Had he not advised me to go ahead with my ideas, I would have surely not reached where I am now. Today, at Talk Stock, I want you to meet a person who, in a 10-minute conversation, gave me the best advice of my life – ‘Don’t Limit Yourself’.
Talk Stock: We would like to take a walk through your career journey. How do you look upon it, where is it now and where is it headed to?
Aashish Nanavati: “I started my career in Sales working in Media with The Times of India, Hyderabad. I was looking to get into Advertising, got introduced to the only online business firm in Hyderabad back in 2003 and started my digital career with the subsidiary of Bwin PartyGaming then. The business flourished, so did I, moved to the UK and made London my home for the next 7 years. Worked with a couple of startups, as well as Financial Times as an online marketing consultant, and enjoyed my time traveling Europe as well as North America for both work and pleasure during that time.
I returned to India while eCommerce was growing, got an opportunity to work for innovative startups like Inkfruit.com, setting up new digital agency operations like Logicserve Digital, growing the digital and performance marketing portfolio like Shaadi.com / Bigrock.com / ShawAcademy.com and launching a major platform like Amazon Prime Video in India. I have had my mix of ups and downs in the last 19 years of my career, and despite that, I have moved forward and grown to be one of the best digital marketers in the country. I have won top accolades and awards in the process. I believe that my best is yet to come and I am currently transforming my knowledge/perspectives doing my executive MBA programme with the Indian School of Business (ISB).
It is always difficult to predict where the career is headed. However, I take pride in calling myself a specialist generalist. To explain that further, my specialty is ‘marketing in the digital space’, however, I add value to all the portfolios across the business (from Product to Finance to Tech to Operations to BI to Sales) with my knowledge and experience keeping the focus on customer experience. I am now building up my skills further to head businesses and adapting better perspectives, knowledge, technologies, strategies to sustain and scale.”
Talk Stock: In your opinion, what is marketing today? Do you think it is different from what it was yesterday? If yes, then what key differences you would like to point out?
Aashish Nanavati: “The main principles and pillars of marketing will always remain the same. It is the form factor that has changed with the advent of technology and new methods of reaching the consumer, who is now accessible across different mediums but with a very short span of attention and engagement. In the pre-digital times, the technique that most of the companies relied on was ‘spray and pray’, where they would advertise across the available channels (tv, outdoor, etc) and hope that something converts in broad-line metrics. Now, with the explosion in digital techniques and tonnes of data available to both online and offline businesses, marketing has become more sophisticated adapting data-driven scientific techniques. In my view, this is a good thing but it definitely has diluted the creativity part amongst advertisers, especially in the digital world. I believe that marketing is both art and science, and both the left and right brain should work together to solve marketing problems and objectives. Hence, what you see now is that the businesses deploying both technology and creativity are the ones engaging with the audience more getting better results than the others solely riding on technology. Hence, Marketing is successful with the right combination and strategy for Brand Development, Positioning, Communication, Segmentation, (4Ps – Product, Price, Place, Promotion), Channel strategy, Engagement strategy, and Retention strategy.
Also, I really love the slide created by Growthverse: What Marketing Problems Are You Looking to Solve? I make it a point to include this in all my presentations. It clearly gives a picture of where Marketing is today, as it has transformed itself from old methods to new methods but with core pillars and principles remaining the same. I call it ‘Back to Basics’ Marketing in partnership with ‘New Tech & Methodologies’.”
Talk Stock: Which one will you pick– skills or values? Also, tell us why and how in context with marketing?
Aashish Nanavati: “I believe that your values are core to your being in both your personal and professional life. Your existence has no meaning without the core values that you not only exhibit but practice in daily life. However, while values lay the right foundation, you can’t really progress without the right skillsets. I have come a long way in my skillset, starting with sales to managing digital businesses at this stage. I believe that learning has no boundary, and the professionals building new skills every year are the ones breaching the boundaries of stagnation to lead growth and prosperity in their respective fields and businesses.”
|Marketing Leader Aashish Nanavati- Awards and Recognitions
|· Top 100 Smartest Digital Marketing Leaders by World Marketing Congress in Feb’19
· Top 50 Best Digital Marketing Professionals at Mobile & Digital Marketing Summit, Mumbai in Nov’18 conducted by CMO Council & World Marketing Congress and
· 50 Best Digital Marketing Professionals at Mobile & Digital Marketing Summit, Mumbai in Nov’14 conducted by CMO Council & World Marketing Congress
· Top 3 Highest Contributor Award for sales performance in Hyderabad’s first anniversary edition special issue while working for Times of India.
Talk Stock: If we talk about the marketing world, then it’s super-dynamic and sometimes jolts with absolutely unexpected situations. What are the three/five necessary skills to survive this super-dynamicity?
Aashish Nanavati: “I think it is not just marketing but the entire business world that has become super-dynamic. The way to survive and grow in this super-dynamic business & marketing world is to have a combination of soft skills (like Adaptability, Ethics / Values that we discussed above, Leadership & Delegation, Communication & Collaboration, a Competitive Spirit, Thirst for Learning as the eco-system is changing every day, having a Big Picture Mindset) and hard skills (Core Marketing Knowledge combining Branding / Acquisition / Engagement / Retention / Marketing Automation, Customer Focused Strategies, Data Management & Analysis, Security, Content Creation, Coding to an extent, Budget Allocation and Optimization Process Management).”
Talk Stock: According to you, how important are long-term visionary goals? What would one lose, if they are not there?
Aashish Nanavati: “I am a person who works with vision. I think having the right vision and working towards that vision makes a lot of positive difference in the outcome, while both vision and outcome are fluid rather than static, i.e., they both keep evolving as we move along. I am reminded of what I learned at Amazon about having a backward plan with the right vision. At Amazon, it is mandatory that before you launch a platform or product, you mentally transit to the time that you are planning to launch the same, and envision what the product/platform would look like on that particular day combining both customer and media’s feedback on the product. You thus envision the best format of the product/platform and then transit back to the time today to make a quarterly programme between the time now and launch to achieve the vision outlined in the process. This process works for me both in my personal and professional life thanks to my experience at Amazon.
To answer your second question, the loss would be purely an opportunity loss without the vision as the outcome would be very different. I believe that it is important to align vision with the mission, as plans might fail but the mission will survive, as quoted by Seth Godin. It is the right combination that gets the right outcome most of the time.”
Talk Stock: Do you believe that technology has managed to shift the marketing paradigm? If yes then how and to what extent?
Aashish Nanavati: “Well, it definitely has managed to shift the marketing paradigm. As mentioned above, the customer is now more accessible and there is a revolution in way drive marketing using data-centric models and automation. However, the attention span has fallen completely and the brands creating a positive impact for customers are the ones that are surviving and growing. Technology change has resulted in both good and bad marketing processes, the good resulting in personalized experiences for the customer / potential customer and the bad around the lines of customer privacy issues.
As seen in the slide created by Growthverse above, marketing is not the same anymore and it is getting much more complicated by the day. However, the success will belong to the brands/businesses that simplify marketing methods in this complex world and follow the right foundation and principles, thinking and solving for the right customer experience and benefit.”
Talk Stock: There are designations – team leader, marketing leader, strategists, etc. What does it take to get that best in these roles? Your lessons, advice, or message you would like to give to people looking forward to these roles and beyond?
Aashish Nanavati: “I believe that one leads by example with the right vision and understanding about the landscape, one who is forward-looking and empathizing with the people around, at the same time focused on the best outcomes for the business. A marketing leader is successful when he/she is able to carve out the right path for the business/team and focused on the best customer experience. In the business and marketing world that is changing so fast, there needs to be a lot of flexibility in adapting new methodologies and innovation to bring about the right flow and outcome. A good strategy remains good on paper if it is not executed properly. Hence, a good strategist is one who comes up with the best strategy to execute and actually does amazing execution for the best outcome possible. A leader is the one who navigates the complex structure of the organization and aligns the teams to work together for a positive result. I think my message to all the professionals is that one has to become a champion and helper of change, become really good at decision-making, be fantastic with deal-making and influencing the stakeholders positively to overall achieve the right business objectives.”
Talk Stock: What challenges do you face as a Marketing Leader? Would you like to share your response strategy to the challenges? Please enlighten us.
Aashish Nanavati: “The main buckets of challenges revolve around (a) strategy and direction, (b) budget management, (c) team management / building, (d) processes for monitoring and optimization, (e) adapting new technology for experiment and change, (f) achieving targets as the goalposts keep extending in a growing environment.
I always talk about the importance of planning before you embark upon a journey, just as you would open the navigation map on your device to plan for the journey from Point A to Point B. I think it is the amount of planning and the right mix of passion that can drive you from one point to another most economically (in terms of resources, time) and in the right direction. In terms of budget management, I think it is best to go bottoms-up instead of top-down, i.e., start slow and conservatively before you build/expand. In terms of the team, it is important that you carefully select the individuals who are positive and having the right skill-set to be part of your team, and once they join it is your responsibility as a leader to delegate and equip them with the right tools to perform, learn and grow. The team needs to also own up the process of continuous optimization of resources and you need to create a flow where the KPIs are achieved while monitoring the same on a weekly/monthly/quarterly/half-yearly/yearly basis. It is also important to keep a tab on the industry and figuring out the right technology to adapt. I always allocate a lot of time to publishers and platforms in the industry, talking and meeting them, to get a first-hand understanding of the eco-system. I also believe in aligning your main stakeholders in different teams on the changes in the eco-system so that the business as an entity is better placed in adapting new techniques with the resistance to change at the lowest form. In terms of achieving targets, your day to day processes will give you the base results, but it is your ability to solve a major problem with the right product portfolio in the right market and offering to the right customers with the best communication possible that will achieve your key objectives and targets. Your basics need to be right for the right outcomes.”
Talk Stock: Lastly, I would like to put across some questions related to personal life and choices-
– If not working then what?
My passion is driving and riding. If not working then I would love to spend time traveling, ideally driving around the country / even cross-country and riding my bike. I also love to present my ideas in different events, so if not working then you will find me at the industry events sharing my experience and ideas
– Favorite food?
Simple Gujarati and South Indian food. I also like Mexican and Thai food that I really enjoyed when I was in the UK
– Dream vacation?
Where I can rest and dream J. On a serious note, I would love to spend time in New Zealand and driving cross-country there.
– A personality you admire the most. Not necessary from marketing/professional world.
I admire and love many leaders like Jack Ma, Abdul Kalam, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Ratan Tata. I think my thought process is a result of following all the amazing leaders and imbibing their values and principles.
– Your Favorite Non-business book.
Two books actually. ‘The Alchemist’ and ‘The Monk who sold his Ferrari’.
– If not the field of marketing, then which field you would have chosen or desired to join?
I would have probably been a mechanical engineer and working my way towards building some great automobiles!
So this was me, building Talk Stock with Award-winning Marketing Leader Aashish Nanavati. Post your thoughts and also tell me what key insights you have picked up from him in the comment section below.
Down the Memory Lane: I met Aashish Nanavati Sir last year at Digital Influencers Conclave for Women organized by WSquare and Jobsforher in Bengaluru. He was there to present his thoughts on Influencer Marketing. I was sitting in the audience. I still remember how I behaved like a school-going kid, all engrossed in taking down the notes that by the end of the session I had a long list of questions ready for him. After the session, I pulled up all my courage and went to him directly. I don’t know why, but I was fumbling with my words. I introduced myself and directly shot my question to him. Not even waited for him to respond. On top of that, instead of asking him a more reasonable question, I asked him to help me in deciding my niche as I write on a variety of topics for my clients. But he, being a leader, listened to me patiently and gave me the most valuable advice – Don’t Limit Yourself.
Since then there is no looking back for me. I don’t limit myself 🙂