Hacking Growth for a Boutique Digital Marketing Agency

Background

Windchimes Communications started in 2008 as one of the first social media agencies in India and quickly grew to become a respected boutique agency with an enviable clientele. However, further expansion plans were being thwarted by the limited service offerings of social media and ORM. I was hired in 2013 to fulfill the growth aspirations of the agency.

Transformation to a Digital Marketing Agency

I started with identifying under-utilized capabilities within the existing team and realized that we already had in-house talent to offer creative services like minimalist posters, doodles and comic strips. Similarly, it was easy to train the existing team on Google AdWords and Facebook Ads. For other services like website creation, mobile app development, video content creation and digital media buying, I was able to facilitate vendor alignments for execution.

The next step was to bring in more business, which began with upselling new services to existing social media clients. This low-hanging fruit helped us build a portfolio that could be showcased to attract more clients. To sum up, it took me just a couple of months to transform Windchimes into a full-service digital marketing agency.

Next, I recommended a commercial remodel to allow short-term, campaign-based onboarding of clients, as opposed to long-term contracts with monthly retainer fees prevailing at Windchimes back then. More services and easier onboarding boosted new client acquisition and we soon built an in-house team for the new services, reducing vendor dependencies.

As we started pitching for more business, the agency acquired clients like Ambuja Cement and Meghnad Desai Academy of Economics for website creation, Aegis and Lodha Group for SEO, and various clients including HUL, ITC, Yes Bank and NSE for creative services. The biggest needle-mover was digital advertising which led to a magnificent rise in the topline during my first year with the agency.

Highlights of Work Done for Clients

In my role as Mumbai Branch Head at Windchimes, I was leading the digital strategy for all clients and new business pitches, and the best work from my tenure is summarized here.

Brands Launched on Digital Media

This was a time when certain brands that were popular on non-digital channels were yet to launch their official presence on digital media. I led the digital launch of some of these brands and the campaigns have been detailed in this post.

Beauty Brands of Hindustan Unilever

Windchimes used to work with corporate HUL for online reputation management and had won the social media mandate for some of their beauty brands, including Lakmé Salon, BeBeautiful and Ponds. My best campaigns for these brands are summarized in this post.

Digital Marketing for Beauty Brands of HUL

Social Media Marketing for ITC Group

Given the scale and diverse nature of businesses that ITC operates in, the corporate HR team created a property called ITC Hub n Scope for campus recruitment. It signifies that ITC is a ‘hub’ with ample ‘scope’ for new recruits to plan a long-term career with the conglomerate.

ITC Interrobang

We ran social media campaigns with an employer branding objective, targeting students in top-tier business schools. Besides sharing real growth stories of people who started their ITC journey with a campus placement, we used to feature AUTs (Associates Under Training) and run case study challenges on social media to engage students even before the campus recruitment drive would begin. We also supported the digital amplification of offline events like ITC Interrobang?!

Besides this, I also helped them promote their range of stationery products including Classmate and PaperKraft. We executed campaigns like Classmate Spellbee and #BeUnique on social media and even created product-specific campaigns like #CoverHunt for Colour Crew products. I was briefly involved in strategic planning for ITC Hotels, which was primarily managed by the Delhi branch of Windchimes. I was involved in supporting events like Wine Wednesdays with Sonal Holland, India’s only “Master of Wine”, enabling live chats and ensuring digital participation.

Yes Bank and the IPL Campaign

In order to appeal to young professionals, NRIs and HNIs, Yes Bank made substantial investments in brand-strengthening associations. This included signing a five-year associate sponsorship deal with IPL, India’s foremost event property, besides other events and movies. Work done for Yes Bank has been compiled in this post.

Leveraging Associations of Yes Bank for Social Media Success

CSR Campaign for Officer’s Choice Whisky

Surprising as it may sound, Officer’s Choice (OC) became the largest selling whisky in the world by overtaking Johnnie Walker in 2013. The next year, parent company Allied Blenders & Distillers (ABD) wanted to launch the brand on social media and we won the pitch. Since alcohol advertising is not permitted by Indian law, surrogate advertising is common.

The 2013 TVCs of OC advertised music CDs as part of a campaign called ‘Raise Your Voice’ that showcased different scenes where women were being ill-treated and the conflict would simmer down after a responsible onlooker would yell “Oye!”. This soon became a popular sound mnemonic for the brand, and they wanted to build a CSR campaign around this thought.

We created the social media presence for ‘Raise Your Voice’ and started building awareness about injustices and crimes against women in India, urging people to raise their voice to support such victims. The campaign was a series of tactical ideas around the central theme, which manifested as social media content. We even produced a music video as part of the campaign to resonate better with the youth. The campaign had an impactful reach and helped in improving brand recall for Officer’s Choice.

Lead Generation for ICICI Prudential AMC

I had worked with ICICI Prudential AMC to generate leads for products like Balanced Advantage Fund (BAF), Focussed Bluechip Fund and the ELSS by advertising on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and ad networks. Other projects included the launch and acquisition of the first 100,000 users for their mobile app, and a campaign to increase the usage of their Right SIP Calculator.

Ecommerce Clients – Lotus Herbals and Titan eStore

Back then, I was the only person at Windchimes who had hands-on experience in the ecommerce sector. My expertise was well-utilized by two clients – Lotus Herbals and Titan eStore.

For Lotus, a popular herbal cosmetics brand, I had supervised the creation of the first version of the online store on lotusherbals.com and provided post-launch support in the form of digital advertising to drive traffic and online sales. For Titan eStore, I was responsible for driving online sales through social media. At that time, they had a single website for all brands and we started with Tanishq, since I had prior experience in jewellery ecommerce. Later, the scope expanded to promote all brands, including Raga, Fastrack, Sonata, Titan Eye+ and others.