1) Identifying a real need gap – They realized that there was a huge untapped market for a new brand of politics and developed their disruptive product, i.e. AAP in accordance with this market need. This came as a result of a lot of market research. In this case, the India Against Corruption movement only served to validate the findings of the research.
Lesson to be learnt: Research well on your market, customers, their needs. Then try to solve a real life problem that truly exists in the real world and not just in your mind. Then build a product to solve this recognized product.
2) Team Building – AAP then went around on a hiring spree (if I may call it hiring). AK appealed to all ‘ache log’ of this country to come together and join AAP to establish a brand pf politics. Each new member was chosen very carefully with a proper background check. They were put into roles where they could deliver/add maximum value. Each team mate was as ready as the co-founders to go all in to make the product a huge success. I won’t go into the specifics of this one.
Lesson to be learnt: Spend a lot of time in building the right team. The right team always consists of those who believe in your product and not those that are motivated by greater incentives such as money/fame etc. Candidates with the right skill set in a given. But always choose those who bring in the same amount of dedication, passion and believe as you. Choose wisely. A good team and be a deal maker or a deal breaker.
3) Test your product – AAP went around the streets of Delhi testing their models of ‘Swaraj’ – or decentralization of power. Similarly, they tested the grounds for each of their product feature such as cheaper electricity and water. After very carefully assessing each feature of their product did they move ahead on it in the rest of Delhi.
Lesson to be learnt: Test your product and each of its features again and again for real customer validation. Don’t sit idle with your product thinking and hoping this is what people wanted and that we have given it to them. Keep checking and testing until you hit the spot bang on.
4) Listen to customers – and listen to them early on. Through the many gatherings, sabhas, mediums such as twitter, Facebook, radio etc., AAP listened to what their customers wanted. For eg., women safety. And they were quick in implementing it into their list of features thereby only strengthening the product and its demand.
Lesson to be learnt: Stay in touch with potential customers throughout. Listen to each of them carefully and try your best to solve their problem. This can very often be the most important differentiating factor of your product.
5) Branding and Brand Elements – AAP chose the name of its party very carefully. Also their party symbol ‘Jhaadu’. All slogans, taglines and the Gandhi cap were all very integral to its brand building because each brand element made a connect with its target audience, i.e, the middle class.
Lesson to be learnt: Building a great product is not enough. As the co-founder it is your job to design your brand elements correctly, to create the highest impact. Naming of the product/company matters too. Pay very close attention to your positioning. How is it unique, or how it is different from the existing competition. A great product will not sell on its own. Pay attention to such details.
6) Learn sales and marketing – AAP did not just rely on the professionals to take care of their sales and marketing. But sales and marketing was right from the beginning an integral part of all its members. They recognized each member as a brand ambassador of the party with the CEO at its helm. AK himself was always the leader of all their campaigns.
Lesson to be learnt: The founders can never think or assume (especially engineers) that sales and marketing can be left to professionals that they can hire. It is important for them to first master their own craft and may be then leave it to professionals. If you don’t know much about sales or marketing then LEARN. No excuses!
7) Learn PR early on – AAP was in constant touch with the media. Had its PR strategy been weak or ignored, they would have never gained the traction they got from free media. Whether AK was a poster boy for the media or later on the villain they could bash, he always stayed in news. He did his part, and the rest followed.
Lesson to be learnt: Many feel that traditional PR can be ignored until you establish yourself as a major player in your domain. Nothing could be further from the truth. As the founder or co-founder it is your job to establish a great PR connection early on. If people write about you it is always great. You cannot ignore the importance of this. EVER!
8) Be Frugal – AAP was very frugal in its expenses. They operated out of small residences converted to offices. AK drove a Wagon-R till about recently. They curtailed all sorts of unnecessary spending. No swanky offices like the established players. No chauffer driven cars. No fancy and expensive advertising.
Lesson to be learnt: BE FRUGAL! It will increase your chances of survival. Stay bootstrapped for as long as possible. Cut down on all and every unnecessary spending. Successful partnerships and business dealing need not happen in a Café Coffee Day. The roadside tea stall can be just as great. Build frugality into your DNA.
9) Bringing in Investors – Now AAP did not look out for donations immediately after launching their party even though they were open to it. They started seeking full-fledged funding (in this case Crown Funding) only after testing the market thoroughly for their product. After being sure that people were indeed ready to buy their product (in this case, vote them to power) only then did they expect real funding.
Lesson to be learnt: Investors come on board only when you have a kickass product and an established customer base. Focus first on building the right product and then on finding customers who are willing to pay. Investors will, if at all, only come then. No investor puts money on ideas which have not been implemented.
10) Learn when to scale up – Immediately after winning the Delhi elections in 2013, AAP started scaling up immensely. They thought they could win the Lok Sabha elections too. And we all know how that turned out.
Lesson to be learnt: After the successful launch of your product, do not immediately aspire to scale up. Make your fundamentals strong. Capture your home market first. Then scale up organically. You will have success stories to tell and a huge satisfied customer base who will gladly do the selling for you. Do not scale up too soon.
12) Course Correction/ Back to Basics/ Scale Down – After its dismal performance in the Lok Sabha elections, the group was quick to get back to basics and focus only on the home market. They focused on their strengths and scaled down equally quickly so that they don’t lose the existing market and its customers. They gave this existing market all their energy and heart. They worked relentlessly in trying to win them back.
Lesson to be learnt: Scaling up is not just a huge risk but also an art. Do not try to scale up a business too soon. However, if you do and burn your fingers, be quick to correct your course. Focus on making customers happy. As they say ‘A happy customer is the best marketer’. This may mean giving personalized attention to some of your good customers and going the extra mile to appease to them. But do it. It is your business. If you don’t know one else will. This will pay huge dividends when you see your business grow.
13) Focus not just on good content but also its distribution- Yes, again! AAP chose every channel of marketing. They left no stone unturned. Twitter for tweeters, Facebook for facebookers, radio for those who drive cars a lot, newspapers, flyers, press releases, posters, branding on autos, Delhi Dialogues and what not. Point is they could reach out to every customer where they were, when they were.
Lesson to be learnt: Once you have your product ready and at least a few interested customers try to acquire a critical mass of your audience by providing solid content. Keep in mind that your customer will engage with you when they want, how they want and where they want. It is your job to be present across all mediums. It takes 27 impressions of a brand before a consumer put the brand into its consideration list. Be present everywhere. And more importantly, be consistent with your message.
‘A must Read from Quora…’