Mastering Marketing in the Digital Age with Vipul Oberoi | The Growth Genius

Vipul Oberoi is the Director of Marketing, CSR, and Learning Solutions at Dun & Bradstreet India. With over two decades of experience in marketing, he has led prominent roles at IIFL Finance and YES BANK. Vipul is a seasoned expert in content marketing, brand positioning, and digital strategies, as showcased in his insightful articles and contributions. His dedication extends to CSR initiatives, where he collaborates with organizations to make a positive impact. Vipul is also passionate about fostering relationships and building strong connections in the corporate world. In

Mastering Marketing in the Digital Age with Vipul Oberoi | The Growth Genius

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    Dun & Bradstreet, a leading provider of business information and insights, has implemented effective brand building strategies to enhance its market presence. By focusing on key elements such as brand positioning, messaging, and visual identity, the company has successfully established a strong brand image. They have also leveraged digital marketing channels to reach a wider audience and engage with customers. Dun & Bradstreet’s brand building efforts have resulted in increased brand awareness, customer loyalty, and business growth. With a comprehensive approach that includes consistent messaging and a compelling visual identity, the company has successfully positioned itself as a trusted and reliable source of business information. Through their brand building initiatives, Dun & Bradstreet has solidified its position in the market and continues to thrive in the competitive business information industry.

    Key Take Aways

    1. Understand your target audience: Digital marketers should have a deep understanding of their target audience’s needs, preferences, and pain points to create effective brand-building strategies.
    2. Consistency is key: Consistency in brand messaging, tone, and visual identity across all digital channels helps build brand recognition and trust among consumers.
    3. Leverage social media platforms: Social media platforms provide an opportunity for digital marketers to engage with their audience, build brand awareness, and drive traffic to their websites.
    4. Invest in content marketing: Creating valuable and relevant content helps establish a brand as an industry expert, attracts and retains customers, and improves search engine rankings.
    5. Optimize for search engines: Implementing search engine optimization (SEO) techniques can improve a brand’s visibility in search engine results, driving organic traffic and increasing brand exposure.
    6. Utilize email marketing: Email marketing allows digital marketers to nurture leads, build relationships with customers, and drive conversions by delivering personalized and targeted messages.
    7. Monitor and analyze data: Regularly monitoring and analyzing data from various digital marketing channels helps identify trends, measure campaign effectiveness, and make data-driven decisions for future strategies.
    8. Stay updated with industry trends: Digital marketers should stay updated with the latest industry trends, emerging technologies, and consumer behavior to adapt their strategies and stay ahead of the competition.

    Read Transcript

    Mehul Ashar:- Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to yet another episode of The Growth Genius where we bring growth stories in business and marketing. Powered by Infidigit the SEO Experts in today’s episode we have a Growth Genius who is a seasoned professional and whose career has transitioned across banking, financial services, and now information services. Please join me in welcoming Mr. Vipul Oberoy, director of Marketing, CSR, and learning solutions at Dun Bradstreet. Vipul, a pleasure to have you on the growth. Genius. Thank you so much.

    Vipul Oberoi:- Thank you, Mehul thanks for having me on Growth Genius.

    Mehul:- This pleasure is ours So I would like to start with your role at Dun and Brad Street. Your role comprises multiple things. So can you explain that a bit to us? 

    Vipul:- Sure. So dun Bradstreet. I’ll start with Dun Bradstreet. We were founded in 1841 and that’s like almost 180 years ago. And try to imagine that world which was so different, where India hadn’t fought its first war of independence and secondly that Hong Kong was a fishing village of just about 6000 people. The electric bulb wasn’t invented yet, even something like a barbed wire wasn’t invented yet. So we are talking about those times and since those times, Louis Tapan, who was our founder, started collecting data on companies. He realized that company information was very important because the telephone wasn’t invented yet, so means of communication were almost non-existent. So he decided to collect information on businesses across America. And that is how it started. We started with data at our core, so we can probably claim to be one of the first data companies in the world. And over some time, data became databases. With databases came more meaningful information. It was enriched from just thermographics to including all kinds of information about companies. In 1964, we also started with our proprietary numbering system which is called Duns and this is a unique identifier for every company and every location of that company, every office across the world. So across the world, I can say that we have currently crossed about 500 million such Duns numbers. So that is the size of the record that we have. So from databases, when we have more information, information leads to analytics, and analytics leads to insights. Over some time, we have helped banks make better credit decisions, corporates make better decisions for their finances on vendor assessment, assess risk in their supply chain for marketing domains, do intelligent prospecting, to do better outreach with their clients and prospects. And overall if you see and this also includes of course a part of advisory services that we do in India, true, all that has data as its base. So these data blocks eventually have led to that information and insights, which is the bread and butter of the company. So, coming to my profile there now, you would see that understand that this is all B2B information we have information on companies and the people who are the key decision-makers in those companies. One of my primary jobs in any B2B marketing is also to build the brand. Ultimately, marketing is about three things building the brand and awareness. The second is to create that demand, and the third is to improve brand salience. And these three apply to my role as well. And in the marketing domain, I have to first build the band. I have to build the thought leadership because this is a decision not of an individual when it comes to whether to go with Dun Bradstreet or not. There, the decision is taken jointly by several people and everybody puts their job, their career, and their bonuses online when they have to make such important decisions on which company to go with when it comes to their risk assessment or prospecting, etc. So my job also is to first give them that assurance that Dun Bradstreet is the brand that they should go with. They wouldn’t be fired from their job if they decided to go with Dun Bradstreet. The second part is demand generation. Of course, we do a lot of outreach activities like anybody would do. But these are not mass outreach activities. These are not all activities like in mass media or for example, doing large-scale activations on the ground. It does not happen this way because here we are trying to convince a senior key functionary in an organization what will be the implications of the challenges they’re facing. We are telling them about how Dun and Brad Street can step in and help them. And we are also telling them about the various possibilities beyond challenges, what are the opportunities that they can exploit? So all this cannot happen through purely non-personal communication. There are a lot of connections that are built, and one of my jobs is to build those connections. And of course, I’m not talking about the brand salience. That is of course a function of what we do. But over some time, as far as marketing is concerned, digital marketing has become very important for us. And I would like to stress here that while performance marketing is important for us, it’s a pure demand generation. We do not take that route of getting pure leads and working on those. Our objective is to first create that pull. So when we create a brand, we create a pull. When we do our digital marketing activities, our first objective is to get that organic growth. And again, the cornerstone of this organic growth is our website. A website is a repository of information. Whenever a client faces any problem, they typically come to Google. They search for what their problem is, and who can solve it. So search becomes important. SEO has become important for us. When they land on our website, they need to have that information given to them in those clear ways, because our products are not easy to understand. Ultimately what we are talking to them about is how data is being converted to insights. We have a range of SaaS-based products which are of course something that has a concept that has to be explained. We are talking about advisory, so the content on the website, the structure, the navigation, all that becomes extremely important. And of course, there is PR, there’s a lot of media coverage that we try to generate and that helps us in our thought leadership, that also communicates what kind of products that we have, what is the expertise that we have. The fourth pillar is social media marketing, more specifically LinkedIn. It’s not just really about having products or trying to do employer branding, it’s also about creating that kind of thought leadership on this platform. Besides this, we have this Learning solution business which I also had. Now, learning solutions Business is about events, it’s about those conferences, it’s about creating insights, it’s about creating engagement, we do research for our clients. And all this of course is monetized. In purely marketing terms, it’s marketing, but monetized marketing. And I am fortunate enough to be leading the CSR activities of Dun Bradstreet in India. It’s something which of course is not related to marketing, but it’s quite related to my heart, it’s close to my heart. It’s something by which we can give back to society and sometimes it’s also a break from the while we are always chasing numbers to do something good for society is always satisfying.

    Mehul:- Amazing, amazing. So just wanted to ask more on the CSR bit, What are the causes that you cater to or which you invest or engage in? 

    Vipul:- So we haven’t picked up any particular theme, but what we try to do is do our bit as much as possible, right? So usually we support a lot the education, that is one because we believe that education is like a building block when you support the education of kids, of girl students, you are creating a long-term social impact. Ultimately, especially with girl children, if you are educating them, you are educating the family. It results in benefits such as health, such as nutrition, and far-reaching effects on the social fabric of the country. So we support the education of underprivileged children, we focus a lot on health, we support the treatment of cancer patients and we also focus a lot on the environment which includes planting trees. So that is something, ecological restoration is something that we feel is important and unfortunately, our cities do not have that kind of flexibility for ecological restoration. Unfortunately, I can say we are past that, but there are still a lot of ecological basins and biodiversity basins in India that need to be preserved. In my in fact interactions over the past two years of handling CSR in Dun Bradstreet, thankfully corporate organizations are very pro about it. It’s not just utilizing their budgets, they don’t do lip speak, they are doing a lot of work there. There are a lot of agencies that are selflessly working very hard for various causes and upliftment of society, making our lives better and amazing because you feel that you are part of that overall mission. It’s not a job, it’s not a checklist. I truly feel that we become part of an overall mission where everybody is really trying to do their bit to make this world a better place. 

    Mehul:- Yeah, that’s quite interesting. I didn’t know this side of Dunn and Bradstreet, Thanks for sharing that, and wanted to also delve know the learning solutions bit where you have these very interesting events and I think these are across industries if I’m not mistaken. Right. You focus on certain areas where you have insights from those industries and you get expert speakers during the event. Right. So can you tell us more about those events as well? 

    Vipul:- Yes, so it’s interesting that while all companies, whether they are 180-year-old companies like Dun and Brad Street or the newest of startups, everybody has challenges. Everybody, even in the most mature sectors is trying to find their way. And it’s not easy because you need complete knowledge of a particular problem statement or of a new opportunity or any white space you are targeting because you are making a big decision. And what people always feel is that they need to make informed decisions. For making informed decisions you need that kind of knowledge, you need that kind of learning. And this is what we also decided decades ago that we would do so. We have a series of such knowledge platforms. For example, we focus on say particular domains. So we have conferences that have conversations relevant to the BFSI sector, there is something for the MSME sector, there is something for the PSU and government sector or we pick up the new age themes. For example, ESG is a big thing and we recently had a conference around it. There are also some that are particular to domains for example, which are relevant for CFOs, relevant for CMOs, and relevant for HR heads. What we seek to do through these 10-12 platforms is have this kind of conversation that picks up those trends. There’s a lot of focus on content, there’s a lot of focus on research that we do on what are the issues various organizations are facing. Because we are a B2B company, we are interacting with many clients and client organizations who are also looking to us to solve their problems. But all this is not just for our consumption. All this knowledge that we are creating is also for consumption by the oral industry as a whole. And that is where I feel that knowledge is a big differentiator when it comes to B2B and B2C. Here you need to create that kind of thought leadership through knowledge, and which is what these conferences do. 

    Mehul:- And you get industry experts not just from the industry, but you also get subject knowledge experts from the government as well if I’m not mistaken. So that actually creates an interesting confluence. In fact, even in academics, you have people talking about these topics and giving their input, right? 

    Vipul:- Yes. In fact, the topics we pick up come from the industry itself because when we talk to our clients, they tell us about the challenges they are facing or the new trends that are coming. And what we do is we use these platforms to bring a more 360-degree discussion. So it’s not a unidimensional thing. That one stakeholder, the biggest stakeholder in that scenario is only talking about it. So that’s not knowledge creation. Knowledge comes when there are diverse views which are coming. And that is why we’re bringing academia, we bring in government officials, we bring in subject matter experts, we bring in the industry veterans, and we also bring in the greenhorns. So everybody’s view comes together and that is how we build it. And through this also, I must mention that we also try to recognize those who have made a difference. Therefore we have something called India’s top 500 value creators. So these are the companies that have created value, actual value for stakeholders in the past three, or five years. We try to identify the leading SMEs of India, the leading mid-sized corporates of India, the leading PSUs, and also the leading banking and financial services companies. So it also becomes a ready reckoner for industry experts, analysts, government agencies, and generally corporates, who are looking to identify the cream of Indian industry. 

    Mehul:- That’s very interesting. Coming to your exposure or your experience per se, I think you have been into banking and financial services. How has marketing evolved over some time, according to you?

    Vipul:- So I started my career in 2006. And again, as I said, sometimes I’m not as old as Dun Brad Street, but in marketing terms, I think I’m pretty old that way. So in 2006, there was hardly any SMS marketing, there was no email marketing, Facebook was not there, and there was no Twitter. So digital marketing as a whole was nonexistent. So when I started, it was about the brand, brand building, it was about PR, it was about creating those outreach. So we used to talk in terms of atlbtl, and atlbtl digital hadn’t come. So there was a lot of focus actually on sales, distribution, improving the product, and communication used to typically, and I’m talking about banks here, of course, and communication used to come after that, right? So it used to be said that if your service is good if you have a good branch network, if you have great products, which usually meant lower fees and better interest rates, your job is done. The rest, of everything is to just communicate. But over some time, banks have matured a lot as far as marketing is concerned. They have realized, and perhaps that is because of the competition they have been facing within themselves in the traditional banks as we call it, but also competition from fintechs, which has changed the marketing game for banks. They have become more focused on what they communicate. They have become more focused on being up to date with the trends there. They have focused a lot on digital marketing. And now if you see, of course, every digital marketing or ATL agency knows that the BFSI sector is the biggest spender as far as marketing is concerned. And they spend not just purely on a big media plan, they invest in the brand. So that is a big and welcome change, which I see. Of course, over some time, data became important. With big data came a new field, a subfield of marketing, as they said, analytics, where we used to have a separate team that analyzes all that customer data, and banks have that wealth of data and they analyze all that data and try to bring in trends. And then suddenly we had marketing automation, which I believe changed the game. Social media and marketing automation I feel have been probably in a span of four or five years which I was handling. And suddenly I realized that I am living in the stone age because I have not kept abreast with all that. This is the mid-2010s when it Google and Facebook upped their advertising game. They went beyond being social networks to become advertising platforms. But what fascinated me was that while I come from that old school of traditional marketing, as they call it, there was so much wealth of data, I realized that even in banks we had a lot of customer data, but we had that big unknown of noncustomers or prospects. And here digital marketing platforms were giving us real-time data. They helped us with ad testing, which used to be like a long-drawn process. Earlier ad testing became much quicker. SEO was something that again was totally very different from what we used to do earlier. So SEO was big and ultimately Google became the biggest search platform. Subsequently. Then we realized that there are other search platforms like YouTube which have come in. Video marketing became big, content marketing became big. So I would say since 2014, in the past ten years or so, there have been so many changes. It’s that if I try to remember the Vipul of pre-2012-13, the analog marketing era, analog marketing area, and I feel that person does not exist anymore. Now my thinking has changed a lot. While there is with digital marketing, there sometimes is a compromise on creativity, there’s a compromise on brand building. There’s an expectation of getting quick solutions. But that is something which every marketer ultimately grows more mature and realizes that while you can be a specialist as far as your expertise is concerned. Your marketing plans cannot be one-dimensional focusing only on digital or for that matter focusing only on, atl or offline. Right. So I think the banking sector as a whole also has developed that kind of omnichannel marketing which I think is now part and parcel of every marketing plan, be it any sector, B2B, B2C, anything true.

    Mehul:- In fact, very interesting to see banking transition from what it used to be very regulatory earlier, right? And they have now managed to bridge the gaps in terms of data security and now they have ventured into, as you rightly said, into business analytics and targeted marketing in terms of which customers to target and all. Makes it very interesting.

    Vipul:- I think you mentioned regulatory and I think it’s something probably we don’t realize. But what has also changed is the psyche of the marketeer in financial services earlier. By nature, we were always taught to be more cautious about what we are saying there bank marketeers still are. But what they have also realized is that the new generation, even millennials or Gen Z, prefer a more relaxed form of communication. They prefer a more vibrant form of communication. Sometimes I also see that change has come in possibly every bank’s marketing communication which hitherto was more formal, it was earlier, more, as I said, cautious. And ultimately every marketing communication used to sound the same. Only you remove the logo sticker and change it and replace it with another. It many times seemed the same. But I’ve been fortunate enough to work with organizations like Access Bank, yes bank, and subsequently, India Infoline which were very vibrant as far as their marketing activities are concerned. They were open to change. 

    Mehul:- They were all the new age banks at that time and they took the industry by storm in terms of getting colors in their logos and what not. Yes. In fact, another thing I wanted to also ask was see this was more the B2C marketing that you did, right? So how has it changed in terms of B2B marketing which you are doing right now? So any insights or any inputs you would like to give on that?

    Vipul:- In fact a big change, I must say honestly that I also grappled with it for some time. While the principles of marketing do not change, ultimately a customer is a customer and ultimately at least you have those 4P’s and 7P’s of marketing. They do not change. But again, how you have to change your approach quite a bit. So in B2C, we every time used to think about how is the trend, how is the psyche of or consumer behavior of a large segment used to deal in large numbers there. And when it came to B2B, suddenly it’s a lot about B2B and it’s a lot about one to one marketing. In B2C it was about we used to call it segment marketing. In B2B it’s about account based marketing. And now we have moved into contact based marketing. How you are targeting that particular person in B2C, the decision maker was one person and many times that one person was a decision maker for the whole family. But their decisions were their own. So all our activities were also built around one message that a person should imbibe because that purchaser also used to be the user. Right. But when it came to B two B and in an information services industry, the user is someone very different from the influencer or even the final decision maker. And there is a whole engine in every organization which has to make this decision. You have to convince the customer multiple times because at multiple levels, for multiple use cases, the whole gestation period is also much longer. True. So for me as a marketeer, while I used to see my campaigns giving results in a week, they used to show results in four to seven days. Then subsequently I used to see the conversions happening in say, 15 days or 20 days here suddenly your campaign starts showing some kind of results in 15 or 20 days. So one needs a lot more patience, and one needs to plan several parallel activities at the same time because you cannot afford to wait so long. I think that has been the biggest change because the feedback that comes for your campaigns is much slower in B2B marketing. 

    Mehul:- Right? Very true. I would like to touch upon the new term that we keep hearing in marketing and that is AI. So wanted to know your thoughts about AI and how it can impact marketing?

    Vipul:- Then I’ll start again with when I started my career, your brain was the only intelligence you would apply. A lot of it we used to get a lot of data through various research or analyzing customer data. But a lot of it was intuitive. Our decision-making was intuitive. And the more gray hair you had, the better you were at your intuition. Because you have seen that whole cycle, you have seen which typically what works, and what doesn’t work. At the same time, earlier business cycles were much longer. Consumers, as they call generation, changed only after say, 20 years or so, which subsequently became like ten to 15 years in our time. But these days even three years is not good enough. You cannot rely on your three-year-old information. You need to get new information. But then everything was based on our own experience which again resulted in, I would say of course, expertise usually lies in very few. There can be only a few experts. It’s like a pyramid. So I think therefore marketing, the pace of marketing was slower, but over the last ten years. All that data, all that analysis, everything came into the hands of the marketeer who was running those campaigns. He or she did not have to rely on an external expert or internal expert to do it. They got real-time information, they got segmented information, and a wealth of data. But that also meant everything became a lot of became quick fix that let’s try it out, which is good as far as experiments are concerned. But the learning has now passed on. That intuition has been passed on from the marketplace to the platform. Now, of course, the world’s best scientists these days are not solving the world’s problems. They are trying to make better ads, they have better algorithms there. So they are the ones making the decisions. And sometimes I feel there is an overreliance on the platforms and the output or the analysis they are presenting, but I think that’s evolution. But when it comes to artificial intelligence, and here we mean that that bit of decision-making is also transferred. While I see artificial intelligence as a great tool to kind of analyze all that big data, to make decisions faster, and to give you a good starting point, I don’t think so. It can be the beyond and end-all as far as marketing is concerned because it’s still marketing is a science when learned, but it is an art when it is practiced. There are several options, there are several routes for you and you need to take that decision. And that is the skill of the marketeer. So I hope the young marketeers do not fall into the trap of hoping that AI will do everything. But AI is something that all of us need to understand better. Currently, the AI that we use is still very, I would say basic. Of course, in 2022, Chat GPT changed the whole game because it gave AI a toy in everyone’s hands. Suddenly everybody felt that they could write one line and they could get answers to everything. So that oracle, it was made like an oracle. And it’s probably not that easy. There is still a lot of grudge work that needs to be done. And with AI, therefore, if one sees this as an enabler, as a tool, then it’s a great weapon. 

    Mehul:- Yes, absolutely. I think we are still grappling in terms of what we can make out of AI. And there is a lot of opportunity there as well. Thanks for those inputs. So, Vipul, you talked about digital marketing, which is obviously now the focus of almost all marketers. And if not, then they need not be called as CMO, so to say today. So what are the initiatives that are being taken in that space at Dun and Brad Street? 

    Vipul:- One thing in fact, as you mentioned, is that digital marketing is being done by all CMOS and it’s like a 10-15-year-old industry by now. And so do we really call it digital marketing now it’s as good as traditional marketing because it’s so much of a part and parcel. True. In fact, some organizations focus purely on what is typically digital marketing and they don’t do traditional marketing as well. But coming to us, while in fact, we have been present for like 180 years, we have been present in India for 30 years, marketing in DNB has evolved very quickly for us, digital marketing is now at our core and earlier I was mentioning about how we need to create that kind of thought leadership. What we need to do is provide the right kind of information in clear terms to our prospects and therefore a website becomes the cornerstone of everything. For us, driving traffic to our website is one of the primary objectives and within that driving organic traffic is actually the primary objective. Of course, we do use paid search for certain campaigns or for promoting any new product because SEO takes quite some time to actually take effect. But what I’m stressing is that we want to be known as someone who is providing insights, someone who is providing knowledge, and therefore our website is actually based on this philosophy only. So right from talking about not our products but what the end user would be. For example, they could be a chief marketing officer they could be a chief financial officer, or a CIO. We therefore have checkposts that guide them properly. You could be from a particular sector, say an IT sector or a BFSI sector, or a Pharma sector et cetera. Again we have checkposts. So for me, my website first is like a checkpost to guide you to the right place, to the right destination, and subsequently, there is a lot of conversion rate optimization that is done through having proper content, having proper prompts, ensuring that there are enough nudges to ensure that the website itself generates a lot of leads and becomes a lead generation engine in itself. So that’s on the website front. The second part of digital marketing is on social media. And our focus therefore I mentioned was on creating that thought leadership on LinkedIn. Now LinkedIn is the right B2B platform. That is where these days the who’s who of the corporate world are there and we have to be there where our customers are and we need to be seen in the right light. Therefore that thought leadership is important, therefore we need to put out more engaging content, We need to constantly keep reviewing our content strategy every quarterly. And that’s what we do. And what it has resulted in is that we have engagement rates as high as 14% while the industry standard hovers between 1-3%. So for organizers, for a brand that is putting out pure content, pure knowledge content, it’s not the fun stuff there. And still getting those engagements also speaks volumes of the kind of appetite that the end consumer. Our customers have that they are seeking that kind of content, which is knowledge, which is insights. So social media 2nd, 3rd is of course performance marketing. While we do not invest very heavily in performance marketing because our philosophy is organic first but nonetheless performance marketing also has the added benefit of creating awareness. Performance marketing also has the advantage of giving us a quicker analysis of what messaging is working with which segment, say which location. So when you need to build cohorts and you need to test out what your product proposition is, I think paid marketing is the best way to go about it. Another big thing that we are about to launch is WhatsApp now dun and Bradstreet is focusing a lot on the SME segment. Developing the SME segment we are focusing on not just the tier one cities, but also the tier to tier three cities, and there are anything between 95 million, and somewhere around 95 million MSMEs. Nobody knows the actual number, right? But if you think about even half of it if it’s true. So that’s a huge base to tap. And MSMEs in the past 15-20 years have evolved a lot. They not only invest in technology, they invest in new-edge solutions. They have bigger dreams than before and they are very open to newer revenues. So Dun Brad Street also focuses a lot on providing them with various solutions for data and analytics and at the same time it’s very difficult to reach MSMEs. Therefore we are going to launch our own WhatsApp business channel. We decided that that is an excellent way to go because WhatsApp is these days perhaps like we used to use telephones normally, but now that is the primary form of communication. And WhatsApp also allows conversations to happen. Unlike SMS or email marketing, which is what I call more like a one-shot marketing. You’re spraying and then you have to just wait for the responses. But with WhatsApp, you can do those conversations that are more fruitful, and more engaging. So that is another big thing for us. And of course, when we are talking about identifying the right kind of audience, we have the database. So we are a data company, and people generally look out for companies like Dun and Bradstreet to help them with intelligent prospecting. Dun Brad Street already has it, so we have that kind of in-house advantage there. 

    Mehul:- That’s interesting. MSMEs are something that is untapped and it’s quite exciting now in these times, especially when the sector is growing and is showing a lot of growth potential. Wanted to delve more into that in terms of what can be the product proposition from Dun, Bradstreet to MSMEs because the requirements will be very different as compared to your current clients?

    Vipul:- So MSMEs typically do not produce end products. So MSMEs form a large part of the value chain and that’s usually not as customers but as suppliers or vendors. Most of them are for example ancillary Industries as we call them. Therefore they need to sell themselves to another company, they need to present their credibility. Dun Bradstreet because we have all this data on every company, what we build is we prepare credibility reports and we have our own proprietary DNB rating which we give to any kind of company whether large or small. So what happens is that we take all that publicly available information and we do an analysis and do a rating analysis that’s more on the reputation, what are the kind of financials or period, how strong they are overall probes that are happening and then the rating is provided. Now this rating is very well respected in the industry, banks, financial institutions, and corporations use this rating to assess the quality of the applicant in this case. So what MSMEs seek from us is we have these credibility reports which they then utilize to present themselves better to not just companies in India but globally as well. 

    Mehul:- Interesting. Now coming to your illustrious career I know you would have a lot of moments that stand out as I would say highlights of achievements. So if you can probably share with us some of these highlights, some of these peaks of your career, and what the learning from them?

    Vipul:- One peak of my career I would say is it’s all about new experiences and I think the peak of a career is not when you do the same thing in a brilliant way, but you do a totally different thing. You fall, you falter, you make mistakes, you try out new things, you discover new things and probably that is where the real joy comes from. So marketing probably at least for me is a very emotional thing as well. So one cannot be just a checklist or a numbers guy there. In one of my previous stints, my organization was a partner with the Indian Premier League so that was totally new for me. Being associated with such an IPL is the biggest property a marketer can associate with when we are investing so much in this partnership. Of course, the onus also fell on the marketing team to generate ROI in various ways. There is also business generation but it’s also about improving the awareness and salience levels and I would say it was a peak as far as learning was concerned while of course there was a larger marketing team involved and everybody was racking their brains on how to exploit this opportunity and improve our awareness and salience. The whole thing was about that collaboration where I interacted with several people within the organization, outside the organization, new ideas coming in and we were associated with this property for about five years and how many new things that you try, I think that is something which is still memorable for me. Second, also is another, I would say peak. Where I really, I would say made a difference, is also in one of my previous organizations where if I have to put it in one phrase, I drastically reduce the unknown. So many times marketers grapple with the problem that if they are getting any say leads, they don’t know where it is coming from, they don’t know which channel is performing better, and they don’t know which geographies are performing better. For them, that lead base is more like a monolith which they’re not able to analyze. My first year in the organization was about reducing that unknown, almost becoming fanatic with how we track leads and monitor leads, building all those systems with missed call numbers and campaign codes and record keeping, etc. Which helped us understand our campaigns better, which helped us understand what is working, and not working, and take corrective action. While I’m not counting this, of course, as a campaign which is an output, but sometimes, like Mahindra Sindhoni would say, the process is important. Absolutely. And Sometimes when you create those processes, it creates a difference for years to come. And over multiple campaigns, the results follow. The results follow true. And if I have to pick up certain campaigns in fact, the third one was when in India Infoline, we hired our first ever brand ambassador. So that Rohit Sharma. So, Rohit Sharma, that was around 2021st of all. There was a decision of whether to go with a brand ambassador. So we wanted to create that kind of leadership. We were analyzing our competition, which as far as marketing and branding awareness terms, was moving ahead from us and taking him on board. Then working out overall positioning for IFL CD Bath was the name of the campaign. And working with the best minds on how they developed that kind of communication. And ultimately we moved into brand TVCs and we moved into product TVCs. And subsequently the whole association and positioning percolated to all forms right from say, our branch branding or our product communication and our social media marketing. And when I look back and see all those activities which we did, and ultimately which created that strong positioning of honest, direct, no hanky panky there as far as our products are concerned, that CD Bath proposition, that is what was satisfying. It moved the needle for the organization. It translated into business terms as well. And I think I should mention that we are marketers. Sometimes we get swayed away by creativity, but we are not artists. Ultimately, we are supposed to generate certain brightly do the same thing And demand generation, business generation are ultimately one of the primary objectives. Ultimately, it should lead to that. For me, if your overall marketing activities that do not result in a delta in business, your whole creativity, or your joy don’t mean at all. 

    Mehul:- Absolutely. That falls flat. Very true. I think the association with Rohit Sharma was probably as clean and as the state-headed cricket shots. Interesting. Finally, one more thing. Vipul, you have been a marketeer, you are a seasoned marketeer. So wanted to ask you if you can share some takeaways for budding marketeers?

    Vipul:- I think it all starts with learning. And the advice I give to all marketers is to learn. Read as much as possible, not from AI, but do your research, and talk to others, and the more information you try to grasp, the better it will be for you. Because marketing is not an easy job because it’s subject to a lot of variables. And the more you learn, the more you understand these variables, the better you will be as a marketeer. Second also is that I feel that if you have to ultimately grow as a good or even if you want to become a great marketer, you need to be a jack of all trades. At least you need to know very well all functions, and all domains of marketing. So it’s not just, you know, branding or research you are done or you are a PR person or you are an events person or you are a digital marketer. That’s not enough. You need to understand everything, all those. But of course, you should be a master of one, make one your big brahmastras which you can always use. Ultimately, Jackov was the master of one. The third is to understand the business strategy. As I mentioned, we are not artists. We are ultimately employees of a company. We are hired for a particular purpose. And that the ultimate purpose is growth, is revenue. How we go about it can be different for different marketers and different organizations. But understand the business strategy, otherwise, most of your campaigns will either be rejected at the proposal stage because they would be very tangential to what the business strategy is or they would not get the desired results that is there. And fourth is that be ethical, be humble. There are a lot more things to be learned. The world is vast. Nobody can become an expert with even 20-30 years of experience. As I learned over some time till about the first five, or six years, whatever I learned was overturned when digital marketing came. And I know that as of today, whatever I’ve learned in the past 15 years or so will have no use if I am not abreast with AI. So the world keeps changing. We are not the center of the universe, so we have to keep pace with the universe. 

    Mehul:- Very rightly said. And coming from a seasoned marketeer like you, it reminds me of a quote that you need to know a lot to know that you need to know a lot. So that comes only after you have a certain amount of learning, that there is still a lot to learn. And that is how that humility comes along with that. 

    Vipul:- That is humility will ultimately lead to excellence. Otherwise, you would always fall short. But I would also say for all marketeers, be ready to also take those big shots. Try whatever you try to do, try to be awesome at it, and don’t fear failure. Because again with marketing you never know what will click and what will not click. But boats are not made for being parked on the shore. Ultimately, you have to venture out into the seas and be brave enough to even suck at something new. 

    Mehul:- Play your shots from the front foot like the front. Yes. Thanks a lot, Vipul for these insights and this wonderful chat on The Growth Genius. As I said, always a pleasure to interact with you online or offline. It’s always a learning for us. Thank you so much. 

    Vipul:- Always a pleasure for me also. Mehul. 

    Mehul:- Great. Ladies and gentlemen, this was growth genius. Vipul Oberoy, Director, Marketing, CSR, and Learning Solutions at Dun Bradstreet. I hope you liked this chat with him wherein he discussed how Dun Bradstreet is working on digital marketing, exploring the SME sector, and also doing on WhatsApp. I had a great time chatting with Vipul and I hope you like our content of The Growth Genius. So subscribe like and share the content of The Growth Genius where we discuss and bring to you growth stories in marketing and business powered by Infidigit SEO experts. All our social media handles are mentioned below and you can also listen to these growth stories on audio platforms. Again, the links of all of them are mentioned in The Descriptor. So till the next episode of The Growth Genius, take care and thank you very much.

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    Mastering Marketing in the Digital Age with Vipul Oberoi | The Growth Genius