Harsimranjit Singh Narang

Assistant General Manager of Marketing at Vodafone Idea

Harsimranjit Singh Narang on Empowering Marketing in the AI Era

Explore the fascinating world of AI-driven marketing through our conversation with Harsimranjit Singh Narang, an insightful marketing and data analytics leader. From understanding customer perspectives to examining the challenge of aligning organizational and customer objectives, this conversation provides a fascinating exploration of the challenges marking today's marketing landscape. Narang discusses new-age tools like CRM Plus and shares his unique insights on the evolution of marketing, advice for budding marketing managers, and the significance of staying updated on marketing trends.

Engage in this conversation between Kunal Bajpai, Senior Associate Program Management at Pepper Content, and Harsimranjit Singh Narang, Assistant General Manager of Marketing at Vodafone Idea, to decode the indispensable role of AI in the contemporary marketing ecosystem.

Here are some excerpts.

1. Please tell us about your journey.

It all started when I got into advertising with DraftFCB Ulka. There, I was part of a small team called Star One. We took care of brand and content strategy for key accounts of the organization. This was my first taste of advertising, handles clients such as Tata Salt, TCS, and Zee. As I went on, I learned more about content beyond just making a brand look good. Then, I tried my hand at startups – not once, but three times! First, I joined a company that sold things to other businesses. Then, I switched to consumer finance and then moved to consumer products, which were very different. These experiences taught me a lot and showed me various sides of the business world.

Later, I joined Vodafone Idea, where things got exciting. I got the chance to manage their TUP cluster as prepaid product marketing lead. Now, I'm leading the product marketing team there. It's been more than a year, and I've learned so much. Being at Vodafone Idea, I saw how content and data come together in a big way. It's been a great lesson in how these two things can work together to make impressive results.

The voice has moved from the brand to the customer and experiences.

2. How do you see content's role and position in the marketing framework?

Imagine a marketing framework as a puzzle, where the customer is the main piece. But guess what's right next to the customer? Content! It's like the secret sauce that makes all our chats with customers work. As I moved along my journey, I went from being all about branding to mixing in performance strategies. And you know what I learned? Content is like the hero in every success or oops moment. Different companies see content differently because of how their customers react to it. In some places, we did something called the "Silent Period." Instead of just talking about products, we shared knowledge with our customers. We showed them everything we offer beyond just regular things like data plans.

When I started, I was making TV ads that aired everywhere. Fast forward to today, things have changed a lot. The focus isn't just on the brand anymore – it's on what customers say and feel. The digital world is now in charge of this big change. Back in the day, it took a few days to write a big piece of content. Thanks to AI, we can do it in a single day. And machine learning? It helps us aim our messages super precisely.

What AI does is it makes you more efficient. It won't take your job, it's how you use it and apply it.

3. Regarding AI and tools like ChatGPT, where do you stand in the spectrum from experimenting to advanced utilization?

In the digital era, AI and machine learning are my partners in data-driven marketing. They help us with things like targeting and making our campaigns better. The big question is whether you're familiar with AI or not. For us marketers, staying up to speed with AI is crucial. It's like the heartbeat of marketing's future. But here's the catch: using AI effectively is the real challenge. AI and big data are like the secret sauce in my current job. We use them to determine what products to offer, how to communicate, and who our customers are. It's a trend that every company should be embracing.

Tools like ChatGP are getting a lot of attention, but the idea of AI itself isn't new in marketing. It's like an upgrade to what we've been doing. AI is something I've been using for a while. Remember when people worried that Excel would replace consultants or Canva would take jobs from designers? Similar concerns pop up with AI. But history tells us these tools make us better. It's all about how we use them.

AI isn't magic on its own. It works best when we work together. AI can help with heavy tasks like generating ideas and speeding up things, but marketers are the ones who know how people think and interact. As we move forward, let's remember that AI isn't a replacement for us. It's more like a partner that makes us even better. Just like Excel and Canva transformed industries, AI is shaping up to change marketing significantly. The key is to use it well and make it work to create awesome customer experiences.

4. Picture a platform where you can merge current tools and future ideas. What would your dream all-in-one toolkit look like?

You know, when I was part of three different startups, we had to figure out how to use many different tools like analytics, CRM, and email. It got me thinking – what if we could put all these tools into one super tool? Imagine this tool as a superhero called "CRM Plus." It would do a bunch of things, like keeping track of customers, showing us how well our ads are working, and helping us understand if we're making money. Basically, it would make sure all our data is correct and make our jobs simpler.

My idea is to combine all the good stuff from CRM with the smarts of AI. This means we can take care of many tasks in one place without jumping between different tools. We'd have more time to come up with cool ideas and make our marketing strategies even better.

5. Share pivotal moments from your career that shaped your customer-centered approach and unified your perspective across content, marketing, and beyond.

We used to think we knew exactly how customers felt about our products. We focused on how things looked, what we said on TV and social media – all the important stuff. But, after running a few advertising campaigns, we realized something surprising. Our ideas about what customers liked didn't always match reality. This all began when we started diving into marketing analytics during my advertising days. We discovered that what we thought inside the company didn't always match what was happening in the real world. Even though there were some similarities, there were also times when we were way off.

Here's what I learned: understanding what the bosses want and that the marketing goals are super important. But you know what's just as important? Figuring out what the customers want. And where do these two things meet? It's in the content we create. It's like a special spot where what the bosses want and what customers like to come together. This connection is where marketing works its magic.

6. What's your take on the industry's current state, and could you list a couple of challenges marketers are dealing with today?

The journey isn't always smooth, from dealing with data to managing money.

Imagine you're just starting. One big challenge is understanding what customers like and turning that into compelling stories. This is the foundation of good marketing.

As you go forward, protecting data becomes super important. There are rules about this everywhere, and we have to follow them, even if we want to change just a tiny bit of data.

It's not just about making cool content – it's also about making money from it. This is a big deal, especially for people like me who are in charge of a team in a top company.

We shouldn't think about marketing in pieces. It's not just content or data – it's everything together. We need to understand how all these things fit like a puzzle to make our marketing work.

7. What advice or key insights would you share for new marketers entering the field for their career journey ahead?

First things first – read a lot. Stay updated with what's happening in the marketing world. Whether it's new rules, trends, or smart ideas, keeping up with this stuff is like having a secret weapon. The more you know, the better decisions you can make in your marketing journey.

Here's a simple and powerful idea: "Keep it simple, silly." When you're doing marketing stuff, don't make things complicated. Whether it's making content or dealing with data, try to make things easy to understand. Break down big ideas into simple pieces. Trust me, this will help you do your marketing way better.

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