Monday, March 11, 2013

SEO - Driven Press Release - Getting it Right

Copywriting Press Releases is quite challenging since it has to pass two levels of audience. If the communication is unable to create a “connect” with the first level, then it can never make it to the second level.

How to make Press Releases effective?

According to Laswell’s Theory, a communication is effective if we are clear about Who is communicating What message Where (medium like newspaper, blogs, websites, magazines etc) to Whom (audience) and What is the Effect.

Read this interesting blog post on Press Release

Who is an SME? India and the World

Our family owns a small scale manufacturing business and I am deeply engaged in its day to day activities, exposing me to the “nitty-gritty” of being in the world of business. Besides, this involvement has given me the privilege to be part of a local small industries association. The network meetings and discussions in this association revolve around the dynamics and environment dominating the micro, small and to some extent the medium businesses in India. A common dissent is the misplaced identification of what construes a MSME in India today and the equally inadequate and inaccurate support to encourage growth of this segment.

Economies, across the globe, which are thriving with its inhabitants maintaining a reasonably accepted standards of living have extremely productive and efficient small and medium business sector. The bulk of employment is also generated by this sector.  Significantly, the larger enterprises are, invariably, dependent on small and medium enterprises not only for inputs but also for the consumption of their produce. Yet, the sector finds itself highly wanting in recognition and support.    

In the course of day-to-day parley, this critique was instigated by some random instances and prompted me to introspect.  The most common and oft-discussed issue was – it is time to redefine who is an MSME? 






CRITIQUE

I have been reading and writing about the MSME segment for some time now. In this interim, I have read some amazing articles, viewpoints and blogs. It has enriched my insight about the sector though a lot remains to be unraveled. However, I have compiled some of my observations and viewpoints.

Our MSME sector is blatantly unorganized. The percentage of organized players that we see is just the tip of the iceberg. This ensures that the subsidies, benefits and schemes reach only a handful of enterprises. A lot needs to be done and can be done in this regard and should be done. However, it “helps” to keep the sector unorganized (especially when many of the players themselves do not appreciate the need to be part of a greater whole for unethical issues like tax saving and circumventing the legal and statutory system). Why does it help? Because then these millions of small players do not have a voice! A voice that can create a lobby and influence policies and laws! When there is no organization, there is no identity or force to make their presence felt. An isolated enterprise is “a nobody”! Whom does it help? It helps the government and its administrative arms, the banks and financial organizations and the large companies.

A rape case created national level stir, people came together and the law was influenced. Therefore, it can be done provided there is an intent and unity among the MSMEs. Remember, it is not for nothing that it is said that the economy is driven by the MSMEs sector and that the MSMEs sector is the engine of growth and so and so forth.

Another issue is the lack of financial support or inadequate/ inaccurate support to the MSMEs. 
It is evident that MSMEs survive by themselves without any structured support. Even if there is any support, it is either too complex or simply inadequate. MSMEs deserve credit because they are the true fighters, foot soldiers and survivors, who actually face the enemy in the eye at the ground level in battle terms. A battle is not won by crafty strategies but when the soldiers on the ground engage with the enemy one on one and prevail. These same MSMEs when they reach the large scale state or become financially more viable by taking own risks; become the darling of the financial firms who swoop down to support them with funds and schemes. When does a child need support? – In the formative years or when they are old enough to fend for themselves? If enterprises are identified and segregated appropriately then the action to help them can be more focused and effective.
And who gets the bulk of the financing, benefits and sops? The large companies; who are already financially more secure and capable, who have larger “fashionable” overheads in the name of employee motivation and retention, who employ a mere percentage of the entire available working population! It is these companies who bank on the MSMEs to be their suppliers and prey on their costing, pricing and credit period for a better financial performance. And before someone points out the MSMED Act 2006 to me, let me again remind the reader to read the first line of this article.
The economy is not shaky because of global tremors; it is shaky because our fundamentals are not strong enough. We are not focusing on the plinth while constructing lofty buildings in thin air. The government talks about the glowing economy using all possible management jargons and how the large companies are pushing ahead India’s growth story while it is actually the MSMEs who are creating job opportunities for the masses and propelling conspicuous purchases, supplying goods to the large companies and helping them maintain a low inventory level, and still remain revenue generators, pay taxes.
I am sometimes astonished at the excessive awards function by media houses and other brands celebrating and recognizing “contribution to society”, “success in business”, “innovation” etc of large entities with their glowing faces pasted on the entire range of media from print to TV to the web; the bankers and the CEOs and owners of large companies hobnobbing together in these “social dos” with the clich├ęd “I scratch your back, you scratch mine”. Do they ever talk about or recognize the contribution of the MSMEs on whom they lean for their support? Are these MSMEs ever acknowledged? The same small enterprise that is actually instrumental in their growth and performance!
I sincerely implore the banking celebrities and financial think tanks to sit alone in front of a mirror, keeping aside their masks and honestly tell their own selves are they really doing anything for MSMEs? Are they really taking risks, going out of their comfort zone? Is there honestly no solution for the MSMEs? Maybe one person will stand up to create a difference and that it all it takes to change the rules of the game, to bring transformation, to create a new future, for good, for better.
I believe that the most important step today should be to enlarge and broaden the definition of MSME in the country. Countries are categorizing (as shown earlier) on the basis of capital investment, number of workers/ employees, turnover/ balance sheet figures, type of industry or business. There are even variations based on ownership and decision – making. This is also a pertinent factor. A bigger question is why there is a need to stress on the definition of SME? How will an enterprise benefit in India? A definition would justify why such businesses need support both from the government as well as banks and financial institutions, why they need tax breaks and how much support do they need for how long and on what concerns should the benefits be removed. The idea is to foster SME growth so that “they can fish and eat”. Proper definition will help develop more tailor made policies with better results and outcome. Which SME to support and why? How do we evaluate them? What should be the criteria?
For e.g. – A product that is a crucial raw material for another business is often bought by full down payment. Contrast this with another product which needs to extend a long credit period since it is not supplier specific or having any patent or uniqueness. Do both enterprises require same kind of support?
In any economy, MSME are the flesh and blood. They are life! Nurture them and they will sail all by themselves and take many more on board. Today, the need to redefine MSMEs has become grave and significant. Business is extremely complicated with too many forces at play simultaneously. We require a broader definition with specific provisions for industry – wise characteristics, location, product etc. A time bound program with serious involvement of actual enterprises from the entire cross-section of industries and associations (apart from government agencies, lawyers, chartered accountants, economists) should be created to come out with a comprehensive definition and description. 
It is an opportunity for India to bring about innovative definition of the sector and not blatantly emulating what the world does. Let us break new grounds, be innovative and transformational in our definition such that the world emulates us. Let us become trailblazers for once! 
Patrick Warburton said - I do believe that we have the opportunity to continue - I repeat myself over and over again with this - to redefine and reinvent ourselves and as long as we do that, then I think we've got some pretty good odds in our favor, because we're not always presenting the same thing.
 

Read the entire article in SME WORLD Mar 2013 Issue.

Stop Doubting and Start Achieving Your Aims! GOALS! How to Get Everything You Want – Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible



Book Review
Featured in TISA Mar 2013 Issue
Stop Doubting and Start Achieving Your Aims!
Brian Tracy
GOALS! How to Get Everything You Want – Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible
Tata McGraw-Hill, New Delhi, 2005. pp. 291, Rs. 266 (Flipkart)
Also available as free ebook download from Brian Tracy’s website.

 

Before you make any assumption or have a preconceived notion about “Goals” being another run-of-the-mill average self-help book with rehashed ideas, let us clear the air. “Goals” is a remarkable book that manages to help the reader understand the importance of goal-setting and how to unleash efforts at several levels to achieve them. We have all heard or read about goal-setting at some point in our lives. How many have actually acted on it? Many of us keep on going round in circles and attain far less than what we are capable, imagined, hoped or dreamed of. The problem lies within oneself and so is the solution.
This book’s key message is – if you want to succeed at anything in life in the future, you have to unleash your fullest potential and single mindedly plough through all obstacles to achieve it. It instills faith in the readers that absolutely anything is achievable if we truly believe in it and give our undivided efforts. But with the best of faith and dedication, we all need a clear plan. And the plan needs to be executed meticulously with utmost precision.
The first part of the book discusses the fundamental parts of setting a goal. It talks about developing faith in the self, the internal conviction that we can do what we set upon to do. The faith part is important because without that our efforts will always be half-hearted and our mind riddled with doubts.
It highlights the importance of becoming accountable, to take responsibility for our actions and the consequences. People who usually succeed are those who look inwards and try to change themselves or find an alternate solution instead of blaming everything else for failure. Tracy stresses on the importance of critically understanding and analyzing our values and beliefs. He says that our goals should be in tune with them or they will become hurdles in the path of accomplishment. The most vital proposal in the book is to understand our “truest goals”. For some people monetary gain and position might be of importance while someone else might be looking for learning and intellectual satisfaction. Once we know exactly what we want, we can start working towards it.         
The latter part talks about how to accomplish the goal. One of the core points is becoming an expert in the field, knowing the intricacies of the subject by going into details and becoming an authority. He is prudent in advising that readers must attain their financial goals because they set us free to explore anything else. Unlike many other self-development books, this book solemnly highlights the importance of good health, family, friends and acquaintances for support, learning and motivation. We all need our safety net and support system.
Few essential chapters are Make a Plan of Action, Measure your Progress and Remove the Roadblocks. These tangible factors are the guiding points to attaining goals. Personally, the two chapters on time management and goal review are of paramount consequence. One implores us to extract the maximum from every 24 hour cycle and the other acts as a barometer of our progress.
A resounding message of the book is to keep on persisting in the face of any adversity and not quitting at all! The goals always need not be super-sized; they can be smaller executed over a shorter time period with a specific purpose. The extension of setting personal goals in life will easily extend to business goals and the same system of achieving them can be applied with assured results. This book is timeless because the message it contains is not restricted to any geographic location, era or subject. It is rich with suggestions, plans, advice and guidance for the reader. I completely recommend this book to students, entrepreneurs and working professionals as a constant companion.
The appeal of the book lies in its structure and language. Though there are 21 chapters in this book and the book itself spans close to 300 pages (which is a bit long) but one does not need to read it from start to end. Every chapter ends with few key points which form the gist. One can read the last chapter “conclusion” and then read each chapter in isolation. This book is not a one-time read. Readers will feel the need to go back and refer to sections to refresh the ideas and reinforce them.
Brian Tracy is a world renowned management consultant, speaker and trainer and has authored many books on self-development and motivation. The brilliance of his writing is centered on his effortless use of language delivering crucial concepts and ideas for a wide range of readers in a very straightforward manner.  

Monday, March 4, 2013

Behavioral scientist and HBS Associate Professor Francesca Gino New Book "Sidetracked"

Sidetracked: Why Can't We Stick to the Plan? 

This was featured in Harvard Business School Working Knowledge.http://hbswk.hbs.edu/cgi-bin/print/7141.html

 

Excerpt

"We have a rose-colored view of who we are and what we do, and we aim to behave in ways that are consistent with our self-image as capable, competent, helpful, and honest individuals. We care about following through on our goals and wishes. And yet, even when we have spent time developing our plans and are fully committed to our best intentions, our decisions often veer off course in unexpected ways."

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Brochure is Tangible. That sets it apart!

In the bastion of digital media, a BROCHURE is probably the most reverberating marketing communication tool that is tangible something which can be touched and held.
Read more on what to look out for while designing a Brochure.