Lloyd Mathias now drives growth & performance for Tata Teleservices Ltd as President, Corporate & Monitoring. In his previous role as the CMO of Tata Teleservices, Lloyd led marketing, product management, device management; alliances and VAS, and was responsible for building Tata Photon into India’s #1 broadband wireless service. Paul Writer team caught up with this ace brand builder.
Paul Writer’s CMO Hall of Fame program recognizes senior marketers who are developing and enhancing the marketing eco-system in India.
Tell us something about marketing initiatives at Tata Tele Services.
We are one of few the players who have worked with multiple brands. All the key players like Airtel, Aircel, Vodafone, Idea, Reliance etc have one master brand. We have, on the other hand created portfolio brands; with Tata Photon brand for our wireless data, Tata Docomo for GSM mobility, Tata Indicom for CDMA, and Tata Walky for fixed wireless services. Each brand is uniquely positioned to address certain consumers need.
This also gives us the ability to try out different communication styles. For e.g.: Tata Indicom is speaking to the mass market in terms of pricing and bundling, Tata Photon communication is focused on those on the move- the cool young teen and the executive, Docomo again has a very differentiated and refreshing positioning . So as a differentiator, we believe our offering is quite unique and pioneering in this category.
While evaluating purely on economic of media spend, it may not be the most effective strategy; but in terms of how the entire category plays out, there are significant advantages to this.
Any related learnings from this that you would like to share with us?
We are trying to create a value enduring beyond price and distinctive brand personalities for the products. The first challenge then was how to manage media across these various brands. Secondly, it was about taking the brand positioning right through the line; from that communication in the store, to the call center, to every interaction that the customer makes with you.
What is the one marketing challenge that would excite you the most?
At one level it would be launching a brand (in categories like Telecom and Technology there are new launches virtually every week). But I think, the challenge is really about the consumer having a holistic engagement with your brand by building a relationship with the consumer in what is traditionally a very transactional category.
How has digital media impacted your marketing strategy?
Quite significantly, given that in Telecom, digital media plays a far bigger role as compared to the traditional FMCG; to the consumers here, digital is an integral part of their communication mix. So we are able to communicate to our customers with far more relevance and higher degree of personalization.
However, there are still challenges.
Creative agencies, the traditional communications partner, don’t normally think digital in the first instance. The classic creative process has various levels of approvals and hierarchy, but the digital process is inherently interactive and real-time. Therefore, despite having a two-way dialogue with the consumer, our ability to actually integrate what the consumer is telling us and then modify our thinking and communication is an ongoing challenge.
Also, no brand manager can look at every tweet or comment going about; so relevant real-time interaction becomes difficult as well.
So what does your Marketing Mix look like?
Since we are predominantly national players, and we do a lot of television. Outdoor is also big because with 22 telecom circles in India, we have different data and tariff plans across programming circles. Then comes print and digital. But digital is growing the fastest in our mix.
How would you define a role of futurist CMO?
It is critical that CMOs redefine their role to being the innovation driver who is the custodian of consumer need within the organization.
I see marketing moving away from just being a port for selling products to being the fulcrum of creation of new products. Therefore the futurist CMO has to be someone at the center of the organization driving the impact through new product creation, product promotion and also ensuring a unified, consistent and clear voice communicating to the consumer. The marketer will need to ensure that the consumer feedback is implemented in creating a newer products and experiences.
However, the basic tenets of good marketing will remain the same: understanding the product in entirety, understanding the role the product in the life of a consumer, and understanding aspirations of a consumer.
Advice for the aspiring CMO
Apart from all that I mentioned above:
>> Having an inlet based experience with respect to selling dynamics: Understanding the depth of impact that marketing has on distribution channels, retailers, etc continuously is as difficult as it is essential
>> Extensive and regular customer immersion: Take time out of your schedule for your consumer to know your product’s role in his/her life.
Being in a telecom market, we have the leverage to listen to live customer calls. So I listen for an hour to the call center when I am driving to work to get a sense of consumer aspirations and concerns etc.
My Marketing Mantra
Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer.
CMO is the ultimate custodian of the consumer in the organization; while the rest of the organization proceeds from the company’s standpoint, we are the only function going outside – in.