Interview With Manu Kumar, Head Of Marketing And Corporate Communications, Hero Electric - Digital Vidya

Interview With Manu Kumar, Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications, Hero Electric

Pradeep Chopra, Co-Founder at Digital Vidya: It may come as no surprise that the marketplace has become increasingly more digital as technology continues to evolve.

According to a GroupM report, in contrast to early predictions of about 50%, digital advertising made up 64.4% of all ad spending last year.

Given the dynamic nature of digital media, one needs to stay abreast with the latest updates on digital marketing to stay relevant and not be left behind.

Manu kumar

In this interview, I spoke with Manu Kumar from Hero Electric to present to you his views about the opportunity and the challenges thrown by digital marketing, one of the most dynamic industries, for both organizations and individuals.

In his more than 20 years of professional experience, Manu has been developing overall brand and communication strategies and implemented integrated marketing plans for blue chip Brands in E-commerce, Hospitality, IT & Telecom, Oil & Gas, FMCG, Automobile, BFSI, NGO, Education, and Entertainment Industries.

He currently heads Marketing and Corporate Communications for Hero Electric Vehicles. He has also worked with brands like Coke, Shell, Motorola, Channel V, MTV, Intel, Microsoft, Standard Chartered Bank, Gillette, Oxfam, Save the Children, Sony, ESPN, Yamaha, etc., and created and implemented 360-degree marketing programs for these clients.

 

When was the 1st time you experienced the power of Digital Marketing? What did you feel about Digital Marketing then?

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Manu: I experienced the power of Digital Marketing many years ago, first with Rediff.com, which I believe leveraged the power of the Internet and was the go-to site for everything digital at one point in time.

That portal gave people a chance to experience what can be done digitally and was a game changer. Rediff mail, chat, shopping, communities, etc. allowed both consumers as well as marketers to start engaging online.

I have been an early adopter and believer of Digital Marketing, and I felt that this could be something huge if Internet connectivity and bandwidth issues could be sorted out, from Dial-up to 5G Data we have come a long way.

Would you like to throw some light on the “a-ha” moments in your Digital Marketing journey up till now?

Manu: Some of the A-ha moments have been when in the early days of social media, we could reach out to millions of consumers and were able to interact with them via that medium in real-time, which not only gave immense power to the consumer but also to the brands to leverage that connect in so many ways, that remains the biggest A-ha moment for me, social media if used well, can be a game changer for any company as it gives us great insights of our consumers. 

Another moment of great learning for me was during the pandemic, when we quickly ramped up to take online bookings, initially, there was great skepticism if that will work, especially for a category that till very recently had been mainly an offline play.

The way consumers responded to our offerings during those trying times, was an eye-opener and also led us to believe that well-designed, easy-to-use, transparent online marketing will be successful.

What do you think is your greatest achievement in Digital Marketing to date?

Manu: To ramp up our online booking system during the pandemic and start generating leads and sales quickly was my and my team’s biggest achievement.

Also, training our dealers and helping them start their own digital channels during the pandemic through which they could reach out to their consumers was a special moment.

According to you, in what kind of situations, conventional marketing techniques (e.g. Newspaper/TV) are still valuable?

Manu: Conventional marketing allows you to reach a wide audience to build brand awareness, establish credibility and reach a diverse set of consumers.

TV still remains one of the most popular and cost-effective mediums for reaching out to a large pan-Indian audience. So, brands who want to reach out nationally, and build a strong credible brand, will always have traditional marketing techniques in their media mix.

Also, today, brands need to be omnipresent, so I believe, traditional media will always play an important role in brand building.

How do you think Digital Marketing for B2B is different from Digital Marketing for B2C?

Manu: B2B and B2C digital marketing differ in terms of their audiences and how they communicate to them.

While B2C marketing focuses on quick solutions, immediate sales, and enjoyable content, B2B marketing is more to do with building relationships, building thought leadership for your product and proving a product’s return on investment for a business customer. 

The major difference between digital marketing in B2B  versus B2C is how strategies and tactics are structured. The primary reason for this difference comes down to the audience’s role.

In B2B marketing, we communicate with people in their professional business roles, instead of their personal consumer roles. Most B2C marketing messages are aimed at the consumer’s personal lives. 

Tactics are built on sustaining and growing the brand perception and relationship as it relates to the consumer’s individual non-professional life. 

B2B digital marketing works on the rapid delivery of business-related information a prospect needs to accomplish their work. 

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

Manu:

  1. Not setting clear goals: You must have a clear understanding of your audience and the specific results you want to achieve. Knowing who is your ideal customer will ensure that your content resonates with their interests, pains, and problems. 
  2. Most Digital programs are broad and generic: Many businesses implement a digital strategy that is attempting to appeal to anyone and everyone. By doing this, you are most likely having just the opposite effect and deploying ineffective strategies. Need to target a specific set of audiences with specific creatives and campaigns.
  3. Not having a clear SEO strategy: Search is the first place where your audience discovers the brand, so having a robust SEO strategy in my opinion is a must, which organizations fail to do.

What do you recommend between outsourcing Digital Marketing to an Agency or doing it in-house?

Manu: A healthy mix of outsourcing and in-house is what I would like to recommend. There could be certain functions that you would like to outsource, like creatives, digital automation, etc. In-house teams should be involved with ORM, media buying, etc. 

Which are your favorite Digital Marketing channels/techniques (e.g. LinkedIn, SEO, Facebook Ads) and why?

Manu: I believe that each channel has its own benefits, and depending on the audience you are targeting, you may choose a mix of channels. However, I feel Facebook ads, YouTube, and SEO are giving us great results.

Why do you think most marketers bet heavily on “online advertising” as part of their digital marketing strategy? Do you think that the resource allocation including budget distribution between Online Ads and SEO/Organic is justified?

Manu: Because advertising is visible, hence marketers want to go for that, plus you can evaluate the effectiveness almost immediately.

Organic and SEO are a slow burn, but more effective, in my opinion, but social channels have made it very difficult to get any organic reach, as they want to monetize their platforms.

Organizations with a robust content strategy may not reap immediate benefits, but it will help in building your audiences and in the long run hugely beneficial for the brand.

What do you think is the role of technology in marketing in today’s world? Would you like to share any good examples in which technology is efficiently leveraged for the success of marketing?

Manu: Technology has completely changed how and what marketing is done today, and it is evolving on a daily basis. How we communicate with our audience, and how quickly we can reach out to all our stakeholders, is what technology has done.

Using Productivity software to reduce cost, time, and effort, and to improve customer service, are a few things that technology has enabled.

Mobile technologies have given a significant boost to efficiency and productivity because they allow users to complete a wide range of tasks from virtually any location.

It has become possible to have full office functionality on the go. This simply means that more gets done, also, our audiences are now always on mobile, and a huge amount of content is being consumed, hence imperative for marketers to be mobile-first, whether it’s content, creatives, and the UI/UX.

Do you recommend that freshers should consider “Digital Marketing” for building their career? What is your advice for newbies, who are looking at entering the Digital Marketing industry?

Manu: Absolutely, Digital marketing is a must for every fresher, in fact, I will go as far as saying, that every professional should have basic knowledge of Digital marketing, it will definitely help them in their career and life.

My advice would be to, understand the basics of marketing first, before going for Digital marketing, this will make them a better marketing professional, you need to understand the brand first, before marketing that brand whether online or offline.


What are the top skills (other than technical skills such as SEO/SEM) you look for when hiring a candidate for an entry-level role in Digital Marketing? 

Manu:

  1.  Communication Skills
  2.  Basic understanding of brand building
  3. Should be a constant learner and inquisitiveness

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?

I usually look up on Twitter, LinkedIn plus HubSpot Marketing blogs

How do you see Digital Marketing evolve in the future? What are the top trends you foresee for 2022-23?

Manu:

  1. Artificial Intelligence
  2. Seamless offline to online customer experience
  3. Voice Search
  4. Brands leverage user-generated content.

If you were given the power to make one change in the Digital Marketing industry today, what would you do?

Manu: I would include the basics of brand building in every course for Digital marketers. Also, communication skills are an absolute must.

Would you like to share a few words about the Digital Marketing education we are imparting at Digital Vidya?

Manu: Phenomenal work done by Digital Vidya, both in preparing students to take up careers in the online/digital industry and also in helping corporates. The building of that digital ecosystem for every stakeholder is the stellar work Digital Vidya has been doing for many years now.

Pradeep (to our readers): I hope you find the insights shared by Manu valuable. In case you have any questions for him or me, please post them in the comments section. 

If you are interested in exploring the opportunity of digital marketing for your career or business growth, do join us in our upcoming live online digital marketing orientation.

FREE MasterClass
Digital Marketing 101
Date: Dec 07 (Wed), 2022
Time: 3 - 4 PM (IST)
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