After being established as India’s one of the premier matrimonial e-commerce portals, Shaadi.com is fast coming up as an aggressive advertiser in the electronic media to drive further growth. Shaadi.com is part of the Rs 100-crore People Group, which owns and operates other technology businesses such as ‘Mauj’ and Fropper.com.
Riding on a 150-200-per cent growth, Shaadi.com has earmarked an annual budget of Rs 10 crore for the entire gamut of communications. Mediacom is the AOR for the matrimonial portal. Shaadi.com targets 21-35-year-old singles and its offshoot Shaadi Point, which is an offline venture, aims at parents who are seeking partners for their marriageable sons and daughters. O&M carries out the creative work for Shaadi Point.
Recently, the company launched a TVC, conceived and designed by Anupam Mittal, CEO and Founder of People Group. “I directed this commercial. The objective was to establish trust, and to get people to relate to Shaadi.com. We spoke to a lot of agencies. People came up with different ideas, which unfortunately did not mete out our objectives. I was a clear that I wanted a montage. It was an obvious conclusion to make it with real people.”
Mittal is seen at the end of the TVC. Doesn’t it sound self-promotion, Mr Mittal? “It was very bold to establish your name and make people believe in you. In the West, it is a common feature but not in India. It was a bold step and I think it came out ok,” remarked the man behind the show.
The TVC has real stories but not real people, as he wanted the typical next-door guys and gals. Are there plans for hiring an agency for Shaadi.com? “Yes, we are reviewing the presentations which were made by agencies for Shaadi Point,” Mittal said, though he refused to dwell on future advertising plans, showing competitive reasons. “I assure you this, we will build the leading interactive brands in this country,” he emphasised.
And, what went into the making of the success story? “We started with Rs 1 lakh in 1997. We have done so well because we have all along offered a right blend of product, value and marketing.”
Shaadi.com is the first portal in the Indian cyber space to receive certifications from both TRUSTe (privacy seal for safety and confidentiality of user data) and VeriSign (secure site seal for security of payments and credit card information). The seals bear witness to the quality services provided by the company and guarantee utmost confidentiality of all information about members and risk-free transactions on the site.
While a lot of dating sites are often a sham, Shaadi.com, as Mittal put it, is 100 per cent customer-centric and it evaluates everything from a value perspective. Here, one can establish an interest with other members for free. In other words, one does not have to consider paying until he or she has found somebody who could be interacted with. Over the years, Shaadi.com has built a culture of effective marketing within the organisation by executing classic branding principles in all the communication strategy. “We’ve been able to build a trustworthy and friendly brand,” said Mittal.
The portal records a log in rate of 3,00,000 visitors every day. Also, the recent tie-up with Yahoo! – a significant marketing step ahead, is reaping benefits for the portal.
Mittal boasts of the fact that currently the group does not have any competitor. “At one level, there are 2,000 competitors as several sites have tried to emulate Shaadi.com's success but at the scale that we operate on and based on our target market, there are no 'real' competitors,” he claims.
Finally, Mittal is not closed to the idea of selling. “We will not sell merely to cash out. We would consider divesting if there were unique value that an investor brought on board, and which could help our customers and employees. Otherwise, there is no reason for us to sell,” he left a smile.