Youth Quotient: "Relevance is fundamental to any social interaction"

Siddhartha Sahni, Vice President - Key Accounts, Webchutney talks about why he looks up to Sudhir Nair at G2, his learnings from social media marketing & more...

e4m by Priyanka Mehra
Published: Nov 6, 2013 8:50 AM  | 4 min read
Youth Quotient: "Relevance is fundamental to any social interaction"

Siddhartha Sahni, Vice President - Key Accounts, Webchutney aims to take a brand to its full potential through his work at the agency. As Business Head for Key Accounts at Webchutney, Sahni’s role includes overseeing all aspects of the agency business, its day-to-day operations and profitability. The key accounts handled by him include Bharti Airtel and Harley-Davidson India.

Over the last eight years, Sahni has handled some of the biggest brands and their launches across mainline, BTL, direct and digital mediums.

In conversation with exchange4media, Sahni talks about why he looks up to Sudhir Nair at G2, his learnings from social media, and more…

Who is that one digital industry leader whom you look up to?
There are so many people who teach so many things at an agency. They don’t necessarily need to be industry leaders. But as far as leaders in digital go, I would have to pick Sudhir Nair at G2, who I’ve looked up to ever since I joined advertising. I am lucky to have had a chance to interact and work with him a little early in my career. He taught me the most important thing in any people business – ‘to be a good leader you have to lead from the front’. In an industry where people are your only assets, there are no two ways or any shortcuts here.

Which is that one project you are proud to have associated with?
The Emirates ‘Guess where Fly there’ campaign that I handled in 2011. A truly integrated and measurable campaign, where digital took the lead in meeting the marketing objectives. Mainline and other mediums supported digital and the campaign was a benchmark internally for Emirates and a roaring success with the audience.

Five brands you would want to work with….
In no particular order: Virgin, Puma, Red Bull, Harley-Davidson, Amazon.

Five things social media marketing has taught you…
1. That both parties – the client and the agency – are on the platform without any clue where they want to take the conversation. Both sides have very few experts and talent is hard to come by.
2. If you speak to your customers as friends on the medium, then don’t get upset and talk down to them if they speak their heart out on the platform. There are no rules in friendship, so you cannot expect your friends to write to your CRM grievance cell and only then you might take them seriously.
3. That content is always going to remain king. Relevance is fundamental to any social interaction and this is where relevant content needs to be the bridge that let’s you engage with your consumer’s daily.
4. That everything you learn in social media marketing today is probably going to be outdated tomorrow.
5. That you might as well be having an unpleasant conversation with your consumers than having no conversation at all.

Define your day at work.
My typical workday actually starts the evening before, where I jot down the actionable for the next day. God knows which bomb is going to be ticking in your inbox the next morning, so this practice helps staying focused on your actual tasks at hand amidst all the chaos the world has planned for you. Once I get into the agency, my day would be like any other team leaders, where you can only expect the unexpected.

What do you love about your work? And what do you dislike?
I love the fact that I can express myself freely and get away with it on most days without being frowned upon. I also love the fact that advertising keeps you on your toes inspite of being a desk job. If advertising doesn’t, the client or some team member definitely will! No day is the same in advertising, and that kind of chaos is perfect cover for a clinically insane person like me!

I dislike the fact that while most clients have been craving ‘integrated’ agencies for almost a decade now, the clients still don’t have these integrated skill sets at their end. Marketing managers in India at best are focused towards being medium experts or vertical specialists, but you seldom come across someone who handles everything and his or her job is to ensure the brand objectives are being met seamlessly across media by one integrated agency.

If you wouldn’t have been in digital marketing, what do you think you would be doing?
Playing professional golf or cricket. I am still fairly competitive in both sports, but sadly only at the amateur level now!

Where do you see yourself five years down the line?
I probably see myself as a marketing head for a global brand, working very hard to ensure my front line staff or helpline are as effective as my website, TVC or print ad.

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