Advice for domestic techs interested in India's market

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Jessie Paul is the CMO of Wipro Technologies, the global IT services arm of Bangalore, India-based Wipro. Prior to joining Wipro in 2005, Paul worked at iGATE Global Solutions and Infosys, another outsourcing company, where she helped establish the marketing department. Paul began her marketing career with Ogilvy & Mather.

Drawing on her experience in helping to build Indian companies into global brands, Paul has written a book called “No Money Marketing” (to be published by McGraw-Hill India this summer). In an interview, Paul discussed her book, her thoughts on “challenger” marketing and her advice to U.S. companies thinking about entering the Indian market.

ITM: What one thing can a U.S. b-to-b marketer learn from your experience as a marketing executive a Wipro and Infosys?

Paul: You should narrow your target audience because in a recession—or in any time—you know who exactly the buyer is likely to be. To give you an example, we rarely advertise. We don’t need reach. We go to media we think reaches our audience, and we’ll pay for a cover wrap and zone it so it only reaches the audience profile we want.

ITM: In your book, you talk about your experience as a “challenger” marketer. What is your marketing advice for companies that are not leaders in their industries?

Paul: In challenger marketing, pretty much what the incumbent does is not likely to work for you. You have to have something that is flanking them. From a communications perspective, it doesn’t make sense to use mass media. They’re obviously going to outspend you. You should use something like public relations. The media like to talk about new stuff. To give you example, in our industry, in outsourcing, our position was to say that there are benefits for global trade, and we shared that data. That isn’t a position that was common, and we got some coverage. When you’re the challenger, you have to distinguish yourself from the incumbent, your media plan has to be completely different from theirs, and you really have to have a very tight target audience. For many years we just targeted 1,000 companies and that was it. People ask me how Wipro has gone from a small company to its global stature with very little adverting. We had make to make our story very interesting. We got a lot of media coverage and that helped us a great deal. We focused on being thought leaders. So in the book I discuss some of these levers and how we didn’t use traditional media—mostly because we couldn't afford to.

ITM: What caution would you offer b-to-b marketers looking to take advantage of increasing globalization?

Paul: In the past, some companies in their home countries were seen as low-cost providers and, in some other countries, were able to reinvent themselves. In today’s global marke,t that doesn’t work. You really have to have the same positioning across the world.

ITM: Do you have any advice for American b-to-b marketers thinking about entering the India market?

Paul: In India, the perception of the U.S. is very positive. I would emphasize that you’re an American brand. That is a positive. The second piece of advice I would give is don’t make assumptions about media in India based on the trends media are taking around the world—that print is in decline and new media is increasing. In India, Internet penetration is still pretty low, even among the b-to-b target audience. Actually, newspaper circulation is rising. Your standard media assumptions would not hold up in India.

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