Nidhi S Mittal

Head of Brand Marketing at JioSaavn

Marketing should be aligned with the growth strategy of a brand

Marketers today are presented with an overwhelming array of channels to choose from when it comes to sharing their brand's story. However, this abundance of options often leads to a dilemma: which medium will be the most effective in reaching their target audience? While the rise of AI has sparked a conversation around the humanization of brands, the question of when to make significant investments in marketing remains a primary concern for most brands.

These and more dimensions of marketing were touched upon when we got Nidhi S Mittal, Head of Brand Marketing at JioSaavn expressing her viewpoints freely while sharing a cup of coffee with us. Here are some selected gems:

1. Could you give us a quick rundown of your journey so far?

I've been in the industry for almost two decades now, which is quite a long time when I think about it. I started in operations, working on the delivery side of things in the IT industry. However, I always had a passion for the creative side of the business and wanted to explore that deeper.

So, I took a leap of faith and ventured into marketing. I started my venture and worked on consulting projects for various agencies in Delhi NCR. After that, I started working with big brands like Tata Advanced Systems and Jio, which has allowed me to see both sides of the business -- from putting a brand out there in the market to delivering services or products to clients.

Overall, I feel like I've had an interesting mix of experiences and challenges that have helped me grow both personally and professionally.

2. How did this shift in DNA affect your marketing approach, especially considering the difference between B2B and B2C marketing?

As a marketer, I try to keep my choices and career path diverse and not just limited to one particular industry. I believe that as a marketer, the basic goals and principles of marketing remain the same across industries, but the nuances and intricacies of each industry vary.

For example, when I was working with Tata Advanced Systems, it was a very niche business in the B2B space. While there may be a perception that B2B marketing can't be quirky or fun, I found that there is still plenty of room to be creative and make content appealing and attractive to customers. We focused on creating intellectual and research-based content that was still interesting and engaging for a wider audience beyond just CTOs or CSOs.

Now, at Jio Saavn, I'm working more on the B2B side of things, but the same principles apply. We still need to understand our audience and create content that is catchy, exciting, and useful. Even in a B2C space, we can't just talk about our product all the time - we need to talk about things that are relevant and interesting to our clients, such as music in our case.

My DNA is to create content that is receptive and engaging to the audience, whether it's B2B or B2C. While the platforms may differ, the goal is always the same: to create content that resonates with the reader and captures their attention.

3. How Jio Saavn accounts for local nuances in its content strategy across different regions in India?

I believe that in any industry, including ours, analytics plays a crucial role. By measuring the market's reaction to our products or services, we can build our strategies accordingly. We need to be savvy in our analytics and use it as an intelligence tool to capitalize on the powerhouse of information it provides. It's not just for reporting or KPI purposes but for building strategies based on the data we gather. That's what we focus on.

4. Can you explain the rationale behind a brand investing in brand marketing?

I think it's important to take a step back and look at things from the consumer's point of view. It's easy to get caught up in standardized KPIs and metrics in marketing, but if they're not aligned with the larger business goals, we're missing the mark. The key is to understand what the brand is trying to achieve in the short and long term and embed marketing KPIs accordingly. Marketing is a support function for the business, and we need to be working towards the same objectives.

In my previous roles at companies that were establishing themselves, we focused on internal marketing, building collateral, setting up the website, and creating sales enablement functions. It didn't make sense to invest heavily in a lead generation if we weren't yet in a position to cater to that audience.

“Investment in marketing needs to be aligned with the growth strategy of the brand. For example, we've seen brands like BoAT make heavy investments in marketing at the start, and it has paid off for them in terms of capturing market share and brand recall.”

5. What is your opinion on the future of content, considering the increasing number of channels and strategies for creating content?

I believe that the content marketing industry will only continue to grow exponentially in the future. People's appetite for content seems insatiable, and it's not just entertainment content that they crave. I consume a lot of documentaries and medical shows to capture information and expand my knowledge base.

I do think that the current trend of content creators trying to be present on every platform may lead to burnout. It's a little overwhelming for both creators and audiences alike. The pressure to constantly churn out content to meet platform-specific goals can cause creativity to suffer.

So, I think there will be a shift towards consolidation as people begin to realize the importance of focusing on the platforms that best align with their brand and goals.

I've noticed that many startups make the mistake of trying to be present on every platform initially, which can spread them too thin. It's important to recognize that each platform serves a different purpose and caters to a different audience. Therefore, it's crucial to figure out which platforms are best for your brand and focus your efforts there.

6. What do you think about the humanization of brands and the rise of employee influencers? Do you see this trend continuing, or is it just a passing phase?

From my perspective, an old-school person like myself would say that the concept of humanizing brands is not new. If you think about it, who did you associate Apple with back then? Steve Jobs, right? He wasn't even a marketing professional, but people always love to have a face associated with the brand. That brings in the trust and loyalty factor. What has changed over time is its scale. Initially, it would be just the head of the company or the founder of the company, but now the scale has increased because the platforms have increased. It's as easy as building a personal brand on LinkedIn by posting regularly.

It's (humanizing of brands) not something new; it's just that initially, it would be more traditional marketing. Today it's something that you can even do digitally. People want to go on live chat with you or even just meet you somewhere.

The accessibility route that people have today means that this trend will only grow. It's then just a choice-based thing. Whether you want to do it or not is up to you.

7. What is your opinion about AI writing?

So, it's interesting that this morning on my way to work for this interview, I was discussing traditional marketing versus digital marketing with a colleague, and we were specifically talking about billboards. We noted how billboards have transitioned from just displaying the product to incorporating AI, like having zooming cars on them. I believe it's all about adapting marketing techniques that fit your business, rather than blindly following a trend. It's important to evaluate whether a particular marketing approach adds value to your business and enhances the interaction with consumers. Instead of just jumping on the AI bandwagon, focus on technology upgrades that refine your content and make it more research-based. That's my perspective on it.

8. What is your advice for young professionals in this space?

When it comes to marketing, I believe that it's important to approach it with a deep passion and interest in the field. While many people may see marketing as a colorful and creative area, it's important to remember that it's a business function that a company relies on to drive success. Many areas within marketing can be equally challenging as other business functions.

During the pandemic, marketers had to pivot and find creative ways to reach audiences in a remote environment. This highlights the need for adaptability and a willingness to think creatively in marketing.

I also want to emphasize that marketing is not just about digital marketing. While digital marketing is an important part of it, there are many other aspects to consider, such as branding, public relations, and research. It's important to have a well-rounded understanding of marketing as a whole.

Overall, I believe that if you have a true passion for marketing and a desire to learn and adapt, it can be a fulfilling and rewarding career path. However, it's important to approach it with a realistic understanding of what the field entails and a willingness to continuously learn and grow.

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