If you are shooting off generic emails to prospects, your emails will be ignored and trashed. At the same time, customisation does not mean simply addressing the recipient by name. Effective prospect emails are deeply customised at various levels of the prospect organisation.

What will help you to achieve the level of customisation that will evoke a positive response?

The prep begins much before you start writing that email. Here, we share the five crucial steps that you will need to do before you reach out to prospect organisations.


Of course, everyone does a preliminary research about the prospect. However,  few do it to the level of detailing that is required to develop that incisive email.

Know everything about the organisation – product/service; revenues; goals; key executives; partners; competition, mergers and acquisitions and latest announcements. In addition to relying on the organisation website, look at industry articles, annual reports, and analyst briefings to get deeper insights. Make sure you assign sources to quotes, analysis, and data.

Develop a one-pager or 2 to 3 slides that will showcase the key details about the prospect in a sharp and brief format. This will be useful for future internal reference.


From the information that you have collected, draw out key insights:

– What are the key challenges for your prospect organisation?
– How will the market evolve for them?
– How will competition change?
– How is competition responding to the changing landscape?
– What are the prospect’s customers saying on social media?
– Is there a government announcement or policy that will impact the prospect’s business?
– What needs to improve or change on their website?
– Dig out research reports for key revelations that will prove invaluable to your communication later.


Create a table with two columns. On the left will be your prospect’s goals and challenges. On the right, map your solutions to the goals and challenges. Be very specific in the mapping endeavour. Ask if your solution will resonate with the client. The gems for your email will be discovered in this exercise. We will do ABC to help you achieve XYZ, which I believe is your goal for this year. It will also help you later during presentation stage to your prospect. The table can be integrated and adapted into a slide to show how your capabilities will be aligned with client requirements.


Don’t baulk at the thought of writing to the top executive – the CEO, Executive Director or the SVP. Don’t worry if your job title does not match with that of the CEO to whom you are writing. What matters is the depth of knowledge you are demonstrating and the sincerity of your purpose. Focus on crafting a creative, effective and highly targetted email. The person at the top (the decision maker or the senior influencer) not only has the maturity to recognize and respect a creative and customised outreach, but also the authority to make a decision about your email and solution. This will prove to be highly advantageous, especially in shortening your sales cycle.

If you feel that your CEO should be sending out the email, you can take that call. Remember, your CEO is equally busy. So, you will have to provide the final email template along with the prospect email address to help the CEO to simply hit the “Send” button.


This is the most important thing you will be doing to help develop a highly effective email.

The Executive bio on the company website is your weakest link. Look for quotes in industry articles; views shared through media interviews and speeches; awards and recognition conferred; books written; insights revealed through executive blogs and articles; interesting snippets and quotes.

Listen. Read. Absorb. Something in there will provide you with a brilliant opening line for your email.


It usually takes two to three working days to do a thorough prospect analysis and to organize it into a ready-reckoner. All the research you have done will now pay off. Armed with information and insights, you will be able to write an email that the prospect will find it very hard to ignore.


Come back here in a few days’ time and we will share some exciting opening lines of prospect emails that have worked for our clients.



When Online Delivered a Better Experience Than Offline

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For most aspects – technology, ecommerce, applications, or fashion trends, I belong to the category of late adopters.

I have been extra cautious about ecommerce and online payments. My first online purchase was in 2013 when I bought a book in Kindle format to read on my iPad.

While I continue to prefer buying “in-shop” or “offline”, I have made considerable foray in the last five years in my online adventures, moving from low-investment purchases like books, cosmetics, and food, to clothes, small household items, and the odd furniture. I may never buy a mobile phone or laptop online, and will definitely not buy footwear or jewelry.

My initial online shopping for clothes was not a great experience. What I got was not what I saw on the web store.

Then, I chanced upon a brand that sold only via two channels – online and through exhibitions held in various cities.

Here’s an experience of both.

The online shopping experience

This apparel brand seems to have nailed the online experience. The clothes were neatly showcased by pattern, size, colour, and fabric, which made locating the clothes super easy.

Elegant pieces of prose described the garments, their designs, and their inspiration. There were no complicated alphanumeric style codes. Each garment style was given its own exotic name.

Suggestions were provided for matching pieces and accessories. It was easy to pick up the full look.

Their size-chart was highly detailed, accurate and very clear in that the sizes referred to the garments. So the customer could decide the fit – loose, fitted, tight. I never had to exchange a product because the size was wrong. Zoom-in features from at least five angles and perspectives gave customers a real feel of print, pattern, colour, and fabric.

A key feature was the availability of a real human being at the end of a customer service number that was boldly displayed on the web pages. In the age of AI and chatbots, this is a rare treat. Executives were also available on FB Messenger to respond to queries. Questions and comments to their Facebook posts were always greeted with highly personalised responses and speedily. There were no stock, copy-paste replies.

They had picked the best ecommerce technologies for their web store creation and mobile application. Uncluttered layouts and easy navigation made for a great UX/UI. The e-store was integrated with efficient order processing and order tracking tools. Order fulfillment was exceptionally smooth, with day-to-day updates provided for tracking and delivery status.

The clothes were almost always delivered in five days, packaged in simple, yet classic reusable bags. From search to delivery, it has always been a hassle-free experience.

Oh! Yes, the clothes themselves were fabulous, never failing to draw admiring glances and comments.

The offline shopping experience:

Now that I was sufficiently hooked to this brand, I was tempted to experience their clothes exhibition. When I received an event update, I marked the date and made plans to be there.

When I arrived at the venue, it was nothing like the online experience.

Racks of clothes, marked by size, stood haphazardly, across the hall. Piles of garments were strewn on large tables, discarded by customers who had pulled them out from the racks or tried them on.

Long lines of customers stood outside makeshift trial rooms, each with at least six garments to try on.

The full range of cuts and colours were not available or were probably lost in the piles.

There was no one to answer questions or help with the clothes.

The venue itself was dreary with tacky branding elements.

I was out in ten minutes without a purchase.


Online can never match an offline buying experience – has this premise been finally busted?

In their quest to have a successful online business, are brands neglecting their offline experience?

Have the roles reversed, in that online best practices will now be replicated offline?

Any other questions or take-aways?

Book review: The Road Home

Book review:
The Road Home by Rose Tremain


The moving of people from their native places in search of a better life and livelihood is as old as the history of evolution itself. Taking place in this universal movement is the journey of Lev, an East European migrant in London.

The Road Home engages you from page 1 with a simple opening line, “On the coach, Lev chose a seat near the back and he sat huddled against the window, staring out at the land he was leaving.” It draws you in not because it is unique, but because it is such a familiar scene. You already know the answers; still, you want to know what he is leaving behind and where he is going.

With the journey come the relationships that are at the heart of Lev’s experiences. They keep you absorbed with heartwarming conversations and comforting food. Tremain constructs a touching account of the people Lev meets. Through all the strangeness, he discovers an old, familiar bond with them. They are the same people because their story is no different from his. It’s the story of existence. Instead of Lev in London, it could have been Omar from Syria looking for work in New York. Or Raju toiling in Mumbai.

The novel is engaging in its realism and contemporariness. What is missing is depth and description. The move to a new land offers a wonderful canvas to depict the myriad complexities of the journey and destination. Except for a couple of art and culture encounters, the more intimate experiences of London are lost in the daily quest for a meal, shelter, and wages. That Tremain does not mention her protagonist’s country specifically does not interfere with the narrative. Still, it is a gap that robs the opportunity for rich detailing about Lev’s country and culture.

Through a play that he watches with his British lover Sophie, the book offers us a peek into London’s dilettante and their pretentious dalliances with art and theatre. In the play, Dicer the protagonist molests a doll that has been customised to look like Dicer’s young daughter Bunny. Lev’s friends hail the play as ‘groundbreaking’, ‘brilliant’, ‘radical’, and ‘brave’. There is a ‘need to shock’, they state with great determination. “British theatre needs to be taken to a place that it has never visited before – the toilet”, declares Andy Portman the playwright. It is a telling contrast that Tremain sets up between the life and priorities of people. The satire, albeit gaudy, slams home. Lev is enraged, but you will be snorting. That’s the thing about pretences. Different people react differently.

Tremain is not coy either about using her characters to notify the world about her views. Her voice can be clearly heard in comments like, ‘Public Works, Lev. You know, the very term terrifies me to the gills. Because you can never imagine anything good coming out of there. It’s meant to sound philanthropic, but what it signifies to me is some consortium of strangers replacing a thing you love with a thing you need’. 

The Road Home is a good read and the characters are authentic and relatable. The trouble is that they lack deepness and discernment in their description. Think of Atticus or Ma Joad or Jeeves or Hermione Granger or Mrs. Bennet. Their characterization had so much insight and strength. Lev or Ina or Christy won’t be in their league. It keeps the book from being counted among the greats.

For those who haven’t read the book, I won’t reveal how Lev’s journey ends. Either way, there would have been criticism – ‘too miserable’ or ‘too good to be true’. Tremain makes her choice and miserable or good, it is okay.

Will Lev make it in London?

It is a question that you will ask through Lev’s travails.

In a way, that is our question too, isn’t it?

Six reasons why your greeting cards and notes should be deeply personalised

You have got a lovely card, gift or bunch of flowers to celebrate a special occasion.

What about a special note to go with them? Most probably, you might have settled for a standard message that thousands of others have already used.

Personalisation does not only mean adding the recipient’s name to a card or a standard message. It means taking the time out to write and convey things that are deeply relevant to the person receiving the note, card or message.

Here are six reasons why you should invest in writing a personalised message for a special person and occasion:

1. Your personalised message is unique and therefore only one of its kind exists. Can there be a better reason than this?

2. Its value will multiply a thousand times because the recipient will know that your message has not been picked off the Internet or duplicated. It tells the person receiving it that you have invested a lot of time and care in crafting it.

3. Words are forever. Long after the flowers have dried, the candles have been blown out and the cake has been cut, the beauty of words will stay. They will immortalise the occasion and create lasting memories.

4. In the age of mobile phones, abbreviated text messages and vastly identical gifts and notes, a deeply personalised message will be cherished for its originality and genuineness.

5. Businesses are investing heavily in customised outreach to clients. Why shouldn’t you do the same for your personal relationships? The people who are most important to you in this world – your family and friends – also deserve custom-crafted messages.

6. A beautiful card or stationery that carries a generic message will become ordinary and runs the risk of being discarded. A handwritten note will increase in value and meaning when the words are written exclusively for the person receiving it. So ideally you should think about a custom-crafted message even before you get it handwritten or printed on a beautiful piece of stationery.

Next time you resort to writing a generic message, remember that it will dilute the depth of your feelings and make your note ordinary and forgettable.

Get a personalised message written today and experience the depth of your feelings come alive. 

Making Retro Cool Again


Even in an increasingly digital, mobile, instant or plastic world, there’ll be a very special place for the old way of doing things like handwritten letters, personalised messages, and traditional film cameras.

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 sits neatly between an ultra-digital and traditional camera. In the age of smartphone photography and DSLR cameras, it evokes nostalgia and renews excitement for traditional photography. The fact that it continues to top the charts of must-haves with teenagers and young adults even after so many years just shows how enduring everything retro can be. Its popularity is more to do with fun, old-world, and vintage and less to do with brilliant photography.

What makes it so appealing is that it comes in a range of stunning colours, matching carry cases, different colour lenses (to mimic today’s digital filters), and an array of frames and clips.


Nailing the product-design-marketing mix is never easy. The Instax Mini seems to have a winning formula – take a bit of retro and package it as cool!

The effect is amazing – the Millennials are craving a Gen X experience!



I placed two orders on Amazon in June.

The two orders were an oversight. I had to place the second order because I forgot to change the quantity from 01 to 02 in the first order.


Two orders; same item. Placed by the same customer (me); on the same date.; within five minutes of each other; to be delivered to the same address. The same logistics partner was delivering the items


The first order gets delivered after 7 days.

The second order for the same item to be delivered to the same address, being delivered by the same partner, reaches my city after 15 days and still does not get delivered.

Reason relayed via SMS: “Could not be delivered as additional address details missing.”

After a number of follow-up calls and social media feedback, the product is traced and delivered after yet another 48 hours.


Get back to the friendly neighborhood supermarket who will not only stock all items under one roof, but will also deliver them free within an hour, while offering a 30-day, interest-free credit to all customers.


Despite all the sophisticated inventory management and software, why is it still so difficult for marketplaces and global leaders in ecommerce to centralize orders placed by a single customer and deliver to a single address on a single delivery date?

Life of a writer on a Friday evening

5 pm in the afternoon and people unwinding
Friends and family calling; it was a Friday evening
The lonely writer sat brooding, copy in hand
There was no escaping this treacherous quicksand

Pronouns, adjectives, British or American?
Tricky apostrophes and commas; will it all be done?
Words much too compound and possessive
Complicated syntaxes and the questions obsessive

Infinitives, articles, predicates and coordinates
Nothing definite about those tiresome indefinites
The evening slipped in between the hyphenations
The writer sighed and longed for an Oracle to catch the omissions

Will the grammar police catch this one?
Don’t be pedantic, that’s fine, said some
Make that your rule and call it your style
Say they’re being picayunish and simply smile

An analysis of President Trump’s inaugural address

Rhetoric no more. He means every word of it!

That was the thought that went through my mind in the first two minutes of Donald Trump’s speech as 45th President of the United States of America.

If there were any expectations of diplomacy, there were none.

Trump was clear. He was not one to be interested in creating history with eloquence. 

He was on a mission. And his inaugural speech would be a reaffirmation of that mission.

His tone was combative. The mood unrelenting. And the strategy divisive.

Here was a speech that couldn’t be more true to the voice of its speaker. Without doubt, this was Donald Trump speaking.

Here’s a detailed analysis of his speech.

Note: Italicized words are portions of the speech and not the full transcript.

Recognises anger

We are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another. We’re transferring power from Washington DC and giving it back to you people.”

“For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

January 20th, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

Look at the early directness and emphatic intent of the speech. At about one minute and 30 seconds, he gets down to business and sets the tone for what is to come.

Trump’s unbelievable rise to become the Republican Presidential nominee and his dramatic win as President was all about the anger of what he masterfully refers to as “the forgotten men and women of our country”.

It is a reminder of why he is there – the Messiah who will deliver the forgotten people.

It’s a powerful sentiment. One that stirs loyalty for the Messiah and stokes anger for the wealthy others.

With that opening, he broke the tradition of delivering positive and unifying messages as a dignified custom of every inaugural speech.

Strokes the populist mood

That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment, it belongs to you. This is your day. This is your celebration

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.

For someone who rode the rhetoric of divisiveness, it’s interesting to note the inclusiveness here.  

“This is your day” and “your celebration” are not mere indulgences of a generous leader.

He was being careful to reiterate what they already knew. The ultimate outsider had won because the forgotten people had thrown their might behind him. 

Paints a grim landscape

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

We’ve made other countries rich, while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind. The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Celebrations and victories are fine. But they do not evoke powerful emotions.

Stark landscapes do. “Carnage”, “ravages” “dissipated” and “ripped” invoke the grim scenario that Trump wants people to see and remember.

The intention is clear. Cement the resoluteness among the forgotten and the deprived. They must not relent now. This is the way forward if they want better times.

Reaffirms protectionism

We will face challenges, we will confront hardships, but we will get the job done.

From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first.

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. 

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.

We will follow two simple rules; buy American and hire American.

‘America first’ was the bedrock of Trump’s campaign theme – ‘Make America Great Again’. The return to a glorious era is rooted in this vision.

We are familiar with ‘Love yourself first’, the philosophy that urges people to love oneself without guilt.

Donald Trump simply extends that philosophy to nation love.

It is an emotion that is difficult to play down or find fault with.

Teases political correctness

We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny. The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.

While we didn’t doubt the partisan and protectionist talk, Trump’s attempt at positive and unifying messages rang somewhat hollow.

They were there for those yearning to hear some correctness. Crumbs to make up for the stark lack of diplomacy.

Revels in hyperbole

I will fight for you with every breath in my body and I will never ever let you down.

We share one heart, one home and one glorious destiny.

We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow. A new national pride will stir ourselves, lift our sights and heal our divisions.

‘Millennium’ ‘mysteries’ ‘tomorrow’ and ‘ glorious destiny’– didn’t do much either for inspiration or for relief.

Perhaps they were there to make up for the noticeable absence of his pet phrases – ‘very, very amazing’ ‘lovely’ and ‘beautiful’.

Only, they didn’t and rather served to distract from his grim message.

Signals non-interference?

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example.

After the brash opinions, one would not expect maturity in the domain of international relations from Trump. So when he talks about the right of all nations* to put their interests first and not to impose, you perk up.

*Post Note: Even if the reference was to Russia

America, the incorrigible Big Brother will let other nations be?

America will not impose its views?

That would be one of the most significant departures from Donald Trump’s expected line of talk.

Talks Tough

We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth.

The inaugural podium or the celebratory occasion did nothing to soften the blunt reference to ‘radical Islamic terrorism’. He gave the signal loud and clear. He didn’t shy during campaign days to call terror by its name. He wouldn’t shy now as President.

People don’t want euphemisms anymore. He wouldn’t give any.

Wraps up with a touch of the sublime

When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.

A nation is living only as long as it is striving.

And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the wind-swept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they will their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator.

Great speeches capture stirring thoughts that history will invoke and generations will reaffirm.

The desire to hear something poetic and sublime* is satiated in the last few minutes.

*Post Note: Notwithstanding that it was a Trump speech

My pick of the sublime from Donald Trump’s inaugural speech would be this – “a nation is living only as long as it is striving”.

Related: The Audacity of Hope

The Audacity of Hope

This was written in November 2016, just after the US election results were announced.

2017 is here and hope is a good thing. So read on…

To all those who are sad, distressed and fearful about the US 2016 elections verdict, don’t freak out yet—President Trump may not be such a bad idea, after all.

His presidency is not necessarily a vote in favor of racism and bigotry.

His campaign and its appeal have also lain in his talk of lowering taxes, increasing insurance premiums and on concerns on the ground about being forgotten by DC… real problems of people.

It was a vote against elitism rather than against a particular gender or a particular race.

It was an anti-establishment vote and an anti-Washington DC message.

Yes, Trump said horrible, disgusting and unforgivable things about women (and minorities, Latinos and gays). Bill Clinton did not just say, but allegedly did bad things. And allegedly, Hillary is supposed to have shut them up.

Hillary was pro-war, admitted to it and has apologized for it.

While the Democrats focused on issues like Trump’s vulgarity and misogynistic statements, Trump supporters, the working and the forgotten class had other issues to be angry about. And they wanted a change.

In all this, the media, the pollsters, pundits and the Twitterati failed to recognize or highlight their concerns.

His own party took down Bernie Sanders, the candidate who focused on these very issues. He could have won. Who knows? After all, Sanders won against Clinton in both the Michigan and Wisconsin primaries—the crucial states that Clinton eventually lost on 8 November.

Coming to the hope bit now, Donald cannot afford to be at war with the world—he has businesses everywhere, including the “Muzzlum” countries, where he hobnobs with the Sheikhs.

The wall at the Mexico border is unlikely to happen. It will crumble for want of money.

And finally, Donald Trump has been a reality star, a showman. A lot of his hate rhetoric seems to be just that—rhetoric.

In his first ever victory speech at around 3.40 AM ET on 9 November, he said, “We’ll seek common ground, not hostility”. The most important thing for Trump would be to give a stern message to his supporters not interpret this verdict as a license to hate, abuse and attack.

Hopefully, he won’t play out his hate rhetoric. And hopefully, Mike Pence will be the steadying, sobering, wise voice.

Is that audacious?