Arpan Biswas

AVP - Marketing at Ajio

From Advertising to Nano-Influencers: Arpan Biswas Shares Insights on the Evolution and Future of Marketing

Marketing has come a long way from traditional advertising and is constantly evolving. Social media has changed the game, providing new ways for businesses to connect with their audience. Companies are getting creative with tactics like nano-influencers and AI-powered chatbots to attract and engage customers.

In this conversation, Arpan Biswas, AVP - Marketing at Ajio, a marketing expert with 13+ years of experience, shares his insights into the evolution of marketing. He talks about the challenges and opportunities that come with modern marketing and how businesses can stay ahead.

1. Could you tell us about your journey in marketing and how you got into this field?

So, I've been around the marketing block for like 13 years now. It all started when I was working in Automobiles, moved to FMCG, real estate, a bit of fashion, and now more or less settled in fashion with Ajio. Back in my engineering days, I couldn't give a hoot about studying engineering stuff.

Instead, I was all about ads - how they're made and, ads from different countries. That's what sparked my interest, you know? And that's how I landed in marketing. And after getting into this space, I realized there's much more than just advertising, there's a lot more.

There's way more to marketing than just making ads.

2. How have you seen marketing evolve during your 13 years in the industry?

Initially, brand marketing used to be the only form of marketing that was done, and digital was not as important. Over the years, in the last 13 years, I have seen digital grow fast and become probably the most prominent part of marketing or a marketeer's channels these days.

Secondly, within digital, the expectation from a brand is similar to performance. It has to start impacting from day one. Customers also, given the huge amount of content being created, prefer to know or read about a brand through non-transactional content.

I think influencers play an important role. Primarily the nano influencers.

3. Where do you see the future of marketing headed?

It is difficult to say where the future of marketing is headed, but I believe that customer experience is going to be the key. The way brands interact with their customers will become more personalized and seamless, and brands will have to be more proactive in understanding customer needs and want.

Additionally, I believe that data will continue to play a major role in marketing, as it allows us to gain insights into customer behavior and preferences. Lastly, I think sustainability and social responsibility will become even more important for brands, and customers will choose to support brands that align with their values.

4. What has been the biggest change in the marketing industry during your time working in it?

In my opinion, the biggest change I have seen in the marketing industry is the growth and importance of digital marketing. When I first entered the marketing space back in 2010, brand marketing used to be the only form of marketing. Digital marketing was not as prominent and performance wasn't as important as it is today. Over the years, I have seen digital marketing grow rapidly and become probably the most prominent part of a marketer's channels.

Secondly, within digital marketing, there's been a shift from brand building to more transactional campaigns, where the expectation is to see an impact on sales from day one. There's been a shift from just building brand salience and relevance to building brands in a way that impacts performance.

Another change I have seen is that customers are now consuming more non-transactional content and are looking to know more about brands through content that is not just focused on selling.

Finally, influencers have become a very important part of the marketing mix. Initially, it was the A-listers or the mega influencers who were prominent, but now nano influencers are playing an important role as well.

5. What do you think is the importance of non-transactional content in marketing?

Given the huge amount of content being created or transactional content being created these days, customers also prefer to know or read about a brand through non-transactional content.

Non-transactional content is content that is not trying to sell a product or service. Rather, it is content that creates a connection between the brand and the audience. It provides value to the audience, such as entertainment or education, and helps in building a relationship with the brand. Non-transactional content helps in increasing the brand's visibility and creating a loyal audience that is interested in the brand's values and vision.

6. How important is ROI in marketing today?

ROI is critical in marketing today as it helps to determine the effectiveness of the campaign. The goal of any marketing campaign is to generate revenue for the brand, and ROI is a metric that helps to measure the revenue generated compared to the cost of the campaign.

ROI is essential to determine whether the campaign is successful or not, and it helps to optimize the campaign for better results. Marketers need to be able to justify their marketing spend and demonstrate the value of the campaign to the business, and ROI is a key metric to do so.

One thing is for sure that more and more marketing is coming very ROI centric and with improvement in tech and automation...

7. How much do you think AI is going to affect the human aspect of marketing?

So, I'm like totally into all the artificial intelligence stuff, and I've been keeping a close eye on the whole Chat GPT versus Google Bard situation. I wanted to know what Chat GPT was capable of, so I asked it to come up with a poem or a marketing plan. And guess what? It did a pretty dang good job! I mean, it was like on par with what a newbie could do. But, you know what they say, sometimes it's more important to ask the right questions than to get the right answers. That's just the way it is, for me.

8. Are there any challenges that your team and you as a marketer face daily?

In my opinion, the biggest challenge in marketing is that everyone thinks they understand marketing, even if they're not marketing professionals. While they may understand the art of marketing, they may not understand the technical and scientific aspects of it. When presenting campaign ideas, it's important to have the right people providing feedback to ensure success.

Budget is also a challenge, as it depends on the lifecycle of the product and the level of competition spending. It's important to do benchmarking and set expectations from day one regarding the budget needed to achieve specific sales and transactions.

The biggest challenge I currently see in branding is attribution, but with tools like Ga Four, Apps Fire, and Branch, attribution is becoming easier. Additionally, products like DCM Double Click Manager and DV 360 will likely make attribution even easier in the future.

9. What's your strategy for crushing content marketing as a squad?

As a marketer, I believe that in today's fast-paced world, it is crucial to create content that not only stands out but also can stay relevant for years to come. One of the challenges that I've observed in recent times is that the attention span of the audience has reduced drastically, which means that we have only a few seconds to capture their attention and make a lasting impact.

To overcome this challenge, I focus on defining the content based on the marketing beliefs and brand pillars. These pillars serve as a foundation for all our marketing initiatives, and we strive to create content that aligns with these beliefs. For example, if one of the brand pillars is to provide the best ROI, then our content should highlight the value that the customer will receive by investing in our product or service.

Another critical aspect that I consider while creating content is identifying the pain points of our customers. By understanding their needs and challenges, we can create content that not only resonates with them but also provides a solution to their problems. This approach helps us to build a strong relationship with our customers and establishes our brand as a reliable and trustworthy solution provider.

Finally, when it comes to budget, I believe that it's essential to have a well-defined plan in place. We need to allocate resources strategically to maximize the impact of our marketing efforts. By conducting thorough research and benchmarking, we can set realistic expectations and define the budget accordingly.

10. What are the tools you use?

Some of the tools we use are Hootsuite, Asana, Apps Fire, and Branch. We are also planning to move to DCM Double Click Manager and DV 360 soon.

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