Jessie Paul on Services Marketing For a FlatWorld

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Build Sticky Relationships with Stakeholders

In this interview to Alokananda Chakraborty of FE, Jessie Paul, chief marketing officer, Wipro Technologies & Wipro Infotech, discusses the strategies the Indian software industry can formulate to emerge stronger and more profitable when global spending on IT gets back on track. Excerpts below. Full interview
FE: The West associates India with outsourcing. Has that changed or does India still conjure up images of a low-cost back office?
JP: The West may identify India with outsourcing, but the days of India being seen as purely a low-cost destination are gone. Let me give you an anecdote to illustrate this. When I first visited the US, cab drivers would not accept tips from me because they assumed that I was poor because I was from India. Then after the dot-com boom, they assumed I was rich because I was in technology. Now, when I say I am from India, total strangers say, “You must be smart!”
This is because of two things— one, the outsourcing industry has moved into higher value areas such as consulting and business solutions, and two, India is increasingly seen as a profitable market by the global companies.
FE: In your book No Money Marketing, you’ve talked about your experience as a “challenger” marketer. What is your marketing advice for companies that are not leaders in their industries?
JP: To succeed, a company must have a superior value proposition relative to incumbents. It needs to focus on increasing market share and building sticky relationships with clients and other stakeholders. The window of growth available for the upstart to achieve a threshold market share is the time taken by the champion to successfully react to the new business model.
From a marketing strategy perspective, keeping in mind the relatively-low budgets, the best plan is to drive focused communication to potential clients and other elements of the ecosystem. Once a threshold level of revenue is reached, one should communicate aggressively to consolidate position and rapidly acquire market share. The brand levers I recommend for a challenger are price, executive branding, country of origin and sustainability. The channels that are most effective are thought leadership, media relations, awards and online marketing.
FE: But organisations seem to be using new technology to reinforce the old marketing habits...
JP: In old media, companies could buy the attention of the audience. The audience tolerated this interruption because it was subsidising their television or radio, which were expensive channels. The internet, on the other hand, is almost free and subsidies through advertising are not required. So now companies have to be interesting in order to get the attention of their prospects, and that is much, much harder. The newer channels also force immediate and personal responses—for example—CEO blogs cannot be outsourced. This is a big transition for marketers and CEOs, and yes, many will not make the leap.


Ankur Sharma said...

Really interesting perspective!

Sid Mishra said...

Very relevant thoughts and completely agree with your comments on image of India in the west - my personal story - on a short trip to Detroit (unfortunately one of the worst hit cities) late last year, the cabbie from airport to hotel was after me, asserting that I hire him for all other local trips - also, as he viewed me as the only few ppl who are still getting paid and spending!

Jessie Paul said...

Country brand works in unusual ways!