Srinivaas Kartikk Takillapati
Head Partnerships, Content, and Community at CureFit
Combine data with intuition to stitch a winning content strategy
The game of content marketing is all about standing out in the noisy crowd. With so much content being generated and distributed through various channels, consumers only go for the products that grab their attention and provide real value. In these sifting sands of content marketing where trends keep changing every year, it is the smart marketer who understands the pulse of the consumers who shall come out as a winner.
Srinivaas Kartikk Takillapati, Head. Partnerships, Content, and Community at CureFit had no training in content marketing, but when thrown into the river, he learned to swim. He shares his journey and learnings with us in the freewheeling conversation.
Here are the excerpts:
1. Can you share with us what your journey has been like so far?
I shifted to content by chance. After working as an Area Sales Manager in the medical devices industry, I realized I wanted a faster growth trajectory. That's when I discovered CureFit, and after relentlessly spamming everyone from CureFit on LinkedIn, I finally got in. I started on the Eat Fit team, and within no time, we launched our first kitchen. As the head of offline sales, I set it up from scratch, expanded it to 18 cities, and made it profitable before moving on to the Cult Live team.
At CureFit, I was allowed to shift to a different project if I achieved success within the first 18-24 months. I joined the Cult Live team, where I had no content background, but I set up the entire content machinery for the platform as a smart generalist. We scaled up everything from production to post-production to distribution when our DAU base increased by 100x within six weeks of the pandemic.
I'm grateful to have witnessed the entire journey of a content streaming platform, from nascent to scaling up to a massive scale. It's been an incredible ride, and I'm proud of the work I've accomplished.
2. When you think of the word "achievement” what comes to mind as the first thing?
It wasn’t a calculated decision at the time to go into content streaming when our offline business was growing so rapidly. It didn't seem like the smartest choice, but in hindsight, it all worked out for the best. While I appreciate the use of the word "achievement," I'm just humbled by the whole experience.
3. How did you find the process of working up from scratch and taking it ahead?
Sure, at CureFit, I was allowed to set up the content machinery for Cult.Live, which is a fitness content streaming platform. I had an open-ended problem statement to solve, which was challenging but also exciting. I was given a lot of freedom and flexibility to run with things, which helped me to figure out what goes into making an effective studio and the different moving parts involved in pre-production, production, and post-production. I had to figure out things like data security, and where to store the massive amount of data we were generating, which was about 3TB for each video we produced.
Setting up the studio involved figuring out what kind of content we wanted to produce, what kind of backdrop we needed, who should be directing, and how many editors we needed. We also had to generate topically relevant content, especially during the pandemic, when we were in a unique position to establish ourselves as thought leaders in the industry.
Eventually, when Cult. Live became stable, I started the Live Interactive unit within Cult. Live, which was another adventure of its own. The journey was challenging, but I am grateful that I had the chance to go through it, which gave me the confidence to do well in content space.
4. Did you have any inspirations or role models in the content streaming industry that you looked up to?
When we were creating content for Cult.Live, we looked for inspiration from various sources. However, we were also figuring things out as we went along. We had a team of talented athletes, which allowed us to program excellent workouts and assemble a nifty and agile production team in-house. As product managers, we kept a sharp eye out for feedback and tracked various metrics to improve our content.
Our vision was to make health and fitness extremely accessible and easy, which was slightly challenging because we were not just competing with offline gyms, but also with fitness content on platforms like YouTube and Instagram.
To achieve this, we licensed content from various players in the industry, including Les Mills, who I looked up to because of their wonderful trainers, high-quality production, and great music.
We also spent a lot of bandwidth and resources on licensing commercial music from Warner Brothers, Zee, YRF, and EROS among others. Overall, our process was a learning experience, but we were fortunate to have a culture of agility at Cult, thanks to our founders.
5. Would you be able to explain the challenges that you faced while taking over the content vertical and operations at Cult.Live?
As a marketer, it's essential to be able to cut through the noise and deliver meaningful messages to consumers. While data is crucial in informing our decisions, relying solely on data-driven strategies can limit our creativity and unique point of view.
At Cult.Live, my colleagues and I learned the importance of being data-informed rather than data-driven. We combined our intuition and knowledge of consumer behavior to develop a fresh perspective on the direction of the product.
In the business world, there is a clear difference between the salaries and job titles of junior associates versus senior ones. However, in the creative field, this is not necessarily the case. Even a young and inexperienced content creator can produce high-quality work compared to a veteran who's been in the industry for a decade. It's vital to take a chance on young and upcoming, you may be pleasantly surprised by the results they can achieve.
One essential aspect of creating successful content is being an avid consumer of your own content. Too often, content creators push out material without taking the time to consume their work or explore other varieties of content. By doing so, you limit your inspiration and creativity. At Cult.Live, we encouraged the consumption of diverse content and blended elements of entertainment, music, and yoga in our live-streaming events. The idea of a live musician performing original music from Tel Aviv while a yoga teacher from Paris led a class was something we developed by broadening our horizons.
As a marketer, it's important to combine data with intuition, take risks on young talent, and broaden your horizons by consuming diverse content. These strategies can help you develop a unique perspective and deliver meaningful messages to your target audience.
6. How do you think AI, specifically GPT-3 and Chat GPT, will impact the marketing space going forward?
The emergence of AI tools such as Chat GPT has opened up a world of possibilities for us. While there is a lot of talk about the potential negative impacts of AI, I choose to focus on the positive aspects that this technology can bring to our industry. I see Chat GPT as an incredibly useful tool for content creators like myself. Whether I'm working on a blog post or seeking inspiration for a new marketing campaign, Chat GPT can help me generate new ideas and improve the overall quality of my content.
The advent of AI tools has blurred the lines between different aspects of marketing and business. With these tools at our disposal, even business people who may not have previously had the expertise to create high-quality copy or designs can now do so with ease.
This shift in power and opportunity has the potential to transform how we work on the content and how we think about marketing as a whole. I believe that we should make the most of the opportunities that AI presents us with and see how things pan out. As a marketer, I am excited to see what the future holds for our industry and how AI will continue to shape it in the years to come.
7. If you were given a blank platform to create your dream marketing operations platform, what kind of technologies and tools would you incorporate?
As a marketer, I use several different tools in my day-to-day work, such as Ahref and Hot Jar. If I were to design my dream marketing platform, it would have real-time access to relevant keywords and an integrated AI tool like Chat GPT that allows me to quickly bounce ideas off and generate copy or visuals. Additionally, having an analytics dashboard to track metrics across marketing and distribution would be extremely helpful.
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