By Rang De Bangalore Chapter Members
It all started when Archana wrote to the Rang De Bangalore Chapter Group in early January, asking if walking near MG Road in Bangalore on Republic Day with Rang De gear to spread awareness about Rang De, would look silly! Ten of us Rang De Bangalore Chapter members did exactly that and all of us felt that it was anything but silly!
Rang De Bangalore Chapter members shrugged off their holiday blues and join the march at 11.00 AM on the 61st Indian Republic Day.
After all the emails, phone calls and messages sent, logistics efforts, attempts to obtain permission from police (which apparently wasn’t needed), we eventually met at Cauvery Emporium junction on MG Road. The march started from Cauvery Emporium as planned. Two groups were formed — Group1 took the Church St — MG Rd — Brigade Rd route, while Group2 went to Garuda Mall and surrounding areas in our Rang De T-shirts. Everyone carried enough Rang De bookmarks and Rang De Experience (RDXp) vouchers to give out and each group had a Rang De poster. The posters and the t-shirts attracted the attention of quite a lot of the people on the streets. Here’s what happened with each of the groups.
Group1: As more people came out of the Parade Grounds after attending the official Republic Day program, the crowd on the streets got larger. A few of us stood at key junctions for 5 mins each, handed out bookmarks, and spoke to people about Rang De. At least a couple dozen people intently listened to what we said, asked questions to know more and were happy to pick up an RDXp and try it all out by themselves! Sumit puts it this way: “It was quite the usual direct marketing pitch — complete with a 20% attention-grabbing rate, to a 10% ‘really-listening-to-what-you-say’ set, and a very satisfying around 5% potential investors..”
Rang De Bangalore Chapter members Sumit and Karthik explain how Rang De works with a couple of interested people on Brigade Road.
Since most of us were first-timers at street marketing, we tried out different approaches to capture the attention of the passers-by, such as, “Would you like to have a free bookmark?”, “Can I give you Rs.100?”, “Get rid of poverty!” etc.. that seemed to work quite well!
Some of the people interested in Rang De included a manager at the Reserve Bank of India, a long-time investor on Kiva, an event manager, and such others! There was one gentleman who picked up a bookmark and then loudly read “knockout poverty” written on the poster and confidently commented — “ha! that can never happen!” He unfortunately didn’t have time on his hand to listen to us talk about how Rang De has confidently set out to achieve that same objective!
Some of the questions people raised included, “what states are you actively involved in?”, “how do you ensure low default rates in repayments?” and “are the returns guaranteed?” and such other questions, which were satisfactorily answered.
Karthik also visited popular bookstores including Gangarams, Blossoms and left bookmarks at the cash register, to be given out to book-buyers. Other stores visited included Archies and Spencers supermarket and received a good response! Overall, the walk and discussions with people was quite pleasant. We felt the bookmark, and experience voucher — both are an awesome complementary pair of ideas!!
Group2 visited Garuda Mall. As we were not permitted to carry posters inside the mall, a couple of volunteers went inside armed with bookmarks and RDXp vouchers, while two others stayed at the mall entrance with the poster and bookmarks! Approaches similar to those adopted by group 1 were adopted to attract passers-by. The target audience included customers at Barista and Cafe Coffee Day, youth including college students who didn’t know much about microfinance, and a variety of other people. A lot of people seemed interested, which drew this group to conclude that it might be better to target crowds at malls than on streets!
Rang De Bangalore Chapter members who made it back to the finish line, at around 1 pm!
Most volunteers have never met each other before; a few had joined the chapter less than a week ago and a couple of them (Neha and Madhavan) came to know about Rang De only on the day of the event! For most of us, “this was probably the most meaningful Republic Day in a long time”, as Arjun put it across! So, a great mix of people, who got to know each other and about Rang De, and are gung-ho about taking part in future activities of Rang De!
The picture to the left has a hidden meaning to it — the construction work going on in the background is for the Bangalore Metro. It was taken with this construction in the background to highlight where the Rang De Bangalore Chapter is currently in — “Under Construction”!! We hope that the group won’t remain at this stage for too long, but grow into a strong community of volunteers and investors, just as we hope for the Metro work to get completed soon as well!