Ketan Pandit

Head Of Marketing at Zuddl

Ketan Pandit, Head of Marketing Zuddl, Shares Insider Secrets on Driving the Marketing Industry Forward

Marketing is the heartbeat of any successful business. It's the engine that drives growth, revenue, and customer loyalty. Even the most cutting-edge goods and services will struggle to stand out in a crowded market without marketing. The art of marketing lies in engaging your audience in conversation and sharing your brand's narrative. It enables you to build a powerful and recognizable brand identity, stand out from rivals, and connect with customers.

Here, Pepper is in conversation with Ketan Pandit, the head of marketing at Zuddl extracting the lesser-known aspects of marketing.

1. Could you tell us about your professional journey as a marketer?

I started as a checkout clerk at a local supermarket and that was an initiation into a customer-facing role. I did feet-on-street work for Vodafone which was Hutch at that time where I was selling their wrap products. Later after my MBA, I got into the formal sector which started with TCS. In my 8 years of career, I realized that I cannot survive in large organizations because I can't see the output of what I’m doing. In 2013, I had the opportunity to move to a startup in the insurance space which was my first initiation into marketing and that seemed like a natural thing to do because I was always a people person. After working there for over 4 years, I moved to CleverTap and ran a global demand generation and then I moved into a partnership for them globally the last two years I head the market at Zuddl.

2. Is there anything interesting that you’re doing at Zuddl today?

There is a lot of competition in the event and webinar space, and marketers and people who are spending money need to now be accountable for where the money is going. So, field marketers, and event marketers now need to show direct revenue to what they’re spending on and that’s where we come in. We’re a unified platform for events and webinars and we help marketers, and CMOs draw a direct line from events to revenue. It’s a fast-moving space, lots of competition, of course, so that’s what we’re up to.

3. What significant changes have you observed in the marketing space over the years and what do you think will impact this space in the upcoming future?

One of the changes we have seen is a lot more awareness and acceptance for somebody working in a startup. From that perspective, it has opened up a lot of avenues for people who have not had this chance earlier. From a business perspective that chances quarter-to-quarter and month-on-month. That is the biggest change I have seen in the last ten years or so that I have been working with startups.  

4. What has changed in marketing in the recent past? What are you doing differently today that you weren’t doing it back in the day?

A lot of things have changed in terms of the way we approach generating and capturing demand. There has been a shift from just lead capture to demand capture. At Clevertap, we used to rely heavily on Google Ads for driving inbound, but now it’s come to a place where it’s just air cover. You have to be more cognizant of the market that you’re operating in and there’s a massive shift from only generating MQLs as a metric to generating qualified leads which are ready for conversation.

Another significant change is the trend toward engaging content. In the past, if we had a report, we would put it out there and ask people to fill out a long form to access it.

Companies are now realizing that the user journey or buyer journey is not very linear. Buyers could have heard about you from a podcast, or a friend, and there's no real way to capture that attribution unless you go and ask the user directly.

People buy when they're ready. There's no point in forcing them. You can only guide them or nudge them when they're ready.

5. What are your thoughts on AI and ChatGPT trying to take over the entire content writing space?

There's this fear that ChatGPT will take away jobs but there's another popular saying that it's not ChatGPT it is the person using ChatGPT. With any new technology that comes there will always be a measure that will be used to validate whether that technology is being used fruitfully or not. There are rumors that Google is already working on an algorithm to identify content written by AI.

ChatGPT is a great lever that can give you a push. It will enable a lot more people to experiment a lot quicker and faster and see what works. It's great with ChatGPT or all of those tools. It seems very scary but it's just a question about getting around and using it properly in your workflow.

6. Are you trying to get on with these tools today?

We have tried a little bit, but we still feel that our in-person content expert does a far better job than ChatGPT could do. There’s just something about the domain that really doesn’t necessarily come. There’s a domain, and there’s the context that our content team does beautifully.

7. What do you think makes a great piece of content?

Great content is addictive but it doesn't necessarily depend on the length of the content, it's more about quality.

Until a few years ago a lot of people focused on quantity because that would get them ranking, and that would get them backlinks.

A piece of content which addresses a specific problem for somebody does far better than the content that has been only optimized from an SEO perspective.

8. Do you think that personalization and localization will take over a lot of your marketing gimmicks in the near future?

There are two paths to that. Let's look at personalization first. Personalization has been around. Any newsletters that you would receive would have your name in the subject line, but personalization doesn't have to be a personalization in a segment of one. In our case, our ideal customer profiles are largely folks who are running events, demand-generation folks, and field marketers. So, we write to them. That's the level of personalization we do. When we're doing an outbound and reaching out to somebody in a cold email, we make sure that we've engaged with them at a level where we know what they're about. It's not a fluff piece, it's not a generic email that's going out to everybody. Localization also helps to a certain extent, but that depends on the market that you are in. Localization is very important in Southeast Asia and in some parts of Europe – other than that, English works very well. These two together, if you've got your market and your ICP, can be a great combination.

9. What are the key elements that a marketer should always keep in mind when building a content marketing strategy?

To understand what doesn't work, you have to try it first. I believe in experimenting with a lot of things and quickly removing things that don't work, and then diving deeper into those things. For example, at Zuddl, content does well, but we've also tried other things like building a community, and events. These are all long-form tactics. You have to give them time. But, with content, we know immediately that it's a great hook for us to start a conversation. It's about doing less, but going deeper as opposed to spreading your efforts all over the place.

10. How can content marketers balance virality and avoiding controversy?

For us, if the content appeals to the audience, it's viral. We really don't optimize for virality as such. Content should be easy to consume and easy to share, those are two things that we keep in mind. And the other thing we keep in mind is we write like we speak, we don't write for search engines. That also helps us with a lot of content getting shared across organizations, teams, and people. We're not looking at aiming for virality, we have never crossed that bridge.

11. Any piece of advice for young marketers today?

Write, write, write. I think it is one of the most essential skills. People talk about reading as a skill, but I think writing is equally important, so write a lot, read a lot of good people, and network. In our world, our networking gets limited to social media, but going out and meeting people, that's still the best way of finding out what's happening. Marketing as a community is very open and friendly. A lot of times when I’ve got stuck, I reached out to a fellow marketer and asked how they've been doing things. So, meet people, and write something every day.

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