Sreekant Khandekar

"Does afaqs! Marketplace guarantee new business?"

That’s the commonest question we’ve got asked about the platform which helps marketers find communication partners. The story behind the answer is a little bit longer.

Ever since afaqs! Marketplace was launched in June, we have been inundated with literally hundreds of queries from agencies, design studios and production houses. So much so, that we are hiring people to keep pace with this flood!

We don’t want to make spam calls since this is a premium service. So this is what we do. We generate curiosity about the platform and drive traffic to the site. Visitors have to register and ask for more information which triggers a mail which carries details of the offer.

So, when our executives call, they are talking to someone who is interested, familiar with the subscription details and reasonably well versed with the platform.

The commonest question they get to hear is: “Will afaqs! Marketplace guarantee me new business?”

When we were working on putting Marketplace together, we intensely debated what our core promise would be: ‘new business’ or ‘discovery’?

Many platforms in other sectors promise leads. The original intent is honest but this can soon turn into a sham game of generating all kinds of ‘leads’ – many irrelevant. Not only do they not result in business, they take up a seller’s time.

I can see why it’s tempting to ‘guarantee’ business. Persuading a prospect to take an annual subscription is that much easier. Chances are that with their work displayed on a 20-year-old site like afaqs! which is visited by many of India’s marketers, an agency would receive inquiries anyway.

But still, could we ‘guarantee’ business?

Honestly speaking?

No, we couldn’t.

How could we know where a marketer was coming from, what he/she was looking for? Or whether he/she would find the work of an agency tempting? What size of agency or what city did the seeker have in mind? We could only assist in this quest.

So we asked ourselves: what then could afaqs! Marketplace truthfully promise?

Here’s what:

· Agencies and other creative partners – many of them little known outside their circle of clients - would get to host their work, and especially their projects, on afaqs!.

· The platform, and through it their work, would be energetically promoted.

· Marketers, who constantly struggle to find good, new comm partners, would get to see and compare the work of dozens – and later, hundreds – of agencies and others all at one place by using a variety of filters.

· If we did all this efficiently, it would inevitably lead to new business.

You know the funny thing? Once my colleagues explain to agencies why we can’t promise them business but that we will do all we can to ensure that they get discovered, most are happy to accept our point of view.

Because – that’s my guess – they instinctively know what it costs us to NOT make that promise. And that we are telling them the truth, even if they don’t like it.

It may sound trite but as I have discovered again and again, honesty does pay :)

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