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Interview with Malhar Barai, Tech Mahindra, Head – Marketing (HiTech Vertical)

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Malhar Barai

After doing post-graduation in computers 16 years back, Malhar Barai started working in a web-development company early on and that laid a strong foundation on the internet technology. Being a geekier kind with love for technology, Malhar co-authored a book on ‘SOA using Java’. Subsequently, he moved on to business roles which included presales and sales-support. That was his first brush with core marketing functions. With the advent of Social Media platforms, the technically curious Malhar started to look at marrying technology and marketing which landed him to leading the digital marketing function at Tech Mahindra. Not looking back, he moved to niche areas of marketing and currently leads the end to end marketing for a key vertical within Tech Mahindra. 

Malhar Barai is Head of Marketing – HiTech Vertical, Tech Mahindra. He previously led Digital Marketing for Tech Mahindra and has been instrumental in running high impact campaigns.

Malhar is also a co-founder SEOTalk Twitter Chat & co-hosts ‘The F&M Show’, India’s only live talk show on Youtube. An Author, Speaker, Digital Marketing Consultant and Trainer, Malhar provides consulting to brands and individuals in creating omni-channel digital strategies leveraging power of Live Streaming, SEO and various Digital Platforms.

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

Malhar Barai: More than the platforms, I got interested because of the power of reach those platforms provided. Early in my career, I had seen how websites were important for brands since they gave them reach beyond the geographical boundaries but that was still one-way communication. Digital Marketing gave the power to reach intended audience and also interact with them. It also challenged brands since the audience had more power now.So with Digital Marketing, I saw an opportunity to leverage my technical abilities and optimize (growth hack – the new buzzword) sales and marketing activities leading to more engaged audience.

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?

Malhar Barai: I believe, there is never anything called conventional marketing. Marketing as a domain has always evolved – from ads in newspaper, magazines to billboards to the current age of marketing using social platforms. What I hear often is, digital has given the power to measure success but there always had been frameworks that defined and measured key success criteria. Though now, the insights are more refined and helps gauge the user-sentiment much better.

On digital marketing being a threat, of course no. It helps other forms of marketing (I didn’t say conventional marketing) and helps to reach and engage with targeted audience. You still have to do event based marketing, TVC, etc but digital will help you put them in front of the right audience and convert to realistic leads.

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

Malhar Barai: 

  • Tata Tea Jaago Re: Clever use of multiple platforms to tell the story and drive audience participation on various social causes. I would say, they were the trendsetters and other brands are now following them on weaving social causes in their stories. Look at how everything is driven back to their microsite and subtle brands mentions.
  • Google India – Reunion Ad: Quite an old one, but this one is still etched in memories and that is what all good campaigns should do. The ad stuck an emotional chord with the audience. They leveraged TVC & Youtube as the key delivery platforms to promote it’s ‘search’ functionality
  • Red Bull: One of the brands which uses technology, influence marketing way better than any brands. True to their TG’s choice, they have capitalized on adventure sports like no other brands.

According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?

Malhar Barai: 

  • Being Loudspeakers: More often than not, many of the brands are still treating digital platforms as another billboard. They miss the ‘social’ part of social media platforms and forego the chance to interact with their audience who could be existing or potential buyers
  • Measurement: Like I said earlier, digital platforms allow brands an opportunity to delve deep into measurements. Various free/paid tools are available to derive meaningful insights for brands to measure consumer interests and participation.
  • Treating platforms in isolation: Digital Marketing gives brands an opportunity to tell a cohesive story. The Tata Tea Jaago Re campaign is one of the very good example of omni-channel story telling. One platform, one story should not be an approach.

Between Agency and In-house, which approach would you recommend for maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?

Malhar Barai: The approach we have seen working most of the times, agencies are approached to have 1-2 big bang campaigns per year and use in-house for day to day activities and smaller campaigns. That way, the strategy, execution for rest of the activities over the year is still in-house.

The reason is, we presume to know our customer better than the agencies and thus makes us more capable to run the regular campaign.

How do you ensure increasing Digital Marketing’s relevance and influence in the organization?

Malhar Barai: I have seen the relevance and influence being 0 to what it is today. Across my training to the rainmakers in the organization, I always tell that – ‘We want to make your job easier. Digital platforms should be the first touch-point for our customers.’ That clearly sets the bar high for us marketers in the organization and we have seen quite a good amount of success in ‘Marketing Qualified Leads’

Which are your 3 favorite Digital Marketing Tools?

Malhar Barai: 

  1. Buffer
  2. Tweetdeck
  3. Buzzsumo
  4. Socio (Tech Mahindra’s Social Media Tool)

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

Malhar Barai: 

  • For Entrepreneurs: Digital Marketing gives them power to share story about their brand. It’s the closest they can reach to potential customers and directly engage with them.
  • For Professionals: Digital Marketing avenues like blogs on Linkedin gives them opportunity to build authority on certain subject. Considering Linkedin is the best professional B2B network, it is imperative that professionals build their brand on that platform. For that, they need to learn and have sound understanding of these platforms.
  • For Students: The future is ‘Connected World, Connected Experience’ and digital marketing would be a key lever in this transformation. So it’s imperative that students learn, know and understand existing platforms and keep any eye on upcoming platforms. 

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

Malhar Barai: 

  1. One of the key skill I look for is – knowledge about the rapidly changing algorithms of the digital platforms. They have to be on top of the latest changes and know how to ‘growth hack’ them.
  2. That is followed by knowledge of atleast one industry – retail or lifestyle (they being the key industry that leverage digital marketing)
  3. Basic Knowledge of Google Analytics, since it’s the widely used analytics tool in the industry
  4. Excel – How can we survive without this. 🙂 

What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in Digital Marketing industry?

Malhar Barai: 

  1. Don’t get overwhelmed by a platform, master the basics – define objective, understand the audience, then shortlist platforms, create story, execute, measure, measure, measure
  2. Be curious
  3. Hustle – there is no shortcut to success

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?

Malhar Barai: I prefer to listen from the horse’s mouth – so I keep following blogs and news updates of respective platforms. Often I land into their live streams also to know what they are talking about since they give some practical examples during the stream which makes it easier to understand certain updates.

Other marketing blogs would involve the likes of socialsamosa, lighthouseinsights from Indian perspective, socialmediaexaminer, digiday, adage from global perspective.

Finally, I keep a close look on social streams of key individuals of the social platforms, mainly Twitter to keep track of and engage with them directly.

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

Malhar Barai: 

  1. Prashant Naidu
  2. Jessie Paul
  3. Apoorva Chamaria (for B2B Social Selling)

    How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends do you foresee for 2017?

    Malhar Barai: One major trend I see this year would be brands diving into live video streaming. Here’s my take on the trends for 2017

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

    Malhar Barai: 

    I have seen Digital Vidya grow over the years and have been recommending to a lot of folks in the industry. You have been instrumental in creating a platform for learning the much required skills for today’s marketers and have seen lot of individuals gain from it. Wishing more powers to the entire team of Digital Vidya.

    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 :).

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  • There are 2 comments


    • 5 months ago

      Disha   /   Reply

      Interesting interview given by Malhar Barai, and what all steps should be followed to get good results for marketing.Thanks for giving the information.

    • 5 months ago

      krishna_s   /   Reply

      Hii jasleen
      This is an interesting interview.In Future References student should be Entrepreneurs,Professionals.I have seen Digital vidhya is grow over the past years and creating a platform for learning digital marketing and Digital marketing managers.knowledge about the changing in digital platform. and it is beneficial for students and job seekers.

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