Yashraj Kesharwani

Assistant Vice President - Sales & Marketing at ANAROCK

Mastering the Consumer Journey with Yashraj Kesharwani

Kesharwani chronicles the evolving consumer journey, the power of personalization, and the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in marketing strategies. From the impact of diverse media mediums on consumer behavior to the importance of curating unique brand experiences at different interaction points - he highlights it all. Filled with expert insights on dynamic content creation and coping mechanisms to the proliferation of information, this interview champions the concept of a truly adaptive consumer-conscious marketing model.

Yashraj Kesharwani, Assistant Vice President - Sales & Marketing at ANAROCK, talks to Prateek Kalra, Associate Director - Sales, Pepper Content, and allows you to get up close with the challenges of speaking to diverse cohorts and the role AI plays in enhancing customer experiences on today's multi-platform marketing landscape.

1. Can you tell us about your professional journey?

My journey began post-MBA at Lothar, where I delved into various sales aspects, including direct, channel, loyalty, and international sales. This venture spanned diverse real estate segments, from affordable to premium to ultra HNI. Likewise, my stint at Kalpatru offered a comprehensive view, transitioning from sales to understanding the intricate process of crafting real estate projects. Joining Purvankara introduced me to the distinct real estate dynamics of South and West India, unraveling how regional preferences shape the industry landscape. As my knowledge deepened, I ventured into the realm of brand and marketing within the real estate sector, contributing to Purvankara's marketing endeavours.

Further continuing my journey, I spent two and a half years with Xanadu, a prominent Indian consulting firm, before embarking on a new chapter at Anna Rock, where I continue to steer marketing efforts for the South Indian market. Over the past 11 years in real estate, I've witnessed the evolution of the industry's intricate workings, departments, and strategies, acquiring a well-rounded exposure that's been incredibly rewarding.

2. Do you think the marketing function has transformed towards intimacy, and what challenges do you believe currently confront marketers?

In marketing within a typical organization, a recurring challenge emerges that centers around the three distinct levels of marketers: those at the execution level, the managerial level, and the strategic or CMO/CXO level. The problem arises when these roles become muddled, and individuals step beyond their responsibilities. This can lead to confusion and a lack of clear standard operating procedures (SOPs), causing a marketing quagmire where tasks and expectations become blurred.

I've been fortunate to work with brands that maintained well-defined roles and responsibilities, which allowed me to transition from an executor who understands the 'why' behind execution to a capable manager, and, ultimately, a member of leadership teams on various projects. This progression was possible because of clear delineation and understanding of roles, enabling effective execution.

As industries evolve, becoming more organized and streamlined, the importance of well-defined roles becomes even more crucial. In the real estate sector, especially after the implementation of RERA in 2016, we anticipate increased consolidation and a shift towards player-organized setups. Those who embrace digital-first approaches and establish clarity in roles early on will likely enjoy sustained success in this transformed landscape.

3. With industry consolidation and increased complexity, how have the challenges changed for content marketers at a grassroots level, transitioning over the past decade?

In the past decade, the marketing world has shifted significantly. Traditional mediums once dominated the scene, with social media exposure taking a backseat. Consumer journeys were often a mystery, as we couldn't precisely trace their paths or interactions. However, recent years have brought a transformation. We now possess the ability to map consumer journeys meticulously, tracking their interactions and the content they engage with on various platforms.

In this era, crafting a successful content marketing strategy revolves around creating enjoyable interactions for consumers while propelling their journey forward. A win-win scenario emerges when the consumer finds value in engaging with a brand, and the brand, in turn, guides the journey seamlessly. This process entails adapting to new insights and optimizing campaigns where needed. Indeed, the modern marketing funnel has evolved beyond recognition. It has expanded into a multifaceted structure with distinct and identifiable stages, offering a plethora of opportunities for personalized communication and marketing. These discernible levels of engagement enable brands to tailor content and communication to their audience's preferences and behaviors.

Furthermore, the rise of cohort-level targeting adds another layer of sophistication to content curation. Content can now be uniquely designed for specific audience segments, factoring in demographic details, geographical locations, and even the platforms through which they interact. As consumers explore various platforms, from social media to discovery and financial platforms, the content they encounter adapts to their preferences, ensuring a fluid and personalized experience.

4. Given your exposure to diverse audience segments, including UHNIs and the masses, have you utilized AI across this spectrum, and if so, what's your perspective on its impact and future potential?

AI's role is undeniable, and those still debating it are falling behind; it's time to acknowledge its significance. However, the true impact lies in integrating AI and human intelligence (HI). Brands are about human-to-human interactions, so AI and HI collaborate to create a dual interaction that's both efficient and personalized. The fear of AI replacing jobs is baseless for early adopters, as AI enhances tasks rather than diminishing them.

Incorporating AI into our daily campaigns is essential. We utilize AI and ML extensively to tailor content for specific target groups, ensuring efficient resource allocation. This approach prevents overwhelming consumers with excessive communication, preserving their engagement and preventing disassociation. In the saturated digital landscape, effective communication is crucial. Brands vie for attention through notifications and ads, but the key is offering value and capturing interest. It's about quality over quantity, ensuring that the message is seen and appreciated. The power of AI lies in its ability to reach audiences effectively and harmonize with human elements for a seamless experience. The future will see AI further integrated into our marketing strategies, revolutionizing how we connect and communicate with consumers.

5. I'm curious about your perspective on ideal content and how you establish an effective content creation process.

For me, the essence of perfect content boils down to maximum ROI. It's a straightforward concept. To delve into the intricacies, let's break it down further. There are three pivotal questions to address: what, how, and why. These are the foundational pillars of marketing. You're on the right track if you can answer these three questions comprehensively. For instance, let's consider meme marketing or moment marketing. While it might work wonders for some brands, blindly imitating it won't yield success if it doesn't align with your brand's ethos.

My content strategy is simple yet powerful. It revolves around understanding the audience and their journey. By identifying touchpoints across the customer journey, you can craft content that engages and excites them at each step. This ensures a smooth transition from awareness to action, maintaining high engagement levels. However, perfection is an ongoing process. Continuous monitoring and optimization are crucial to identify what works best and where improvements can be made.

Three key takeaways emerge: relevance, personalization, and return on investment (ROI). Relevance ensures your content speaks directly to your audience, personalization tailors it to their preferences, and ROI validates the effectiveness of your efforts. They say marketing is the king, and content is the queen. Without the queen, the kingdom wouldn't thrive.

6. If you had limitless power within the content marketing realm, how would you utilize it to design your ultimate CMP aiming to address a practical challenge?

In tackling the question, I find two key aspects at play. Firstly, addressing a problem requires a foundational understanding of the problem itself. In my experience, many brands and marketers fail to grasp the significance of identifying the core issue. It's not about finding numerous problems but rather zeroing in on that one crucial problem. The emphasis lies in posing the right questions and cultivating an environment where customers can provide insightful answers. Once the problem is aptly identified, the solution naturally follows.

Secondly, I emphasize engagement as a vital ingredient in the content strategy recipe. The engagement should be concise, compelling, and purposeful—captivating the audience's attention while propelling the conversation forward. Originality becomes paramount here. Blindly mimicking trends or approaches from other brands, regardless of their success, can be dangerous if it doesn't align with your brand's essence. I advocate for simplicity within a three-fold framework: answering the questions of "why," "what," and "how." This prism incorporates the business's perspective, the customer's perspective, and the guiding principles of marketing itself.

Our strategy involves adhering to these timeless principles of marketing while adapting to the evolving mediums of communication. Fundamentals such as "what," "why," and "how," or the AIDA model remain steadfast amidst the dynamic changes we witness. A crucial lesson I often impart to my team and colleagues is the significance of solid fundamentals. While the mediums of communication evolve, the core principles that govern effective marketing remain constant. Building content and campaigns upon a strong foundation ensures meaningful interactions that resonate with audiences and drive results.

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