Digital Marketing is NOT Product Marketing

Digital Marketing is NOT Product Marketing.

Even for digital-only products, this remains true.

Time and again, I have been observing this hiring trend where a digital marketer has been hired and is expected to perform the overall product marketing role. When I asked the reason behind this from one of the companies whom I was consulting recently, the answer was:

“Oh we have a limited budget for marketing and we just want to do some Facebook campaigns”.

Ok, that could be for now but what about later?

“Even later, we think our prime marketing channels to promote our products will be digital only”.

Sounds simple and fair enough, isn’t it?

But it’s not that simple in the real scenario. It’s a small company and this marketer is expected to own up the overall “growth” of the product – from awareness to consideration, from lead generation to conversion. Yes, the channels to be used are of course digital.

Considering I have worked in startups for long, I totally understand the need for resource optimization in smaller companies. I have also been a huge evangelist for digital medium ever since the start of my career but, just because your prime channel of promotion is going to be “digital”, you can not expect a digital marketer to do the overall job of product marketing.

The candidate could be an expert in understanding Facebook or might be a specialist in search engine optimization but these can’t be the be all end all of product marketing.

The role of a product marketer ideally starts from as early as the market validation stage, right when the product team starts to conceptualize the product. A typical product marketing role during launch would look something like this:

These roles may vary a bit depending upon the product category and organization, but overall a product marketer needs to have a holistic understanding of marketing and not just channel-specific approach.

Depending upon the growth stage of your organization and product, you may decide to hire the person at an appropriate time but before hiring, do invest some time in deciding your goals and objectives and hire the candidate with the right skills accordingly. You may even decide to give your digital marketer the overall product marketing role in future but this upskilling will take time and may not necessarily work always. 

Thank you for visiting my blog & reading this post.

Context Marketing – 5Ws and 1H Model

This one is one of my favorite marketing quotes these days 🙂 

Content and context matter the most today, isn’t it? 

Before you proceed, can I request you to pause for few seconds and think about the last advertisement you clicked on any digital channel —just anywhere, any ad? 

Before writing this post, I carried out this check multiple times and more often than not, I observed myself clicking on sponsored posts only if they were very appealing visually or the initial blurb looked emotional or entertaining or had the specific information I’d tried to find recently. In a nutshell, it’s the content and context that made me click. I am sure, it’s the similar trigger for many of you. There’s nothing new in this; since ages it’s the content and context that have been working for marketing but in this current era of digital excess and content overload, these are the only two things that matter the most – great content and right context!

You might be having great content but if you haven’t figured out the right channel and the right time to deliver your content, it’s gone. And same would be true vice versa, a perfectly planned campaign with the right audience segmentation is of no use unless you have content that can attract and connect with your audience.

While almost everyone is aware of the value of good content and context but the truth is, very few focus on the these holistically. Content is a lot more than beautiful visuals or infographics and context is much more than just geo-targeting or re-marketing. One of the most fundamental definitions of context marketing is, “delivering the right content, to the right people, at the right time.” Sounds simple, doesn’t it? However, the more data we have about our user, the complex it gets to do contextual marketing. There are many framework and tools available that you can use to plan your content marketing but for context marketing, it’s evolving every day, simply because the algorithms and engagement level at each channel are changing at a very dynamic pace.

Personally, for me, the framework that always works for context is the traditional 5Ws & 1H model. As long as a marketer you spend sufficient time on your Ws and H, more than half of your task of segmentation and user understanding is done. Although it looks simple, I think very few follow it diligently. Next time you think of promoting your content, spend some time to address the following:

Found this relevant? Feel free to share it but may I please request you to credit this image to www.kanupriyasindhu.com
  • Who?: Like any other kind of marketing, setting up a context starts with “WHO”. Who is your audience? What’s his/her personality? How would you describe him/her? Sketch out the “who” part using any good persona template. The clearer you are about the “who” part of your target, the easier it would be to plan out your marketing campaigns.
  • Why?: Once you’ve defined your audience, it’s extremely important to address the “WHY”. “Why” should your audience notice you or click through you? If you don’t have a “why”, it’s highly unlikely that your audience will have a “why” to click through your content. Have a purpose and address your user’s needs. As long as you provide answers to their needs, they will always have a reason to be attracted and engaged with you.
  • What?: Delve deep into your audience’s behavior and you will get the answers to your “WHAT”s. What has been the purchase behavior of your audience? What kind of campaign interested them? What kind of campaigns escaped their notice? What are his interests, what stage of buying cycle is she at? The more you are aware of what interests him/her, the more contextual you can be.
  • When?: Earlier, the “WHEN” part was the simplest of all to define. Not anymore. In this multi-screen, hyper-connected age, this is the trickiest to define. Your audience could actually be looking out for you almost anytime, anywhere. Do some data digging and figure out if there is any “when” trend that exists, like, what time of the day, which day of the week, any seasonality during holidays or festivals etc. 
  • Where?: “WHERE” forms a very important part of contextual targeting, from location to devices, from channels to platforms, know your user’s  preferences and target them accordingly.
  • How?: And the last bit, “HOW” to do contextual marketing? Well, as long as we have the answer of all Ws and, then if we merge the demographics with behavior and needs, we can target the right audience, with the right messages, at the right time. A detailed post on “how” to do contextual marketing is coming up soon as the second part of this post. 

Till then, I’d love to know more about your favorite tools and framework for context marketing. 

If you found this post interesting, it would mean a lot to me if you could click on the “like” button below to let me know. Thank you!

*Icons used in the image from iconscout.com

Great storytelling works, always!

The moment I had seen this post on Linkedin, I was sure it would be a hit. When I had spotted it first few days back, views and likes were not even in hundreds and today with thousands of likes, views, and shares, there is no doubt once again that great storytelling works, almost always, in marketing and everywhere else!

In this attention economy age, imagine a candidate pitching her/his profile by speaking for more than 2 minutes or by writing a post of more than 400 words? Do you think you would be able to focus on it without any distraction?

Now imagine the same pitch presented to you visually as a story like this? Chances are, you will be hooked and end up watching it just like me.

This particular video is a great example of brilliant marketing in many ways but for me, most importantly it’s a great example of stunning visual storytelling.

From,

Context to Characters

Entertainment to Engagement

Emotion to Narration

Action to Conclusion

 

It has all the elements to make it a COMPELLING story.

And it has a very definitive call for action, making it a story that compels you to act.

What more can I as a marketer expect from a powerful story?

I am sure this candidate would land/have landed up a great role in marketing by now. As for me, this video not only engaged me but it has its lasting effect on me to an extent that I am going to use it as a wonderful reference for the power of storytelling in marketing.

I have always believed in the persuasive power of visual storytelling, in case you would like to check out one of my recent posts on visual storytelling, you may find one here.

Finding the influencer for your brand

I was recently conducting a workshop on digital marketing and while we were just at Instagram 101, some of the first few questions that I was asked were –

How to earn money from my Instagram page?

How to make brands pay me?

We have heard brands pay thousands of rupees for just one Insta post, how do we get such deals?

I want to be an influencer, as social media influencers make lots of money by just posting a photo or writing few lines.

This from an audience who was just starting with Instagram and other social channels!

Quick money attracts anyone and the idea of being paid thousands for just writing few lines on Insta or blog sounds very lucrative but in reality, it’s far from true. 

Influencer marketing like any other channel of marketing requires some serious time and effort and unless you build your reach, credibility, and authority, there is no way you can establish yourself as a marketing channel. 

To add to that, in this age of content clutter and media overload, it’s extremely difficult to cut through the noise and stand out in the crowd. I am no influencer on Instagram or elsewhere, so I don’t think I can give sure shot insights on how to be an influencer but I have been on the other side of the table for almost 15 years now – hiring endorsers, brand advocates, and influencers for all the brands that I have worked with till now. So, I can definitely give some insight on what all I look for when I engage with influencers for my brands.

1. Relevance: For me, this is one of the top criteria while engaging with an influencer. There are enough debates around reach vs relevance but in my personal experience, the subject matter credibility and relevance of influencer’s target audience matter a lot. Think of a juice brand being promoted by a food blogger or fitness expert vs. a travel blogger? Juice is a category that has a possibility of being consumed by almost any kind of audience but as a follower, your perception towards receiving a recommendation for a juice brand by a fitness expert will be different than from a travel blogger.  

2. Reach: Of course reach is very important, no marketing channel can survive without sufficient reach but reach doesn’t mean only a very high number of followers. Reach is also a lot about engagement and interactions per post. For e.g., I definitely do a quick check on the quality of interactions on influencer’s last ten sponsored posts as one of the parameters to evaluate the effectiveness of the promoted content by the influencer. 

3. Persona: Your brand has a persona and it’s extremely important to find influencers whose personas resonate with your brand. From the tone of voice to the type of content – it helps if influencers persona is aligned with the brand. While this sounds very simple but in reality, it’s quite a task to find the right fit. For a long time, I have been working for a photography brand. Now photography is a category, where almost anyone and everyone thinks he/she is an influencer. In this age of easy access to high-end cameras and millions of editing apps, it actually takes a few seconds to create gorgeous photos for your Insta feed. But I have observed it many times that just the ability to click perfect shots or having a large number of followers doesn’t necessarily translate to being an effective influencer for a photography brand. Sometimes the tonality doesn’t suit our brand and sometimes the quality of content. Finally, this is also a marketing channel and like any other marketing initiative, it’s important to have consistent brand persona while engaging with influencers too.

4. Content: The ability of influencer to create unique and authentic content is something very, very important for me. Influencer marketing is not only about promoting brand content as it is, but it’s a lot about engaging users with original content that’s relevant for brands as well as interesting for the audience. The more genuine the content would be with Influencer’s natural tone of voice, the more audience will trust. Influencer’s ability to create interesting content is a huge value ad to brand’s social media repository of user-generated content. There are many examples to highlight the same but one of the recent brands that I noticed doing it efficiently is Epigamia Yogurt. Many food bloggers participated in this campaign and they created beautiful Yogurt Art using Epigamia products and posted it on Instagram with hashtag #yogArt . Not only followers like me came to know of all the new flavors of Epigamia but we also got to know of many interesting ways this yogurt can be used in our day to day meals. And the best that I observed as a marketer was the gorgeous Insta feed of Epigamia – full of super creative user-generated photos using Epigamia products that would have otherwise taken huge time and investment for the brand to create! I know there are many brands who have created success stories like Epigamia but we also know of cases, like that of a recent mobile launch in India where almost all endorsers, celebrities, and influencers posted the same type of content on their social feed including the one where the influencer was praising the picture quality of this android phone but the picture was posted from an iOS :-). 

5. Connect: The term “influencer” by definition is a person who has the ability to influence the behavior or opinions of others and it can only happen if the influencer shares a certain kind of relationship and connect with his / her audience. It’s important to evaluate the return visitors, comments, and quality of interaction between the influencers with their followers. And as far as authentic connect is concerned, there is no way one can do it through any shortcut, it has to be human and it has to be personal.

These are just some of the parameters that I take into consideration. I am sure others have some more parameters as well. In nutshell, it takes a whole lot of effort to be an influencer with credibility after whom brands run with a fat cheque. At least I haven’t met any real-life influencer yet who became an overnight success through quick hacks or digital bot programs :-).

2017 – the year that once again reminded me…

None of these are new, we all know but somewhere these get buried down in our daily humdrum of life. 2017 was a year that once again reminded me…

  • To LIVE, before the moment is gone. Life changes in a blink, LIVE today as we may not get that chance tomorrow.
  • To be able to breathe, stand on your own feet and eat without any support system are all that we need to be alive. Rest whatever we have is luxury.
  • That time is indeed the best healer. When the going is tough and you can’t figure out any solution, it’s best to leave everything on time. Even the roughest patches of life lead to some direction with time.
  • To prioritize what matters the most. When you’re near death, you actually get flashbacks and wish you had done “this” or “that” more. These “this” or “that” are only & only about relationships and nothing else. From – ‘wish I could see my child once again’ to ‘wish I had spent some more happier times with my partner’, in that trance state of mind, you think of only people and relationships. 
  • That, things could be worse any time, any day! Be thankful for whatever you have, there is always someone who is fighting a battle tougher than yours. Every time I remember the night when the person next to my bed in ICU died despite lesser injuries whereas I survived, I just say thank you – to God, to my fate and to the prayers and blessings of all the well-wishers in my life.
  • To smile! When you’re happy, smile but even when you’re sad, try to smile. Smiling through tough times gives you strength and courage of a different kind. Hey wait, smile in life has a technical requirement too – when I had maxillofacial fractures and lost all my front teeth in this accident, I had to go for many teeth reconstruction and dental implant surgeries. My dental surgeon was trying hard to understand how my teeth looked pre-accident. We scouted through many old photos and her feedback to me was – “Kanupriya, in none of your photos you’re smiling openly or laughing out loud. You should smile more.” Oh yeah, as if I knew one fine day I will have to refer to my old pics to see how my teeth used to look when I smiled!!

But technically my doctor was correct – one should smile more often and smile while you still have your teeth intact 🙂

On that note, wish you a 2018 full of love, laughter, and fun! Cheers to new beginnings and new dreams. Have a fabulous year ahead!

7 ways brands can use Instagram Stories

Instagram – 800 million monthly, 500 million daily active users and 300 million daily active users for stories! With more than half of their daily users posting stories, there is no doubt that stories are the craze these days. And where there are users, there have to be brands – trying to target, engage and connect with their users through stories.

I have been using stories for some time now and there is something about it that makes it fun. To add to that, it’s placed very prominently and hence every time you go to Instagram, you can’t miss those tiny circles on top. Many brands are experimenting with stories for different marketing objectives, while some have been able to do wonders, some still are trying to figure out the power of this tool.

Here’re some of the ways in which brands can use Instagram stories , I have personally implemented these in my marketing initiatives and I think these are worth giving a try:

  • Announcements: Stories work good for announcing new updates, be it a new blog post on your site or a to-be-launched collection. The placement of the stories icon ensures visibility and higher reach. There are many brands and users who are already using stories very effectively.
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/zara/
  • Contests: If you’re hosting contests, Instagram stories are absolute fun – right from announcements prior to the contests going live to the countdown before announcing the winners, stories can add a lot of value in getting your audience hooked on to your contests plan.
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/chumbak/
  • Enhanced Storytelling: While whole Instagram is anyways all about gorgeous photos and beautiful visual storytelling, but if you have some aesthetically shot products with details to be shown, stories will be helpful. The large size picture format adds to the charm of your visual storytelling and makes it more appealing to users.
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/natgeo/
  • Events: Stories by virtue of being “photo stories” are great for events or documentaries, be it for communicating the sequence or some of the behind-the-scenes fun. The slideshow format of stories helps in presenting different aspects of any event as a series.
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/weddingsutra/
  • Feedback: Instagram stories polls are great to gather some quick opinions and feedback from your users. While audience-reach wise, it can never match up to Facebook but these polls are easy to use, fun and visually noticeable.
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/snowberrydesignco/
  • Topical Communication: If you’re a brand that communicates about kinds of stuff like daily outfit suggestion through #ootd or some contests & offers that are valid only for 24 hours, stories might be the platform worth giving a try. Considering stories last only for 24 hours, there is this urgency to view it and it’s good for topical communication or promotion
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/harpercollinsin/
  • Shoutouts: It’s a great tool to tag your partners or give shoutouts to your fans. Tagging in stories ensures additional reach apart from your feed by sending your stories to the tagged account via DM.
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/amul_India/

So, what are the other methods in which you’re using Instagram stories? Would love to know how it’s been working for you so far? Do let me know in the comment section below.

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Photos Credit: Links to the awesome Instagram accounts of the brands whose work I like mentioned below each photo.

Books that leave you thinking

So, I am one of those weird creatures who doesn’t like self help books. Not that I have hated all but I can safely say I have hated most that I have read, especially the ones with a very prescriptive approach. But I am all for good memoirs and autobiographies where you get to know more about someone’s real life, their experiences, struggle, pain, joy and much more. It’s quite interesting to find some stories that you can totally relate to or some journeys that inspire you like nothing else. Last eight months were been extremely tough for me in multiple ways but one of the best things about this phase of life has been the time that I got to spend with myself – something that was a rarity in my otherwise super hectic life. Apart from spending time with my family, I have started back painting more regularly and got to read many good books – some that have been on my wishlist for long and some gifted to me by those awesome friends who wanted to ease out my on-bed phase of life. A big thanks to all of them who were thoughtful enough to send me such literary gems.

Out of all the books that I read recently, I quite liked two fiction and three non-fiction books. Sharing the names of those non fiction books here that left an impact on me – all these three books are about amazing journeys of some amazing people that make you believe in the power of hope and inspire you to appreciate this thing called life. In case you are going through some trying times and would like to find solace in words, you may give these books a try:

  1. Man’s Search For Meaning: Viktor E. Frankl

One of the best books that I would have read in recent times by the holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl. It’s a book that makes your realize that there are many others whose life is much more painful than yours and yet they have found a purpose in that pain. The description of those concentration camps and condition of people living in that era … I can’t even begin to imagine the plight of children who were gassed! Whatever struggle you are going through today, this is one of those books that will make you count your blessings and be thankful for all that you have. While the book is filled with many profound observations but if I have to highlight only one, it will be the following:

“Those who have a “why” to live, can bear with almost any “how” ”- Viktor E. Frankl

Read More

Children Books to read this Diwali

Holiday time means story time, isn’t it? While any book that your little one enjoys reading is good for holidays but it’s occasion like Diwali or Dusshera that add a special charm towards reading mythology and folklore. It’s always good to let our children know the ‘whys’ & ‘hows’ of our festivals and thankfully we have many good books now that focus on festivals centric theme and content. 

Read More

Competition or Customers

Competition or Customers — Where do you spend your time more?

How I wish that organizations especially the ones starting up, spend at least half their time and resources in understanding their customers as much they spend in tracking their competitors. It’s amazing to see presentations after presentations detailing out the competition strategy but a very fuzzy or macro view of — who are we trying to sell to?

There is nothing wrong with being competition focussed, in fact it’s good to keep a close watch on competition but when you have limited resources and you’re trying to launch something new, it’s very important to understand where and how to spend your resources judiciously.

My recent interaction with two different businesses left me thinking more on this. One is a mid size company, been into business for few years, now venturing into a new category and the second one is a new entity altogether. Both have lean marketing teams to work on the launch and the maximum effort that both have spent as part of their market study is tracking the competition strategy. Details of their campaigns, social media initiatives, promotions — everything has been tracked and well documented. And both these companies are aiming at one objective while drafting their launch offer — how to be better than the competition? Yes, the prime objective is to come out with offers more lucrative than their competitors. We don’t even know if customers are actually happy with those offers or for that matter if customers are looking for offers only or something else? For company one, the competition strategy actually maps almost every player even remotely associated with the category and the product is as such that it can be of use to consumers as well as SMBs. A detailed competition analysis like this would have been actually a good thing if the team wouldn’t have been trying to focus on coming out with an offer that can be attractive to all segments. One can not have a paint-everyone-with-the- same-brush approach especially when launching a new category.

If we will be only competition focussed, we will at best be better than our competition but not necessarily the best choice for our customers. Deciding the focal point of any marketing plan is extremely important and it has to start with — understanding our customers.

The more granular we go into understanding our customer, the better we would be at connecting with her.Read More

When you understand your customers…

…You come out with campaigns like Amazon!

Yesterday I received some 60+ messages on Independence Day promotion! And I am not even counting the emailers and notifications. These were just SMSes that I received despite my number being registered under DND! Yet the only campaign that I remember or that enticed me to browse more was of Amazon India.

A global brand implementing such a fantastic local campaign, isn’t it amazing? No “Patriotic Discount” or “Up to 71% Off”, no “Freedom From Shipping” or “Freedom Of Shopping”, yet a campaign that grabbed many eyeballs and love from all.


So what worked for this campaign? The answer is very simple and something that we all know of but do not necessarily implement:

Context

Connect

Commerce

Customer

The campaign was quite contextual, delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time and had a very local touch to it.Read More