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Marketing and storytelling are about creating experiences, say industry experts

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Marketing and storytelling are about creating experiences, say industry experts

The sixth edition of exchange4media’s CMO League took place yesterday in Gurgaon. This year’s edition of CMO League addressed an inherent dilemma of the marketing function- Is it a science or an art? And if both, in what measures? In a panel discussion best-selling author of the Shiva Trilogy, Amish Tripathi exchanged thoughts and insights with the other panelists on this subject in the context of his own experiences of marketing his debut novel.  

Brands across the world are choosing to tell stories to meaningfully and gainfully engage with customers. However, there is no proven metrics to determine the efficacy of story-telling within selling strategies, leaving marketers to wonder if research alone can be attributed to successful campaigns. Devendra Chawla, Group President-Food FMCG and Brands, Future Group, set the tone for the conversations by questioning the significance of the effervescent ‘Big Data’. “Big Data or complex data culled through extensive research is helpful in terms of understanding trends. However, more often than not it points to what does not or will not work rather than what will work. Therefore, one has to be observant, go beyond data and submit to gut and instinct to create meaningful consumer connects,” revealed Aditya Swamy, EVP and Business Head, Viacom 18. 

Adding on to this vein of reasoning, Kaacon Sethi, Chief Marketing Officer, Dainik Bhaskar Group reiterated the importance of listening for today’s marketers who are catering to consumers who are vocal about their choices and dislikes on multiple platforms including the social media sites. “And hearteningly this is definitely happening,” she added. According to Naveen Kukreja, Group CMO and Director, Policy Bazaar data should be intelligently leveraged at different stages of the marketing mix.

Amish Tripathi observed that a hallmark of good marketing is creating stories that people can relate to. According to him, “Since there is a cost attached to every marketing initiative, it is critical that campaigns are preceded by research. However, the value of research cannot and should not be overemphasized and there should always be an emotional connect. It is spontaneous and timely insight that fuels breakthroughs in terms of consumer connect across domains and for that to happen the marketing fraternity needs to accord greater importance to right brain/non-linear thinking.”

The panelists were in agreement that today India is experiencing a resurgence of pride that is reflecting in consumer choices. And the literary and publishing world is no exception where readers are expressing an unprecedented (compared to the last two hundred years) choice for fiction and non-fiction books with purely Indian themes and mirroring Indian traditions and legacy. “The e-commerce brass has broken stereotypes about India. Also today everything (from commodities to opportunities) that a few decades back was a purview of the developed West is available in India. There is a visible mood of optimism and hope,” observed Swati Bhargava, Co Founder, Cash Hence linking aspirations to traditional sentiments is proving to be a turnkey formula for marketing success. The Paperboat commercials are excellent highlights of pride in Indianness. “People in this country are celebrating their identity, roots and nuances in ways that are funky, novel and cool,” said Raghav Verma, Co Founder, Chaayos. He stressed on the importance of contemporary packaging in marketing.

Alluding to a major challenge of marketing, Naveen Kukreja said, “Innovation is a ubiquitous but overrated concept in marketing circles. It is not innovation that is a challenge. It is adapting innovation in the context of local markets that is the real challenge for marketers.” So while the ‘desi touch’ to campaigns is beginning to happen there is both scope and need for much more. Sharing his thoughts on how marketers can incorporate Indian nuances Amish Tripathi said, “India is replete with symbols that connote meanings, events and emotions and this timeless legacy with symbols is something that marketers should tap into. While making purchase decisions the average Indian always looks at an emotional and sometimes philosophical connect. So perhaps like stories, marketing should strike philosophical conversations too.”    

On whether the art of storytelling has changed with the multitude of digital platforms, Amish Tripathi concludes, “Exciting and heart touching stories will always have a timeless appeal. However, today writers have to grapple with the challenge of very short attention spans of readers. Hence pace is extremely critical between sequences and even lines of stories. And the rules are not any different for marketers.”  

Dainik Bhaskar is the presenting sponsor of the CMO League 2015.

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