Milesh Gogad

CMO at Indegene

Content should not lose sight of the human element

Content marketing is constantly evolving, and technological advancements are playing a major role in this evolution. In all the brouhaha about technology, has the human element become irrelevant?

Not really.

Companies are exploring the winning combination of technological speed, accuracy, and human ingenuity, to come out with the winning content marketing strategy.

In conversation with Milesh Gogad, Chief Marketing Officer at Indegene, we try and unravel what brands are doing to stay on top of these trends and how they should adapt their content marketing strategies accordingly to succeed in today's digital landscape.

1. We would love to know more about your career journey.

 I am what I would call an accidental but fortunate marketer. I trained as an engineer. and got into marketing just by accident. After my  B-school,  I got straight into Honeywell. That's really where I learned the fundamentals of marketing strategy, market research, and product management.

My next job was with General Electric (GE) and that's been my leadership school. It gave me a lot of diverse experiences, in terms of the kind of industries I got to work in, the places it took me to, and the kind of functions I performed. Having such diverse experiences, brought in a sense of empathy and an understanding of the cultural nuances of the different places. As I had to change industries very quickly at GE, it also accelerated the learning curve as well.

And then eventually I got an opportunity to lead marketing at Indegene. It's a brand that we built into a very global and differentiated company. Marketing is playing a big role in driving growth for this brand as well as for this company.

2. What macro trends in marketing do you see emerging in the next couple of years?

I don't think marketing fundamentally changes a lot. At the basic level, it's still about understanding who your customers are. It is all about communicating in a way that customers can relate to, through channels that they want to hear about you from, and eventually driving all of that into business impact.

What might change is the way you approach certain customers because customer behaviors keep evolving. Technology is playing a big role also these days in terms of the kind of channels you are using to reach out to customers, and the kind of content you are creating to appeal to them. Some of these tactics are bound to change, but marketing fundamentally hasn't changed much.

3. Please elaborate a little bit about how it changes from customer to customer keeping the technology perspective.

I have observed that there is a tendency to overemphasize technology and underemphasize the fact that you're still trying to appeal to humans. As much as you want to be rational, you want to show the economic impact that you are creating for them through the content you are creating, it's also about how you appeal to their motivations, how you dispel some of the fears that they might have from using your services. These emotions are still intact and how you appeal to those emotions is equally important.

I think that one big change that's happening in marketing is the way you tell the story. The content should come across as more authentic and credible.  You may have to use a lot of data to be able to make your point but do not forget that you are also appealing to emotions at the same time. So humanizing is becoming even more important these days.

Let's say you are a life sciences company that has developed a drug for knee pain and you've created a banner ad with some gentleman over there who is your target audience. And you created content that appeals to this target audience. You've got the right kind of medical disclaimers, you've got the right kind of claims, you've got all of the regulatory information, and of course the benefits outcomes of this product itself, so what our technology you would do is break this down into multiple smaller bits based on that it will tag it.

Now the next time you've got this same banner ad being created in a different form, for a different market, we already know because of the kind of expertise we've developed what will fly over there. That speeds up the entire process.

4. If given unlimited technology and human resources, what kind of ideal technology stack would you build for yourself?

The way I look at stack is you've got the people element of it with the right kind of skill sets and talent. The second is probably technology. Technology plays a big role, especially when you're trying to scale it up big time.

At Indegene, our clients are primarily life sciences companies. We provide commercialization services in a very digital-first approach to these clients. It's an audience of senior, practice leaders, a kind of niche audience. It's only a finite audience over there now when you're appealing to them given the scale at which we operate.

The kind of content that we are creating is focused on thought leadership. At that level, talent and skills play a far bigger role than just technology. Technology is important in terms of the channels we use to communicate with them. But the story that we are building is subject matter driven, meant for a discerning audience. It's a highly specialized field with a specific vocabulary.

Therefore, you have to communicate in a language that shows your subject matter expertise, which is why we work very closely with our experts to bring out the specific nuances that matter to practitioners in our industry.

5. What is on the top-of-the-funnel activity right now in terms of content marketing?

Again we look at what is it that our clients want to read about and we look at two forms of content. One is market-led, and the other one is market-leading content. We spend a lot of time listening to our clients about what keeps them awake and what's their priority and we do that through some of the industry councils that we host. These groups are senior leaders who meet once a quarter or so and talk about what matters to them on a day-to-day basis and how they go about solving these issues.  We combine that with the surveys we run and create content that resonates with them.

Given the fact that we are in the knowledge industry, we also have our point of view about where the industry should be headed. Here, we create our market-leading content. A lot of our top-of-the-funnel activities are centered either around orchestrating these experiences and bringing this group of industry leaders together or sharing our vision of where the industry should be headed.

6. Today AI writing and Chat GPT are buzzwords. What kind of role do you see them playing in the entire content ecosystem?

We have already been applying these technologies extensively. We are a content company ourselves and using these technologies is especially helpful when you are doing it at scale. So I'll give you an example of something that we do for our clients in the way we automate the way we modularize some of their content itself.

 Now when you've got to create that kind of content at scale effectively and efficiently, technology plays a big role in doing it with speed and agility. One of the technologies we've developed is one where we would break down that content into much smaller parts. We tag it in the right way so that it can be indexed.

That way it becomes easily searchable. We can use technology to also stitch it back together. On top of it, we've got technology that ensures that our regulatory approval process and our internal approval process also move much faster. By following the process, the content supply chain will also be automated. This is where technology like Artificial Intelligence -Machine Learning and NLP come into play, but they are most effective when you're doing it at scale.

7. To sum it up, what are the biggest problems facing marketers that keep you guys awake?

One of the pretty common challenges across the marketing community is talent. Finding the right kind of people who have good storytelling skills. They also have this innate ability to understand what customers want, and what's their pain point and articulate them in a way that matters to them. That makes the storytelling believable.

They should be able to apply modern contemporary technology to craft the entire journey to make the storytelling effective. Without a doubt, talent is one thing that keeps us all awake at night.

The second thing is the focus. There is a lot of noise around certain technological buzzwords, the next shiny thing that's coming up in the industry.  But we have to break through this clutter and see how we are going to focus on contextualizing it for our company and industry.  This new technology may be good but it may not work at the scale we operate in the industry or may not be relevant for the clients that we work for. So, the focus is another thing that's very important for us.

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