Sandeep Sarma

Head Of Design And Content At Xiaomi India

Crafting Impactful Content for Short Attention Spans With Sandeep Sarma

In an era marked by lightning-fast information consumption and constant digital distractions, capturing and maintaining the attention of your audience has become an art form that marketers and content creators are tirelessly striving to master. As our world becomes more interconnected, attention spans are shrinking, demanding a fundamental shift in the way we approach content creation and marketing strategies.

Join Agam Mathur, Director of Sales at Pepper Content, and Sandeep Sarma, Head Of Design And Content At Xiaomi India as they unravel the complexities of attention span dynamics and delve into the art of crafting content that not only captures but also sustains engagement.

Here are some excerpts.

1. Tell us about your journey so far.

I am currently serving as the Head of Content and Design at Xiaomi, overseeing the core aspects of my role. Beyond content and design, I also delve into brand marketing, overall product marketing, and specifically, the camera side of products, which naturally ties into content creation.

My journey into marketing was somewhat serendipitous. Coming from a background in filmmaking and a deep affinity for photography, my interests spanned a wide range. I even ventured into journalism while working in the media sector. It was during these explorations that I found myself in conversation with Xiaomi, leading to an unexpected shift in my career trajectory.

Joining Xiaomi's team felt like a seamless transition, despite the departure from my filmmaking roots. The company recognized my passion and proposed the idea of venturing into the marketing realm. This transition was both intriguing and fitting, aligning well with my creative inclinations. While the idea had crossed my mind before, it wasn't until our discussions that I realized the potential of this shift.

Over the past two years at Xiaomi, my journey has been enriching and fulfilling. The company's vibrant and dynamic environment, teeming with young minds and innovative ideas, has provided an ideal backdrop for content creation. It's a testament to how a career path can take unexpected turns, leading to rewarding experiences and opportunities for growth.

2. Could you elaborate on current marketing trends and challenges, particularly with shrinking attention spans?

When it comes to current marketing trends, there's been a notable shift, particularly due to the challenge of capturing people's attention in the face of dwindling attention spans.

Back when I joined Xiaomi, people had longer attention spans, and they were open to consuming more extended content. However, the landscape has changed.

Presently, you have a very short window – around 10 to 15 seconds – to make an impact. If you don't manage to engage them within that brief period, their interest wanes.

Undoubtedly, the advent of COVID-19 has had a profound influence. While it has made people more resilient, it's also made them more discerning about what they engage with. They now demand content that's not just informative, but also interesting and captivating. Importantly, the platform on which you're presenting the content matters significantly.

On platforms like YouTube, longer-format content is still viable, as people are willing to invest time there. However, platforms like Instagram require content that's snappy and can be absorbed in under a minute, sometimes even 15 seconds. This trend has led to the strategy of tailoring content according to the platform, a practice that Xiaomi actively adopts. Each platform has its unique audience and expectations, and our approach is to create content that resonates with those specific demographics and their preferences.

3. What according to you will be the impact of AI on marketing?

Regarding the impact of AI on the future of marketing, I share a positive perspective. I believe AI has the potential to streamline and declutter processes by tackling repetitive tasks, freeing up our time to focus on creativity and more meaningful endeavors.

Recently, we experimented with AI's capabilities, testing its ability to generate scripts for product videos with minimal input. Remarkably, even with minimal guidance, it produced content that was approximately 90% in line with what one might expect from agencies or in-house copywriters.

AI is an enabler, allowing marketers to focus on creativity while it handles mundane tasks.

Rather than seeing AI as a burden, I view it as an incredible asset. It allows us to channel our energy and efforts into areas that truly matter, where our unique perspectives and creativity can thrive. The scope of AI's capabilities is immense, and we're currently only scratching the surface. As time progresses, we will undoubtedly tap into more of its potential, benefiting from its efficiency and enhancing our content production.

An intriguing example that highlights AI's potential is a video I came across. An individual inputted some pointers into an AI tool, which generated a script. This script was then used to create a video using another AI tool. Finally, the video underwent an AI-powered editing process before being published on YouTube, resulting in earnings for the creator. What would have taken hours or even an entire day of research and production was accomplished within minutes, showcasing the remarkable efficiency AI can bring to content creation and marketing strategies.

4. Marketers often face challenges in capturing audience attention and differentiating their products. How does Xiaomi overcome these challenges?

Certainly, capturing audience attention is a pressing challenge in today's fast-paced world of marketing. As attention spans diminish, the onus is on us to devise creative strategies that can instantly captivate our audience.

Especially in the competitive realm of smartphones and technology, where product differentiations are becoming increasingly subtle due to hardware and software saturation, innovation is key. At Xiaomi, we're dedicated to pushing the boundaries to showcase our uniqueness.

For instance, our partnership with Leica for smartphone photography has given us a distinct edge. We truly possess the best camera technology, but the challenge lies in effectively communicating this to our audience.

In addressing this challenge, we revisit the fundamentals of marketing.

While many swear by digital marketing, our philosophy at Xiaomi takes us back to our fans and their invaluable word of mouth.

We have discovered that the passion and endorsement of our fans are among the most powerful tools of marketing. When our fans genuinely understand and appreciate our products, their genuine experiences can resonate with others. This genuine advocacy creates a ripple effect, turning our fans into our brand ambassadors. The authenticity of this approach is unmatched, giving us a competitive advantage that sets us apart in the marketing landscape.

5. What do you consider great content?

From my perspective, crafting great content hinges on understanding its primary objective. Whether it's intended to create awareness, shape overall brand perception, or drive sales, clarifying the content's purpose is pivotal.

As I mentioned earlier, it's crucial to align the content with its specific platform and tap into ongoing market trends. However, without a clear focus on the fundamental content objective, attempting to accomplish too much simultaneously can lead to lackluster results.

Embracing the idea of diverse content pieces with different aims is absolutely valid. Each piece serves its unique purpose, preventing an overburdened approach that might feel forced or excessive. When there's a well-defined objective, the content tends to resonate more effectively with the intended audience.

Furthermore, a significant aspect of great content is ensuring it embodies the brand's voice.

A brand's persona should seamlessly intertwine with its content, conveying a consistent message.

Striking this harmony is essential because content that veers wildly between tones can confuse and alienate audiences. The brand's essence, its very core, should permeate every content piece released. While this doesn't imply that every piece must be uniformly serious or humorous, the underlying values that define the brand must shine through.

Authenticity is the linchpin that fosters a genuine connection with the audience. When people perceive a brand as sincere and genuine, it naturally bolsters organic engagement, enhancing the content's reach and impact.

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