Way back in 2010, when I was in Pune working as a SAP ABAP Consultant, I was restless and impatient. Although the money was good, that inner satisfaction was completely missing. I was that starry-eyed wannabe writer, who wanted to write stories, experience the world as it is, interview people, and try to make a change in this world.
Although I am still that starry-eyed writer in 2016, but the context, platform and roadmap was entirely missing.
I soon quit my job and declared myself a professional writer, learnt digital Marketing by working in digital marketing agencies and now manage social media for a news channel in Noida, besides blogging on startups and marketing.
It’s not that I received a million-dollar funding or became the next Steve Jobs, but what happened is that I am getting paid for doing something that I love doing.
Just as Google does not disappoint when you get the keyword right, as I learnt later, Bhagavad Gita also works the same way: you need to know the right question, in order to get the right answer.
So, let's decode and demystify digital marketing for those entrepreneurs who are still stuck with ‘backlinks'; ‘black hat’; increasing ‘likes’ and using tools to ‘spin content’.
These incredibly powerful Gita quotes were summarised into tweets by author Devdutt Patnaik in 2014. I take them as inspiration to drive my points across.
Quote #1: Many prefer to let others shape their point of view (tamas guna). This is ignorance, born of inertia; A few choose to see the world only from their own point of view (rajas guna). This is control, born of fear;
When you have the ability to see the world from others' points of view (sattva guna), that is wisdom, born of empathy.
Interpretation for the digital marketer: Content should be the reflection of customer’s pain points and the magic lotion of solution and answers.
Yes, everyone says content is king, but the creation of this king is a pain. Ask any ‘creative’ digital marketer, and he will confirm that creating content consumes maximum bandwidth and resources. The simplest way to create content is by understanding what ‘empathy’ actually means; by embedding the characteristics of ‘sattva guna,’ which is observing the world from your customer’s point of view.
Creating content is being remarkable, thinking out of the box, all the while keeping the empathy factor in focus.
Identifying your targeted customer and then customising the content for that targeted customer is very important: that sort of empathy, kindness, focus can only come when the target, objective is defined.
Quote #2: “You seek outcomes to match your expectations; so you seek control. And when control slips away, you are angry, upset, unhappy, frightened. You avoid action because you cannot control outcome; You rationalise withdrawal with nobility to mask your helplessness.”
Interpretation for the digital marketer: Paid marketing needs patience and guts. Don’t shy away from failure.
The biggest fallacy of an entrepreneur, when it comes to digital marketing, is the fear of losing control over his/her ideas and expeditions. I have observed entrepreneurs terminating a brilliant campaign just because the expected results were not as per their expectations.
This quote from Gita excellently summarises the position of an entrepreneur, when he observes that the outcome that he is seeking during a paid campaign doesn’t match his expectations: he will become angry, upset, unhappy and then frightened. The secret is to ‘leverage’ the failures, measure the unexpected outcomes and then come out strongly to avoid them.
Quote #3: “God is eternal, undying, within you; Your self-absorption prevents you from realising it”
Interpretation for the digital marketer: Analytics let you explore facts that you have never seen or expected. The answer lies within.
Understanding and analysing analytics is divine in some sense: not only does it allow one to decipher hidden meanings and interpretations, it also allows you to dig deeper into the psychology of your targeted customer, and understand the dynamics of your website. As observed, some marketers and entrepreneurs are so self-absorbed in their quest to conquer more market, more customers, more traffic, that they tend to ignore the subtle signs that can only be discovered inside the analytics data.
Analytics will inform you what every religious book has been saying for thousands of years: the answer lies within.
Quote #4: “Your world is a perception based by your prejudices, shaped by your fears, fuelled by your ignorance; the world of those around you is also a perception created by prejudices, fears and ignorance. Wisdom is ability to appreciate your perceptions and other people’s perceptions with empathy.”
Interpretation for the digital marketer: SEO is actually connecting the dots between information and ignorance.
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO has long been treated like a voodoo secret. If I am asked to explain SEO in the simplest form, then it's connecting the dots between ignorance and information.
Your customer will hit the search button when he is seeking some definite answers; he may be scared, fuelled by ignorance, desperately seeking solutions to his problems. The work of the digital marketer is all about treating that search query with empathy, acknowledging the fear that your customer is going through, and positioning oneself so that he or she gets the answers at the right moment.
Understanding ‘why’ of a search query, the logic behind that keyword (compared to competition or search volume) is all it takes to understand SEO.
Quote #5: “Your reality is limited. So are others’ realities. Break your limitation and make room for theirs, even if they can’t or don’t.”
Interpretation for the digital marketer: Never underestimate the power of conversion optimisation.
Steve Jobs had famously said that its not the job of your customer to know what they want!
The digital marketer’s job is to fill in the gap, and let the consumer understand your product, make it easy for him to get what they are looking for.
Conversion optimisation is the least used technique by digital entrepreneurs and marketers to increase revenues and profits from the existing traffic. At a time when every marketer is only looking at increasing traffic, conversion optimisation techniques like heat map, A/B testing etc., can actually break the limitations of your website’s design, and enable the customer to reach your target seamlessly.
The reality of the world, and the reality of your customer needs to be accommodated within your website/app. Once that happens, the realities of your business shall emerge automatically.
Quote #6: “All outcomes are governed by karma: it is reaction to various inputs, not all yours, many beyond your control..”
Interpretation for the digital marketer: Email marketing is the focal point of every effort.
SEO, social media, content etc all lie beyond the control of the marketer, but by using emails as the central force, all these karma initiatives converge into a single point, and can do wonders to your marketing.
Your consumer can touch base with your brand from various points, and the email sent is that final link that binds all these touch points, and convince the end-user to take action. In a deeply philosophical way, attempt to view the emails as the focal point of your marketing karma. Treat it with care, without abusing it’s incredible power (read: spamming).
Quote #7: “Your mind interprets this world as good/right if it favours you and bad/wrong if it does not favour you; nature favours none..”
Interpretation for the digital marketer: Social media is the Universe; the Holy Grail of Digital Marketing.
In several ways, social media can be compared to the universe, and nature. Several entrepreneurs and marketers assume social media is a new fad, propagated by the likes of Facebook and tweets of Twitter; but they are confusing the means with the core ideology. Human being is a social animal, and at any given point of history, he is being influenced, manipulated, and inspired by social media.
The mind of your consumer is heavily prejudiced by social media, and it shall interpret your brand on the basis of ‘social signals’ that he observes there. Even if you have started late on this one, always remember the fact that social media, or nature, favours no one. It’s the moment of recognition, the moment of reckoning that matters here.
Become your best buddy with your customer on social media, and let the magic happen.
Quote #8: When you do your tasks focussing on the input, and accepting the output, whatever it may be, you are a karma yogi; When you do your tasks by placing faith in God who will take care of you no matter what, you are a bhakti yogi;
When you do your tasks by appreciating there are many forces at work, not all under your control, you are a gyan yogi
Interpretation for the digital marketer: Content marketing rules over the mind of your customer.
Seth Godin, who is hailed as America’s greatest marketer, has often said that ‘Content is the only marketing left now’.
Yes, in the world of digital, it’s content that is driving sales, persuasion, influence and loyalty. Without content, there is no means to connect with the end user. Paid marketing exists to grab that initial attention, but once your brand has received that, then there exists only content that can drive the business.
The marketer and the entrepreneur needs to understand this logic very early on. There exists several forces at work while doing digital marketing. In order to become the first choice for your targeted customer, you need to become that ‘Gyan Yogi’ who emphasises, shows empathy, understands the pain points of their customer, and essentially becomes the thought leader in that niche.
Quote #9: “I, Krishna, appreciate all subjective realities, without judgment, with affection, hence am God..”
Interpretation for the digital marketer: Failure is the default state of any startup.
Marketing exists only because the business exists. Quite a few wise men who have experienced and excelled at several ventures and businesses have repeatedly stated that the default state of any startup is failure. And this translates into marketing as well.
Before a campaign is started, marketers must be prepared to accept the hard realities of life and business with an open mind. Considering that the default state of any startup is failure, whatever he or she does from point zero is, in fact, a new beginning, a new start whose end can be literally anything.
As Krishna had said, the entrepreneur and the marketer need to accept the truth without any judgment, with affection, love for the whole exercise and, in the process, discover what it means to be God.