Mind your Marketing

Marketing platforms are competing to offer more and more granular data

| Updated on December 26, 2019 Published on December 26, 2019

Ramesh Ravishankar, Senior Director – Marketing, Freshworks

This week on Mind your Marketing, we are in conversation with Ramesh Ravishankar, Senior Director – Marketing, Freshworks. He has over 15 years of experience in Sales and Marketing across different markets in India and South-East Asia. Ramesh started his career by selling bicycles in southern rural regions, and later sold pay phones in the South before he embarked on his journey with Google, learning the ropes of Digital Marketing. He is passionate about digital marketing and measurement as the complexity grows in offline/online marketing. At Freshworks, Ramesh is responsible for global lead generation across multiple products.

 

Have millennials and GenZ transformed the way businesses approach marketing?

Millennials have played a very crucial role in the business of marketing. They are highly focused and have the attitude to try out stuff that has never been done before, only to see if it works or not. Marketing was always done the traditional way – newspapers, ads, flyers, and with the advent of digital marketing, millennials have taken control. I have a team constituting over 90 per cent from GenZ. I will be honest in saying that they probably will soon overtake my level of knowledge. Thank goodness for years of experience, which can never be equalled! 

What are the best ways to connect with and sell to this audience?

Selling was more or less a cost-conscious effort, at least in a market like India. Today, it’s or it is fast-changing. If you are selling a product, you need to tell them what the differentiation is because the cost of switching is far less than it previously was. If you are selling a job, you have to ensure you lay a career path, which they are more interested in than the salary. Salary is not the only bone of contention for millennials to take up a job offer. They want a variety of jobs to do, which also involves x-functional collaboration between teams. 

What are the specific technologies that have driven these changes?

The superior technology that is available is responsible for the change in behaviour. Marketing platforms are competing to offer more and more granular data. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn are competing with each other to give their customers a real sense of value. A billboard in the '90s looked good, and caught eyeballs, and influenced the purchase. Today, with the availability of data, decisions are taken to see the influence of digital marketing on the billboard. YouTube is the next big TV. These factors make marketing very interesting and keep young marketers challenged.

 

Ramesh says…

a.  We will want Freshworks to be the brand that enables businesses to have a single view of their customers. You don't need 5 different tools to handle your customers – just use the Freshworks Platform be it sales, marketing or customer support.

 

b.  Measurement & attribution, content marketing and customer experience & engagement

 

c.  Honest, ‘wow’ experiences and a friend to the customer 

 

What do you need to win in the marketplace – better technology or better ideas?  

Technologies are in plenty, ideas are far too few, and there is a dearth of ‘good ideas’. Technology is just an enabler. With the advent of smartphones, everyone wanted an app, thinking they will be able to push their product to the consumer. Today, it has changed. You don't need an app to gain mindshare. It would help if you had an idea, and an app may or may not be a platform. It just depends on your target audience, what they want, and how you are making their purchase decision simpler. Take the example of Myntra, they had once decided to try out an ‘app-only’ marketplace. It turned out to be a bad idea despite superior technology - they had to go back to the website format soon. 

What makes customer experiences the differentiator of the future? 

Experience. The user of the product will always be the winner and not the purchaser of the product. A simple example: you think your kid would love a toy that you would bring for her/him. The joy the kid would derive is by using the toy in the most unintended way. Customer experience is defined by their experiences and conversations, and not necessarily by price. We are in the business of selling software and customers buy our software not because there is no alternative to their existing software. They buy our software because we are more of friends to them, and help them navigate through a customer experience that brings in moments of joy in their buying journey. 

How do you bridge the gap between expectation and experience? 

There is just one step. As our CEO Girish would always say, “The customer has an expectation in mind and a way of doing things in their business. As we sell to them, we have to be very cautious to not take their solutions as the only way but to wow them with a better, easier and simpler solution that goes beyond their expectations. At the same time, it is essential to be honest with the customer on what is possible, and otherwise. Being honest wins a prospect, and most times, customers too!” 

What does it take for brands to stay competitive in today's dynamic economy and market?

Feature differentiation, the usability of the product, and in case you are in the business of making software for brands like Freshworks, one needs to make our customers look good in front of theirs.

What are the three secrets to successful branding? 

I am not sure if there is a secret to successful branding. For a brand to be successful, it cannot happen in a day. A brand evolves over a while, and also the most successful brands make mistakes (not intentionally necessarily) where they could take the wrong turn because they kept a secret. However, I'd think that to build a successful brand you should be honest, give users the joy of using a product where consumers experience moments of wow, and be a friend to the prospect or customer. 

Can a one-size-fits-all approach work in a differentiated market such as India?

India is united by various communities, cultures, languages, thoughts and more. However, when you are selling to customers cutting across these challenges, you can still be successful if you are honest, friendly and provide consumers joy while using your product. India is a cost-conscious market, and that doesn't necessarily mean cheap. It just means, show the customer the value that you bring to them, and you will always win. 

Why and how should brands think local?

Every brand should cater to local needs. What works for Americans will never work for Europeans or Indians. Take Google, for example. Google maps were developed in the US for global use, but often struggled when you had to navigate in India with the ways of driving.  The US had far too few two-wheelers than India. Today, Google Maps has directions for motorbikes and two-wheelers and there is a dime a dozen such examples. Marketing is how close you get to the user who belongs to a particular region. Take Byju's for instance, the kids used in their TVCs are to reach their target audience across many cultures in India, but the common theme is Shah Rukh and the Indian nod! 

How does your brand approach the Southern market when it comes to branding and consumer engagement?

We are a brand that caters to businesses and the globe is our audience. Today, we provide localisation by addressing the needs of each country. But the day will come when we will go deeper and address it state-wise if the need arises.

 

What is unique about the South Indian market? Do you see any difference in consumer behaviour from the North in your category? 

We see differences in global buying behaviours, and today as we sell to Indian markets, South vs North hasn’t yet mattered. As I said earlier, if we continue to provide a ‘wow’ experience to all our prospects and customers, the only difference would be language, if at all. 

 

This article is part of a brand initiative by The Hindu BusinessLine to profile marketing professionals from across India.

 

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Published on December 26, 2019
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