Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Swarnab is THE MAN.

Swarnab is an ex-colleague of mine from, where he was our slick PR guy playing "Steve Anderson" online. His smooth, casual writing style made him really popular and just as he was leaving us, his work started to gain the results and recognition it deserved. Too bad the airline stewardess who I was pressured into hiring to replace him had the profile banned within three days on Facebook. I was so pissed I nearly fired her that day.

Anyway, that's not the reason for the post! Swarnab has recently moved to Gurgaon himself, and has read a couple of posts here, and he suggested a few places to go to in Delhi for book hunting (I've been here at least twice as long and I still can't find my way to the office each day - go figure).

He sent me a note today on Facebook that he found an ONLINE LIBRARY that will deliver books right to your home here (Delhi, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Noida, Gurgaon & "Other")! They have Steinbeck! OMG!!!!! "Confederacy of the Dunces"! Now, you won't find Salinger, Vonnegut or the correct Burroughs, but Ken Kesey's there... Still No David Foster Wallace, but at least I'm more hopeful. :-)

Here's the link:

The starter package is 750 rupees deposit and 150 rupees for two books a month. There are higher plans for more voracious readers. Select the books, add to your bookshelf and they're dropped off at your doorstep within two days. When you finish the book, just head to the web site, click ready for pickup and they come get them. Wow. That's nice. Can you possibly get that kind of service anywhere?

I heard there was a DVD service like that and I checked it out. It totally sucked. Nothing but crap, and censored crap, too. The censors completely butchered "Knocked Up". It doesn't make any sense with out the sex and drug scenes. (Will's a huge Judd Apatow fan. We won't even bother to see "Pineapple Express" unless we can borrow someone's bootleg version...) Come on, "Sound of Music"? The only people I know who watch that in the States are a group of gay men in Chicago. Yes, David, I mean you.

Oh, while I'm on the idea of great service, another thing Gurgaon has is MegaCabs (Tel.: 0111-41414141) and other radio service cab companies. They use a computerized service based on your phone number so after you've called them once, they have your address and all they need is pickup time and location to take you. And here's the kicker. They SMS your mobile phone confirming your details with the name of your driver and his mobile number. OMG. If he's late, or you want him to stop on the way to pick up cigarettes(we did), they are happy to oblige. Now that I could see this as being very, very useful for limo pickup services back in the States, especially at the airport, and quite a differentiator for competitive locations like New York, Chicago, LA, Atlanta, all the hubs...

Back to Swarnab - big thanks on this, dude. As usual, you totally rock!



  1. Thanks Jeanne!
    I've already registered and decided to pay by cash once the books reach me.
    The guys who set it up are a fairly educated lot, hailing from the IITs. And they have got a few press coverage, too.
    I hope it works for you as well as for me.

  2. Are you hiring ghost writers on social networking sites like facebook as part of an overall SEO campaign?

    I'm still wondering why these companies would need so many employee's to run their SEO campaigns.

    In a nutshell, what would you say should encompass an effective SEO campaign?

  3. I really appreciate the link. I've already registered and have to start setting up my bookshelf! :-)


  4. Ke:

    Maybe you could say we use ghost writers, but it's a whole lot more than that. I consider them as a guerilla marketing tactic in that we establish a number of profiles with detailed biographies. Those profiles are corporate assets that infiltrate social media, adding friends with similar interests and developing 1:1 relationships with the target demographic. Social media takes a lot of staff to start a program, full time, dedicated staff essentially used as actors. These people have to be impeccably trained, understand the online interaction required for the soft-sell marketing style of word of mouth marketing.

    Once the campaign builds critical mass, it grows organically.

    A good SEM team requires few SEO people. That's the smallest part of the group. Your largest team will be internet marketers who manage social media profiles, article submissions, and other off-site activities. You'll need a good team of content providers skilled at writing quality content across multiple formats, and of course linkers, your main backlink drivers who focus on driving inbound, reciprocal and 3-way links.

    Depending on the goals, marketplace and brand recognition, this team will differ in size.

    Also, new product launches have their own requirements.

    Bottom line is not typically just driving traffic, but driving traffic that will convert to sales and revenue. Does that answer your question?


  5. These websites you work for - do they sell physical products within India? or are the websites/and/or products targeting Americans?

    If not, how many Indians are connected (regularly) to the internet and do they shop online?

  6. ke:

    The sites I am currently working are online casino gambling and sell real estate in Abu Dhabi. Typically the focus is driving traffic from western countries, but Indians and NRIs tend to be an important adjunct target.

    Regarding statistics on internet services, here's a good site:

    Here's an article on India being the third largest user of online shopping services:

    India ranks third biggest e-shopping nation online today:

    Hope that helps... :-)

  7. Thanks for those links.

    Online gambling sites are huge money makers. I'm assuming the owners of these sites are Americans who just hire Indians to do the SEO?

    I am amazed to discover that India has the 3rd largest online shoppers in the world. I always assumed that Indians were just not big consumers (even the one's who had money).

    So, if you were going to start a site and sell "something" to Indians, what you would you sell?

  8. Ke:

    Not sure what i would sell, but most of the sites here are very unsophisticated. I tried to buy flowers for a friend in Kolkata and nothing worked.

    My opinion is that the items that would sell (because you need a shipping markup) would be easily shipped items that are rare here, but prized. Not sure exactly what I would suggest - it's not my culture...

  9. Hey Jeanne -

    I just read through the comments on this. Pretty interesting stuff. Love to chat with you about the guerilla marketing piece. Would be interested in figuring out what I should be doing for my product.

    shoot me an email.