Without proper focus, half of all advertising gets wasted. And sometimes one doesn’t even know which half. With digitisation having changed many things, the marketing and advertising world has to keep pace, no matter how rapid the changes. Data of consumer interactions are being collected at each moment of truth. Research is being conducted on all aspects of the brand and markets. Tracks collect data on a monthly basis. But the question that still occurs is – do we know the impact of each marketing input? How can we be sure we are not wasting the money? Or using money in-optimally? In the last decade or so, there is a quiet revolution taking place – where the effort is to separate the impact of each variable and quantify it. Indian marketers may have started late, but like in all other fields are set to leapfrog some evolutionary stages and take advantage of the data available to them. Aiding and abetting the quick adoption of this new science are a few new age consulting companies which come with both marketing domain expertise and IT skills required for modelling. RainMan Consulting, one of the pioneers in this area, strategically partners clients to develop plans for leading to continuous improvements and development of skill sets in the area of marketing effectiveness. IMPACT speaks to the RainMan team on how the digital age is set to change the marketing process for the good.
Q] RainMan will complete two years in August this year. How would you trace your journey and growth story in India thus far?
The journey has been exciting so far and we have seen more success in the second year than the first, even though we had a very good start for a new company. In the last year we have acquired new clients, built an enthusiastic and energetic team and have now reached a platform from where we can take off. It has been painstakingly slow at times, but now things are beginning to flow smoothly, both in terms of getting new projects, executing them as well as doing new innovative stuff. We now work across the disciplines of FMCG, Retail, Insurance and Media. The billings will more than double in the second year and we expect that we will more than triple in the third year – will client relationships that will be from the Indian and Asia Pacific, which we have recently entered. The clients have liked the new insights in to the marketing process that we have delivered. The better performance at the client end based on the insights is a source of great satisfaction to us.
Q] How have you scaled up your pan-India presence lately?
We have always seen ourselves as an Indian company which can operate anywhere in the world as we use cutting edge processes and bring domain expertise to the table. Our clients are spread across India and now we have spread our foot-print to include the other Asian countries. In the coming years we expect to work for global clients, wherever they are based. Our vision is to be a high end marketing consultancy that uncovers insight based on the numerous databases available to consumer facing companies, with specific focus on FMCG and Retail segments. Our US launch is slated for early 2012.
Q] One of the stated objectives when you launched RainMan was to evangelise marketing effectiveness. How far how you progressed with this mission?
Lack of understanding of the processes on how to measure the impact of marketing is one of the issues that face the marketing world not only in India but even in the US, which is clearly a more evolved market. Some studies show that only about 25% of US companies use Analytics on a consistent basis, though this number has been growing fast with Marketing Analytics fast becoming one of the buzz areas. In India, this number is even lower with only a few MNC companies taking advantage of the insights. Our efforts to bring some focus to this is gathering steam, with articles appearing in the press as well as the one on one meetings where the focus is advantages of Analytics for marketing. We will make a lot more efforts in this area and are looking to bring in some of the world’s foremost experts to lecture in India. Very few clients have gone in depth in getting maximum benefit from marketing analytics.
Q] The effort was also to co-create, implement, manage and monitor with the clients. Do these attributes stand or have they been altered with progressing times?
We continue to be committed to our process which has marketing insight generation as the key focus. We work very closely with our clients to co-create the analytic strategy (what do we need to find out?) and agree on the strategy implications on the process.
Q] The second phase of your growth was to partner educational institutes to evangelize marketing effectiveness. How far have you ventured on that tack?
While we are working with academicians to build new processes that can build greater insights into the marketing process – we have not yet moved into the educational space as a company. However, each of the promoters teach at various business schools, evangelizing analytics and this we believe will have a longer term effect, as the young managers come in more data savvy, than earlier generation. Getting into Analytics education is now a phase 2 activity for the company, which we will take on a few years down the road. We have realised that it is better to prioritise than take on all objectives at the same time.
Q] What is the current management structure in place at RainMan? How have the portfolios been enlarged since its inception?
RainMan was founded by two of us from industry with complementary skills. While V Balu started his career in Media and moved on to set up the Marketing Analytics function in the WPP group, Manoj Tadepalli is a Marketing profession with experience across a variety of brands. Each of the founders has over two decades of experience working across markets in India and abroad. CS Krishna Kumar, an acknowledged expert in marketing analytics and model building has joined us as the third partner – closing the loop on the ingredients required to create real value for our clients. We believe that value can be unlocked in the intersection of Marketing, Media and Analytics and each of the founders brings expertise in one area to the table.
Q] Have clients woken up to the benefits that accrue from such marketing effectiveness projects/studies? How has the portfolio of clients grown for RainMan over time?
Internationally, it is fair to say that the more “with it” clients have started using processes and tools that lead to major benefits in marketing effectiveness. In many industries like Retail, CPG, the Financial industry – this helps differentiate the winners from the also ran.
India we believe is on the cusp and many clients will start using these processes to improve their marketing effectiveness. Today, it is largely the FMCG and Telecom companies (the bigger spenders) that use modelling with interest being expressed by others in retail, consumer durables and e-commerce companies.
Q] Could you share a few case studies that have gone on to deliver landmark results for clients?
We have modelled using two million plus data from over 1600 mobile phone stores across the country to figure out “what works?” in terms of in store activities. The impact of counter space, shelf space, display units, promoters, and impact of POP was quantified for stores of different sizes, by town size. This is the first time science has been brought into deploying retail budgets. Also, many of our projects are in figuring out which of the marketing inputs is driving sales. For many of our FMCG clients we have quantified the impact of distribution, pricing, advertising, trade and consumer promotions. The insights derived from this process can improve effectiveness for a brand between 10 and 30 per cent.
Q] To what extent is RainMan involved in working with advertising agencies?
We have been working closely with some media agencies, as one of the key outputs from our work is better and more focused media planning. We have co-created lot of exciting strategies and monitor the same together as a team. Typically involvement with the creative agency is lower as the interaction is through the client; however we feel that creative agencies could also gain a lot from the new approach as we can cut down the uncertainty on what’s working and what’s not!
Q] Do you work across all the 4Ps of Marketing r only look at communication related aspects?
We look at marketing problems holistically and work closely with the client to understand each of the factors that may influence the brand in the market. As we come from different disciplines we bring different insights to the same problem.
Q] What are your plans post you completing your second anniversary?
Our plans are to build rapidly on the platform that we have built; get into newer markets; invest more in R&D and build processes that add to our prowess; double the team, triple the billing and continue to enjoy the journey!