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Interview with Charandeep Singh Chawla, Head-Marketing, TVS Credit

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Interview with Charandeep Singh Chawla, Head-Marketing, TVS Credit

Pradeep Chopra, Co-Founder at Digital Vidya: Digital Marketing is a key part of any marketing approach. With increased Internet usage, nearly every company takes the digital route and shifts its marketing budget from traditional marketing to digital marketing strategies.

In this interview, I spoke to Charandeep Singh Chawla, to know his views about Digital Marketing and his approach towards Digital Marketing.

An Agri- Engineer by education and an astute marketer by profession, Charandeep has handled various positions in Sales, Marketing Strategy, Brand Management, CRM and Digital Marketing in his 15-year rich career. He currently heads the Marketing and CRM department at TVS Credit. He has steered several award-winning online and offline campaigns. His key strength lies in being able to strike the right balance between creative and analytical abilities. While a lot of online and offline campaigns which he has spear-headed have won coveted industry awards for their aesthetics and creativity, his focus on delivering key metrics for these campaigns has been equally firm.

Recently he led the re-imagining of the visual identity of TVS Credit brand in-line with the changing business model and focus of the company.

In his current profile, Digital Marketing is an important profile because of its two key objectives – to have a massive reach and engagement amongst the company’s TG and directly contribute to the business revenues.

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?

Charandeep: Our target consumers are spread all over India and we largely cater to customers in small towns and rural India, who are accessing formal credit for the first time. Although digital penetration in India is increasing exponentially day by day, we find that financial decisions are still being taken in the traditional way. Most of our customers take financial decisions at the Points of Sale(POS) like counters at dealerships after they choose the vehicle they would like to buy. Hence, influencing the customers at the POS and increasing the visibility and saliency of the brand at the dealership plays an important role in making our products stand out against the competition.

That being said, digital marketing acts as an important tool in helping a brand integrate itself in the value chain of the buying process.  Also, the opportunity that digital marketing offers, to measure the success of our campaigns directly, helps us instantly understand the outcome of our efforts, which is pretty difficult to predict with conventional marketing.

To answer the second part of the question, digital marketing and conventional marketing are definitely not a threat to each other. In fact, they complement each other. Some of the most successful campaigns that we have run are Integrated Marketing Campaigns, in which we used both digitals as well as offline mediums to create awareness about our products. For example, Magical Diwali campaign which we ran last year for Consumer Loans, was an Integrated Marketing Campaign, where our social media campaigns helped us increase the walk-ins of our customers at our dealer outlets.

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

Charandeep: 

Campaign 1: TVS Motor: Apache Owners Group: It is very interesting to see how TVS Motor has created a unique identity for the users of Apache and how they have created an elite club of riders – ultimately marketing the product. A very unique use of influencer marketing.

Campaign 2: #Notaroundroti campaign by Swiggy: This is a beautiful example of how customers are directly involved with the campaign of the brand and all the customers are recognised in a public platform for their contribution. It was done on Women’s Day, thus highly relevant as it worked on a sharp insight.

Campaign 3: Yes Bank’s Teachers’ Day Campaign: A very good way of awareness creation and using that to market one’s brand. Banking is often dreaded by customers as it is termed complex. Their campaign #SikhateRehna was a fun and engaging way to introduce banking to customers and letting them know that it is not actually complex. A very good idea executed exceptionally well.

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

Charandeep: 

Mistake 1: Companies often run behind vanity measures – such as likes, shares, re-tweets, etc. instead of actually focusing on aspects like the translation of the campaigns into business growth and ROI. While reach and engagement are also important to further the brand reach, I feel equal importance is often not given to business metrics associated with the campaigns.

Mistake 2: Many brands that I have seen tend to treat each campaign as an individual content piece and I feel a larger connect with the brand’s message is often missing in these campaigns. Content creation is not the core job of the brand. It is one of the many tools to further the brand identity.

Mistake 3: Not analysing campaigns that have performed well. Unlike conventional marketing, the data we get out of digital marketing campaigns is large, which is often not put to optimal use for analysis. A thorough analysis needs to be conducted after every campaign – successful or unsuccessful so as to identify what went right and what went wrong and learn from it.

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

Charandeep: This purely depends on the organisational goals and structure. I personally believe in having lean teams and engaging with agencies. In my experience, I have found that agencies bring to the table fresh ideas and always keep themselves updated about the new trends in the industry, which is a little difficult for an in-house resource to do given the range of things he or she will be handling. Hence, I feel working with agencies along with a lean in-house team works the best.

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

Charandeep: There are 4 things in particular.

(i) Getting the CEO’s buy-in and align the digital marketing goals with the larger company goals.

(ii) Our focus on ROI and business generated through our campaigns and not just vanity metrics also contributed to establishing relevance.

(iii) We ensure our colleagues outside of the marketing team also contribute to our social media posts. So, social media in our organisation is not just the marketing team’s focus, but of all the employees’.

(iv) As we developed employee-centric content buckets and strategy for our LinkedIn page, our colleagues no longer saw our social media pages as just a medium to communicate with the customers, but they realised that it was a platform for them to share their stories as well.

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

Charandeep: 

For Entrepreneurs: Digital Marketing is a channel which is going to keep expanding its reach. It is a cost-effective way to get the maximum reach and engagement with your existing and prospective customers. If put to good use, Digital Marketing can be a game-changer for many organisations.

For Professionals: With the increased focus on MarTech, digital is becoming the go-to platform for many brands for effectively communicating with the customers. Hence, it is very important for any professional and not just marketing professionals to know the basics of digital marketing.

For Students: If any student aspires for a career in marketing, it is important for them to learn digital marketing and keep themselves updated as Digital is one of the most important tools that companies are using to communicate with their customers. Not just for companies, but even for individuals, digital platforms offer a good way to build one’s own personal brand.

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

Charandeep:

Ability to read data: Digital marketing is a mix of creativity and data analysis. A successful digital marketer should have creative sensibilities and should also be comfortable working with data. Analysing your campaigns is the key to success in digital marketing.

Comfortable with changes: The digital world is extremely dynamic. It is important for a digital marketer to be aware of the latest trends, be comfortable and adapt to change.

Ability and attitude to review self: Ability to critically review one’s own work from time to time, campaign after campaign is a necessary skill.

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

Charandeep: Read a lot. Keep yourself updated with the latest trends and work on your personal brand. 

How do you stay updated on the latest trends in Digital Marketing? Which are the Digital Marketing resources (i.e. blogs/websites/apps)?

Charandeep:

(i) Read trend reports by organisations, like Hoot Suite, Adobe, Social Media Examiner to name a few.
(ii) I read a lot of digital marketing blogs and books.
(iii) I am part of digital marketing groups and forums where a lot of information gets shared.
(iv) I meet digital marketing vendors very often as they are aware of all the latest trends.

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

Charandeep: There are several brands that I admire for their work on social media. I guess all minds behind those campaigns are people I respect when it comes to Digital Marketing. 

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

Charandeep: 

Vernacular: According to a research there are approximately 300 million users who consume digital content in vernacular language and only about 175 million users consume digital content in English and this gap is going to widen in the coming years. There is huge untapped potential in this area and I feel brands which start actively publishing digital content in vernacular language will have an edge over those who don’t.

(Source: Businessworld.in – article on Role of vernacular content on Digital Marketing.)

Voice search: It is predicted that by 2020, almost 50% of the search volume will be voice-based and more so, 50% of the voice search performed is for information about deals, sales and promotions – this will also be an interesting trend to look forward to.

(Source: Quoracreative.com – Article on Voice Search)

Personalised communication to customers (usage of AI & analytics): Brands have been using AI and Analytics for recommendations and notifications for quite some time now. It will be interesting to see how they use it to create digital content that is customisable for an individual. One such interesting campaign was Swiggy’s email campaign for Valentine’s Day, where they sent personalised emails to customers.

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

Charandeep: Digital Vidya is doing some great work. Their courses are very relevant and interactive. I urge my team to brush up their knowledge and Digital Vidya is a good place to start.

Happy Learning!!!

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