Deepak Saluja

Head Of Marketing at ICICI Securities

Cracking the Content Marketing Code with Deepak Saluja

Content marketing has emerged as a powerful strategy that goes beyond traditional advertising to captivate audiences and build lasting relationships with customers. By creating and sharing valuable, relevant, and informative content, businesses can establish themselves as thought leaders, foster trust, and engage their target audience in a meaningful way. 

In this conversation, Deepak Saluja, Head Of Marketing at ICICI Securities talks about the nuances of content marketing. He is a seasoned marketing professional with a wealth of experience and expertise in the industry. With a strong background in marketing strategy, brand management, and digital marketing, Deepak has consistently demonstrated his ability to drive business growth and create impactful marketing campaigns.

1. Can you tell us about your background and your journey in the marketing space?

My marketing journey started with Pepsi during the cola war days. I handled a big sales area in Mumbai. I learned about visual merchandising, negotiation, and making plans for different outlets. After Pepsi, I joined Enterprise Nexus, a famous ad agency. I worked on FMCG and fashion brands there. Next, I was part of the digital founding team at HTA in the early 2000s. Then, I moved to fashion retail and handled marketing for well-known brands. My many experiences helped me improve my skills and understand consumers in different areas. I saw and worked with various consumer groups. These groups gave me helpful lessons for future work. After fashion, I joined ICICI Bank in the SME banking marketing area. Later, I led marketing for Wholesale Banking at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank. Then, I came back to India and joined UTI Mutual Fund in the asset management field. Now, I am with ICICI Securities. I lead the marketing part. It includes boosting digital sales and helping the business team with a wider business goal. 

2. How has the marketing landscape changed over the last 15 years? What challenges have you faced along the way? What are some of the pain points in content marketing today?

I think the core fundamentals of marketing have not really changed. Back then, the term content marketing was not even a reference point for me. Today, the most burning challenges and pain points include understanding how marketing has evolved over the years, identifying the ideal content marketing strategy for various businesses, and keeping up with the rapid changes in the industry.

3. How have your experiences shaped your approach to content marketing?

My diverse experiences across different sectors and working with various consumer segments have given me insights into the intricacies of content marketing. These experiences have helped me adapt and innovate in the rapidly changing marketing landscape, allowing me to create effective content marketing strategies for the businesses I work with.

4. Can you share some of your early experiences with content marketing? How have you used it to build brand visibility and connect with consumers?

Some of my early experiences with content marketing include partnering with Channel V for a dominating presence during Valentine's period. Every DJ was talking about this phrase we coined called Time Check at the time. We created a masthead focused on a watch with Times of India's youth-centric newspaper "Just Like That." We also launched a brand ambassador initiative with college campuses. We had 40 to 50 such influencers from the best colleges in Bombay. These initiatives helped build brand visibility. They helped us connect with our audience and create relevance in their lives.

In the BFSI area, my goal is to make our brand stand out through thought leadership. We worked with Economic Times to make a special print paper for the SME sector. We started local SME projects. We also made a magazine in UAE just for SMEs. In asset management, my focus is on making a customer-centered content system. This system works on any platform but is still made for each platform. It helps engage customers beyond just product talk. 

Content marketing will continue to play a crucial role in the marketing landscape. Consumers increasingly seek education that they can give themselves. They struggle to determine their real needs for products and services. The surge in DIY behavior and the importance of SEO are indicators of the growing significance of content marketing. Brands must adapt to this trend. They must find effective ways to connect with their consumers through content that addresses their needs and preferences.

5. What are the main pain points that marketing teams face with the increase in competition and the need to be where consumers are?

A big problem for marketing teams today is dealing with the complex digital world. Digital channels and competition have grown a lot. Before, the goal was to make content that connected with consumers. Now, the challenge is to balance SEO needs with making high-quality content. Digitization is happening in a big way. Marketers always try to make sure their content is useful, and interesting, and drives organic growth. The hard part is finding the right mix of keyword use, content quality, and the consumer's journey stage. They must also make sure content leads to wanted results like views, rankings, and traffic. 

6. How has the use of AI and other tools impacted your current content strategy? What areas do you think brands should focus on for better results?

AI and other tools are important in the digital world today. They help marketers a lot. These tools find good keywords and give useful information. They help make focused content. When used with data from places like YouTube and Google, they help writers make better content. This content connects with people at different stages.

Spending money on tech and tools can help brands a lot. They should also use social media well. This makes their content more visible and lets them talk to their audience. By using these tools, brands can know how well their content works. They can use data to make better choices and improve their online marketing.

I spend a lot of time on research and analytics. These are key parts of a good content marketing plan. They help make decisions, see success, and find ways to get better. Content marketing is not just about making content. It is also about understanding the whole journey of the content. From the start, to when it is used, and how well it works after that. This understanding leads to helpful insights. These can be used to keep improving strategies. Ultimately, content is at the heart of the digital ecosystem that you've invested in.

Content is at the heart of the digital ecosystem that you've invested in

7. What would your ideal content marketing stack look like? How would it help your team?

Before I get into the stack, I feel that modern-age content marketers need to appreciate that they can no longer work in silos. They need to understand that their role is important. Their content can enable profit and loss (P&L) for businesses. They also need to develop the skill set to look at the entire journey of the content. They should also embrace experimentation. There is no one right or wrong approach in the digital ecosystem. The beauty of digital marketing is that it allows for constant growth and learning. Marketers should take advantage of this opportunity. There used to be a notion that marketing in one category is very different from that in another category. But with the ushering in of the digital age, everyone is using the same tools and frameworks.

My ideal content marketing stack would converge all essential components. It would have everything from accessing data and insights to content mapping and project management. This would include APIs linked to certain tools or tools enabled with insights. It would also have a content request system, and tracking for content delivery. Having traceability and understanding performance after deployment is crucial. It allows the content team to have control and understand how their efforts are performing. This streamlined approach would help reduce the need for communication with multiple stakeholders and tools. This would, in turn, lead to increased speed and efficiency in content creation and deployment. When you are working with content at scale, speed is critical. You cannot just work on things one at a time.

I think content can be bucketed into three main categories: hub, hero, and hygiene. Hero content has a high impact. It is attention-grabbing content that can be scaled up. Hub content serves a specific purpose and can also be scaled up to a certain extent. Hygiene content is basic, evergreen content. It should always be available on your platform. It is important to strike a balance between these types of content to ensure a strategy is well-rounded.

Also, content is not just performance marketing. You do not deploy content and get instant results. It takes its time. So you have to be patient.

Content can be bucketed into three main categories: hub, hero, and hygiene.

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