Working with a content agency to scale up
For a large business house with multiple lines of activities, how important is content marketing? Considering that a big brand would be doing marketing at a scale, it is a challenge to maintain consistent brand communication. There are new technologies on the block, such as generative Artificial Intelligence, that hold the promise of content creation at speed and accuracy. — a perfect recipe for big companies. But is that so? What are the strengths that outsourcing brings to the field of quality content creation?
Divya Chakravarthy, Head of Marketing at Paytm Money, gets candid with us and shares detailed opinions on all of these relevant topics. For the records, Paytm is the largest homegrown payments platform in India.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
From your vantage point, how important is content in a large ecosystem like Paytm?
I believe that content is the foundation of everything. As a company, we may run numerous ads and campaigns to acquire and assist users, but if people don't understand what our platform is all about and how to use it, we will fail. Whether it's Paytm or any other ecosystem, content plays a crucial role.
It's fascinating to see that despite Paytm being a well-known brand and the first one to introduce homegrown payments, many people are still unaware of its features. We could have groundbreaking features, but if we don't communicate them effectively and educate people on how to use them, we won't succeed. Hence, I firmly believe that the base of any company should be content.
As a content creator and a brand marketer, how do you ensure consistency of communication?
I believe that having a clear brand identity is crucial for any company, regardless of its size or structure. It's important to establish what the company stands for and what its core values are. This serves as a guide for all subsidiaries and offerings, ensuring that everyone is aligned with the brand's mission and goals.
While subsidiaries may have their unique offerings, it's the responsibility of the parent brand to make sure that they stay within the established guardrails. For Paytm, trust is a core value that needs to be carried through by all subsidiaries. However, how this value is translated may vary depending on the subsidiary's offerings. For instance, the tone used when talking about financial services would differ from that used when discussing games.
While the way a brand is represented may vary between subsidiaries, the core identity of the brand should remain consistent. This is critical in establishing trust and a strong relationship with customers.
What is your perspective on coordinating with external resources like freelance content writers, agencies, and platforms like Pepper Content for end-to-end content marketing?
I believe that when working with external agencies or content writers, it is important to take the time to understand each other. It's unrealistic to expect them to produce high-quality work without any lead time or understanding of what I want. In my experience, it takes at least three months for an agency and a brand to be on the same wavelength and produce great work together.
As someone in the financial services domain, I know that there's a common assumption that finance is boring and lacks creativity. However, I strongly disagree. It's all about finding the right storytelling approach to simplify complex information and make it digestible for the audience. That's why I believe that working with an external partner who truly understands my brand and domain is crucial. Ultimately, having a partner who acts as a sounding board and keeps me true to my brand is more important than simply delivering content on demand.
How do you tackle inconsistency that is an aftermath of creating content at a scale?
As someone who has worked on creating and managing brand content, I believe that having a single person as a filter or custodian for the brand is crucial. While it may not be possible for one person to write all the content, having a filter ensures that everything going out aligns with the brand's values and messaging.
However, depending on the volume of content, it may make sense to have a team of two or three people who are all on the same page. Additionally, clear and specific briefings are essential to avoiding miscommunication and ensuring that the correct message is conveyed.
In my experience, having a brand manual is critical for any brand. It establishes the do's and don'ts and defines what the brand wants to be seen as. Without a brand manual, a large company with multiple brands can become disjointed and all over the place. Starting with a brand manual before even writing content is crucial.
I believe that defining what shouldn't be done is just as important as defining what should be done. This approach ensures that content stays within the brand's guidelines and values, preventing any missteps or mistakes
What is your opinion on the role of AI-enabled systems in the content creation space?
I find AI-generated content extremely interesting and exciting. It shows a lot of potential for marketers and content writers. However, one thing we should never do as content creators is underestimate our users or assume that they are not aware of what's happening out there. Even though they value content and help, they are discerning enough to know when they are talking to a machine and not a human being. We need to strike a balance between using AI-generated content to ease the workload while still maintaining a personal aspect of the communication.
Making users feel valued and important is crucial. We don't want them to feel like they are not significant enough for us to spend time and resources addressing their needs. This balance is tricky, and we need to find ways to make them feel that we are there to help them while using AI-generated content to make our work easier.
The analogy I would use is the IVR system. Initially, people found it frustrating and hard to use. But as time progressed, people realized that they could get their issues resolved faster without having to talk to a human. It's a generational shift, and as more people get used to the idea of automated systems providing content and help, the more accepting they will become.
However, it doesn't mean that we can deploy an AI-generated content system and disappear. It's not a plug-and-play solution. We need to continually monitor the user experience, conduct research, and understand what our users want. Any company that fails to do this risks losing out on understanding where to strike that balance.
People think that marketing or content creation is only about writing good content, but that's only the tip of the iceberg. The amount of research, analytics, and numbers that go into it is significant. Without this information, any marketing campaign will fall flat.
What kind of benefits do you find while engaging with an external content creation platform or an agency?
As a business owner, I find it helpful to work with a content marketing agency in certain areas. One reason is to have access to a wider range of creativity and ideas. While my team may hit a roadblock on a particular topic, an agency can bring in multiple brains to offer different opinions and solutions. Additionally, having an agency on board means I can scale my content marketing efforts without having to rely solely on my internal team.
Another benefit of working with an agency is its expertise. If I want to try something new but lack the necessary skill set, an agency can provide me with access to an expert who can test out the idea and tell me whether it's worth investing in. An agency's experience also means they've likely tested various platforms and formats, reducing my learning curve and saving me time and resources.
Another reason why I would work with an agency is to scale up my content production. While I might have a team of writers and marketers, there may come a time when we need additional support to meet a deadline or tackle a large project.
I see agencies as a way to reduce experimentation and gain quicker access to proven best practices. By working with an agency, I can tap into their expertise, creativity, and scale while maintaining control over my content marketing strategy.
When it comes to comfort level, what is the comparison between an in-house editing team and an outsourcing partner?
As a brand manager, I feel that having an in-house team gives me more control over the content and the quality of work produced. With an internal team, I have the luxury of going through multiple revisions and coaching my team to produce high-quality work.
However, I also understand that agencies can bring a fresh perspective and creative ideas to the table. With an agency, I can expect a variety of opinions and expertise from different individuals, which can lead to more innovative solutions. Additionally, agencies have experience working with multiple brands in the same space, allowing them to have a shorter learning curve and provide best practices.
I believe that both in-house teams and agencies have their pros and cons. As a brand manager, I need to carefully evaluate the specific needs of my brand and choose the best option that will result in high-quality work and a strong partnership.
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