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BW Businessworld

“Be A Customer Champion”

The person is empowered to ensure that the company rallies around all relevant stakeholders, internal and external, as one, to convert insights to experiences that deliver and delight, across all touchpoints.

Photo Credit :

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Fragmentation followed the growth in technology, especially in marketing that subsequently led to the function losing some bit of its pie, every time a new function came in play. For Ajay Kakar, the Chief Marketing Officer of Aditya Birla Capital, this is not what was important. He advises that every company needs a “customer champion” in its leadership team. Kakar describes ‘customer champion’ as a person, who listens to the voice of customer and brings it to the boardroom. The person is empowered to ensure that the company rallies around all relevant stakeholders, internal and external, as one, to convert insights to experiences that deliver and delight, across all touchpoints. Kakar discusses this, and other aspects of modern marketing, in this interview with BW Businessworld.

Excerpts:

As marketing came under duress, what were some of your key takeaways from the year gone?

The key realisation during the crisis was really the true importance of marketing. If you understand a customer and his needs and can simply convey to him the WIFM (what’s in it for me), even a push category such as financial services, can convert into a pull category within a matter of weeks. Also, it is important for a brand to be visible in good times, but more so when there is uncertainty in the customer’s environment. That being said, mere brand visibility is not enough. Following ‘bhed chaal’ (herd mentality), with seemingly generic messages like “we are there for you”, is not enough. It is important to be visible and accessible as a relevant brand. Acquiring new customers is a way of life. But being there for existing customers, to recognise and reassure them about their fears and doubts, is most critical.

Are marketers putting too much focus on technology or should more still be done?

It is not important to understand technology, analytics or all things digital. It is of paramount importance however to understand your customer and his changing needs in unprecedented times. And then using all the weapons at your disposal, including the likes of digital, to deliver to him what he needs, where he needs and when he needs it.

What are some of the biggest challenges that you see ahead for marketers and marketing professionals per se?

As marketers, we have to reposition ourselves. For this, we have to first reorient ourselves. We have to work to address the perception that we are mere cost-centres. We have to speak the language of business and outcomes (customers, revenues and profits) rather than the language of the function (awareness, consideration, leads, likes). We have to work to prove that we can actually bring business value to the company and shareholders. Marketing outcomes that are attributable to business outcomes.

Following ‘bhed chaal’ (herd mentality), with seemingly generic messages like “we are there for you”, is not enough.