What makes a good marketer?

Taking a cue from what Rudyard Kipling wrote way back in 1895, in his poem ‘If’ – “If you can keep your head when all about you, are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too.”, I’d say a good marketer is one who navigates successfully through the distraction and dilution that exists in the market environment today.

I believe the basics of being a good marketer will never change. Growth and profitability, returning customers, motivated employees and a solid reputation will always be imperative. It is true that marketers today need to plan for, and manage a multitude of mediums – online and offline, the principles, however, don’t change. Spend twenty minutes with a big data, social media or google analytics expert, and chances are you will get overwhelmed with terminology that’s thrown at you. The key here is to zoom-out, sit back and look at the macro-level picture. Only once this is sorted, is when marketing plans, advertising and media buying, etc. must kick-in. Chasing short-term profit through discounted selling, Facebook likes generated by bots and meme-based creative advertising are the tools a marketer cannot always use. Tactical campaigns are great, but when everyone in the market starts monkeying around, customers lose trust and brands lose face.

I strongly believe cross-industry experience helps. There are great insights to be gained from across the board. Also, nothing beats the power of knowing the ‘locale’. Case studies do not always help and no one can beat a marketer who shares a beer with the kitchen staff of the restaurant he’s working for. Know your product, and know it well. Know the brand owner, and know him better.

Where do you think marketing is headed?

It is difficult to get customers today, and it’s much more complicated to keep them. Technology has a pivotal role to play, however – still not the biggest. I would say positioning is still the most important aspect marketers must identify and define (the earlier the better) as part of the brand journey. Competition today is not just because of better products or pricing, it is also because of commoditisation of literally every product and service, better platforms of sale, speed of delivery and customer engagement. Our volatile socioeconomic environment is not making things any easier.

I could touch the touchy “old school – new school” debate but why start a controversy. My personal summation here – I revere marketers who have spent decades creating great brands. Tech may have fogged their vision today and the coming times will be no better. The ones with an accurate brand positioning map, though, will navigate through, and come out stronger.

Also, marketing is an enabler, an enabler of social change. We see so many campaigns based on upliftment, empowerment and equality – they’re all helping fight the subjugation we’ve seen in the fabric of our social and familial system, over many centuries. Brands may be using social messaging for their own selfish reasons, but there’s no harm done if the message is right. For marketers who work with truly respectable brands, there was no better time to bring about a change. The internet and electronic media provide limitless amplification, we must, however, use it only for righteous messaging.

How does one use technology to further their sale?

Every touchpoint a brand owns will eventually be linked via technology. Optimal use of technology is required all through the product design and sale life cycle. From development of the right product to probing and reaching out to potential customers, to the actual transaction, delivery, feedback and referral, tech is taking over all facets of the buyer-seller Rubik’s cube. Not to miss how tech has contributed to tracking user behaviour and visitor profiling. Metaphorically speaking – cookies and cache have turned us into spies – it’s unbelievable how closely we now follow prospects and then deliver highly customised content – all for their ‘sale’, not for their ‘sake’.

The universal objective of tech is an increase in output, reduction in cost, performance assurance, and ease of use. These objectives can be attributed to all industries – and so can their success. Get tech right and sales will grow, get tech wrong and sales will ‘go’ – welcome to La-La Land.

How can a company succeed in being high-tech and high-touch?

There is no other option, they’re both important. The degree of how much high-tech or high-touch you need to be, however – depends on the nature of your business. A B2B brand may need to be medium-high on the tech side, and also provide high levels of service support (literally meaning – in person support as and when required, dedicated account managers et al.). A B2C brand may need to focus the best of their efforts into online engagement and selling only. Product support and feedback mechanisms may only fall in the mid-level bracket. Employer branding, though, here, will need to fall into the high-touch bracket. This combination varies for every brand – and it’ll help to work on defining this now, more than ever.  “The Times They Are A-Changin’”

A technology that you foresee as being useful to a marketer of the future

I’ll answer this on a lighter note. Over the last ten years, we’ve had enough, and we’re overwhelmed already. Create technology that saves brand owners from the zombification of chasing ‘followers’, and one that sways marketers away from the spell-casting of analytical terminology. Give us tech that helps us stay true to values that really matter to customers. Amen.

Profile: Chirag is an airline, hospitality and travel marketing expert. He currently heads marketing for UNIGLOBE ATB, prior to which he was head of marketing at the Australia-born Flight Centre Travel Group Limited’s India businesses. He also briefly served as the Regional Marketing Manager, India with Hilton Worldwide, and worked as a Marketing Associate with HVS. Chirag started his career with Virgin Atlantic Airways, where he shared a drink with Sir Richard Branson. When not performing the duties of a 9 to 6 job, he loves to converse with his wife Shikha, a social media consultant with the Government of India, about blue-sky thinking related to education, business and family.


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