Akashdeep Singhal

Head of Marketing at Jar App

Growth Hacks and Memorable Campaigns For Bharat With Akashdeep Singhal

In today's marketing world, growth hacks and marketing campaigns play a crucial role in driving brand awareness, customer engagement, and business growth. Growth hacks are innovative strategies that leverage creativity and technology to achieve rapid and cost-effective expansion.

They allow businesses to stand out in a competitive landscape and attract a larger audience. On the other hand, well-executed marketing campaigns create memorable experiences for consumers, generate buzz around the brand, and drive customer acquisition and retention.

In this conversation, Rishabh Shekhar, COO and Co-Founder of Pepper Content is joined by Akashdeep Singhal, Head of Marketing at Jar App where they discuss all this and much more.

Embark on an exhilarating ride filled with entrepreneurial spirit, innovative marketing strategies, and a passion for connecting with audiences.

Here are some excerpts.

1. Please tell us about your journey so far.

Sure, my journey has been quite adventurous and unconventional. I started as a mechanical engineer and later ventured into marine engineering. I soon realized that I wasn't cut out for the typical corporate path and always felt the entrepreneur bug within me. In 2011, at the age of 22, I started my first small venture in the food delivery space. It was followed by theme-based cafes in different cities, where I learned valuable lessons about business and marketing on a limited budget.

Then, my interest shifted toward mobility, and I co-founded a scooter rental company called On Bikes. We focused on profitability and had to be innovative to acquire users without significant VC funding. This taught me the importance of organic growth, brand loyalty, and referrals.

Afterward, I joined Bounce, a rapidly growing mobility startup, where I experienced the dynamics of marketing with substantial funding at hand. However, I also understood the difference in marketing strategies when your product is a necessity versus a luxury. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit, and the mobility sector took a significant hit.

During the pandemic, I started consulting for various startups, including JAR, a fintech company focused on serving the middle India segment with savings and micro-gold investments. I was fascinated by the opportunity to learn about the psyche of this audience and help build the marketing team from scratch. Today, I continue to thrive in this challenging yet fulfilling space, understanding the unique needs of Bharat and serving them with valuable financial solutions.

2. What made you choose marketing as a career path?

Marketing chose me, in a way. As an entrepreneur, I was always intrigued by the power of communication and the art of selling. Whether it was promoting my food delivery venture or running theme-based cafes, I realized the vital role marketing played in attracting customers and creating brand loyalty.

I've always believed that I'm good at selling and talking. Being an ex-founder helped as I had experience in various sectors, which proved beneficial when running a small company.

My entrepreneurial journey taught me the value of innovation, especially when resources are limited. I enjoyed experimenting with different marketing strategies to acquire users and build a brand on a shoestring budget. It was a challenging yet rewarding experience, and it cemented my passion for marketing.

Being at the crossroads of business and marketing allows me to merge my analytical skills with creativity, and I find immense joy in observing how my marketing efforts translate into real-life actions and consumer interactions. That's what ultimately made marketing my chosen career path.

3. Can you share a growth hack or a successful marketing campaign from your early days as an entrepreneur?

In the early days of ONN Bikes, we implemented a couple of growth hacks that significantly impacted our success. For our theme-based cafe, "House of Quotes," we leveraged my interest in writing and love for celebrity quotes. We sold merchandise like t-shirts and photo frames adorned with inspiring quotes. This unique approach attracted both customers who came for the food and ended up making purchases, as well as merchandise shoppers who stayed for a meal.

This crossover of audiences brought more footfall to the cafe and increased sales, making us realize the power of combining diverse interests to create a memorable experience.

In the bike rental industry, direct selling wouldn't work effectively, so we focused on building a community of genuine travelers and riders. Unlike influencers who travel just for sharing content, we aimed to bring together passionate travelers who had authentic journeys to share.

By fostering a community of like-minded individuals, we created an aspirational appeal for our brand. People admired the travelers who had embarked on incredible journeys and wanted to experience such adventures themselves.

This organic growth through a passionate community not only elevated our business but also positioned On Bikes as a brand that resonated with adventure and exploration.

4. How do you view the marketing stack, considering the underlying machinery of tools and technology?

When it comes to the marketing stack and the underlying machinery of tools and technology, I find the aspect of brand positioning and pricing strategies particularly intriguing.

Understanding why certain products or services can be sold at higher prices than others with similar production costs fascinates me from a marketing perspective. As for the tools, while I believe that Excel sheets can still be effective for smaller campaigns, larger-scale marketing efforts demand specialized tools.

These include attribution and fraud detection tools for tracking user journeys, retention and customer journey tools, and cloud-based tools for data analysis and visualization.

In my experience, I encourage marketers to be adept at using these tools themselves rather than solely relying on others. Understanding the tools helps in capturing and interpreting large amounts of data and aids in making informed marketing decisions.

Personally, I and my team utilize these tools actively to enhance our marketing efforts, and I believe that every marketer should be well-versed in using them effectively. While some tools, like social media scheduling, might not be as crucial in today's real-time content creation world, others play a vital role in optimizing campaigns and improving customer experiences.

5. Let's discuss your successful campaign, "Bachao Jar App Pe." What was the thought process behind it?

The "Bachao Jar App Pe" campaign was a resounding success for us, but like any campaign, we couldn't predict its success beforehand. Our goal was to create content that stood out and generated curiosity about our fintech company, which was relatively new and needed to build trust with users. We decided to flip the narrative and make the antagonist the protagonist in our campaign to capture attention and create top-of-mind awareness.

Choosing Nana Patekar, Divendu Sharma, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the stars of the ads was strategic. Nana Patekar appealed to an older audience, Divendu Sharma to the younger generation, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui was a universally popular actor. We recreated iconic movie scenes in the ads, making them entertaining and meme-worthy. By entertaining our audience, we aimed to make our brand memorable and avoid a direct educational approach.

The campaign's success was evident in the number of memes and references it generated, contributing to the overall buzz around the brand. Our why was clear—to make noise and entertain, and we focused on how to achieve that goal. As a result, the campaign not only increased brand recall but also drove curiosity and organic searches, initiating the user's journey toward our product.

6. How do you build conviction when taking risks in marketing, especially for a new startup?

Building conviction when taking risks in marketing, especially for a new startup, is a collective effort. The team's conviction comes from having a clear understanding of the product and what they are trying to achieve.

In our case, the why behind the campaign was crystal clear, and everyone was in sync with the business teams and founders. While we couldn't guarantee the success of the campaign, we were committed to the idea and the objective we wanted to achieve.

It's essential to be realistic about expectations and not get carried away by the short-term dopamine rush of virality. Instead, we had a well-thought-out one-year plan, and we understood that some things might work while others might not. We kept our leaders informed about the progress and results, and despite some unsuccessful campaigns, the successful ones made a significant impact.

The key is to keep experimenting, learning from both successes and failures and staying aligned with the company's overall goals.

7. How is AI transforming marketing, and do you think it's overrated?

AI is undoubtedly transforming marketing and offering valuable benefits. It saves time, aids in better research, and enables scaling content production. It also provides a useful benchmark for initial ideation.

However, I believe that the current hype around AI might be a bit overrated. While it serves as a powerful assistant and enhances content generation, it cannot replace the value of human intelligence and experience in creating relatable and valuable content.

For certain types of content, AI can be effective, like creating lists or summarizing information. However, when it comes to personal experiences, opinions, and insights, the human touch remains irreplaceable.

Consumers can often distinguish between content created by AI and that produced by humans. As marketers, we should use AI as a tool to complement our efforts and amplify productivity, but we must recognize that the true value lies in the unique perspectives and expertise that human intelligence brings to the table.

8. What makes content creation for Bharat unique?

Content creation for the diverse audience in India is unique because it requires a deep understanding of the users and their specific needs.

To effectively cater to a diverse audience, marketers must stick to the basics and approach content creation with empathy towards the users.

This means interacting with users more frequently to gain insights into their preferences and packaging the content accordingly.

In India, content and product strategies for the top 2-3% of the population are well-established, but there is no one-size-fits-all playbook for the rest of the population, often referred to as "Bharat." Avoiding the common misconception of going excessively "desi" for tier 2 and tier 3 audiences, marketers need to experiment and find the right approach for their brand and product.

Personalization and building trust become crucial, especially for audiences who have never used fintech platforms before. By speaking to users in a personalized tone and guiding them throughout their journey, brands can establish trust and foster a positive user experience, no matter the language or region.

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