“If you had your way, what would you like to do ten years from now?” – This was the question posed to the students of TAPMI by Mr. Murali Dendukuri, a TAPMI alumnus from the batch of 2006-08 and an entrepreneur and co-founder of Mcounts, a start-up firm that is making waves in the online marketing landscape.
Mcounts is a marketing firm that helps online stores and merchants get more business by using “word of mouth” marketing, which is known to be one of the most effective modes of marketing communication that exist. Mcounts does “word of mouth” marketing for companies by creating and sustaining a network of buyers and influencers. The influencers create more buyers among the people they know. Both the buyers and influencers get rewarded, thus leading to an expanding network that is capable of generating business for the client companies, cash rewards for influencers and cash back rewards for the buyers. The company has succeeded in breaking the myth of “scalability issues” in classic “word of mouth” marketing and is on an active customer acquisition mode at present.
In this guest lecture, Mr. Dendukuri described the typical journey of an entrepreneur in the online marketing industry, through his own experience. But he did so in an unconventional style, by creating a story with the student as the protagonist faced with the dilemma of having an idea and having to address the key questions. This ensured that the students donned their thinking hats and actively engaged with him to come up with ideas on how to go about the whole process.
Mr. Dendukuri thus explained how the scalability problem in “word of mouth” can be solved by creating an expanding network of influencers and buyers. According to him, this works because the influencer gets tangible reward of cash for getting more buyers (from among his/her friends, say), and the buyer gets cash back rewards for buying. Also, the influencer gets the social reward of being a prime influencer on the social media, which is a coveted asset these days. Hence, both the buyer and the influencer have good reason to keep going, creating more buyers and influencers and also making more purchases.
Then, Mr. Dendukuri explained how the company knows who has influenced what purchase, which is a key parameter to which all rewards are tied. He described how Mcounts is doing this by using unique shortlinks for each recommendation of an influencer which a buyer uses for purchase from a website. This way, Mcounts always knows which influencer influenced which purchase from which buyer, and hence can give rewards accordingly.
Then, Mr Dendukuri spent some time on how to get people to take the business forward by making it easier for them to share. He delved on Fogg’s behaviour model and why it is important to make sharing the shortlink as convenient as possible, as otherwise, there is not enough motivation for a potential influencer to share (behaviour vs convenience). At this point, he also delved on the use of gamification to generate interest in the business and acquire more customers.
Mr Dendukuri now described to the TAPMIans about customer acquisition, the importance of it, and how to get it done. The TAPMI students came up with a great many suggestions on this front. While lauding the ideas, he told the students that each idea has to be screened by calculating the cost of user acquisition, i.e. the cost involved in getting one customer. Cost of customer acquisition is the key factor that decides how a company, Mcounts included goes about the process of acquiring customers.
Mr. Dendukuri concluded the session to a Q and A session, where he was probed on the finer aspects of his firm. He was also asked questions about the entrepreneurship atmosphere in India.
A very insightful session indeed, that gave the students pertinent insights on the online marketing and entrepreneurship scenario in India.