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Thursday, April 21, 2011

PROJECT OF MY LIFE!!!!!

Hello World,

I have always been a slacker in studies. My scores have always been consistently low. I am proud of this fact, not because I care less but because I know I love to take risks, follow my heart and believe my hunches. Anything that involves staring at printed material for a long time and repeating it again in a quick efficient way is boring to me. I don't like to do it and I can't do it either. No idea which one came first. 

But all the classroom work that involved creativity and performing the subject practically have captured my attention, in every sense of the phrase. This early morning today, as I am sitting in front of my computer after pulling a full-nighter working on one of my team projects, I begin to realize that I am tired, drowsy and desperate to get a good night's sleep at least tonight. But for some reason I don't feel like sleeping at all. I have enjoyed the night doing something I love, and the sense of satisfaction that every lazy guy like me gets to enjoy after completing a project in a marathon fashion is holding me from going to bed (well, my sleeping bag.... ;)     ...and I am typing away my thoughts as they come.....

I am recalling all the previous instances where I had the same feeling trying to get the best of my memories do a repeat telecast in my cerebral flat screen. Even before I go back a few years, my thoughts come to a screeching halt, almost making a default doughnut with flames, with the recall of my Marketing Project last spring. I was part of a 5-member team. We had to sell cookies on a specific date for a time period of 4 hours. Our target was to make the most revenues possible with a well planned marketing campaign. I should say I have always been lucky to get the best teammates possible for all my team projects. We brainstormed until tornadoes ripped off our brain cells. We made multiple trials for every aspect of our project. We leveraged every bit of resource we had. We gave it our best shot. Our class was divided into 4 groups and our group came third with a profit of $1050 out of the 4-hour cookie sale. The outcome was not what we envisioned but we were still satisfied, for we had a vision and we followed our vision with everything we had.
That marketing project is titled Bulldog Challenge and it happens every spring semester at Mississippi State. From any angle, in any perspective, through any prejudice, on every biased reasoning possible, that marketing project remains the best project I've ever worked on. I was in charge of brand development, advertising, public relations and promotions for my team. Here's my brief yet magical marketing experience:  

1. I created our brand logo for the cookies we sold.

2.      I designed our product label that was put on our cookie package. 


3.      I wrote and published two newspaper articles in Starkville Daily News, promoting our brand and our efforts to raise money for charity.





4.      I arranged for Public Service Announcements (5 times a day for 1 week prior to the sale) on Mississippi State Radio (WMSV – 91.1 FM). I also went live on air and spoke about our brand, products and our efforts to raise money for charity. 


5.      I designed the advertisement slide and had it broadcasted on Mississippi State Television (MSTV 98) for 10 days (displayed every 3 hours). I also had a MSTV talk-show make a mention of our brand and efforts. 


6.      I created a facebook page for our brand and promoted our product line with hourly updates for over two weeks. I maintained our brand’s status update on the top three of the most recent news feeds in our friends network during the final 48 hours prior to the sale. A lot of people felt annoyed with my antics and I take this opportunity to apologize for any inconvenience caused. All I wanted to do was go above and beyond the practical realms of executing my plan and  in the process let myself go in a "Eccentricity Unplugged" mode. I'll be honest. I enjoyed every bit of it.

7.      I designed the display boards that were put up at our cookie sale counter on the day of sale. 





8.      I designed the flyer that was put up on all the departments’ notice boards for 1 week prior to the sale. 



9.      I created a photo slide-show that was uploaded on YouTube. I played the guitar and recorded the background track for the slideshow. We used the YouTube video to publicize our brand and sale through facebook.
  

I thank all those who supported our team and helped us with our project. I also thank my team mates for having the faith in me and giving me the freedom I needed. I have bragged about myself here but every bit of what I did has my team-mates' contribution in it. Marketing Rocks!!!! 


On a very different note [a shameless plug], if you are interested in unique tamil short films, feel free to visit https://www.summamovies.com/I couldn't tolerate the mass masala entertainers anymore and decided I will do my best to produce content with substance. I have a long a way to go as a producer and a start-up founder, but I am glad our journey has begun. I look forward to your support. Each film on our site costs INR 15. Thanks!!!


Regards,




Monday, April 18, 2011

HOW SMART IS FEDEX SMARTPOST?????

Hello World,
 I had recently bought my first dslr and ordered memory cards for it. I was happy to see the Fedex shipping in the vendor’s shipping methods. I knew it would reach me safe and sound and on time for that’s my experience so far with Fedex. I was preparing for the most embarrassing surprise then and guess what?? I had no idea it was coming. One day after I ordered, I got the tracking details through email and I was happy tracking my package….The package left its destination and went to three different places and I believed the fourth destination would be Starkville, MS where I currently live. I slept hoping to wake up and receive the Fedex delivery myself. I never heard a knock. As soon as I woke up, I ran to check my apartment door, hoping for my package like a 4 year old waiting for Santa Claus. I opened the door and there it was…stuck to my door and staring at me with a wild smile…the Mighty Fedex Door Tag!!!

I was disappointed that I was not up before the package arrived. Now I had to go to the Fedex distribution center 15 miles away to get my package. I snatched the door tag with a heavy heart and read it….I was smiling even before I finished reading it…Package in Apartment Office!!!!!  What more can I ask for? I missed receiving my package but the package is safe and sound in our apartment office!!! I could not wait anymore. Usually I wear my sweat-shirt every time I go out but this time, in spite of cold winds making me break dance, I was walking fiercely to get my hands on my package.
I went into the office wearing an “over-eager shopper” grin on my face and with all the right I could possibly imagine in this world, I demanded to take possession of my package. I felt like Black Adder without the wit when I did that but who cared??  I was getting my memory cards for my DSLR and I could be clicking away my sorrows in the next few minutes…. The lady at the office said there was no package delivered for my name. I flashed the Fedex Door Tag with pride and asked them to check again. Even a CIA agent wouldn’t flash his ID like that. My anxiety was above and beyond the realms of anything related to sensibility. The lady at the office, in spite of my rude demand, politely replied that the Fedex Delivery Guy never came!!!!  I felt like I was in the middle of Déjà vu and suddenly the Inception characters are following me. 

The tracking information said my package would be delivered that day. When I woke up, found a door tag that said my package is in my apartment office. But for some reason, The Fedex Delivery person never came there!!!  I was wondering which dream I was in exactly, for I was neither inside an elevator propelled by C-4 charges nor in a van falling off a bridge. I actually put my brain to use to figure out the paradox. What mistake did I do? Am I at the right office? Yes I was. Am I having the door tag for my package? Yes I did. Does the door tag really say the package is in our apartment office? Yes it did. Then why on the good green earth of the wonderful universe my package not there?????!!!!!!!  

I was shocked to find my package missing and embarrassed at the fact that I doubted the wonderful people at our apartment office for a mistake that never happened. I walked out of the office, in slow long steps like Shrek with the door tag stuck to my T-Shirt and my head hanging down in disappointment. The cold wind was no more a trouble. But I was not giving up that easily. Even the 4 year old who misses Santa Claus would not do what I did next. Unlike my usual state of celebrating laziness, I was running across my apartment complex to find the Fedex delivery van. No sign of it. I felt very bad….not for not finding the van but attempting to run and investigate something that was clearly not there. What more could I do? The kid in me wanted to run and see for himself and all he got was even more disappointment.

Distribution Center!!! I was delivering mighty three-inch punches to the keys on my laptop, trying to get the Fedex phone number and contact the distribution center. All I could get was the 800 number. After the long argument with the IVRS I decided to search for fedex+Starkville hoping to get in touch with someone in the local distribution center. I did get a number but that turned out to be a collection center and the person on the phone had no idea how to get in touch with the distribution center. As I was biting myself to figure out a way to get in touch with Fedex, I noticed the chat option. I felt like I found Aladdin’s lamp. Within seconds of clicking the link I had a nice person responding to my questions. When I explained him (no names please) what happened, he politely apologized for the inconvenience and asked me for the tracking number and the door tag number. He asked me to wait for a moment while he was looking up the records for me. I was staring at my laptop monitor and every second seemed like a year. I could not understand relativity in my physics class but here I was, experiencing it the hardest way possible. Then came the surprise of the millennium. The nice Fedex chatter said there was no entry for the door tag number and that my package was being delivered by USPS. What??!?!?!?  USPS??? Why was USPS delivering my Fedex package??? If USPS is delivering Fedex package, why would there be a Fedex door tag on my door? I asked if I would ever get my package and the response was that the package could be re-delivered the next day to my doorstep. Usually it is me who makes people mad but this time I was red with anger. If my package could be delivered to my door-step the next day, why the flying jelly beans did they make me go through so much trouble? Why a door tag that would mislead the customer?  A few minutes later the Fedex chatter informed me that the package was now in the office and someone had signed for it. I went to the office and picked up my package. Then I realized that the door tag was left on my door even before the package was delivered. It took more than two hours after the door tag was left on my door for the package to be delivered at the office. Well, this is something to be analyzed. 

Fedex has partnered with USPS to come up with a new line of delivery service called “Fedex Smartpost” that aims at delivering to addresses that Fedex normally does not deliver (P.O boxes and so on). Fedex will deliver the package to the local post office and the post office will deliver the package to the final destination. This is a classic case of joint-venture business, an elegant way of tackling modern day shipping challenges. At least this is what one might think.  In my view, in terms of joint-venture co-branding, what Fedex is doing along with USPS is simply “Logistic Suicide.” USPS handles a huge volume of packages and letters and a diverse set of addresses to reach out to. Fedex provides a special category of shipping service completely different from that of USPS. The Fedex brand image says it all. Anything through USPS may not be expected to reach on time while Fedex is known for its timely delivery. Why would fedex team up with someone who is yet to meet the benchmark that Fedex has set for the industry? In a wayward attempt to reach out to P.O. Boxes and to reduce cost, fedex has made the mistake of the millennium. Every link of the chain is important for the logistic model to survive and sustain and by the fundamentals of logistics, it is always better to have one less link in the chain than having a weaker one. It is practically not possible to improve the performance of any logistic chain overnight and the success and failure of the business largely depends on how the bottle-necks are handled.  Fedex has successfully installed the narrowest bottleneck possible in its otherwise smooth logistic network. Will this “Logistic Suicide” consume Fedex over time? We have to wait and see. Fedex has a very unhappy customer in me now and I believe the number is growing. The question to be answered here is: “Is Fedex Smartpost a case of mild infection that can be cured or is it a frost-bitten toe that has to be amputated to save the patient?”  

A Customer’s Voice:
“Well, Fedex, you know more about logistics than anyone in this industry. You grew because you identified such simple errors and developed your business model devoid of those. Now after gaining so much market share you have now, you choose to do what you chose you would never do when you first began. Respond to the cries of your customers as quick as possible. There is always a new logistic model growing to eat out the rest. You are weak now. You can’t remain like this for long. “

This is what another unhappy fedex customer feels:
http://consumerist.com/2009/12/watch-out-for-fedex-smart-post.html


On a very different note [a shameless plug], if you are interested in unique tamil short films, feel free to visit https://www.summamovies.com/I couldn't tolerate the mass masala entertainers anymore and decided I will do my best to produce content with substance. I have a long a way to go as a producer and a start-up founder, but I am glad our journey has begun. I look forward to your support. Each film on our site costs INR 15. Thanks!!!



Regards,