Inside the Mind of Punit Dharamsi, the Marketing Guru Behind Mutual Funds in India
In this interview, Punit Dharamsi, the Senior Vice President of the Marketing and Investor Education Association of Mutual Funds in India shares insights into his work and experiences with promoting mutual funds as an investment option in India.
Punit has been the driving force behind the popular "Mutual Funds" campaign, which aims to increase awareness and encourage more individuals to invest in equity and debt markets. In the past six years, the campaign has significantly increased the number of mutual fund investors in India. In this conversation, Punit sheds light on his content marketing strategies and shares his perspective on the importance of creating awareness through content.
1. Can you tell us a bit about your role and your day-to-day work as the Senior Vice President of Marketing at the Association of Mutual Funds in India?
As the Senior Vice President of Marketing at the Association of Mutual Funds in India, my primary responsibility is to drive the Mutual Funds campaign and increase awareness of mutual funds as an investment option.
On a day-to-day basis, I manage the campaign and work on creating content, such as articles and videos, to educate individuals about mutual funds. I also work closely with individual mutual fund brands to ensure that the campaign's objective is being met.
2. What was the main objective of the Mutual Funds campaign, and how has it performed over the years?
The main objective of the Mutual Funds campaign was to create awareness about mutual funds as an investment option and encourage more individuals to invest in equity and debt markets. Over the years, the campaign has significantly increased the number of mutual fund investors in India.
When we started the campaign in 2017, there were around 20 million mutual fund investors. Now, the number is around 60 million, indicating a three-fold growth in the last six years. Another indicator of retail participation that we look at is the monthly SIP contribution, which has also increased from around INR 4,500 crore a month to INR 13,000 crore a month.
3. What role does content marketing play in increasing awareness and participation in the mutual fund market?
Content marketing plays a crucial role in educating people about the benefits of mutual funds, and in increasing awareness and participation in the market. In our case, we started with a website that had a lot of articles on mutual funds to educate people about the basics of investing.
As people became more comfortable with the concept of mutual funds, we started creating more advanced content that focused on specific investment strategies and fund types. We also added videos to our content mix to make it more engaging and accessible to a wider audience.
4. How do you measure the success of your campaigns, especially in terms of retail participation?
As a marketer in the mutual fund industry, measuring the success of campaigns is essential to justify the investment in marketing. We track two primary metrics to gauge the success of our campaigns: the number of mutual fund investors and the monthly SIP contribution.
Both these metrics have shown significant growth since we started the campaign. The number of mutual fund investors has tripled from 20 million to 60 million, and the monthly SIP contribution has grown from 4,500 crores to 13,000 crores in the last six years.
5. What challenges have you faced while trying to expand the mutual fund market, and how have you overcome them?
Expanding the mutual fund market in India has not been an easy task. One of the most significant challenges we faced was the lack of awareness and understanding of mutual funds among the general public. We had to create content that was easy to understand and relatable to people from different walks of life.
We also had to overcome the perception that mutual fund investing is only for the wealthy. To address this, we emphasized that one can start investing in mutual funds with as little as 100 rupees a month. We also had to address regulatory challenges such as KYC compliance and the need for simplified investment processes.
6. How has the mutual fund industry in India evolved over the years, and what trends do you see emerging?
The mutual fund industry in India has seen significant growth and evolution in the last decade. There is more awareness and understanding of mutual funds among retail investors, and the industry has become more customer-centric.
The emergence of digital platforms has also made investing more accessible and convenient for investors. One of the trends that we see emerging is the increasing popularity of passive investing and index funds. Another trend is the rise of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing, which focuses on investing in companies that prioritize sustainability and ethical practices.
7. What advice would you give to someone starting a career in marketing and communications for the financial industry?
As someone who has worked in marketing and communications for the financial industry for several years, my advice would be to focus on understanding the customer's needs and aspirations. Marketing in the financial industry is not just about selling products; it is about building trust and credibility with your customers.
Invest time in understanding your audience and create content that is relevant and engaging. And most importantly, be patient and persistent, as the financial industry can be slow to change. It's also essential to stay updated with the latest industry trends and technologies and learn how to use them to reach your target audience effectively. Networking is also crucial in the financial industry, so take the time to build relationships with colleagues and industry professionals.
Marketing in the financial industry is not just about selling products; it is about building trust and credibility with your customers.
8. What are the challenges faced by content creators when doing brand integration with a storyline?
One of the biggest challenges we face when working with external content creators for brand integration is ensuring that the content creators are aligned with our brand values and goals. Sometimes, content creators are very new to the category and have only started investing after the campaign, so we need to work with them to ensure they understand our brand and the message we want to convey.
Another challenge is making sure that the brand integration is subtle and doesn't come across as an ad. We don't want to bombard our audience with ads as people don't want to see them. We want to be present in ad-free platforms like OTT, and the only way to do that is through brand integration. So, we have to make sure that the brand integration is subtle and doesn't feel like an ad, as this would only repel our audience from our brand.
One of the biggest challenges is working with content and external content creators, especially when you're doing a brand integration with a storyline.
9. What are the guidelines that marketers have to follow while creating awareness for a new category?
When we create content for a new investment category, we follow regulatory guidelines already in place as our north star. We make sure that we create content that is simple and easy to understand for the last person on earth.
We also consider the platform we're utilizing and make sure that the content we create works best for that platform. For example, if it's Instagram, then it has to be a reel format. If it's YouTube, shorts are working today, so we use short-form content. If it's LinkedIn, we can't have the same strategy as we have on Facebook or Instagram, so we create more serious content.
10. What's your take on the debate around leveraging AI for content creation and marketing?
I believe that AI can be a helpful tool for marketers, but it can't work by itself. Marketing is an art and a science, and while technology can help us with the science part of marketing, we'll always need that human interface for the creative aspect.
AI can help us automate processes and make data-driven decisions, but at the end of the day, we need human creativity to bring the marketing message to life. Even if we have the most advanced AI technology, it's still feeding on something that was created in the past. So, as long as we keep creating good work, that work will feed into AI, which will help it get better over time.
11. How can marketers leverage technology for the present and the future?
Marketers can leverage technology to help them with the science part of marketing, but they will always need the human interface for the creative bit. Technology will help feed into something that was created in the past, and as long as good work keeps being created, technology will get better over time.
Marketing is not just a science, right? It's an art and a science. So while technology will be able to help you with the science part of marketing, you'll always need that human interface for the hardware marketing for the creative bit.
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