Saurabh Srivastava

CMO - APAC & ME at Monster

Saurabh Srivastava, CMO - APAC & ME at Monster

Content allows brands to tell their story and connect emotionally with their audience. Storytelling humanizes the brand and creates a deeper bond between the brand and its customers. This form of content marketing can facilitate two-way communication between brands and their customers by encouraging comments, reviews, and feedback, brands gain valuable insights into their customers' preferences and pain points.

Saurabh Srivastava, CMO-APAC & ME at Monster shares his scintillating journey in the same arena in this conversation with Pepper.

1. Please tell us about your marketing journey.

I come from an era when the predominant career aspirations revolved around becoming an engineer or a doctor due to limited alternative avenues. However, as I approached my graduation, it became evident that neither of these paths resonated with my true calling. Amid the conventional choices of medical and engineering, the world of "marketing" emerged as a beacon. From my early years, this profession held an innate allure for me. I avidly delved into literature on brand establishment for industry giants like Coke and Nike, exploring their marketing strategies. My ardor for marketing blossomed, propelling me to pursue post-graduation studies at MICA.

Upon completing my post-graduation, I wholeheartedly embraced the marketing realm. The initial four to five years were dedicated to an immersive learning process, fine-tuning my marketing skills. This period of transition from theoretical understanding to practical application was marked by profound growth. The dichotomy between theory and practice underscored the need to comprehensively grasp the nuances of the field.

What you learn in theory is always different than how you do it practically. That difference lies in practice

2. From your first job at Dainik Jagran to full stack marketer, what was your journey like?

Upon completing my post-graduation at MICA, I embarked on a decade-long journey that traversed through Dainik Jagran, WPP, and culminated at Maruti. Throughout this trajectory, my focus remained steadfastly on brand management. My odyssey commenced at Dainik Jagran, where the first decade of my career was dedicated to honing this craft. As an integral part of the corporate team, each day brought a diverse array of responsibilities, spanning from market research to brand evolution. This period overflowed with fresh experiences, excitement, and continual learning.

Amidst these endeavors, a profound realization took hold—successful full-stack marketing demanded a comprehensive grasp of the brand's essence, its structural foundation, the market it inhabited, and most critically, the consumers it served. Additionally, I recognized the imperative of an intricate familiarity with the product itself: its distinctive value proposition, its seamless integration into the market ecosystem, and its alignment with the consumers' needs. This phase coincided with the ascent of startups such as Zomato and Flipkart, adding an extra layer of dynamism to the landscape.

3. You have also worked with start-ups like Ixigo during the initial days. How has your experience been?

In 2011, I embarked on a transformative journey with my inaugural startup, Ixigo—an online travel marketplace—where I embraced the role of VP of Marketing. This experience served as a revelation within the startup realm, swiftly dismantling the notion that titles confined one's responsibilities. I found myself donning various hats—ranging from office management to serving tea to interviewees—all while forging my team. This endeavor led me to shoulder diverse responsibilities, encompassing product launches, brand management, SEO, and PPC, all of which facilitated a profound learning journey.

During this juncture, the concept of content marketing as a catalyst for cultivating enduring brands began to take shape within me. My tenure at Ixigo significantly contributed to this revelation, reinforcing my conviction in the potent influence of content on people's perceptions. This digital odyssey persisted during my final corporate role at Goodyear, further cementing this realization.

Undoubtedly, content marketing boasts the remarkable capacity to forge enduring bonds with audiences, profoundly impacting individuals. The insights garnered from both my startup and corporate sojourns have been instrumental in shaping my perspective regarding content's pivotal role in nurturing sustainable brands.

In the startup world, designations don't define your journey; it's about wearing multiple hats, seizing opportunities, and discovering the power of content to build sustainable brands.

3. During your time at Ixigo, how did you experience the power of video content, and could you elaborate more on its impact on your marketing efforts?

Back then, video content was in its infancy, and that's where we witnessed our initial triumph. We embarked on an ambitious journey, producing approximately 500 in-house videos. Among them, a video titled "Growth Hacks Travel Hacks" marked a turning point. When I shared this video on Facebook, the response was astonishing: it garnered around 10 million views within just 48 hours, all through organic engagement. This was a true revelation of the concept of virality. The video's popularity continued to soar, ultimately accumulating an impressive 25 to 26 million views. Encouraged by this success, we proceeded to create approximately 50 more in-house videos that resonated well with clients from the airline and hotel sectors. Notably, several brands partnered with us to leverage the impact of our videos for their own publicity efforts.

4. Based on your hands-on experience in video marketing, what guidance will you give to amateurs?

The content you are making should be user-centric, and the users’ taste and intent should be taken into consideration. The video should be crisp, short, and smart as viewers' online attention span is very short. It should also have subtitles so that people can enjoy it even without any sound. While creating content for a brand, you still make it for the consumer. Although it is a brand ad, it's the consumer who is finally going to use the product so your video should be able to convey the same utility through a video showcase of the product.

5. How has content marketing evolved and where is it going? 

From 2010 to 2020, content marketing underwent a significant transformation. Brands initially created video content for consumers, but now consumers generate videos using products and share them. This dual-edged sword can either build or harm brands. Brands must now create quality video content to maintain control over their image. Travelers, for instance, now create travelogues, impacting hotels' consumer base. In response, hotels must regularly produce video content to counterbalance these consumer opinions.

6. How will AI impact content marketing? Have you experienced the effects of AI in your field?

The incorporation of AI into content marketing holds the potential to reshape the industry, presenting substantial growth prospects for both content creation and data analysis. Many routine tasks that don't demand constant human oversight can be automated using AI and machine learning technologies. This mechanization allows a significant portion of content to be generated automatically, granting marketers more time to focus on inventive and innovative content development.

While AI-generated content may not always be flawless, its value lies in expediting time-to-market and enabling marketers to concentrate on producing more profound and meaningful content. This swift content deployment positions brands as forward-looking and nimble in delivering valuable information to their audiences. Moreover, AI-driven data analysis speedily identifies effective strategies, enabling prompt adjustments and expansion.

AI stands as a potent ally that complements the efforts of content marketers rather than replacing them. Human involvement remains pivotal in steering AI systems and making strategic determinations. Embracing AI in content marketing empowers marketers to achieve heightened efficiency, agility, and responsiveness to audience preferences, ultimately steering triumph in an intensively competitive digital arena.

6. When it comes to a marketing tech stack, which are your favorite tools?

Among the tools I've experimented with, a few stand out. Rocket™ simplifies ad creation and scaling. "Rasta" is excellent for newsletter creation, integrating diverse designs. "Pencil" is more of an agency, delivering ready creatives overnight through global collaboration.

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