is the Chief Marketing Officer
of IIFL Finance and IIFL Securities, responsible for the brand and for creating business opportunities. Here are some excerpts from our conversation with him about Content Marketing & it’s evolving role -
Q. How is the role of content changing in these times of COVID-19?
VO: The lockdown necessitated by Covid-19 pandemic is the most significant events in the past 20 years. It has changed the way we have been living our lives and the change has been all too sudden. I say this with greatest respect and solidarity with the people who have been adversely impacted by this pandemic; from our work perspective, this has changed the way we do marketing.
With people having more time to spare and fewer distractions, the appetite for consuming content has increased. Content is not just getting created and served; people are actively searching for content. Therefore, while brands need to be ready with content, they should understand that the role of content has changed for the consumer.
Perhaps it has changed due to the pandemic, but today the content is more about information and education rather entertainment. Recession, job loss, pay cuts, fuel prices, health costs – there are too many worries on your consumer’s mind and s/he is looking for solutions. So if you are not in business of entertainment, then focus of your content should be helping your target audience to know something that will improve their life.
Q. Going forward, would brands be investing more/ less in content marketing during these times/ post, share your views?
VO: Content marketing has existed in a more primal form within PR for almost a century. But what I am talking about is that it has become a primary strategy tool, it has become a solid part of marketing slash campaign plans, and there are teams dedicated to it. And guess what - all three are important in this post Covid-19 scenario. People will prefer interactions and consumption of information digitally, usage of regional language will build in more trust, and content marketing will build perception of expertise and reliability. Therefore, brands will not just spend but invest more in content marketing.
The keyword here is not will, it is investing. There is difference between investing and merely spending. Investing means building something with structures and processes for capitalising on it in present and in future. Brands are now thinking long-term about content marketing.
Q. Do you believe B2B companies are much ahead of the curve when it comes to using Content for marketing?
VO: For companies in B2B space, lack of easy access to decision-makers on client side was perhaps the biggest challenge. Therefore, the most effective way to do business was to not talk about business. Along with events, content marketing was a great way to reach out to decision-makers. That is why I think B2B companies have traditionally invested more in content marketing because limited number of marketing channels that work in the B2B space.
Q. Any content marketing campaigns or projects that you are proud of, in the last 12-18 months? And why?
VO: I will touch upon two campaigns that IIFL launched during these Covid-19 times. One is the “Karuna vs Corona” campaign. We created a fictional IIFL employee, Karuna, who is fighting Corona by advising IIFL employees and general public on health and safety precautions to follow. We adopted a story telling method to make it interesting and relatable, a clear departure from issuing bland Covid-19 advisories. Therefore, we have Karuna giving a first-person account of life at home and at work and showing how precautions should be followed.
Second was the “21-Day Financial Fitness program”. The first lockdown was 21 days long and ‘work from home’ hadn’t really kicked in. We realized that since most people will have a lot of time to spare, it is a great opportunity to give them simple tips on how to take stock and firm up their finances. So, every day 21 days, we published one simple task to be done on that day.
Q. What can B2C brands learn from their B2B counterparts?
VO: Content marketing is a marketing technique to drive customer action or to make prospects warm up to the brand. I may be making a sweeping statement but I think B2C brands should learn content marketing from their B2B counterparts who have got content marketing right. They have created internal machinery to consistently produce relevant content for clearly defined audiences. Many B2C brands however restrict content marketing ‘outputs’ to sporadic blogs, one digital film and witty social media posts, which appeals to a very generic audience.