What Successful Marketing looks like

I see marketing as successful if

  • The focus of the effort was the consumer and she doesn’t feel like she is marketed to but feels like someone understood her better!
  • She doesn’t feel like she is part of a target market but like an individual that she is!
  • You have a conversation with her and not talk to her!
  • When she feels and interacts with the marketing activity but doesn’t see it!
  • It creates a emotional relationship with her along with a transactional relationship!

This is simple but not easy!



Lessons in Storytelling That I learnt from TED Conference Speakers

Lessons in Storytelling From TED Conference Speakers by Mukesh Gupta


Story telling has been one of the most memorable and influential ways to spread ideas. The TED conference is so popular because the speakers in the conference are mostly good at telling stories – stories that they are passionate about and that passion spills over to the audience and we are able to connect. Also, note that the duration of these talks are not very long.

So, I wanted to learn if there are any story telling secrets that i can learn from the TED speakers. Also, I thought that it would be interesting to figure out if there are any common threads that we see in a lot of other speakers do but is missing at these TED conferences.

Here is a list of things that I have learned watching TED speakers tell compelling stories:

Keep it Short and Simple: 

The TED format makes it extremely difficult for anyone to tell a long story. The speakers are forced to keep their stories short. Telling a compelling story is not easy. It takes a lot of time, practice and learning to be able to do so. Try telling a story that is longer than 5 mins and you will know the difficulty of keeping the audience glued to your story, specially when we are speaking live or presenting over the web. So, it’s better to keep our stories short, crisp and to-the-point.

No Preamble:

I have hardly seen any TED speaker tell their audience that they are about to tell a story. They just start with a story. As human’s we are wired to know when someone is about to tell us a story. We do not have to tell the audience that we are about to tell a story. There is no preamble, just directly start with the story.

Its Personal:

Most compelling stories are personal. When telling a personal story, we instinctively access our emotions and it shows. This enables the audience to emotionally engage with the speakers as well. The second best kind of story to tell is about something that we are extremely passionate about. This passion needs to be evident in every aspect of the story. It ensures that you are able to connect to the audience.

What do you want the audience to do:

Telling stories for the sake of telling stories is a different art form. However, most of us have something that we want to do with the audience. We want them to think about something in a way that we think about or we want the audience to take action or we want the audience to spread our ideas or something else. We want them to do something. We need to be extremely clear about what is it that we expect the audience to do after hearing the story.

Practice Does Make it Perfect:

Anyone who gets invited to the TED Conference as a speaker has already done something unique, interesting or has a unique perspective, which led to their being invited to present. What makes it very compelling is that the TED team ensures that the speakers do practice their talks multiple times. The team even gives feedback on what aspect of the talk needs more work. This practice is what makes the speakers at the TED conference sizzle. If we want to tell compelling stories, we need to practice at least a few times, if not much more.


In conclusion, the ability to deliver compelling talks, like the one’s we see on the stage of TED conferences is a skill that we can all do well to learn – irrespective of the profession we are part of. If you look at these learnings that I have from watching countless TED talks are all pointing to one basic thing – they are simple basic skills, honed to perfection through practice.



The Tale of Amar, Akbar, Anthony and What They All Need to Succeed

Three Friends

Meet three friends – Amar, Akbar & Anthony.

Amar is an entrepreneur. He thinks that he is unemployable and wants to always remain his own boss. He is self-driven, creative, knows what he wants and has the ability to inspire people. He is not afraid of taking risks and following his dreams. He dreams big and wants to make it big some-day. He believes in his own ability and pursues his dreams. He co-founded a startup and is busy creating the next billion dollar product.

Akbar is also like Amar, but a bit more conservative. He wants to go after his dream but at the same time doesn’t want to bet everything on it. He went through the whole bit – did well in school, became an engineer and ended up in a good, well paying corporate job. However, he is not satisfied with this job and the salary. He wants to do something more. He also wants to have an impact. He secretly wants to be like Amar but doesn’t want to leave the security of his well-paying job.

Anthony is different. He did the full bit – did well in school, college and ended up in a good paying corporate job. He is happy with his job. He is more focused on his private hobbies – wants to spend time with family, wants to travel and see the world, read, play some sport, etc. He has no aspiration of making creating an impact in the world. He knows his strengths and weaknesses and aspires to become the head of a unit in his company or some other company that pays him better.

I am sure that each one of us could relate to one of these three characters, not entirely fictional.

In each case, there are certain fundamental skills that each one of them need to work on and improve at if they want to achieve their goals.

Key Skill – Ability to Influence

One such skill is the ability to convince and influence people – physically (in-person) and virtually (in-absence).

There is a lot of resources that are available for us to learn how to persuade and influence people when we are with them in-person. Some really good resources are books by Robert Cialdini (Influence & Pre-suasion), presentation skills, communication skills training and many more. This is also an area where the feedback for performance (yes, it really is a performance) is immediate (verbal or non-verbal), all of us know where we stand when it comes to our skills and if we are not good, we decide to do something about it.

The area where I think we miss out on is the ability to persuade people when we are not around.

So, in order for Amar to succeed in building up his product to success, he will need to be able to create copy that can convince or persuade his customers to open up their wallets. This copy will include the packaging of the product, product brochure, product website, campaign emails that he will send to his prospective customers and a lot more that he will need to do.

In order for Akbar to succeed in becoming a successful intrapreneur, he would need the ability to convince his organisation of his ideas. He will have to write emails that are persuasive, he will have to write up project plans and new product description and what they will do, that are able to persuade his senior executives to fund his ideas.

In order for Anthony to succeed in becoming a business unit head, he would need the ability to convince his boss to give him the promotion that he wants, he would need the ability to write persuasive emails that will inspire his team to rally around the idea/project that he is driving so that it becomes a success.


So, in short, irrespective of whether we relate to Amar, Akbar or Anthony, one key skill that we all need to learn and improve upon is the ability to write persuasive text or COPY.

One way to learn how to write copy, which is a bit crude, but works wonderfully, is to copy by hand, copies or emails or news paper advertisements that have worked really well.  I have tried this and I can say for sure that this definitely helps but is an approach that not many people have used before.

And Ray Edwards is a successful copywriting coach, who uses his own unique process to come up with a copy. You can use the same method to come up with an email that can convince for you, or create a sales pitch that can convince your customer or write a project plan that can convince senior management to open up their budgets and fund your idea.

Ray has just launched a free online course that will teach how to write persuasive copy. I have already registered for this free course. I recommend that you  register for the same as well. This is one skill that every Amar, Akbar and Anthony needs to build upon to achieve their dreams.

There are courses on copy writing that are available on Skillshare, or the one offered by Ray or on any other platforms.

One of the most important skills to succeed in a Gig Economy - Writing Good Copy Click To Tweet

It is imperative that we all learn to write good COPY. This could be one skill that can potentially have a significant impact on our careers.

You can check our some great examples of good email copy here and some advertisement copies below.

10 Principles of Timeless Design

Good Design is by Mukesh Gupta

I was reading about design and what design looks and feels like when I stumbled onto the 10 commandments of timeless designs that the legendary designer Dieter Rams had created to critically look at his own designs, early in his career.

When I look at these commandments, I would call them principles of design, I felt that just like the designs that these commandments help become timeless, these commandments themselves are timeless.

So, I wanted to not just share a link to an article or a poster, but actually list down these commandments on my blog so that I can refer back to them on my blog whenever I need them. Also, I have realised that capturing this in the form of a blog allows a much wider set of audience to see and learn from them rather than a FaceBook post or a tweet or a pinterest share.

So, here are the 10 commandments that Dieter had laid down, not necessarily in the same order (words under <paranthesis> are my own additions) and I have tried to couple them in the form/function/meaning frames to make it easy to remember.


Good design is aesthetic.

The aesthetic quality of a product adds to the usefulness of the product as the products that we use every day affect our person and our well-being. So, as with every other thing in life, we all want products and objects that are aesthetically pleasing.

If we are given a product that had all the other aspects of good design but lacked aesthetics, and another with the same set of features but is aesthetically pleasing, most of us will always pick the one that is aesthetically pleasing over the other.

There is something inherently human making us gravitate towards things that are beautiful.

Good design is unobtrusive.

Good design is when the design doesn’t get in the way of what the product is meant to be used for. Good design is when the user of the product doesn’t even recognise the design elements being presented to him as part of the product.

Good design is environmentally friendly.

Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. As designers, it is important that we understand that every single element of design that we include in a given product that the product could have done without, we are increasing the usage of our resources. It also helps the products from visual pollution and make the design stand out.

As a matter of fact, design could potentially be the single most important function that can have immense impact on the future state of usage of natural resources. We as designers, need to understand this responsibility and act (design) responsibly.

Good design is as little design as possible.

This follows the “Less is More” maxim that a lot of artists and designers have used for generations now. The very simplicity of the iPod or the iPhone (with just one button on the phone) is what makes them so innovative and easy to use.

The more choices that the users of the product need to make, the more are the chances that they will make a mistake at one of these choices. So, limiting the number of interactions that a user can have with the product at any given stage is probably the best way to minimise confusion and mistakes by the user.


Good design makes a product understandable.

Design when used well can play the part of the user manual. When I bring home a washing machine which has 20 programs and can be customised in myriad of ways, I need someone to come home, install the machine and explain to me all the features.

In reality, the engineer comes home, installs the machine, explains the most frequently used features and runs away as he is measured on how many installations he does on a given day. This means that I would hardly use any other feature apart from the most commonly used features, which defeats the entire purpose of putting those features in the product in the first place.

Imagine if the washing machine came with just 5 keys. Each clearly indicating what it did (not as a function of the product, but for me as the user) – for cotton clothes, for woollens, for really dirty clothes, for baby clothes and rinse only. These are just some examples, could be different based on the actual needs of the users. I then don’t need anyone to come home to explain to me what the product does and how to use it.

So, if  someone has to explain how to use a product, then it’s design isn’t a timeless design.

Good design is long-lasting.

Design that doesn’t follow fads and fashions, sticks to the basics and is as minimal as possible, is timeless as it is as pleasing and useful today as it will be a few years from now. This is also the reason why black and white shirts never go out of fashion and are fail proof when it comes to fashion. So, it is with products. Products that use what is in fashion, can appeal in the near short-term but in the long-term, it looks and feels weird and out-of-place, once the fashion changes.

There is another layer of meaning here. There has been a tendency of product designers to build in product obsolescence within the product itself, so that the user is forced to buy again. However, this is in direct contradiction of the environment friendly maxim laid out earlier. In fact, Dieter Rams, has openly come out and has asked designers to stop doing that.

Good design is innovative.

Any design that leverages the new developments and breaks the barrier in terms of what is possible, while at the same time follows all the other commandments is a good design. Innovative design, when used by and for itself, is not good design.


Good design is honest.

Good design doesn’t promise the user what the product doesn’t do. It stays true to the function of the product and just that, making it simple, minimalistic and timeless.

Good design is thorough down to the last detail.

No part of the design is left to chance or appears by default. The more care taken to ensure that every single element in the design is there by design and intention and serves a purpose for the product or the user of the product. This shows respect towards the user and their time and attention, two of their most important commodities, that once spent, can never be recovered again.

Good Design Makes a Product <More> Useful. 

Any design that doesn’t make the product being designed more useful, only comes in the way of the product itself. So, it’s better to only include elements that add to the usefulness of the product and leave everything else out.

These principles are as timeless as the products that are built keeping them in mind.


In conclusion, I would like to also bring to the attention of the readers, that there are enough studies that have found that creativity flourishes when operated under a set of constraints.

These commandments or principles function as the set of constraints and allow us to tap our most creative self to come up with a design that is timeless and helps the users & creators of the product equally.

If you are a designer, I would recommend that you take a print of the commandments and hang it someplace that you can see all the time, while working on your next product design. That will help you remember the constraints and enable you to come up with a product with timeless design.

A small request:

If you liked what you read/heard, I would request you to head over to my patreon page and become a patron for the blog/podcast. You could do so by contributing anywhere from a single dollar to about 1000 USD depending upon how much you like the blog/show.

Think of it like the following – I will bring thought leaders to your door step and in return all I am asking is for you to spend just enough to get a cup of coffee for the expert that is in your home. 

I would like to keep this podcast ad-free and need your support regarding the same. You can also find some very interesting artists whom you can also contribute for.

I myself support James Victore as a patron. If you are an artist yourself, consider becoming a patron for James as well or even set-up your own Patreon Page here.

PBTO52: Good Marketing Opens Minds and Good Sales Closes Deals – Krishnan Chatterjee

Who is on the show: 

In this episode, we host Krishnan Chatterjee. He is a musician and a marketer. He heads marketing for SAP Indian sub-continent. He stumbled his way through IIM-A into the corporate jungle. Became the Head of Marketing for a large IT Company-a journey in which he used his voice in keynote speeches and such like. Came to his senses in the late noughties with the realization that your identity lies in what you create – and not in position, possession or power. Discovered songs don’t need much writing, and promptly adopted white collar rock to blow off creative steam.

Why is he on the show: 

He has great clarity in thought, thinks in frameworks and I have found to be to-the-point no-nonsense marketer. He also has great insights about the role of the marketing function and how it needs to evolve within a business.

What do we talk about: 

In this free-wheeling conversation, we talk about the following:

  • Difference between marketing a services company and a product company
  • How has marketing evolved over the times and stays relevant in an ever changing world
  • Importance of remark-ability & advocacy in todays world
  • Importance of delivering on the promise of the brand
  • Compelling event marketing (Amul)
  • Z-CMO – CMO in the zero moment
  • Should Marketing be part of the product development cycle?
  • Marketing’s Market making capability
  • Competency Model
    • Ability to know your Audience like the back of your hand
    • Know what competency is our strengths
    • Excellence – Name and describle why you are worldclass
    • Affirmative Action – Can you generate urgency and momentum to the business
    • Strategist – Are you able to conceptualize original ideas
    • Leader – Ability to bring ideas to fruition
  • Top challenges of a CMO and how to tackle them

Video’s referred by Krishnan:

How Can I Connect with him: 

You can connect with Krishnan at www.contraband.in and on LinkedIn .

A small request:

If you liked what you read/heard, I would request you to head over to my patreon page and become a patron for the blog/podcast. You could do so by contributing anywhere from a single dollar to about 1000 USD depending upon how much you like the blog/show.

Think of it like the following – I will bring thought leaders to your door step and in return all I am asking is for you to spend just enough to get a cup of coffee for the expert that is in your home. 

I would like to keep this podcast ad-free and need your support regarding the same. You can also find some very interesting artists whom you can also contribute for.

I myself support James Victore as a patron. If you are an artist yourself, consider becoming a patron for James as well or even set-up your own Patreon Page here.