Our latest interview is with Astha Kalbag, marketing science expert, whose talk is entitled ‘Where did my $ go? Measuring real business impact’.

Econsultancy: What does it mean for marketers to provide ‘brand leadership’?

Astha Kalbag: I believe that brand leadership is attained when your brand is synonymous with everyday use. It’s not just part of your vocabulary as a verb or an adjective but part of everyday culture.

Brand leadership goes beyond mindshare or market share numbers, it means ingraining yourself in the culture of people who use your products and services.

Econsultancy: How does this translate into marketing strategy?

Astha Kalbag: Marketing is one of the important parts of the mix to attain brand leadership. However, marketing needs to work coherently with product, sales and customer support for a brand to become a ‘leader’. If you translate brand leadership into marketing strategy, I believe a brand needs 3 key moving parts to work seamlessly together:

  • Think – How do consumers think about your brand? What are all the rational attributes that would increase affinity toward your brand? This could mean a plethora of things depending on the category such as price, relative value, and durability. It is important for marketing to address these needs and cater to different audiences within the category in a personalised and thoughtful manner.
  • Feel – How do consumers feel about the brand? I believe that perceptions are just as important as the rational reality. What impact does a product intrinsically have on the way you feel about yourself and the world? For yourself, it could be feeling safe, clean, beautiful or cared for. For the world around you, a brand can position itself in terms of sustainability, local community or corporate social responsibility. Let’s not underestimate the need for understanding consumer behavior in today’s ‘data-driven’ world.
  • Say – What are consumers saying about your brand? In a world where the power of word of mouth and referrals is accentuated through social media, it is more important than ever for marketing organizations to understand what people are saying about your brand. The influence that a trusted referral has on consumption behaviors has always been massive, but in today’s day and age – the impact of one good or bad referral is phenomenal.

Econsultancy: What should marketing leaders be doing to ‘prove’ marketing ROI?

Astha Kalbag: I don’t think marketers should fall in the trap of ‘proving’ ROI – a large part of what marketing has been and will always be is understanding the value of exposure (seeing something rather than interacting) and frequency.

I am an advocate of having a learning model and constantly experimenting with different channels, targeting and creatives to understand the impact on ‘real business metrics’ – brand awareness, top of mind awareness, consideration, purchase intent or conversions.

Having said that, I believe incrementality is the best measure of return on advertising spend. It is often a simplified approach to measurement rather than chasing after a less than perfect attribution model.

But understanding the impact of advertising of an exposed group vs a control group gives marketers a high-level understanding of what channels are working for them and how to move budgets based on optimal cost curves. It will be my perspective on measurement methodology at the Digital Divas Event on 17th August 2018.

Econsultancy: What should marketers be doing to progress in their careers?

Astha Kalbag: Different people have different theories about how to progress in their careers and different ideologies of what progress actually means. But based on my personal philosophy,  I believe there are 3 important aspects to think about when rooting for fulfilling careers:

  1. Growth mindset – I think keeping a growth mindset is critical. It’s being in permanent beta – always learning and iterating. There are a ton of resources today to help you get better at your job. I would say it’s really important to figure out how you learn and then use that to your advantage to soak in as much as possible, as quickly as possible. I have also found that I absorb really quickly through people – catchups, meetings, conferences or just listening in on conversations in the business. The thumb rule is ‘never dismiss anything as unimportant or irrelevant’ – just keep an open mind to everything.
  2. Whuffie points –  I believe it is important to build a connective tissue to navigate inside the organization. I am a big advocate of building relationships and connecting with people. But I think where most people get it wrong is when they think of it as ‘networking’ – planning who to know based on what they can potentially get from them. Inspired by the book ‘Whuffie Factor’ – I believe that building relationships is all about changing your mindset to ‘how can I help, what can I give, how can I contribute’ rather than a ‘what do I get’ approach. In this way, you sort of collect this ‘whuffie currency’ and honestly, wonderful things happen. I have experienced this magic so many times – People really come forward to help you and collaborate with you to push your high impact projects forward with all their heart and soul.
  3. Building your toolkit – I am a big believer in horizontal, complementary moves especially at the beginning of your career. I think it is important to have a broader vision of where you want to get to and keep building your skillset as you go along. I think having a toolkit approach is important because you will learn quickly and have things in your bag that will not only bring different perspectives and skill sets to the table but also make you more agile and help you connect the dots more easily. I would say don’t be afraid of things you are not good at – just get in there and get your hands dirty. Trust me, you will be surprised.

Join us in Singapore, August 17th, for ‘Digital Divas‘ with Astha Kalbag and others. Request your seat here.