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An Interview With Gautam Bansal, Digital Marketing Consultant

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Gautam Bansal started his career as a graphic and web designer and over the years have worked on to become a seasoned marketing professional and in team management roles. He completed his graduate programme in Advertising & Design from Wigan & Leigh College, Bangalore (UK Certification). He has worked in senior marketing and leadership roles in companies such as Sobha Developers, Golden Gate Properties, LJ Hooker and Verity Technologies. He believes in self-learning and on the job training. He is a certified digital marketer with specialization in social media marketing and had also founded an award-winning graphic and web design company as part of entrepreneurial stint. His previous position was heading marketing and brand management for a real estate group in Bangalore where he has managed both digital and traditional marketing for over 10 residential projects and spearheaded multiple project launches. His professional work experience is spanning over 12.5 years across diverse fields such as real estate, advertising and digital. Presently, Gautam is working as an independent marketing consultant providing value to start-ups/organizations and thereby continuing to achieve his dreams of fulfillment. His other interests are photography, travel, reading and charcoal paintings.

Importance of Digital Marketing:

Digital Marketing is very important as part of the overall marketing mix in today’s day and age. In my recent work profiles and mandates it has definitely played a crucial role primarily in context of targeted marketing whether locally or globally. Since my most recent position was in the real estate industry, I will talk more about that and hope it helps each one of you in some way or the other. I do agree to some extent that it is not easy to tap a clientele for a residential apartment/villa with a ticket price of 1 Cr plus. Millions of rupees can get exhausted in using the traditional marketing mediums only. As you go higher in the product pricing, the target market potential begins to condense and there is a point when it ventures into niche segments where highly targeted marketing and promotions become necessary. Nature of digital marketing whether online or handheld devices is very versatile and it caters to almost all strata and demography especially when you have a wide project portfolio range between 20 lacs to 3 Cr. More than 50% of our total enquiries and leads were coming through digital marketing channels alone. But that didn’t mean we shut down the traditional route. We were not present in all digital platforms all at once and preferred to embark them at select points to leverage the maximum. For eg. During pre-launch of the project we would focus more on email marketing, twitter and social media where the first word gets broadcasted to our prospects. At the time of launch, we did more of PPC and social media campaigns as people have begun to search us. Post launch, we continued to do PPC campaigns in short bursts, along with social media promotions, content marketing and blogging. We had got the group websites re-designed keeping user experience in mind because design/visual graphics as part of content marketing plays an important role in gaining traction. Also we had invested in SEO whose benefits are perennial to its nature.

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?

Gautam: Conventional or Traditional marketing and its techniques form the core foundation of marketing where the brand touches any one or more of our five senses. There is also the sixth sense which I regard as intuition which is as important because customers also take impulse decisions based on it. Some facets of digital marketing are still quite nascent and hence the field is very dynamic and evolving. Both conventional and digital marketing have their features and limitations. I believe that they are complementary, supplementary and also inter-dependent on each other and the older forms of marketing can never be wiped out. Biggest example – see the likes of e-commerce biggies who continue to hog up the premium front page jacket positions of the popular newspapers in metros to elicit a purchase or response.

The biggest advantage that Conventional marketing has over Digital marketing that it has been around for ages whereas the latter has come into the arena just in the last decade and stormed the marketing world in the last 3-4 years. The other advantages which immediately come to my mind are its highly credible and established, cannot be missed easily as its present everywhere, its local penetration is much more, some methods can still be cost effective such as BTL activities which are more targeted and niche in nature, a wide range of traditional mediums to choose from, simple and easier to comprehend among others.The world has become so conditioned by conventional methods that it will be cynical to think that digital marketing will completely take over or be a threat to offline means. In future, one steps on the street and sees a billboard which is digitally connected, operated and blessed with all the latest technology. But the concept is still that of an OOH, one of the primary conventional methods. Therefore I personally think the best way to move forward is integration and how marketers can come up with smart marketing plans imbibing the strengths of both these platforms and approaches. Both are important but what has changed as per me are the uses, objectives and expectations from it. Traditional methods will continue to drive traffic to the digital channels. But at the same time, it will be unfair to equate digital individually with any one of the conventional mediums such as print, radio, outdoor, TV, events, direct marketing and so on. Digital will definitely enhance the power of conventional mediums to gain the best results as well.

Share about your 3 favorite Integrated Marketing case studies. What did you like most about them?

Gautam: 

  • The Red Bull Stratos campaign involving Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner – it’s a perfect example of digital integration and elevated the Red Bull brand to a different stratosphere. Even associated brands such as GoPro got heavily promoted. The YouTube views reached over 39 million.
  • The Old Spice campaign in 2010 which lent a fresh perspective to the brand. With over 40 million views and sales increasing by 107% gave the brand a new spice.
  • One of the earlier Coca-Cola campaigns in China where customers filled the visual of the drink bottle electronically until it was over-flowing by sending in their digital entries (brand related messages and keywords) using mobile and web. It supposedly got over 1 million users to participate it in real time. Very unique and innovative idea!
According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?

Gautam: 

  • Rushing to achieve objectives by implementing campaigns on a fast track mode; In a hurry or pressure of posting content on daily basis and thereby compromising with concepts, content and creativity which have to be thoroughly thought through towards providing great value to their target audience and usefulness in the message. Because of this brands stands to lose traction with their target audience, campaigns falling apart, low-levels of engagement and lead generation and the whole thing comes across as quite superficial messaging.
  • Some organizations have separate traditional and digital marketing teams who work in silos. There is no proper integration in campaigns, passing the buck, insecurity, superiority complex, divide between people/teams etc. happen which is detrimental to the results and thereby organization misses the chance to leverage the maximum in unison and probably what could have become a great campaign. Please note that people having digital marketing skills are not of a separate, special or superior breed. It’s just that they are marketers with added digital skill sets. Therefore my advice to all marketers that there is no need to feel dejected or out of place if you are not a digital marketer and you can always learn it. A Marketer needs to always focus on the core fundamentals to achieve what they have to and its a team game.
  • Digital marketing activities are highly measurable and that is one of the main advantages it enjoys over traditional marketing methods. But not many organizations have realized the importance of it and on-boarded an expert analytics person who can make some cool business sense out of the collated data and also help in tweaking the marketing strategy, campaign etc. towards the benefit of attaining the best possible results.
Between Agency and In-house, which approach would you recommend for maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?

Gautam: This is a mixed bag and completely depends based on requirements and utility for businesses. Digital marketing agencies are considered specialists and many are good at what they do. That’s their business model. Building an in-house digital marketing team is an ideal scenario but wouldn’t companies want to focus on building what they are best at in alignment with their business model and leave this to the experts and professionals. On the contrary, if an organization is generating maximum business through digital marketing efforts then it would make strong business sense to build a full-fledged in-house digital team as part of the marketing team.

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

Gautam: 

  • For Entrepreneurs: whether bootstrapped or funded, they are the ultimate custodians of the business and should definitely be aware of it. Will help them in their networking, public relations, business generation and social causes.
  • For Professionals: for a marketing professional it’s imperative to know and understand their target audience in depth and where they engage, share etc. And in today’s world, almost everybody engages and transacts on the digital platform. Will help them cut across the clutter.
  • For Students: to shape their career and be much better equipped to provide effective solutions in the working world.
What are the top 3-5 skills you look for when hiring a candidate for Digital Marketing profile?

Gautam: I would lay slightly more importance on soft/behavioral skills when compared to domain skills.

  • Person should be adaptable and flexible
  • Willing to experiment, inquisitive, creative, keep learning attitude
  • Sound marketing background and experience
  • Having good understanding of digital platforms/concepts and how they function. Tools is secondary as new ones keep getting introduced on regular basis, one can always Google, YouTube for tutorials etc.
What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in Digital Marketing industry?

Gautam: 

My suggestion would be to get a firm hold on marketing fundamentals, knowledge and experience of conventional methods to help you integrate and leverage its strengths with digital marketing, also not just collection of data but assimilation of it and learn from it to improve marketing strategy and campaigns.

Focus on content, design and user experience which leads to higher amplification rates as well. Updating yourself with current trends as marketing today is very dynamic and always evolving. Always keep experimenting, don’t be afraid of making mistakes and learn from them. Focus on building your social media marketing skills as almost the entire world is engaging regularly on various social channels. Last but not the least, keep learning in whichever manner even if one day you become the CEO of a big organization.

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?

Gautam: I do follow blogs such as Seth Godin’s, Search Engine Land, Hubspot, Inbound.org, MarketingProfs, Occam’s Razor among others.

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

Gautam: 

  • Mr. Avinash Kaushik for his deep insight into web analytics. He is a highly qualified trainer and co-founder at Market Motive and digital marketing evangelist – Google.
  • Mr. Neil Patel for his overall approach and views on digital marketing. He is a co-founder of CrazyEgg and KISSMetrics.
  • Ms. Ann Handley for her insightful articles on content marketing. She is a chief content officer of MarketingProfs and co-founder of ClickZ.
How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends do you foresee for 2016?

Gautam: Organizations tend to spend much more on conventional marketing and achieve the same results as what some channels of digital marketing have proven to achieve at a lessor cost and therefore achieve better ROIs. This is one of the key reasons why digital has become the key arsenal of today’s marketer and to some it’s over-shadowing conventional methods. Slowly the shift in budgets is taking place. Digital media propels the brand straight-away onto a global platform, the level of connectivity and engagement is higher and it is highly measurable. Digital is also extending into other platforms such as Virtual reality, Augmented reality and QR codes which enhances this further. Apps like Instagram are getting labelled as utility for some sectors such as fashion & accessories, films and travel. Mobile is also shaping up in a big way where already some of the big brands have started commanding more traffic from the mobile medium when compared to desktop.

Mobile marketing, Content marketing and Growth hacking are the 3 primary trends which I see shaping up in a big way this year.

Would you like to share few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?

Gautam: 

There is a huge demand for digital marketing professionals world over and Digital Vidya is doing a great job of training, mentoring and placing these professionals in reputed organizations. Spreading the word of how important digital is to the ecosystem and keeping abreast of the latest tips, happenings, updates and technology is part of the value addition which Digital Vidya provides. My best wishes to DV team!

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 :).

[Sr. Associate - Content Marketing] A content passionate, Jasleen handles the content writing and marketing activities. Additionally, she leads Digital Marketing Internship Programme. Her deep passion and enthusiasm for writing guided her towards being the Associate Editor in English for her college magazine. Only deep passion and zeal can guide a person towards a professional writing career. Apparently, Jasleen is one of those persons. She is in the content writing and marketing fraternity for 5 years now. A top-notch individual, she is proficient in writing content for multiple requirements including blogs, articles, books, brochures and social media. She embraces practical knowledge of WordPress CMS. Besides this, she is also highly engaging in Social Media Marketing activities.
  • Digital-Marketing


  • There is 1 comment


    • 1 year ago

      Jasleen Kaur   /   Reply

      Thanks Gautam 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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