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EP #20: Lessons on Digital-led Growth from India’s Equitas Small Finance Bank

EP #20: Lessons on Digital-led Growth from India’s Equitas Small Finance Bank

About this Podcast

COVID-19 has given both brands and consumers alike enough food for thought. Many B2C and B2B brands are pivoting their strategies to ensure sustainability and re-growth.

We recently chatted with Vignesh Murali, Head of Marketing at Equitas Small Finance Bank, India.

Founded in 2007; Equitas Small Finance Bank is a leading new age bank that is giving children, youth, families, and business people across India a new and fun way to bank. Headquartered in Chennai, India; they believe in enabling and elevating livelihoods based on trust.

Vignesh shares insights on the following:

  • The dire need for brands to be customer-centric during these times to get back on the growth path
  • The importance for brands to adopt a data-first mindset
  • The value in leveraging Macro and Micro-Influencers
  • The new trend of sharp migration from ATL to digital marketing strategies
  • The role of personalization, mobile marketing, and digital adoption to uplift user retention and conversions

Listen in to learn how a leading banking player like Equitas is harnessing new-age digital transformation to create a sustainable, customer-centric brand!

Episode Transcripts

Sudhaamshu M (Host) : Hi All! Thank you so much for joining us for today’s podcast.  And today on our show we have a really special guest, one of the finest Marketers I know. Winner of multiple marketing excellence awards and under 35 achiever, a passionate Sportsman, trains a lot of budding marketing aspirants for free. So without any further delay, I’m happy to welcome you. Mr. Vignesh to our show today. Thank you for joining us Vignesh, I am all excited to conduct this interview with you today.

Vignesh Murali : Hi Mr. Sudhaamshu! Good morning and good morning to all those who are listening to this podcast. First of all, I would like to wish all of you a very safe time here. Please take care of your health. These are very testing times. I hope the situation will become normal soon. And all of us will get back to work.

Sudhaamshu M: Good booster to start off the podcast. So let’s quickly get into the discussion. And my first question to you is obviously on what’s happening around what? What is your take on the situation?

Vignesh Murali: Okay, I think all of us who are alive in this particular generation wouldn’t have seen any of this kind of incident which is going through now currently the covid-19. In fact, this is a Black Swan moment where it will happen once in a hundred years and actually, no one could prepare for it. No one is prepared for it, you can not prepare for something like a covid and have any or long-term or short-term plan and like a war footing big like an act of God kind of Situation. So these are very extraordinary times and also who are living through the entire lava story to tell to our grandchildren. Once we become that particular age. But yeah, I think we have a testing time so what does covid has stopped us with is, there are multiple things from the bigger than we as human beings because we are going to be obviously we are superior, but if you look at it how nature is taking control over us to ensure that all as human beings can become very humble and learn a lot of things from this particular lesson of covid.

Sudhaamshu M: Me coming to marketing, which is my favorite topic. So you think it is impacting marketing overall? 

Vignesh Murali: Okay, I always keep telling this to my team, depending on how we used to do work in the past and how we use how we are going to look at things differently. We have to now go relook at our entire strategy. Life has changed, the way we look at consumers has changed, the entire perspective in terms of the delivery of communication in which a means of the social impact of covid is only using the customers with the king but now literally it is going to happen now because be it any kind of communication, be it any kind of BPL activation or any digital, we’ll have to see what kind of communication and what kind of tactical thing we should communicate to the customer base to deliver just the right message. So in this post corona era, everything will look like the world is going to be much better because people are now going to spend a lot of time on personal hygiene. There will be a lot of planning that will happen because of the equation between things going to happen, so say for the next couple of years social distancing is going to be there, people are going to reduce physical meetings, travel is going to be reduced. So everything is going to move towards the new Era which is post coronavirus. So again, the marketing also will have to change accordingly because now I think what this coronavirus crisis has made us people know what is the difference between the needs and the wants right? So if you look at the consumption pattern people are now going to shop 10 times before they purchase anything. We will see whether what we believe is very critical, Right? So I think from the consumer’s perspective, consumer behaviors, and people’s thought process everything is going to change. So I think from the marketing perspective, I think it’s time for us to relook at our entire communication strategy. This is a great time for us to go back to our drawing board start listening more to our customers about what kind of products they want, what kind of solutions they want, what kind of Service delivery they expect, and based on that after with input from customers and consumers we should start launching a particular product or even are doing the marketing.

Sudhaamshu M: Right! So how do you think the marketing team in any organization would be functioning now, has it changed a lot?

Vignesh Murali: See, I think we are still working from home so this disability effect, I think this disability effect is now going to be the new buzzword in the industry. I’m sure that once the lockdown is lifted soon any organization would practice this wfh. I think that is one major shift in terms of thing how the marketing team and how the industry out of the purpose of officials within this we are going to be simple. I think this is our testing time. If you look at Wicket, for example, there is a very different format won a seat. 21 is ODI and one step to get be 20. We are very different of Kinds and require different kinds of mentality and things but what stands out is easy 20, you have to have an extremely good skill set right? and for interest Academy to have endurance then, you know in ODI you need to have an attitude now we’re coming to the same thing if I had dropped our bills here, I think our marketing professional needs to have a mix of all three, if you look at cricket there are only a few cricketers who play in all three formats because they have all the three I think marketing now with professionals now will have to enhance their skill set. They’ll have to have the right attitude and they will also have to have the endurance to save part to that dieting and think digital is going to be the next big thing in India, especially I would say it starts with ATL, and then it goes down to BTL and then post and then digital, Corona Era I’m sure with the physical meetings are going to be a challenge and a lot of space in terms of an ATL according to me is going to at least gonna have a cry or a lot of bits and I’m thinking to move the money from ATL is now going to be shifted to digital Lab customer service customer experience of in the communication one-on-one communication. So I think the Digital penetration area anyway as not being that great though. Everybody knows their revolution of digital, how teachers say a very critical part of Mobile, seeing a very critical part. But I’m sure now more Brands and Organizations will be looking at how they communicate one-on-one with their customers? How can they use digital in a very effective way? How can they customize their intercommunication? Same product offering how they can have a customized solution for this is going to be the major of strength and Majors or indicators in terms of how the marketing team when a marketing strategy is going to be formulated. So the digital source is going to be the focus of any organization that tells them to B2C and then I think it will be slowly but surely I think digital should be giving a very tough competition to ATL. 

Sudhaamshu M: Okay. So then what is your advice to the marketers out there? How do you think they should function or a few learning from your end that would help?

Vignesh Murali: Well yeah, so I think this being an uncertainty I think one of the things you have to look at this we have to first see what kind of analysis you can look at having one major thing we have to look at is data, data is still being consumer collected and placed all of us will agree. Okay, the data is important. When we should be having a hand I think our Marketer’s job is to anticipate what the consumer needs before they need it. So I think we have to go. So I think we have to go back to our drawing books. Second thing: If  You have to take this particular time to slow down. We need not be in a hurry like a Ferrari kind of pace. We can actually slow down, take a break and then really begin to know what does the customer want? And customers think and then give the particular solution and information to the respective product teams where a product can be derived based on customer feedback so I think we have all the market and we have to spend more time in terms of doing research understanding the customer top notches and then give us feedback.

Sudhaamshu M: Absolutely!

Vignesh Murali: I think we also have to start looking at what kind of communication we do. We have to look at going in terms of Vernacular communication. We cannot have one size fits all kinds of things for everyone. We have to now look at them. Obviously based marketing will have to look at more relationship-based marketing, which is what is going to be the thing and I am sure all of us will be lured to do it. So three-four things are going to be the major pieces of advice to all the fellow Market players: start investing your time in terms of understanding your customer or go back to the graph to travel in terms of meeting as many as possible in digital mode. Ask them – What do they want? Understand what are their pain areas? and then you can inform the product team accordingly and the entire River of the productivity, so this will be a good start for us and then relook in the entire thing in terms of, if you have it I am sure the allocation of digital to be more, see how digital can be an instrument for you both in terms of brand building and also in terms of your Tactical communication. So that is something you will have to look at and also see how you can penetrate and get more in terms of marketing space. So that is my advice to all of you to look at this in two answers in a very big way, not just a big responsibility. Also, look at the small, the medium size that same guys who are hiring a good follower base that is going to be the next big wave of influences. And I’m sure if we do all these things together and start practicing being humble, getting into more listening. I’m sure that the future ahead is going to be extremely great and possible.

Sudhaamshu M: Great great! It’s always this way now, speaking to you. Whenever I speak to you, I come to listen to a lot of new things. There are always some key takeaways for me and this particular.. 

Vignesh Murali: Yeah Sudhaamshu, just one more thing that I want to add. I would like to go back and just clarify things for the marketing and advertisement difference between these two. So I think marketing is better science- It tries to understand the entire customer Behavior. Whatever we studied in our quality measures of income of marketing, understanding the customer, understanding the behavior, understanding what he wants? Advertising is presenting what a brand does. It is a vision of what branded to be brought in terms of positioning that what I moved directly does and also to look at tactics like for example take my own Bankers system we have to get interested in the market. So if I want to use the advertising I will consume more in terms of talking about the interstate system. So I think we need to clearly differentiate between what marketing water marketing needs to not be rising and advertising is Just on marketing Institute hand in hand. I think it was a great time. Was it too much? It can happen. We have to spend a lot of time in terms of understanding the customers that come in the marketing and based on that our Advertising strategy tends to work on.

Sudhaamshu M: Well, that’s a new definition for me. So if my understanding is right or you’re actually saying it’s more of a feedback loop continuous feedback loop where you start off with marketing trying to understand what is your customers need or anticipating what is their need? then use advertising channels to communicate or get the user a step closer and ensure they make the decision of doing a transaction with the business then again still continuing with marketing understanding the change in the trend of these customers, change in the customer behavior and continue with the loop part. Is that right? 

Vignesh Murali: Yeah!

Sudhaamshu M:  Like I said, it’s always a pleasure listening to you. And I mean every time I speak to you I come here to learn new things and learn a lot of new stuff and this time it would help a lot to listen to this podcast. Oh, thank you so much for joining us today.

 

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