Zameer Kochar

CMO at Rajasthan Royals

Navigating the Dynamic Landscape of Content Marketing: Insights from Zameer Kochar

Nothing remains the same in the marketing space. Balancing personal and professional goals can be a formidable challenge in such a scene. Especially when you're at the helm of a marketing division, the demands of aligning your team's efforts with the company's objectives while catering to the ever-growing appetite for content can feel like a tightrope walk. 

Zameer Kochar, CMO of Rajasthan Royals and a seasoned marketing leader shares valuable insights on navigating these complexities and achieving harmony within this dynamic ecosystem in conversation with Rahul Damani. From setting organization-wide goals to fostering a people-first approach and embracing authenticity, Kochar sheds light on the key principles that can help marketing leaders succeed in this ever-changing landscape. 

1. How do you maintain visibility and engagement beyond the seasonal buzz of IPL?

We view ourselves as a 365-day brand, not limited to the IPL season. Our core purpose is to transform society through cricket and innovation. We focus on nurturing grassroots talent and providing a platform for all without the fear of judgment. The IPL season becomes a high point, and we tailor content to various fan personas, ranging from cricket enthusiasts to fanatics. By understanding these profiles, we create meaningful content that resonates with our audience.

2. How has the evolution of content marketing in IPL changed over the years, given the changing teams and fan favorites?

Fandom keeps evolving, and people follow teams for various reasons. Content marketing in IPL has adapted by addressing different aspects, including player-related content, behind-the-scenes glimpses, regional content, and fan engagement through gamification. We focus on evergreen content and personalization while staying open to user-generated content. It's about creating multiple forms of engagement and optimizing based on data and feedback.

3. How far in advance do you plan your marketing efforts in a dynamic environment?

While having a 12- to 36-month view is essential, planning is also done annually. The pandemic has taught us to be adaptable, and it's crucial to have contingency plans (Plan B and Plan C). It's essential to anticipate the future and adapt to changes in the landscape, learning from other industries and remaining curious.

"Organization goals always come first. People first is also very important because that's where the collaboration will come."

4. How do you balance organic marketing and paid marketing efforts in your strategy?

Instead of framing it as organic versus paid, we view it as brand-building and performance marketing. The brand building focuses on softer aspects, contributing to the brand's health and reputation. Performance marketing is outcome-oriented and tailored to specific goals like ticket sales or merchandise. Both are essential and complement each other. Having the company's long-term vision in mind is crucial while balancing short-term results.

5. As a marketing leader, how do you balance personal objectives, organizational goals, and audience demands?

Balancing personal objectives, organizational goals, and audience demands is a multi-faceted challenge for a marketing leader. It requires strategic thinking, effective communication, and a people-centric approach. The first step is ensuring personal objectives align with the broader organizational goals. As a marketing leader, my primary responsibility is contributing to the organization's success. Therefore, my personal goals and aspirations must align with the company's vision and mission.

"Leadership is a mindset, irrespective of your position, designation, or years of experience."

I believe in creating a clear vision board that outlines the marketing team's short-term and long-term objectives. This vision board serves as a reference point for the team, ensuring they understand how their efforts contribute to the larger organizational goals. A critical aspect of leadership is empowering team members to excel. This involves setting clear expectations, providing the necessary resources and training, and creating an environment where individuals can thrive. When team members feel empowered and motivated, they are more likely to align their efforts with organizational goals.

Collaboration is key to achieving organizational goals. Marketing is not a siloed function; it involves cross-functional teamwork. I encourage collaboration within the marketing team and with other departments like sales, product development, and customer support. By fostering a collaborative environment, we can better meet audience demands and drive results. I firmly believe in a people-first approach. This means that the well-being and growth of team members are a top priority. When individuals feel valued and supported, they are more likely to go the extra mile to meet audience demands and contribute to organizational goals. This approach also extends to our interactions with customers and partners, emphasizing relationships over transactions.

The marketing landscape is constantly evolving. I prioritize continuous learning and adaptation to effectively balance personal objectives and audience demands. Staying updated on industry trends, emerging technologies, and consumer behavior allows us to make informed decisions and remain agile in our approach. Feedback is a valuable tool for alignment. I encourage open and constructive feedback within the team and from external stakeholders. This feedback loop helps us iterate on our strategies, ensuring we stay responsive to audience demands and aligned with organizational goals.

"Content cuts across the whole spectrum. Everyone has their way of value add. Be honest and truthful to yourself through listening and the on-ground experience."

6. How do you ensure individual efforts align with organizational goals and objectives?

Ensuring that individual efforts align with organizational goals and objectives is fundamental to effective leadership and management. We start by setting clear, measurable, and time-bound goals at the organizational and departmental levels. These goals are communicated transparently to all team members. Each individual understands how their role contributes to achieving these broader objectives. Once the organizational goals are established, we work with team members to define their individual goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). These goals are designed to align with the department's and the company's objectives. We conduct regular one-on-one check-ins between team members and their supervisors. These meetings provide an opportunity to review progress, discuss challenges, and make necessary adjustments to individual goals. It ensures that everyone is on track and aligned with the larger mission.

Metrics and dashboards play a significant role in tracking progress and alignment. We use data-driven tools to measure individual and team performance against established KPIs. Team members have access to dashboards that showcase their contributions in real-time. Providing constructive feedback is crucial in ensuring alignment. We offer feedback on both strengths and areas for improvement.

Coaching and mentorship programs are also available to help team members develop the skills and knowledge needed to meet their goals. Recognizing and rewarding individual efforts that contribute to organizational goals is essential. This recognition can take various forms, including bonuses, promotions, or public acknowledgment of achievements. It reinforces the idea that alignment with goals is valued and recognized.

While alignment is critical, we also understand that the business landscape can change rapidly. Therefore, we encourage team members to be flexible and adaptable. If shifting priorities are needed to respond to market changes or emerging opportunities, we make those adjustments collaboratively. We create individualized employee development plans that map out the skills and experiences required for career growth within the organization. This not only aligns personal growth objectives with company goals but also promotes retention and loyalty. Maintaining open lines of communication is essential. Team members are encouraged to voice their ideas, concerns, and suggestions. This fosters a culture of collaboration and ensures that alignment remains a two-way process.

7. How do you create a collaborative environment within your marketing team to generate innovative ideas?

Creating a collaborative environment within the marketing team is vital for generating innovative ideas. Innovation thrives when team members from diverse backgrounds and skill sets brainstorm, share insights, and build on each other's creativity. We promote an open and inclusive culture where every team member feels comfortable sharing their ideas, regardless of their position or tenure. We emphasize that innovative ideas can come from anyone, not just senior members.

We organize regular brainstorming sessions where team members gather to generate ideas, solve problems, and explore new approaches. These sessions are structured to encourage participation from everyone, and no idea is dismissed without consideration. We intentionally create diverse project teams, bringing together individuals with different skill sets, perspectives, and backgrounds. Diversity fosters a broader range of ideas and approaches.

We collaborate with external partners, including agencies and experts in various fields, to bring fresh perspectives and insights to our projects. These external partnerships often lead to innovative solutions. We sometimes organize innovation challenges or competitions within the team, motivating members to develop creative solutions to specific problems. This can be a fun and engaging way to spark innovation. Collaboration isn't limited to the marketing department. We actively seek opportunities for cross-functional collaboration with other departments, such as product development and sales. These collaborations often result in innovative product-marketing strategies.

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