Scale

Scale: the thing we use for measurement. We are surrounded by scales. We measure everything from the distance to a destination to how much something (or someone) weighs to how long it’s going to take. Every measurement has a standard scale associated with it. For example, we measure distance in miles, weight in pounds and time in hours. It is second nature to us. It makes life easier and more meaningful. The same applies to everything else that is measurable including in the world of marketing. That’s where Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, come in play.

In marketing world KPI is a standard scale to measure the success of things like marketing campaigns, a website’s performance and a brand’s position in a competitive landscape. The million dollar word here is STANDARD. If you are developing the best algorithms in the world to come up with the best KPIs, the most important thing to do is to make sure the KPIs you define are acceptable as the standard.

So let’s get to the important part. What are the ingredients to make KPIs standard? It’s a sequence of things. First and foremost is accuracy. You need enough benchmark and trends to show accuracy of your KPIs. When you have historical data to prove accuracy, you are in the market with something that you can be justified with evidence. You can make a case that there is a need for these KPIs because that’s the best measure of success. You have the confidence to let the early adopters–the progressive clients–kick tires and  try it out. When accurate results emerge, the most important ingredient in the standards business comes in picture. Trust. Trust around KPIs leads to adoption, first by the early adopters and then by everyone else. And there you have it–a new measurement standard making the lives of people in the industry so much easier and quantifiable.

ET Magazine – MavenMagnet research study: Second year of Modi Sarkar

MavenMagnet conducted a study in partnership with The Economic Times to evaluate the public performance of Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The study was published on May 14, 2016. Here’s the link to the study.

ModiSarkar_Year2

Going global

There are lot of things that helps the business grow. One of those things, specially for a B2B business, is global expansion. Global expansion has become a necessity in lot of ways for service companies. All Fortune 100 companies are multinationals with operations across the globe. A cereal company sells cereal in US also sells cereal in Europe also sells cereal in India and China. So if they are looking for information like how they are doing competitively in the market or how their campaigns are doing, they will need measurement tools in every market. Therefore developing global capabilities is a slam dunk and in lot of ways a no-brainer.

Then why are many service companies regional? There are many benefits of being regional. You can develop niche expertise in a market and run the tables there. It’s easier to manage and contain, and if you are in a big market, there is way too much ground to cover in there than thinking of expanding wings across borders. But sometimes its prudent to have capabilities in multiple geographies to serve your consumers.

So you plan to go global. Let’s look into challenges that comes in your way. One of the key ones is resource management. The most fundamental resource is people. Getting the right people to work in the right market is the most essential thing. You should go to the markets that will provide you the best bang for the buck, but a key decision making factor, given most other things being equal, is also where you have the most dependable people to service the market.

We would all love to have presence in all 200 countries where Pepsi sells cola, but it is just not practical and in many ways not essential. Take a step at a time so that your operational capabilities are able to support your expansion. Operational capabilities expanding with your expansion is critical. Everything from language support to time zone support need to keep up the pace. There is no time of the day when you can allow downtime if sun is up in some part of the world where you are operating.

Go global if you it makes business sense. Go global at the right time in your growth curve. Go global if you have the muscle to sustain it.

The irrationality

We live in an irrational world. Everything from the stock market and consumer buying habits to people’s beliefs and their voting choice is irrational. As a marketer you have to navigate through this irrationality and fit your product in the mix. In other words, you have to accept the irrationality and make sense of it. And that’s where we come in picture.

At an individual level its complete chaos. Even looking at a few dozen maintains the chaos. The chaos normalizes when you take tens of thousands of consumers and their hundreds of thousands of conversations. What emerges out of this exercise is something really beautiful. You get strong patterns that define your consumers, what matters to them and influences them to make decisions in their lives.

The basic idea is to understand your consumers. Develop products that they want. Speak to them in the language they speak. That’s how you will decode the irrationality and become a part of their world.

Expectations from Indian Union Budget 2016

MavenMagnet conducted a study in partnership with The Economic Times published on February 27, 2016. Here’s the link to the study.

Budget2016Expectations

Reality Check – 2016

About four years back, I embarked on this crazy and exciting journey called MavenMagnet. Fresh out of business school and some software development work experience under my belt, I decided to do something where I would work with people I really enjoy working with, be excited enough every morning to jump out of bed to go to work, build a brand my customers can trust and add a little bit of value to the world my company lives it (and never wear suit to work).

Here is a reality check of how well we did (and how badly I f**ked up):

Working with smart people
One thing I can say with good confidence is that I did pretty well here. The first person to join me is pretty much the smartest big social data market researcher out there today. It’s a pain to work with people striving for perfection, and it multiplies when the person is your younger sibling. So the pain might kill me, but MavenMagnet will not have to worry about quality of work. Next I was joined by advertising industry experts and market research veterans to help build our client facing team. And along the way we met some great people to help build MavenMagnet. There is one big regret here. I didn’t get to work with “all” the smart people I would have wanted to work with. Bootstrapping a company has some disadvantages, and one of that is you cannot bring on board all the people you want to work with. We are getting better here and hopefully 2017 reality check will be a bit different.

Building a trustworthy brand
MavenMagnet’s mission from day one was to transform market research. Get companies out of the traditional way of doing market research and listen to customers and leverage their conversations to do market research. It is not an easy task to transform an industry where the standard process, i.e. you ask questions and you will get answers, were set in 1970s. The first step in this transformation process was to set a brand clients trust. We did quite well here. We are proud to say that we have had near perfect satisfaction score for the work we have done. Almost always we were not able to out deliver what the client expected. We took hits along the way to meet or beat the expectations, but when I look five years down the road, I believe that will pay. The high client satisfaction also gives all the client facing people in the company a sense of confidence to pitch prospective clients that we will out deliver the client’s expectations. But a trustworthy brand is one not trusted by only your clients, but a brand that is trusted by everyone. We have to do lot of work in this space. We have got good PR in India to build trust around the brand. In US, we have to step it up and build some partnerships with authoritative publications to get the name out there and build trust.

Something known as success
Our mantra at MavenMagnet is “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” We started with an idea and a game plan to work on it. We developed some great products. We took tangents. We acquired some big clients. But are we successful? That depends largely on the definition of being successful. We have a good chunk of Fortune 100 companies we are working with, but there are so many more companies we can help using our products. We have five key products to help clients make critical business decisions, but we can develop more focused products to target issues faced by different industries.

What about revenue numbers? Stay hungry. Stay foolish.

Am I excited to jump out of bed and get to work? You bet I am.

Is MavenMagnet’s future looking bright? You ain’t seen nothing yet!

What about the suit? Well once every few months…but then you don’t get everything you wish for…

A lot of time in air

I recently spent a lot of time in an airplane coast to coast. While typically it is a great way for me to catch-up on my sleep, this trip happened to be a day time thing and I was not very sleepy. So while counting hours to land and thinking of better ways to convince prospective clients to use MavenMagnet services, I realized how being in this box makes doing research outside the box (read use MavenMagnet) such a no-brainer.

Before I talk about the parallels, let’s set the landscape. Day trip flying for 4 hours, no entertainment set in the plane and no wi-fi. So what did this lead to? About 150 people in the plane with nothing to do but either sleep or read or talk. So while having a light conversation with a good looking girl sitting next to me, I was listening to people sitting around me. People were talking about everything from who will be the next president to what they will do if Donald Trump become the President to when will Apple have a new product that is not just a newer version of iPhone or iPad to why season one of House of Cards was so much better than season two.

This was nothing but a minuscule of what conversations on the Internet are and what MavenMagnet scrapes to do market research. No one was asking anyone to talk about a specific thing. The conversation on next president was triggered by a Time magazine cover. The Trump comment was courtesy of the last night Republican primary debate and polls following that. The Apple conversation was triggered by Apple stocks falling down. House of Cards came up as one of many TV shows as a reaction to Golden Globe nominees list.

The Internet is this times millions. People talking among themselves. People talking with people they probably don’t know but have common interests. The kind of insights you can get out of scraping human conversation in an unbiased and unobtrusive way has no parallel out there. What we have developed at MavenMagnet is a set of tools and techniques to parse, dissect and understand these conversations, products in these conversations and people having these conversations. Market research cannot get better than this!