In the late 90s, Kulwinder Singh started his career as a journalist with The Indian Express after completing his Master’s Degree in Communications & Journalism. Starting from early 2000’s, he moved to a core marketing and corporate communication role. As he climbed the corporate ladder, he adopted marketing and communication as his primary area of expertize. After he took over as the Head of Global Marketing and Communication at Mahindra Satyam in 2005, Digital strategy became an integral part of his KRAs and it has remained so ever since. Digital Marketing is a critical aspect of marketing strategy for Kulwinder and he foresees that its importance will continue to grow in the future.
Kulwinder: In late 2000s when social media and mobile started to gain edge, I realized that digital marketing cannot be overlooked. Technology has permeated into the lives of people irrespective of age group, social status or location. Nobody is too old or too young to remain unaffected. Rural, urban, rich, poor, middle-class – it doesn’t matter where you stand technology is part of everyone’s day-to-day life now. Several choices that people now make, are hugely influenced by digital tools. While on the one hand social media combined with mobile evolution have forever changed the way people communicate; on the other hand, it has changed how marketers reach out to their customers.
Accordingly, digital marketing is an excellent tool for reaching out to and engaging the end customer, even in a B2B business. Anyone who fails to recognize the importance and permanence of this change; is doomed to be left behind. Being in a role where I led the Marketing functionfor a leading technology giant, I started weaving digital into the integrated marketing communication program of my organization. The strategy worked really well and I got inspired to take my digital marketing capabilities to the next level.
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?
Kulwinder: According to me, conventional marketing and digital marketing can never work in isolation from each other. In fact, digital marketing has added a tremendous amount of value to the way conventional marketing has been working so far. In any industry, irrespective of the changing tastes and preferences of consumers, the basic principles of marketing remain the same. Digital channels are certainly the additional customer touchpoints. No marketing program today can be devised without considering the traditional means of communicating a brand message.
I see digital marketing as a boon for the conventional marketers.
Share about your 3 favorite Digital Marketing case studies. What did you like most about them?
- Snapdeal; because of the concise, precise message that uses the age-old funny shayari concept. Humor is something that grabs eyeballs on any digital platform. The combination of star power and humor helped Snapdeal hit the nail on the head.
- Pepsi; because of its reach, relevance, and reinforcement message.
- Reebok;because of its effectiveness, engagement, and star power.
According to you, what are the top 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Digital Marketing?
Kulwinder: Not only the new age startups but also several established business giants make some digital marketing mistakes which prove pricey for them for their overall marketing programs.
- Not evaluating campaign results accurately: Businesses often roll out marketing campaigns for which they don’t have any measurement or tracking mechanism in place. As a result, it becomes tough for CMOs to justify the budgets allocated for their modern marketing techniques and tools. Unless they know the exact ROI of their campaigns, they can’t add any value to the business in general. They often end up wasting precious time, finances and talent.
- Ignoring traditional marketing techniques: Instead of integrating traditional and digital marketing techniques, many marketers completely ignore traditional marketing aspects. As a result, they are unable to capture all the customer segments they should ideally target. Digital marketing can complement traditional marketing but can’t take its place.
- Using too many platforms at a time: This is one of the common digital marketing mistakes made by startups. After starting with too many platforms at a time, it becomes difficult to gauge the effectiveness of individual platforms. Also, it takes an excessive amount of effort and doesn’t give a concrete picture in terms of what platform to build on further.
Between Agencies and In-house, which approach would you recommend for maximum value of Digital Marketing? Why?
Kulwinder: As far as digital marketing is an integral part of the overall marketing function, the in-house approach works more than the agency model. It is absolutely essential for a business to nurture in-house talent and reduce dependency on external digital marketing agencies in order to maintain a razor-sharp focus on the organization’s core marketing strategies and objectives. However, it is advisable to work with agencies and avail the benefits of their expertise if any particular activity needs a very high amount of investment in-house, and a very niche capability.
Which are your 3 favorite Digital Marketing Tools?
Kulwinder: In this case, I don’t see any particular tool as ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Putting it differently, I don’t have any all time favourite digital marketing tools. However, there are some tools which I admire:
- Hubspot: An inbound marketing and sales toolfor attracting visitors, convert sales leads, and win customers
- Google Analytics: A web analytics service that tracks website traffic.
Why do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students to learn Digital Marketing today?
- For Entrepreneurs: For entrepreneurs, it is inevitable understand digital marketing in order to build a fresh, digital-friendly brand personality of their startups. Also, they can’t afford to neglect the marketing side of their business and focus only on developing products and services.
- For Professionals: Digital being the new normal, any marketing professional can’t survive without possessing some basic digital skillsets.
- For Students:To get ready for the corporate battle, students must be able to understand the importance of social media marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), mobile marketing, etc. No matter what industry they choose to enter, digital is a must for the survival of any business, large or small.
What are the top 3-5 skills you look for when hiring a candidate for Digital Marketing profile?
Kulwinder: Some of the top skill I would look for while hiring a digital marketing candidate include:
- Content development: One must be able to generate relevant content in order to engage the target audience.
- A deep understating of social media:Using Faebookor twitter during leisure time is a different story. One should be able to unlock the measurable business value from a variety of prevalent social media platforms.
- SEO and PPC: A digital marketing candidate is expected to be aware of various techniques to be used for SEO and Pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements. One should also be aware of the algorithms used by the modern search engines.
What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at building a career in Digital Marketing industry?
Kulwinder: For the newly entered digital professionals, it is critical to gain primary understanding of all the major areas of digital marketing such as email marketing, SEO, PPC, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, online advertising, social media, analytics, etc. Going forward, one must follow his/her passion and master any one particular area which he/she can be known for.
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?
Kulwinder: Being a keen reader, I read various online resources such as social media pages, blogs, websites, newsletters and e-books to keep myself updated with the contemporary digital marketing trends and best practices. I have also set the relevant news alerts which come to my mailbox. In addition, I subscribe to a range of offline/printed business magazines which cover digital marketing as a key topic. From time to time, I also keep pursuing various short certificate courses which help me update my current knowledge of digital marketing.
Would you like to share few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?
I really appreciate the way you guys have identified the current digital skill requirements of the industry and started imparting them to the businesses that badly need them. You have definitely got it right and I hope that you will continue with the same spirit and make headway in digital marketing space.
I wish you all the best for all your future growth plans and initiatives.
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 :).