Digital Marketing is the Future But Traditional has its Own Advantages: Akhil Sethi

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  • This story revolves around the importance of digital marketing in the consumer electronics industry
  • Akhil has recently joined Panasonic India as head of its digital marketing teams
  • He has also worked with the likes of Samsung, Sony and Philips in the past

Akhil Sethi (AS), head, Digital Marketing, Panasonic, in an exclusive interaction with EFY Group shed light on the importance of digital marketing in consumer electronics domain. He also shared the challenges and success mantras for digital marketing professionals. AS is of the view that going digital, as well as traditional, are equally important from the marketing perspective.

 “Even if there’s an exponential growth in digital marketing, I don’t think any brand can completely ignore the advantages of doing offline or traditional marketing. Even though digital has proven to be more cost-effective and targeted, traditional marketing, has its own advantages. It is the job of the marketers to carefully evaluate which channel to use at what time,“ noted AS.

Akhil Sethi, Head, Digital Marketing, Panasonic India

Here are some more interesting excerpts from this conversation around the importance of digital marketing in the consumer electronics domain.

ACE – How has been your experience working in India’s appliances and consumer electronics (ACE) Industry? 

AS – My experience of working in India’s consumer electronics industry has been nothing short of amazing. In the past, I’ve worked with some of the biggest brands in the country including Samsung, Sony, Philips and more across verticals at the agency, as well as on brand level.

It’s a kind of industry that gives you well-rounded experience. Not only you have to think on the right communication messaging for each category but also think about seasonality and right time to do promotions. This makes it even more challenging, yet exciting as compared to other industry verticals.

ACE – What are the main challenges that you faced while being associated with consumer electronics industry? How did you address them?

AS – I have always been a digital marketing professional so I’ll address this question from that lens only. Today most of the challenges are around how quickly organisations digitally transform themselves. It can be about giving a good customer experience or setting up a quick response management mechanism or using digital as an efficient marketing tool to reach out to your potential target audience.

Over the years, I have worked hard in ensuring organizations not only adopt but also adapt their verticals to embrace digital in a positive way.

ACE – How important is digital marketing for a consumer electronics brands?

AS – As per a recent BCG / Google study, 55 per cent of the urban consumers will be digitally influenced by digital which is like more than a half. If we talk about different durable categories, digital influence varies and is usually higher for high ASP durables.

I think considering the exponential rise of internet users in India over the past years, growth of advertising spends across digital by brands and also the kind of niche relevant targeting that digital as a medium provides, it has become imperative for any consumer electronics brand to be not only present on digital but also to leverage it efficiently.

ACE – Is there something that digital marketing can do for a consumer electronics brand that other forms of marketing can’t do?

AS – Digital as a medium provides ample opportunities for marketers to reach their potential target audience efficiently. The kind of targeting opportunities or audience segments which are available on digital, I don’t think would be available on any other advertising medium. This makes digital one of the most important mediums for any marketer.

ACE – What’s the ideal approach that a brand must take towards digital marketing for a product or a product range?

AS – I think it’s very important to be clear from the very start who your target audience is and what are their media touch points. To be able to gather this information beforehand definitely helps you to approach your marketing campaigns better.

If we talk about the same from digital marketing’s perspective, having requisite knowledge of all domains of digital marketing helps. I have always believed – to be a good digital marketing professional, one must be a good planner. One must have the right kind of experience, knowledge and skills to understand which digital medium to use when from a holistic point of view.

ACE –  Can digital marketing help both the channels grow equally? How?

AS – Even if there’s an exponential growth in digital marketing, I don’t think any brand can completely ignore the advantages of doing offline or traditional marketing. Even though digital has proven to be more cost-effective / efficient, traditional marketing, has its own advantages.

It is the job of the marketers to carefully evaluate which channel to use at which time which eventually makes it more challenging and fulfilling at the same time. I think there’s enough scope of growth of both offline and online channels, it’s just that one has to be very sure which medium to use when.

Moreover, we recently did an online to offline (O2O) campaign for one of our product categories where our target audience was encouraged to visit nearby stores to check our products and the results were amazingly favourable.

ACE – What five qualities should a digital marketeer working for a consumer electronics brand possess?

AS – Knowledge: I think most of the times unconsciously while at work, we forget to put an extra effort to learn new things. The best learning is the on-job learning but I really think if you could spare that extra half an hour in the morning to read about your industry and what’s happening around you, it will make you more knowledgeable and also confident among your peers. Personally, I’ve subscribed to some paid digital subscriptions to expand my knowledge.

Clarity in communication: Be it professionally or personally, while writing emails or while discussing projects during meetings, one should be very clear of what one is seeking from others. Keeping things ambiguous or unclear will impact the results or work deliveries in the end.

Dig deeper: Always go deep, dig deeper in each and every project that’s assigned to you. Irrespective of the fact how much smaller the project is, going deep will always help. You may not be able to realise it that time but in the longer run, it will have a big positive impact on the way you work.

Be flexible: Don’t be rigid. Always be willing to adapt to a change. Digital industry from which I come from is very dynamic and there are many situations in the workplace where you need to keep an open mind and need to be flexible. And usually, employees with this mind-set are highly valued by their employers.

Supportive: Always be ready to give help or assistance within a professional environment. Be the kind of person whom others can depend and bank upon. Offering support wholeheartedly to others not only helps in building a strong network but also helps you become much more confident.

ACE – You now head the digital marketing wing of one of the world’s biggest consumer electronics brand (Panasonic). Please share your success mantra.

AS – Success and failures are critical aspects of life. One must embrace success and also learn from failures. Over the years, my journey hasn’t been that smooth, and I have learnt the greatest of lessons from failures.

Few practical things that I want to share with everyone which I feel could prove to be the stepping stone of success for professionals:

Self-discipline: One of the most important aspects, it helps you set clear goals. It helps stay focused and gives you that ability to work towards them in the longer run. Be it professionally or personally, discipline always helps you in overcoming challenges. It helps you get out of your comfort zone.

To start with, I suggest you start by creating habits. Make a commitment to probably exercise at least 15 minutes a day and you’ll see the difference

Accountability: Over the years I have seen when professionals move up the ladder in an organisation, they tend to avoid taking responsibility of a job assigned. Either they tend to delegate to their subordinates or find a way to circumvent it. I think accountability is one of the most important aspects of success and one should always take complete onus and accountability of the tasks assigned.

Patience: It is one of the most important elements. One’s tendency to suppress anxiety or restlessness when things aren’t going right determines how strong a character is. We need to remember, things won’t go your way all the time, there would be instances when the going gets tough. In such situations, how you behave, how much patience you have, will determine how much you’ll succeed!

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