The marketing vehicle does not run on the four wheels of Product, Price, Place and Promotion anymore. In the digital era, it flies on two wings instead – Technology and Content. That's coming from Sangeeta Sharma of Lufthansa, who has spent nearly two decades at the airline and over a decade in the marketing profession. As startups and new enterprises struggle to learn the winning ways of marketing, and getting it right Sharma shares a timely and succinct interview on what it takes to leapfrog the cut throat race.
What makes marketing so exciting in this digital era?
The digital era has perhaps had the greatest impact on marketing. It’s most exciting contribution has been the blurring of lines. The boundaries of marketing have become so fluid, I often wonder whether I am in the space of marketing, or in the space of customer engagement, customer insights, or customer advocacy. Besides, the digital medium gives us an amazing power to reach people one-on-one. And finally, it links us to the millennials – an intensely interactive generation with a far greater need for engagement. This makes marketing an entirely new paradigm in the digital era, where legacy and prophecy have to make room for insights and empathy.
Why do marketers need to be hands-on with tech and content?
The marketing vehicle does not run on the four wheels of Product, Price, Place and Promotion anymore. In the digital era, it flies on two wings instead – Technology and Content. No marketing campaign today can be successful without these.We’ve witnessed three phases in marketing in quick succession this millennium. In the first phase, digital was secondary to traditional platforms like print and TV. The second phase saw the barriers between the two tumbling to create an integrated view. We are now in the third phase, where digital is actually leading the way. This requires all marketing professionals to get into the skin of the medium. In other words, become hands on with both the technologies that are creating the new platforms as well as its changing demands on content.
If you were to pick three qualities the new-age marketer should possess, what would they be?
Without any hesitation, I would pick collaboration, data sensitivity, and empathy. Let me explain.
Collaboration: With constant change driving today’s business environment, no function can operate in a silo any more. Be it technology, finance or customer relations, they all have to work as a well-synchronized ecosystem. And marketing is a bridge that connects this internal ecosystem to the external ecosystem of customers, partners, and influencers to ensure adaptability for timely response to change.
Data sensitivity: There is little space for “opinion” any more. Data is the new God. Customer insights derived from data analytics is the only way forward and all new age marketers cannot afford to ignore the new technologies that are empowering us with real-time data analytics.
Empathy: While marketing demands innovation and creativity, neither holds any sway if they do not reflect the unique needs of the customer. Gone are the days when a smart marketing line could translate into business. Today’s customers are far more informed and acutely aware of the choices available to them. Therefore, to be successful, any innovation needs to be aimed at meeting customer needs. That is where empathy comes in, a quality that is critical for the new-age marketer. To us at Lufthansa, the power of empathy has been amply evident in the overwhelming response to the recent Start-up Expo and the ongoing Runway to Success.
In 140 characters: What makes a kickass brand campaign?
Rather than an inside-out communication of smart messaging, a kickass brand campaign is an outside-in reflection of the market sentiment.
How important is content to campaigns today? How have things evolved over the last five years?
From the days of mass media to that of social media, marketing has been only and all about content. Words have always been central to marketing campaigns – be it print, audio or video. Your words have to resonate with the audience. So, while this is not new, it has been enhanced exponentially in the digital age. Today, if you don’t get your content right in messaging, sensitivity or style, be prepared to be in the line of fire with direct, brutally honest and real-time feedback from your target audience.
About Sangeeta Sharma
Having spent over 2 decades at Lufthansa, with more than a decade in marketing, Sangeeta is considered synonymous with both. While her professional interests involve putting Brand Lufthansa on the Indian map as one that is 'More Indian than you think'; her personal interests finds her exploring the worldwide map for destinations that are 'More enchanting than you think.' On time off in the capital, you might find her de-stressing at the greens on Delhi Golf Club.