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Andrew Ballenthin,Sol Solutions

28th Mar 2009
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Andrew Ballenthin, President of Sol Solutions in conversation with Shradha Sharma, Founder, YourStory.in on how

companies across the continent our finding innovative solutions to combat recession.




Interview Script

I’m Andrew Ballenthin, President of Sol Solutions. We’re a marketing consultancy that specializes in helping businesses create unique brands and effectively define competitive differences. We work with clients to identify the most powerful communicating messages in both online marketing via websites, and offline marketing, via promotional strategies and sales materials. To put it succinctly, we position companies uniquely, thereby increasing sales.


I 'm Shradha Sharma, Founder of Yourstory.in. We are India's first online media platform for entrepreneurs, start ups and self made professionals. While the mainstream media cries itself hoarse about big and booming businesses, first generation entrepreneurs feel an urgent, pulsating need for information and exposure. YourStory's engaging online platform fills this void – creating a strong ecosystem with interaction, networking, resources, opportunities and visibility.


We have grown rapidly in the six months since the formation of this platform, we have a huge following in India with a network of over a thousand promising entrepreneurs. As we move ahead, we are focusing on enabling business networking and liasoning for entrepreneurs.


Andrew, tell us about your experiences in the N.American market. What role do you see the social media playing in business development nowadays?

We have noticed something really exciting happening at the global level. This year, SolSolutions has changed its approach and is using blogs and social media more and more instead of a website. This gives prospective clients an opportunity to see how we think and interact with real businesses in the world. We’ve also switched to focusing on interacting with customers and the public through social media. The results have been delightful. In just 60 days we went from very little blog activity to having readers from over 25 countries reading our material. Traffic has been increasing by the day and we’re talking to thousands of businesses every month. The site is www.communitymarketingblog.com


Yes, Andrew. I have read this blog, it's very informative. Could you please tell us something about the present trends in the current maket?

Recently we noticed that there has been so much negative business news in newspapers, online, on TV, and radio. Unlike maybe 6 months ago, when this news was new and sensational, we started noticing that bad news does not apply to everyone. We found among our clients and networks that companies were growing successfully and were frustrated to hear only bad news.


So we formulated an idea called the Anti-Recession Movement. This idea is simple, find and share great international business success stories and advice and publicise the news to an audience that is fed up with only hearing about failures. Within weeks we’ve had comments from literally all over the world.


Some of the feedback we have received on the Anti-Recession Movement goes like this,


“I support this 100%. I will be promoting this in the coming days and personally adding my content.”


“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn. I’m with you 100% on being an anti-recession thinker”


“I have seen your message on the LinkedIn digest and I would like to link our networks. This anti-recession initiative sounds like a good idea”


“I love the sound of this and I thank you whole heartedly. I shall expect that I can give you a story later this year of success.”


These were absolutely amazing comments from people who heard about different success stories through the Anti-Recession Movement. That is when we knew there was something big going on as these notes have come in from all over the US and several other countries. The more we promote our concept, the more businesses are emerging to help us share Anti-Recession news. The site where all this is happening is www.communitymarketingblog.com


This is an exciting time. There are very few points in history that make it easy for people to create their future. In this climate of global economic downturn, with hard work, an inspiring idea, and smart strategies it’s possible to take your business to an unprecedented level of success.


In our Forum at yourstory.in we are running a contest "Recessionary Blues or Opportunities Unlimited" which has received a phenomenal response, clearly showing the optimist outlook of the youth. In India, the slowdown has actually fuelled the entrepreneurial appetite. The highly skilled professionals are seriously looking at starting something on their own. With real estate and other rates coming down, it is a ripe time to explore and act.


Andrew lets talk about two examples about businesses that are blooming during recession.


A Innovative Anti-Recession Success Story – How A Website Is Helping Consumers Beat Ridiculous Petrol Prices


I have a real interest in one. Here in North America as in the rest of the world there has been a lot of pressure on the gas prices.


Here’s a business success story I’d like to share with you I just received 2 days ago. We all hate being victims of rising petrol/diesel prices. This is about a business that helps people save money on prices. GasBuddy.com provides gas station and gas selling prices information through a network of more than 200 websites and more than 1000 members. GasBuddy.com is the leader in this area. They have a website where people can input the lowest price of gas they see in their neighbourhood. People who want to know about where to find the lowest/best price in their area can go online and check it out, so they don’t have to travel miles and miles searching, they can simply look for the best price in a particular area.


Something exciting has happened though, the Toronto-based mobile technology company Askkinjo.com, has partnered with GasBuddy, so now people can receive updates on the best gas prices on their mobile phones or via emails. This is a really good idea of smart thinking during recession on how the internet and mobile phone technology can be used to help people save money.


In India, the problem with regard to auto use is two fold. On the one hand is the problem of petrol prices but the end consumer is largely shielded by the government subsidies. On the other hand are the combined issues arising from our 'under construction' road infrastructure and the massive traffic congestion. Ecomove, an Indian start up has developed an innovative business solution to counter these challenges. Ecomove is pioneering bicycle rentals, whereby commuters can rent bicycles for short distance travel - for example, from home and offices to metro stations and the other way round. This encourages commuters to use public transport for longer distances resulting in reduced traffic and substantial savings in petrol bills.


In Closing

Thanks for having me as a guest, Shradha. This was a lot of fun, what do think of doing this again and sharing some more success stories and tips? I’m excited because there are millions of people that are fed up with bad business news and want to hear who and how they’re beating this economy. What do you say, shall we do this again and share some more success stories and what makes them great?


Signing off from Toronto, Ontario Canada, this is Andrew Ballenthin President of Sol Solutions. Come visit us at www.communitymarketingblog.com. If you have a success story that meets our basic guidelines we’ll publish it for you and help you get the recognition you deserve and help you inspire professionals all over the world. If you want to contact me directly, email me at andrew@solsolutions.ca. Please allow up to 48 hours for a reply.


Marketing Tip of The Day

In closing, here’s An Anti-Recession Movement marketing tip: Go back to basics with your sales – take a look at what your competitioin is selling that you aren’t. Find out if it’s successful. If it is, find out how you can offer that same service/product. It could add 10-50% more revenue to your business.

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