Month: February 2011

Facebook Diversifies From Chat to ‘Chaat’. Make Mine Spicy Mark.

A proud Ramesh Verma; the Facebook Chatawala

I have news for Mark Zukerberg, unknown to him; he is serving up some real spicy stuff at Nagpur.

The other day while I was driving past the Traffic Park in Dharampeth, one of Nagpur’s upmarket localities frequented by students, a ‘chaat thela’ caught my eye. Now this particular avenue is full of street food stalls, but this otherwise very ordinary stall really stood out because of its name.

Facebook Chat’ is what signboard atop it said. I am sure Mark never had this variety of Chat in mind when he launched the now ubiquitous Facebook.

Orkut Sevpuri, Twitter Paanipuri, Skype Bhel, Gtalk Dahi Bhalle and BBM Tikki Chaat

For those who do not fancy Facebook there’s ‘Orkut Sevpuri, Twitter Paanipuri, Skype Bhel, Gtalk Dahi Bhalle and BBM Tikki Chaat, all Indian savories drooled over by young & old alike.

I decided to check the place out myself. I walked up to the pleasant looking youngster manning the place & asked him how did he come up with the idea of such a unique concept for his snack stall. Ramesh Verma, that’s him, told me that it was his youngest brother Raju, a 10th grade dropout who came up with all these ‘high-sounding’ names. “He dabbles a lot with computers & though I’m not too sure of what they mean, he surely was excited about them,” he added.

They live close by and set up this venture only about four months ago.

“When we saw this place blossoming into an entire street for foodies, as well as the crowds thronging the Traffic Park we felt this place held potential for us. But our problem was with so many similar stalls why would the customer come to us. And that’s when my youngest brother came up with this idea” says Ramesh.

Youngster's enjoying cyber 'chaat'

Though in every other aspect the place serves up the usual fare, their unique naming strategy surely seems to be getting them a lot of attention. He proudly dug out a neatly laminated clipping of a local newspaper, talking about thier stall.

While the big brands may surely talk about segmenting the market and branding the offering, here was our homegrown entrepreneur a school dropout with no fancy MBA degrees to tout doing the same thing. This is yet another flavour of the now legendary Indian entrepreneurial spirit at work despite all odds. Even if it is only for their creative instincts, I do hope Ramesh & Raju succeed. And may a million Raju’s blossom with such unique & creative endevours.

'Chaat' Status Updated

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Social Media Marketing: The Power Is Here, Are You Ready For It?

“The internet has upended how consumers engage with brands. It is transforming the economics of marketing and making obsolete many of the function’s traditional strategies and structures. For marketers the old way of doing business is unsustainable,” says David C. Edelman in the Harvard Business Review and all I can say is Amen to it.

It was indeed a nice, little controllable world for marketers, till the consumer didn’t have the power to create his/ her own communication. He could be bombarded with the one-way tirade of 30-second commercials and full-page glossy ads.

Not anymore. The communication carbine has suddenly changed hands now. And marketers are running for cover. It’s unfamiliar territory for them. It certainly is advantage consumer in round one of web 2.0 up until now.

The silver lining is that it certainly isn’t an enemy who’s got the gun; there surely is light at the end of the tunnel. The consumer’s also holds a white flag in the other hand. He too wants to have a dialogue with you. In fact it’s dialogue that social media is all about.

The first thing about this whole business of Social Media Marketing is to get ‘social’. It does require a paradigm shift in the mindset of the marketer, from a monologue he’s been so used to a real dialogue. From speaking to listening. Consumer too seeks answers, solutions & an enduring relationship.

In fact it offers the biggest opportunity, the most powerful set of channels, the strongest relationship building adhesive, the most cost-effective and above all measurable tool that businesses ever had. It is a boon for the small & medium businesses & individual entrepreneur who could never afford the atrociously priced traditional media.

It is this understanding of how Social Media Marketing can be used for both strategic brand building as well as more tactical; enquiry enhancing, sales increasing activity that we shall learn & explore as we move forward in the posts to follow.

I look forward & welcome your ideas on the topic as well as what you’d like to know.

VIA Marketing Forum invites you to a 1 hour session on ‘SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING – HOW YOUR BUSINESS CAN PROFIT FROM IT’ on Sat 5th Feb, 6:30 pm at VIA, Udyog Bhawan, Civil Lines, Nagpur. I shall be making the presentation.