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Bollywed offers lessons in digital marketing

Written by Shaun Bernstein on .

Has anyone else started watching Bollywed?

It’s a CBC reality show set in Chandan Fashion, a popular Indian high-end bridal salon on Gerrard St. in Toronto. It’s a family run business, started by the patriarch, Jatinder ‘Kuki’ Singh in the mid 1980s, which he now runs along with his grown children.

Kuki is something of a local legend in the neighborhood, and he’s built a highly successful business based on his big personality, great offerings, and stellar customer service.

Picture the King of Kensington…only in a loud jacket and a colourful turban.

Kuki’s children, however, one of whom the store itself is named after, see the future. Their goal is to modernize the business, and expand the clientele beyond just their local reach.

Cue the butting of heads.

In the second episode, Kuki’s son, Chandan, was trying to teach his father about the importance of social media.

Chandan was using a white board to explain to his father the principles of ‘360 marketing,’ and that the business needed a multi-pronged, coordinated approach about how to broaden their reach.

Not only did Kuki pretend to fall asleep during the presentation, but he quickly began waxing on about his original radio advertising from the 1980s, even singing several of the original jingles that he wrote to promote the store.

Chandan and his sister, for their part, are all about taking the business onto social media. They’ve hired a coordinator to help with Instagram posting, and are working to boost the online presence across multiple channels.

Kuki maintained his position that social media was a “waste of time,” and even dubbed himself the original influencer (which, in a way, is not incorrect).

However, the second generation of Chandan Fashion realizes something pivotal that the founding generation does not.

Kuki might successfully function as the face of the business today, and attracts multiple generations of customers who still seek his personal touch with every interaction.

His children though realize that in a few decades Kuki will be gone, and sadly so will his goodwill. Younger generations will not have grown up on his big personality or radio jingles, and without him serving as a brand ambassador, Chandan Fashion can easily get lost in the shuffle.

By the end of the episode, the family had reached a few compromises. Chandan Singh began shooting TikTok videos with his father – a medium that perfectly captures Kuki’s big presence, and was met with tens of thousands of adoring fans.

While the themes of the story will be familiar to most any multigenerational business owners, they are worth taking note.

There is nothing wrong with operating a small, locally-based business off of an owner’s big personality. In small communities that owner can become something of a local fixture, and they’re often around for decades serving multiple generations of clients.

Yet those businesses usually do not have any sort of succession plan. Unless the owner’s children are hungry and determined enough to step up to the plate on their own, the business usually closes its doors with little fanfare.

Even if a second generation does come in, if they do not have their parent’s hard-earned skills or finesse with longstanding customers, those customers are often quick to turn elsewhere.

Instead, for a business to thrive well beyond its local borders, a digital marketing campaign is key.

This sort of digital marketing should include:

  • A website that’s updated regularly that explains the company’s range of product and service offerings (core content review every 6 months, design updates every 24-36 months)
  • Website content that is updated routinely (blogs, publications, or other resources)
  • A cohesive outreach campaign to existing and prospective customers (regular newsletters)
  • A search engine presence (Google Business, Bing) to ensure that the business is recognized by common local searches
  • Coordinated social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok etc.) that enhance the look and feel of the business, and regularly post engaging content that attracts new viewers

These may seem obvious to some entrepreneurs, but they’re instrumental in helping a business succeed in a crowded, 21st century marketplace.

There will always be room for that personal touch, just like Kuki’s. True staying power, though means extending far beyond your own personal reach. That’s what helps a business grow beyond a charismatic founder and into something much, much larger.