Saturday, 4 April 2015

Short films, big enough to succeed

Fast-paced life isn't an expression anymore. It's a reality - the one we all live in
But that's no reason to miss out on entertainment. Is it?
We moved to an era of what we call the "Snackable Content"- content that is short and precise enough to be meaningful and quick.

Shorter blog posts, instead of full news articles, Social Media updates, instead of full TV/news coverage, etc. We are always looking out for best tangibles in the shortest time! This is Snackable Content. 

Short Film is one such element of Snackable Content. Entertaining, fun and quick! Also, they can be watched anytime, anywhere on any device. This is not a new concept though. Films per se started off as short films, but later went on to become bigger. It was in the 70s that the craze for short films plumetted. They once again took off in the 90s with the arrival of handy digital equipment. Read the history of Short Films here (Source: Telegraph)

Short Films, today are not just about fun and entertainment. They have become an interesting way of auditioning for bigger films and building a real time portfolio (for both makers and  actors). MR productions is one such amazing Short Film production house based out of Andhra Pradesh. It was a fun hobby picked up by two friends; Dheeraj (left) & Subash (right) that opened up the Silver Screen gates  for them

With an office in Hyderabad, they have successfully completed 100 short films and they are a very well known short film maker in the South (especially among the Telugu speaking crowd) Enough of me, let's now hear Subhash, speak ! 

(A glimpse of their 100th short film)

1. Is MR Productions a startup? or is it just a team of friends making films for fun?
We started off with friends being part of our Production as actors and artists. We are proud to have friends who encouraged us right from the beginning without expecting anything. I can't say if it's a company now but, we are planning to remain as a production house and encourage new talent by promoting their short films

2. Tell us about your team. Who are your stars?
Dheeraj came up with the very idea of making short films. We teamed up and launched MR.Productions with no proper vision. Later on we grew with our Production, learnt from our own mistakes and had friends encourage us by being a part of it. Now, we have a large family bound by passion. Yes, I said Family because in this journey, we never felt as if we are working with a team

 3. What in your opinion makes MR productions unique? There are many others out there. What makes you guys special?
At first, we didn't make films to attract audience. We made them because we like making films. Later on, we found out that even others were liking them and were getting entertained We concentrated on Pure Entertainment. We kept our films real short and crisp, filled with entertainment in those few minutes. Also, we are very concerned about the quality. We will never compromise on it.

4. What was your inspiration to start this production house? Tell us your story
 As i told before, Dheeraj came up with the idea of making a short film for a college level film festival. We paired up and made our first short film 'Success- the story of a street boy' in December 2008. We stood third in the film festival and continued making short films ever since. Inspiration came from movies. We both love to watch movies and may be that's where it all started. We started our production house in Vizag. We picked the letter M from MVGR college and R from Raghu college where we were pursuing our and created MR. Productions

5. One of your stars has recently done a film! "Uyyala Jampaala" So, are you planning to enter the film industry too?
Yes, we are working on a script for our first Feature film. It is likely to be hitting the sets by end of this year or start of next year. We are looking forward to it

6. How long does it take on an average to finish a short film?
 It depends on the script. We made shorts films in just an hour and also made short films in 10 days(1 month) including Dubbing and Music

7. Are you planning to make short films in other languages too? or will you just stick to Telugu?
We made all our films in Telugu and we will remain a Production house for short films for now. If we like a script in other languages and think a team can do it, we will support/produce the short film and release it online through our channel

8.What is your vision? A couple of years down the line, where do you see your team heading?
We want to be film makers, who make films that'll be remembered by people as Good films. We are planning for a Family entertainer as our first feature film. Audience liked us as short film makers, we want them to extend their love towards our Feature films too.

Thank you Subashfor the interview

Watch their short films here
Image Courtesy - MR productions|Collage Courtesy - piZap

Saturday, 24 January 2015

How to make Corporate events fun using Digital Marketing Tools?

As young Marketeers, we might have to run events and handle Digital Media for them. Here's putting together what can make your Corporate event look very cool on your Social channels
I recently took care of Digital Marketing for a corporate event and that's when i explored a couple of Marketing tools that let you single-handedly (This is true for an event not expecting more than 100-200 people)run your promotions in a fun way with ease For bigger events, you might need a hand or two.

All you will need is a computer (for ease), a Mobile phone equipped with a good Camera and Internet!
I chose Twitter as my central platform. We created a nice little hashtag that was relevant to our event and started getting people aware of it prior to the event. What can be done differently on the day of the event? Here are a couple of them i tried my hands on
1. Audio Boo - As people enter your event venue, you could get sound bytes from them. Yes, just like those fancy Movie functions. Now, Audio Boo is a great tool that lets you record sound bytes, include a picture and have them directly posted onto your social media handles. These sound bytes can be played from the very post. The best part is, you can get all of this done using one single tool. You may also choose to record sound bytes from your phone and upload them here. This is a very easy to use tool. It's free and all you need to do is sync your Twitter profile here/login

2. TweetWally - Now that you have encouraged your employees to tweet LIVE from the event, you might want them to see that appear on your feed Real time. TweetWally is yet another impressive tool that lets you do just that. Configure your Twitter profile here and choose your options like, what kind of tweets you want up there. For example, you may choose to display all tweets with #BigData2015 There are also a few interesting combinations (of exceptions) you can key in. Once you have your Tweet wall ready, you just project it on your event screen.

3. piZap - Images are the most appealing when it comes to posting live updates from events. Sometimes, it's hard to pick the best instantly. In that case, our age-old "Collage" is the best option. While there are many tools that let you make collages, PizAp is my pick! No signing up, no cost. Also, it's just too easy to use. There are different layouts you can choose from (a lot of them). You can also quickly edit each of your pictures here. It's the best tool when you need to be on your feet, updating pictures from the event 

4. Canva - This is the best tool i discovered in 2014. It has been my favorite ever since. When it comes to events,you might want to make instant posts for your social media channels, be it, Invitations, Header Images, Display Pictures and others. One thing most Digital Marketeers suffer from, is getting the dimensions right! Not always can you have a designer seated next to you to help you out. Canva can be that guy for you. Choose what you need, upload your picture and fit it into the frame. Voila! your post is ready to be shipped! Canva has several other options, that you might want to explore even after you are done with your event . Designing a flyer, a Business Card, Google+ cover and so much more is just a click away with Canva! The "Design School" element of Canva offers great learning to Marketeers who have an eye for design

There are many other tools serving similar purposes. But, with these tools, Speed is the essence, while you are operating LIVE from the event venue. You should try them too! Feedback is welcome.
Note: This is NOT a sponsored post. It is an outcome of my experience and search for useful tools.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

The Social Media Dilemma

Digital is a big thing now. Every business is looking at Digital, because their customers are there. It's become a touch point you cannot ignore. But i always end up thinking some brands just over do it, especially when it comes to social media. 
In my opinion, there are two primary reasons for why you, as a business may choose to go the social media route (unless you are promoting films or events, for whom promotions are essential, given their short lived digital presence)

1. You are a brick and mortar player wanting to share news and updates about your business, assets, workplace, employee culture, work culture, etc. You do this so that when the customer is looking for you, he can find you all decked up and follow you - Brand Awareness is the objective here
2. You are an e-commerce player and social media is your playground. This is one of your digital ways to get business. Lead Generation is the objective here

It's good to know which one's your category. There could also be an overlap sometimes. What's common to both of them is that they have a clear objective. When you don't have a clear objective, Social Media gets overdone. We always end up counting the number of likes, shares, followers and what not, because getting those numbers to spike  makes us look good right? No! Making sure you have a relevant and efficient touch point built for your customer is the agenda. Think about it. Recently, i got asked by a friend to suggest a few social media campaign ideas for a Milk brand. It was fun doing it. But, when was the last time you heard someone buy milk because the brand had a fun campaign on their Facebook page? That's exactly what i am talking about. 

I opine that Category 1 (the Brand Awareness guys) should be more honest and simple in their digital content. Keep letting people know about you and hear them out too. 
Focus should be on your business. If what you do is good, people will like you and talk about you. Yes, you become newsworthy. I am not judging, but who got us into believing that you should keep posting updates and running campaigns just for the sake of it? Is it because a lot of others are doing it? We know of organizations that do not even have official social media pages and we still see people talking about them. So, i am just asking you. Why are we over doing it? 

In Category 2 (the Lead Generation guys) digital should focus on showing how different their product/service is. The difference could be big or small, local or global in nature. But, there is always someone looking for it. That's why your business started in the first place right? So, base all your updates, campaigns and contests around this simple truth. Also, give customers enough opportunities to tell you what they think about you. Positive Testimonials will grab more business and negatives will help you improve.

You either do 1 or 2. Instead, if  you try to throw carrots at people through random contests, remember they are there only for your carrots and will leave soon. Social Media is a great touch point. However, it's just one of the touch points. Invest only as much as you can handle. Let me know what you think about this post. Have a happy new year ahead :)

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Pitch Smart.

Hello All,
Here's introducing Micro e-books. The shortest e-books, quick and useful

Pitch Smart is the first such creation. 
Agencies have such a tough time dealing with the corporates, true? First impressions are such a herculean task? Well, here's trying to make that process slightly easy. Talking from the other side of the fence (from a corporate's point of view), Pitch Smart tells you things that matter, acts that fetch brownie points and make your pitch perfect. 
Happy Reading!

Don't forget to drop in your feedback 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Chat with Alicia Souza - The Illustrator

Learnings from the Learned #1

This series is dedicated to all those amazing achievers who never seize to inspire us! Here's starting with the lovely Alicia Souza. Do i need to introduce her? I hear most of you shout NO. So, skip this part and jump straight to the interview you guys, because i will introduce her for the benefit of others who are still not in love with her awesome illustrations

Alicia Souza is a young illustrator based out of Bangalore. She started off working for Chumbak (a Bangalore based startup selling Indian souvenirs and knick knacks) and then went on to become a freelancer. She now also runs her own e-commerce store. TED Talks, Corporate Workshops and so much more. Alicia Souza is a bunch of joy who speaks through her drawings. Can you believe her Twitter profile says, "I draw"? Such infectious passion i tell you. 

1.  You draw & always draw! so much! Considering freelancing is so self-driven, how do you manage to stick to it and not get bored?

In the beginning it was hard and a lot of conscious effort was put into sitting at my desk, especially when I'm generally a very fidgety person. Over time, I learnt to mix in a schedule that suits me and my hyperness. I also tend to work in accordance with my moods. So if I don't feel like drawing, I just don't and when I do, I make up for the times that I don't!

2. How do you manage your social profile? I mean your strategy to manage your social channels is so amazing! Your responses are quick and your content is constantly flowing. How do you manage this despite your busy schedule?

 In the beginning it was, again, challenging to fit it in a schedule and to take time off to put up a drawing but now it's a habit. Like brushing my teeth. I don't think much about it and it's part of my day. Also it helps that everyone on my page is super lovely and supportive! Makes it less of a chore and more of a joy!

3. e-commerce is so challenging today and you are now a part of that world! What is your biggest learning as an e-entrepreneur?

 I feel like I'm still learning! Adapt! that's my biggest learning. Learning to be flexible when things don't go according to plan because goodness me, they don't! But it's also so much fun because of it. 

4. Do you have a cut off time in a day when you just stop working no matter what!? Does taking off time from work help spur your creativity?

 In the beginning I used to not take time off and then I started getting family and friend obligations. in the beginning it used to be off on Sundays and I used to keep thinking about how much I could've done but then I realised how much MORE I do when I get back. Weekends are like mini-vacations away from my desk. Also, yes, I have a cut off time of 'Charlie whining for playing company'. He's like an alarm clock. And yes, it also helps because you get content to feed your drawings.

5. Do you have any plans of using your skills to raise social awareness? 

Yes, I'm already working with a dog behaviourist and pet store to print these one-page-booklets on little pet information. All the proceeds from buying them go straight to an animal shelter. It's something I've always wanted to do, so I'm glad:)

6. How do you come up with such entertaining names for your dogs?

 Charles-Brown Whimperbug Souza: I always loved the name 'Charlie' and was reading Peanuts when I got him. He responded first to the name, so it stuck. And 'Whimperbug' because he was such a whimperer when he was a puppy. 

Lola-bear Schnitzel Souza: Well, I initially wanted to call her 'Polar Bear' because she looked like a little white bear cub when I got her, but got refusals from everyone about the name, so it turned to 'lola-Bear'. 'Schnitzel' was because my friend who picked her up at the time had just gone to Prague and was obsessed with them. 

They grew into their names. 

Thank you Alicia Souza for doing this :) 
Hope you all enjoyed reading this! You may now like, share, comment or just smile 
Have a great day!

P.S - All images belong to Alicia Souza, permissions taken!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Is your feedback system people-friendly?

The addiction for feedback has always existed among achievers or to-be-achievers (be it an individual or an organization) But, how many of us have taken the "Human Factor" into consideration for the same?
Let me elaborate. Most of our feedback is so skewed towards the extroverts. Would you agree? In Webinars, the person who clicks on the raise-hand button is prioritized over a person who has keyed in his/her question in the chat bar. The person who has commented on a post is taken more seriously than the one who has merely liked something. Did we miss pondering upon the fact that, there are so many silent listeners out there, some of them being our biggest customers? Why did we just assume being loud is a sign of importance?
Needless to say, today our content (be it at a personal level or at an organizational level) is exposed to a varied set of listeners out there - there are the extroverts who respond, debate, challenge and discuss, there are the ambiverts who may prefer to take the discussion offline or online and then we have the introverts, who prefer introspection over an open discussion. When you take feedback how receptive are we to all these people-types? It's not stereotyping i am talking about, it's the inclusiveness that's important. It will make you stand out as an organization.
Here's a practical example of how i used this thought to get feedback for my blog
For the enthusiastic extroverts who love an on the spot open discussions, I have the regular comments section.
For the lovely introverts, i have a silent response section, as i prefer to call it. I do not need you to talk or give me your details. Just tell me how you would categorize my post

For the introverts who do mind speaking up in person, or for the extroverts who do not have time for an open discussion, i have a section to take this off the blog - having them send me a feedback to my mail. A lot of people do respond here.
The bubbly ambiverts are the ones who vacillate on their mode of communication. So, they always have options to choose from. I let their mood do the choosing for them.
I can now firmly say, i have accommodated all kinds of people into my feedback system. Will they now communicate more? I can't tell, after all we are humans overpowered by so many external and internal factors. But, once they want to, have i facilitated them enough? Oh yes! Moreover, this may involve a little more time & effort, but hey! it's worth it. You never know which silent listener can actually change the way you do business and take it to a whole new level.
When organizations take this thought into consideration, i am sure it will act as a strong differentiator in their favor, not to mention how considerate and inclusive they prove to be
Do you think this thought makes sense? Please comment below to share your views on the same. You could also drop me a personal message if that works for you
Thank you for reading!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Marketing Tools for Young Marketeers & Startups (part 1)

Young marketeers and small businesses/startups will find these tools highly valuable if put to use! Penning down five interesting tools you can use for your marketing endeavors

1. Haiku Deck - Last minute presentations to be made? No worries. Stop hunting for relevant images. Haiku works great and you can try it for free (ah! the *smiles*) Choose a background, pick your images, put your text, jot down your notes and done. Wait! also export to pdf or share it online! All from one spot. Use this tool online or download it to your system! I swear it only spurs your creativity! Not boring!

2. MailChimp - I know most of you are familiar with this, however sharing my experience will make a point! It's a great tool to send out newsletters to your internal or external crowd. The best part being, you can track every click, the location of your viewers and so much more! You can start off using it for free and upgrade if need be. 

3. SurveyMonkey - While all the MBA grads are going "Oh we all know this" this is as i said for the younger/newer crowd. This is a great tool to conduct surveys or quizzes for that matter. Ask questions for free and track results efficiently. Use it once to only keep using it forever!

4. Tweetdeck - Marketing and no Social Media? Not possible right? Also, twitter works great especially for B2B companies. So, while you are gathering your relevant followers, pick this tool to schedule your tweets and track your activity. Very user friendly!

5. Megavenues - For a small Marketing team, events are not managed elsewhere. Also, finding the right venue is not very easy. This site lists out so many options for different kinds of occasions. Marketers will find it very handy

Will list some more in my upcoming posts. Please do add to the list if you may want to.