Sandesh Gupta

Director of Growth at MPL

Building Trust in Fantasy Sports With Sandesh Gupta

In the captivating realm of fantasy sports, the trust serves as the cornerstone upon which successful platforms flourish. Whether it revolves around cricket, football, basketball, or any other sport, fantasy sports enthusiasts eagerly invest their time and money, anticipating a dependable and delightful experience.

In this insightful discussion, Rishabh Shekhar, the COO and Co-Founder of Pepper Content, and Sandip Makhija, the Director spearheading Growth at MPL, delve into the fascinating world of fantasy sports and delve into the intricacies of performance marketing and more.

Despite operating within the gray area of Indian regulations, Sandip's company MPL has defied the odds and experienced unparalleled growth, standing as a remarkable testament to triumph in the field.

Join us as we embark on this engaging conversation, unraveling the secrets to success, and explore how trust and innovative strategies pave the way for excellence in fantasy sports and marketing.

Here are some excerpts.

1. Can you take us through your journey?

I began my career as a software developer, which was a great starting point for me. However, my true passion lay in entrepreneurship and the food industry, so I decided to take a leap of faith and start my own food business. In this venture, I not only got the chance to showcase my culinary skills but also took on responsibilities in marketing and operations.

It was during this time that I discovered my strong inclination toward marketing and realized its vast potential. This realization compelled me to make a full-time transition into the field of marketing.

After delving into the world of marketing, I honed my skills further by working at an agency. My primary focus was on building and leading their performance team, where I learned valuable insights and gained experience. Along the way, I also had the opportunity to work at Bounce and Wakefit, remarkable experiences that added depth to my professional journey.

Eventually, my journey led me to MPL, where I found the perfect blend of my expertise in both product management and marketing.

Being a part of the product team at MPL has been a rewarding experience, allowing me to contribute my knowledge and skills to drive the company's success in this dynamic and competitive industry.

2. How did you adapt your marketing strategies across different industries like Bounce and MPL?

When I was working with Bounce and MPL, both being consumer internet products, the fundamental marketing strategies remained consistent. However, marketing furniture at Bounce required special attention to aesthetics and overcoming the barrier of online purchases. To build customer trust, we utilized virtual appointments and AR technology, allowing users to visualize furniture in their homes before making a purchase. This approach proved effective in increasing sales.

On the other hand, Wakefit posed unique challenges. It is a high-retention business, with customers making furniture purchases far less frequently than with mattresses. To scale the furniture business successfully, we focused on providing users with the right information on the product pages, addressing their concerns about how the furniture would look and feel.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual appointment features played a significant role in overcoming this barrier, ensuring customers had a clear understanding of the products before buying.

For any marketing strategy, I believe it is crucial to align the content journey with the user journey. Understanding where the user is in the sales funnel and tailoring the content accordingly is vital.

From top-funnel content focused on awareness to middle-funnel content driving traffic, each piece should have a clear call to action to influence the user's behavior.

Additionally, consistency is key, with all content highlighting the key unique selling points (USPs) of the product or service to create a strong brand recall and trust.

3. MPL operates in a gray area in Indian regulations, yet it has seen tremendous growth. How did you achieve this success?

Sure, achieving success with MPL in the gray area of Indian regulations was indeed challenging, but we managed to do so through several key factors. First and foremost, ensuring a strong product-market fit was crucial. Since MPL deals with real-money transactions, trust was of utmost importance. We focused on solving our users' real-time problems promptly and proactively. Quick and personalized customer support, including chat systems and support tickets, helped build trust and loyalty among our users.

Additionally, word-of-mouth played a significant role in gaining traction. Satisfied and loyal users often shared their positive experiences, further establishing MPL's credibility in the market. While celebrity endorsements can provide initial boosts, we understood the importance of providing genuine value and support to retain our users' trust in the long run.

Furthermore, we worked tirelessly to establish MPL as a trustworthy platform through transparency and building strong support systems. This approach paid off, even without a celebrity face for our brand. By valuing our customers, being proactive in addressing their concerns, and continuously improving our services, we managed to gain a loyal and trusting user base, leading to MPL's tremendous growth in a challenging regulatory environment.

4. What are the parallels between fantasy sports in India and the USA?

Sure, when comparing fantasy sports in India and the USA, there are some parallels and differences. In India, fantasy sports have seen tremendous popularity and are highly competitive. To stand out in this mass market, we focused on finding white spaces with less competition and creating content that resonates with our target audience.

By building trust through valuable and reliable content, we were able to gain user loyalty and rank higher on search engines and social platforms.

On the other hand, in the US, MPL's focus is more on casual gaming rather than fantasy sports. However, the principles of building trust and credibility remain essential in both markets. We worked diligently to remove fraud and ensure a safe and reliable platform for users, gaining their trust and confidence in the process.

By effectively communicating our trustworthiness and unique selling points through various channels, including performance campaigns, we were able to reach and engage with our target audience effectively.

Ultimately, whether in India or the US, the core strategy revolves around understanding user behavior, providing valuable content, and building a platform that users can trust and rely on.

5. What is your take on Artificial Intelligence?

In my view, AI has been a game-changer in the content space. It has significantly improved the content creation process by providing a broader set of ideas quickly. Previously, it used to take days to come up with a blog post, but now, with the help of AI, it can be done in half the time. AI also aids in creating video content by offering drag-and-drop functionalities and suggesting relevant content, making the process faster and more efficient.

Moreover, AI has accelerated the speed of experimentation in marketing. Marketing heavily relies on trying out new ideas and strategies, and AI has made it easier to conduct experiments and analyze results. However, I believe that while AI is incredibly helpful, human intervention is still necessary, especially in areas where decisions require a level of understanding and intuition that machines cannot replicate.

Looking to the future, I'm excited to see AI's integration into marketing channels for performance marketing. Currently, some platforms use AI to optimize marketing efforts, but they still require significant human input and decision-making. The real potential lies in AI becoming more autonomous and capable of making complex decisions without constant human intervention.

While it is happening to some extent, there is still a long way to go. Overall, AI's role in marketing will continue to evolve, and it will undoubtedly bring more exciting advancements to the field in the coming years.

6. What advice do you have for someone aspiring to be a marketer like you?

My advice to become a marketer is to explore different opportunities early in your career. During the initial two to three years, try to do internships or work in startups to gain exposure to different areas of marketing and understand what excites you the most. Nowadays, there are plenty of internship opportunities available, even during college, which can help you figure out your passion and interests.

Secondly, it's essential to have a growth mindset when pursuing a career in performance marketing. It's not just about running campaigns and bringing traffic; it's about understanding the entire marketing ecosystem and finding innovative solutions.

A growth mindset means being open to learning, looking at campaigns from a 360-degree perspective, and finding ways to achieve results without solely relying on a massive budget.

Being adaptable and resourceful is crucial in the constantly evolving marketing landscape.

Lastly, read a lot and experiment. Keep yourself updated with the latest trends and case studies in marketing. Be willing to try out different strategies and approaches and learn from both successes and failures. A marketer needs to be analytical, creative, and have a problem-solving mindset.

Trust yourself and your abilities, and be ready to take on challenges in the ever-changing world of marketing. Remember, marketing is not just about running ads; it's about understanding human behavior and creating meaningful connections with your audience.

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