Deepak Malik is the Founder of eCdemy Learning Solutions, currently engaged in digital marketing for Honda Group. He has a diverse experience in consultative sales across multiple platforms. He possesses expertise in digital education, business development, digital marketing, sales management, customer service and innovative multi-media advertising, sales management across digital, mobile and television mediums. He is also a pioneer in e-commerce and ebusiness education in India. He has helped three start-ups grow from zero to over $10 million in annual revenue in the last 15 years. In this edition of B360, he has shared his marketing experience and insights on e-commerce. Excerpts:
You have a wide range of expertise in various sectors, what advantage does this give you while leveraging new projects?
The biggest advantage is having worked in two different geographies. I started my career in India but have been living and working in Canada. One thing that you learn, specially, in the customer service industry, is positive customer experience. When students come in, their learning experience should be what you would be measured by, how successful a business is when they come to learn a business skill and how successful a student could be in acquiring a job after they receive a skill from us. The whole premise of our eCdemy is based on the fact that we want to provide quality customer experience in terms of learning. This stems from what good customer experience means. We find our success in the service of others.
You had taken your first initiative in eCommerce from India. Can you share the ecommerce scene when you started as compared to today?
E-commerce was growing fast in India at the time we started our company. It still is. We wanted to have merchants sell products right away through marketplaces and advertising. I was lucky enough to be involved with some of the initial starters in e-commerce. The industry was growing faster from the beginning but it has not grown as fast as I had envisioned. However, we pale in comparison to China. There is significant difference in terms of growth. It is growing faster that excites me.
In terms of Nepal’s e-commerce, it is where India was 15 years ago. If you look at the e-commerce industry, internet is changing lives in many different ways.
What are the three things to focus on in marketing in order to increase sales?
I am really biased when it comes to offline marketing because I think a lot of money goes to waste. I would like to quote John Wanamaker here –“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”.Whatever we are spending offline in traditional medium, it’s not targeted; whereas, e-commerce is targeted to your particular audience. In marketing personalisation is considered the key – that’s where companies need to focus on. To be successful in sales and marketing, you need to find where your customers are. If I have to choose the medium to find my customer, it would be Facebook because everybody spends more than two hours every day on the phone. Knowing where to spend your money in is important in marketing. Reaching out to right population with the right message at the right time is important. And you should be customer-centric.
Do you agree that marketing has been very challenging in recent times given the fact that you have to connect with customers on multiple platforms?
There is always a challenge reaching the right customer through the traditional medium. In terms of personalisation, how you personalise matters. Personalisation is difficult when it comes to traditional medium. Another thing is budget. For smaller players, it’s difficult for them to utilise the traditional medium because of budget constraints. New mediums allow you to work with minimum budget wisely. If you have good product/service, if you can differentiate yourself, you can reach your target audience with a very small budget, which is the power of this medium. That will be a game changer if not today, the next ten years. We already see a gradual shift towards newer media in advertising.
During the last few months of having been here, what is your assessment of digital marketing in Nepal?
There is enormous opportunity in Nepal from the digital marketing perspective. We have met people and have conducted and intend to conduct trainings and workshops. We feel that we are just scratching the surface. We are trying to take the shortest way to get the maximum results. When a lot of people try to do that, shortest way becomes muddier. Still a lot of individuals and companies are dependent on digital marketing in a very confined way. For instance, a lot of people love to boost their post on Facebook, in our opinion that is the very narrow view of how you advertise on Facebook. Facebook itself says it has different objectives; we can utilise different objectives to reach different segments. As it is very confined, it gives us the opportunity to bring about the right practices. We are pleased to work with some of the best profiles here.
Most startups fail during the first year of business, what do you suggest for their sustainability and growth?
One percent rate of startup success is actually good success ratio. There are a few key things—they have to cater the right product at the right time in the sense that the market should be there for the product. Launch timing has to be right. If you have chosen the right product, you should have the right team. That’s what startups lack. To find the right individuals to do different things to make startups successful is somewhat difficult. We are planning to start an incubation centre in June and invite 10-12 individuals and groom them over six months. The centre will bring their ideas and thoughts to the table and work with them by providing required mentorship and support to make them successful. The incubation centre will help people take advantage of different skills required to make startups effective.