Varun Kaushik

Senior Vice President Marketing at PolicyBoss

Strategies for Bridging the Divide Between Sales and Marketing With Varun Kaushik

Sales and marketing are undergoing a significant transformation in today's dynamic business landscape. Traditional demarcations between these functions are blurring as technology, data, and consumer behavior redefine their roles. Collaboration is becoming a cornerstone, with shared objectives driving a seamless customer journey.

Marketing is moving beyond its traditional role of brand-building and awareness. It's now deeply intertwined with sales, focusing on generating high-quality leads and facilitating conversions.

Join Rishabh Shekhar, CEO and Co-Founder of Pepper Content and Varun Kaushik, Senior Vice President Marketing At PolicyBoss as they deep dive into the world of marketing. This insightful discussion unveils strategies to harmonize sales and marketing efforts, highlighting the transformation of marketing's role from mere brand-building to a powerful tool for generating leads and driving conversions.

Here are some excerpts.

1. Tell us about your journey so far.

Over the past decade and a half, my professional journey has been an exhilarating ride through the ever-evolving landscape of marketing. I began my career as part of a global marketing team at Three Infotech, a pivotal point that exposed me to international marketing dynamics early on. Starting with two geographies—Middle East and West Europe—gave me insights into the international facets of marketing, primarily in the B2B domain. This experience was underpinned by a typical hub-and-spoke model where the central marketing team orchestrated efforts across different regions.

Subsequently, I joined NetMagic (now NTT), a significant step in my journey through the world of B2B IT. During this phase, I had the opportunity to work with major players like VMware, Cisco, and Juniper, gaining invaluable experience in the realm of MarTech and AdTech. This was a period of transition as marketing technology evolved from on-premise solutions like Marketo to cloud-based platforms, profoundly altering the way we approached marketing strategies. Around 2016, I embarked on a transformative shift, transitioning from the role of Deputy Head of Marketing in a Fortune 15 company to joining Policy Boss, a brick-and-mortar business embracing the digital sphere. This shift marked my entry into the B2C domain and presented new challenges and opportunities for growth.

My current tenure at Policy Boss has been nothing short of enlightening. Guiding the company's journey into the B2B2C realm, I've honed my skills in adapting marketing strategies to cater to diverse audiences. This journey, filled with twists and turns, has brought me face-to-face with the retail sector's unique demands, prompting me to rethink content creation and engagement strategies. As the marketing world continues to evolve, my focus remains on maximizing the potential of content marketing, technology integration, and harmonizing sales and marketing efforts for sustained success.

2. How has content marketing evolved over the years?

Having observed the evolution of content marketing over the years, I can confidently say that India has been comparatively slower in embracing its potential. This observation is grounded in my experiences working across various international markets, where I witnessed a higher level of maturity in content marketing strategies. In Western Europe, for instance, the understanding of how content functions on the ground is more sophisticated, highlighting the importance of a balanced supply and demand ecosystem. From a business perspective, this equilibrium becomes pivotal, amplifying the value of content in brand-building endeavors.

Content marketing's transformative journey becomes even more evident when we consider branded content.

In the past 15 years, branded content has transitioned from being exclusive to the realm of A-listers to a strategic tool accessible for brand-building on a larger scale.

The advent of technology played a significant role in democratizing content marketing, making it more accessible, efficient, and cost-effective. This democratization has led to the rise of action-oriented and solution-driven content, especially in the B2B domain. The focus now rests on delivering impactful and encapsulated content that showcases an organization's problem-solving capabilities.

As content marketing's influence grows, its role in problem-solving becomes paramount. In a fast-paced digital world, attention spans have shortened, making concise yet impactful content crucial. While advertising piques interest, content serves as the vehicle for conversion. On the retail front, content awareness has surged, with consumers scrutinizing product labels in stores, seeking detailed information. This signifies a shift in consumer behavior towards content-driven decision-making. As we look ahead, content's significance will only grow, driving engagement, solving problems, and building lasting brand-consumer relationships.

3. What is your current tech stack?

As I reflect on the dynamic landscape of modern marketing, it's evident that the right technology stack plays a pivotal role in shaping our strategies. The journey, however, has been anything but simple.

Over time, I've discovered a strategy that yields remarkable results – a fusion of social media listening and search behavior analysis.

This dynamic duo enables us to define our content's tonality, wordage, and topicality with precision.

The challenge of determining the priority of topicality is intriguing. On one hand, there's the popular approach, utilizing scientific mechanisms to gauge significance. On the other hand, the strategy of being socially relevant takes precedence, especially for retail brands. Today, I've noticed an increasing trend of brands investing in influencer campaigns at tier two and tier three city levels. This practice aligns with my belief that influencer marketing is a form of content marketing, where an influencer's personal experience resonates more deeply than any brand message. This is especially true at a local level, where an influencer's credibility often surpasses that of a brand's recognition.

In a fast-paced digital era, the power of virality cannot be underestimated.

People's attention spans have dwindled, and the challenge lies in capturing their interest within seconds.

This reality has reshaped marketing strategies, emphasizing the potential of concise, impactful capsule-style content. While traditional mediums like newspapers still hold significance, the landscape is rapidly shifting towards digital platforms, where the potential for virality is most potent.

4. What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you prioritize in your marketing efforts?

In my approach to measuring marketing success, I firmly believe that key performance indicators (KPIs) should be directly tied to their impact on the business. Gone are the days when marketing activities were seen as intangible endeavors.

Today's marketing is a science that ties KPIs to concrete outcomes, aligning strategies with measurable business impact.

For instance, allocating resources to online brand awareness campaigns isn't just about generating buzz; it's about achieving quantifiable goals such as a specific brand lift or enhanced brand salience, which ultimately influences customer lifetime value (CLV) and return on investment (ROI).

This approach aligns our marketing strategies with the bottom-line impact they create.

In the insurance industry, where I operate, we track performance across three pivotal stages: discovery and search, identification and quotation, and proposal and selection. These stages represent distinct touchpoints where customers or potential customers seek information, engage with content, and make decisions. By meticulously monitoring each stage, we gain insights into the effectiveness of our narratives and strategies.

Should user behavior deviate from our intended path, we swiftly realign our approach to ensure that marketing spend continues to drive tangible business value. This proactive stance guards against the conversion of marketing investments into cash burn, allowing us to optimize results and maximize ROI.

5. Bridging the gap between sales and marketing is often a challenge. How do you tackle this issue?

Addressing the divide between sales and marketing is indeed a crucial challenge, and my approach revolves around collaboration and shared objectives. I believe that to question the results, one should first contribute to achieving them. In the realm of marketing, this translates to actively engaging with the sales team and demonstrating an understanding of their perspective.

To bridge this gap effectively, I've advocated for the establishment of an inside sales team that operates within the marketing framework, particularly in the B2B context.

Collaboration between marketing and sales is facilitated by shared objectives and understanding each other's perspectives.

This structure aligns marketing's role as a door-opener with sales' responsibility as a deal-closer. By working together on common goals like generating marketing-qualified leads and sales-qualified leads, organizations can ensure alignment and mutual acceptance, ultimately fostering seamless collaboration between the two functions.

In the B2C retail landscape, where personas are numerous and scenarios are dynamic, the challenge is amplified. Flexibility is key here. As a market leader, I've emphasized the importance of staying attuned to market changes, emerging trends, and potential policy shifts that can impact the business landscape.

The ability to adapt quickly and pivot marketing strategies based on real-time insights and shifts in consumer behavior is crucial. Being prepared to switch gears swiftly based on evolving situations helps maintain relevance and effectiveness in the marketing efforts, especially in an environment where factors can change rapidly.

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