This is one of the best summaries of why India should be on your business and trade radar.
My good friend Hareesh Tibrewala provides the great summary – he is the Author of ‘If I Had To Do It Again’, a Social Media Strategist and Internet Entrepreneur – currently Joint CEO of Mirum India.
“Right now the Indian economy seems like the brightest spot among all large economies.
“One one hand, the whole of Europe is suffering the brunt of the Ukraine war. And irrespective of sanctions against Russia, and who is winning or losing the war, the brunt is actually being faced by Europe in form of inflation and energy issues.
“On the other hand, the US seems to be struggling to come out of Covid. There are just no people anywhere to fill in the job vacancies. Every shop or outlet has “Hiring” signs in their window. And salary levels, even for minimum wage kind of jobs seems to have increased dramatically.
“And finally China, who was powering the world economy for the past few decades seems to be floundering thanks to zero-covid policy and an unprecendented drought.
“Overall the APAC region, and specifically India, seem to be comparatively doing much better and seem stable.”
India has always been skilled at dealing with both sides of diplomatic arguments – and it has an inclination towards “multilateral” and even “multi-bilateral” arrangements while western friends prefer “bilateral”.
So, it will be interesting to see what role Indian PM Modi will play at the 22nd leaders’ summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, to be held on 15–16 September – the first in-person gathering of the central Asian grouping since 2019.
While it might not make page one news, politicians and diplomats around the world will be closely watching this summit to be held in the ancient Uzbek Silk Road city Samarkand. Not only is it providing Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin their first face-to-face meeting since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and declaration last year of a “forever partnership” – but it also comes after an interval where Indian PM Modi became closer and more impactful at the QUAD.
The members of SCO are China, India, Tajikistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan. Four Observer States were involved in granting full membership (Belarus, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mongolia) and six “Dialogue Partners” (Nepal, Armenia, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, and Turkey).
The QUAD nations are India, USA, Japan and Australia.
If he attends, Modi is expected to have meetings with Putin and Xi, giving a further glimpse as to how India is likely to map out its relationship with Eurasia’s great powers.
Modi has previously stood up to pressure from QUAD countries to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, so as a leader he has a track record of combining non-confrontation with firm commitment to his own position.
One of the most frequent questions for INTO INDIA is how do we find the right business partner in India? Most case studies of Australian businesses succeeding in India reveal one key element – finding the right local partner.
What is the right local partner?
It is much more than someone who says “yes”. Too many have been frustrated in Indian market entry because they forged alliances with any and everyone who said “yes” – which means everyone they meet. India is a culture that cannot say no, so be wary of the yes answer.
The right partner is already active and successful in your field. They can show you their track record.
Your right partner will have connections among suppliers and customers, and will be keen to introduce you to them so you can form your own judgement.
In the collective culture of India, your right partner will be well connected in the various business chambers and will have good connections in government – central and state. This right partner will demonstrate these connections by organising meetings for you, rather than just saying “yes” we are connected.
Your right partner will be someone you double check with Austrade and with other reliable connections you have in India or Australia.
Your right partner could ultimately become an agent, a joint venture or more. They might just be a trusted individual who willingly offers to make connects for you – this freely opening doors does occur in India.
Your right partner might be a talented individual who you hire into your business. Or it might be a combination of external and internal. Patience will be your best friend as you make these choices.
Finally, your right partner will develop relationships for you – because in Indian culture relationships matter. Relationships first, business second is the path to long term business in India. Quick deals are just that – one transaction that might not lead to anything.
So, how are you going finding the right partner in India?
Zoom, Teams and other online meetings are now part of our lives. In many of these meetings, you are called upon to introduce yourself. Maybe everyone is introducing themselves.
It can get the pulse raising and the mind in overdrive. What will I say? Where should I focus? Will they like me? Meanwhile, we are missing out on all the other interesting introductions happening.
The stress can be negative – or positive. Through practice, we can come to recognise stress when it arises and use it for good – ah, now, better concentration, sharper reflexes, and so on. In contrast, if we have a negative reaction to stress it can mess up our introduction – nervous, shaky voice, tongue-tied, rambling on….
So, what is the easiest way to introduce yourself?
Like all public communication, the secret is to keep it simple.
The simplest way to introduce yourself is in three parts (and this might mean just three sentences) – present, past and future. People love this approach – they recognise the structure, simplicity and like a note about the future.
A present-tense statement to introduce yourself: “Hi, I’m Stephen, and I’m a communication consultant and author. My current focus is mentoring and writing.”
Past tense might be just two or three points about your background and gives you credentials and credibility. An example: “My background is in corporate communication, and I have previously advised top 100 corporates and big four professional services firms.”
Future tense is all about projecting optimism and enthusiasm – two very likeable characteristics. In a meeting this should relate to the topic. “In the next 12 months I plan to do more writing towards a new book and meetings like this give me not only content, but the motivation to keep exploring”.
Simple? Present, past and future. Each can be as long or short as the occasion requires – but always err on the side of shorter. Trust me – you will gradually enjoy (and smile) while introducing yourself.
People who love learning and take ongoing learning into their own hands.
How do you know if you’re an autodidact?
Autodidacts are busy, goal-oriented individuals who never run out of things to do. They are generally curious about things and believe in thinking outside the box. Their curiosity is effervescent, and they can easily talk about a subject they had no formal education in for hours together.
In my experiences of many visits and countless interactions, I have found India to be in love with ideas, open to exchange learning and in every way, it is the role model for would-be autodidacts.
The four leaders of the QUAD – a new closeness transforming this region
There’s a big change happening and it is spearheaded by the new dynamic of the Australia-India trade and security relationship – this is growing to provide a balance for Australia’s historic close alliance with the USA.
INTO INDIA has long felt that Australia has “looked north east” for too long and now is looking more “north west”.
For a while our diplomats and politicians talked about “the Indo-Pacific” as a way to introduce the change. But it is not a sustainable concept and there is no such region.
Australia has a Pacific Ocean strategy (USA) and is now building an Indian Ocean strategy (India). These relationship shifts affect our defence and security, as well as our trade and investment.
Matching that change, it is more than symbolic that an organisation such as the Australia India Chamber of Commerce is focussing on the key industry areas of greatest potential under the deal – and moving away from the old “federal” and state based approaches. Great! Under the old structures, outcomes were often lost in rivalries and politics.
The AICC model has one national organisation – supported by National Industry Groups. This frees up resources to make a difference.
So far the NIG’s include Education, Power and Renewables, Critical Minerals, Defence and Security, and Technology and Innovation. Small steps, but steps they are!
One step at a time, one change at a time, at so many levels, Australia is looking “north west” and taking a role in the Indian Ocean region by a close relationship with the new regional and global power, India.
The new strength of the QUAD (India, Japan, USA and Australia) is also part of the change and the new world of moving alliances.
If the move keeps going, Australia will have strength in two main regions and close relations with two major powers – India and the USA.
Here’s a big generalisation – almost every product and service can find an eager market in India – the Indian economic growth story means demand for everything cannot be met – so that means opportunity for you.
But how to approach India?
First – think longer term than you normally do, but keep in mind modern India can be either fast or slow and there is no way of predicting.
Second – leave your ego behind. Pretty much every western company that has succeeded in India has done so on the support of a strong local Indian team across all levels. To do this, they have effectively left their ego behind.
Third – India wants your business, NOT your culture. You will struggle if you want to transfer your “culture” to India – putting your expat team in long-term charge of the local team is a risky approach.
Fourth – use your expat team wisely. Expats can come and go as needed – but your business needs longevity in India and that is what an Indian management team can provide.
Fifth – smart companies that go into India also ensure they hire Indians into the Head Office team, at the right level in HO guiding and advising the HO team.
A selfie at the Raisina Dialogue for Tharoor and Jaishankar – endorsing “multi-alignment”
From the west we often hear business leaders say “India wants to be more western” – but does it? Or is there a different world view in India?
Three points stand out for me:
FIRST, PM Narendra Modi recently stated that, while many countries have strayed from spirituality and towards consumerism, India should not do so.
SECOND, laying the foundation for the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) in Jamnagar, Gujarat, PM Modi stated that countries all over the world are focusing on traditional herbal systems to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and that Yoga has helped people all around the world establish mental balance by reducing stress.
THIRD, in an increasingly divided world with an “us vs them” view, India is an exception. Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday thanked External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar for publicly giving him credit for the term “multi-alignment” and posted a selfie of them together at the ongoing Raisina Dialogue. There is a very conscious policy of engaging all the major powers simultaneously in a world. Who else is doing this?
Some of the best “corporate storytelling” is coming out of India
The most valuable companies in India include Tata Sons, Aditya Birla and Godrej. The most valuable in the world are Apple, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft (with the order changing every now and then). These companies cover a wide range of sectors but there is one common element. A consistent and strategic content narrative.
That’s an area well understood by Mumbai-based The Information Company (TIC) which is positioned as a “content, creative and digital agency preferred by India’s leading corporates”.
Corporate Storytellers. That’s how they like to be known.
The Information Company – Storytellers to India Inc
TIC started in 1999 and I have known them since 2004, when I connected with Founder Kiron Kasbekar, formerly Editor of The Economic Times (Bombay), Business Editor of The Times of India, and Managing Editor of Business India.
TIC has been ‘living and breathing’ content for more than 20 years, with its foundations built by top-notch journalists who brought their expertise in impactful storytelling to the game. Since then, TIC has added technologists, graphic designers, writers, videographers, and SEO specialists to the mix to execute great communication projects.
Their storytelling services are being used by the some of India’s largest, most influential, and best brands – Tata Sons, Aditya Birla Group, Godrej, Mahindra Group, Ambuja Cement, Hindalco, Fino, Cipla, Arcelor Mittal Nippon Steel, Capgemini, Weber Shandwick, and many more.
Storytelling for a purpose
TIC doesn’t just tell stories – the focus on storytelling towards a purpose, whether that is building digital brand identity, promoting business interests, creating perceptions, or reaching out to stakeholders.
One of the most unleveraged areas of communication is ‘thought leadership’, with much of it being overt promotion or semi-advertising. Here, TIC has been able to carve out a niche – crafting the voices of corporate brand and corporate leaders, and delivering good thought leadership content that is credible, engaging, accurate and consistent.
One of their unique skills is to write authored articles on behalf clients across industries such as automotive, aviation, chemical, consumer products, energy, engineering, IT, insurance, oil & gas, pharma, mining, manufacturing and infrastructure.
Blogs for Interaction
Blogs is another area where, for many organisations, things go wrong. The most common mistake is to come across as self-promoting. Or the organisation starts a blog but tires of it – so their latest blog is two or three years ago. Not a good look.
But the blog can be immensely valuable – it is the one platform for any company to connect with all its stakeholders, interact with them, connect like-minded enthusiasts and so on – through focused storytelling. No wonder then that TIC creates over 30 blogs every month.
Websites that just don’t sit there
Owned communication assets such as websites should not be static – they need to be information rich, and continually updated. They are the first stop for information that is used by investors, clients, media, prospective customers, prospective employees, regulatory bodies. The website is a critical and strategic asset to broadcast the corporate narrative.
Tata Chemicals, Tata Trusts, Rallis, Lupin, Hindalco, Ambuja Cement Foundation, and Suzlon are just some of TIC’s website clients. And this does not include the list of intranet clients!
Sometimes, a visual story tells more than a thousand words. Infographics are mostly data driven – the magic lies in crafting a coherent story around data.
By writing compelling text and presenting it in an efficient and visually pleasing manner, TIC ensures that an engaging story emerges from each Infographic. This form of content is its way, both art and science.
Campaigns – traction and reaction
Engaging with employees – especially in an age of WFH – has taken on a new significance. Companies often rely on emailer campaigns to connect. But how do we gain traction and reaction?
Whether the campaign is to showcase business achievements, announce a product launch or an event, highlight business achievement, connect with employees or other stakeholders, TIC partners several big corporates to put in the right words to their thoughts.
Social media campaigns take the need for creativity to another level. Here too TIC builds award-winning strategic campaigns for clients such as Godrej and Hindalco.
Video now “most effective”
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth 1.8 million – that is the view of TIC, and they see video as “the most effective way to narrate a story”. Be it explainer, animated, VFX, event, HR videos or corporate films, TIC creates videos for Aditya Birla Group, Sterling & Wilson, Asian Paints, and Hindalco.
Beware of stepping into ‘content overload’, a sign of our times. How do you ensure ‘thumb-stopping’, shareworthy content for your brand? One easy hack is to make sure the content is dynamic, visually rich and – most important – interactive! Adding a layer of interactivity to your content – blogs, posts, videos, graphics, podcasts, whatever – will add to brand recall and engagement. Even a simple quiz, for instance, becomes interactive content and can be a game changer for your brand. And that is what TIC delivers.
Awards tell the story
Recognition is the best sequel to creativity. TIC has won a slew of awards for its work – here is just a tiny fraction of the recent accolades won:
Double Platinum at the ‘AVA Digital Awards 2022’ for Tata Sons e-magazine and a video for Sterling & Wilson Renewable Energy Ltd
‘Mint Marketing Award 2021’ for Hindalco’s #WomenAtHindalco social media campaign
Gold for Hindalco’s internal newsletter at the ‘Afaqs! Digies 2021’
Bronze for Aditya Birla Group’s #HaathUthanaZarooriHai video at the ‘Velocity Awards’
Best Content agency at ‘The Great Indian Content Marketing Awards 2021’
For more on how TIC can support your communication objectives, just drop a message on email@example.com. Or better still, call at +91 842 581 4016 / 17.