Startup Marketing 101 taught by Prof Narendra Modi

He convinced 1.3 Billion people and became the Prime Minister of India. The ex-chief minister of Gujarat definitely knows how to market himself. Marketing in politics isn’t unheard of. But marketing the way he did is rare and refreshing to see and experience. So much so that world leaders have showered praises on Modi. ‘I’m high on Narendra Modi’, says marketing guru Philip Kotler. Barack Obama said ‘Narendra Modi is India’s reformer-in-chief’. Vladimir Putin called him a ‘reputable political leader’.

Although his political party, BJP, was not really a fresh startup and Modi had access to sufficient financial backing, his rise to power has important marketing lessons for startups. Here are 6 most powerful startup marketing lessons by Narendra Modi.

Innovate to Stand Out

While political parties have over years created messages that revolve around their party name, Modi’s message stood out.

‘’Ab Ki Baar Modi Sarkaar’ (This time, it will be Modi’s Government).

Instead of projecting Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Modi’s team focused on Modi, the man. Although not many agreed to this route internally, they went ahead with the decision and it proved to be a masterstroke for the party.

Another step taken by BJP during one of the rallies in Hyderabad was to collect an entrance fee to listen to Modi’s address. This has been unheard of in the political history! Who would have thought of paying a fee to listen to a political speech? The party collected an entrance fee of Rs 5 and in turn donated the same to help victims of the flood-ravaged communities in Uttarakhand.


Don’t be afraid to innovate. In a crowded and complex marketplace, the only way to stand out is to do things differently. It is important not have a herd mentality but to step back and look at what needs to be achieved, objectively.

Go where your Audience are

Where is your Audience?

It is a given that Modi is tech savvy. He is arguably the most tech-savvy Prime Minister India has ever seen. He has 40.5 Million fan followers on Facebook and 28.5 Million followers on Twitter. He is on Google +, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube and all the leading social media sites you can think of. A dedicated team manages his digital media presence and constantly updates relevant content. During the campaign period, Modi attended 437 rallies and met over 234 million voters. Places where he couldn’t be physically present, BJP team broadcasted a 3D hologram presentation of his public meetings. Imagine 3D hologram presentations at 150+ locations simultaneously?! This connected him directly to the common man, something which other political parties could only aspire to do.

He also initiated the “Chai pe charcha” (Discussion over tea) campaign. Q& A in politics is shunned upon. But Modi did it differently. He engaged the public over tea. With a unique combination of satellite, DTH, internet and mobile, ‘Chai pe charcha’ was a mega outreach program that got relayed at 1,000 tea stalls in 300 cities across the country. Talk about getting closer to your audience and understanding their pain points!


Stay relevant. If your target audience is on a specific platform, you need to be seen there. If you are a food blogger but don’t have an account on Instagram or Pinterest, you are losing your market share. It is important to understand where they hang out in order to reach out to them. At the same time do not forget to get market feedback.

Speak the Language they want to Hear

Modi’s carefully thought-through communication strategies put him ahead in the game. All or most of Modi’s speeches began with the sentence — “Mere sawa sau karor bharat vaasion”. It means ‘My 125 crore Indian people’. That is subliminal marketing. Without hard selling his party or himself, he speaks as if he has already won by addressing the audience as HIS 125 crore Indian people!

No two communication during the campaign period were the same. But all communication messages were under one umbrella — ‘Ab Ki Baar, Modi Sarkaar’. While at Varanasi, Modi spoke about cleaning the holy waters of Ganga. At J&K, he addressed the three AKs — The guns( AK-47), AK Antony and Arvind Kejriwal( AK-49). In Maharashtra, he addressed the sensitive farmer suicide issue and his campaigns in Punjab addressed drug problems.

He also told his story. A story people could relate to. His humble childhood, serving tea, a boy whose aspiration was to serve the people of India. He established an emotional connect and his audience could relate to him.


Craft communication that is specific to your brand or product. Address your target group directly. Focus on your message. Your customer needs to feel that the message is for him. Laser targeting will give your better results.

Promise only what you can Deliver

Everyone promised Growth but few can deliver it

We all know how Indian Politics work. Weeks or months before election time, leaders reach out to the public promising the moon in exchange for votes. Once the election is over, they are nowhere to be seen. Modi promised what he can deliver with the ‘Chai Pe Charcha’ campaign. He said that people will be heard, their views taken seriously and he will Rebuild India.

His message “Acche din aane wale hain” (Good days are about to come) referred to Economic Growth, tackling Unemployment, Elimination of Poverty and putting a stop to Corruption and Black Money. Action steps have been taken on all of these issues by the current government. People are beginning to trust him.


It is better to under promise than to over promise and under deliver. Better still would be to commit on what you can actually provide your customer and provide it. Cheap, limited period discount tactics by leading e-commerce sites seen today by hiking up the price to accommodate promised discount will fall flat. No one likes the feeling of being cheated. Only promise what you can deliver.

Work with the Best Minds

Modi’s election campaign was a revolution. In order to change the political landscape, it was imperative to work with the best minds in the business. Sam Balsara, Prasoon Joshi, and Piyush Pandey — the best names in Indian Advertising came together to work on his election campaign. IIT, IIM, Harvard Graduates like Rajesh Jain, B. Mahesh, Arvind were on his team. No wonder his election campaign was a roaring success.


Want the best? Work with the best. Be it the agency you hire or your internal team, work with those who have the innate need to excel. Those who are passionate about what they do. Successful campaigns are perfectly orchestrated and collaborated with the team’s effort.

Plan Ahead and have Clear Goals

Plan for short term goals and long term themes

The journey started on Feb 28th, 2005 when domain was created. His social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter was created in 2009. ‘Narendra Modi for PM’ campaign started in 2010. Three solid years of campaigning to build the perfect image for the current Prime Minister. Negative comments were combated by stuffing ‘Pro Modi’ content online. Millions of advocates spread his brand name both through social media and offline. On ground efforts, public speeches, ground campaigns were all aired online. Modi and his team had a clear-cut strategy and they worked towards achieving this goal.


It is important to plan your marketing campaign well ahead in time. A clear vision for your business, focusing on the developed set of objectives, drawing a plan of action to achieve those objectives using various vehicles shall help businesses, large or small avoid uncertainties, stay in control and get desired results.

Modi’s Election Campaign in Numbers

Number of Public Rallies — 5827 Number of People in Rallies — 234 million Number of Public Meetings — 437 3D Hologram Rallies — 1950 locations Number of States Covered — 25 Distance Covered — 300,000 km

Money Spent — $100 million

Did You Know?

BJP spent Rs 200 crore ($32 million) more than the Congress Party’s expenditure during the 2014 polls

Did You Also Know?

Very few people read till the end. Give yourself a pat on the back and leave your comment below on what you like or not about Narendra Modi

Originally published at on April 1, 2017.

Co-Founder of ONNE, a PAAS that helps SME’s get an app in 3 mins. I am also a Marketer, Artist, Writer, Pluviophile & a Pet Mother. @curls_and_sunshine on insta

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