Tuesday, December 30, 2008

American Internet Marketing in an Indian Office

Since moving to Gurgaon, I have had challenges with my work. Here are 8 web sites, get all their search engines rankings to #1 and increase traffic 1000-fold. Okay. What did I have to start with? Nothing, old sites with no meta tags, no content, no backlinks, site structures with no usability, no navigation... and on top of that, blacklisting and warnings from authority sites in the industry.

Then it was just one site - let's focus everyone on that site. No, make that two. By the way, we're launching new sites - we need your help. I'm writing content, designing interfaces, building and QC'ing sites on my own (like our own corporate site). I was pulling sites out of my a$$.

I had ideas. Let's make facebook apps. Let's build widgets. Let's use social media.

Every time I meet the powers that be, I'm told I don't know anything. That's just wrong and I know it. Just because something worked five years ago - hey - guess what? It doesn't work that way anymore.

When an Indian company wants to leverage revenue coming from the U.S., it would make sense to speak to an um... American. Perhaps even an American who is known for her marketing expertise in the U.S. marketplace. Perhaps even better, an American who has successfully managed an Indian internet marketing team marketing to the U.S. market.

In my first marketing job I ever had, I had a boss that didn't get it. We sold bleeding edge software training, something called Object-Oriented Software Development. It's the base for just about everything being done in software since 1999. Remember COBOL? That was how life used to be for engineers. Procedural software development was a nightmare. Anyway, getting back to the story, the marketplace was early adopters like aerospace, telecom, medical R&D, pharma, and defense research labs all over the country. We're talking real rocket scientists. People who slam atoms together at Fermi Labs. NASA engineers.

Here's when I knew it was time to leave. I had helped take the company to about four times it size in sales due to a risky integrated branding program that established our little company as the experts against huge multinationals like Lockheed Martin and public companies like Rational Rose. We knew our target market and spoke their language. Lockheed Martin was planning a series of local events showcasing two experts who had written a book about our industry. My boss, the new CEO (who replaced a man I loved), decided he wanted to send a card to all the people in our database in that city a week before each event that said "We hear a couple of important people are coming to visit your city next week." Then when you open it up, it shows a mirror and says "But the only people we feel important are:"

I told him that it was tacky and would offend our target audience. We parted ways a week later. He went ahead and spent a huge amount of money on this project (the mirror was a problem). Mailing it even more. I was right. It did offend. There were write-ups in the tech magazines. The company was a joke. When he continued to do stupid pet tricks, like having an Alexander Graham Bell impersonator at our trade show booth... (sigh.) All the marketing we had done - two years, were undone due him to not understanding that market and respecting what they wanted, how they wanted it, and when.

I think I'm experiencing a bit of deja vu.

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