Monday, March 02, 2015

Exploring the National Capital of India with Comfy Bed and Breakfast Hotels

Visiting Delhi for a day and don't know where to stay? You might want to check in a bed and breakfast hotel, a small lodging establishment that provides overnight accommodation and inclusive breakfast. The hotel does not offer other meals but that is understandable.

Generally, bed and breakfast hotels in Delhi are private or family homes with less than 10 bedrooms, only available for commercial consumption. These are slightly different than the budget hotels in Delhi.

The concept of bed and breakfast hotels is slowly catching up in India. Metropolis like Delhi attracts a lot of foreign tourists who want to make a short stopover before traveling to the length and breadth of India. The demand for affordable hotels in Delhi increased during the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. The government has now classified bed and breakfast hotels into two categories - Gold and Silver, via the Ministry of Tourism.

You'll probably ask "What can I expect in a typical bed and breakfast hotel?"

Standard facilities will include an air conditioner or air cooler, free wifi internet, and food. Some premium providers are even providing extra services like geyser, lift system, intercom, and security guard. Charges vary from a standard service provider to a premium.

The next question you might ask is "How to search for decent bed and breakfast hotels in the national capital?"

Well, the answer to that is, a local search engine and one-stop shop to find such hotels online.

Preferring a bed and breakfast hotel for "homestay" over other hotels provides greater value for your money, more so if you're new to Delhi and like being hosted. Since the service is intimate and personalized, you'll see that the hosts generally go out of their way to please and offer advice to guests. You'll also be able to get firsthand experience of delicious home-cooked meals. Truly an experience in itself to see the Indian way of living up close and personal!

Most bed and breakfast hotels are located in quiet, modern residential areas of Delhi.

So what are you waiting for? Come, explore the national capital of India with comfy bed and breakfast hotels.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Day 2 of Content Marketing Summit (CMS) Asia 2015: Lessons Learned from a Movie Director and a Radio Host

In my last blog post, I covered the Day 1 of the Content Marketing Summit (CMS) Asia 2015. Here's a recap of all the action as it happened on Day 2 of the summit, that is, February 20, 2015.

9:30 am: Day 2 of the Content Marketing Summit started with the introduction of a new emcee, Geetika Ganju Dhar.

Geetika is a known TV anchorperson. She started the day on a perfect note, "Content marketing is oxygen."

9:45 am: Nikhil Sarup, who brought the house down on the previous day, started the first session of Day 2 titled, "Kickstart your content marketing program - Results showcase".

Key learning from his presentation:
  • Content Marketing is about Speed and Scale.
  • Nikhil demoed how Kontent Cart could help businesses with custom-made content for their brands. Kontent Cart is a neutral online platform that connects brands, marketers and their agencies with content creators or writers for all content marketing needs. 
  • Nikhil chose two brands to demo: 
    • Order Fresh: The Company has a mobile app through which customers can order fresh vegetables and fruits, among other perishable items. They receive over 1000 orders a day.
    • DesiFirangi: The Company sells lingerie but is struggling with content (only four articles on its blog to date).
  • For Order Fresh, Nikhil demoed how Kontent Cart was able to create custom-made content for the brand (Example: "Brain Healthy Diet") that could be marketed on sites like NDTV as "Sponsored by Taboola" ads.
  • Says "Content can help discover your brand."
10.00 am: George Paul, who works as Director and Head of Marketing with Ericsson India Pvt. Ltd., started the second session of the day titled, "Drive thought leadership with content marketing".

Key learning from his presentation:
  • 700,000 new Internet users are added every day.
  • Shared how Ericsson has helped shape the Network Society.
  • Says "We are beyond the ICT (Information and Communications Technology) inflection point."
  • Old industry logics are not valid anymore.
  • Verticals are integrating ICT into their value chain. 
  • New reality: Content remains KING.
  • We enable change and change makers.
  • Focus is shifting from products to services and from owning to sharing.
  • Content Marketing teams in Ericsson comprise:
    • Brand Marketing
    • Category Marketing
    • Product Marketing
  • Content runs through all the three teams through different channels.
  • Ericsson has a partnership with The Economic Times. They publish interviews with the "ecosystem players".
  • New reality: How successful the transformation is depends on how well our stories are told and how well our customers respond to our stories.
  • For Content Marketing, Ericsson hires two types of resources: content and activation.
  • In Ericsson, the product lifecycle typically spans from eight months to twenty four months. Planning is done a year in advance. The Strategic Marketing team is involved and they look at everything again in the middle of the year.
10.30 am: The opening keynote on Day 2 was delivered by Vijay Krishna Acharya (or Victor).

Victor is the man behind Story, Screenplay, Dialogue, and Direction of Dhoom 3, the second highest-grossing Bollywood film. The movie has earned INR 542 crore (USD 85 million) in revenue.

Key learning from his opening keynote:
  • The 3 pillars of Hindi films in 2003 were Emotions, Drama, and Romance.
  • For promotions of Dhoom 3, Victor believed that "less was more". The content of movie was kept a secret. Actors were asked not to reveal anything about the plot to anyone. Except the trailer, no creative was released. The press interviews were done in three languages only: Hindi, Tamil, and Telgu. It became a talking point.
  • "Jassi jaissi koi nahin" and "Just Mohabbat" are two TV shows that Victor was associated with and are still very special to him. 
  • The TV audience had apprehensions about the content of the two shows, but Victor stood his ground.
  • Says "If you allow fear to come in your way of accomplishing something, it will prevent you from accomplishing it."
  • Victor engaged in a rapid fire session with RP Singh.
    • RP asked, "How do you plan content for the same product (read "Dhoom movie sequels") every time?"
    • Victor answered, "The reason to make a film should never be that you can cash in on the success of the previous film."
  • Victor finds Aamir Khan to be one of the best team players ever.
  • Says "We create a landscape where we believe anything can happen."
11.00 am: Next, Amit Sinha Roy presented a session on "B2B Content Marketing: Global success stories". He shared how to acquire, retain, and grow customers profitably.

Key learning from his presentation:
  • Over 24% of the world's Internet routes use Tata Communications network.
  • Some B2B Content Marketing success stories:
    • VMware: Best Social Amplification
    • Oracle: Best Interactive Content
    • IBM: Best Integrated Demand Gen Campaign
    • LinkedIn: Best High Impact RoI (Example: "Ask the Expert" on LinkedIn)
  • B2B telecommunications companies have great marketing campaigns too.
Videos of successful B2B Content Marketing stories were shown:

  • Where does the Internet come from?

Part 1

Part 2

11.20 am: The highlight of the Day 2 was a session on "Audio Content: Opportunities & Challenges" by RJ Khurafati Nitin from Fever 104 FM. Nitin with his baritone voice is like an espresso shot.

Key learning from his presentation:
  • Radio is the theater of the mind. Not having the visuals has its own advantages.
  • Talking of real-life challenges, he narrated how he got the sad news of his grandma's demise in the middle of a live radio show. He didn't leave the show halfway, even in the face of adversity. 
  • Says "Listeners don't know which mood you are in and they don't have to know."
  • Played an audio titled "Kyun shaant hai Dilli?" It was a heartfelt appeal to Delhiites on taking control of their lives and showing courage in the wake of ongoing terror threats in the city.
11.40 am: Post Nitin's session, Karthik Nagarajan delivered his presentation on "Personas & Mapping: How humanizing target audience works wonders."

Key learning from his presentation:
  • As a practice leader for social media at GroupM, Karthik is building an ecosystem to help over 60 different brands of diverse sizes and pedigree, leverage earned media - both as a marketing platform and for insights.
  • The practice is the custodian to some of the largest and best curated social communities in India, while also being a strategic insights and technology partner to them.
12.10 pm: Next, there was a panel discussion on "Can brands become publishers?"

The following guests were invited on the panel:
Key learning from the panel discussion:
  • Smaller industries should first focus on curating and syndicating content.
  • 65% of customer journey is digital.
  • All brands are publishers.
  • A brand that wants to publish must not talk about what it does, but must talk about why it does it.
  • You cannot make a viral video. You have to create elements in the video which can make it viral.
  • Brands look for conversion and brand awareness. They also want to support their strategy in a native way.
1.50 pm: Post lunch, Mohammad Danish presented a session on "Building a buyer-focused content - How does strategy stack up".

Key learning from his presentation:
  • Content is something you cannot run away from. It is part of your DNA and has always been around.
  • 60 to 70% of marketing content goes completely unused.
  • Consumption of content is an issue.
  • 90% of email is unopened.
  • 86% of TV ads go unwatched.
  • .01% of banner ads are ever clicked on.
  • Most brands think they are trying to act like real humans.
  • After Danish returned from Times Square, he couldn't remember a single brand he saw there. A recent survey reveals that 73% of respondents wouldn't care if the brands they used disappeared from their lives.
  • Says "Most of the content is floating in the wind".
  • Believes "Behind every piece of bad content is an executive who asked for it".
  • Make the customer feel important, not the brand.
  • Most efforts to build relationships start too high or too low in the buyer journey.
  • Showed the Oscar selfie by Ellen DeGeneres and asked the audience why 3.3 million people retweeted that picture. The reason, according to him, was that the celebs looked like us, the common man.
  • Redefine marketing by putting people at the center.
  • Be a 'Youtility'.
  • Marketing is so useful that people pay for it.
  • Example of exceptional customer experience: Indigo responds to traveler's requests by tweets. The resolution to issues is fast.
  • To build relationships at scale:
    • Know your audience.
    • Know what content works.
    • Make smarter decisions.
    • Use analytics.
  • Your audience wants stories created just for them. Will you give it to them?
2.20 pm: Next, there was a panel discussion on "How agencies will approach Content Marketing for clients."

The session was moderated by L. Subramanyan, and the following guests were invited on the panel:
Key learning from the panel discussion:
  • We are building houses but it is furnishing that matters. Content is furnishing.
  • Technology can't be ignored but it should not become the end.
  • If you are not starting more conversations around your brand, you are doing something fundamentally wrong.
  • Once you have the success matrix you are looking for, you make your plan accordingly.
  • Make content that resonates with your audience.
  • It's more about having a talent ecosystem, rather than having one thing at one place. 
  • Think about content, not campaign.
  • Think of content as a marriage, not a one-night stand.
3.05 pm: Post the panel discussion, Sandeep Amar presented a session on "Content Marketing solutions from Publishers - The changing paradigm".

Key learning from his presentation:
  • Content marketing is the biggest tool for search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Brands have the means to reach users, but they do not have credible content sources.
  • Brands cannot be credible content sources, while ending up promoting their own brand.
3.35 pm: Next, Harish Bahl (Founder & Chairman, Smile Group) presented a session on "Tip for Content marketing: Measure input KPIs".

Key learning from his presentation:
  • As a business builder, Smile partners with the best entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and multinational companies to build digital companies from scratch, expand operations, and increase its footprint by rolling out internationally.
4.05 pm: The ending keynote address was delivered by Sandeep Aurora.

Key learning from his keynote address:
  • Average attention span of a consumer is about 9 seconds.
  • Content has to be weaved seamlessly into the story.
  • Technology can empower the world (Example: Dharavi - A Look Inside).
4.35 pm: Next, Vijay Simha, Chief Content Brewmaster, Kontent Cafe, presented a session on "Data Porn: Content marketing lessons from Pornhub".

Key learning from his presentation:
  • Try to create content which can live on its own.
  • Porn is bigger than Christmas in Japan.
  • Alibaba is using bra sizes to understand how people spend.
5.00 pm: Final session of the summit was presented by Roopak Saluja who talked about "Content is King, Distribution is God". Roopak is the Founder & CEO at The 120 Media Collective.

Key learning from his presentation:
  • There is lot of focus on aesthetically pleasing advertising.
  • To create content, it takes a lot of effort.
  • The "Why This Kolaveri Di" song video was tweeted by 1 million people and liked by 3.6 million people on Facebook.
  • Content drives sales directly. Example: Toy industry benefitted after the release of The Lego Movie and Toy Story.
  • Other examples shared: LEGO® Star Wars™ The New Yoda Chronicles app.
  • Different strokes for different folks. Quoted Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer at Netflix, "The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us."
  • Netflix spent USD 3 billion last year. The next season of House of Cards can be seen online on Netflix from Feb 27, 2015.
  • Creators are becoming distributors and vice versa.
  • Distribution is the battleground for engagement.
  • Inspire content from whatever it is that you're doing (Examples: GoPro, Vessel, and Snapchat).
  • Will launch an exciting product called Sooperfly on April 1, 2015.
Video shown:
  • Red Bull Stratos - Felix Baumgartner (freefall from the edge of space): Felix Baumgartner is the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall.

5.30 pm: Time for the CMS Asia 2015 Awards Ceremony. Here is a list of this year's winners:
  • Brand of the year: Dove (Beauty Real Sketches & More)
  • Agency of the year: The 120 Media Collective
  • Campaign of the year: Chilli Paneer Interactive Films by DBS
  • Innovator of the year: Courtyard Marriott for The Elevator Pitch (Times Internet)
Closing remarks from RP Singh:
  • This year the summit had 310 attendees (10 registrations from a single company itself).
  • RP took a moment to thank Taboola who paid the conference bills and Geetika who hosted the Day 2.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What I Learned at the Content Marketing Summit (CMS) Asia 2015 - Day 1

Last week I attended the Content Marketing Summit (CMS) Asia 2015 at The Westin GurgaonContent Marketing Summit is a premier event for content marketers and creators, publishers, technology enablers, and leading practitioners from all across the world.

Here's a recap of all the action as it happened on Day 1 of the summit, that is, February 19, 2015.

9.00 am: Since I was preregistered for the event (courtesy: BlogAdda), getting passes and meal coupons for the two-day summit was a breeze.

Shwetabh was there both the days to ensure we stay on track.

9.45 am: The opening remarks were given by RP Singh, CEO - Sirez Group.

According to RP, the summit has witnessed an increase in the number of speakers and partners from last year.

Here is an interesting video he showed on "selling aircraft using content marketing".

He then declared the summit as open.

10.00 am: The opening keynote address was to be delivered by Adam Singolda from Taboola but he couldn't make it this year (apparently his visa application got rejected). To make up for his absence, Ran Buck, VP APAC at Taboola stepped in and did the honors.

Key learning from his presentation:
  • Internet has changed like never before. Till 2013, search was considered the key. Now social networking sites hold the key, especially Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are the new game changers. People use these sites for recommendations.
  • An insight into Global Internet Device Sales reveals that around 10 billion mobile devices have been sold across the world and the numbers are growing by the day.
  • India and China are two of the biggest countries in terms of Internet penetration (after the US and UK that is).
  • The term "Content" now encompasses galleries, videos, articles, syndicated, user generated, original, and native.
  • Everyone can create and promote content today.
  • The new trend, however, is to create "native" and "branded" content.
  • Content is moving the needle from "traditional" to "social" (Examples: BuzzFeed, VICE, and PlayBuzz).
  • The most shared site in the US is PlayBuzz, overcoming The Huffington Post.
  • The next revolution won't be televised.
  • Every page of content should be personalized; build with publishers.
  • Hindi shows a better CTR (30% more) as people prefer to click and read Hindi content on Hindi portals (Example: Oneindia portal in Hindi; see

About Taboola:
  • Taboola is the world's largest content recommendation platform.
  • The company came into inception in 2007. In 2011, they became leaders in video technology. In 2012, they started providing sponsored content. This year they became the largest discovery platform with over 200 billion recommendations.
  • The best growth for Taboola came from the Indian market (around 200 million USD revenue, in a span of 3 years).
  • In terms of achieving scale, Taboola stands at 86.2% just behind Google Ad Network which is at 95.3%.
  • Taboola recently acquired a company called Perfect Market and introduced a new powerful programmatic advertising solution called Taboola-X.
  • Performance of the company:
    • 550 million monthly unique users.
    • 86% US desktop users reached.
    • 5 million plus sponsored content.
    • Mobile (share of revenue) in 2012 was 7%, 2013 was 22%, and fourth quarter of 2014 was 40% - The company foresees a strong growth in mobile.
  • Taboola Discovery Platform comprises:
    • Audience
      • Taboola makes 6 billion recommendations a day.
      • Expedia spends 1 billion USD per month on search to build a travel community.
      • Netflix believes in acquiring subscribers.
    • Engagement
      • Recirculate traffic based on desired post-click behavior. Example: Bloomberg is using Taboola Discovery Platform to drive traffic.
      • Taboola newsroom: Arm editors with real-time actionable data.
    • Monetization
      • Monetize mobile.
      • Audience exchange: manage, optimize, and track campaigns.
    • Personalization Engine
      • Has a global footprint.
      • Is monetizing traffic from 24 countries across all continents.
  • Finally, Ran gave three reasons to partner with Taboola:
    • Technology (highest RPMs)
    • Partners
    • Editorial
10.30 am: Post the opening keynote address, Amrita Thapar presented a session on "Content Marketing: What to outsource, what to crowdsource and what to keep in-house?"

Amrita works as a Content Head for Global Marketing at Genpact. She talked about the challenge of creating content with long shelf life and shared how Content Marketing is impacting sales.

Key learning from her presentation:
  • Genpact started as a captive but grew into a USD 22 billion company with over 800 global clients. Their employee strength at the moment is 67000+. Bain Capital has the largest stake in the company.
  • Currently considered as one of the "Big 5 Players in Outsourcing".
  • The company transitioned from being "sales focused" to being "marketing focused".
  • Their motto has been speed and agility without increasing headcount.
  • Increased revenue from X% of revenue in 2013 to > X%.
  • Genpact relies on a world-class thought leadership and intellectual property to reinforce the brand message.
  • They want to be in a dominant market position where their clients invite them to bid.
  • Working with the right agencies is important for Genpact. Their focus is on "Awareness, Consideration, and Close".
  • Genpact produces more than 200 artifacts per year such as Whitepapers, Case Studies, and Articles. They also perform field research to create thought leadership content such as Infographics, Videos, Impact Reports, etc.
  • Genpact's content marketing strategy revolves around the following:
    • Know the source of content (move from Generalist to Specialist)
    • Editorial calendar
    • Resources
    • Tools
    • Distribution and measurement
  • Genpact uses cloud-based platforms; a lot of work in their content factory is outsourced. SMEs are in-house always.
  • Tools used are location-agnostic and web-based.
  • The company has a distribution strategy for both print and digital. They recently launched a website and an iPad app available for download on the App Store @ iTunes.
11.00 am: Post Amrita's presentation, there was a special session by Svati Bhatkal (Satyamev Jayate) and Tara Sharma (The Tara Sharma Show). The session was moderated by RP.

Svati is the co-director and field research head for Satyamev Jayate at Aamir Khan Productions. On the other hand, Tara has acted in several films such as Khosla ka Ghosla, Page 3, Masti, The Other End of the Line, Britz, The Bill, Bardaasth, and now has her own multi-platform show called The Tara Sharma Show.

Key learning from Svati:
  • For the field research of Satyamev Jayate, Svati traveled across the length and breadth of India and shot stories using a handycam. She later produced a documentary on female foeticide.
  • Her aim was to tell stories through people's voices.
  • Shot three seasons of Satyamev Jayate (her staff was emotionally fatigued after completing season 3).
  • After the first episode titled "Daughters are precious" was aired, the team received around 15 lakhs messages. Post the second episode on "Child sexual abuse," the team received around 19 lakhs messages.
  • The team of Satyamev Jayate started an hourlong segment called "Mumkin Hai" that had a live audience chat after each episode. Through “Mumkin Hai”, viewers were able to connect to Aamir Khan on a number and talk to him for an hour from anywhere in India.
Key learning from Tara:
  • Covers topical parenting issues on her show. Started her blog to highlight the challenges of raising her two sons, Zen (born 2009) and Kai (born 2011).
  • After giving birth to two children, she was even more determined to return to work.
  • Personally replies to every mail sent by the community but says it is becoming more difficult now.
  • Relies on her husband, Roopak Saluja, for content marketing and distribution. Roopak is the Founder and CEO of The 120 Media Collective.
  • Believes "Content is King and Distribution is Queen".
  • Talking of content distribution, she says: "If a tree falls in forest and no one's there to hear, did it even fall?"
  • Tara treats her audience as global (her show is now aired on STAR World India to an English speaking audience); she has even written to Oprah, inviting her on the show.
  • Believes that social media and social change go hand in hand.
  • Her planning for content is simple. She doesn't want to patronize.
  • Says "Have a smaller audience and remain true to that."
  • Never say only TV, say multi-platform. Focus on audience and guests.
  • After TV broadcast of her show, the content gets uploaded on her YouTube channel for timeless viewing.
  • Says "Don't worry about the format; be driven by instinct."
11.45 am: Next session was from Sujatha V Kumar who spoke about "Winning the youth audience with awesome content".

Sujatha works as a Category Director - Marketing at Coca-Cola India.

Key learning from her session:
  • People have not changed but tools of communication have.
  • Secret formula of Content Marketing is Consumer.
  • Says "Make your content to do a little extra".
  • Coca-Cola has two teams to fuel content marketing: brand teams and integrated marketing communication teams.
  • The company values brand assets and invests in future. Does more than product centric marketing.
  • There is an element of sameness in B2B; start by asking "who is your end consumer?"
  • Emphasized the power of a story well told. Asked content marketing professionals to connect with human emotions and appeal to a higher purpose.
  • Focus on consumer engagement through:
    • Superior content
    • Spread through time
    • With (or without us)
  • Sujatha revealed that Santa Claus was created by Coca-Cola in 1939.
  • Provided a tip: "Aim for a clean and targeted Consumer engagement. Tell a strong story." 
  • Can a beverage brand change the world? She showed videos about Coca Cola's way of engaging through content.
Videos shown:
  • Coca-Cola Classic Ad: Mean Joe Green (1979)

Central idea that was promoted: Mean Joe Green could smile after drinking a Coca-Cola.

  • Siddharth Malhotra, Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt in Coca-Cola Ad (2013)

Central idea that was promoted: Spreading happiness through Coca-Cola.
  • Coca-Cola Advert - I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing (1971)

Central idea that was promoted: World peace and happiness. The ad was televised in 1971 around the same time when the Vietnam War shook the world.
  • Coca-Cola Small World Machines - Bringing India and Pakistan Together (2013)

Central idea that was promoted: Bringing in a moment of happiness for the people of two countries, India and Pakistan. Spreading the idea of "open happiness".
  • Papon-MTV-Coke Studio At Lovely Professional University (2013)

Central idea that was promoted: Provoking happiness through music.

Coke Studio @ MTV, which is an Indian television series, brings in a confluence of diverse musical genres like vocal, instrumental, traditional, modern western, regional, folk, etc. from all parts of India.

3 seasons have already been aired, 256 artists have already been showcased, and 30 hours of content has already been produced. The show has traveled to premium cafes like Hard Rock Cafe, colleges and universities, etc. All Coca-Cola labels endorse Coke Studio.

Sujatha also talked about the content shift:
  • from Creator to Publisher
  • from Bollywood to Original
  • from Popular Talent to Discovery
The fourth season of Coke Studio will be aired in June 2015.
  • Not Seeing is Believing, Blind Football 5-a-side -- 2014 FIFA World Cup™ Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola

Central idea that was promoted: "When will happiness strike next!"

12.20 pm: Next, there was a panel discussion on "Is content distribution more important than content creation?"

The panel was moderated by Bianca Ghose. The following guests were invited on the panel:

Key learning from the panel discussion:
  • What is marketing? Letting people know that content is available or accessible. 
  • What is distribution? Ensuring that content is available or accessible on channels.
  • Fascinating time for creators of content.
  • Content without visibility is dead. It needs to be consumed.
  • Spending money on content distribution is a no-no.
  • Create content that people will share (focus on "organic sharing"). Think beyond text and video.
  • Consumers are partners in the process of content creation and are active stakeholders.
  • Quality is directly proportional to virality.
  • Check if community is sharing your story. Also check how many people were influenced by your brand.
  • After discovering your key influencers, redistribute your content.
  • Content distribution and creation go hand-in-hand.
  • Content is like a story; it should take you from place A to B.
  • Digital as a medium is experimental.
  • Create your own content and find distribution channels.
  • Discover that initial seed to establish a foot in the door and let distribution do the rest. 
  • Measure success with analytics (some metrics of success are number of shares, number of likes, and time spent on each page).
  • Content marketing is becoming predictable and scalable.
  • Choose a multi-brand agency that does organic engagement with communities.
  • There is enormous pressure these days to research good quality content.
  • Most brands are trying to woo the consumers.
  • Pepperfy case study: Kashyap Vadapalli, Chief Marketing Officer,, talked of "investing in visibility". The online furniture company focused on the following:
    • Great content
    • Building trust
    • Having a deeper understanding of the brand.
  • All brands start at a level where they don't know how to accomplish a certain objective; own the conversation.
  • Brands too consummated on creating viral content.
  • The problem with distribution channels is: problem of plenty. Analytics can play a crucial role to address this problem.
  • Leverage the power of YouTube as a recommendation platform.
  • Tell a story with all its imperfections.
  • Recognize the value that integrated marketing communication can create.
  • Upscale content distribution (Example: Nollywood. The cinema of Nigeria, also known as Nollywood, is the second largest film industry in the world in number of annual film productions, putting it ahead of the United States and only behind India.)
  • Paid prioritization or promotion of news goes against the ethos of content marketing.
  • Question for the brand: "Will you be able to live up to the standards, after the initial trust has been set?"
  • Analogy drawn towards a guy asking a girl out for coffee date (feelings of mutual trust, security, and interesting conversation).
Videos shown:
  • Lowe Lintas India - Hindustan Unilever Ltd: Kan Khajura Station

2.00 pm: Post lunch, Vaishakhi Bharucha gave a session on "The code for content for techies".

Key learning from her session:
  • Capgemini was not a preferred IT employer in India up until a few years ago. Companies like Infy or HCL were preferred over Capgemini for IT jobs.
  • Employee branding tactics at Capgemini:
    • People forget they were a kid.
    • Basic human principles don't change.
  • Three simple rules followed at Capgemini:
    • Rule 1: Shun analysis paralysis. Data is actually insights.
    • Rule 2: Don't be a marketer. Be a consumer.
    • Rule 3: Be human. Don't bore your reader with your content. Treat your readers as you would want yourself to be treated.
  • Capgemini's success came through:
  • Super Techies Show saw participation from over 12,000 techies and 27 teams.
    Season 1 Season 2 Season 3
    7,400 registered 10,430 registered 12,165 registered
    400k reach 6.4M reach 4.3M reach
    Video views 30k Video news 153k Video news 93k
    Website views 60k Website views 215k Website views 131k
  • 41% more registrations in Season 2 and 17% more registrations in Season 3.
  • Technology can solve real IT challenges (that's how the idea was sold to CMOs and CFOs).
  • Three things Capgemini Super Techies Show did right:
    • Changed their content.
    • Changed their format.
    • Changed their game.
  • In Season 3 of the show, universities were pitted against corporates (the final was shot in a university in Paris).
  • Content distribution was done via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Blogs, and Contests.
  • Niche is always a virgin territory.
  • The show appealed to the intellect. Business challenges were set by the CIO.
  • Tech Challenge 2.0
    • Season 1: Focused on gamification and rewards via Facebook.
    • Season 2: Microsite launch and appeal changed (for techies). The candidates had a chance to attend direct L2 interview with Capgemini. Pageviews: 4m, Website visits: 268k, Contest players: 62k.
    • Crowdsourced the solution.
  • Jashn 2014 - Flash Mob in Capgemini Mumbai (see the video below).
  • How it became popular: See here.
Key learning from this viral video:
  • Align with the pulse of the organization.
  • Align with the corporate values.
  • IT industry is process driven. Introduce an element of fun.
  • Have a message to deliver. Plan. Support. Deliver (Capgemini employees brought cameras to record the video).
  • Enjoy the numbers. Savor the comments.
  • Appeal to the intellect, ambition, and emotion.
  • Test, test, test. And then experiment some.
  • It's engagement, not marriage.
  • Keep the ring on finger and see it doesn't get thrown out.
  • Content marketing is about quality, not quantity.
  • Don't choose your channels, use your channels.
  • Prefer YouTube over TV (Timeless versus Time-bound).
2.35 pm: Next, there was a panel discussion on "From Campaigns to Content - Navigating the shift."

The panel was moderated by Abhimanyu Radhakrishnan. The following guests were invited on the panel:
  1. Sameer Pitalwalla
  2. Saurabh Srivastava
  3. Shruti Maheshwari
  4. Peter Yorke

Key learning from the panel discussion:
  • Content Marketing is the ability to take your brand and tell stories that are contextual to the community.
  • Content Marketing is much more measurable than traditional. 
      3.15 pm: Nikhil Sarup brought the house down with his fantastic session on "Kickstart your content marketing program - 24 hour challenge".

      Key learning from his session:
      • Good content is difficult to produce.
      • Agencies are evolving. Copywriter is not the same animal as content writer.
      • Good content = Expense + Pain. The question to ask is: "Is it also the most valuable?"
      • Publishers know how to get 90% (Example: Girly magazines where the same content is published in a variety of ways over and over again).
      • Stop thinking like a publisher. Act like one.
      • Syndicate: Content should be fit for category and audience (70%).
      • Commission: Custom-made content to fit your brand needs (20%).
      • Create: Content which clearly promotes your brand (10%).                         
      3.30 pm: Aashish Midha presented a session on "Content Marketing Strategy: A Hero Motocorp perspective".

      Key learning from his session:
      • Generate and spread ideas.
      • Content: Customer can be moron or wife or in the center. Your strategy should be "Thinking for him, not like him."
      • Customer will value us to the extent where we are delivering value.
      • Brands: Whatever we're doing is like a wave (flipside). Examples: Arab Spring and Dandi March. In case of Arab Spring, social media played a crucial role in the uprising, whereas in case of the Dandi March, growing numbers of Indians joined Gandhi along the way becoming the carrier of the uprising.

      4.00 pm: Swapnil Shrivastav talked about the role of technology in Content Marketing.

      Key learning from his session:
      • Placement of ads and context is crucial for banner displays.
      • Google and Facebook will have the cross device advantage.
      • The following are important for native ads:
        • App Install and Engagement
        • Context Ad
        • Product Offers
        • General Awareness
      4.30 pmManu Nanda delivered the final session of the Day 1 on "New consumer journey: Are you ready for the future?".

      Key learning from his session:
      • Create content regarding your brand's history and highlight the brand's USP.

          Thursday, February 19, 2015

          A Fun Bedtime Ritual To Put Your Baby To Sleep

          In today's post, I'll talk about a fun bedtime ritual that you could also follow to put your baby to sleep. I've found reasonable success with it and I'm sure you'll get to benefit as well.

          I have two hyperactive kids - Rishab (male, 6 years old) and Saanvi (female, 2 years old). Both of them are restless, mischievous, and talkative, just like any other kid of their age.

          Circa 2013. I wasn't particularly losing sleep over their behavior. That was until my wife broke down.

          "Rahul, putting them to bed is becoming nightmarish. They seem to have a mind of their own. I tried reading them story books, singing lullabies, and engaging them in meaningful conversations but nothing seem to have worked. Help me lest I'll go insane."

          I've never seen Sadhna like that. She looked sad, miserable, and, desperate. So I volunteered to enter the danger zone, not knowing the amount of success I was going to get.

          Putting naughty children to bed is also a lesson in parenting.

          It's not for the nanny to fix!

          If you're a working couple, you might want to seek professional help to take care of the kids while you're away. Hiring a nanny is a great idea but don't expect her to fix everything. Children are emotional and attention seekers; they'll probably never be fully able to express their love in words but they certainly miss you when you're not around. The best you can do is to comfort them. Show them that you care.

          Engage in pep talk

          While putting the kids to bed, ensure that you talk to them for at least 15 to 20 minutes about how their day went, what they did in school (or home) on that particular day, and if they learnt anything special. More often than not, you'll find kids reciprocating with interesting tales. Pay close attention to what they say. Everyone wants to be heard!

          Make play mandatory before sleep

          I realized quite late that the reason why my kids won't go to bed easily was they wanted to play more. I asked Rishab first, since he is elder, if he'd allow me to play with them. And he instantly agreed. Being part of the inner circle is half the battle won already.

          He then told me about his favorite bedtime games. Like Hide-and-seek. I turned around, started to count with my eyes closed while the kids began to hide under the quilt. As soon as I said "Ready or Not, Here I Come" and rushed to find the little beasts, the two erupted in wild laughter. Kids like to play until the last bone in their body breaks.

          Finally, I can assure you that this plan will work like a charm, promising you and your tiny ones a good night's rest.

          Pampers Baby Dry Pants 

          Wednesday, February 18, 2015

          Top 5 Things On My Bucket List That I Wish To Strike Off

          As a kid I would dream about hosting my own Radio Show someday. The dream turned into a reality when I was all of 16. A chance audition for the Yuva Vani channel of All India Radio in high school landed me my first western music show called "In the Groove". I hosted several other shows after that, and pat my back sometimes for not holding back and taking the plunge.

          As Paulo Coelho rightly puts it, "When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."

          If there were no constraints in life, I feel there is a lot that could be done and achieved. 

          Here is a list of the Top 5 things on my bucket list that I wish to strike off.

          Travel Around The World

          No surprises there. Having lived outside of India for seven years, I can only say that my curiosity to know about different nationalities and their cultures has increased even further. I want to understand what makes people from different geographies so unique.

          While traveling to a new place, I want to try out the local food, speak the native language, participate in religious celebrations, go sightseeing and most importantly, socialize. Life will become so much better if we learned to accept our differences and worked towards developing cultural tolerance.

          Act In A Hollywood Blockbuster

          You'll probably laugh at this, but I also dreamt about winning an Oscar someday. Part of me is an actor. Theatrical and dramatic.

          I have an innate ability to perform in front of crowds and leave them in splits. If I get a chance to act in a Hollywood flick someday, I'd like to be cast opposite Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock in a romcom.

          Write A Best-selling Novel

          Again this is a no-brainer. Anyone who knows me can vouch that I won't give my right arm for anything else except writing. Felt terrible when I hit the writer's block from 2012 to 2013, around the same time my blog became nonexistent ... well almost ... and that sucked!

          I'm grateful that the worst is behind me, and I can look forward to concentrating on my writing goals.

          I haven't put in too much thought into what I want to write about but hopefully it's about my life experiences – like overcoming a painful and difficult childhood, stories of abuse and depression, and how I was able to put all of that behind me to emerge as a stronger person. I also want to touch upon issues like relationships.

          Sing And Perform In Front Of A Jam-packed Audience

          Circa 1998. At an annual fest organized by the Punjab Engineering College (PEC), Chandigarh, I accidentally discovered that I could sing well. I was representing my college in the Western Solo singing competition, and had no clue that I'd end up winning the first prize.

          Needless to say, I was ecstatic to win… and with that, started a new journey towards taking up singing seriously. I won several singing competitions afterwards, and even did some karaoke gigs for some time.

          But you know the real kick comes from performing to a packed crowd. Nothing beats the adrenalin rush that one gets crooning in front of a 50,000 plus screaming fans.


          I'm a sucker for adventure. Having tried my hands at both rafting and zip-lining, I now want to complete an accelerated freefall program. Yes, you heard it!

          Can you imagine skydiving from an altitude of 18,000 feet above ground level with a fall rate of approximately 115 mph? I want to feel how it is to freefly wearing a "wing suit".

          Gosh, there are so many things left to do in life, and such little time. To be completely honest, I wish to remain Befikar Umar Bhar.


          Monday, February 16, 2015

          When I Chose Zenfone Over Sadhna For My Valentine

          There are a million reasons to believe that Valentine's Day is the perfect time to express true love every year. I thought so too until Sadhna broke the news to me, washing away the sandcastles I'd slowly built in anticipation of expressing my feelings for her. And just like that I found myself in the middle of a sea of questions.

          "Rahul, I don't have an off on Valentine's Day this year. Hope you understand and take care of the kids while I'm gone. Sorry sweetheart but I'll make it up to you soon!"

          Part of me understands ... how important it is for an ambitious, working woman to be on her own.

          Independent. Competitive. Confident. Busy. Always in charge.

          But part of me is also old school. Doesn't want her to spend special days like these away from me.

          On normal days, we hardly get to talk much. So consumed in our own effing lives. Sometimes I get a feeling that we're living in a rented accommodation, sharing two different rooms.

          Couldn't help but think about the astrologer I stumbled upon at the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur last month. He predicted an awful start to the year for me and also advised not to be overemotional come what may.

          I decided to pay heed to his advice by celebrating Valentine's Day alone this year ... yes, without whining.

          "So what if Sadhna isn't there. I can still celebrate the day with the two wonderful angels in my life - Saanvi and Rishab!"

          After all, love is just love, whichever way you look at it.

          My Asus Zenfone rose to the occasion as I planned to make the day memorable, by shooting videos, clicking selfies, and posting the same on my favorite social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

          Me and Dipali Sharma (A Fellow Blogger) at Asus Zenfone Launch Event

          There is something unique about the Zenfone that you simply cannot ignore.
          1. Slim and elegant, Zenfone is your stylish companion on the go.

          2. You can personalize your Zenfone from a wide gamut of vivid color choices. The smartphone matches your style no matter where you go.

          3. I'm a huge fan of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 in Zenfone that defines a new level of toughness besides making your phone damage and scratch resistant.

          4. I am now able to balance my personal and work life with ease using the Dual SIM feature in Zenfone.

          5. Since I'm fond of photography, I frequently use the 8MP PixelMaster camera that allows me to take crisp and clear daytime photos. Clicking incredible pictures on my Android phone is such a breeze with PixelMaster camera that can capture up to 400% more light for photos and videos in low light environments. No need of flash!

          Asus Zenfone is, beyond doubt, my ideal Valentine!


          Tuesday, February 10, 2015

          Sadhna Completes My Love Story

          The story of my love life starts with Sadhna. Circa 2005. Kirti Nagar, Delhi.

          An Eternal Lover

          I was on a short, one-month trip to meet my folks in India. 

          The unassuming moi didn't realize that mom had something up her sleeve. She'd floated a matrimonial ad for me in The Times of India, which read something like a tweet: "Need a suitable match for an NRI, 26, Male, Hindu, working for Samsung Korea." You know, the usual crap!

          The ad was an instant hit, which wasn't a surprise knowing how obsessed our junta seems to be with NRIs. She received over 1000+ responses, and poor dad had to filter all the Janam Kundlis and photographs of prospective brides, along with other trivial details about their personal lives. 

          Ouch! That must've hurt!

          "The setting was simply perfect," mom recalls. An NRI beta on vacation, a beautiful Hindu girl ready to get hitched, and a blissful arranged marriage setup between two middle-class families. Right? 


          She started discussing marriage with me from Day 1 of my vacation. Apparently she'd also visited her would-be bahu's home (now my sasural) a few times. Initially I didn't fuss too much about it, knowing how overly concerned she tends to be. 

          My theatrical, desi mom, even provided finer details about each girl. The photos came in handy, or so she must've thought.

          For me, it wasn't a big deal going and meeting a girl in front of her parents and rishtedaars. 

          "What's the worst that could happen?" I thought. The whole arrangement could turn out to be a damp squib. 

          I'd clearly communicated to mom that the decision to marry the girl of her choice would be entirely mine, not hers. And she'd nodded in agreement.  

          So there I was, at Sadhna's home, in front of her family members. It almost felt like a courtroom trial. Questions being thrown from all corners of the room.

          "What are your hobbies beta?", "What do you like to eat?", and the best of the lot "What type of soul mate are you searching?" 

          Was I hearing right? A custom-made soul mate just for Rahul. 


          Those discerning eyes of family members totally left me numb. I chose not to speak much.

          But somewhere deep within my heart, I heard a voice scream out, "She's the one ... don't let go!"

          I asked mom afterward if she'd arrange a date for me and Sadhna. Just the both of us this time. Alone and away from the all the noise and hungama. The way I want it. The way I like.

          Mom's plan was working. They know best, don't they?

          She took up the phone, called my would-be mother-in-law, and requested her to allow Sadhna to meet me alone.


          For our first date, we met at Planet M, South Extension. Why Planet M you might ask? Because I wanted to surprise Sadhna by gifting her a Shaan album (a little birdie told me that Shaan was her favorite playback singer.) She truly appreciated my attention to details and asked me with a childlike innocence what the evening had in store for us.

          Now & Forever in Love

          We walked hand-in-hand for about a kilometer and a half, before landing up at Barista, the coffee shop. It was during this time that I'd popped the question, the most impromptu act of my life, about whether she'd be willing to spend the rest of her life with me. For Sadhna, it was certainly a big, life-changing decision she was ever going to take. To leave everything behind and relocate to South Korea, a land so unknown, where everything was unique from language to food.

          And guess what, she replied in the affirmative. 

          We've been happily married for nine years now and have two wonderful children called Rishab (6 years) and Saanvi (2 years). 


          My love for her has only increased tenfold in these years. Life couldn't have been more meaningful had Sadhna not been a part of it.

          “I am participating in the #SoundOfLove activity at BlogAdda in association with Bluestone”.