Money cant stop business

Written by Alokananda Chakraborty | Updated: Oct 5 2009, 02:10am hrs
How can a start-up ever hope to take on well-entrenched competition How can a small business hope to compete with a large corporation

Like that mythical battle where young David took down the Philistine warrior Goliath, in her book No Money Marketing, author Jessie Paul explains to upstart the kind of practical weapons they need to effectively compete with big businesses. And Paul does the task with considerable degree of professionalism; so No Money Marketing gets right to the point, doesnt talk down to you, doesnt require a degree in Rocket Science to fathom. The book is fast-paced, and its a nice combination of fact, anecdote, theory, analysis and practical advice.

The 16 concise chapters cover a range of topics including old favourites such as quest for unique brand identity, core versus surround brand attributes, persona branding, gaining thought leadership, and the less common but now in vogue rain-making and bootstrapping. The book focusses your

attention on the most effective, low-cost methods of marketing and also gives very useful technical details on the process of creating your own marketing materials online under the chapter, Amplifying the Conversation. In short, No Money Marketing pithy and to-the-point-look at some of the essential skills and knowledge that an aspiring entrepreneur should have.

Above all, the advice, although tautological for some of those entrepreneurs who have been in business for a while, is given in a way that makes it digestible. The interviews alone (Nandan Nilekani, Co-founder and Co-chairman, Infosys Technologies, Dr Vijay Mallya, Chairman, UB Group, Shelly Lazarus, Chairman and CEO, O&M Worldwide are among the many thought-provoking Q&As in the book) make it worth reading. And the various stories of successful upstart brands and companies remind us that anything can be done, and help us keep an optimistic point of view.

Mind you, it is not a quick read at least it wasnt for me and you may get the feeling you know a lot of the information in it already. What works for No Money Marketing is that it is well structured with many valuable and easy-to- implement tips that will assist and inspire an entrepreneur. Most interesting, each page has a screened box at the bottom that sums up the essence of the chapter in a few points or a single paragraph. This looks like a great idea when referring back to the book some time after reading it or for getting an idea of where each chapter is headed as you read it.

There are a few issues though. The book seems to be a little too at awe about the internet as medium of communication. No doubt traditional media as in print, television and radio-based advertising might be faced with new realities and new questions as consumers and markets change, but surely it is not dying.

Thing to remember is social media is just one certainly not the only tool left in the smart marketers toolkit. When I buy a car or a netbook or take my family out to my favourite fast-food restaurant, I do so because of the quality of the product/food and the marketing/ambience and a whole lot of other things that go into the making of the brand, not because I feel some deep inherent need to engage with the Maruti Swift or Lenovo or KFC for that matter.

In fact, while it is worth their while for companies to build their online community it is logistically not possible for me to belong to all such communities. I happily use lots of products and sample new ones but belong to a handful of communities online. Indeed, how many of us in India have a computer in the first place

Then these are minor niggles. And all this is not to take away from the fact that the book does a pretty good job of laying out the essentials of an online presence the diagramatic representations of internet-based communication strategy are neat and easy to understand. Best of all the summery at the end Success Strategies for Frugal Marketers (Chapter 16) sums up Pauls arguments quite succinctly.

Overall, a good read and a must-have primer for anyone wanting to set up a business at a time when money is in short supply.