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Jessie Paul

Managing Director | 17 Sep 2010

Marketing and sales are often confused. In India, the terms are used interchangeably, perhaps because of the fact that we've had a very controlled economy and a vast pool of low-cost educated people. India has always had a big emphasis on the feet-on-street model of sales. Marketing is required when you want to do 'pull', or want other benefits like a brand premium or loyalty.

Jessie Paul is the Managing Director of Paul Writer, a marketing advisory firm she founded in early 2010 that works with clients in the B2B, services and technology space to create optimal marketing plans. Previously, as Chief Marketing Officer of Wipro's IT business and as Global Brand Manager at Infosys, she has been recognised for her contribution towards putting the Indian IT industry on the global map.

With over 15 years in services marketing, including a stint with Ogilvy & Mather Advertising, Paul is considered an expert in brand globalisation, and has been named one of the most influential business women in the Indian IT industry.

In 2009, she authored 'No Money Marketing', a book on frugal marketing techniques, which become Tata McGraw-Hill's fastest selling marketing professional book. An avid blogger on marketing (www.jessiepaul.com), Paul is a Computer Science engineer from NIT, Trichy and an MBA from IIM Calcutta. Here's Paul in a freewheeling conversation with Tuhina Anand of exchange4media.

Q. From being part of India�s biggest IT company to starting out on your own, what has been your biggest learning at Paul Writer since its inception?

Having the freedom to explore multiple domains and across different sizes of firms has made me realise how big a role customer communities will play in the future. Already it is on the roll people prefer to ask their network, whether it is on Facebook, Twitter or other closed communities, rather than just search the Internet. The businesses which succeed in the future are those which are able to understand their customers as individuals.

Q. In B2B marketing, what are the two aspects that are often overlooked or paid less attention to?

One factor that is often overlooked is that while it is the corporate which pays for the service, the decisions are driven by individuals. So, on a tighter scale, a lot of techniques that work for B2C can be applied here. Secondly, B2B tends to lag in terms of personal recognition opportunities for the buyers, for example, in the case of awards, loyalty programmes, customer forums.

Q. In what ways can Paul Writer help the B2B entrepreneurs?

Through our advisory service we help companies put together a structured, executable marketing plan. We ensure that all the potential opportunities are explored before arriving at the prioritisation stage. Since we have a large network, we can also cut short the search and negotiation phases for our clients and help them to hit the ground faster.

Through our website, we also offer a lot of topical information on how to benefit from marketing. Our overall objective is to raise the bar of B2B marketing in India, as without that India cannot become an economic superpower.

Q. Why do you think that in this day and age of excesses, frugal marketing can work?

It all depends on where you are in the lifecycle. If you are a mature, profitable firm, you may not find it that important to be frugal. But if you are a firm in the growth phase, regardless of size, you will want to stretch every resource to gain market share. Social media shifts the balance of power to those who understand their customers and are able to build a personal relationship with them. It requires bandwidth, but not a lot of cash.

Q. What really prompted you to write �No Money Marketing�? Do you plan to do a sequel to it, considering that the book has been well received?

A lot of people used to ask for advice informally. And I realised that because there was no knowledge-sharing, every company had to reinvent the wheel. 'No Money Marketing' was an attempt to capture the company-agnostic learnings of 10 years in one of India's most successful global industries. Personally, it was part of a transition plan from corporate executive to a marketing expert. I wanted to be known for my ideas rather than the firm that I worked for.

Q. What plans ahead do you have for Paul Writer?

We want to be identified with B2B marketing. If anyone wants something related to this space, they should think of looking at Paul Writer, whether it is advice, research or training.

Q. Ever thought of getting back into mainstream marketing and give up being an entrepreneur?

Not yet!

Q. Two points to ponder that you would like our readers to dwell upon.

How are you building and managing your personal brand? For entrepreneurs, are you investing in marketing or sales?

Q. As you have mentioned, do you think marketing and sales are often confused with each other, especially among entrepreneurs? Why?

Yes, marketing and sales are often confused. In India, the terms are used interchangeably, perhaps because of the fact that we've had a very controlled economy and a vast pool of low-cost educated people. India has always had a big emphasis on the feet-on-street model of sales. Marketing is required when you want to do 'pull', or want other benefits like a brand premium or loyalty.

Q. What is the role of a marketing advisory firm in today�s scenario? How far has this role expanded?

India has an acute shortage of senior B2B and IT marketing professionals. This is because in the past, sales was prioritised over marketing and most marketing talent in these industries migrated to other functions. On the other hand, the industry is moving from a supply-driven equation to a demand driven one, which raises the importance of marketing.

We can help bridge the shortage by helping clients to create a structured, executable marketing programme and guiding them on the required execution engine. In the past, there was a belief that you had to do execution to get clients, but I think that brings the relationship down to a tactical level, where you never get to the strategic part.

Q. In your view, what are the key points to building and managing a personal brand?

The most important aspect is that you should have a plan that is spread across at least three years, and operate as per that. The personal brand should also have a monetisable outcome as otherwise there will be no commitment to the plan.

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