Can CMOs & CIOs work together for marketing initiatives?

In this interview, Pradeep Dwivedi, former Chief Corporate Sales & Marketing Officer of the Dainik Bhaskar Group, shares how the media house is using Marketing Automation Solutions (MAS) in its marketing strategy. Pradeep led pan-India corporate sales & marketing groups and has been instrumental in establishing Dainik Bhaskar as a premium media brand.

This interview was conducted by Santosh Abraham, Founder & Lead Analyst, Research NXT in Sep 2016 and Pradeep since then has moved out of DB Corp Limited and is now CEO, Sakal Media Group. Read on to understand how technology is shaping up marketing in Indian media houses

Have you been using Marketing Automation in your organisation?

Pradeep:  To some extent yes, we do use Marketing Automation. We don’t have a CRM implementation yet. But what we do have is a large database of customers, which is a part of our SMB billing database. This is used as a contact as well as promotion solution, when we are trying to run a campaign mostly around text and email. It’s in the primitive stages at DB Corp. We are looking at alternative technology which can help us.

What is the size of this database you work on?

Pradeep:  It’s approximately 5.53 million contacts. When it comes to database there is two kinds of customers that we have to deal with. One is of prospects from a B2B context, which is the large part of what I do, are audiences of 10 thousand clients of which 7 thousand are spread in the local market and about 3 thousand are corporate clients. Out of these top 200 clients, which contribute almost 70% of the revenue, are critical. And second is of readers in B2C context when we are selling newspapers we are creating a readership base and then we sell this readership base to an advertiser by creating ad space. 

“There is an intrinsic discomfort I see in CMOs to actually work with CIOs. I feel this require cultural change for CIOs to make their relevance felt to the CMO.”

Is your Marketing Automation is mainly targeted to B2C or B2B clientele?

Pradeep:  Both have very distinct marketing programme. B2C programme I spoke about is largely focused on building a better connect with readers. We supplement it with series of events and CSR activity for reader connect and use these tools to make sure audience is drawn to these events. These could be programmes as simple as water conversation, spirit of giving, save the bird etc.  These are community awareness initiatives because newspaper has to be seen as an agenda of social awareness in the market.  This keeps the readers engaged with our product.

On B2B side the programmes are very different because it is all about delivering to the market and the audience

Penetration of Marketing Automation Solutions (MAS) in India is very low. Why do you think Indian market is still not using these products?

Pradeep:  Large part of marketing today is externally focused and it can be broadly divided into two parts.  One is recognition of your brand, its vision, mission and values which is put together to attract customers. Second is actually taking those brand values and brand message to the market place to the customer who is actually going to pay for it. On the later part there is a huge reliance on external agencies to do the job for them. That is the one of the main reason that Marketing Automation has not caught on.

Companies like group M, O&B and Hawas media are international media groups who do the creative side of the campaign, media planning and media buying side of the campaign. So a large part of mass communication is passed on to them. Now when it comes to doing targeted communication to a set and an identified database there automation technology can be used.

There is an intrinsic discomfort I see in CMOs to actually work with CIOs. I feel this require cultural change for CIOs to make their relevance felt to the CMO. Today that case is not happening, I think if you look at the consumer life cycle CIO has been very successful in creating values when it comes to post sales life cycle. If there is a billing relationship or a renewal relationship, they are able to manage all those effectively. But when it comes to managing a potential database, either by creating value out of existing customers or through the external market where they are not with the company any point of time, there CIOs are very uncomfortable.

“Newspaper has to be seen as an agenda of social awareness in the market.”

How do you run campaigns for such a huge database?

Pradeep:  For B2C segments there are internal campaigns which are executed. That is an important part of what we do. I would again say this is primitive and restricted to text and email. Given the nature of B2B selling there is lot more money being spent on event engagements than on leveraging technology. I have seen Tech Company doing a better job of leveraging technology to sell B2B. For eg Oracle or SAP or even a Microsoft, they do a far better job than when it comes to companies outside their industry. You can use technology to organise yourself or to actually sustainably convey a message. I think people tend to use technology in marketing in the Indian context in B2B segment more to organise themselves and leave the customer contact area for traditional means.

For email are you using drip marketing?

Pradeep:  No, we are at an early stage but if you refer to my previous organisation 3 years ago in telecom context there we were using all the tools. I worked with TATA teleservices where I was heading the B2B side of the business for western region. We were using all of these tools including automated sequencing based on customer value, time of messaging, variation of messages in term of quality and content.

Any specific tool that you are using for bulk emailing?

Pradeep:  If we have to do some bulk messaging we depend on our vendors like Netcore which do the work. But mostly we do it on our own. We do template messaging which is sort of customized little bit for each client to make it appear nice. In B2C segment we use it more than B2B. B2B we largely use for event reminders, follow-ups and Customized relationship messages like birthday etc. But again I would say it is not very evolved here.

“It is important to get the Sales, CRM and Marketing team aligned on a marketing platform.”

Any specific tool that you are using for bulk emailing?

Pradeep:  If we have to do some bulk messaging we depend on our vendors like Netcore which do the work. But mostly we do it on our own. We do template messaging which is sort of customized little bit for each client to make it appear nice. In B2C segment we use it more than B2B. B2B we largely use for event reminders, follow-ups and Customized relationship messages like birthday etc. But again I would say it is not very evolved here.

How do you manage your database?

Pradeep:  We have a full SAP deployment where customer primary data is maintained. We also use outlook active directory based tools to do automation of these messaging. But there are no special tools that we use. 

“We are the largest circulated newspaper company in India and 4th largest in the world.”

With respect to reporting and analytics are you using any particular tool?

Pradeep:  We have over layer softwares that run on the core SAP database, which is part of the architecture. We have clickyou which does more of reporting than analytics which run on SAP core and sales force is currently under evaluation.

In next 5 years do you see a need to have a centralized marketing tool in your organisation?

Pradeep:  Need definitely is there but what will determine the success of adoption depends on 2 different criteria. First is purely on account of efficiency. Will any platform that is on offer do the job much better than all of these discreet elements put together, without the controller of these elements feeling lack of authority. In an organisation database is managed by one set of teams, marketing is managed by another set and the ultimate consumer who is impacted is handled by the sales team. So we have to get the sales, CRM and Marketing team aligned on a marketing platform. And I am yet to come across a tech vendor who has made such convincing product. Second is the cost value, if these tech vendors can show saving anything above 20% then I think they will have a compelling take