At the stroke of midnight on 1st December, 2013, the Marketing Club of IIM Shillong inaugurated the third season of its flagship event GodSellers 3.0 with the launch of an enticing teaser video and banner with the theme “Sab Ganda hai par Dhandha hai” (It’s Dirty, But it’s Business).
The main purpose of this annual event is to bring the budding marketers of tomorrow out of the classrooms and discussion forums into the real world and learn the art of selling – LIVE. The format of the event required the students to bid for stalls in three categories – food, games and art & entertainment. The event saw students coming up with very creative ideas for stalls. The efforts were visible when the preparations started a week in advance and each team of four students was seen getting involved in activities from choosing the right products to sell to setting the prices, from using the social media platform online to promote their wares to creating a buzz around the campus with ambush marketing ideas.
Three of my colleagues and I formed a team for GodSellers 3.0 and decided to walk the untrodden path. They have always been interested in the nuances of marketing and sales, while I hail from 3 years of digital marketing and media buying experience in the exhibition business of the cinema industry. One of the students, Ritesh Gupta, is a wonderful home chef who specializes in Rajasthani delicacies. He suggested that ours be a food stall and that we serve piping hot Daal with Baati and Churma to our target audience. With a round of tasting, all the team members and a few other tasters from campus were floored. And that’s where our real challenge began.
We were faced with many issues vis. the dish, though a palatable one, is a specialty that is popular in its own region and may not receive an overwhelming response as it may not appeal to everyone’s taste buds. Not everyone knows “how to” eat Daal Baati Churma. Other issues arose regarding costs, preparation time and scalability of the preparation from a few tasting plates to more than 150 Baatis that we had aimed to prepare and serve. We also realized that ours wasn’t a chaat, sandwich or beverage which could be served at room temperature. In Shillong’s single digit temperatures at an event scheduled to start at 7:00 pm in the evening, we had to ensure that every serving of the Daal was dished out piping hot.
At the outset, we appointed members to take care of the four main areas of concern – product i.e. the recipe, scalability and time management on the day of the event. The second was pricing and logistics, where two members were assigned to make sure that everything was well within the budget and they successfully managed attending classes and running to the supermarket and local market to scout for the best quality of all our ingredients, from desi ghee to special boondi for the Jaljeera that we wanted to serve along with the food. I had been given the onus of the creative promotions that we started on the day of our auctions itself. As soon as people returned from the bidding, an email awaited their inboxes announcing our arrival. Team ‘Tadka Laga Ke’ was born.
During the course of the 4-day long preparation beforehand and at the 4-hour long event on 7th December 2013, as managers we had the wonderful chance to implement our concepts of not only Marketing, but also Operations and Finance – in the real life setting where our own peers, along with students from various colleges in Shillong, were our target audience.
“Here is a simple but powerful rule … always give people more than they expect to get,” says Nelson Boswell. And that’s exactly what we did. With a zest to excel, and an offering that had an irresistible taste, we used to our advantage the concept of dynamic pricing – sensing the pulse of the audience to change prices of our “food combos” as and when we saw the demand rise and fall. To create an authentic Rajasthani ambience, we not only focused on the décor and ourselves dressed up in the traditional ‘bandhej’, but also used a rudimentary village-like shout out to announce our prices, and invited crowds to our stall saying “Padharo Sa” or “Ram Ram Sa” which means “Welcome”.
The stalls were arranged in the quadrangle of IIM Shillong campus, very beautifully grouped according to the products and services offered. In total there were twelve stalls that occupied the market. We competed with products and services from categories like food & beverages, jukebox entertainments, ornamental & decorative items, palmistry and fun games. The event witnessed a total combined revenue of more than Rs. 72,000 this season compared to around Rs. 55,000 last season in just 4 hours of operational activities.
At the end of the event, as everyone waited in baited breath, Team Tadka Laga Ke were announced as winners, followed by runners-up Team ‘Back to School’ who had sold décor products like scented and decorated candles and lamps. Both teams were applauded for their marketing efforts, crowd-pull and revenues generated at the event.
By Ayushi Rohira
(Ayushi is a first year student at IIM Shillong. Her interests lie in reading, writing, traveling and trying to fathom life's little nuances that make it so fascinating.)