Saibal Biswas

Senior Vice President, Head Of Marketing Partnership and PR at MediBuddy

Saibal Biswas on Innovative Marketing Strategies in the Digital Age

In this electrifying conversation, Saibal Biswas, a seasoned marketing expert, deep dives into innovative marketing strategies in the Digital Age. Riding on his considerable experience, Biswas elucidates how he's navigating constant brand campaigns, using technology to enhance marketing communications, safeguarding consumer information, and creating meaningful content. He emphasizes the necessity of ongoing customer engagement and data-driven decision-making in building successful marketing strategies. He also explores the critical role of tech tools across the marketing mix.

Using 'consumer at the center' as the cornerstone of his approach, Saibal Biswas, Senior Vice President, Head Of Marketing Partnership and PR at MediBuddy, talks to Madhusha Bhati, ex-senior Account Executive at Pepper Content, about all this and more.

1. Please tell us about your journey.

Throughout my journey, luck has favored me. I've been fortunate to explore diverse industries and their segments. It all started after completing my Information Technology studies at AAA, followed by an MBA from IIM Calcutta, focusing on marketing and strategy. I began as a management trainee at Godrej Consumer Products, delving into sales and later relaunching the Al brand, my initial foray into FMCG.

My FMCG adventure led me through various categories like soaps, deodorants, and talcum powder. I even switched companies, moving from Godrej to CavinKare. What's intriguing is that I've not only worked across industries but also lived in major Indian cities. At Philips, I transitioned from brand manager to leading India's home lighting category's growth. Over three impactful years, we turned 50 crores into a whopping 500 crores, expanding into lighting, decor, and switches.

Amazon was my next stop, heading marketing for devices, launching Kindle, Fire TV Stick, Amazon Prime Video, Echo, and Alexa in India. My next stop was Disney Hotstar; I managed growth and marketing for international businesses, particularly in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. From IT to OTT, my journey reflects a passion for consumer marketing and creating categories. Now, at everybody, I spearhead healthcare, blending marketing with partnerships. From IT to FMCG, lighting to e-commerce, and healthcare – each step shapes my marketing and business expertise.

2. Could you recall a standout campaign from your role in launching diverse categories?

Looking back, one big achievement was changing regular lights to LED lights in India around 2012-13. Back then, people only considered LED light decorations for special occasions or fancy showroom lights, not for everyday use. This was a challenge because everyone was happy with the old lights, like CFLs and tube lights. My job was changing their minds, which took about three years.

Our plan was smart. We waited for the right time, like when their lights stopped working, to show them that LED lights were brighter and saved money. We also talked about how long LED lights could last. We started with a campaign to show people how useful LED lights could be. Later, we made sure people knew that Philips LED lights were better than other brands.

Another project I was proud of was bringing streaming devices like Fire TV Stick to India. Before, people mainly watched videos on their phones, but we wanted them to enjoy shows and movies on their big living room TVs. This needed careful planning, like launching Amazon Prime Video at the right time and ensuring people knew about it. Creating a new category like this takes a lot of time and effort, and you have to change how people think step by step as they start using new things.

I think my biggest learning has been in the current environment: if you are trying to build a category, and of course, media are costly. You have to do it in a very efficient way. I think ongoing engagement is a baseline which you need to have.

3. When building categories for India's diverse audience, how do you use marketing strategies to ensure success across a vast scale?

To build successful categories, grasp the basics – understanding triggers, barriers, and attributes is pivotal. Simplify these factors to spark interest, overcome obstacles, and emphasize valued features. As a marketer, the challenge is selecting the right triggers, attributes, and barriers, which shift with adoption rates. Rather than targeting the entire country, focus on the smallest viable market where your offer holds value. Mass TV ads aren't always the answer; niche methods can be more effective.

My experience in FMCG and tech taught me to lead in a specific segment, not chase the biggest market. Think of it like a tech adoption curve, starting with early adopters and innovators, and then expanding to address new triggers or barriers. Gradually, mass adoption follows, with India's 20-24% penetration as a crucial milestone. It's more impactful than early 1-2% gains.

4. As a marketer, how do you connect with the diverse Indian audience and effectively communicate on a larger scale?

When reaching out to the Indian audience, tapping into cultural trends like Bollywood, cricket, and weddings is effective for mass categories. Context is key – in healthcare, for instance, emphasizing preventive health checks is timely. Craft sticky messaging, but more importantly, be present in consumers' searches. Ongoing conversations are essential, allowing brands to learn from good and bad experiences. As consumers seek information, social engagement and valuable content are vital in today's digital landscape. Understanding cultural nuances, staying relevant, and maintaining ongoing conversations define successful marketing strategies for lasting consumer engagement.

5. Is organic content replacing performance marketing as conversations with the audience become prioritized and budgets lean towards content marketing?

In marketing, measuring success can be challenging. While statistical models exist, emotions play a significant role for consumers. Building a solid brand through content, blogs, SEO, and social media is crucial intercepting existing demand. Although performance marketing captures demand, it doesn't scale infinitely. Investing in brand building is equally important, especially for category creation. Content, including videos, is key to challenging norms and open communication channels. A comprehensive strategy combines performance marketing, brand building, and impactful content. A strong product offering is also vital for sustained success in category creation.

You need to use technology, not only to deploy your communications, but also to get consumer insights, create some of those contents, and get better at it because, as I said, if you have to have a conversation, you will have to have a lot of content.

6. How are you, as a marketer, leveraging AI tools like ChatGPT to revolutionize brand engagement compared to the past?

I strongly advocate for leveraging AI tools to enhance efficiency, having witnessed technology's transformative power in my journey from Philips to Amazon and Disney. At MediBuddy, we're reshaping healthcare through ongoing engagement, content creation, and contextual communication. Our strategy involves continuous, monthly campaigns supported by organic releases and real-time consumer insights. By owning the moment and optimizing conversations, we efficiently build categories in a competitive landscape, all while understanding and catering to the Indian consumer's behavior and touchpoints.

7. What top technologies are essential to your marketing team and communication strategies?

I lead an integrated marketing approach, utilizing various technologies across design, media, MarTech, and compliance-sensitive realms like health. While I won't single out specific tools, our stack encompasses everything from ChatGPT for content innovation to attribution tools for ROI measurement. These technologies empower us to optimize for scale, efficiency, and quality while safeguarding data integrity and building trust.

8. How do you efficiently create tailored content for your audience, and what's your content creation process?

My content creation approach starts with understanding the purpose, focusing on impact for education, category growth, and brand promotion. We efficiently handle high content volume through templatization, strategically placing content within our business lines. Our continuous learning cycle involves measuring content impact, refining strategies based on feedback, and iterating for success. This ongoing process creates a valuable system memory, guiding our content creation as we grow and adapt to the market.

One interesting mechanism or process which we have created is how do you create a continuous feedback loop, both on content and creative, so that you know that this was the success metrics for this content, it was superbly successful, so then it's a bright spot for me, I will try to replicate it.

9. How do you balance timeless marketing fundamentals with adapting to an ever-changing landscape?

The fundamental principle that remains constant in my 17 years of diverse marketing experience is putting the consumer at the core. Regardless of the industry or technology, a marketer's role is to bridge the gap between business and consumer. It's crucial to deeply understand both sides and ensure that your business caters to the consumer's needs and effectively conveys how it does so. This principle holds for marketers at any career stage, whether they're starting fresh or have years of experience. As a seasoned marketer, I've realized that while industries and categories may change, the unwavering focus on serving the consumer and effectively communicating your business's value proposition remains the cornerstone of success.

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