Shahriar Amin, Head of Marketing, Akash DTH

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Marketing Must-Do’s

My two previous work experience gave me a diverse exposure and skillset. When I started working in Grameenphone, the mobile telecom revolution was yet to start and I had first hand experience in observing and forming one of the most iconic brands in the country. Also my work in Grameenphone was all about managing brand in a large organization which is always under the observation of public eye because everyone had a point of view about Grameenphone. This also gave me an idea about handling brand communication and advertisements. In a way, the job made me a communication specialist. My time in Philip Morris gave me an idea about how to build a business completely from scratch and also gave me exposure to the entire value chain from research to product development to packaging to pricing to trade development to communication. This was especially interesting because Philip Morris was a new company when I joined and I had to learn quickly how to think like a market challenger and also build a brand when there is almost no communication that is allowed. That’s why when I came to AKASH and was entrusted to create a brand from scratch, I was a more complete marketer. I was a brand development communication specialist and on top I had a first hand experience on how to build a completely new business. I worked in fast paced technology business which helped us to launch in less than 6 months and at the same time I had deep experience in forming sales & marketing strategy to make the business successful.

My experience in different sectors was to acquire diverse skills, so that I develop more well rounded strength. My stint in technology business gave me exposure to fast speed and agility. It gave me the width of exposure on many different things, but not necessarily the depth. On the other hand consumer goods business gives exposure to how to do proper business development activity. It goes into depth, which complimented my knowledge. And made me realize valuable lessons. For example, as a marketer, I used to pitch cigarette, mobile sim and DTH to pretty much the same customer in different phases in my career. Now the same user who pays monthly 3000 taka for cigarette bill happily is not willing to give monthly 500 taka bill for talktime. Why? Marketers will quickly dismiss this as price sensitivity. But its not. Its value sensitivity. Only lazy marketers think in terms of price war. User behavior is common because no matter who you are, all you really want is value. People think we are price conscious, but what we are really is value conscious

The process of marketing is the same for all industries. You start by understanding human need, then create something of value that satisfies that need, then your job is to communicate that need to the customer and ensure the value proposition gets delivered seamlessly. You try to figure out if everything is working well from a customer’s point of view and then repeat it again and again to create a consistent user experience across all touch-points. Really that’s all any of us marketers need to do. But go-to market strategy of course is different. It depends on which category you belong, your product life cycle, your position and your appetite for long term strategic warfare – many things. If you are a market leader you block competition moves and innovate, even if it cannibalizes your own products. If you are a market challenger, you innovate and differentiate from Market Leader. If you are a flanker or guerilla, you focus and specialize to guard your own territory. So the process is the same. The strategy is custom made

It is astounding that a technology business like basic cable based TV viewing has so little innovation over the last 20 years when the whole world is moving at such a frenetic speed when it comes to technology. The customers in Bangladesh deserve better and that’s all we want to focus on. We want to give a high quality TV viewing experience to customers, the likes of which they have not experienced. And we want to do that by giving seamless service experience and innovative features, on top of high quality viewing. And this experience should stay the same, no matter where you are in the country.

If there is a secret recipe, I would say it’s made of 3-4 core ingredients. First one is Agility. In my mind agility is two things blended into one – Speed + Flexibility. You need to be fast and also you need to be flexible to adapt at any point in time. Secondly, you need to constantly upgrade yourself to stay relevant or be ready to be disrupted. Thirdly, you need to be transparent as consumer is now more knowledgeable and empowered than ever. On top you need to stand for something beyond commercial success because consumers demand that brand’s look into how they are contributing to the community they live in, not just business success

There is no such thing as a bulletproof marketing strategy. It’s all about agility, which means you have to change your so called bullet proof strategy quickly, if the situation requires that. Also, with the advent of digital, the world has moved towards more tactical thinking over strategic. Everything is now more short term. The long business planning cycle has been reduced to a design sprint. A full scale launch to test a product is reduced to a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) creation. The direction is clear – be fast & adapt on the go. Bullet proof strategy is about perfection and perfection is the enemy. Because perfection is never attained and desire to achieve that perfection makes things slow, which is the worst thing you can do in the digital age.

Most marketers believe their job is to create communication or to sell. They are both wrong things to focus on. As brand marketers your job is first to be the voice of the customer to ensure everyone in the organization works to solve real customer needs and problems. Secondly, as a marketer you have to be able to influence the entire organization so that every touch-point behaves in the desired way to reflect the brand positioning. That’s where every marketer needs to come out of their cubicle where they spend their days making beautiful presentations and start having real leadership influence among the organization.

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