Nobody would have ever imagined that a word of mouth marketing strategy can create a volatile market for a plethora of new products flooding the commercial front every day. Shimauli Dave, an MSc in international marketing management, is not only spearheading the trend but is also creating a revolution in the marketing industry. Dave established Buzallong, the first actual word of mouth marketing company in India, in February 2009. It aims to reach out to the consumer segment of the society across the country, giving them free sample products for a feedback and creating a buzz in the market for the brands they endorse.
Today, most brands usually have celebrities and Bollywood stars to endorse their products and lend them credibility. But few realise that the same power is also in the hands of the next door neighbour, colleagues, women going to kitty parties and friends. This concept is left completely untapped in India. While research allows one to explore for months a product feedback, the product does not comes to a consumer’s notice unless it actually hits the market. “What I propose is that brands start looking at a section of consumers who can fire up the market and create buzz in the town about the products,” says Dave.
Ask her why she chose to become an entrepreneur instead of opting for a risk-free regular job and she says, “I always wanted to become an entrepreneur. I just can’t do a regular 9-5 job; it becomes very monotonous after a while. Having worked with brands like Lee and Nautica as a marketing head, I gained a lot of experience. But eventually I realised I needed a change. I wanted to do something more challenging. I then started working for SEWA, an NGO, and later moved on to setting up my own company Buzallong, a word of mouth initiative . India has a huge consumer base for any brand. All that companies need today is effective communication with their consumers.”
Founded only a few months ago, Buzallong is still a fledgling, and is facing a number of challenges. The foremost is to get brands invest in the word of mouth marketing strategy that the company works on. Big brands do not concede to the fact that word of mouth is the strongest marketing tool in any economy. Most people rely on ‘she said’, ‘he said’, ‘I hear it’s brilliant’. While traditional advertising takes a huge chunk of the marketing budget, below the line activities are also coming to fore as one of the most innovative and buzzed about concepts for brand marketing.
So, what was the turning point in your career? “Since my business is absolutely new, the turning point is yet to come. But I have faith in consumers and brands and believe that together they can turn around any product in an economy.”
There are times when Dave feels a regular job would have been more comfortable and less taut, but the realisation that her entrepreneurial venture is more challenging, exciting and evolving helps her stay buckled on to doing business. “My passion for my work drives me every single minute. I believe that if you have set your goals and dreams, success will come sooner or later. Learning something new about various aspects of business, of Buzallong, makes me more determined about my endeavour.
Dave’s vision for the enterprise is to connect all Indian brands to Indian consumers directly without any interface. “I’d like to see Buzallong grow as the most buzzed about marketing company in India.
Tips for budding entrepreneurs. “Follow your dreams; you won’t know how good you are until you start working on them. There is no right or wrong answer- only your passion and instinct can take you places and help you reach greater heights,” Dave concludes.