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Interview with Calvin John, Director-Marketing, OnMobile

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Interview with Calvin John, Director-Marketing, OnMobile

Pradeep Chopra, Co-Founder at Digital Vidya: Digital Marketing is a core component of any marketing strategy. With an increase in the use of the Internet, almost every business is taking the digital path and shifting their marketing budget from traditional marketing to Digital Marketing strategies.

In this interview, I spoke to Calvin John, to know his views about Digital Marketing and his approach towards Digital Marketing.

Over the last 17 years, Calvin has nurtured brands, created new and innovative products, launched digital business channels & made brands come alive in the marketplace. His learning has been enriched by perspectives gained through working across different categories (food, laundry, alco-beverages, lifestyle retail, eCommerce & mobile entertainment) and across Asia (GCC, SAARC, ASEAN & India) with leading organizations like Hindustan Unilever Limited, Titan Industries Ltd., United Spirits Ltd.(now Diageo), CaratLane & OnMobile Global Ltd. 

Currently, he is leading a global marketing team of 21, across brand, corporate communications, digital marketing and content production studio.

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?

Calvin John: Both conventional and digital marketing have their unique strengths and need to be leveraged for those strengths by a marketeer.

As of today one of the biggest advantages of conventional marketing over digital marketing is the credibility conventional mediums lend the brand, the reach and the economics of that reach. Having said that, it depends on the product category, size and ambition of your business.

If you are an FMCG, a national retail chain or a horizontal ecommerce platform for whom reach is critical. The above would be true. If you are an online start-up, local business or a niche product category you are likely to see more value in digital marketing.

Digital Marketing is here to stay and offers many advantages over conventional marketing across the consumer journey. Some statistics published by popular industry reports of 2018 show that Digital continues to grow in higher double digits as compared to conventional mediums who are growing at lower double-digits or in single digits. Its been a trend for the past couple of years now.

It is imminent that with the growing penetration and access to smartphones, cheaper data and better technology infrastructure like 5G, Digital Marketing will emerge to be a critical tool for every future marketeer.

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

Calvin John:

1. Tanishq over the years has been successful at consistently leveraging traditional communication mediums, retail store facades & VM, webstore front and digital assets (POEM) to drive home its strong and powerful brand messages in a fully integrated manner.

2. Since its inception CaratLane, a truly omnichannel brand has strived to deliver a unified and seamless experience for consumers to interact with the brand.

3. Apple does a fantastic job of consistently offering, integrated marketing strategy combining beautifully designed storefronts with an online business, both matching the design of the other. The consistency across channels is recognizable and comforting. So walking down the street, you know what it is, and when you go online, you know where you’re going?

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

Calvin John:

Structures leading to fractured experiences: The way we are structured as marketing organizations,  the way we plan and execute those plans are all fractured and not frictionless, not aligned to the way the consumer runs through her journey from curiosity, awareness, engagement, trial, LTV and so on.

If we don’t understand their needs at any given point of their journey, then the experiences and value props we deliver to her will be limited or fractured.

Digital Marketing as a short term campaign: Today most digital marketing efforts are a very push, a very time-bound campaign mindset. This needs a fundamental shift for Digital Marketing to become an always-on system of engagement that is continuously learning, listening, interpreting those signals of consumer behaviour and tying it back by building communication messaging that is channel-agnostic.

Not having a NorthStar Metric for the entire Marketing organization: Marketing organizations need to make the definition of success and KPI’s consistent across, irrespective of the channel and where you sit.

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

Calvin John: A lot would depend on the stage of the organization. In an early-stage start-up environment, an in-house team is recommended.

In an ideal situation, I would recommend a combination of an Agency and an in-house team to derive the maximum value of your digital marketing efforts. An agency brings in resources with a diverse and strategic perspective which is valuable, while the in-house team is fully aligned to the company’s vision, mission and understands the brand goals and immediate priorities.

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

Calvin John: Given our key products in the mobile entertainment space, across Tones, Videos, Games & Contests are digital in nature, be it Apps, PWA, Web portals, we appreciate the importance of digital marketing and its ability to precisely target, segment, engage, build loyalty and deliver seamless experiences.

To add to this statistics from industry reports and case studies guides our digital marketing approach.

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

Calvin John:

1. Digital marketing can be a huge competitive advantage for entrepreneurs and will give them consumer insights to grow and accelerate your business.

2. It can broaden your career scope and open newer opportunities for professionals and students.

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

Calvin John: I look for the following when evaluating a candidate for digital marketing:

1. The ability to smile & have a great attitude

2. The flexibility to change & adapt

3. The hunger to learn & stay up to date

4. The desire to know above everyone else

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

Calvin John: My advice for newbies aspiring the build a career in digital marketing – ‘Be curious & Be creative.’ 

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?

Calvin John: Given my daily travel time of 2 hours, I have adopted a concept called ‘Travel University’, wherein I utilize that unavoidable travel time to learn and keep abreast of the latest trends. The mode of learning is auditory, using a podcast, audiobooks and interviews. In addition, I also keep myself up to date on latest digital trends through twitter, blogs, articles, whitepapers, keynotes. 

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

Calvin John: There are so many, it would be unfair to name a few.

How do you see Digital Media evolving in future? What are the top 3 trends do you foresee for 2019?

Calvin John: The future is digital media is bright. Digital media will only evolve further with the advent of 5G & IoT. It’s an exciting and challenging time to be a digital marketer.

The three V’s of digital marketing in India – Voice, video and vernacular content will redefine consumption patterns and impact brand and business results.

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

Calvin John: As the digital landscape evolves, the skills and competencies required to make sense of and manoeuvre through the ever-evolving digital landscape will be a constant need. I’m glad that Digital Vidya is on a mission to build and develop the required skills and competencies, which will define the future of how well organizations and brands leverage the digital landscape to deliver seamless customer experiences.

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