Marketing and Brand Communications at SRM Tech
Krithika Ramani on Bridging the Gap in Content Marketing
Get ready to delve into the world of content marketing as we hear directly from industry expert Krithika Ramani in our robust interview titled 'Bridging the Gap in Content Marketing.'
Krithika discusses her experiences with content vendors, the evolving landscape of content marketing, and its growing significance within organizations. She also sheds light on the use of martech and ad tech tools, as well as the challenges of content distribution. As we journey through her insights, we capture her views on potential future trends in this domain and understand her perspective on maintaining reader engagement.
In conversation with Kritika Ramani, Head of Marketing and Brand Communications at SRM Tech, Rishabh, Co-founder and COO at Pepper Content, talks about Bridging the Gap in Content Marketing.
Here are some excerpts.
1. Can you share a brief overview of your journey?
My journey with content began back in 2009, during my undergraduate years in journalism. This experience laid the foundation for understanding the importance of content research as a starting point. Following that, I pursued an MBA in advertising and marketing from Symbiosis, a phase that coincided with the onset of the digital marketing boom. The shift towards content-driven strategies over traditional methods became increasingly apparent.
I joined What Consult, a division of Dentsu, where I focused on social media and business development. This period was particularly exciting as I was part of the pilot team established in Bangalore. Our goal was to decode the dynamics of the South Indian market, a challenge that pan-India agencies often grapple with. Subsequently, my journey led me to Social Beat, where I spent over three enriching years. My role encompassed client servicing, content creation, social media management, and advertising, offering me a comprehensive understanding of various aspects of the digital landscape. Later, I ventured into the UAE's digital agency scene, specializing in healthcare and B2C domains.
Presently, I'm engaged in a dynamic role at SRM, a mid-tier IT company within the broader SRM Group, which focuses on education. I eagerly embrace unique challenges as I navigate the content and marketing landscape.
There are very few content writers who talk to subject matter experts, understand the trends and challenges in the industry, and then accordingly write content.
2. How does a company like SRM invest in its brand? What channels do you use, and what kind of ROI do you achieve?
For mid-sized IT firms like SRM, branding holds dual importance. Firstly, it aids in talent attraction and retention while facilitating market expansion and client relations. Company size matters less in today's IT landscape, where agility, competence, and desired capabilities reign supreme. Strong branding relies on consistency, nurturing prowess, and thought leadership.
Effective team conversations in domains like data and AI reinforce brand value, setting clear expectations. Talent acquisition and retention are competitive in tech and marketing, with brand values playing a pivotal role. A purpose-driven workplace, aligned with mission statements, ensures employee contentment, with the marketing team collaborating across leadership and HR for seamless integration.
3. Can you elaborate on when content marketing gained its recognizable prominence and how you've witnessed its evolving significance within organizations?
Our interactions with content vendors haven't always yielded the best outcomes. The challenges primarily stem from the generic nature of content creation, such as blogs and infographics. Often, the content available online becomes the basis for these pieces, resulting in a lack of originality and depth. A major concern arises from the limited number of content writers who actively engage with subject matter experts to grasp industry trends and challenges. This disconnection impedes the intended value a piece of content should convey. The struggle lies in finding a content vendor or partner who can bridge this gap effectively.
While technical knowledge can be acquired from online sources, the crucial question revolves around the additional value and brand alignment that a piece of content should offer. Navigating these challenges has led to numerous iterations and revisions in even a single content piece. As we navigate these intricacies, the pursuit of finding content partners who can truly encapsulate subject matter expertise while aligning with our brand's identity remains an ongoing quest, one that holds the potential to significantly enhance our content endeavors.
4. In terms of the market landscape, particularly regarding content, SEO tools, content tools, and AI in content, how extensive has your exposure been?
When innovations like ChatGPT emerge, our team gets genuinely excited about the potential applications, such as generating content or enhancing communication. However, this enthusiasm often fizzles out relatively quickly. This tendency is not unique; it's a pattern where new tools or software are initially embraced to automate workflows, improve project management, or facilitate collaboration.
When it comes to customer communication, the appeal of conversational AIs and chatbots might be captivating initially, but there's a noticeable pattern where this initial excitement tends to fade, and businesses return to methods that truly align with their preferences. This phenomenon isn't exclusive to our organization; it reflects a broader industry trend where tools experience a surge in usage before gradually tapering off.
5. What significant trend are you anticipating for 2023 regarding marketing strategies and campaigns you are focusing on for the upcoming years?
Over the past couple of years, I would note that not much has transformed. Our strategy remains centered around digital events, an emphasis on video content, and a conversational approach. This approach finds particular significance in the IT industry, where closing prospects' sales cycle typically spans six to eight months.
We're delving into tools that facilitate automated content production to maintain an active sales funnel throughout this extended period. For instance, when engaging with a potential telecom client, we recognize the importance of continually involving their leadership team over the following six months. This entails an array of content formats, including blogs, white papers, and video content tailored to address their pain points and showcase our expertise.
Since our primary focus is on the Japanese and US markets, content emerges as a crucial medium for efficiently achieving this. In this context, we're actively exploring the potential of digital events and harnessing video capabilities. Additionally, integrating chatbots to streamline conversations and transition them to offline engagements is a significant avenue we're exploring to enhance customer interactions and conversions.
We're looking at micro-influencers who have the maximum impact, even though they might have smaller numbers.
6. When considering content, do you integrate distribution into your initial thinking process or view it as a post factor?
When it comes to content strategy, both the content format and its distribution model hold paramount importance from the outset of planning. As you rightly pointed out, creating a multitude of content pieces is just one part of the equation; the other crucial aspect is how effectively we disseminate it through the right channels to ensure maximum return on investment.
With numerous teams contributing to content creation, tracking the impact and distinguishing the results can become challenging when assessing marketing ROI. To address this, the focus shifts to distribution strategies. Presently, an organic approach holds greater appeal. The industry has witnessed the potential of paid distribution, but the evolving landscape of data privacy and algorithm changes, such as Google's anticipated shifts towards cookie-less marketing, have prompted a shift toward organic distribution.
7. What key factors as a brand professional drive significant impact for you and guide your day-to-day or week-to-week measurement criteria?
In our evaluation of effectiveness, we prioritize achieving faster time to value. This applies to both ad campaigns and organic content. While traditional metrics like engagement and traffic matter, our approach goes beyond. With diverse audiences - employees, customers, prospects, and the industry - we tailor content to varied goals. We look beyond direct KPI-to-business outcomes and focus on how quickly value becomes evident. For instance, content's impact is assessed by its ability to prompt swift actions like product demo sign-ups. Our core aim is prompt value realization.
8. For those entering the marketing or content field, what's your top recommendation?
Balancing the demands of the brand vision with the business's specific requests has always been a struggle. Navigating between what suits the brand's identity and what aligns with the business objectives requires smart management. Both aspects hold significance, emphasizing the importance of quality content over quantity. In the realm of exceptional content, simplicity often reigns supreme—it's about providing meaningful solutions to customer problems without unnecessary embellishments or forced creativity.
The hallmark of great content is its versatility across formats and platforms, resonating with readers on different levels, whether nostalgia or intellectual engagement. Crafting content requires a conscious effort, especially considering the challenge of finding proficient content writers. While the gig economy and freelancers are becoming more prevalent, the market is saturated with writers, but not all grasp the nuances and critical impact of content writing on business performance. Individuals entering this domain should be mindful of their role, striking a balance between brand aspirations and business needs while consistently delivering high-quality content. The key lies in understanding the intricacies of content creation, appreciating its essential role, and not fixating solely on KPIs.
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