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Interview with Vishwas Anand, Content Marketing & Communications Lead, Infosys Knowledge Institute

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Interview with Vishwas Anand, Content Marketing & Communications Lead, Infosys Knowledge Institute

Pradeep Chopra, Co-Founder at Digital Vidya: Content marketing is the backbone of the most successful Digital Marketing campaigns. Behind any great brand, there is a lot of useful and important content that really interacts with the audience.

The benefits of content marketing are not only limited to attracting viewers and generating revenue, but there are also some other benefits that can not be measured in terms of monetary benefits. Content Marketing’s growth has been rapid, showing no signs of stopping.

In this interview, I spoke to Vishwas Anand, to know his views about Content Marketing & how has he explored the Content Marketing domain.

In his current role, Vishwas serves as Content Marketing and Communications Lead at Infosys Knowledge Institute (IKI), the research and thought leadership arm of Infosys. They help industry leaders to develop a deeper understanding of business and technology through compelling thought leadership. They have researchers and subject matter experts who provide a fact base that aids decision making on critical business and technology issues. This unit is Nandan Nilekani’s brainchild and was set up in 2018. He had the opportunity to join in February 2019 as one of the early members of the team.

As they scale thought leadership production across Infosys’ horizontals and verticals, reach and amplification become huge factors to build awareness and engagement with their target audience. Content Marketing is imperative so that they grow this sub-brand with the right direction and ammunition. They want to go up the content marketing maturity curve and realize ROI consistently.

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

Vishwas Anand: I started off as a software engineer in my first firm, Aditi Technologies (now Samsung Electronics). I had no professional background in computer science as I majored in electrical and electronics engineering.

Hence, when I got into coding, I was blown away by digital technologies but tried to learn as much as I could technically. However, this did not feed my passion for creativity.

I had the creative flair for writing and research-oriented mindset but couldn’t get into a marketing role that I craved for then as they didn’t have any suitable opening.

I decided, the only way into marketing was to do an MBA and this was one of the best decisions of my life. Soon after my MBA from IIM-Kozhikode, I joined a mid-tier IT services firm, Aspire Systems. I appealed to the management to create a content marketing and thought leadership unit as there was a lot of clutter and noise in the landscape.

The CEO and Marketing Director agreed to let me build a thought leadership content team from the ground up. I led a team of research analysts and scaled this unit to oversee around 700 thought leadership assets with good results.

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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?

Vishwas Anand: Today, more than conventional marketing or digital marketing working independently, I believe in the value of integrated marketing campaigns. Hence, the advantage lies really in the right blend of conventional and digital marketing with a multi-disciplinary model of functioning.

However, companies have often focused on the hype of digital marketing without really understanding how to embed conventional marketing techniques into their strategy. The key is to bring in elements of both for interactive engagement resulting in ROI.

Apple is a classic example of bringing together this integrated strategy to customers with innovative digital designs and appealing physical storefronts. Traditional forms of marketing can always be used as a secret weapon to reinforce the brand image that digital creates through lower barriers of entry.

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

Vishwas Anand: Content Marketing for B2B is often a harder game to play – and win — especially because of the senior executive connect and engagement one needs to establish.

Too often, B2B Marketers don’t have a documented content strategy to target their customer segments and also fail to test their approaches adequately before reaching out, leading to low conversion rates.

Content Marketing for B2C requires a lot more creativity to win consumers, chiefly when the competition is high to woo consumers through their brand narratives. When brands get closer to their customers, it’s important to keep their ears to the ground to effectively understand what works and build hyper-personalized experiences.

This is where B2C content marketing has an advantage, particularly when the customer data is high and the experiential value offered by the service or product is high. Take a look at this 2*2 matrix I created:

Content Marketing for B2B & B2C

Content Marketing for B2B & B2C Source – Vishwas Anand

Content Marketing for B2B traditionally hasn’t really been able to capture data and further glean deep insights from customers. Even if they do, information flow doesn’t seamlessly happen as between client-facing departments and those capturing such interactions.

Hence, even though the experiential value of products could be high, B2B will still take a long time to get the right customer narratives and build hyper-personalized experiences that are possible in a B2C context.

Please note that the figure only explores a higher probability of customization or hyper-personalization that can apply to a B2B and B2C industry respectively. It doesn’t necessarily reflect the current reality that differs by company maturity to build experiential value or capture customer data.

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

Vishwas Anand:  One of the “a-ha” moments was when I was invited to a Conclave for Principals: Balancing Purpose and Technology organized by my former IIM Professor JeyaVelu (now Dean of VIT-AP School of Business) to address over 100 School Principals. I spoke on the topic “Amplifying the Human Potential in the Age of AI” among stalwarts like Dr. Indira Parekh (ex-Dean of IIM- Ahmedabad), IAS Officer Dr. A. Ashok (Commissioner of Intermediate Board Telangana State)and others.

I used my 3A content model of Authenticity, Accuracy, and Agility to explain how AI can be used in designing school curriculums. I had used it before in other contexts as well. In the Q&A session, one of the school Principals actually asked the IAS officer to implement this model for schools across the state.

This was gratifying and an “aha-moment” that my IP can be democratized to suit the need of different target audiences. When I came up with my 3A content model, I would never have guessed it could be used in the education sector to help students for a better tomorrow.

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

Vishwas Anand: My biggest achievement to date is getting recognized as one of the Top 13 Content Moguls across the JAPAC region including Japan, Australia, and New Zealand by Content Marketing Summit Asia 2019, the largest Content Marketing Summit across the region. Out of the 50 that were shortlisted for the award, only 13 were chosen by a global jury based on a rigid evaluation criterion. It felt surreal to be felicitated as one of the leading content marketing practitioners in the region.

According to you, what are the top 2- 3 mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging Content Marketing?

Vishwas Anand: In my view, focusing on short-term results sets a dangerous precedent while organizations are setting content marketing strategies. It would make them measure the wrong results: vanity metrics like raw page views only to justify to senior management that their content marketing programs are working.

The question is: How many of those page views are unique visitors from your target audience? Furthermore, organizations could treat content marketing as an ad hoc discipline only meant to serve sales and don’t cater to the whole funnel right from awareness through the consideration and finally, conversion. Focusing on only one part of the funnel isn’t really going to pay dividends in the long run. 

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Which are your favorite Content Marketing Tools?

Vishwas Anand: A simple excel spreadsheet works well for me J Tools that are meant to increase productivity are fine but an over-obsession with tools won’t help in acing content marketing. It would only make someone a follower of a leading trend. I’m passionate about amplifying evergreen content to promote thought leadership.

How do you see Digital Media, specifically Content Marketing evolve in the future? What are the top trends do you foresee for 2020?

Vishwas Anand: I really see voice and videos making a bigger impact in the future. While videos have been popular for a while now, I see the great potential in podcasts that is largely untapped today, especially in India. According to the Infinite Dial 2019 research, there are an estimated 90 million active monthly podcast listeners. I foresee this as a trend that organizations will take to in 2020.

An update from us is that the Infosys Knowledge Institute (IKI) has joined the podcast world. Jeff Kavanaugh, Infosys Vice President and Head of the Infosys Knowledge Institute, talks with experts on business trends, concepts, and insights. Do check us out on Spotify, Apple, Google Podcasts, SoundCloud or any other channel by searching for “Infosys Knowledge Institute”. Subscribe, listen, learn and share.

Do this for any of your favorite podcasts as it would only enrich your knowledge and help build a human connect with different brands. This will also help you understand the nuances of creating a podcast and develop a deeper relationship with your customers.

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

Vishwas Anand:  If you’re passionate about writing, with a creative bent of mind and a strong analytical or research background, you can go places in content marketing. One piece of advice I’d give is not to let“content dissonance” govern you in the early stages.

I define content dissonance when content producers lose their passion and purpose while creating content. They become victims of pandering to short-term goals that I explained before. Such producers lose the charm of promoting thought leadership and create sensationalized messages to drive audiences to products and services that don’t solve their audience’s problems. This is a waste of time and budget set aside for content marketing — and more dangerously — destroys brand credibility.

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

Vishwas Anand: Content Marketing Institute is definitely a go-to-resource for me. I love the way they convey the importance of content marketing through various assets. Apart from this, I also read MarketingProfs, BuzzSumo, Kapost, Copyblogger among others.

You led the webinar ‘Building Your Brand with Content”. How was your experience in leading the webinar?

Vishwas Anand: I enjoyed leading the webinar as a zealous audience always motivates me to share new ideas, fully aware that it would be received in the spirit that it was delivered, and quite often challenged with equal fervor. There were lots of interesting questions in this webinar and I felt happy to help content marketers discover and rediscover their passion for content marketing.

Please share the top 3-5 takeaways from the Webinar you led for our community.

Vishwas Anand: Here are the top 3 takeaways from my webinar:

(i) Content Marketing amidst content saturation: quality over quantity

(ii) Building your brand with content worthiness: what brands can learn from content marketing failures?

(iii) Key tenets of a 3A customer-centric brand strategy to build “True Content Power”

Do you have any suggestions for us to further increase the value of our Digital Marketing Webinars?

Vishwas Anand: You guys are doing a great job already. One suggestion is to probably filter important questions from participants and have more senior marketing executives attend the webinars. This will help improve the quality of discussion at the end, with more brainstorming on implementation.

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

Vishwas Anand: Digital Vidya is doing a great job in training a large number of global digital marketing and data science enthusiasts, and help them create value for their organizations. Learnability is vastly underrated today from our recent Talent Radar research findings. Upskilling and reskilling is an important part of an organization’s talent transformation agenda and Digital Vidya is a great platform to enable this journey.

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