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An Interview With Anaggh Desai, Senior Advisor, Retailers Association of India

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Anaggh Desai“Entrepreneur by Attitude, Employee by choice” is how Anaggh Desai referred to himself for over 25 years; before changing it recently to “Entrepreneur by Choice, Employee by Attitude”

Having worked across industries and geographies ranging from hospitality, courier, logistics, travel, e-commerce and retail in his 25 + year career span, there is little he has not seen. Always ahead of the curve, has always believed that ‘ experience is the key differentiator’ & strong advocate of customer evangelism, he believes listening and interacting to/with them is one of the most important things that the brands should do today, particularly in India, where consumer dynamics change every few kilometres.

Anaggh is a Service Industry professional who has straddled a spectrum of industries – Research – Hospitality – Courier, Logistics, Supply chain – Travel – VC – Ecomm – OTA – Retail with the common thread of People, Service, Logistics being woven through all of them. As somebody occupying the corner office for the past decade and half, it forms a part of ‘What I need to know’ not necessarily be an expert at it. As a grey hair, it helps being ahead of the curve and disabuse the younger generation of the notion.

As a freewheeling ‘Mind caster’ and Digital Nomad, he has embraced the social media wave, which helps his passion of observational marketing. He consults, writes, contributes on Retail, Customer Loyalty & Experiences, on his website besides the BW Marketing white book and DNA. He is invited RAI, BMA, TiE to address Startups & SMEs on their brand behavior & consumer-facing issues as well as assistance on Demystifying the digital. An ardent Food lover, he blogs on anaggh.com besides contributing to Zomato, Tri Advisor and others. 

How did you get into Digital Marketing? What interested you in learning Digital Marketing?

Anaggh: As somebody who embraced technology in 1995 and digital in 1999 with the Dot com times, running a couple of them for ICICI venture, you did not have the luxury of conventional marketing but had to twist to ensure conventional did lead people to Digital, and once there, retention. Collaboration, communication, different target audience, retention and calculation of ROI was what one learns quickly in the digital forum.

According to you, what are the advantages of conventional marketing over Digital Marketing? Do you think that Digital Marketing is a threat to the future of conventional marketing?

Anaggh: 

  • Actually it is the reverse, where Digital has advantages of conventional marketing. However, as I keep getting into debates with many CMOs India is probably 3-5 years away from Digital being adopted across platforms, places, people. You cannot do a large canvas digital foot print unless the % of people accessing the platform is higher compared to conventional which currently is not the case.
  • Nope I do not see Digital as a threat, in fact it will continue to co exist. For it to be a real threat, India needs to have the necessary infrastructure, acceptance of the medium which is still a while away.
Share about your 3 favorite Integrated Marketing case studies. What did you like most about them?

Anaggh: All 3 are where I was directly involved and hence my favourite 😉

  1. One of my favourite case study is about our own (The Bombay Store) ‘Chappal Maro’ campaign which was a quick turnaround on elections. Except a couple of agency people who tried to debate about the brand J most participants took enthusiastically to it. And it was directly related to Sales.
  2. Another one (The Bombay Store) was introduction of designer umbrella which was only via Digital and again directly related to Sales. Both the cases were pre-2011 when Social Media infancy was being debated.
  3. Recent example was of DBS bank when they ran the Chilly paneer campaign last year. This was in two parts and encouraged interaction which led to quite a discussion.
According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?

Anaggh: 

  1. Doing Digital for the sake of belonging or because the CXO or global headquarters says it is the future.
  2. Allocating 5-10% of the budget to a junior because it is too miniscule and really does not impact the overall marketing aspect.
  3. Outsourcing without being clear about the objectives and brief.
Between Agency and In-house, which approach would you recommend for maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?

Anaggh: 

  • I have worked with a combination of both and it is extremely necessary. You have a marketing head, but outsource advertising, events, marketing support activities, don’t you. So why not Digital Marketing?
  • Something that I always share with clients, workshops and believe

‘Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department’ – David Packard, HP

‘Social Media is too crucial and important to be left to an agency & 23 year old’ Anaggh Desai

Why do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students to learn Digital Marketing today?

Anaggh: 

  • For Entrepreneurs: If you do not know the business, do not want to talk about it as the main person, cheer leader, how do you expect people to know. And digital is one of the most economical way to reach out to people.
  • For Professionals: It is a necessary skill set. There is no sense in giving out ‘I don’t believe in Digital or I am not digital savvy’ statements with pride. If you have not embraced it, you have lost the bus
  • For Students: Didn’t you learn alphabets, writing cursive, so then why not digital. But mind you ‘sending email or knowledge of Tally, word, xls’ is not digital. 
Which are your 3 favorite Digital Marketing Tools?

Anaggh: People, People, People. Since I am not a practitioner of Digital Marketing, tools are bit irrelevant to me. I use Observational marketing to understand and then get it verified. Most agencies today have the bot/listening/broadcast method down pat in order to increase productivity, but lack the human touch.

What are the top 3-5 skills you look for when hiring a candidate for Digital Marketing profile?

Anaggh: 

  • Proficiency in Language
  • Attitude
  • Willingness to adapt quickly, experiment
What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in Digital Marketing industry?

Anaggh: Decide your goals early, don’t just decide to try it out because you’re not getting anything else or your peers say it is the in thing. Be ready for the career to be all invasive, you cannot switch off and say I was not reachable. And it is not Nuclear science. The same fundamentals with a little faster thinking on your feet and using common sense works.

How do you stay updated on the latest trends in Digital Marketing? Which are the Digital Marketing resources (i.e. blogs/websites/apps) you visit regularly?

Anaggh: Actually none. I depend on People. Across the platforms as well as in person who share. Whilst I do read links on Digital Marketing in the US and other developed markets but do not see the connect with India in terms of execution and people involvement.

Share the names of 3 people you respect when it comes to Digital Marketing.

Anaggh: 

  • Prashant (Gaulinchief) from Contract
  • Anand Jain ex Burrp and now Clever Tap
  • Sanjay Mehta – Mirium
  • Lucky Bhatt – Bhatnaturally
  • Karthik – beast of traal – Social Ogilvy

All 5 of them teach me different things, different days of the week.

How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends do you foresee for 2016?

Anaggh: 

  • More involvement and maturing. Many customer facing brands taking cognizance of the need to be listening and acting. Slowly consumers becoming matured with their expectations.
  • 2016 would see the biggest nightmare of Influencer campaigns being controlled to a greater extent with fair expectations being mapped across client – agency – consumers
  • 2016 would reduce the distance of screen size – TV 65” to Phone 5.5” is just a number. Convenience would be the differentiator.
  • 2016 would change the way consumers are viewing digital – UX & UI domination, differentiation for brands would their behavior and not the product.
Would you like to share few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?

Anaggh: 

The structure and offerings from Digital Vidya are quite diverse in nature and of definite use of organisations.

Whilst my interaction has just been random and not being a Digital Marketeer, it was quite surprising to see them reaching out asking me question – whether the answers make any sense, is to be seen. Honestly, it is the first time I’ve also known that you can approach them for assistance in recruiting also, which I definitely would like to share going forward.

Are you inspired by the opportunity of Digital Marketing? Start your journey by attending our upcoming orientation session on Digital Marketing for Career & Business Growth. It’s online and Free :).

  • Digital-Marketing


  • There is 1 comment


    • 11 months ago

      Jasleen Kaur   /   Reply

      Thanks Anaggh for your contribution to our community through this interview. Really happy to know your feedback about the work we are doing in spreading digital (marketing) vidya :).

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