An opportunity to step up your game and increase value.

 

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product/service fits him and sells itself.”

                                                                                                                                                                   -Peter Drucker 

Understanding the needs of the customers and achieving a sustainable competitive advantage over competitors is the ultimate goal of any business marketing strategy. While it may start to get easy with time, it is fairly difficult to get a hang of it when you are only just a startup. For this reason, Headstart recently held a workshop and came up with a panel of marketing professionals. They gave interesting insights into the world of go-to marketing strategies. The webinar was not only interactive but shaped into a practical discussion on the kind of marketing procedures and techniques startups should follow. 

Sudhindra Reddy, COO of Zoom Car was one of the speakers. Before entering the startup world, he has been a core marketing guy. His work at Zoom Car includes Pan India Operations and handling investments into products and technology. 

Pawas Jain, Founder, and CEO of TBC Consulting was the second speaker. He is majorly into content and marketing and owns a marketing consultant firm for the last 4 years. The company operates across India and is currently working with big global clients. 

Finally, we had with us Ankit Bansal, Product Manager at ShareChat. His contribution to the company includes introducing various North Indian Languages. Apart from ShareChat, he leads marketing and gaming. 

The discussion began with one of the most basic but important questions – What are your personal thoughts on go-to marketing strategies for businesses? 

Mr. Sudhindra feels that while there may not be one simple answer and there is a wide range of strategies, the most essential one is to understand the audience, realize the actual consumers, and how they perceive the product. The next step is to analyze the scale of the business and accordingly decide on the use of organic social media tools. There is too much competition today and hence, the existence of a lot of products that look alike. It is key to communicate your USP well and be completely out there in the world. 

Consumers do not consume content in the linear ways that we think that they do and are spread all over. While it is not feasible to find out the exact media tool they use, startups on one hand can begin to acquire customers with 0 investment and then move on to a sales strategy gradually. On the other hand, when Series A companies can slowly start splitting cash on various channels is when their actual strategy starts to form. 

Mr. Pawas focussed more on the specifics of how the digital market and offline marketing comes into the picture.  For startups, it is a level playing field since there is no prior brand build and are no preconceived notions in the mind of the audience. Since there is no cut, copy, paste in this field; it is mandatory to be original. Monitor data, track everything and make sure to act on it. Experimenting and creating a perfect fit is the right key.

Learn Fast, Fail Fast, and Learn Fast Again is the motto Mr. Pawas follows and one that has majorly worked for him. The essence of market strategy is a lot of customer feedback and interaction. Be open to negativity and ready to make amends according to customer reviews. The sooner you understand that marketing is more about learning rather than creating a brand, the better. 

How to decide the right platform has always been a common question. The answer is simple – before launching, know your target audience. Create a dedicated community from Day 1 and leverage all social media groups. Moreover, attract attention with content and give the audience something that adds value to them.

Using Growth Hacks, building relationships, and focussing on direct interaction are some of the pro tips for marketing. Here is a list of few growth hacks that can be used by startups – 

  1. Email Marketing – One of the cheapest forms.
  2. Creating multiple touchpoints
  3. Influencer marketing to create an initial buzz. 
  4. A lot of knowledge, experience, and information sharing. 
  5. Introducing freebies, giveaways, coupons, etc. 
  6. A lot of knowledge, experience, and information sharing. 
  7. Introducing freebies, giveaways, coupons, etc. 

Mr. Ankit focussed on internet strategies and emphasized on having the perfect market fit. There are 3 main questions to majorly focus on – What are you selling? Who are you selling to? What is your competition? Moreover, it is essential to know your audience since today, there is an increasing need to innovate according to the benefit of the customers. 

The second area of focus should be to monitor the performance of customers once they have been acquired. The end goal in any business is to create profits, it is best to avoid users that have a short life span since you are less likely to make money from them. 

The second part of the session was more interactive, giving the audience a chance to ask questions related to the challenges that they might face in their daily business marketing. This session was led by Mr. Ankit who gave a push to the audience and formulated their questions to make them more structured and efficient. 

What are some of the learnings from your experience at Zoomcar that you would like to impart to the audience?

Mr. Sudhindra mentions that Zoomcar has recently introduced an Essential Services initiative where they help customers travel in case of any emergency. Moreover, they have introduced 2 new products that have been very successful. Firstly, there is a subscription product where they offer their customers an option to lease cars and the other product is electric scooters. 

Through the process, he learns that it is important to be clear and careful about how the consumer perceives the product and to focus on Consumer-Generated Content on social media. The intent of purchasing should be the second priority while getting the customer to try out the product should be first. 

Application related startups should focus on distribution and should never underestimate its power. It is important to find your niche product since once a brand shift happens, you cannot retrieve your customers.

Talking specifically about the time of Covid19, Mr. Sudhindra observed that the product-oriented companies are sailing through while the asset-heavy ones have taken a hit.  At the macro level, the government has taken the responsibility for supporting companies at the MSME level so that they do not go down the drain. 

What is your take on the condition of startups in times of Covid19 and what should they do differently? 

Mr. Pawas puts light on how the first step is to support existing customers and find the right communication strategy. The priority is to make sure the brand stays alive, within customers’ eyesight and is not forgotten. Bring in an emotional aspect if needed but do not expect marketing to get converted into sales during such times. 

It becomes essential to also understand the basic difference between customers and consumers – the former being someone who purchases and the latter being someone who uses the product. Once you are clear with this concept, dividing the marketing strategy becomes easy.

Since the unlock process has started, shift your focus to building deeper and sensitive relationships for the future. Use a mix of Organic as well as paid media tools to create as much brand reach and awareness as possible. During tough times like now, there is a huge opportunity for tapping the digital environment and see in which field you can transform. 

Since there always has been a debate between offline and online marketing, what is the right time to use each of the methods? 

Mr. Pawas suggests that now is the perfect time to make a transition from offline to digital marketing since the data availability is extremely high. While the offline method is suggested for the B2B startups, it is highly expensive and may not have as much impact as it used to in earlier times. Moreover, offline marketing has no availability of data, you cannot keep a record of insights and needs to be extremely well thought of. On the other hand, small scale startups may go for offline marketing since it has a personal touch to it. 

As a final message, Mr. Sudhindra is of the opinion that it is best to grow from the bottom, build slowly, and then start investing. While data intelligence may be of high cost, it is the essence of marketing today. Consistency and contact are two factors that always need to be followed through. 

To put it all into perspective, while marketing strategy is a vast topic and has numerous hacks and techniques that may help startups to succeed, the ultimate hack is to establish trust and credibility amongst customers. In the end, you realize that there is no right marketing strategy and in fact, this area is all about creating, building, and iterating. The best way is to take a leap and begin on the path of marketing, making changes as and when necessary! 

 

Contributed By:

Anoushka Chopra

A volunteer at Headstart.