Darshan Mehta - Succeeding with digital marketing in a constantly changing world
Darshan Mehta is the founder of the insights platform iResearch, and of ConnectQik, a mobile app which facilitates quick and meaningful connections.
In this episode, we discuss how the field of digital marketing needs to adapt in order to stay on top of all the uncertainty and disruption of the 21st century. For the most part, we maintain a big-picture perspective, then go into more detail on customer centricity as a basis for effective innovation, and on the top considerations for MarTech adoption.
Links & mentions:
“If you're looking to innovate, if you're looking to differentiate, one of the best places to start is to have conversations with your customers and dig deeper and do a deeper dive as to what are their pain points and what's really going to make a difference in their lives to either make something cheaper, easier, or more convenient.”
Welcome to the Agile Digital Transformation podcast, where we explore different aspects of digital transformation and digital experience with your host, Tim Butara, content and community manager at Agiledrop.
Tim Butara: Hello, everyone. Thanks for tuning in. I'm joined today by Darshan Mehta, founder of the insights platform iResearch, and also of ConnectQik, which is a mobile app that enables its users to make meaningful connections super easily. In today's episode, we'll be talking in the context of digital marketing, and more specifically, we'll discuss how marketers need to adapt to all of the changes, all of the innovation that we're seeing, and kind of best position their departments or their teams for success. Welcome, Darshan. It's really great having you as our guest today. Welcome to the show. Do you want to add anything here or should we just jump into the questions straight away?
Darshan Mehta: I just want to thank you for having me on here and I look forward to talking to you.
Tim Butara: Awesome. So let's start with a more high-level question to kind of ease into the discussion. What would you say is the state and also, maybe more importantly, the role of digital marketing in society today?
Darshan Mehta: Well, I don't think it's any longer a choice. I think it's something that everyone needs to be a part of and understand. The good news is there's many options. The bad news is there's many options. But in all honesty, what is good is you can really start at any level that you can afford and do and build a business, where it was a little bit different before when you had the traditional media outlets. It was very expensive. Just was not so easy for smaller businesses to get started.
But nowadays you have access to– like I said, it's a plus and minus, right? You have access to a lot of digital marketing tools and opportunities, but at the same time, it's an overwhelming amount. Sometimes you don't know what's the best place to start or where to go.
Tim Butara: I think this is not just digital marketing. This is actually more related to the second phrase. I mean, also heavily related to the second phrase in the question. So, today's society, if I think of something like Netflix, you used to have one film during the night at the same time, the whole family watched it together. If you missed your bathroom break, you felt bad because you missed the movie.
But now you just go on Netflix and you're just bored scrolling through it because you have no idea what to watch because there's so many options. So I think that this is kind of a sign of technological innovation, of technological progress that there's this double-edged sword of abundance of choice, I guess.
Darshan Mehta: Yeah, it's an interesting phenomenon that happens in many things, is that, we as humans want choices. But what happens is when you get beyond a certain amount of choices, it becomes paralyzing. Like there's just too much going on, so it's hard to decide. And it's also the FOMO, the fear of missing out. If you make a decision, you're giving up– it's just one of those interesting things that happens with the human mind and nature.
Tim Butara: Man, I think we'll have to do another episode focused just on the psychology around it. So with all this in mind, what can businesses do to adapt to all of this, to adapt to all the changes and the fast pace of changes even more importantly?
Darshan Mehta: Sure. Well, I think one of the things that inherently goes along with changes is, you have to constantly innovate. And so the question is, how do you innovate? And there's basically two ways: you can guess, and hopefully you'll guess, take stabs in the dark and do correctly, or you can do what's actually worked for many years for many companies, and that is talk to your customers. Or talk to your employees and actually have those conversations.
And having done this for many years for clients, I'm still amazed that the simplicity of just having conversations, there's just insights all around, laying around that you just need to tap into. And sometimes it's just a matter of talking to your customers and finding out what are their pain points or triggers, what's really going to get them to do something.
And I'm not saying that the customers are going to give you the solution. That's up to you. What I think you're going to really hear from customers or what's driving them crazy, what are their pain points, what are the things that they wish could be easier, more affordable, or more convenient?
So if you think about it, in a business, there's basically three things if you can do that are going to most likely increase your chance of being successful. If you can save people time, money or make it more convenient, your chances of being successful are pretty good. If you can do one of them, they're good. If you can do two of them, I'd say it's maybe two X. And if you can do all three, then your chances of being successful increase, I'd say three X.
But there's another component as well. And that is, if you can tap into the emotion by doing any one of those, all three of those, then you could turn that one, two, three X into maybe 5, 6, 12 X, I don't know. Depends on the emotion you evoke. Because what happens is if you are saving people time, money or making it more convenient, but you also evoke an emotion, what's the first thing you're likely to do?
Tim Butara: I mean, use the thing or buy it?
Darshan Mehta: Share it with somebody, you're going to want to share it with somebody, you're going to want to tell somebody, I had this amazing experience or I just really love this, and you're going to want to share that with someone. That's priceless. And that is another way to then obviously, people will use their digital platforms to help talk about your product or service and say what experience they have.
And so that's one of the things. So again, going back to the basics, if you're looking to innovate, if you're looking to differentiate, one of the best places to start is to have conversations with your customers and dig deeper and do a deeper dive as to what are their pain points and what's really going to make a difference in their lives, to either make something cheaper, easier or more convenient.
Tim Butara: So if you do it right, you can actually have the people that you want to do marketing for, do the marketing for you.
Darshan Mehta: Exactly. If you can actually meet the needs of your customers in a way that others are not and actually evoke an emotion, then your efforts are going to be exponentially rewarded.
Tim Butara: And why are insights– so we already talked partially about the importance of insights, the importance of getting customer feedback. But maybe why is branding also so important? If we take into account the accelerated innovation and the increased competition, that kind of naturally comes with faster innovation.
Darshan Mehta: So the other thing related to innovation is also differentiation. Your goal is to differentiate and stand out from the competitive landscape. Because today, and again, partly due to the digital world, you're no longer competing with the person next to you or in the next state. Often you may be competing with someone around the world. And so you need to find a way to differentiate.
And you might say, well, they're doing the same thing I do, but there are so many ways to differentiate – from the actual way you deliver your product to your service, to maybe your pricing. But even more importantly, how you deliver the customer experience from the very beginning, all the way through the end, and even after they purchase your product or service. So there's many opportunities to differentiate, but you need to just find what is really going to resonate in your industry for your audience and your product or service.
Tim Butara: So a brand would be kind of like– I mean, a resonant brand would be kind of like finding the perfect balance between what your company stands for and what your audience wants. In a way.
Darshan Mehta: Yes, but actually it's more than that. What you want to do with your brand is you want to differentiate yourself from the competition. So you need to clearly define, first to yourself, what do you stand for, what's the purpose of your brand? And then once you can do that, then you need to find a way to communicate that to your audience.
But part of defining your brand is also looking for opportunities in the marketplace that you think you can really take advantage of and say, look, I can make my brand different because I can do this, this, or this, and I can deliver it even better than the competitors. That's where branding comes into play. For example, if I ask you if you think of safety and automobiles, which car brand comes to your mind immediately?
Tim Butara: Oh, I'm not a driver myself, so I don't really know.
Darshan Mehta: Even if you're not a driver, what brand would come to your mind if you think of– say, hey, I wanted a car that's safe and has really safety features? For example, I think Volvo has really established itself as being very safe and sound. And so that's just one of the things that automatically associated with that brand.
So what you're trying to do is you're trying to say, if I have a brand, what are the adjectives that I want associated with my brand? And those should be in line with what are also going to resonate with your audience, and then that's going to help drive your communication, your implementation and everything, so that you can basically get people to associate those adjectives, those descriptions with your brand, which is going to be very different than what they may associate with other brands.
Tim Butara: So I guess really one of the key things for digital marketers today is to be very customer centric. And we discussed this a little bit already, but what are some other ways, I mean, how should companies approach this customer centricity?
Darshan Mehta: I think all marketers, all businesses, whether you're digital or not, need to be customer centric. But I think with the digital, it offers you more of the opportunity to be more customized with individual customers, because you can do that easier and faster in a digital environment than maybe you can in person.
So in other words, once you know the preferences and likes and things of a customer, you can keep that in a database and customize your products and services and offerings to what you already know that they like because you've maintained a database and knowledge of your customers at a deeper level.
Tim Butara: This leads perfectly into the next question, actually, which is about– you mentioned that you have to have it stored in a database. And I know that there are a few different options, and I know that some are on the rise. There's a lot of changes happening right now with regards to data and how cookies are treated and whatnot. So what role should marketing technology or MarTech tools play in a marketing strategy that's tailored, a marketing strategy in 2022, we're talking about right now?
Darshan Mehta: Sure, there's many CRM tools out there, so if you don't worry about the technical parts of a database, unless of course you're on the programming end, then there's some other technical issues you need to deal with. But on the whole, I would say that I would keep it simple. The more control you give to your users in terms of what they're willing to opt in or opt out of, the more satisfied you're going to have them and less dissatisfaction with your communications to them.
Basically, have it permission based and keep it up to date and keep your databases clean and your information up to date so that customers feel like you really are listening to them, you're building a relationship or rapport and ultimately they're in control of their privacy and the data that they're giving you.
Tim Butara: What about from the perspective of the company, how should maybe leaders or business leaders, business owners, marketing executives, how should they approach adopting new MarTech tools and kind of helping the implementation at their companies?
Darshan Mehta: Sure, there's so many tools out there, but I think first you need to decide what your brand is, what it is you're looking to accomplish, what are the things you need the software to do to help you accomplish that. Do you need to have an ongoing relationship? Do you need something that's going to help you communicate across all different channels from email to SMS to all the social media?
So there's many options and many things out there, and obviously the more you can have built-in flexibility, but the key is really maintaining an ongoing relationship and capturing information about your customers, so then you can customize your offerings and communication to them.
Tim Butara: So it should be kind of a double featured endeavor. It should also facilitate the work of your employees and also provide greater personalization and a more delightful experience to the users.
Darshan Mehta: Sure, there's no one answer that fits all, because it depends on how you're going to be capturing this data. Are you going to capture the data from the website so that it has to be integrated with your website? Are you going to capture it from people calling in and talking to a rep, or all of the above, right.
So you need, obviously, a tool that's going to allow you to do all of that. But the good news is there are many tools available out there, ranging from some being free to some being subscription based, or outright buying. But I think it really boils down to what your objectives are.
But more than anything, instead of getting too wrapped up in the technical part of it, make sure it's going to help you achieve your objectives and grow. But more than anything it fosters a healthy and ongoing relationship with your customers as opposed to it becoming a hurdle and a challenge for your employees and your customers to use.
Tim Butara: Yeah, that's a very great point here at the end. It should facilitate your work and improve your users' lives rather than the other way around.
Darshan Mehta: Yeah, I mean, sometimes don't get too caught up in the bells and whistles. You need to make sure that it's going to work smoothly, because the best bells and whistles are irrelevant if it's very cumbersome or difficult to interface with.
Tim Butara: Well, Darshan, this has been an awesome discussion. We've covered a lot of really important insights. And before we wrap up, I just want to ask you, do you have any other, any final words of advice for those marketing professionals and business leaders who maybe aren't seeing success with their existing marketing strategies?
Darshan Mehta: Well, then I would definitely say, if you're not seeing success with your existing strategies, then the best place to start over again, so to say, is to start with your customers. Find out what their pain points are, find out how they rate you and your performance, what they like and don't like about you, and don't be upset if they're critical.
In fact, if they're critical, I would say that's a good sign because that means they care enough to tell you the truth, and they're actually also telling you because they think you have the ability to improve or change. And so if you can do that, then I think you can get back on track to becoming more successful again with your marketing strategies, your digital strategies, and connect with your customers at a deeper level so that you can breed loyalty and satisfaction.
Tim Butara: Now, you've just again emphasized the importance of the customer and I think that that's the perfect way to finish on, Darshan. Just before we wrap up, if listeners like to reach out or learn more about you, where can they do that?
Darshan Mehta: You can just send me an email if you'd like at email@example.com or visit the website iresearch.com.
Tim Butara: Okay, we'll make sure to include those in the show notes. Thanks again for being our guest. It's been a real pleasure speaking with you today.
Darshan Mehta: Thanks for having me. Enjoyed talking to you. Thank you.
Tim Butara: Well, to our listeners, that's all for this episode. Have a great day everyone, and stay safe.
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