Sunday, 31 August 2014

Rise of the Influencers - The Marketing Middlemen

Did you know that the toothpaste you just picked up from the supermarket-aisle has hundreds of blog-posts dedicated to it? Or that your hotel-choice for that Malaysia-trip (which you think you made after sifting through scores of reviews and travel-blogs) has been carefully planted into your thoughts (Inception, anyone?) by serial-bloggers?

Welcome to Influencer Marketing - the jargon that's changing the business of selling! This novel technique is not only the cheapest way of grabbing consumer-interest, but also a very effective one! The examples of Juniper Networks, or the latest - Kotak-Jifi, are only a couple in the dense jungle of brands that are successfully embracing influencer-marketing.

So what exactly is Influencer-Marketing?

It's the art of knowing who'll improve your brand-worth, guiding the potential-influencer, and letting these "influence-agents" convince millions of people to try your product!

Who really are these "influencers"?

Influencers are mainly bloggers, microbloggers (think Twitter) and video-bloggers who spend most of their time online sharing their valuable opinion on various products and brands to their vast number of followers. These aren't ordinary blokes with an opinion but experts with an eye for detail (and a mouth for verbosity ;-) ).

How does one go about it?

Influencer-Marketing can be pulled off successfully only if the brand takes the time and effort to understand the influencers. I have a little checklist that'll guarantee you improve your sales-figures!
  1. Identify your clientele: The pitch that worked on a teenage-girl may cut no ice with her office-going mom!
  2. Attract and engage the online-media influencers: You have to work just as hard as the bloggers, if not more. Make sure they understand your offering and create the right kind of vibe. And of course, there's no such thing as a free lunch. Treat your influence-agents to exclusive-meets, company-branded mementos and prizes for the highest efforts!
  3. Be the boss: Remember, you can't delegate brand-maintenance to a bunch of writers. Make sure you direct the flow of your campaigns and reveal your product after the influencers have created some initial buzz. This'll generate curiosity and finally get consumers to buy to satisfy their cravings.
  4. Keep an eye: Monitor how your influencers perform. You must know the reach and impact of every influencer who works "with" you. The analytics should help you design your next campaign!
Here's a diagram (courtesy to help you remember the tips:-
Questions have been raised on the "reach" of social-influencers. After all, these agents can go only as far as their numbers (of page-hits, followers, comments, etc.) suggest. But in the long run, the depth of relationships that a blogger can maintain with her readers far exceeds that which a celebrity (who endorses a cream she'll never use) can forge with her viewers!

It's time brands took notice of this new element that's powerful enough to plant an idea into a consumer's head without his realizing it! If brand-managers don't make a move for "influencer-marketing", they'll soon be moving out of the market!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Syncing with Univercell

It was on a sunny afternoon (a rarity in these monsoons) yesterday that Univercell Sync beckoned to me. This squeaky clean gadget-store recently opened at Colaba Causeway and welcomed bloggers like a restaurant would its diners.

What first struck me about this spacious, but crowded (hello, fellow bloggers :-) ) shop was the immaculate walls that clearly listed the different hats donned by phones - camera, music-player, work-buddy, etcetera. I later figured out that these "walls" were "zones" for buyers to explore phones based on their features, and there was a special one for "new and noteworthy". You can never get lost in this gadget-wonderland because the blue-tee clad shopping-assistants will help you navigate through the well-stocked collections of smart-phones, tablets and a host of gadget-accessories. Being the music-freak that I am, I automatically drifted to the Music section to "play it, live it and (maybe someday) own it".

Once in the Music-zone, I checked out some wireless headphones and earphones. I really need one of these for running with music. My wired earphones always come off when I increase my pace or my swinging hands yank them out of my ears. This reminds of the cute little Philips SoundShooter SBA 3010 that I was looking for but couldn't quite locate. I hope the wireless variety is available too. (My phone is not too fond of wires.) 

Some "zones" of this cool store have amazing art on the walls. I especially liked the technology-tree that branches out to a tweeting blue bird, a DNA strand, a cube, a clock, and various symbols from the digital world (think attachment, document, email, cut, WWW, etc.). The simplicity of this store and how it arranges its products is what attracts me the most.

Have you been to Univercell Sync yet? Which is your favourite-gadget store? Are you planning to buy a new phone? Share your thoughts with me. :-)

Saturday, 23 August 2014

These Boots are Made for Walkin' . . .

I woke up this morning to a shooting pain in my right foot. Perplexed by the unexplained tantrum that my otherwise well-behaved foot was throwing on me, I recalled the activities of last night:-

  • Paso doble wearing my new golden salsa shoes (yes, they are glitzier than the copper ones I used before ;-) )? Nah! I always dance in pencil heels. The shoe does little other than chafing the skin.

  • Brisk walking with an umbrella in the rains? Not likely to hurt me (even though the running shoes are getting kinda old), given that I ran for an hour the evening before last and was absolutely fine.
This could only mean one thing!
My feet were itching (crying, rather) for new shoes!
I quickly got out of my bed and browsed on Spy Love Buy. I don't know how long it'll take to get these pretty shoes shipped all the way from UK, but here's a glimpse into my wishlist:- 
1. YNOT Stiletto Heel Pointed Court Shoes: This black beauty crafted with suede is just what I need for work! Okay, okay, I know I already have black pointy-toed shoes (that make me look like a devil, as some say) I wear to office, but that pair is delicate, and in any case, one black formal shoe is never enough! Besides, this new pair is made of suede! :-) The luxe texture will surely turn the dull days around?
Black Stiletto Heels

2. TREAT Stiletto Heel Metal Trim Chelsea Ankle Boots: Another lovely black piece! This four-incher will be for my trips to the mall. A perfect pair for the winter to come! Can any other shoe go better with a pair of black leggings? The elastic gusset on the side lends these boots a superior character which is accentuated by the gold-coloured trimmings in the front.

Ankle Boots with Metal-Trim

3. FERRARI Heeled Platform Hiker Ankle Boots: ...because just black won't suffice. These tan faux-leather stiletto-boots are nude pumps and hiking boots all rolled into one! This is JUST what I need on another solo trip across the country! It goes well with my adventurous spirit. I can't wait to lace-up and strap on these six inches of freedom which come with a zipper on the side (just in case you're running short on time ;-) ). 

Hiker Nude-Boots

4. PEARL Heeled Buckle Peep Toe Sandals: Blacks and tans are all very well but what when you want to make a bold statement at the next dance? These blazing red, buckled stilettos were made for that very occasion! There's a buckle for every inch of the heels and a secret rear-zip. I know what my next salsa shoes will look like! ;-)
Killer Red Sandals

Now let me tell you, I did not put up these fetching pairs of stilettos for all of you to stare at! This blogpost is a prompt for you get thinking about your own shoe-closet. Do your feet need a makeover? Are you dissatisfied with your collection? What's on your wishlist? Let me hear your thoughts!

Friday, 22 August 2014

My Home - A Reflection of Me

An old friend of mine asked me this morning why I always talk of leaving my home to stay on my own. I told him that the walls, the furniture and the showpieces in my house make me feel like a stranger in my own home. I cannot truly feel one with my environment unless it reflects who I am. He then asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks and made me think.
"What is stopping you from redoing your home? Why don't you redecorate it to exhibit the the person you are?"
Thanks to that question, I have now handpicked 3 unique items from that I can relate to! It's Friday today, and I have my Latin ballroom dance class in the evening. Before I leave for my class, I like to practise my moves in front of the mirror and get in the mood for some good dancing! And nothing can help me do this better than the Deknudt Mirror which is framed by the silhouettes of young people partying the night away! :-)

Deknudt Mirror
Deknudt Mirror

My second pick is a pair of stick-on pillars that will sit tight on a wall in my room and give it another dimension. The rooms we have in Mumbai are not large enough to fit in thick, real pillars. These black-and-white painted-pieces are minimalistic and elegant! This projects one essential characteristic of my personality - minimalism. I am not a person who believes in decking up for all occasions. I thrive on simplicity and grace.

Wonder Arts Pillar Wall Sticker
Wonder Arts Pillar Wall Sticker

My final selection is a handmade woollen Caribbean Carpet which is fire and dust-proof. Its luxurious fabric reflects my ambitious persona. I yearn to succeed and strive for a richer quality of life. This carpet is also warm and cosy, just like the warmth my heart radiates to the universe and dreams of world-peace.

Caribbean Carpet
Caribbean Carpet

My style is essentially an embodiment of "less is more". My home would resonate the theme of contemporary minimalism with a monochrome colour palette. I believe understated elegance is what pleases the eye and endears visitors to keep coming back to your home. If I could redo my house in this fashion, I would never want to leave it!

This post is a part of Makemyhome activity at

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Laugh all the Way to the Bank!

The business of banking interests me very much. I'm no banker, but I watch my finances like a hawk. I fondly remember upgrading from my vanilla savings account from the schooldays to a premium "restricted entry" salary account when I started going to office. I would think, smugly, that I was one of the precious few who had an account at a fancy bank with fancy privileges like zero-minimum-balance and cheque books at my beck and call. But Kotak Jifi snapped me out of my reverie in a jiffy!

Kotak Mahindra's latest offering, the Jifi account, is raising eyebrows, and I suspect, will herald a new era  in commercial banking. Before you ask me why I've taken to prophesying when I cannot even read tarot cards, let me tell you what Jifi is bringing to the world:-

  • Twitter Banking!!!
Yes, you heard that right! Jifi will let you tweet for just about anything - knowing your account balance, ordering a cheque book or even receiving your netbanking PIN!

"Oh, but that's foolhardy! Why would I want the world to know of my meagre savings?

Did I hear you say that? Fret not! Your confidential details will only be sent you (@yourTwitterHandle) in a DM (direct message).

"Mmm... I'm starting to get interested. Tell me more.

I shall, my friend!

  • Money-making without investing real money!
"Whoa!? Did I read that right?"

Stop rubbing your eyes! This is not some kind of lottery. It's just how Jifi rolls. For every Facebook friend you invite to join your "Jifi circle" (and if s/he joins), you get "social points". And this is not it! You can get more points just by being "social" on FB and liking or commenting on Kotak's FB pages and their posts there.

"Hmm... But where's the money?"

Patience, my friend! These social-points can be converted to "transaction-points" which can be used to buy loads of cool stuff online (think of that exotic vacation you've been lusting after on Make My Trip or that swanky speaker system you found on ebay).

"But there's no way I'll collect those many points!"

Of course, you will! Begin on a positive note. Even if you fall short of points, you can ask your Jifi-circle friends to donate you some! This brings me to another unique feature I haven't seen any other bank provide:-

  • Loyalty-Point Transfer
I can't think of ANY other bank account that lets me transfer my loyalty points to another person! Jifi lets you donate (and by the same token, receive :-) ) the convertible "social-points" to fulfil online purchase requirements. That trip to Honolulu is no more a distant dream! ;-) 

"Alright! I'm sold! How do I get a Jifi account?"

All you need is a Facebook account! But remember, you NEED an FB account to sign up. This is probably the only limitation of Jifi. For all of you who've frozen your Facebook, and the social-media-averse citizens, this is bad news. The good news is that I'm going to tell you some more things that will get you all pumped up to join FB (even if you do so only to get a Jifi account).

  • 0-Balance
Like many other accounts, Jifi too allows you to keep your account empty (because they know you spend all of your monthly pocket money in the 1st week! ;-) ). But this account comes with a rider - it isn't interest bearing :-( .

"Hey, I'm not going to let my wealth erode against inflation!"

And, THIS is where Jifi shows its flexibility:-

  • Automatic Term-Deposit Feature
The ActivMoney facility automatically makes interest-earning term-deposits out of any money in excess of Rs.25,000. So you won't be poor if you've decided to save! :-)

"Sounds nice. But I'm no Chartered Accountant! How will I handle all of this money-stuff flowing about?"

You won't have to! Jifi will watch your money for you.

  • Money-Tracking for Free!
With MoneyWatch you will be able to manage everything from bill-payments to income-tax calculation. You can also get over 30 types of reports to analyze your finances! These awesome features are free for the 1st year and you get a basic version of this facility if you do not wish to pay after the free-period.

While I'm telling you the unique bits, let's not forget a couple of basic features - mobile apps to handle your finances and look out for interesting offers; and a Platinum debit card that comes with lost baggage insurance & air accident insurance. Jifi sure knows you like to travel ;-)


With Jifi, Kotak has delivered a cracker. In its cool social-banking avatar, it is aggressively and exclusively cornering teenagers and college-goers. "Youngistan" will now laugh all the way to the bank (or perhaps tweet about it... LOL)!