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September 30, 2011

Battle at Kruger ( the most amazing nature video of all time)

Battle at Kruger is an amazing nature video. It was Sai Prasad who told me about this amazing video way back in 2008. It is mind boggling that a video by an amateur videographer has been watched by 63,466,716 people on the Youtube. (As on 30th September 2011, 1835 IST). Many more millions have watched this amazing video on major television networks including the national geographic.

Battle at Kruger is an eight-minute amateur wildlife video that depicts an unfolding confrontation between a herd of buffaloes, a small pride of lions and crocodiles. The video was shot in September 2004 at the transport Dam watering hole in Kruger National Park, South Africa, during a Safari guided by Frank Watts. It was filmed by videographer David Budzinski and photographer Jason Schlosberg.

Taken from a small vehicle on the opposite side of the watering hole with a digital camcorder the video begins with the herd of buffalo approaching the water. Upon seeing the lions, the buffaloes runaway and the lions charge and disperse the herd, picking off a baby buffalo, which in a panic to escape gets thrown into the water.

While the lions try to drag the buffalo out of the water, the baby buffalo is grabbed by a crocodile, which fights for it before giving up and leaving it to the lions. The lions sit down and prepare to eat, but are quickly surrounded by the reorganized buffalo, who move in and begin charging and kicking at the lions.

After a battle which sees one lion being tossed into the air by a buffalo, the baby buffalo still alive, to the astonishment of the onlookers escapes into the herd. The emboldened buffalo then proceed to chase the remaining lions away.

After being posted on YouTube on 3 May 2007, Battle at Kruger received over 63 million views and became a viral video sensation and was widely praised for its dramatic depiction of wildlife. It became one of YouTube's most popular videos, with more than 60 million views and 79 thousand comments as of September 2011 and won the Best Eyewitness Video in the 2nd Annual YouTube Video Awards.

The video was also the subject of an article in the 25 June 2007 issue of Time magazine, and was featured in the first episode of ABC News i-Caught, which aired on 7 August 2007. A National Geographic documentary on the video debuted on the National Geographic Channel on 11 May 2008.

It is, very rare for such events to be captured on film even by professional wildlife photographers. Dereck Joubert, a photographer and writer for National Geographic said of the video:

"There is no doubt at all that the tourist who shot that scene were unbelievably lucky. I mean, we would've considered ourselves lucky to have had that whole scene happen in front of us.

What can be learnt from this video is that sometimes strange events happen right in front of us. There are few people in this world who capture that moment and encash their incredible luck that destiny gifted them.

September 29, 2011

Low Cost Promotions - Part - II

Coco-Cola Badge
8. COMMUNITY SERVICE: Nothing brings the company to the attention of the people faster or more favorably than community service. Give sponsorship to local festivals like the Ganesh Chaturdhi and Dussera. 

9. BADGES AND NOVELTIES: Any company can easily and inexpensively produce badges, bumper stickers, book covers, book markers and other novelty items for distribution in its area. The company can imprint its business name and the first names of the customers on many of these products at little cost and distribute them for free. Or it can tie its novelty program into a contest: once a month and can offer a prize to any individual whose car happens to carry one of its bumper stickers or badges with peel-off coupons, redeemable at its place of business.

10. CELEBRITY VISITS: The company may be able to arrange to have a local media celebrity, public officials, or entertainment personally even a fictitious cartoon character or clown-visit its shop. The celebrity can sign autographs, read stories to children, perform cooking demonstrations, or perform any one of a hundred other traffic-building activities.

11. CELEBRATE HOLIDAYS: Companies should celebrate major public holidays with special sales. Celebrate some of the offbeat holidays as well. Once the company find the "right" holiday, it can sponsor a special sale or special product and arrange for special media coverage of the holiday event.

12. GO WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE: Can the company open sales information booths at community fairs and festivals? If the company has the people and the time, it can target regional fairs or even trade fairs.

13. MAILING LISTS AND GREETING CARDS: Once the company begins establishing a committed clientele, it can gather their names on a mailing list. It can save the names from its mail orders and telephone inquiries. Eventually, it will be able to send product circulars or even catalogs to the people on its list. Holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries make nice greeting card occasions. Greeting cards create enormous goodwill and keep the name of the company in front of its customers.

14. SCAVENGER HUNTS: If the company wants people to buy NOW, it should offer them an unbeatable deal. If they bring an old product, a small appliance, a book, whatever-to it, the company should give them a worthwhile discount on a comparable new item. Or it can stage a general purpose scavenger hunt.

15. PARTIES: Everyone loves a party. Why not celebrate the anniversary of the business or some special holiday by offering free snacks and beverages?

16. SEMINARS: In this information hungry age, people love to receive advice, especially about their personal needs and hobbies. If the company sell health foods or runs fitness classes, perhaps it can offer "wellness" seminars during lunchtime in its area's business community. If the company is in an interior decorator business, perhaps it can offer one-hour decorating workshops to any group of ten people who will gather at its office.

Low Cost Promotions - Part - I

Low cost promotions: Many marketers think that promotions need to be costly and the company has to spend big dollars to get noticed. But an innovative brain can beat the odds at getting eyes balls at a very low price. Al that needs is a different type of thinking.

1. One rupee shirt: This was a promotional tool that was tried out by a Hyderabadi retailer Fantoosh. This promotion was highlighted in the press but the real eye opener was the big crowds that thronged the shop and the shoppers were delighted at the offer. The offer was true; they were offered shirts at one rupee only. Of course there was a condition the offer only for the first 100 customers.

The crowd became unmanageable and the police had to be called in. The police had to resort to lathi charge. This created lot of publicity in the press and the shop got instant recognition. Obviously Fantoosh was indulging in loss leader pricing. They were offsetting the obvious low price of the 1/- rupee shirt with the publicity and positive word of mouth that the offer generated. They were also hoping that once the customers come in they would buy many other clothes along with the 1/- rupee shirt.

2. Cycle rickshaw borne signboards: We were strolling in the roads of Allahabad. Allahabad is a typical Uttar Pradesh city: It was evening and people were rushing home. I was attracted to an unusual sight. A cycle rickshaw puller was cycling a cycle rickshaw. The cycle rickshaw has a lighted sign board advertising a local retailer CITI STYL. I thought the idea was a brilliant one. The cost of the sign board would be minimal, the cycle rickshaw moves at a slow pace and it attracts tremendous attention.  Other low price promotions include.

3. Free gifts: People love to receive "free" items, especially items they can use to gain knowledge or improve their lives.

4. NEWS CREATION: Is it possible that the company is selling an unusual product?. Did the company win any awards?. All these can be highlighted in the press.

5. EVENTS:  The Company may be able to attract the attention of the media or crowds by having a special promotional event. A fitness classes for example can have a celebrity instructor day.

6. CHARITY TIE-INS:  Is the company launching a new product? Is it trying to increase visibility among a particular segment of your customers? The company can offer its product to one or more local charities as a  prize or for use at a fund raising event.

7. CONTESTS: The Company can offer a desirable or unique item or even several items as contest prizes. First the company should find a contest theme that ties into its business. A soft drink shop might offer a cola drinking contest. A photographer might offer a young model contest.  

September 28, 2011

Gatekeeper is the Person to watch out for!

Secretary, personal assistant, office manager, receptionist, gate-keeper.  Call them by any name they all do the same function. Regulate the flow of information and visitors to the decision maker in the organization. It is their responsibility to see that the decision maker is unfettered and free to concentrate on his/her work. To make sure the decision maker's valuable time isn't taken up by needless interruptions. Gatekeepers are a necessary evil in everyday business.

Getting past the gatekeeper can be challenging but not impossible.

First you must pre-qualify the information that you already have regarding the decision maker (name, title).

Ask the assistant "who is the person handling the insurance matters for the company". Or. " Who is in charge of the specific services/product you are providing (insurance, graphics, Printing)? The person who answers the phone will probably be able to tell you who the decision maker is even if they don't allow you to speak with him/her.

So let's say for example that you are calling Mr. Ravi Sharma  at Ratan Body Shop. But instead of getting Ravi, you get his assistant. His assistant's job like any good assistant is to govern which calls require Ravi's immediate attention and which will receive a phone call at a later date.
Here is an example of what a conversation might sound like.

Salesman : Hello, is Mr. Ravi in?

Gatekeeper : Who is this?

Salesman : This is Paramjit Singh calling for ALL-IN Insurance Services. I'm trying to reach the person in charge of accepting proposals for the employee Insurance policies for thecompany. I was told that it was Mr. Ravi.

Gatekeeper : Yes, Mr. Ravi is the person who handles the insurance but he is tied up right now can I take a message?

Salesman : Can I make an appointment at a later date?

Gatekeeper : Yes Can you make it at 1000 hours on the next Friday.

Salesman  : Sure I will thank you

There are some points worth considering here.

First, always try to get the Gatekeeper on your side. You don't get anywhere by making an enemy out of the person who probably has as much info on the company as the owner/Managing Director.

Second, be straight forward with the Gatekeeper . If you are coy or evasive with him/her, the assistant will pick up on it. You want this person on your side so be direct and simply tell him/her the purpose of the call.

Third always ask for the decision maker’s E-mail ID.  If you get a particularly Gatekeeper on the phone, the chance that the decision maker will in fact receive an unbiased message from you decreases. So be sure to leave a message.

Next, be sure to send some information to the decision maker which helps to insure that they know who you are and what you can do for them. If you still haven't received a return phone call from the prospect then you may want to send a voice or e-mail to his attention. 

If you don't have an e-mail for the prospect from the Gatekeeper then be sure to go on-line to the company's website. There may be a link to the person's e-mail address or fax number.

A good sales man is as good as his last sale

One adage that is frequent used by many sales professionals. A sales person is as good as his last sales. A salesman can’t rest on his laurels. The euphoria of the sales gets evaporated as soon as it is submitted in the office. 

The race earnestly starts for the next sale. The sales person always has to be on his toes. Most sales people do not consider a single sale as a high point. It is the total sale that matters. That is the target achievement in a month or a quarter is more important than a single sale.  

The Prima donnas’ of a single glorified sales man are long gone. Most companies resort to systems selling. Systems selling where a team of sales people are responsible for servicing a client.  Systems selling also eliminates the need to have a daily high. The daily high of a successful sale. In the glorified single person –single order regimes the pressure of getting a sale was so high that sales people would get a sale by hook or crook.

In systems selling getting a sale is only a process not an end in itself. Lot of focus is on lost orders. Lost orders are identified, tracked and reasons for losing an order are analyzed. Analyzed, so that orders are not lost in the future.

Systems selling also emphasizes that getting an order is not as important as seeing that the sales is transacted well. The item has to be delivered, installed, and the user has to get the total satisfaction of possessing and using the product.  

There is no such thing as a free lunch in this world

There is no such thing as a free lunch in this world.

Ask any economist and within a matter of minutes he/she would say that there is no free lunch in this world. The "free lunch" referred to relates back to the once common tradition of saloons in the United States a "free lunch to patrons who had purchased at least one drink. 

There is no such thing as a free lunch on the other hand, indicates an acknowledgement that in reality a person or a society cannot get something for nothing. Even if something appears to be free, there is always a cost to the person or to society and as a a whole even though that cost may be hidden or distributed. For example bar offering a free lunch will likely charge more for its drinks.

This means that there is absolutely nothing that is totally free in this world. Let us see some examples:

May people would argue that watching Television is free. We do not pay anything for the programmes that we are watching. The payout is the cost of the television itself, the cable connection and the monthly rental for the cable, the time that we waste watching the programmes, the advertisements that we are forced to watch and so on.

In a class o economics one student said “sir one scientist has come out with a great idea. He is going to install rollers on the main roads of the city. When the vehicles roll on the rollers, energy will be generated this can be stored and used. Don’t you think that such energy is totally free?”

The professor replied “what about cost of installing the rollers, what about the friction that will be caused by the rollers on the wheels of the vehicles. What about the resultant wear and tear on the wheels of the vehicles and the subsequent replacement costs?” The student was speechless hearing the answer. 

There is no such thing as a free lunch demonstrates opportunity cost. To get one thing that one likes, one usually has to give up another thing liked. Making decisions requires trading off one goal against another. The idea that there is no free lunch at the societal level applies only when all resources are being used completely and appropriately if not, a 'free lunch' can be had through a more efficient utilization of resources. 

If one individual or group gets something at no cost somebody else ends up paying for it. If there appears to be no direct cost to any single individual, there is a social cost. Similarly someone can benefit for 'free' from an externality or from a public good, but someone has to pay the cost of producing these benefits. 

For example if one section of a society is getting a subsidy or low prices on a certain item, someone else is footing the bill for the subsidy. That somebody could be the government or a section of the population that pays extra taxes. 

Sales men are submissive and will inevitably have a dog!

Sales career is the toughest among all careers. Sales men are seen as parasites and they are, frankly barely tolerated. One can’t really blame the sales people. In many cases they sell or market products that are not purchased willingly. In other words if the product can get sold by themselves there is no need for sales men. 

Sales people thus acquire cunningness and ability to play the underdog – always. They appear to be the most submissive of all the people. But that is a just a front. A sales man hears about his targets early in the morning. The not so polite boss minces no words in letting the sales man know that getting the target is sacrosanct. 

On the road the salesman has to grin and bear with the heavy traffic. He does not want to lose his temper lest it affects his ‘getting into the zone’ mood (the psyching up or getting prepared for the sales pitch).

At the prospect’s office, the sales man has to deal with the tough security, go through the drill, bear getting his things examined and get a visitors pass. Then starts the waiting at the reception. The sale man can’t show his impatience. There are watching eyes always watching and ready to report. Getting past the determined and tough gatekeepers (the secretaries) is an art in itself. 

Once inside the sales man has to play his cards well. The prospect behaves like a know all. The prospect preens about his knowledge and stops the sales man dead on his tracks. Sales men have to bear with interruptions, sudden objections and many and sundry colleagues of the prospect joining in the discussion and dragging it in many other directions.

The salesman is not sure of the sale till it happens. The prospect argues on all items including the price, the guarantee, the delivery period and the payment process. The training of the sales man comes into the fore at this juncture. He very carefully and subtly gets his work done that is to get the order.

But his travails are not yet over. He has to play the submissive role at his dealer’s office too. The dealer/distributor has many reasons not to generate the sale that is expected but comes out with demands of early delivery of material and late payments. The sales person has to be wary of not rustling the feathers of the dealer/distributor. So he cajoles and wheedles his way through the dealer and sees that his work is transacted satisfactorily.

Back at the office the boss is not very happy. He is not satisfied with the quantum of discount that the sales man had offered. The boss Complains about the delivery date and lack of advance payment. He grudgingly accepts the order as if he is favoring the sales person. The concerned data entry operator who has to key in the order also plays his role. He shouts at the sales person on his late arrival. He makes snide comments about sales men who can’t manage their time.

Tired and worn out the sales man returns to his home. He takes off his shoes and whistles at his dog (all sales people have dogs). This is the moment that the sales man was waiting for. He talks to his dog in a confident and dominant way. The dog listens carefully and wags his tail. The sales man’s day has ended happily. For the sales man his dog is the only thing that can be dominated by him.

Writing with a ink pen

Writing is an art that was admired by all people and by all cultures. So much so that there are phrases like well read man, man of letters etc. Phrases dealing with writing or reading what has been written. In the Telugu culture one of the celebrations is the time when the small child is fed solid food for the first time. This occasion called annnaprasana has an interesting side light. Article like money, knife, key chains and many other assorted articles are placed in front of the crawling child. The child crawls and catches any one article. The article that he catches it is said  will decide the profession that the child will chose in the future. 
Parents are very happy if the child chooses a pen as it means that he will be well read and that he might pick up a profession that has a pen in it. Pen has magical connotations for many. So such that it is said 'that pen is mightier than the sword'. 

We as children were fascinated by ink pens. It was coming of age if one writes with a pen. The ink pen had many accessories like the nip, the ink bottle, the ink re-filler etc. Schools benches had small depression in which the ink bottles could be placed. Every student was also supposed to have a blotter and was supposed to keep it close by. Ink spilled on the text book could magically spread and make the entire text book unreadable (thanks to the cheap newsprint paper used in making the cheapo and affordable text books). 

Of late writing with ink pen has become unfashionable. The cheap ball point pens have innumerable advantages. They are cheap, don’t dry if the nip is exposed to air without writing, can write faster and don not require frequent refilling. 

On the flip side writing with a ball point pen spoils the handwriting as ball point pen writers tend to write faster. Of late writing itself has become a disappearing art. We don’t pen our thoughts any longer we key our thoughts in. The usage of computers, cell phones and the usage of e-mails and SMS has made the present generations become very bad writers. 

Interestingly ink pen writing has become very fashionable. Recently In India we had limited editions pens sold at a whopping cost of over Rs 2,00,000/-. The pens had a very usual model - Mahatma Gandhi. The epitome of simplicity as a model for a high priced pen! The story of Monte Blanc the costliest pen is also worth remembering. The pen is so cherished that it becomes a family heirloom. 

Psychologically too ink pen writer tend to be a different breed. They tend to intellectual, slow thinkers (one can’t write very fast with a ink pen) and people who are decision makers. The green ink pen signer in India is held in great regards. They are the gazetted officers. Officers whose signature is highly prized. They can sign the photo copy of a certificate thus making it authentic.  That’s the power of a gazetted officer. 

Setting the face of the man will set the world itself

Small children now a days are very precocious. They are aware and can be tiring on parents. One such child was harassing his mother with innumerable doubts. The ragged mother hit upon a bright idea. She took a magazine and tore a sheet out of it. The torn sheet had the world map on it. She proceeded to tear the world map into small bits.

She presented the torn bits of paper to her son and told him to assemble the world map again. She was sure that this exercise would consume many hours as a child of that age would take lot of time to assemble the world map. 

To her consternation the child was in the kitchen with in half-an-hour. To her surprise the world map was assembled and pasted. Accepting her defeat she asked “how is it possible that you could assemble the world map so easily and that too in a jiffy". 

Her son answered "what world map? I never knew anything about countries of the world. The back side of the world map had a picture of face of a man. I assembled the face and reversed it and the world map was made"

How true. Everything in this world is made of human beings and their emotions. Manage the men and keep them happy and conquering the world should not pose any problem.