Sunday, April 24, 2011

Entrepreneurship and Marketing Lessons Learnt from Goli Vada Pav

Last week I attended a very invigorating session by Venkatesh Iyer (Venky as he is fondly called) of Goli Vada Pav organized by TiE. While the session title was “My Story to Entrepreneurship”, the actual session was much more than that.

The passion with which Venky spoke demonstrated how much can be achieved if you just have true belief in the idea about which you truly passionate. Venky spoke about entrepreneurship, beliefs, passion and marketing.

After thoroughly enjoying the interactive talk, I jotted some key takeaways. 

Thought these would be really valuable for those who are passionate about some idea and want to make it big - because Goli’s story is all about that:

1.     Premium Sells:  Before Goli Vada Pav, people were used to eating vada pav at much lesser cost than what Goli charges it. Goli charges premium for the quality it provides – the quality is in the menu, the ambience, the service and everything. Once the consumers see the quality, they are ready to pay premium for that. Be convinced about the quality you provide and you won’t ever have to ‘justify’ high price.

2.      Don’t give up on the idea: Goli failed twice, with the same idea, for different reasons. But Venky and his team did not give up on the idea thinking that it is not working out. Only when you believe in an idea, you can sustain multiple failures and never blame the idea. You look out for the solutions which will actually solve the problems.

3.    Keep it simple: Complex things might sound good in books but keep things simple when it comes to actual implementation. This applies to everything – right from talent acquisition, training, franchisee setup, branding, promotion – just about everything !

4.   Effective branding and promotion only requires currency of creativity: Venky narrated some incidences about how he used railway announcement system or TiE event for branding and promotion of Goli. None of these were paid. All these just needed the currency of creativity. Venky’s blog also is an excellent piece of writing demonstrating how a very creatively written blog can attract attention of the right crowd.

5.      Piggybacking works: Goli used the technique piggybacking very effectively – Be it the usage of brand (as Venky calls it) of Vada Pav or the famous dialogue of movie Sholay (toh aaj goli kha…) or in the franchisees setup.

6.   Speak consumers' language: I was amazed to see how Goli speaks consumers’ language. The consistency can be seen in: brand name, brand mascot, Facebook page name, blog language, ambience at the Goli center, pictures on the site, cartoons – just about everything!  

I left the room with a mixed feeling of inspiration, awe and respect for passion and with a definite plan to visit Goli Vada Pav center – more for experiencing the passion turned into reality.

Cheers to Goli !! 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Social Media ROI – Measuring the Quantitative and Qualitative Results

I was recently invited to speak on Social Media at the Startup Saturday Event in Pune.

During my interactions with various organizations and people, I realized that while many people do agree that social media is powerful and should be used for marketing; lot of them are concerned about the ROI and the measurement of the same. This made me choose “Social Media ROI – Why, What and How?” as the topic for the speaker session.

Here is an excerpt of what was covered in the session.

As a first step, we need to acknowledge that social media a combination of psychology, sociology and technology. So while defining the social media strategy for your company/ brand, you need to be extremely cautious about ALL these aspects.

The next thing is the approach which is taken while planning the social media campaigns. The ideal approach is: 
  1. Define Goal
  2. Identify Tools
  3. Decide Approach
  4. Execute
Many of the social media campaigns do not yield the desired results because many companies and brands directly jump to execution without going through the first three steps.

Companies need to first define as to what exactly they would like to achieve from their social media campaign – is it customer feedback, user engagement, leads or sales. Once the goal is defined, companies need to choose the right tools. For example: Although Twitter and Facebook are the popular social media platforms, there is no point in being on Facebook if your target audience hangs out on MySpace! Once the tools are identified, get a clear consensus on the approach and tone of your communication. And then the final step is execution.

Assuming that you followed all the steps and have started with your social media campaign, the next question comes to mind is – how do I calculate the Return on Investment (ROI). While considering the ROI, you need to decide what exactly you want to measure? Because social media has got “media” which has quantitative measurement matrices and “social” which has qualitative measurement matrices. By quantitative measurement matrices, I mean number of leads or increase in sales/ revenue. By qualitative measurement matrices, I mean interaction, feedback, loyalty, passion and brand awareness.

Here are some examples which describe how companies have got both, qualitative as well as quantitative ROI through social media.


  1. Southwest AirlinesSouthwest Airlines attributes more than $1 million in additional ticket sales to its presence on Twitter.
  2. Marriott: Marriott has made more than $5 million in bookings from people who clicked through to the reservation page from Marriott's blog.
  3. DellDell Outlet made more than $6.5M sale through its Twitter presence.
  4. Lenevo: Lenovo attributed a 20% reduction in call center activity to use of a community website for answers.
  5. Naked Pizza: 68.60% of total dollar sales for Naked Pizza came from customers who said they are “calling from twitter”. 
  6. Blendtec: Increased sales 5x by running the humorous "Will it Blend" Videos on YouTube.


  1. Starbucks: Generated lot of new product ideas by asking users what want from Starbucks.
  2. TurboTaxTurboTax started a Twitter campaign to respond and answer questions during key tax season. This helped them in establishing themselves as experts in their field whom the users could trust for opinion.
  3. Kogi Korean BBQ: Uses Twitter to let the customers know where the truck was and when it would be in their neighborhood. This made the customers happy and of course more number of customers for Kogi.
  4. Comcast: Provides customer support on Twitter which has got it more satisfied customers who are happy to receive instant online support
  5. Home Depot: Appreciates technical support employees on Twitter - Whoever provides the support through support tags the tweet with his/ her name. Customers love this because they exactly know who is supporting them and the employees’ moral is boosted with such public appreciation!

So, in a nutshell, for a successful social media campaign:

- DEFINE what you want to measure
- DEFINE your message and tone
- DECIDE your approach
- SELECT appropriate tools
- EXECUTE with diligence and consistency

If you have any more examples of successful social media campaigns, do share those as comments!