There is no way to scale a business without marketing, says Jessie Paul, author, ‘Marketing without Money’

India has lots of innovation, and effective marketing can unlock monetary potential. Here are some expert insights and tips from marketing guru Jessie Paul.
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Jessie Paul is author of Marketing without Money (see my book review here), a guidebook packed with frameworks, tables, and case studies of marketing in action.

Jessie has 25 years of experience in marketing. She was the Global Brand Manager of Infosys, Marketing Head of iGATE (now a part of Capgemini) and Chief Marketing Officer of Wipro Technologies. In 2010, she founded Paul Writer, a marketing advisory firm.

See also YourStory’s Book Review section with takeaways from over 330 titles on creativity, entrepreneurship, innovation, social enterprise, and digital transformation.

In this insightful interview, Jessie shares tips on marketing frameworks, case studies, and trends in the metaverse.

Edited excerpts from the interview:

YourStory [YS]: In the time since your book was published, what are some notable new examples of effective marketing that you have come across?

Jessie Paul [JP]: I find Paris Hilton’s association with the metaverse very intriguing. She has reinvented herself as a brand ambassador for NFTs and is monetising that.

Pussy Riot’s efforts to raise crypto funds for Ukraine was very effective. Ukraine's President Mr Zelensky is doing a great job of communicating and garnering support for his cause despite the odds. Earth Hour continues to be a great way to spotlight climate change. Sebamed’s PH based campaign was a great clutter buster in the B2C space.

More recently, I heard about Godawan, Diageo’s new craft whisky from India first as a quiz question! The entire narrative has been beautifully done to build authenticity.

In the B2B tech world, currently there is a huge struggle to attract and retain talent. Kissflow’s move to hand out BMW 5 series cars to five of their team members generated a lot of attention.

[YS]: How was your book received? What were some of the unusual responses and reactions you got?

[JP]: I think the strongest impact has been for those who are currently grappling with a marketing problem.

For example, one reader mentioned that the ABCD model (Advantages, Benefits, Constraints, Disadvantages) was an immediate application to their product consulting engagement. Another mentioned the country branding chapter as being an eye opener.

So I think the take-away for me is that it is a modular book with different sections appealing to readers at different points in their journey.

Jessie Paul

[YS]: Are there plans to add an online companion for the book, or a resource of online tools and charts?

[JP]: I already publish a weekly blog on my website, on the topic of marketing.

[YS]: What is your current field of research in marketing?

[JP]: My specialisation continues to be cost-effective B2B marketing. Newer developments in this space are the use of metaverse for commerce and rethinking products as a customer experience.

[YS]: How would NGOs and civil society organisations make use of your frameworks? Any good examples you can cite?

[JP]: The principles of marketing remain the same, whatever be the desired outcome. WWF’s Earth Hour is an event that builds a sense of purpose and brings together individuals for a common cause.

When I did a pro-bono engagement for a social entrepreneurship firm, the biggest takeaway for them was to target their outreach efforts to focus only on their named potential donors.

The biggest win comes when you change something from being a “push” to a “pull”. The Cubbon Dog Park champions have made adopting a “streetie,” “Indie” or rescue dog much cooler than buying a pedigreed dog. That’s a huge mindset change.

[YS]: What are the typical challenges entrepreneurs face as they scale up their company? How can the importance of marketing be baked into their strategy right from early stages?

[JP]: There is no way to scale a business without marketing. Many businesses focus on building awareness without answering the crucial question of differentiation and credibility.

I always advise clients to “own a superlative”. You have to be able to say that your offering is the first/only/largest/cheapest – any superlative that is relevant to your target audience.

[YS]: How should marketers strike that delicate balance between ‘Stick to your vision’ and ‘Adapt to a changed world’?

[JP]: A good vision is broad enough to grow with you. In my book, the section on vision is one of the longest because it’s so important to get that right – and so many ways to get it wrong.

For example, I defined my vision in 2009 to ‘raise the bar for marketers in India’. Over the past decade I’ve done this through awards, speaking, training, consulting and board positions. The execution has evolved, but the vision stays true.

Similarly, Google’s vision is to organise the data in the world. That can be done through search or maps or email. Ogilvy wanted to be respected by those who respect brands.

Again, how they do that has changed with the rise of digital and will change again with the metaverse, but the vision remains the same. It’s ok to change your vision but make sure it is actually something broad and lofty, not something like “be a unicorn”.

[YS]: How should marketers deal with situations where a product, launch or campaign has failed? How can they learn from failure, regroup and reposition?

[JP]: Research and a postmortem. The ABCD framework is super handy to assess a product. Then understanding the 10 marketing channels and which one did not deliver.

Most often, the reasons for failure are:

1. The chosen superlative is not sufficiently relevant to the target audience. For example, you may be offering the best airplane food, but the customer may just want the cheapest flight.

2. Lack of awareness – your target audience has just not heard of you

3. Lack of credibility – the target audience does not believe your claims

4. Lack of availability – the target audience is unable to get hold of your product when they want it.

[YS]: How are new technology advancements impacting marketing, eg. metaverse, IoT?

[JP]: These are channels which marketers can use to execute their plans. But the core fundamentals of strategy will not change.

For example, awareness can be built in the metaverse rather than through ads in newspapers. But awareness continues to be important, as are credibility and availability.

[YS]: How should marketers help companies in assessing how they should position themselves during a crisis like the Ukraine war?

[JP]: Companies do not have morals, people do. So companies will do what their customers and employees want them to do, as long as it is legal.

The role of marketers is to be the best judge of what public opinion expects from the organisation, and then weigh that against the company’s previously stated values.

[YS]: What's it like to be a marketing consultant? What are some of the challenges and opportunities you face?

[JP]: Being a consultant is actually intellectually very enjoyable. I get to bring in my expertise from a diverse range of clients and solve problems.

The ‘a-ha” moment when you realise how to address a particular client’s business challenge is very exciting. Challenges are that marketing, branding and strategy require long-term sustained focus, but business owners want immediate results.

Businesses often confuse communication with marketing, and many do not have a written brand blueprint or go to market strategy. Innovation is plentiful in India, but in order to monetise the true value, we also need a good marketing strategy.

[YS]: What is your next book going to be about?

[JP]: Marketing!

[YS]: What is your parting message to the startups and aspiring entrepreneurs in our audience?

[JP]: India has lots of innovation and some fabulous products. Good marketing can unlock the monetary potential.

Edited by Anju Narayanan

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