PERIPHERAL TO THE CORE
(Sixteenth in the series of alternative learning from Krav Maga.)
Going away to the Himalayas to recharge! During these testing times! How will business run?
Airport connections happen. You can never prepare for such moments. You think of an old friend and the same day you get a call from her.
Travel meet-ups are just the same, with familiar faces and strangers. That was the case with me.
I was traveling to Delhi and the person who was sitting next to me was Arjun. ARJUN, the wedding millionaire. His face has adorned the cover of several magazines.
A rags to riches story but one more of survival and success. I get to spend three hours with him. Excitement made me silent! How can I talk to him? What will he say? How do I open up a conversation?
“So, what do you do? I am Arjun.” He started off first. I stuttered my name and said I was into the wedding business. What if he shuts up now, thinking I am competition?
Arjun was visibly excited. “So am I. Please tell me more about yourself.”. He was curious to know more about me and my business, my life and twists and turns. He was genuinely interested and was an active listener.
“I am sure you will have some questions too.”, he prodded. I acknowledged that I had been following his career and had four key questions.
How did you capture the middle-class segment and used that to propel growth?
I was a startup and needed quick wins to get my cashflow going. The middle class segment is very particular to make every rupee stretch. This segment wants significant value for money. There will be comparisons and decision making was measured. The unstated fear was in getting ripped off.
What if I could put together a package that was transparent from start to finish? What if I could put that in the hands of my prospects? So, I chose the larger cities of Tamil Nadu as my base first. I built up a large database. A collection of all the marriage halls and associated caterers, designers, musicians — traditional and modern. All possible support services to conduct a smooth wedding was under one roof. Mine! My team vetted each service provider, did a due diligence, and placed the top three shortlist for the families to decide. The convenience of choice but more importantly, negating the weak signal of the fear factor. All in one service was becoming a vogue but my team took it one step further: involving the families, groom and bride, in the decision making process. We also hired mini-halls and ensured they got to taste the wedding menu and options.
When trust is promised and over-delivered, my clients became my sales arm. That’s how we grew, client by client, city by city, and then the country 🙂
Your company is now a pioneer in travel weddings. How?
Movies and books, my man. They are key influences. Every bride wants the wedding to be special, and different. Their influences come from friends, books and movies. Reading Mills & Boon or its modern equivalent, dreams are set in from a teenage stage itself. This is further embellished by movies which feature a wedding in Bali or Phuket. A beach wedding, one in a zoo and so on.
Forecasting the trend. We’ve got to follow the experimenters and early-adopters in this case as well. When celebrities do something, the rest of the world wants to play catch-up, then one-up. It’s always that one more twist.
For example, destination honeymoons, there is nothing new in that. But how about a honeymoon with a photographer in tow!
“I want to celebrate with my whole family and close set of friends. I want everyone to feel special.”, that’s the feeling that is growing. We caught on to this trend when the demand was still weak. You could say that companies like me actively seeded such exotic weddings.
In this segment, in India, it is the father of the bride who is the key decision maker. Yes, the whole family is involved in it. The higher the wedding budget, the key decision maker changes from the bride to the mom to the dad. Don’t get fussed up with me for saying so! I am stating what we observed, based on which our marketing communication is planned. One needs to know who wants it, and who decides the overall budget. In most traditional weddings anyway, the bride and the groom do their thing, while the rest of the gang, friends and extended family have a ball ! With travel weddings, everyone has fun.
We love to travel and we love organising weddings. Putting these two together, the destination wedding division took off. It catapulted us into the premium segment.
Again, our learning from the past. We built a large database of locations, managers, service providers per location on our roster. Our teams did recce missions, and one of them got married in Koh Chang as well. How is that for a live testing?
You don’t seem to be too affected with setback and lockdowns. How so?
Customer tastes were changing already, slow, but visible to those who looked with intent. We ARE in the business of identifying trends and being one of the first movers in this wedding space.
Is the customer changing? Of course, she is.
The newer generation wanted smaller and quieter weddings. Some parents were ready to accept this. Web streaming has been a requirement over a decade.
Virtual weddings were on their way in and external factors like the pandemic sped things up.
Micro weddings as a trend is growing. There is a growing segment that does not want to spend a huge amount of money on a wedding. Eco-weddings, charity weddings where they donate quite a bit, FAF marriage for friends and family only: They are all in the periphery and one or all of them could pick up in the future.
When circumstances forced everyone to have a wedding with a maximum visitor count of 50, we were ready. Adjustments had to be made, but hey, that’s what life and business is all about.
So, you keep looking for weak signals then?
Anticipating needs and wants: isn’t that the key to growth? My creative team has a couple of dreamers as well. Their job, apart from regular wedding planning, is to think of “What if” scenarios. What if this happened? What if someone wants a mountain wedding? What if someone wants to do a pilgrimage as a honeymoon? What if someone wants to get married in the middle a paddy field? What ifs, the driver for my company. Which what if will happen, you never know. We’ve got to be ready though, and actively seed some.
Some focus on going deep in one niche, which is good. What is required is to keep scouting for the next big thing. Not all weak signals become strong, but we need to investigate — with intent.
- What can you see?
- What are not seeing, but is right there?
- Can you see it faster than others, and act on it? Capitalize on it?
It’s always there, in the corner of the eye. While we focus on something right in the middle, the centre of our attention, someone’s got to look at the periphery. Watching for the next big thing.
We bid adieu as he went off to the Himalayas to recharge. I think it was also to scout for wedding locations!!!
Three hours ran away fast and I got a marketing mentoring lesson in that!
Connections, are made by strange hands. We’ve got to go with the flow.
And anticipate where the flow may head to, next!
In a physical attack, our attention is focused not the main aggressor. We need to use our peripheral vision to scan the environment. We need to anticipate where the next attack could come from, and be ready.
USE YOUR PERIPHERAL VISION,
is a key lesson from Krav Maga Sreeram.
What is around you, will affect you! How we plan our marketing and business activities is usually concentrated on the main task in front of us. The future though, and our survival, security and success, depends on what’s around the corner. What could be the next big thing? How can I identify that, and make the most of — before my competition?
Environment scanning, talking to people in the industry — young and old, and connecting with mavericks: Peripheral vision to identify weak signals in business is a key aspect to work on.
(This story was inspired from my interactions with Pradhyumna and Pradeep from MarriageColours.com )
— — — —
This is the sixteenth in the series of learning from Krav Maga.
- A fully extended arm is useless
- Find the weak spot
- Violence: Avoid it as much as possible!
- You many not have started the fight, BUT
- The meditating monk
- The only mindset that counts
- Action Reaction
- When DONE is DONE! Is it ever?
- Which shoe to buy? I have several!
- Can you escape career quicksand?
- Anger Anger
- Show as little as possible
- The need for an Outlier coach
- Why we do what we do
- Impossibility is a challenge
Pravin Shekar is an outlier marketer, parallel entrepreneur and a raconteur.
mic @ PravinShekar.com .
For creative collusions, join: http://bit.ly/JoinMyOutlierTribe
Pravin is the author of seven books: Devil Does Care, Marketing lessons from Mythology, Getting paid to speak, a Virtual Summit Playbook, Climb your way out of hell & a collection of travel pics/romantic poems, and stories from the heart!
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