An Interview with Rakesh Gupta and Sumit Handa – Authors of “Don’t Build Your School Brand Without Us”

An Interview with Rakesh Gupta and Sumit Handa – Authors of “Don’t Build Your School Brand Without Us”

The authors bring to their writing, cumulative experiences of setting up the complete roadmap of building a school brand, taking into the fold all stakeholders for a school system, be it students, parents, employees and society in general. Interspersed with real-life anecdotes the chapters cover topics such as marketing for lead generation to nurturing the brand to conversion strategies that go into creating a highly engaged community around the brand. After all, the business brass tacks are what makes a school a great place to work and study. It is all about the brand.

The marketing fundamentals shared are extremely relevant to anyone who is keen on building up a playschool, K12 school, junior college or any other education brand. The book has been published by Evincepub Publishing, one of top book publishers in India.

Interview with Authors Rakesh Gupta & Sumit Handa

The Literature Times: “Don’t Build Your School Brand Without Us” comes across as another striking creation from your pen. Did you have plans to write this book from the beginning, or was it an idea that struck you later?

Sumit Handa: Coming from ITC Limited, Tata Consumer Products (erstwhile Tata Global Beverages), and McKinsey & Company, when Rakesh Gupta and I first started working together in 2011 in the #education sector, we saw that #sales and #marketing were less spoken about here. We struggled a lot initially and did not get any structured reading material or a way how to build #brands in the education sector. It was at that time that we thought that we would definitely write a book to help others who might be facing the same challenge.

So here we are with our first book!!

The Literature Times: Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind your book, “Don’t Build Your School Brand Without Us”?

Rakesh Gupta: Over the years, we experimented, learned from education stalwarts and built on those learnings mixing them with our previous experiences and developing newer ways of building brands specific to the education field.

Time flew, and our learnings grew by leaps and bounds. Through LoEstro Advisors, we started helping many educational institutions with marketing, sales, operations, finance, and running the school more efficiently and effectively.

As we gathered knowledge and a successful model of doing things we decided to put all this up in the book format and share it for the benefit of the larger education sector community.

The Literature Times: How did you plan to write “Don’t Build Your School Brand Without Us” since it makes use of multiple styles of writing in the form of teaching as well as exercises?

Rakesh Gupta: Our intention was to share as many stories, anecdotes, case studies, branding tips, templates and exercises as possible so that we make the reading interesting and not monotonous and also enrich the reader with all our experiences. The exercises at the end of the chapter give the reader an immersive experience so that (s)he imbibes the learning in a robust manner by implementing the model in their own context.

The Literature Times: Can you discuss the themes and messages you wanted to convey in your book? Did “Don’t Build Your School Brand Without Us” give you plenty of space to express all your ideas? Or would they follow in your upcoming publications?

Sumit Handa: We wanted to support anyone with a passion for the education industry who wants to build a strong school brand by sharing with them a tried and tested model so that they reach their goals fast and efficiently. We tried to encapsulate our over 2 decades of experience in 200-odd pages, but you can expect more to come in future!!

The Literature Times: Can you discuss your writing process and how you approached structuring your ideas in “Don’t Build Your School Brand Without Us”? Did it require frequent revisions?

Rakesh Gupta: Well, we first decided the pillars (chapters) that lead to successful brand building. Then we brainstormed and decided on what is it that should be topics covered under each of those pillars. Once the topics were detailed out with the concept and context, post that we discussed and listed the stories, case studies, tips, infographics to flesh out the complete details. At the end we added exercise templates to crystallize the learnings for the reader. And yes it took multiple sittings, rounds of discussions, editing happened time and again and again…book writing is a massive iterative process!! You hit dead ends, you feel drained out but you have to keep going till you make it!! The journey truly has been enjoyable and a great learning in itself.

The Literature Times: How do you see “Don’t Build Your School Brand Without Us” impacting readers, and what do you hope they take away from it? Did you have any specific objectives while writing it?

Rakesh Gupta: We feel that the readers will definitely gain a very comprehensive knowledge on how to build a brand. The model shared is equally applicable to any other sector as well as it elucidates the basic template. The examples however have been kept very specific to the education sector. The reader will have a huge help in learning from our stories on what to do and what not to do thereby saving a lot of their time. We want every professional in the education sector to benefit from it and not struggle the way we struggled in early part of our career as very less has been written on this subject unfortunately.

The Literature Times: Are there any specific literary or artistic influences that can be seen in “Don’t Build Your School Brand Without Us”? Do you think that your book would create an entirely different genre of literary writing and more would follow in it?

Sumit Handa: It’s written in a very simple language and there are lot of shared stories so that concepts are absorbed quickly and stay for a very long time with the reader.

The Literature Times: How do you see “Don’t Build Your School Brand Without Us” fitting into the larger literary canon or genre?

Rakesh Gupta: It’s a business book. The brand building model that has been mooted is equally applicable to any industry or business. Since very little has ever been written on education industry and we have had the fortune of working in the education industry we wanted the model to be read and shared with education industry in mind.

The Literature Times: Can you talk about any challenges or obstacles while writing “Don’t Build Your School Brand Without Us?

Sumit Handa: Since both of us have our regular firms to run, finding time to think, discuss, flesh out the thought into writing was the biggest challenge. However, our motivation to help every single professional in the education sector kept us going and we are happy that we could put this all together for the benefit of the larger community.

The Literature Times: It is interesting to note how you managed to remain objective about every event even when speaking through their reference in “Don’t Build Your School Brand Without Us.” How did you maintain this objectivity?

Sumit Handa: Well, we were very clear that our experiences should benefit the reader. So we always wore the hat of the reader while writing. What is it that the reader will gain through this? How do we keep it interesting for the reader?  How do we ensure that there are enough hooks in the writing so that it stays with them for a long time?

The Literature Times: I hope that this collection breaks records in royalty collection. Wishing you luck!

Sumit Handa: Thank you so much. It was a pleasure to be part of this interaction.

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