Rajesh Srinivasan's Author Journey
Kreators Series - Episode 5:
Our guest today is Rajesh Srinivasan, is one of the leading marketing strategists in India, a keynote speaker, and author of Amazon's best-selling book "Marketing Success Formula". He is one of the most sought-after marketing advisors, and he has delivered keynote sessions at the World Marketing Congress, The Economic Times Marketing Leaders Summit 2020, and was appointed as one of the jury board members of the Economic Times Most Promising Tech Marketers Award.
In this episode, he shares with us the story about his book and about his writing process, inspirations, and upcoming projects.
Rajesh: Thank you, Pravin, for the invite. Extremely happy to be a part of this show. How are you doing?
Pravin: All well, all well, all well, let's start with a low full toss of a very simple part. How did this book come about Rajesh?
Rajesh: As you know, Pravin, right from the beginning of my career, I've shared this personally with you. But again, I'm sharing this. I was passionate about marketing, advertising, and even about business ideas, right from my childhood, I would say. But I was not very clear about the direction I was doing things randomly in my life until the age of 33. When I completed my executive education program at Indian Institute of Management Lucknow as a batch topper, I realized that I need to do something on marketing. I've got that epiphany in my life, okay, this is what I need to do. Prior to that I was driving in different directions clueless as to what to do in my life. So after that course, I was motivated to write a book. Before writing a book, I've started meeting lot of people, interacting with lot of people, especially entrepreneurs, and casually started doing some advisory and consulting for them, without any fee, just to get a glimpse of their problems. And just to understand whether, am I suitable to do consulting or entrepreneurship, I used those initial two years period just to connect with them. So while meeting them and interacting with them, especially small business owners, I've seen a pattern, I've seen a pattern where they did in marketing, as you know there’s a lot of things one can do, a business owner can do. That was some lack of clarity in them as to is there any step-by-step methodology? A simple, proven, step -by-step direct marketing, which they can use directly in their business. I identified this as a primary challenges, challenges which an entrepreneur face, especially small and medium business owners. So I thought, okay, on one side I’m passionate about marketing, and the other side, entrepreneurs are facing this type of problem. Why don't we create a small framework? I thought, I've studied Dan Kennedy, you must be knowing about him, a legendary direct marketer. I've studied Jay Abraham, what they share. I've studied a lot of other marketers, especially direct marketers, who spend, who measure their marketing, especially each and every dollar they spend, they measure it. So I thought I need to create a small framework for them. And I've created four simple steps for a small business owner. Then I've given the shape to those four simple steps. I've called that as “Marketing Success Formula”. Then I thought, Okay, Let this become a book itself. So I made sure right from the beginning, when I was writing the book, it shouldn't have any jargons, it shouldn't have any complicated words or sentences. So I brought a lot of real case studies from my own life. And that is how this book has emerged, I’ve written this purely to gift it to my consulting clients and entrepreneurs. I didn't have any idea to launch it in Amazon, or to make it big, but eventually it happened.
Pravin: Now, one of the key things you address in this particular book is to identify the right target market, the three ways to identify your ideal target market, the book as you have written for, is for the small business owner for the kind of clients that you're consulting for. But Rajesh if you could dwell a little bit on the tips that you're mentioning here in terms of the three ways to identify your ideal target market, I'm sure that will be of immense use to our viewers and listeners.
Rajesh: Sure, Pravin. That is one of the step. That is step number one in the book, how to identify your target market? That's a very good question. I see most of the business owners when I sit with them and try to ask one simple question. Who is your target audience? “Who” is the question? They when I meet them, even I used to do mistake, do this mistake when I was doing marketing in real estate. When someone during the initial days of marketing, someone asked me, Rajesh, can you do a marketing strategy for us, I immediately jump into what is your budget, how much budget you have, and I'll open up an Excel sheet and say Facebook 20,000 rupees, print for 10 lakhs rupees, TV, I immediately jump into media planning that was the idea which I had about marketing. I thought marketing is all about campaigning, advertising. But when I studied the best marketers, how they approach the marketing strategy, they start with one simple step by asking this question, Who is your target? Who is your target market? The next step is, who's the core market? Even when we identify, when we ask this question as to who's your target market. Then the next question naturally comes is who is the ideal target market? It means for example, I'll give you an example. When I was working in a real estate company, we were doing a project in Velacherry. What happened is, over a period of time when we collected then we accumulated all those data which we had, we found that majority of the buyers come from three four kilometers in and around that location. We had that insight. Number two, the second big insight which we had is most of the buyers already had an apartment complex that in which they are staying more than 20 - 25 years, they wanted to upgrade their lifestyle that is why they are coming and looking after for the next apartment. So if you notice there are two segmentation variables here in this case itself. Number one, I'm able to segment my customer based on the geography which they live. Number two, as we identified, the customers already own an apartment and they wanted to upgrade their lifestyle, it becomes a psychographic segmentation for us, it means what is driving them for that purchase that is very, very critical. Number one, psychographic segmentation for a marketer is very, very critical. Because majority of the time what happens is marketers start with just demographic segmentation variable. When I say demographic, demographic variable, it's nothing but my client is a male, my client is a female, in this age bracket, who lives here and the professional in this company and so on, so on and so forth. That I would call only as a surface level segmentation. If we want a breakthrough in our marketing, what I've learned is you have to slightly travel under the surface and find out why the customer is buying from you. What is the belief system, which they have? For example, if a person is more conscious and cost saving, they will naturally if the person is more cautious towards investing taking care of the family's future, they tend to invest their money in financial instruments. Naturally, they have that orientation. If we know that inner orientation of the customers, it becomes easy for us to devise our product and value proposition. So number one, psychographic segmentation. Yes, you're asking something, Pravin?
Pravin: Yes, I'm just relating to a book on pricing strategies that is finished by Craig Martin, where he's talking about the same thing, but more from a reader perspective that there is a segment that I want as clients and there's a large segment I don't want as my clients, who don't get what I'm trying to do right, who don't get into my story. And if I start chasing them, I will be left with one star reviews. Instead, I need to focus on this ideal target market that resonates with his product, which is books in the military science fiction genre. So I can connect with what you're telling with that. But at this point, Rajesh, I would love to take a segue. You are a great storyteller. And I'd love you to retell the story of Steve Jobs that you have written here, the 80/20 wastage Pareto principle, but the story of Steve Jobs that you have covered in your book.
Rajesh: Sure, Pravin. So, during this research, before I write this book, I was passionate, not just about marketing, one mental model, which I've learned, and I try to practice in all my marketing efforts, that mental model is 80/20 principle. Even when you say, which was the core market, if you apply 80/20 principle, for example, 80/20 principle simply states that 80 percentage of the result comes from 20 percentage of the efforts. It means the simple philosophy is big doors, what you say that, big doors moves on small hinges. If we identify those small things, which creates big results for our business, I think we call that as leverage, right? So for example, when I studied Steve Jobs, 1996 - 1997, when he came back to Apple as an interim CEO, Apple was struggling, about to get into bankruptcy. So what Steve Jobs did was very, very simple, effective, but no one was anticipating that from Steve Jobs, they thought Steve Jobs would introduce a lot of new products, revive the business, do a lot of things. But for the next one year after 1996, he did nothing; he was waiting for the opportunity. But during this period, what he did was he curtailed the Apple's product portfolio, the entire Apple business was running on loss, they had huge profit of product portfolios, almost 14 - 15 product portfolios, except Macintosh, lot of their other printers, and other peripheral devices, everything was loss making. Huge distribution channels, a lot of cost, everything was loss making. So what he did is he cut Apple back to its core, he kept only Macintosh, he abandoned a lot of products. See he was applying, he was consciously applying 80/20 principle which 80 percentage of the product or which 80 percentage of the distribution channel. Sorry, which 20 percentage of the product or which 20 percentage of the distribution channel is bringing in 80 percentage of the revenue. He has abandoned everything else. So I thought whenever I even myself, I used to have this idea of doing a lot of things. We have to do lot of things to achieve results. Of late I've realized, if only we know what really works, what are those vital few big I've created a framework called based on this understanding. This case study from Steve Jobs and in general how Apple has become eventually the most profitable company in the world next to Saudi Aramco, consumer product company in the world is nothing but they just have four or five product portfolios, but still they are the most profitable company in the world. So, I eventually went deep into Apple and studied all their right from their product right and even their advertising and even their distribution channel. I've identified one thing, they don't do a lot of things. They operate in under a principle 80/20 under the 80/20 principle they operate in something called vital few trivial many, you have lot of as a business owner or as an entrepreneur or as a marketer, we can do a lot of things ineffectively. Those are trivial many are focused on vital few. When I say vital few what I've learned especially in the context of marketing is who is my vital few audience core market, when we talk about segmentation, even in behavioral segmentation, we call something as heavy users, right? So vital few, if I'm marketing ice creams, for example, I can target the whole market, or I can start with the heavy users alone. Those are vital few core market segments. The advantage of targeting the vital few segment is nothing but if we target heavy users, we don't have to convince them to buy your product because they have the natural orientation. Number two, with lesser amount of money our marketing efforts get a better ROI. And they don't hesitate to pay a premium price and they continuously the repeat purchase becomes very easy. So that is why I focus on this vital few audience. Next is channel, marketing channel. What are those vital few marketing channels which I can use to target this course and customer segment. Next is vital few messaging, instead of writing copywriting for the entire market trying to satisfy the entire market. What message resonates with the core market, I call this as vital few marketing message. So leave alone everything else and focus on this small market, and then slowly grow. That is what I've learned by studying Steve Jobs. That is why Apple even today, they don't focus on the entire target market, they have a clear segmentation of the market. That is why they are the most, not just the most profitable brand. They are the most what I would say loud brand in the world because they don't target all the customers, they know who their core market is. That's why they stand in the queue and buy their products. I never seen a brand too similar to Apple focuses on their core audience deeply without leaving everything else leave their other market. They don't just care about other markets.
Pravin: Right. Thanks a lot for that. But I'm going to take a slight deviation. When you were writing the Marketing Success Formula. What was your writing formula, Rajesh?
Rajesh: I was struggling. I took two years time to write this book, Pravin. I've read your book also. Guerilla Marketing book which you have launched at that time. Devil Does Care. What I did this I was struggling because it's the first time writing was not my cup of tea. I was into a full time job heading a marketing division of a real estate company. It took one and a half two years time because I used to write during the weekend. And I didn't have much of motivation also to write. I know if I authored a book, things will change because I've observed people like you even, I've listened to your talks. And I've created a small in mentally I created a small virtual world in me where I had people like Pravin Shekar, Kiruba Shankar or Brian Tracy, what these people would do. I have created a small virtual world around me that motivated me because on the real world, I was just working as an employee. So I have deliberately decided to write at least 200, 300 words per day. After my work is over, I used to come back by 7:30 - 8 o'clock and finish my dinner and then sit by 9:30 to 10 - 10:30. Because mentally I used to be very tired, just write something and leave it. That's why even if you notice, my first book, I was not able to write more than 20,000 words, was just 20,000 words. I've closed it, after I have written those 20,000 words, I'm even planning to upgrade that book into the next version, because I have a lot of ideas now at that point of time. So to answer your question very specifically, in fact, I would say it's a big struggle for me when I was, I don't know the writing process. I don't know the publishing process. But that's why I've interacted with people, even with people like Yaagneshwaran Ganesh. He has already authored a book. He was an author, so I interacted with him, he introduced me to Notion Press. Then I have interacted with Naveen, also to just to get some confidence. Okay, then I got some idea because I don't have to worry except writing. I don't have to worry about anything after I interacted with Notion Press. So they took care of the entire publish right from designing the cover, editing process and all those things, getting an ISP and everything was taken care of. So I think interacting with people like you having people having other authors, as a mastermind community, in our in my mastermind community, getting an assistance from a professional company like Notion Press, has made my life really easy. So after this experience, now I'm even thinking of writing my next book. But tell me your story, how you're writing on I thought of asking this question to you, and how you are churning books every three months or once and seeing a book launch from Pravin Shekar every three months once how you're doing it, Please do share that with us.
Pravin: I write every day, Rajesh. Like you and several others, I had a book that I wrote in 2014, but was continuously perfecting it till 2016. And then I attended a book writing workshop by Kiruba Shankar. It was a retreat, and also interacted significantly with Notion Press. And what this pandemic has helped, Rajesh, is the same example vital few trivial many, so then all the trivia has gone. The writing has a whole lot shape. I've got five more books coming out, because I write every day. And that leads me to another question. What are your sources? The mastermind you said is one, but what else are your knowledge sources, Rajesh, podcasts, books, blogs, what are your sources?
Rajesh: I use another mental model, Pravin, to what do you say, to understand a lot of other things what's happening not just in the marketing space, in general. That mental model is called traveling in the shoulders of giants. I read books of Master Marketers, like Seth Godin, I follow behavioral economists and behavioral scientists like Richard Thaler who has written the book Nudge. And then Jonah Berger who has written the book Contagious, I follow a lot of people who are far, far more superior and have exceptional thinking and done a lot of research, I use that mental model to understand a lot of things. That is number one way I do my research, travel in the shoulders of giants. Number two, I naturally, I am a people observer. If you ask me to, I generally go to a garden not I just sit there and observe what people are doing. And even in my home, I used to observe a lot of things. I am a people observer, I'm deeply passionate about understanding people. So that gives me a lot of insights as to what I have to write or that shapes my thoughts also. These are the two simple things I do to gain lot of insights.
Pravin: Awesome. Beautiful. Rajesh, thank you very much for being a part of Kreators. It's been a pleasure talking to you. And all you viewers and listeners, please go check out: rajeshsrinivasan.com. You have access to the books, to his writing. He writes quite a lot on LinkedIn. So please follow him and show him a lot of our love. So thank you once again, Rajesh.
Rajesh: Thank you so much, Pravin. I really enjoyed this conversation. Thank you so much. Once again.