A Peacock in the Land of Penguins
Reaching Women the Old Fashioned Way

Smart Man Online: Manish Puri

Lip-sticking is a bit late with our interview today. The weather is playing havoc with our home town. We send best wishes and hope that all is well with our local friends, knowing full well that many are battling flooded basements today.

And so, this is our excuse for the lateness of this interview. This marvelous interview, by the way.

As Melissa Giovagnoli and Jocelyn Carter-Miller, authors of Networlding: Building Relationships and Opportunities for Success">Networlding can tell you, having a business requires connections, connections often made through networking. Locally, Mary Anne Shew, President of the Rochester Professional Consultants Organization, and a master networker herself, would heartily agree with Melissa and Jocelyn, we think. We bring up this all-important aspect of building a business because networking is how we were fortunate enough to meet our Smart Man Online interviewee today.

A few weeks ago we attended a marketing event which Manish also attended...and, to add strength to the power of networking, Manish revealed that he is the President of our local AMA chapter. In July, Lip-sticking moderated a SIG online for the AMA, thanks to fellow blogger, Toby Bloomberg. Both Manish and Lip-sticking were enormously pleased to meet in person, at last. Which, dear readers, led to this interview.

Manish Puri is a terribly smart young man, full of the excitement and admiration most of his demographic holds for modern technology, especially the Internet, which is changing the face of business in the 21st century. Today's interview with Manish is sure to impress you, dear readers, and to get you thinking...

Lip-sticking: Manish, you are a marketing professional and you use the Internet quite a bit. Tell us what your favorite Internet marketing task is.

Manish: I have been associated with Internet Marketing / eBusiness consulting since 1997 and what fascinates me about Internet marketing is the fact that "it has made a marketer's job much easier by providing data which was never there to begin with." Internet marketing, if performed with sincerity and due diligence, can be very productive for a business. What may differ from business to business (or for that matter industry to industry) is the mix of tactics.

It is difficult to pick my favorite Internet marketing task because all of them play a very specific role in specific business conditions. Still, I will say Pay-Per-Click advertising. Click here to learn more about Search advertising or Pay-Per-Click advertising.

The reason I choose Pay-Per-Click is that it offers data, data and data to modern day marketers, and I tell you that is what marketers love the most!

I have been implementing Internet marketing tactics including online branding, content development, search engine optimization, Pay-Per-Click advertising, email marketing, banner ads and I have found that Pay-Per-Click advertising is the only tactic which has a high probability of being used for any section of the marketing cycle (whether it is Concept testing, Market research, Product launch, Branding, Lead Generation, Customer Acquisition and Promotions)-- with a comparatively lower cost per lead and cost per acquisition.

In addition, this tactic (if performed correctly) provides a closed loop with minimum or no loss of data which is valuable for future marketing / business strategy. No wonder that Pay-Per-Click advertising grew 15.7% last year and during the first quarter of 2004 grew at a higher than expected rate of 39% in comparison to last year’s first quarter. Jupiter media’s Jupiter Research predicts that "dollars spent on online advertising -- defined as a paid message featured on a Web site, online service or other interactive medium, such as instant message or e-mail -- will match dollars spent on magazines by 2007, then surpass them in 2008." (Steinberg, Brian; July 27,2004; Online Dollars set to match and then go ahead of magazines; The Wall Street Journal.) This article should provide some food for thought for the many businesses looking to use Pay-Per-Click advertising in the future.

Lip-sticking: When did you learn about blogging? What do you see as the future value of blogging for businesses?

Manish: I have been following blogging for more than 8 months now and researching the way industry, press and businesses perceive its role in the overall marketing strategy. I started blogging myself just a couple of weeks ago when I attended a hands down Blog training session run by Windsor Media Enterprises in Rochester, NY. I created my first blog at that training session.
When I view Blogs from a marketing standpoint I say to myself, blogging may very well change the way information is collected, used and disseminated for business purposes- in essence everything that marketers do in Market Research. With Blogs, businesses have a chance to connect to their audience and be aware about what that audience thinks regarding company products, services, industry, perceived value and what not....

Blogging will allow businesses to collect information which may impact their future product and service strategy. Never before could a firm think so successfully about bringing people (prospects/ customers from diverse demographics and geographies on a single platform) together and collecting valuable information critical to their very existence. Blogging offers them a chance to do that now.

For instance, imagine if Microsoft were to start a blog on its Windows Product and initiate a dialogue from among its users, resellers, partners, employees, what kind of information could it collect to develop its future product offerings.

I visualize that Blogging might have a lasting impact on the Publishing Industry (having worked with a leading Publishing firm in India for more than five years and having been involved in researching the long term impact of Internet on the Publishing / Book Distribution industry). This is because Publishing firms are in the business of processing and disseminating information to their readers. Blogs might take the Publishing and Book Distribution Industry to the next level and allow authors to get in contact with their prospective audience (readers) without an intermediary. Authors may sell or direct the book readers to an eBook /Print on Demand web store or they may work in a collaborative project with their audience. We are still at the initial stages of the blogging phenomena and will have to wait and see its full impact on industry. It will also be interesting to research the role of blogs in achieving strategic marketing objectives.

I started my first blog a few days back. This is a blog I have started on the present political, social and economical environment in India, my home country; ManishInteractive.blogs/motherindia

Lip-sticking: In your job at Innovative Solutions what challenges you the most?

Manish: Innovative Solutions is a Total Information Technology provider offering services to businesses in the Western New York area since 1989. I am the Marketing Director. Presently, I am in charge for setting up the firm's Internet Marketing division. With the advent of Internet marketing, it is essential for businesses to be aware of the daily advent of new tactics and how they compare with the already existing ones (offline and online). The questions businesses face are:

· Which marketing tactic will be more productive in attaining a desired goal?
· What should be the optimum mix for their marketing strategy?
· How do they budget for the constantly evolving Internet marketing tactics?
What challenges me at my present job is managing traditional offline marketing programs as well as the fast dynamic Internet marketing programs at the same time. Studying this gives me a better understanding of how traditional marketing will evolve over the coming years. Also, working at strategy as well as tactics makes sure that I am not getting too involved in one tactic so much so that I lose sight of the other pieces which makes marketing complete. The understanding of offline and online marketing tactics and how they integrate helps me perform a better job as an Internet marketing strategist.

When I scan the environment for competitor services I find that very few of our competitors are equipped to offer a more strategic service (I see enormous opportunity in strategic Internet consulting and call it top-bottom consulting approach) that is in line with the overall business objectives of the client firms. With a leap in demand for Internet advertising and marketing, the industry would need more trained professionals who understand the Internet and its nuances from a marketing, business and strategic level instead of just the technical (tactical) level. So I see getting the right human capital for the Internet consulting environment as the biggest challenge for firms in business today as we move forward.

Lip-sticking: Do you and your wife shop online? If so, what kind of things do you buy? What kind of frustrations do you experience, and is there anything that you absolutely would not buy online ?

Manish: Yes, My wife and I buy a lot of stuff online, from Books to Electronic goods, and what not. However, I still think there is a tremendous amount of work to be done to improve customer-buying experience over the web. This holds true for small and big businesses alike. Both of them need to understand that with a web presence they are constantly being monitored (24x7) by those who matter to them the most - their customers. I feel frustrated when some of the large firms and brands fail to understand how they need to keep evolving their web strategy.

I would not buy any products online about which I am very particular (for example clothes). I only buy clothes when I have seen them, when I am certain they fit my exact standards / desire/ liking etc.

Lip-sticking: You are such a well-rounded young man, with a good vision of the future. Tell us who has influenced you the most in your life and your career?

Manish: I have been extremely influenced by my family (my father, mother, younger brother, elder sister, and my wife). But I would say the maximum impact on my career has been from my Father. His name is Gopal Krishan Puri. He is an educationist, professor, and author of more than 150 books on topics as diverse as Political Science, Journalism, Salesmanship, Tourism, English Conversation and more.

He started his career in India at the age of 16, being the only bread earner for a family of 13. While enhancing his own education he made it a point that everyone in his family had enough opportunities to choose the right career path. Starting with a clerical job at the age of 16 in a government of India department, he worked during the day to earn for the family while completing evening education (MA - Political Science, MA- English, LLB and Post Graduation In Business).

He spent his entire life in India managing optimum balance between his personal and professional life. Having seen a personality from whom I could learn hard work, dedication and vision in totality, the very approach to a successful career meant I was fortunate in not having to go out looking for a mentor; my father was a built-in mentor for me. manish_father2

The three most important things I have learned from my father are:

· How important it is to have enthusiasm for whatever you do, whether it is working for others or for your own business, channeling your enthusiasm to your colleagues, subordinates and even your bosses, thus setting up a chain reaction of sorts.
· To accomplish any objective you need a will -- a will to overcome obstacles and to never give up (his favorite quote is: Life's battles don't always go to the strongest or fastest person, but sooner or later the person who wins is the person who thinks he/she can).
· Self-discipline is as essential to the development of a career as is a strong strategy to a successful business.

At the same time I must concede I have been highly influenced in my career by David Filo and Jerry Yang- founders of Yahoo, Jeff Bezos - founder of Amazon.com, Sabeer Bhatiya - founder of Hotmail & finally Larry Page and Sergey Brin - founders of Google. The reason being that they have all done their bit in impacting the way business is or will be done in their own unique ways (and what a lasting impact!)

Lip-sticking: What interesting things are on your agenda for 2005?

Manish: The foremost is to reach the objectives we have set for our Internet marketing services at Innovative Solutions. 2005 will be the year of tremendous activity in the industry with businesses increasing web-advertising spending. This increase in spending will be primarily due to higher penetration of broadband, improved fundamentals of increased buy-side demand, firming prices and improved selling processes. More and more small to medium businesses will need outside administration for managing Internet tactics and we want to be there when they are looking for such support.

Innovative Solutions and I are looking forward to getting our share of the pie in the Internet marketing business.

Thank you, Manish. Lip-sticking is most impressed with Manish's admiration of his father. We find, over and over again, that family and friends influence us in our accomplishments. Of course, there are many others --for Manish, Internet professionals -- for Lip-sticking, professional acquaintances -- who lend inspiration and advice, sometimes without even knowing it. But, somehow, it all comes back to family.

What's not to like about that?

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