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Interview with Rahul Wadhawan, National Digital Head, Pernod Ricard

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Rahul WadhawanRahul Wadhawan is a seasoned business leader with digital marketing expertise for B2B and B2C organizations. Served brands like HCL, SAP, Coca-Cola and Pernod Ricard with strong domain experience in Digital Strategy and e-Commerce business management.

It wasn’t easy to sell Digital internally when Rahul started with his first professional stint by seeding Digital Marketing a decade back in HCL Infosystems. Commenced bit early when Digital Marketing and e-Commerce of IT devices through company owned e-Store or Marketplaces such as India Plaza, Rediff Shopping & Indiatimes Shopping was considered an immature decision. Compared to present age, where majority of smartphones are sold online. This was followed by B2B Digital stint at SAP India and National Digital Marketing & e-Commerce role at Coca-Cola. 

Rahul is currently heading Digital Marketing at Pernod Ricard, managing portfolio of prestigious brands (Absolut, Chivas, Jameson, Ballantine’s, Blenders Pride, Royal Stag, Imperial Blue, The Glenlivet, Jacob’s Creek; to name a few).

Over a decade of marketing hardware, software, non-alcoholic and now alcoholic beverages digitally can assure digital media is bound to grow, being so persistent that customers have access to any information, any place at any time. Unlike traditional ATL marketing, digital enables consumers to interact with brands and existing consumer base of brands to share reviews.

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

Rahul: Infatuation, passion and fascination about new age media, particularly on how to develop websites and ad serving TO manage a living by doing the same drifted my journey into Digital Marketing. Eagerness to learn and stay updated with latest technological trend helped to boost this further.

Potential to earn with each user click ignited this fire further. An avid Google AdSense publisher turned into advertiser should summarize this journey.

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?

Rahul Wadhwan: In 1.3 billion people country with 350 million people online, digital still reaches 1/4th of the total population in India.

Sheer reach of conventional marketing makes marketers accustomed to traditional marketing. With an average age of senior leadership teams in major brands being way above 45 years, finding their brand advertisement in Television, Out-Door hoarding, magazines and Radio still remain on top of their favorite list.

Primary advantage of digital is that results are easily measured whereas it’s not easy to measure results in conventional marketing. You can track and analyze entire consumer journey on digital media, from the time you displayed him your advertisement till the time he reviewed your product or services. Digital being dynamic in nature provides two way communication with audience, than traditional marketing which is static – means there is no way to interact with the audience. It’s just like we are throwing information in front of people with a hope that they can decide to take an action.

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Digital Marketing will never be a threat to convention marketing, as they both work hand-in-hand. Convention creates the air cover and digital targets the consumer. 

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

Rahul Wadhwan: Prefer to create case studies than reading.

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

Rahul Wadhwan: 

  1. Spending below threshold on Digital: Most of Indian organizations are yet not spending optimal media mix on Digital, hence resulting in potential loss of intended brand consumers to competition.
  2. Delay in embracing Digital: With delayed adaptation, organizations loose on their learning curve. This can be a dangerous move with competition active on digital.
  3. Digital Content: Content tailored for Television being aired on Digital, typical waste of digital marketing budget. 

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

Rahul Wadhwan: Can you think of outsourcing conventional marketing and dismiss in-house marketing team?

An agency led digital marketing setup without cohesive in-house digital team is potential hazard.

Strong in-house digital marketing team embedded within core marketing team powered with decision making ability will be able to deliver brand objectives far better than an outsourced execution arm.

Which are your 3 favorite Digital Marketing Tools?

Rahul Wadhwan: 

  1. Programmatic – Google Double Bid Manager being the latest flick.
  2. Omniture – An evolved digital analytics platform.
  3. Similar Web – Useful for competitor digital benchmarking.

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

Rahul Wadhwan: 

  1. For Entrepreneurs: The digital era has arrived, and those organizations that fail to adapt to the new marketing environment are at great risk of going extinct sooner rather than later.
  2. For Professionals: Marketing digitally is the ease with which results can be tracked and monitored. Rather than conducting expensive customer research, you can quickly view customer response and measure the success of your marketing campaign in real-time, enabling you to plan more effectively for the next one.
  3. For Students: With each organization scouting for talent with blend of digital marketing, it be right choice for you to embrace digital at right time.

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

Rahul Wadhwan: 

  1. Jack of all, Master in One – For budding digital marketing professionals, it is very important to understand digital marketing holistically.
  2. Hands-on-Experience – Most of the resumes will list almost all digital marketing skills, whereas it will be tough for candidate to even explain few of them.
  3. Stability – Frequent job hops in digital marketing will definitely give you an edge on pay-scale but can be potentially dangerous at a later stage.

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

Rahul Wadhwan: 

Keep evolving with latest trends; stay updated with digital marketing terminologies.

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?

Rahul Wadhwan: Prefer to stay updated by meeting peers from industry across publishers, networks,agencies and content developers. 

Exchanging best practices on internal forums with Global and Regional counterparts help you to stay ahead in your industry digitally. 

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

Rahul Wadhwan: Respect all those who manage to survive within Digital Marketing fraternity, from the time when India had 10 million people online vs 350 million+ now.

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

Rahul: Predicting trends in such an evolving Digital Media industry is impossible. Can see following trends coming exploding in next 12 months:

  1. Advertisers buying more of Digital Media Programmatically
  2. Tailored digital content from brands
  3. Focused approach on consumer digital acquisition and retention

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

Rahul Wadhwan: 

Impressive and delightful to find views of seasoned digital marketers at one blog. Digital Vidya is doing remarkable effort to create new age digital marketers with blend of overall excellence. 

Wishing all the luck to budding digital marketers.

Disclaimer: Views represented are mine, not voicing the brands I represent.

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


    • 11 months ago

      Jasleen Kaur   /   Reply

      Thanks Rahul 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 :).

    • 10 months ago

      GAURAV   /   Reply

      Good to read Mr Rahul. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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