced sales and marketing people to promote their product. This leads to promotion at the wrong places and the response turns out to be a damp squib.
  • Vaporware. This is a situation where a product is preannounced and premarketed without overcoming significant hurdles. One example that comes to mind is the Notion Ink Adam.
A firm should look to address each consumer group (innovators, early adopters, etc.) when launching a new product. The concepts in this book are more applicable to products which spark discontinuous innovations i.e. leapfrog innovation which make users change their buying and usage patterns.

The author examines in detail how a firm should market its product to each group to achieve success. He rightly points out that product and marketing should be tied at the hip i.e. the marketing team should be involved in the product’s conceptualization and development. Also, there should be no let up in marketing and promotion efforts when the product transitions from one consumer group to another. These transition phases, in the author’s words, are chasms which have to be monitored closely. Otherwise the product ends up like Tarzan swinging from vine to vine in the forest and ultimately coming upon a vine which has no momentum. Tarzan is then in the unenviable position of trying embarrassing methods to get the vine in motion, while the other animals wait and watch him fail miserably and invariably fall into the abyss below.
This book is a must have for every person who is part of a product, design, marketing or sales team. Though it was written in 1991 and revised in 2001, the concepts of the book hold true even today, and will continue to hold true until the end of time. One can read about the mistakes made by most organizations today and choose to avoid them. As Robert Clay says “95% companies survive despite appalling marketing because their competitors share their marketing ineptitude.” If you read, absorb and implement the notions in this book, you’re well on your way to building a successful product which stands the chance of going viral.

image Courtesy: Google Images

12 Apr 2014

Castrol Biking Brings John Abraham Even Closer to Bikers

“Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul.”

This is probably the most renowned quote among bikers. Biking is a religion, and members of the brotherhood are fanatic followers. Faithfuls of a religion go to temples, mosques, churches, gurdwaras, etc. Likewise, hardcore bikers head out on rides and attend events which enable them to meet people of the same faith.

One such event was organized by Castrol Biking on 9th April, 2013 at Taj Land’s End, Bandra. They wanted to showcase the new PowerBiking app launched by Castrol for the benefit of us bikers. The celebrity who would unveil it and walk us through it was John Abraham.

I reached the venue at the allotted time. The 1st thing that immediately impressed was that Castrol Biking had reserved a parking lot inside Taj Land’s End’s campus for us bikers. A bike is not allowed to park in the hotel’s campus. But I’m probably one of the few who did. So yeah, +1!
Bikers Posing before Parking

We got a chance to interact with other bikers during the event. It was delightful to meet Sigmund, Sharvari, Vikram, Amandeep, Tanmay, Urvashi, Saurabh, Sanket, Nikhil, Pratik (bikers must follow each and every one of them) and others. I was blown away on hearing that the event’s main compere Nikhil Kashyap owns 28 bikes! I had a good chat with him after the event. 1 hell of a warm and generous guy!
Popular bikers who attended the event

John Abraham displayed the app on a phone, showcasing various features in it. Some include:
John Abraham having a blast with fellow bikers

  1. Logging in with your social media account
  2. Listing your ride, finding friends and connecting with them
  3. Best routes + maps for a ride depending upon your preference
  4. Castrol Bike Zones at locations across India
  5. DIY tips for your bike

The app is currently available only on the Google Play store. Castrol is working on launching it for iOS too.

Answering fan questions with his 'Rambo'
The usual Q&A session followed, with John answering questions from the audience as well as those posted on Facebook. He was patient and his answers were well thought through, showing clarity in thought. John was asked whether there should be separate schools for teaching women to ride. He responded saying that schools to teach better riding were essential, not just for women but for men also. He exuded passion when he spoke about biking, and regrets not having ridden his new Aprilia RSV4. He keenly wants to promote biking in India, along from football and hockey. His biking tales and experiences were awesome, despite him declaring upfront that he doesn't travel as much as some of the resident tourers. The event ended with the celeb posing with all bikers – individually and in a group.

My respect for John Abraham has gone up manifold. He hasn't just heard of John McGuiness, he reveres him. John is trying to shoot climax of his upcoming movie on bikes at the Isle of Mann. He doesn't follow only MotoGP; he tried to co own the Kawasaki team in World SBK. He knows about Evo bikes and Formula E. He has ridden on roads I haven’t even heard of. And he believes riding a bike is not about merely going fast; it is about being part of a ballad. John Abraham is not a Bollywood celebrity who rides fast bikes. He is a biker who acts and produces movies.

Selfies with individual bikers and with the group

Thank you Castrol Biking for letting me be part of this event. Regarding the goodies, Castrol can replace 1 item among them with a litre of their best 4-stroke biking oil. Once a rider uses it and likes it, s/he will stick to that oil for her/his bike for a long time and also refer it to others. That will help increase sales. After all, we bikers treat our bikes better than we treat humans, don’t we?

31 Mar 2014

Dhoni's Silence - Why We Must Care!

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s silence has intrigued us, piqued us. The match fixing allegations in the IPL, his association with some big shots, stake in Rhiti sports, India Cements and other firms – we’ve become increasingly inquisitive about the off-field life of arguably India’s most prolific cricket captain. After all, Indian cricket fans deserve answers, right? Answers to questions about how he is making money; whether he was indeed involved in match fixing during the IPL... the media and common man want his silence broken. We deserve answers, right? Do we?

Dhoni has always maintained a low profile in front of the media, be it his private life or on field strategies. He has channelized his energy towards more productive aspects – like having a major say in the team’s selection, motivating his player and developing a messianic sense of purpose in them, and chalking out elaborate game plans to surprise opponents. Ever wondered why his seemingly lucky moves pay off brilliantly? Those ‘lucky’ gambles have been thought through in his head over and over again. Leaders make Plans A and B. Dhoni says “I don’t stop at just plan B. I go on to make plans C, D and E.” True mastermind. Real genius. And the best finisher in cricket today.

MSD is the only captain to have won every tournament which has the ICC label. He has marshalled his troops to victory in Australia, England, Pakistan, West Indies, Sri Lanka, South Africa – everywhere. Yuvraj, Gambhir, Ashwin, Jadeja, the Sharmas, Dhawan, Raina, Kohli, Shami, Bhuvaneshvar Kumar and others have flourished under his wings. They’re all match winners on their own.

Why is Dhoni's silence so important?
And yet we choose to dismiss all that. We chastise his money making methods through business. We accuse him of being guilty because, as always, he has maintained a stoic silence on the match fixing allegations. Does his being silent indicate he is guilty? And what is wrong in him using his genius mind in business to make money? Is it wrong to insure your future? Have we also forgotten that we have never demanded that Sonia and Rahul Gandhi come clean on terrible allegations made against them? Why this appalling treatment towards Dhoni?

As a country which loves cricket, our job is to support the Indian Cricket Team. That is the logical thing to do. But it’s well known how good we Indians are at applying logic. This unity in diversity hogwash has fucked things up for us. We care more about a player’s performance in the IPL (for our cities) than his performance at the international level. That’s why we swarm to stadiums in herds to watch the IPL. We abuse them if they underperform in these inconsequential matches. And if they perform well but are exhausted due to the gruelling schedule, we accuse them of caring only about money. Yes, we Indians are really smart indeed!

The media and common man should rally around Dhoni and his boys to win the World T20 championship right now. Calling for the captain’s head while he carries the expectations of 100 crore Indians is nothing short of retarded. It’s a shame that we accuse him without proof while he marches on to conquer let another milestone for us. It’s time to ensure that the most important thing is to let the important things stay important and to stop sweating about matters of no consequence. The IPL is nothing but a money making scheme for some people. Dhoni hasn't been bought by us neither do we pay him a salary. He has made the Indian cricket team one of the most powerful forces to reckon with in the world today. He owes us nothing. Not the truth, not the lies and definitely not the finer aspects of his life.

So please go and find yourselves something else to rant about. Like maybe who should be in the next Big Boss episode, who’s performance was awesome at some Cine Star awards, etc. And if you can’t appreciate Dhoni’s talent, at least leave him alone.

image Courtesy: Google Images

14 Feb 2014

What the IPL is Doing For Indian Cricket

The IPL auction is over. Yuvraj Singh received the highest bid worth 14 crores. We are delighted with some players’ addition to our IPL teams. Lalit Modi is still screaming hoarse about match fixing. The media (and most naïve people) are busy accusing Dhoni of match fixing allegations. Amidst all this, we gear up for the biggest entertainment bonanza of the year while the Indian cricket team continues to perform dismally abroad.

Accept it! The Indian Premier League (IPL) has ruined Indian cricket. Players don’t care how they perform at the international level anymore as long as they earn big bucks while playing for the IPL. They lack patience to ply test cricket, the resilience to slug it out with tough teams abroad and the strategy to come up trumps after 5 grueling days.

Who can blame them? Even they have mouths to feed. A secure future (one with lots of money) is always preferred to an insecure one. But this secure future is also killing uncapped players’ drive to play for the country.

Well, what about us? What about common man? We spend hours watching the IPL auction live (perhaps even reruns of it), tweet frantically, spend hours discussing it and calling the team owners all sorts of things for paying too much to pick a player or losing out on a good one. And then we complain about the amount of money being splurged. Hypocrisy! And we argue about how a player from CSK is involved in match fixing, regardless of no evidence present. Who gives a damn about him being the captain of the Indian cricket team, right?

Then the IPL begins. We claim that the IPL is not real cricket, a waste of time, a display of money by the rich and everything that is evil about society. Yet we are hooked. We watch matches on the tube, internet and in stadiums as if life depended upon it. We boo Virat Kohli when he plays for Bangalore while forgetting, as he said, that “apart from playing for RCB, I play for India.” Mumbaikars support Kieron Pollard over MSD because the former plays for Mumbai Indians. Awesome!

All this while the Indian cricket team continues to underperform. Obviously fatigue sets in. We will keep saying that the players’ motivation is just money, but it is because we are paying them… we hype the IPL to unimaginable heights. Manoranjan ka baap, right? And we completely expose our players to cricketers from across the globe, exposing their strengths and weaknesses. And then we wonder why other teams are so effective and India is not.

So before blaming Indian cricketers for not performing, look at the reasons. You are just as responsible for our international team’s dismal performance. If you care about India like you claim, stop caring about which player plays for your IPL team. Support him if he plays for India instead of snubbing him if he’s performed well against your city’s IPL team. Y’all are not children. So act your age. Think like a mature person instead of happily feeding on the media and being fooled. It’s time you stopped deciding players’ capabilities based on their IPL performances. It’s time our players stop wasting time and energy training for and playing in the IPL. They are humans just like you and me. I've given up on the IPL 3 seasons ago. Time for you to see the light too... and no, it's not a freight train coming your way.

11 Feb 2014

Book Review: 'End of Story?' by Arjun Shekhar

What if your daughter has gone missing? And your boss is murdered on the same day? And while you’re trying to investigate all this (because you have to testify in court) you come across a sinister plot much deeper than you could have imagined?

Gripping – one word which describes Arjun Shekhar's 'End of Story?'. A thriller woven with precision, this book is unlike most fiction books you read; it has a touch of reality in it. It is especially intriguing for those who don’t trust mainstream media anymore. It’s courageous of someone to indicate what is happening in the real world by means of a story.

I’m not fond of fiction, but this book left me curious. I’ve stopped believing the media It wasn’t captivating enough for me to finish it at one go, but had me coming back to it; one novel in which I wanted to find out what happens in the end.
End of Story?

It starts off with Shukrat Ali, an anchor at the news channel ‘Khulasa’, worried about having to testify in because his boss was murdered a few months ago. He reflects of the events of the past few months, which begin with his daughter being kidnapped and end with the killing of his boss Satya Saachi Sengupta. As the events transpire, Shukrat Ali unearths a nexus between the media and the government and decides to expose it. Each chapter begins with a question posed in the courtroom to Ali, and his answer forms the rest of it. The plot, albeit left a little wanting for substance, is well woven and leaves no loopholes. Also, the description of the Gond tribes and the Vidarbha region, where most of the book is based, are awesome! Not only does the author describe the characters with amazing accuracy, he also uses language which matches the quality of renowned thrillers.

It would be mean to give away the plot. So no more details about it… It did not keep me awake at nights wanting to read more, but is powerful enough to ensure who picks it up finishes it. Like Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, the book becomes really slow at times. But be patient and pull through those pages because the climax more than makes up for them. It’s heartening to see Indian authors write books like this which don’t hand the story on a platter to the readers, but make them connect the dots and draw the author’s conclusion for themselves.

This book is a definite 3/5. So if you’re not reading a thriller currently, pick it up and enjoy a good break from your reading list. You will be left refreshed.

29 Jan 2014

To Blog or Not to Blog?

This guest post by the 1st Twitter celebrity I've known - Atul Vhale. While he is an avid social media user, he has faced some tiny issues while starting to blog. Read on and let him know if you have experienced the same.
To Blog or not to Blog?
You know what I dislike intensely? When one of my colleagues comes and pats me on back and says "Bro! When you'll write a blog post, I'll announce a grand party in office."

Trust me, there have been billion dollar ideas in my mind but all disappear while watching.........

The moment I sit down to write and some cheap yet hot model pops up in my mind, the whole situation gets nasty!

I often visit cafés during weekends with the intent of writing but end up with having a couple of coffees with some hot legs. Hate it!

I may have announced on Twitter that "I'm gonna write a kick ass blog post tonight" but have woken up next morning at friend's house watching Hangover IV. I didn't like that movie though.

One night, in my dream, I wrote a blog post on Indian Economy. If only one of my jealous room mates wouldn't have woken me up before I hit 'Publish', that post would have gone viral!

Does it happen to you too or is it just me? Tell me your scene!

image Courtesy: Google Images

28 Jan 2014

The Biggest (and Least Known) Secret to Success...

Success isn't defined by your social status or the amount of money in your bank account… or the total valuation of your properties… or whether you can send your children to elite schools or pamper them with gadgets before their peers get them. Neither is it decided by the quality of hotels you dine in or the number of foreign trips you make.

Success, my friend, is living your life on your own terms.

There are many factors which make a person successful. And you will find the internet peppered with articles on them. So I won’t list a whole bunch of them. I will, instead, dwell on 1 factor which most people will strictly you advice you against.

I've extensively read about successful people, their lives, struggles, acid tests, trials and victories. And one philosophy, among others, is common. Here it is – Success in life is inversely proportional to how much you care about what people think.

Think about it. How many times have you suppressed the desire to do something you've felt strongly about for fear of opinion of others? And how many times have you wondered how awesome it would be to not care about what people think, but thought that it was impossible? Man is a social animal after all, right? But history is proof that time and again, the man who swam against the tide was the one who made a dent in the universe. Steve Jobs landed himself a job in HP after he called up the CEO for spare parts for his computer.99% of us wouldn't do that fearing what the CEO of HP and our colleagues would think. Ingvar Kamprad outsourced operations of labor of IKEA to Poland when retailers in Sweden refused to stack his goods because his products were undercutting competition. This, when the Berlin Wall was being erected and the military condition in Cuba was getting out of hand. Ratan Tata went against the market sentiment and bought Corus Steel, Jaguar and Land Rover. He pledged most of his empire to raise funds for the acquisitions. True, many people have made bad decisions too, but it’s all a part of the journey towards success.

The same is applicable to happiness and peace. The lesser you care about what others think, the happier you are. Naysayers are many, and whatever you do, you will always find people who will discourage you. And the more radical the thought, the more the resistance.

I’m not asking you to stop giving a damn about the world… not saying you must be a jerk to your parents, family, spouse, children and friends. But don’t let people hold you down. If you genuinely believe in something, pursue it with passion and enthusiasm. People will talk negatively about something that puts you out of your comfort zone regardless of how much you try to convince them. But if you succeed, the same people will say that they always had faith in you becoming a success. If you succeed in your venture, they will shower you with praises. If you fail, you will have learnt a valuable lesson. Plus you won’t live with the regret of not having tried.

I've just started following this philosophy, and life is getting better. Remember George Bernard Shaw’s legendary quote – “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends upon the unreasonable man.” Give it a shot. If it fails, you can always go back to fitting in with the rest and being like everyone else.

image Courtesy: Google Images