Ankur Badonia

Senior Brand Manager - Chocolates at ITC Limited

Ankur Badonia on AI-Driven Marketing: Evolving Content and Agencies

This interview with Ankur Badonia, Senior Brand Manager - Chocolates at ITC Limited will help readers gain insights into various aspects of marketing, including the impact of AI on the industry, the trend of brands adopting personalized and humanized content, strategies for expanding into new channels, and the elements that define great content. The discussions cover the importance of relevance, resonance, and remarkability in content creation and how brands can leverage AI and data-driven insights to optimize marketing efforts. Additionally, readers will learn about the challenges and opportunities of adopting an omnichannel approach, ensuring a cohesive brand experience across different platforms. The overall aim is to provide a comprehensive overview of key marketing trends and strategies that will help marketers stay relevant and competitive in the dynamic marketing landscape.

  1. Can you tell us about your transition from operations to marketing and your experience working with product development and marketing teams?

The transition from operations to marketing was a significant turning point in my career journey. Before I moved into marketing, I had the opportunity to work on a fascinating project involving the launch of around 10 new products in the confectionery space. This was a pivotal moment that sparked my interest in marketing and made me realize that it was an area I wanted to explore further.

During this project, we adopted a strategic approach to product launches. We started by conducting pilot launches in specific geographies, carefully studying the market response and consumer feedback. Based on the results, we fine-tuned the products and then expanded them to broader markets. This iterative process allowed us to gather valuable insights and ensure that the products met the consumers' preferences and demands.

One of the most exciting aspects of this project was working with a cross-functional team. It brought together professionals from product development, marketing, operations, and other areas, each contributing their expertise to the project. This collaborative effort allowed us to leverage diverse perspectives and pool our collective knowledge to make informed decisions. Through this project, I gained a deeper understanding of how different functions in a business come together to bring a product to market successfully. It was a valuable learning experience that exposed me to the broader aspects of running a business, beyond just operations.

  1. How did you expand new channels for your brand, and what unique challenges did you face in the omnichannel space?

Expanding into new channels was both exhilarating and challenging. We turned our boutiques into virtual restaurants on popular food delivery platforms like Swiggy and Zomato to tap into the trend of consumers ordering gourmet chocolates from home. Creating platform-specific content was crucial, optimizing menu descriptions to align with consumer searches. Maintaining an integrated brand experience across platforms was a priority, managing messaging, imagery, and communication tone. The logistics of cloud outlets required strategic location planning and close coordination with the operations and delivery teams. Overall, the omnichannel expansion allowed us to connect with new customers and enhance our brand experience.

  1. How do you evaluate the current trend of brands becoming more personalized and humanized in their content? What is the future outlook for this trend?

In my opinion, the trend of brands adopting a more personalized and humanized approach in their content is a response to the changing expectations of consumers. Nowadays, consumers crave authentic and relatable experiences from the brands they interact with, leading to this shift in consumer behavior.

To evaluate the success of this trend, brands should focus on three crucial aspects: relevance, resonance, and remarkability. Firstly, content must be relevant to the brand's identity and purpose. It's essential for brands to stay true to their core values and avoid using trends or themes that don't align with their identity. Building authenticity is key to forging long-lasting connections with consumers. Secondly, content should deeply resonate with the target audience. This requires a thorough understanding of consumers' preferences, needs, and pain points. By crafting content that addresses these aspects, brands can establish a stronger emotional connection with their audience.

Lastly, content must be remarkable and stand out in the crowded digital space. With so much content available, brands need to find innovative ways to capture the audience's attention. This can be achieved through creative storytelling, visually engaging content, and interactive experiences. Looking ahead, the trend of personalized and humanized content is expected to continue evolving. As technology, especially AI, advances, brands will have more tools to create even more personalized experiences for their customers. AI-driven content optimization will enable dynamic tailoring of messaging based on real-time data, ensuring content remains highly relevant and resonating.

However, brands should be cautious not to overuse personalization and lose sight of their core identity. Striking the right balance between personalization and brand consistency is the challenge. Brands that can navigate this balance effectively will be able to create more meaningful connections with their audience and stay ahead in the competitive marketing landscape. Embracing this trend and leveraging technology to enhance personalization will be crucial for brands to succeed in the evolving marketing landscape.

  1. What is your perspective on the impact of AI in marketing, and how do you see it progressing in the future?

There is so much potential in AI to dynamically optimize and evolve creative content based on real-time data and consumer behavior.

AI is poised to revolutionize marketing, impacting content creation, performance marketing, and customer experiences. Advanced AI tools like GPT-3 and ChatGPT enable efficient content generation, aiding marketers in creating diverse content at scale. In performance marketing, AI's data analysis and predictive capabilities optimize ad targeting for more effective campaigns and higher ROI. AI's role in enhancing customer experiences is crucial, with chatbots providing real-time personalized interactions, improving the overall customer journey. 

The future of AI in marketing looks promising, with algorithms becoming more sophisticated, enabling AI-driven content optimization and dynamic messaging based on real-time data and consumer behavior. Despite AI's advancements, it won't replace human creativity. Human creativity and strategic thinking remain essential in crafting compelling brand stories and experiences. Marketers should view AI as a powerful tool that complements their skills, allowing them to deliver impactful campaigns. As AI continues to evolve, marketers should embrace it to stay ahead in the ever-changing marketing landscape.

While AI brings challenges in keeping up with the latest trends, it also offers opportunities to quantify marketing efforts and measure the impact of different channels. Embracing experimentation and constantly evolving your marketing stack is key to staying relevant in the fast-paced marketing landscape.

  1. With the marketing industry evolving rapidly, how do you keep up with the latest trends and technologies?

Staying up-to-date with the fast-paced marketing industry is crucial for marketers to remain relevant and competitive. I prioritize continuous learning by attending marketing conferences, webinars, and workshops to gain insights into emerging trends and best practices. Additionally, I stay updated with industry news and research reports to understand consumer behavior and market dynamics. Encouraging experimentation and innovation within my team allows us to test new strategies and technologies, identifying what works best for our brand.

Engaging with other marketing professionals through networking and collaboration provides diverse perspectives and valuable learning experiences. Data analysis plays a crucial role in guiding our marketing strategies, as we regularly analyze performance metrics and trends. Allocating a portion of our budget for experimentation on new platforms ensures we can test ideas without risking significant resources.

Remaining agile is essential as marketing trends can change rapidly. We maintain a flexible marketing plan that can quickly adapt to emerging opportunities or challenges. Benchmarking our performance against industry standards and best practices helps identify areas for improvement and innovation. By employing these strategies, our marketing team stays at the forefront of the industry, delivering effective and impactful campaigns.

AI will not replace agencies; it will evolve them. Agencies will still play a crucial role, but their roles may shift from traditional artists to analysts, focusing on defining relevant variables and inputs for AI-driven marketing strategies.

  1. What defines great content, and how can brands set up the right machinery for creating it?

Great content is crucial for successful marketing as it captures the audience's attention, evokes emotions, and drives engagement and action. To create great content, brands should focus on relevance, resonance, and remarkability. Content must be relevant to the brand's identity, values, and purpose, aligning with the audience's interests and preferences while staying authentic. It should resonate with the target audience, addressing their needs and aspirations, and establishing an emotional connection. Lastly, great content should be remarkable and stand out amidst the digital clutter, achieved through creative visuals, interactive elements, or unique storytelling.

To set up the right machinery for creating great content, brands should:

  • Develop a brand book outlining guidelines for consistency.

  • Tailor content for each platform and audience.

  • Collaborate with influencers and creative agencies for fresh perspectives.

  • Utilize data-driven insights to understand consumer behavior.

  • Embrace experimentation to find what resonates best with the audience.

  • Create a content calendar for consistent delivery aligned with marketing efforts.

  • By following these steps, brands can create a robust content creation process that delivers relevant, resonating, and remarkable content to drive brand loyalty and growth.

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