Everybody wishes to know the journey of a successful startup. What opportunities it saw, what challenges it faced, what solutions it implemented, how the market reacted and how its journey is continuing. Bharat Matrimony is that kind of a startup.
It is one of the first ones to ride on the internet boom; it has come through lots of ups & downs and still going strong. Let us be part of the journey.
Do you have any idea that how Bharat Matrimony managed to take its name in the Limca Book of world records for documenting the most number of marriages online?
Well, we will explain the marketing strategy breakdown of how Bharat Matrimony became an IPO from an Idea.
Bharat Matrimony Marketing Strategy
With 3 million clients and 140 branches in India till date, they have figured out how to always re-examine the brand with mind-blowing premonition.
Let’s take a look at the facts; Bharat Matrimony is a Flagship brand with Matrimony.com as a Parent Company. Bharat Matrimony is an online matchmaking and marriage website which runs under Murugavel Janakiraman, CEO.
HOW IT ALL DID START?
Murugavel Janakiraman or Muruga hails from a small town of Royapuram, Chennai, where he struggled from day to day life challenges which came in the way.
One of the challenges was to share 1 bathroom with 14 other people; he did not have electricity at home until the age of 23. His only dream was to get a degree and get a house with electricity and an attached bathroom so that his family wouldn’t have to share the common bathroom.
He got a degree in MCA in 1994 and took up a job in Polaris Chennai as a Tech Consultant. At his job, he had to travel to Singapore and the US for the projects where he unveiled the internet skills with big names like Yahoo, Sify and Rediff who were building their business around the internet and all the other aspects through online at that time.
During his stay in the US for two years, Muruga really missed home and his friends; he missed hanging out with them and also the binge-watching of Tamil movies.
He felt like he was losing the connection with the Tamilian Community and he wanted to connect with his roots really soon.
He started searching for a few websites which published content for Tamilians; content which was on politics, entertainment and movies, but he was not satisfied with the search as he was not getting any way for interactions.
He wanted to do something which no one was doing. There was no type of connectivity for a type of community which was living overseas and no one has thought about that.
A repeating design that was seen was that best business people likewise happen to be the initial ones in the space, otherwise known as first movers. It is all about the early bird catching the worm.
HOW DID THEY LAUNCH THE IDEA?
The transindia.com was launched in 1997 by Muruga which is called Thamizhar Pakkam (translates to For the Tamil community), this was made with the intention to connect with the Tamil community. The platform had services and engaging channels which were content driven.
These included –
- Tamil Matrimonial: Look for prospective brides or grooms
- Make Friends: Connect with others Tamilians across the world
- Tamil daily calendar: Calendar marked with auspicious dates
- Reminder: Indian festival reminder
- Travel: Book flight tickets through travel agencies
- Religion and charities: Find religious and charitable groups in Tamil Nadu
- Radio: List of radio stations that you could tune into and listen to your favorite songs
The engaging content was planned as following –
- News and Magazines: Tamil political news
- Movies and Cine Stars: Tamil Cine News, Photos & Interviews (Updated Weekly)
- Literature and people: Famous people in the field of literature
- Institutes: A database of educational institutions
SO HOW DID THEY GET THEIR FIRST CUSTOMERS?
In 1997, there was limited social media advertising and Muruga was on a tight financial budget. So, he used his creative instinct and he used the following methods to attract the audience to his business.
PAMPHLETS AND FLYERS
Stores in the US
Most of the Indians went to the local grocery stores in the neighborhood area. Muruga printed 500 pamphlets and distributed them among all the nearby Indian stores in the US.
Friends in Chennai
Back in Chennai, he asked a few of his close friends to distribute those pamphlets in the stores in nearby localities by taking out a print out.
Online marketing discussion forums
With no social channels in the targeted area, Muruga targeted discussion groups like Google and Yahoo. He joined their conversation and started mentioning transindia.com to them.
When one created a new website it was difficult to promote back at that time. So, Muruga found some websites which were ready to promote him in return of a small favor for the employees.
Like if someone would create a profile on the website then they will get a 10% discount on the next travel tickets.
Likewise, with the approach of Google and Yahoo web search tools, Muruga began utilizing ideas of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). His essential spotlight was positioning on the principal page of Google, Yahoo, and other web search tools.
Thought to Demand Validation
With all the hard work Muruga did, the golden results followed:
- Almost 3000 people created their Matrimonial profile
- The audience made him a pioneer in the social network when 2000 people made a profile on “make friends” profile.
- The Greeting Card service was also being used frequently.
Muruga saw that people were more inclined towards the matrimonial services and the other services are being used comparatively less.
He received an email from a user which stated that he found a Tamil bride through their website and this was a big achievement for him. This showed that people were more interest in the matrimony stuff.
Muruga launched Tamil Matrimony and Telegu Matrimony which later evolved to BharatMatrimony.
How did they develop their business?
The year of 2000 saw a wave of global panic and a global recession as the dot-com had gone down in the US as most of the companies which were receiving a capital investment from different joint ventures, were shutting down. Because of this, Muruga had to quit his job.
One step at a time
Initially, Muruga was investing $1000 but when he did not have a regular income from his job then he had to think of another way to invest in his website.
So, he had to create a new method where he could generate some revenue. He settled down on the paid version of the website with some terms and conditions. Of course, the paid version was also there.
|The Free Version||The Paid Version (Rs 200 or $4.5 annually approx)|
Create a new profile
Add initial information
Talk to other people
All features of the free version
Uploading of multiple photos
Users were allowed to place Newspaper Ads
What were the results?
The results were astonishingly good, Muruga figured out how to make back the initial investment with income got from paid clients.
During this time, Muruga did not want to stall and he wanted to make more money. More features were added on the website.
- Free users were allowed to add images
- They were allowed to bookmark their shortlisted profiles
- They were able to save searches and scan photos
If you wanted to contact a certain profile then you will have to become a paid member.
New pricing scheme was also introduced
- $15 for 3 months: Bride/Groom living outside India
- $25 for 6 months: Bride/Groom living outside India
- $15 for 6 months: Bride/Groom living in India
During the economical dot-com bubble burst, Bharat Matrimony was standing firmly against the technological times and was progressing slowly and steadily, whereas other companies were closing down.
Remember the famous dialogue from Band Baaja Baarat, “recession ho ya inflation, shaadi to honi hi hai na aur log lakho kharchte rahenge.” So you can relate.
Only two companies stood against the dot-com bubble burst time; one was the education company and the other one was the Matrimony Company.
Partnership with the other companies
For Muruga, it was a golden opportunity as all the other technology companies were providing Matrimony as an additional division, were closing this part from their website to focus more on the core business.
So grabbing this opportunity, Muruga took advantage of the crisis and he reached out to the companies.
Muruga moved toward Rediff (A news data site) and indicated enthusiasm for getting to be one of their channel accomplices for the matrimonial services that were offered on Rediff. They paid Rediff Rs 1 lakh (~$2200) for this organization.
The results were bright as Rediff was making increased money as the workforce was less and BharatMatrimony was able to direct a tremendous amount of traffic on their website when all the Matrimony profiles were redirecting from Rediff to BharatMatrimony.
What was the next step?
Murugavel chose to approach organizations like Sify, MSN, and Emerson to set up comparable associations.
Numerous sites were associated
Muruga’s objective was focused on making a matrimonial space for various communities. Apart from the matrimonial site, he included areas with services like:
- Real Estate (Buy and offer property on the web)
- Astrology (Get week by week and month to month horoscopes)
- New tabs consisting a broad gathering of South Indian music, books, and recipes.
But his main focus remained on the Matrimonial part.
He changed the overall look and view format of the site alongside the domain name and called it sysindia.com. He, at that point, ensured that audience would definitely explore the single destinations (telegumatrimony.com or tamilmatrimony.com) to the parent site (sysindia.com).
As time passed by more profiles and successful matrimonial bonds were being made through the site. With most of the information was on his side and a solid gut egging him to go up against more he chose to grow.
He chose to enroll other space names like bengalimatrimony.com, punjabimatrimony.com, gujaratimatrimony.com despite the fact that there was no indication of these communities becoming on the web at the time as he felt if there was an interest for Tamil and Telugu matrimony then there would be a comparative interest for different communities crosswise over India.
His fantastic vision was to have these communities under one brand name. Matrimony.com: A stage for all Indians.
He failed to get ‘matrimony.com’ and ‘indiamatrimony.com’ as a domain name but he was not disappointed by that. He took the next available domain name which has become the most popular Matrimonial website; ‘bharatmatrimony.com’.
From an SEO point of view, it is invaluable to have one parent area – matrimony.com with committed pages for every community that comes under the parent site.
For e.g.: www.bharatmatrimony.com/tamilmatrimony gave greater expert to the site and furthermore demonstrated ideal in the internet searcher rankings.
To be continued….
The story of Muruga doesn’t end here; in fact, there is a big roller coaster ride here and there and a lot more to look forward. In the next part, we will read about why Happy Marriage was created.
The concept of speed dating and family meeting were also introduced but the main question was, whether the ideas were correctly implemented or not and also the retail outlets were launched.
There was an idea behind this initiative and there were many challenges which Muruga faced while creating Happy Marriage. After facing many challenges Muruga had results in his hands but how were the results? were they good or not so good, we will read this in the next part.
References taken from