Building a Digital Community

Characteristics of an ideal candidate

So I personal believe, everyone should hire for attitude and not skills. You see technology and trend are changing so fast, that skills that employee brings with them is probably go out of changes during their working life, so you need people who have right attitude  to relearn stuff, so I always look for the right attitude over skills.

Hiring the marketing team

Typically Linkedin, referrals, head hunting, good people usually don’t put their CV’s on job sites so you have to work hard to get the good people.

Challenges with hiring

I believe in young companies especially startups, hiring is actually a marketing job. Why would an A-player jump the ship to join a nobody? So you actually do lot of storytelling and give a sense of purpose while you are hiring, & that’s the biggest challenge spl. for young companies.

Missing skills in candidates

There is 1, which is lack of T-shape marketer. Let me explain what I mean by T-shape marketers. T-shape marketer is somebody who has a broad understanding of different marketing channels and a deep domain expertise in either 1 or 2, what you typically find in a market are domain experts, people spl. in one specific area. But what you do need is and that is where he biggest gap is people who come with broad understandings of different channels and you know they have specializes in areas that’s the biggest guy.

Building community with minimal budget

So basically to have a thriving community, a brand have to play a role of a enabler. What I mean by that is, a brand needs to provide a platform to the users, and then step back, also need to provide a purpose and that’s when the real magic happens. So to give you an example, at OnePlus, even before we launched our product, we started an online community, online forum, it was a place for smartphone enthusiast, and android enthusiast to come and share their thoughts. Our founders were deeply engaged with them from get go, right from seeking their suggestions getting their feedback, and even during product development stage, they were the community was equally equally engaged. What happened over a period of time was, our community turned into our brand ambassadors, our community members volunteers actually took out and started investing on our online platform.

Example of Building Community

The way a brand can build a community, is by being an enabler. What I mean by that is a brand must provide a sense of purpose and platform to your community and set back and that’s where the real magic happens. To give to an examples at OnePlus, community is really important to us, even before we started selling products, we actually started an online forum, for smart phone and android enthusiast we actually made a community as a part of our journey so we consistently communicate with them, we seek their feedback, we get their suggestions for product development & we provide them with a platform to come together, so we do lot of online, offline events where our community can participate, and in return our community started investing lot of time volunteering back, also started creating small events on their own. So that’s how we build strong community, and I believe that this is the best case in point for a frugal marketing, because if you have a thriving community they  will help you spreading word-of-mouth, and word-of-mouth is still the best form of marketing.

Use of Data to Optimize Campaigns

Look at data as your secret ingredient, as your raw material. It’s not about the data, it’s actually about the insights you derive from the data and actually what decisions you make with those insights. To give you an example, you can actually draw your buyers’ persona, with digital information. That is available out there. In earlier times, marketers used to mostly make their best educated guess about the demographics and the age of the target audience, but now with the digital info that is available you can actually draw your buyer persona which is more accurate, in terms of which you know which websites your buyer are visiting, which buttons are they clicking, what is their age, you can define them more accurately. To give you an example, you can actually use google trends, to see what are the latest topic, latest tune to use the data to actually preview your marketing strategy.

Use cases of Data

You can actually use the data, to accurately predict what type of content works best for your target audience. And what are your content pushes them down the sales funnel, even you can track the metrics of a particular tweet or a facebook post.  So it is basically about the insights you drive from the data, and the decisions you make from the data which matter the most. So I believe it’s better to have a cross functional marketing knowledge. But for anyone who is moving towards digital marketing it is important to understand the technology.  It’s important that he/she is a digital native himself, because if you do not understand the consumer behavior and how they consume a particular technology. It’s very hard for you to actually use the technology as a marketer, so the most important thing is to be a digital native yourself.

Hard and Soft skills for a Digital Marketer

So top 3 hard skills, a marketer must have are: Knowledge of Target Market, Brand Building, & Analytics and research. Most of the marketing actually knows about your target audience, a good marketer may not know the intricacies of the business but he/she must be able to tell who the consumer is after knowing more about the product or service. Brand is 1 element that differentiates you in the marketplace. A good marketer should their personal brand, and also other good brand in market place and a marketer should be able to look at marketing in an analytical point of view to be successful.

Must have Soft skills, a marketer must have are: Emotional intelligence & Common Sense. Common sense because as we say common sense is not that common. Common sense is about the ability to think on your feet, good judgment, making right decisions and knowing what consumers need.

Significance of Emotional Intelligence

EI, is a buzz word, is the skill of receiving understanding and managing emotions but it’s truly a great indicator how successful marketers can be. So marketers with EI are better connect with consumers. They know what moves or buy share or promote a product.

Difference between a Great Digital Marketer and a Good One

It’s the balance between art & science. What I mean by that is, it’s actually the balance between creativity and analytical thinking that differentiates good and great marketer.

Steps for Building a Marketing Plan

So there are multiple things you can consider while building a plan. First and foremost, what is your marketing objective, are you doing a campaign that is a sales campaign? Or are you doing a promotional campaign, or a awareness campaign, so pin pointing your marketing your objective is your 1st step?

So the 2nd step is, identifying the right target audience and it’s like identifying target audience is a crucial step, because this is where you zero down from a large pool of potential to a small pool of most likely for buyers of products and service.

3rd step is to identify buyers persona, you basically want drill down deeper to your target audience, who is the buyer of your product or service, how do they make decisions where do they spend their time and how they think, so basically defining target market gives you demographic infor. And defining buyer persona, gives you a psychographic information.

The 4th step is to identify right outreach channels, if you have detailed your buyer persona correctly, this should be an easy step. Buyer persona would tell you, where your target audience spends most of the time and that should decide your outreach channels.

5th is to identify right content, the images, the videos, the words used all describe the brand and make a connect with target audience.

The 6th is to manage resources basically  People, Money & technology to execute a campaign.

And 7th step is to identify right tools to monitor your campaign ad improvise as needed.

Growth of digital marketing

So in coming few years, DM will continue to evolve at even more faster pace, as a brand we need to understand where our users are? Why they are there? And what we need to do for a brand to stay relevant to that next few years will again redefine the way consumers access digital media, smart phones, smart homes connected devices, variables will again redefine the future.

Power possessed by Customers

For last few years, balance of the power is actually shifted to consumer. Consumer is now more in control than ever, with the rise in social media – facebook, youtube, and all the online reviews people’s opinion about a product/service immediately and widely known, but it also means that an exciting of the truly great products spread virally within minutes. Before we even launched Oneplus2 our invite list are, leaked invite list had more than 60,000 sign ups, and within 3 weeks we had more 5 million sign ups for Oneplus2 invite, all this growth came from 1 single organic channel that was digital. So access to internet has changed the rules of the game, the balance of power has shifted to consumer and not brands anymore.

Category: Expert Talks
Karan Sarin - Former Head of Marketing, OnePlus India
Karan Sarin - Former Head of Marketing, OnePlus India - Karan Sarin was formerly the Head of Marketing at OnePlus India. Before OnePlus, he was a Director at Flipkart, where he built Flipkart’s Gift Cards business from ground-up to a multi-million dollar business. He founded Perkylane, an enterprise software (SaaS) company that provided on-demand employee benefits solution to more than thirty million small-medium sized companies in India.
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