Lloyd Mathias is a Pan-Asia business leader, marketer, and strategist with intimate knowledge of the region and a proven track record of creating compelling visions and driving business performance across the Consumer, Telecom & Technology domains. Lloyd had led and motivated teams on a platform of trust, performance & respect.
Excerpt From The Vision Board Interview With Mr. Lloyd Mathias.
We all are going through a digital revolution all together and we see that go digital wave is all and everywhere around us and pandemic is only accelerated the same right but with this digital revolution we see a lot many data breaches happening as well and we saw that recently there's a face movement on the WhatsApp and we have seen the twitter in India is completely under pump from the regulators on the data privacy issues and all but at the same time we don't see a comprehensive standard policies or regulation when it comes to the data privacy of the consumer. So, the question today is that can we protect the data privacy rights of consumer and if yes then how?
Great question Thomas, I think uh you know the first principle I think purely as a business person I think data privacy of the customer has to be paramount, i think that to my mind is a single and uncompromising and any business that does not respect that in letter and spirit will always run the risk of long-term damage. Having said which i think you know the challenge for a lot of business people when it comes to data privacy is how do they balance between privacy and personalization and i think that is in a sense an ongoing challenge right, as a consumer when i get to my favourite e-commerce site i want them to immediately lead up to a product that i want. When i make a search i want them to zero in on products that are more like my lifestyle, whether it’s an e-commerce site whether it’s a travel site whether it’s an entertainment site, i love the idea of being reached out intuitively i like it when the website reads my mind and knows what’s coming, that’s the good part but there’s a very fine line between that and feeling creepy, right and they are both very interlinked. We all have gone through the experience when you’re having a conversation with someone with a friend or exchanging a WhatsApp message about holiday destination and suppose we say that you know how about your next let’s say trip to Latvia and the next thing you know is when you’re logging into a social media, you’ll see a little travel request, now that sometimes makes it creepy so i think there’s a very fine balancing line between respecting customers privacy and giving him, a smooth personalized experience and I think businesses have to be very careful to walk that fine line having said which i think there’s a lot of regulation that’s coming into place both from governments and from the large data uh players and i tell you what I mean by this one is today most businesses in India kind of willingly follow the European Union’s GDPR right so that’s the kind of gold standard from now as we speak but we all know that starting 2019 the government has been working India’s government has been working on the personal data protection right now that bill has not yet been approved by parliament it’s in right now at a parliamentary committee I’ve been involved at some level on some of the discussions there it was originally tabled in 2019 of course the whole COVID does not help it should have widely gone through in six months it’s been more than two years now but i think some of the regulations of India’s personal data protection bill will make it a lot more difficult a lot more onerous for companies to play around with people’s data.
The other mega trend what we are witnessing Lloyd is that uh the Mark tech & Ed-tech solutions are becoming the new norms in most of the organization today all the campaigns are kind of run through them or we use those tools so that we can increase the efficiency uh in in our campaigns altogether but at the same time we have all these new sets of mark tech and Ed tech solutions but we have our own traditional approach to marketing altogether. So, uh where do we really find a balance and how do we really approach blend them together so that we can gain a better customer mind share but at the same time keeping the major KPI of efficiency in our overall marketing approach?
Very interesting question Thomas, i think the core of that is that both mark tech and ad tech have given businesses and marketers a lot of tools to make their marketing richer and to make their marketing far more data driven and effective. I think that’s the positive part the other point is as digital marketing share of the marketing pie grows most of us recognize that say 20 years back you know a lot of marketing spends were predominantly print and television they were 85-90%, today the share of print and television has relatively collapsed and digital for many businesses are the primary share they are about 35-40% and of course in new age internet businesses they go as high as 70%. What digital marketing has done is put a lot of emphasis on data which is the good part, what is the not so good part is that in a sense a lot of marketing efforts have got relegated to being what is the kind of data output. So, the measurability has made marketing a little narrow, today a lot of businesses i know they see marketing as nothing but a sales funnel builder, i think that is a problem because the moment you are reducing marketing to being nothing but a driver of sales funnel, it’s only playing one part of the marketing role, obviously for every business growing sales and growing revenue is critical but that is not the only rule marketing has a lot of value to play in terms of building brand, building perception, building the image of the company and its products, not just with the user or the consumer but with the investor community, with the regulators, with the policy makers with the governments I think that aspect is often ignored. So, I think therefore the criticality in this entire emphasis on technology and mark tech and ad tech is do not equate your marketing with just being a sales funnel builder the traditional rules of marketing right and if i could just quickly walk you through what i would think is critical i think one is as a marketeer focus on empathy, the second point i think is great time to double down on customer experience all the data in the world cannot uh make up for a bad customer experience and i think third is consistently communicating your brand story. I think a lot of new age marketers they miss the fact that it’s not the number of times your message hits the consumer it’s what part of the message resonates with you.
So i think in this whole Ad tech Mark tech don't miss the wood for the trees, don't make technology your end game point, your end goal point is always about reaching the consumer with the relevant message communicated empathetically and solving a real problem. How you use it smartly with ad tech and mark tech is what will make sure that your message is delivered right but the importance of your message and the importance of the quality of the message is absolutely paramount.
Another mega trend what we have noticed is one is of course the influencer marketing and how it is used and misused by many in today's time. We see that a lot more violation of advertising roles happening because there are there are some kinds of research done it gets published and you try to influence the audiences and the customers and consumers all together. What are your takes on that, is influencer marketing one of the key elements and component you know overall marketing mix? What kind of range of percentage it should really form out of your overall marketing mix?
I think influencer marketing is important uh it’s growing it’s still relatively a small part of most brands marketing mix so i think influencer marketing works far better as a credibility builder it works great for niche influencing, suppose you’re selling a very specialized category you know super luxury car or a home stay or you know some of these slightly weak niches, influencer marketing is a great way to go right so i think it’s poised for growth having said which having a couple of caution points, i think one is that uh influencer marketing badly used can spiral out of control uh what i mean by this is that that’s an element of responsibility in terms of how we use it right, the moment a consumer starts seeing that so and so is taking a lot of posts that are driven by a brand then as an influencer you lose out but more importantly the brand loses credibility as well right so it has to be handled sensitively quietly but yet very effectively and i think that is a part that a lot of brands have not understood today they use it in two ways one is let’s get the best known names in this category talk about my launch right so you pay them or you do a small commercial deal and then you get thousands of what you call middle level influencers who are users’ amplifiers they are the ones who reach out to the message right one years of you know political party, IT cells and the rest of it and you know they are masters of use but having said which i think influencer marketing has to be used sensitively it has to be used to drive your brand’s point of view or driver narrative and that’s be used subtly so that people don’t begin to see it as you know as too much of also paid. The other point i want to make is that the best use of influencer marketing uh but very badly underutilized is in b2b, right in b2c you’re always better off using a mass media tool which means if I’m selling a soft drink if I’m selling a mobile phone if i can afford it going through a mass channel like television frame etc. is always going to be worthwhile because you know the large part of the universe is my potential customer. However, if i’m into a b2b business where my customers are finite or i know who these customers are reaching out to them through an influencer is a much higher value right which means if i’m a company that let’s say sells printers, let’s say b2b printers, business printers right then i’m looking at a small category of procurement managers of CIO’s or CTOs, if i’m selling a kind of a business-like product, office space then again i’m looking at entrepreneurs i’m looking at business owners.
Now for this category to be uh influencers are available because you can choose influencers that are critical, they’ll be able to reach them through a lot of niche channels through LinkedIn and to other such methods and i don’t unfortunately see a lot of brands, a lot of b2b brands use influencer marketing as much as they should because your credibility is higher, it’s much easier to reach out to this audience and it’s much easier to get a bunch of credible influencers at not a very high price right. So, if to get a well-known voice talk about the power & security of a particular printer, to talk about why this office space environment is really great for his particular business uh is not very expensive in fact very often CXOs are happy to be used as influencers but it kind of builds their own brand as well uh but i don’t see much of it. So, i think there’s a great opportunity to use influencer marketing in B2b space when it comes to regulating it to know that ascii the advertising standards council of India recently put out a code of conduct uh guidelines rather i think it’s going to take time for it to kind of uh fall in place as long as the first few big brands and the big influencers don’t do it uh it won’t start in a big way they have begun to do it and then the trickle down is gradual but not everyone will be so honest to make a disclosure so i think it’s a work in progress it will take a few months if not a few years before it falls into place.
Today we look at content also as an important piece in the entire marketing which is content marketing and also the content revolution we see content everywhere in different format shape size um all together b2b, b2c even b2g. What are your thoughts on the content and what kind of role the content is playing in the marketing all together and especially in the b2b space today?
I think content marketing is the big unaddressed elephant in the room when it comes to marketing specifically in the context of b2b and the reason I say so is that today not enough emphasis is placed by marketeers in business to build relevant and you know you can say mission critical content. The reason i’m saying so is that a lot of brands typically you know use third-party content uh just put links or possibly have a lot of their global handouts repurposed for a local market. Quality of real good content marketing has to have three critical elements I think, first it has to be kind of very relevant to the user so it has to speak from what a company’s product or you know what the company’s strengths are so i think that is that is the core part, the second point i think it has to be you know in a language that’s easy to understand so people are able to kind of absorb that matter like this cannot just be verbal this can also be a video this can also be a meme i think to make sure that depending on your segment what is the best receptivity to that content right and that i think is a critical aspect to it. The third part is also the fact that today people’s attention spans have shrunk, so how do you get across that message the shortest possible time or if you need a longer time then how do you find a good enough hook so they stay there.
Another point i want to stress on the whole Content part is that today real magic isn’t getting content generated around your brand this is what is called UGC- Users generic content, how does a marketer a business put out stories there that make consumers respond and then create real value content right. So marketing is no longer a one-way process, i think a good marketer has to learn to curate content effectively so it remains relevant to its audience at the same time it doesn’t look commercial.
We talked about pandemic, we talked about the gig economy but i just want to know what's your take on how Smb and Small & medium enterprises can be kind of a crisis proof. I mean every crisis brings a hoard of opportunity also along with it but since we have seen wave one, now wave two, anticipation of another one likely to come. How the SMBs and SMEs can be more pandemic or crisis proof?
I think the pandemic has forced companies across the board to become far more agile. I think Smb in that sense, not having the overheads of a large company or the cushioning of a large company in the cash reserves have been forced to be more agile but i would say for SMBs therefore agility is what is critical, i think we have to recognize that and they have to really be very clear about you know how agile they can be in terms of what they do. The second point i would say is how they can bounce back from this week period is their biggest strength and the fact that a lot of your tax are run dry your revenues have come down dramatically, how do you bounce back from this situation is going to be your biggest strength. So i think for a SME, rule one is sharpen your agility be able to pivot, two is there’s an old saying that when the see storming the fisherman requires his nets, great time to get your deck in place get your staff train them, multi skill them right the day of hiring an accountant because he was purely an accountant in the day of hiring a salesman because he could sell is gone, today can a staff do both functions so how do you get multi-skilling as a part of life. Third is how can you pivot your business model at the shortest possible time how can you think through that & the last part that i could say is valid for all businesses is conserve cash right business is down, reduce offices if you have to negotiate with the landlord bring down your rent do what it takes to survive. So i think those survival skills are what’s critical i think smart SMBs will need to actually you know roll those skills out of the ground.