Today we talked to Smita Challu about how to enter new markets, balancing global thoughts and local presentation in content marketing, and the fate of product differentiation.
Kendra: Smita; thanks for taking the time to chat with me today! I’ve gotten to know your story over the last few months, and it’s a fascinating one. Tell us about yourself!
Smita: An engineer by compulsion; a wine lover by addiction; and a marketer by choice; I am the mother of twin boys who make me the patient, happy, and content person I am today. Juggling fields and countries was no big deal and it sure gave me the experience I needed to be a mom with two boys who are already walking at 10 months.
Lesson learned – the world is changing so catch up fast before it outruns you!
Having spent 12 years redefining the brand connections and becoming the “audience creator” as I would like to define myself, I realized early that technology and marketing have a great future together. Working on digital media strategy and establish global footprints for brands, I developed a deep insight into changing customer behaviour with changing demographics.
My journey so far has helped me understand that the biggest asset for a marketer is staying relevant and engaged.
Kendra: So, I’m just going to fill in the gaps here because I think you’re too modest. You’re an engineer who’s worked as a marketer in three countries that I know of. You also speak six languages, and you generally crush it at life! What are some of the difference you’ve seen marketing companies in various countries?
Smita: Today business communication doesn’t have to be bullet points or rhetorical rants. A dash of the human touch, emotions, and branded thinking can result in a memorable message. Stories help people bond and build messages that people care about and remember. With the world just a click away, when you engage listeners in a powerful, entertaining, and informative story, they remember it, and many times they ask for more.
Just as each storyteller has his own customized version of a story, as a marketer you always change the skin of the story and make it smell the local flavours, wear the local colours, and speak the local language. I feel depending upon how evolved and engaged your audience is, you always have a story to fill in.
Kendra: Do you have any advice for entering a new market?
Smita: I believe strategic alliances are the best approach to enter a new market. There are numerous factors like social and political scenarios which will influence your decision. Alliances can be in many forms like joint venture, licencing, franchising, etc. Study the cultural and social triggers of communication. BE GLOBAL in your thoughts, and BE LOCAL in your presentation.
Kendra: As you know, we talk a lot about the power of content marketing. In your experience, is storytelling universally powerful? Are there differences in how stories or content are approached in different cultures?
Smita: With the advent of social media marketing, product differentiation is no longer the USP (unique selling proposition) of the company. Instead, the brand perception is. The critical defining factor is how well can you transform your customers into brand advocates. Personal connection is the heart and soul of any business or brand in today’s scenario.
At the end of the day, you’re dealing with people – your company is resolving issues, addressing pain points, and focusing on engaging in delightful customer engagement. Sales are therefore no more just the result of superior product proposition, but directly dependent on the perceived brand image and customer brand engagement. As such, storytelling is a powerful technique for building relationships. It’s an age-old concept that brings people together and builds a sense of community.
It doesn’t matter where in the world you are, effective storytelling gives big voices to small ventures. I strongly feel it is critical that companies take the time up front to fully develop their approaches to storytelling to make the customer a part of their brand journey. And like any expert storyteller, you need to have a personalized connection with your audience. Have your own little story.
John is the Founder & CEO of Wriber. He’s passionate about entrepreneurship, high-tech startups, thought leadership, content marketing, and artificial intelligence. John frequently volunteers his time at the University of Waterloo to help young entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground. He’s also a faithful Toronto Maple Leafs fan, frequent Redditor, and lifelong learner.