We have now come to Part 10 of this 13-part series for Sun Tzu, War On Business. So far, it’s been a good journey with yours truly learning a lot of business lessons by observing and watching this half-hour program every week. Hope readers have been enjoying the posts so far as there have not been many comments on each post (could it be people are not bothering to watch this series?). Whatever the case, I hope readers can read through each episode’s summary and glean some useful knowledge from it.
In this episode, James is back again in Mumbai, India; and this time he visits a film school called Digital Academy headed by Mr. Kartikeya Talreja (“Talreja”). It occupies about 44,000 square feet of space and has many theatres and elaborate built-up sets within the compound. Currently, though, this film school only has 600 students enrolled per year, and according to Talreja this is less than optimal as he envisions a capacity of 1,200 students per year. His vision is for Digital Academy to be a world-class brand, attract international students (i.e. not just from around India) and have branches/outlets in major international cities. James mentions that one should “Carefully Compare the opposing army with your own”, a reference to comparing the competition out there with your own business to see if your goals are realistic or not.
In dissecting the business, James first comments that the location of Digital Academy is not exactly in the best neighbourhood (no visibility). It also does not have a (main) door that welcomes you; plus it has a very small and insignificant looking signage. These are just the overall physical aspects of the building though, once inside James discovers that there are actually very good courses, talks and seminars held, whereby industry professionals (e.g. famous singers/actors) are invited to give lectures and use their own careers as examples of how the students can hope to make it big in the film industry. There are also lavish sets on the premises which give rise to the possibility of filming grandiose and colourful dramas (all in Bollywood’s style, of course!). Video-editing software is also used to slice and dice and edit the sequences to produce the final product to be displayed to audiences.
However, a visit to the school’s website tells a different story. According to James, the website does not scream “Creativity”! In fact, it looks staid and boring and just dishes out many facts (text) and is very lengthy and wordy (note this was before the revamp, clicking on their website now would offer something different). James mentioned that the perception of a film school is very important for a film school, as this ties in with the nature of the film and showbiz industry! Students need to be attracted to join the film school, and the exterior of the school as well as how it marketed and presented itself were of utmost importance.
As part of Digital Academy’s revamped marketing strategy, James suggests that Talreja get his own students to design a video to be uploaded to their website. It turns out that the students have many innovative ideas on how to portray Digital Academy, from the informative to the wacky (one video shows a “Guardian Angel” popping in and out and saving hapless passers-by). In the meantime, Talreja is also busy selecting a new logo cum signage to be displayed prominently on the blank wall outside the school, in order to attract more eyeballs.
Lessons to be learnt here include:-
1) Prominence is key to attracting customers (students) – This applies to any business which has a retail shopfront, or which needs to present a certain image to the general public. One has to ensure there is an attractive sign as well as have other accoutrements which come along with the business itself, in order to make it look inviting and attract patronage.
2) Modern marketing channels are varied and should be fully utilized – Internet marketing was identified as one of the effective marketing channels which Digital Academy could have used to market itself and its courses, but it was not effectively utilized. A business should explore all types of marketing communication channels and find out which are the most suitable for itself (and also the most cost-effective). Promotional campaigns (and trade events), flyers, viral marketing, tele-marketing and TV advertising are some of the alternatives.
3) Avoid perceptual gaps – In the episode, it was highlighted that Digital Academy’s website was staid and “standard”, and was perceived as being “boring”, unlike what was happening in the real academy where there was much innovation, drama and good content flowing. Therefore, it is imperative for a business to ensure that it portrays a positive and dynamic image of itself, and of course in reality it must also be able to deliver on its promises, otherwise there would exist a chasm in terms of expectations.
4) Make use of internal resources where possible (to save costs) – I noted that James asked Talreja to get his own students to design a video to be placed on their school’s website, effectively eliminating the need to hire a media company or external “consultants” to come up with a marketing program! This was an ingenious way of making use of the resources and tools at your disposal to save on costs. Companies should look inwards first before they start to engage external “help” to do their marketing or promotional campaigns. Sometimes, an in-house team may be more effective as they know the company inside-out.
Altogether, it was an enlightening episode and it was fun and amusing to watch as well. Next episode features the China company Ultizen and entrepreneur Lan Hai Wen.
Check out the website for Digital Academy over here:-