Marketing in Practice- 10 Pearls of Wisdom

We just finished a 13 hours workshop on “Marketing in Practice” conducted by Unilever at Indian School of Business. Here are the 10 pearls of wisdom, that are worth noting (in my opinion).

1. The two most important P’s are PRODUCT & PRICE. If you have two dollars as your marketing budget, use one to make your product better and the other to get your pricing right.

2. Luxury Brands put so much emphasis on PRODUCT, PACKAGING & PLACE that other P’s become irrelevant.

3. Brands aren’t read, they are recognized.

4. Changing consumers’ habits is one of the most difficult jobs (For ex, you don’t see much people cleaning their neighborhood under “Swaach Bharat Abhiyaan” anymore)

5. Penetration is more important than loyalty. Larger penetrated brands means large number of buyers. A “niche brand” is just a fancier name for a small brand.

6. But it doesn’t mean that loyalty is not important. Brands with low loyalty eventually die.

7. What you do to attract shoppers should align with the shoppers’ needs and relevance at that point of time. For example, you might try to sell credit cards before a movie screening at a multiplex but you shouldn’t try to sell body lotion at a bar.

8. While making a marketing plan, you should be very particular about JTBD (Job To Be Done) :- Get who, to do what, by doing what?

9. Marketing is nothing but “Sales at Scale”

10. Since Product is the most important P, always do a “Blind Product Test” before launching it.

Thanks a lot Gaurav Jeet Singh and Arun Neelakantan for one of the best sessions at ISB so far.

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Superhumans of ISB

The section party on SV lawns go on till 3 am. Within 3 hours at 6 AM, the one who was sloshed can be spotted with the trekking group, with all the energy in the world while taking that steep climb.

End terms start on Monday, and SLC is planning to organize a “Zumba Master Class” on Friday. Reason? “Stress bursting”

You sleep for 6 hours only to wake up to realize that someone has already attended a “Toastmaster’s Meetup, a Bhangra Session and is now back at LRC to complete his/her assignment in those 6 hours.

While CAs are in demand for P2P sessions for Financial Accounting, don’t be surprised to find an engineer with no background in Finance teaching a group of guys the nitty-gritty of Accounting.

“Stood for GSP Elections- Didn’t win. Stood again for Professional Club Elections- Didn’t win. Never mind! Will possibly volunteer for Solistice, ILS, Advaita and all”- Overheard

“Yaar, I think I should leave my McKInsey Dreams”

But why, you have nailed all the quizzes, assignments and even Mid Terms!”

But last Stat Quiz me bass 3/5 aaye. I will focus on Accenture Consulting now. They have a better work life balance”

– Conversation with a friend

3 months into the PGP program has made me sure of one fact- this one year is going to kick my ass out of all kinds of comfort zones that I have enveloped myself in.

With 1 quiz and 2 assignments due this weekend, I am chilling with a cup of Mocha while writing this piece- how can I not say that the much talked about “Transformation at ISB” has already begun!

 

 

 

 

 

What to do in Bangalore on a weekend.

I came to Bangalore on August 2015 and will be leaving for good on 31st March 2017 (Hyderabad calling). Those who know me know to what extent I adore this beautiful city. I understand the woes of traffic but Bangalore has everything else that suit my taste and temperament and I must mention that I would be leaving this city with a heavy heart.

I decided to write this post long ago but finally completing when I have left Bangalore for good.

Cutting it short, this post is intended to give an idea to Bangaloreans who feel that they are wasting their time during weekends. The activities suggested in this article will not only help you to build your profile (resume) but will also help you in personality development and skill building. Let’s have a look :-

Languages

Bangalore has some amazing centers to learn languages and all of them have weekend courses. Here are the best of the lots :-

French- Alliance Francaise de Bangalore 

Spanish- Institute of Foreign Language & Culture

Japanese- Sakura Nihongo Resource Center 

German- Max Mueller Bhavan

Fitness

Bangalore has no dearth of gyms & fitness centers but the one which has really stood out is CULT. They provide a holistic power packed fitness training which includes Zumba, Boxing, MMA, Yoga etc. They have centers in HSR, Kormangala, Sarjapur, Bellandur, JP Nagar & Indiranagar.

What more? You can even become a Certified Zumba trainer at Bangalore. Click here to know more about it.

NGO/Volunteering/Social Work

There are a lot of NGOs in Bangalore where you can volunteer. I would like to recommend two of them because I have been closely following their social media posts and though I couldn’t get a chance to join either of them, I am pretty much sure that they both are doing commendable work and also have a very organized volunteering opportunities. They are U&I  and The Nudge Foundation. You can contact them to find more about the nature of their work

Books & Reading

For nerds and bookworms, we have the legendary Church Street! On this street, you can find four major bookshops and take my words, all four will make you fall in love with them. They are- The Bookworm, The New Blossom, The Old Blossom & Goebe’s Book Republic.

Bibliophiles at Bangalore also have a group named Books & Brews and they organize Bookshop hopping, book reading party and similar interesting ‘bookish’ activities.

Certifications

6-Sigma Certification at KPMG, Business Analytics Certification by IMS Proschool, Big Data Certification by IBM are some of the certifications that you might be interested in. Most of these conduct classes on weekends.

Apart from all these, there are several activities that you can take up in Bangalore- Dance classes, Horse Riding & Golf classes at Palace grounds, Cookery Classes at Foodhall and so on.

Bangalore is a vibrant cosmopolitan city and I would urge everyone to go out on weekends and explore the multiple opportunities that the city beautiful has to offer.

Cheers!

-KA

 

My stint with Japanese

It was the month of May 2016. I was back from home (went to celebrate Holi after 6 years) and an uncanny ennui had surrounded me. I had an year to myself (finally joining B-school in April 2017) and no matter how cliched the word “productivity” sounds, I am a sucker for it! Languages have always been my passion and after studying Spanish for 1 year in 2013 (loved a lot, retained a lot) and French for 2-3 months (hated it and as expected, retained nothing except “Fils de pute”), I firmly believe in being “Jack of all trades, master of none” as far as languages are concerned and hence I wanted to pick up a new language this time.

On one random dull day at office, something randomly hit my mind- when I had started taking Spanish classes back in 2013, an acquaintance had commented “French, spanish to sab seekhte hain, Japanese/Chinese seekho tab to thodi aag lage”. I don’t remember if I had smoked some pot the last night, but I googled “Japanese classes in Bangalore” and dialed the number of the 1st institute that came in the search results! They said that a new batch is starting the next day and asked if I would like to join. Next day was Saturday and by 12 PM, I had paid the fee and was already sitting in the classroom (the first one to do that) waiting for my Sensei (teacher). Yes, it started that randomly!

Within one hour in the class, I had realized that joining (and paying the fee too) without doing ANY homework about the language was the most stupid decision I have ever taken in my life! We were introduced to Hiragana (Japanese script) which had 46 characters. After struggling to write it while simultaneously blurting out its sound, we were given the next shock- This script can’t be used for foreign derived words, for those words we have another script called “Katakana”. Which means another set of 46 characters needed to be memorized for the same set of sounds!

By the time the class ended, I was exhausted and my head was cluttered with those characters. Next saturday came pretty soon and I was again in class silently hating myself for being spontaneous and stupid but I was not ready for another shock so soon. We were introduced to Kanjis- the chinese characters used in Japanese language which can be inserted anywhere and can be read in two (or in some cases, three or even four) different ways depending on the word and context. Whatever motivation I had to continue with this language training had vanished and I was completely clueless about what to do next (I had paid the fee afterall)

Saturdays started coming back more frequently and our textbook classes begin. I had not memorized any of the scripts and used “Romaji” (Japanese written with Roman Alphabets) to my rescue. After around 2 months (where I was a silent follower in the class most of the times) something dawned over me- I was actually able to see something written in Hiragana and Katakana script and could read it in my mind correctly! And this happened when I had not practiced writing and reading aloud (the way our Sensei asked us to do) even a single time. Immediately I understood that my “learning curve”, that was gladly enjoying itself resting on a plateau till now,had started its steep climb uphill and I would be foolish to give up at this stage and not push it forward.

I started taking more interest and part in discussion in the class and our Whatsapp group. I was travelling for around 5 hours daily for work (Hebbal-HSR on Ring road) and I started using that time to do the assignments (with everyone around staring at me) and practice the listening scripts on my phone. There were times when I used to text Sensei at wee hours of late night and she was always helpful enough to reply with the explanation first thing in the morning. Also I must point out that my batchmates at the Japanese classes were one of the most helpful and jovial people I have ever met. Right from sharing “translated notes of listening exercises” downloaded from unknown sources on internet to motivating each other when someone was falling behind, we had a ball of a time on those saturdays.

Japanese (or for that matter any Oriental language) becomes difficult to learn because of the script. The last time we learnt a script and conditioned our mind to make a particular sound while reading a particular character, was when we were kids. As an adult, it is a challenging task to train your brain and force it to recognize a new character and relate it with a particular sound.

I had many bottlenecks during the training that gave me sleepless nights- “e” and “na” adjectives, “counters” (those who have learnt Japanese will agree that memorizing counters can make you weep), “informal forms” and so on. But a little bit of perseverance and  a lot of help from my batchmates kept my ship sailing somehow.

My JLPT N5 exam was on 4th December and attempting it was another experience. By this time I had learnt 800 words, 120 Kanji characters and numerous grammar structures and now it was time to test all these in limited time. Reading & Listening parts were difficult, the time limit was harsh but I had an unexplained thrill while attempting the exam- the feeling of reading a paragraph in a script which is unfamiliar to most of the other people, making sense of it and then answering the questions asked on it, all of these acts gave me an absurd “happy high”

I don’t remember being this happy even after my 10th Board results, when I got my JLPT N5 results  on 24th Jan 2017 and I passed it. I don’t know if I will continue learning this language or if I will attempt the next level exams but one thing of which I am sure is that these six months gave me perspective, improved my intuitive and cognitive abilities and made me believe that I can pick up something completely new and unrelated to anything I have done before and still ace it with a bit of effort, and can force to work that area of my brain that was shut years ago. At the end I would like to quote one of my favorite authors Jhumpa Lahiri whose book “In Other Words” is a must read for anyone who is even mildly interested in languages-

“A foreign language can signify a total separation. It can represent, even today, the ferocity of our ignorance. To write in a new language, to penetrate its heart, no technology helps. You can’t accelerate the process, you can’t abbreviate it. The pace is slow, hesitant, there are no shortcuts. The better I understand the language, the more confusing it is. The closer I get, the farther away I am”

–  KA

Indian School of Business- Interview Experience

Interview

It had already been a month of submitting the application when I finally got a call for interview on 14th March 2016 and my interview was scheduled after 6 days, ie on 20th February 2016.

After some initial debacle (when the rustic auto driver didn’t understand what is “ITC Windsor”, still pretended to know where it is and authoritatively decided to take me somewhere else, before I actually realized he is taking me on the wrong roads), I finally reached the venue 1 hour in advance, visibly grimacing in the business suit (I hate wearing so many clothes).

The security guard outside the hotel promptly guided me towards the interview area and I was made to sit in a small room with 7-8 other applicants. I had read other interview debriefs where everyone had advised to talk to other candidates present to calm yourself down but somehow all I did was to sit down silently and stare around the beautifully furnished room.

After a while, a somewhat senior guy entered the room with a small travel bag. Someone asked him, “Are you coming from some other city?”

“No”, he replied, “I own a company at Bangalore, I want to show the interview panel some products of my company”

Needless to say, whatever hopes I had to make the cut sank. I had an idea of how impressive are the profiles of ISB applicants but here there was someone in front of me, enough for me to lose hope (I am a bit on the pessimistic side)

In hindsight, that feeling actually calmed me down and I started talking to other EEO (Early Entry Option) applicants. EEO applicants (I myself was one) have less than the mandatory 2 years of Work Experience required by ISB. If selected, they are given a deferred admission but they can join only when  they complete 2 years at work.

After around 1.5 hours of waiting, my turn came. One of the interviewer himself came to call me and asked me to follow him. Before we reached the interview room, he shook hands with me and introduced himself, “Hello, I am_______, from Co2012.

There were two interviewers in the panel (both alumni, no one from the AdCom). One (Let’s call him P1) had my application print out in his hands while the other (P2) just sat there most of the time and nodded.

P1- So, you are a Dentist. Why are you making this career shift?

This question was more than expected so I started with the answer that I had mugged up.

Me- Sir, if you would closely look to my CV and profile, you will realize that it has been always skewed towards entrepreneurship and management. (Don’t know why, I got tongue-tied at this point)

P2- (Nodding and after waiting for a few seconds).Please elaborate.

I gathered myself again started the answer that I had mugged up, this time with decent confidence. Both P1 and P2 seemed convinced.

P1 (Flipping through my application)- So you have shown your internship at hospital as work experience? Was it full time?

Me- Yes sir, it was full time and paid.

P1- Can you tell us one incident during that one year at internship where you had to show leadership or management skills?

Me- Sir I cannot think of any moment like that. All I can say is that I completed all my patient quotas in time, was the only person in my batch to finish internship without any extensions (infact 3 leaves were left when I finished) and in mid of all this, I got my startup registered.

P1- (Didn’t look convinced at all)- We will come to your startup story later (I realized that he has read my application essays, atleast superficially). Tell me how come you landed up at Oliveboard? How come you, being a dentist, having no relevant education  or degree got a marketing profile?

Me (again I had expected this question)- I will quote my offer letter here, “You are being offered this job because of your attitude and previous startup experience”

P1- So what exactly you do there?

Me- If you don’t mind, can I answer this question by explain the difference that I have made to the organization after I joined and also by citing a difficult situation that I managed?

P1- Please go ahead.

I explained it decently and both look convinced.

P1- Now let’s come to your journal. What made you start it?

Me (another expected question)- Explained

P1- Who all are the members in your journal and how exactly do you work?

Me- Can I get a pen and paper to explain?

P1 handed me a pen and paper. I explained with the help of flowcharts that how “Double blind peer review” review process of a scientific journal works.

P1- How did you get so many reviewers from abroad?

Me- Through Facebook

P1- And how much do you pay them?

Me- Absolutely nothing, sir

P1- Then how come they work for you free?

Me- Most of the reviewers I approached are very senior and extremely successful in their career. They definitely do not need any extra revenue by reviewing scientific articles. When I approached them, they were extremely impressed that a 2nd year UG student is trying to start a scientific journal and they supported me. I received a fair share of mockery and criticism too but mostly the dental fraternity was supportive. Also, Indian Dental Academicians need to maintain a certain number of points according to the guidelines set by the DCI (Dental Council of India) and they get some points for reviewing journals. And hence, they are in my team.

P1 (Smiling)- Makes sense. How many articles have you received after you started charging publication fee from the authors?

Me- Sir, It has been exactly 1 year and we have a revenue of _____

P2 (all of a sudden as if he got back from dead)- Have you brought the hard copies of the journal?

Me- Yes sir. It is in my bag in the other room

P2- Why didn’t you bring whose with you here?

Me- Sir, I didn’t want to look like as if I am trying too hard.

P2- So you are not trying eh?

Me- Sir, don’t get me wrong, ISB is the only college I have applied to and even if I don’t get through, I will only apply to ISB and nowhere else the next year too. There is a thin line between trying and looking like an absolute desperate and hence I decided not to cross that line.

P2 (laughed loudly)- Fair enough. Once the interview is over, show us the hard copies.

Me- Sure sir.

P1- So Dr. Anshul, what do you want to do post MBA?

Me- Sir, being an EEO applicant I think it is too early to decide that (both nodded on this). I have just started my career and I think I have a knack for marketing and entrepreneurship. I am versatile and can manage completely unrelated stuff equally well. I might take up a healthcare management job but I am keeping all my options open.

P1- Hmm..but you do know right that those jobs are generally for doctors with 5-6 years of work experience?

Me- No sir. I have no idea about that.

P1- Please go home and do your research. Also, you can get those jobs without an MBA. Why you want to invest so much of money?

Me (completely clueless where the interview was going)- Sure sir. I will do that tonight itself.

P1- You can leave

P2- Please bring the hard copies of your journal.

I ran towards the other room (it was 45 minutes already), sipped some cold water and returned and handed one copy each to both.

P2 (Flipping the pages)- Oh, so you have advertisement space too? How many advertisements have you got so far?

Me- None. And they are there only because the publisher wanted to, I really don’t want advertisements to be present on a scientific journal. Publication fee is the only major source of revenue and some royalty which we get through subscriptions.

P1- Where is the list of your team?

I showed him that page.

P1- How come you gathered so many people from so many countries?

Me- I have a facebook page on Dentistry with 30k+ Likes that I used to use for social medial marketing during my college days. I used the same page to build my team. Also, I did a webinar in a world virtual conference of dental students which helped me to get some team members initially. Rest all was word of mouth and facebook spamming.

P1- What else you want to do under your startup apart from the journal?

I mumbled something random (Don’t even remember what I said)

P1- Hmm..but how will you manage that? You will be having a full time demanding job post MBA which will take your 15 hours/day.

Me- Sir if I can manage it with medical school, I can manage it with job also. And I have worked for more than 15 hours/day effectively at various points during my UG, Internship and current job.

P1- I am not denying that, but I don’t think it will be possible.

Me (decided not to argue)- Then I will delegate the work sir. I am well networked in Indian Dental fraternity to do that.

P1- That I am sure you are. But you will leave all these so easily that you have build up with so much of hard work over these years?

Me- Sir, I said I will delegate the work. I will still be the owner.

Both P1 and P2 smiled.

P2- Ok last question, can you check my teeth and give some diagnosis?

Me- No sir, I cannot. I cannot break the infection control protocols. Patients must not be examined without gloves.

Both laughed loudly and asked me to leave.

Moral of the story- ISB interview, as per the common belief, is extremely chilled out. They don’t want to check your knowledge of economics, history, geography and finance. All they want to know is YOU. Be thorough with your application and you will sail through.

For any more queries, feel free to drop me a mail at kumaranshul.79@gmail.com. I will be happy to help anyone out.

We, a group of 17 ISB admits, have decided to help all future ISB applicants. Find out more about us on The Bootcamp. Or just drop me a message on facebook.

Also if you love reading or want to develop a love for reading, join my facebook group for book recommendations, reviews and freak deals on books.

Do FOLLOW my blog (Green colored tab on the left side of the screen) as I will be writing more on GMAT, MBA and Indian School of Business. If you are following the blog, you will get an email whenever I publish a new post.

5 Reasons to choose The Bootcamp for ISB

5 reasons

Amidst a plethora of admission consultancies for ISB, here has come another one. It looks good, it looks promising but should I choose it? Will it be worth my bucks? And how is it different from others? And more importantly, how is it going to make a difference to my candidacy for ISB.

We are sure you might be boggled by these questions. So we thought to simplify it for you. Below mentioned 5 points will tell you why you should choose The Bootcamp and how we, as a team, are here to create a difference.

1. We know how does it go as we have been through the grind just a while ago.

One salient feature of The Bootcamp which sets it apart from other admission consultancies for ISB is the fact that we are a group of 15 RECENT ISB Admits. Everyone in our team has taken the GMAT and has gone through the rigorous process of application drafting and Interview Preparation just a few months ago, which makes us well acquainted of each and every subtle steps that need to be taken if you want ISB to open its doors to you.

2. The Diversity we proudly boast of!

If you will look at our team, you will find mentors from every field- From Engineering and healthcare to humanities, we are a team of diverse professionals and are around to help you as per your need, background and future aspirations.

3. We are amazing, but we are affordable too!

Not to forget, we have kept prices low (atleast 30–40% lower than most consultancies), especially for YLP applicants (as they are in college and not earning). We sincerely feel that the fee charged by other ISB Consultancies are exorbitant and one need not to burn a hole in his/her pocket to get the expert guidance.

4. One-to- one mentorship- Whenever you want

We have received a huge response right from our beginning and we are enthusiastically helping the ISB aspirants to prepare for GMAT (One-To- One Mentoring) and to draft their applications. Have any questions? Schedule an appointment and a mentor will call you and you can talk for hours (only about GMAT and ISB though *wink* )

5. GMAT/GRE Mentorship is included!

Yes, you heard it correct! We provide GMAT/GRE Mentorship free with our Advanced Application Consultancy. A mentor will be assigned to you and he/she will be guiding you through each ebb and flow while you prepare for the exam. After all, you cannot apply to ISB without a GMAT/GRE score, can you?

You can still sit back and give us a second thought but please note that the time is running out for R1 applications to ISB. So do not delay, log on to http://www.thebootcamp.biz and take the first step towards your dream that is ISB.

You can also join our facebook group and ask for a chat with any of the mentors.

Time Management Hacks by KA

TIME MAn

First thing first, I do not consider myself pro in Time Management neither I think I have achieved great things in my life by managing my time. But since many people have asked in the past and present, I think there is no harm in jotting down a few points about it.

DISCLAIMER : This post is strictly objective and not preachy, which means, I am writing how I manage my time, it is not necessary that these points will help the one too who is reading this post.

About myself: I am a Dentist-turned-Manager, currently working as a Marketing Manager at Oliveboard. I also have my own venture- I am the founder and Editor-in-Chief of International Dental Journal of Students’ Research. I also work for The Bootcamp, where we help students to prepare for GMAT to get through ISB Admission process. I am an Early Entry Admit to Indian School of Business and I will be joining the batch of 2017-18. I am an avid reader and you can find my book reviews on my page The Booktrack. I love learning new languages and have cleared basic proficiency level exams in Spanish and French and currently I am learning Italian (Online) and Japanese (Weekend Classroom Course) simultaneously. Also I go food/drinks hunting every weekend and I also love to cook and. For more details, please visit my LinkedIn Profile.

I have been a multi-tasker since my college days and have been able to manage different things decently enough so far. I would like to share a few pointers that, I feel, help me to manage time and get stuff done.

  1. I do not drive, I strictly use public transport to go to the office or anywhere. Apart from saving money, this gives me a lot of time to read.
  2. I am NEVER without a book in my bag, no matter even if I am going to a party. You never know when you have to wait or sit idle and there is no harm in flipping through the pages of a book in that spare time.
  3. I use the ‘Hidden time’ to read- Time when you are waiting for the lunch to be served, time when you are waiting for the bus to arrive or even while you are in the washroom attending to your morning tasks *wink*
  4. I do not plan and mostly an ‘impulsive indulgent’. I feel planning kills a lot of time. If I feel like checking out a new pub in the town, I do not start making plans with friends. I try to call one or two people, and regardless of the fact that they are willing or not, I go out.
  5. Coming to my language training, I save a lot of time by immediately revising the lessons once the class is over- This is a great trick as you will be able to absorb more in less time when the lessons are still fresh in your mind and will save the time later. This goes true for any skill that you are learning- Revise as soon as the class is over and see how much time you will be able to save in the long run!
  6. I do not go for movies (once in a few months) and I strictly do not watch any sports (maybe Cricket World Cup matches when India is playing) or TV Series. The last TV Series that I watched was Mahabharata Star Plus.
  7. I tried to join a Gym/Fitness Center but realized that it was taking too much of my time. Now I get down at one or two earlier bus stop and walk home daily from there so that I get my daily dose of physical activity
  8. I prefer Whatsapp over Phone call- this generally allows you to multi task.
  9. I always try to meet new people- I think this is a great way of learning and picking up some good traits from others and it also improves your communication and interpersonal skills in less time.
  10. I do not sleep for more than 5 hours, no matter what (But I won’t advise it to everyone, do it only if it doesn’t affect your day-to-day activities).

    I don’t know how much this post will help you but if you appreciate this post, kindly do me a favor- FOLLOW this blog (Green colored button on the left side of the screen if you are reading this on your laptop, or on the end of this article if you are reading on your smartphone).

~ KA