Debdatta Das

Head Of Content at Tata nexarc

Debdatta Das on Content Marketing Tools

Customers currently have an abundance of options when it comes to most things. Because of the advent of social media giants, marketers can easily follow and monitor prospects, resulting in customers being flooded with advertisements. Content marketing is a means for brands to cut through the noise and build long-term relationships with their customers without incurring continuous advertising costs.

In this insightful conversation, Pepper talks to Dabdatta Das, Head of Content at Tata Nexarc. Dabdatta talks about her professional journey and how marketing evolved in her experience. She also talks about the nitty gritty of content marketing, and what's the way forward in this age of AI and advanced tech.

1. Debdatta, please tell us about your journey so far.

I began my career as a business journalist, which provided me with the opportunity to interview some of India's top leaders. This experience taught me how to think, create, market, and position brands in a manner that is both effective and appealing. 

As a business journalist, I quickly discovered that I had a natural flair for comprehending and empathizing with a company's message to its audience and target customers. Additionally, I possessed a natural aptitude for creating content, writing, and verbal communication, which allowed me to position brands in the best possible light.

After working as a business journalist for about 12-15 years, I was allowed to set up the branded content division for Money Control at Network 18. This was a new concept at the time, and I was tasked with creating a division that would enable brands to capitalize on Money Control's regular audience and sell their products.

My job involved working with some of the biggest brands in India and around the world, including Maruti, Reliance, Tata, Intel, Microsoft, AWS, HDFC, HSBC, Proctor and Gamble, and HUL. I created content marketing campaigns that targeted the audience of these brands and spoke to their target customers.

Through my experiences with branded content, I realized that I wanted to dive deeper into developing content and campaigns for a particular company from scratch. When the opportunity arose to join Tata Nexarc, I enthusiastically embraced it. Currently, I lead the content marketing team at Tata Nexarc and work to establish a strong content and brand positioning strategy for the various businesses within the Tata Nexarc group.

2. In your experience so far as a marketer, how do you think marketing has evolved? How do you see it going forward?

Well, you know, marketing has evolved a lot over time. Nowadays, it's all about digital marketing, it's the king, and there's a good reason for that - it's cost-effective, and the return on investment (ROI) is much better. But that doesn't mean that traditional marketing like TV commercials (TVCs), etc., are dead, they still exist and will continue to exist. It all depends on the company's strategy and goals.

For instance, a company might realize that its target audience isn't watching TV, so it doesn't make sense to spend a fortune on creating a TVC and airing it on general entertainment channels (GECs). Instead, they might focus on creating digital marketing campaigns that target their audience and generate leads more efficiently. By doing so, they can position their brand more effectively, develop leads, and create brand recognition among their target customers.

This has been the trend for the past 7-8 years, where companies are becoming more aware of the power of digital marketing in creating cost-effective and ROI-driven marketing campaigns. The economic meltdown of 2008 has made companies more ROI-conscious, and they want a tangible impact for each penny spent on marketing initiatives.

The questions companies ask themselves nowadays are centered on ROI, such as: "If I do this digital or on-ground activity, how many leads will it generate?", "How much growth in sales will I see?", and so on. It's a complex question with multiple facets, and there's no simple answer like "If you do this, sales will double by X percentage." But one thing is clear, digital marketing is here to stay, and with technological advancements, it's shaping the future of marketing for all spheres of life.

Of course, traditional marketing will continue to exist, but it will only be used in spaces where it's necessary to spend big money to launch something and create a lot of buzz. But other than that, it is going to be digital marketing, even for B2C companies that will drive the way forward. 

"Brands are becoming more cognizant of the power that digital marketing enables them to create for them. The economic meltdown of 2008 has made them more ROI-conscious, and they want a tangible impact for each penny spent on marketing initiatives."

3. What are your views on the new age marketing tools like Chat GPT or AI written content? Will these technologies be able to replace humans? 

When people ask me if I think technology is disrupting the marketing space, I always say no. I see technology as an enabler, not a disruptor. AI is only able to do what people teach it to do. It's the person building and coding the algorithm who is responsible for teaching the technology to be smart enough to make decisions based on precedents. But original thought will always come from people.

Without human ingenuity, technology cannot develop that original thought. And no matter how smart technology gets, there will always be a human element to marketing. Whether it's B2C or B2B, we're ultimately marketing to human beings. The way we talk about our brand will always require that human touch.

Campaigns that resonate most with people are those that focus on relevant human angles of people's lives and the way brands touch those lives. AI can be taught to write a script, but the human angle will always need to be developed by the human being themselves.

There are ways in which people can use this technology for the betterment of marketing, to make it more ROI-driven and results-driven. However, there's also the question of how workplaces and educational institutions will upskill people for the types of jobs that are relevant today. Types of jobs have changed, but people are still required.

In marketing, some of the mundane copywriting may eventually be done by AI, freeing up time for us to focus on building original, creative thought. That's a great thing, but it's important to remember that technology is an enabler, not a disruptor. The sooner we accept that the better off we'll be.

"l have always viewed technology as an enabler, not as a disruptor. AI is only able to do what people teach it to do. It's the person building and coding the algorithm who is responsible for teaching the technology to be smart enough to make decisions based on precedents. But original thought will always come from people."

Types of jobs are changing but people are still required. In marketing, some of the mundane copywriting may eventually be done by AI, freeing up time for us to focus on building original, creative thought.

4. What are all the tools that you use in your day-to-day marketing job?

Yes, absolutely. Tools have become an integral part of our work, especially in the field of marketing. They not only enable us to work efficiently but also help us make informed decisions. SEO and content marketing, for instance, are heavily reliant on tools to identify relevant keywords, generate impactful content, and track its performance.

However, it is important to note that content marketing is not just limited to articles or blogs. It encompasses every form of communication associated with building a brand, from SMS to videos, articles, or reels. And each of these mediums requires a different set of tools to create and measure their impact. SEO is the front runner because you cannot escape SEO and keywords, after all that's how your content will come up on any search engine.

Apart from SEO, we also use tools for lead generation, performance marketing, design, and video creation. When it comes to video production, we carefully consider the type of visual imagery that would work best for a particular topic area. We ask questions like, "Should we use vector images or real people in our videos?" to create impactful content. Tools help us create better quality and more efficient content marketing campaigns that resonate with our target audience.

"When people say content marketing, they think of articles. Yeah, that's the be-all and end-all of life today. But content marketing is every word that is written or spoken and associated with building that brand. It can be SMS, by way of word of mouth, a banner, an article, a video, a reel, and so on."

3. As a content marketer, what are the key pain points that you face on a day-to-day basis?

Before we began the interview, we were discussing the possibility of having a tool that consolidates all our requirements in one place, which would be a game changer. It would eliminate the need to switch back and forth between different platforms. With the rapid pace at which technology is advancing, there are constantly new SaaS platforms being introduced. It's challenging to keep up with everything available, let alone understand how it can benefit us as marketers. 

That's where a tool that not only allows us to perform our functions on a single platform but also keeps us informed about other available tools and explains the science behind the technology would be tremendously helpful. As marketers, we are idea-driven, not coders. Therefore, a tool that makes it easy for us to comprehend how technology can benefit our work and presents it in one place would be a fantastic time-saver. 

4. If you were given the power to build your dream content marketing tool, how would it look?

As content marketers, the first thing we do is build a strategy. From the strategy, we derive different elements of content that we create. Any tool that enables us to build that strategy is incredibly valuable. However, creating a strategy for content can be very different for every brief that comes in depending on the objective driving it. It's a mammoth task for any tool to do that.

But if it provides an outline when you input data about what the company is all about, who the target audience is, how you want to impact, and what kind of quantitative results you're trying to achieve, such as sales or leads, it gives you a basic nutshell. This would allow us to further strategize and have the necessary information and space to build upon, with a certain level of market intelligence already provided based on the target audience.

For us content marketers, the most important thing is strategy. From strategy, we drive everything else. However, marketing intelligence needs to be standardized and available in a properly analyzed manner, which I feel is lacking in the industry today, especially in the deeply unorganized MSMEs sector. To be able to gather market intelligence of any sort is a manual task, so a tool that provides that would be much appreciated.

Aside from that, other tools that would be helpful include SEO keywords, imagery, and something that enables me to quickly build a reel together without having to break my head over how it needs to be. These activities should become mundane, efficient, quickly done snackable things, leaving us time for original thought. Original thought is hard to come by today in the industry, simply because we are all jostling with these regular activities.

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