Guest Article: 5 lessons from the US digital marketing industry

Romi Mahajan, WW Director of Sales and Strategy for the Digital Marketing & Search team at Microsoft Corporation, shares five important lessons in marketing that he feels Indian marketers need to keep in mind when looking to developments in the US.

e4m by Romi Mahajan
Published: May 9, 2011 8:50 AM  | 3 min read
Guest Article: 5 lessons from the US digital marketing industry

Exuberance is good until it gets irrational.

I’ve been asked on several occasions about the lessons for the Indian marketing community I’ve divined from my time in the US marketing community. Does the US represent the imminent future of the Indian Digital Marketing landscape? Does Digital Marketing cut across time, space, and culture? Are there pitfalls to avoid? And so on.

While it might be presumptuous for me to opine (since I work in the US and only “do business” in India), I am willing to take the risk of appearing arrogant if the themes I outline can offer even a bit of help to people reading this.

My advice ranges from the philosophical to the admonitory.

Lesson 1 - Think outcomes not channels. In an excited state, the marketing community thinks too often about “digital” and not often enough about what we are trying to achieve and with what audience? Digital represents a set of distribution channels, not a set of desired states.

Lesson 2 - Avoid as much as you imbibe. Even a cursory glance at the marketing/ advertising press in the US will lead any reader into believing that the world is all digital. Well, guess what, in India newsprint is a Growing medium, while in the US it’s shrinking. This is just one of the many material differences across geographies that have to be considered when “Marketing in context.”

Lesson 3 - Convenient truths are more convenient and less truthful. Trust me, marketing is not all about Facebook. Hyperbolic claims should always be met with equally stentorian dismissal.

Lesson 4 - Think about your customers’ customers. The first thing a marketer should think of is the outcome he is trying to drive. The second thing a marketer should think about is the set of experiences he is going to offer the final “consumer” to create as rich an outcome as possible.

Lesson 5 - Calm down and have fun. We all need to breathe. Bubbles are created when no one stops to think and no one stops to enjoy the “doing” of the work. Bubbles are Trouble. Avoid the hype and concentrate on enjoying the artistic elements of the marketing trade.

The main point to be made here is that there are, naturally, lessons to be learned from the US digital marketing industry, but those lessons are in equal measure positive and negative. People tell me that India is just “at the beginning” of the digital marketing revolution, but I think of that as essentially an irrelevant point. What does matter is that Indian marketers are very mature at what matters – Marketing. Digital is just one manifestation.

(Romi Mahajan is WW Director of Sales and Strategy for the Digital Marketing & Search team at Microsoft Corporation. In this role, Mahajan focuses on growing the Digital Marketing business for the company as well as helping define Microsoft’s increasing role in Internet Business. Before this stint at Microsoft, Mahajan was Founder- President of KKM Group, an Advisory company focused solely on Strategy and Marketing in the Technology, Media, Agency, and Luxury Goods sectors. Prior to founding KKM, Mahajan was Chief Marketing Officer of Ascentium Corporation, a leading digital agency with 96M in Sales in 2008.)

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