Interview with Nichchal Dua Airmeet

Marketing Demystified, Interview with Nishchal Dua, Director of Marketing at Airmeet

Hi Everyone, Welcome to another Fresh & Insightful Episode of the Marketing Mavericks Interview Series.

Through this initiative every week we aim to bring such personalities from the Digital Marketing Ecosystem, who are not only the experts in their domain but they are doing some really remarkable things for the Community.

So continuing this journey, Today we have with us the person who is an Engineer by Education, Marketer by Passion & Torchbearer of Disruptive work culture by Vision.

A Remote Work Evangelist, Traveler, Speaker, Serial Entrepreneur & now heading the Marketing Arm of India’s one of the fastest-growing Virtual Event Platform.

Let’s welcome Nishchal Dua, Director of Marketing at Airmeet Inc.

Today’s session is going to be really interesting where we will try to explore/ find out some of the very essential & golden principles of marketing from his expertise & experience.

So without spending much time, let’s start the Interview…

Animesh: Hey Nishchal :), it’s a great pleasure to have you today at JobsFrontier. I’m really glad that you took out your time for this interview session.

Those who already know you, need no introduction but those who don’t, how would you like to introduce yourself? Who Nishchal Dua actually is besides his flashy corporate title? Let’s call it straight from your heart!!!

Nishchal: Thanks a ton for having me here, I really appreciate this. And absolutely, the flashy title is just that. In the end, we’re all really just people trying to do a good job, follow our passions, and do good.

At the core, I’m an adventure travel enthusiast who spends most of his time thinking hard & fast about marketing, branding & what makes people tick.

I have been an entrepreneur and doing growth marketing for the better part of the last 6 years. Over this time I have built & exited 2 startups – Amicus Shopping Assistant and The Remote Life.

Nearly 4 years ago I got interested in the remote workspace & I have been an evangelist, a speaker & and a researcher on remote work ever since.

I think that covers the crux of who I am & what I really do :).

Animesh: You are alumni of Thapar. So from TIET to the world of Marketing, how the transition happened?

How a nerdy engineer got transformed into a kick-ass marketer? Can you please share that story with our community?

Nishchal: Haha! You know how they say in India, we become engineers first & then decide what we really want to do. I guess a similar thing happened to me too.

Even while in college, I was very interested in hacking things together, building a quick & dirty prototype, and eventually trying to build a business out of it. I worked on 2 major projects while in college including a payments app very similar to PayTM, before it was even launched.

But eventually, I realized that the part that excites me the most about building a company, is the part where you talk to a customer, make a pitch & see the look when they’re completely sold on your offering.

It took some time for me to realize that I’m usually most excited about the prospects of how to position the product, who to attract & how to pitch to get the best ROI.

That’s when I decided to apply to MakeMyTrip for a marketing internship. I know I must have sent a dozen emails, got rejected from multiple teams because I wasn’t a talented coder and I didn’t have the MBA qualifications needed for a marketing role. Eventually, I got an interview in the SEO team, and trust me I know I studied hard for it.

That’s how the whole thing started and then from there, I went to IIM-Ahmedabad for a fully sponsored entrepreneurship boot camp and then worked in Product Marketing at Amadeus, Bangalore before I started my first startup.

Animesh: That’s great… Now, you are an Entrepreneur, Marketer, Speaker, Brand Story Teller, Mountaineer, and remote work evangelist.

Buddy, you are a person with multiple talents, so how do you keep your focus upon so many things at a single point of time? The secret for this kind of productivity, focus & zeal!!!

Nishchal: Hahaha! Honestly, it just sounds fancy but really isn’t all that much. I started my company & built a product to enable organizations to work remotely.

My primary area of interest & expertise lies in marketing and in my free time I like to get better at adventure sports like mountaineering & skydiving.

But really, all of this is possible mostly because of efficient time management.

You’ll hear often how a “monthly salary” is actually the most addictive thing in the world. It’s true because it makes you complacent, it makes you feel that you’re doing enough & you don’t need to put in any extra effort.

As an entrepreneur, there’s really no definition of how much is “enough”. So you end up pushing your limits every day. You realize that by putting in just 1% extra effort daily can compound the end results drastically.

So sorry there’s no magic sauce or secret really because it all just comes down to 1 thing – did you put in 1% more effort today, than you did yesterday.

Animesh: Yes Nishchal, you have just told a really valuable thing that, “putting just 1% extra effort daily” which every aspiring entrepreneur should remember & ask themselves on every passing day!!!

Now let’s turn towards the world of Digital Marketing :)…

Do you think Digital Marketing is a threat to the future of Conventional Marketing? In 2030 what will be the state of Conventional marketing comparing with Digital?

Nishchal: I think we need to move past the distinction of Digital vs Conventional marketing. We are very clearly living in the age of Omni-channel marketing where every channel, content & consumer is connected.

If as a consumer, I don’t distinguish between digital vs offline for good service & brand availability, then there’s no reason why marketers should create this split as well.

I’m sure over the next 5-10 years, marketing will become more and more integrated to the extent that every offline initiative will have a digital flavor & vice versa.

In fact, some of the most successful marketing campaigns over the last few years have had great sync between online & offline to ensure adequate movement, re-targeting, personalization & better conversions.

Most importantly, I feel we’re entering a new age of marketing.

The 2000 s were all about consumption – brands would create content and consumers would consume it. The 2010s focused a lot on user-generated content (UGC) and brands leveraged that to create some beautiful campaigns.

The next decade would focus a lot on co-creation and participation of larger groups. Instead of passive webinars, we’ll have engaging virtual events.

Animesh: The Digital Marketing Education landscape in our country has become highly cluttered; Every alternate person is claiming themselves as a guru or promising to make you master in no time!!!

So standing in a situation like this, What advice you want to give to all the newbies’ who want to start their career in Digital Marketing? How they will prepare themselves better for the coming days?

Nishchal: You’re absolutely right. The barrier to entry is so low that even if you do a single 30-min course online, you can be a “certified digital marketer” and that’s causing a glut in the entry-level job market.

If you’re just starting out, I just have 1 very important piece of advice for you – remember what is a “must-have” and what’s a “good to have” skill set.

SEO, social media, email marketing, pay-per-click advertising – all these are just “good to have” skills and that’s what every other person is trained on. But this is not marketing, this is just the toolset you might use.

The “must have” skill or insight for you to actually stand apart from the crowd, is the ability to read a market, understand your customer’s key drivers and tailor your marketing message to something they can relate to.

And that is marketing.

Nishchal Dua Quotes

Animesh: How you are foreseeing the future of Digital Marketing in India? What is your prediction about its sustainability & growth in the next 5 years down the line?

Nishchal: Big! The digital marketing landscape is going to grow nearly 10x over the next 5 years. And like a marketer, I will back my claims with data points:

  • The Indian middle class is going to swell multi-fold. With higher disposable income, personal mobile phones for everyone & access to the internet, the number of digital users and also digital shoppers will grow immensely.
  • COVID has accelerated the digitization of most enterprises & traditional companies that shied away from digital marketing.
  • Indian customers are very diverse in terms of language, preferences, culture, interests & motivators. This means any efficient marketing engine would have to focus on direct, personalized marketing i.e. digital.
  • Most importantly, the Indian startup & tech landscape is going to further mature & scale. This will bring in more VC money, create more global startups, and also tap into new opportunities because of governmental support.

All these points in the direction that overall digital marketing is going to become a much bigger market than what we have today.

Animesh: 5 growth hacking tips/ secrets for all Digital Marketing Practitioners to beat their competitors!

Nishchal: Haha! Alright, some growth hacking tips for you:

  • LinkedIn & Twitter bots – Use scripts & bots to automatically add LI connections & scrape their email IDs. You can also auto-follow/unfollow Twitter profiles to build an organic following.
  • Social media – Use a tool like https://knowem.com/ to immediately search & create 500+ social profiles for your company. This will give a boost to your SEO & brand visibility as well.
  • Email marketing: Use mail-merge + open tracking to send personalized emails at a scale of 100-10,000 emails per day.
  • YouTube auto-subscribe: Use links like these when sharing a YT video. It’ll auto-subscribe anyone who opens the video link.
  • SEO–build a “Resource Page” that lists all the top blogs/tools/websites of your domain. By doing this, you not only create an HQ page that gets organic traffic, but it’s also an easy way to partner with all the players in your industry because you’ve already given them value for free and now you can ask for a favor in return.

Animesh: Share any One of your favorite Digital Marketing Case Study & what lesson you want to give from that?

Nishchal: There are plenty of successful examples & case studies out there, but I don’t want to quote them because almost every successful example has a lot of moving parts & variables which makes it almost impossible for someone to replicate the success and that’s where a lot of marketers fail – trying to copy someone else’s strategy.

Instead, I’ll give you an idea that I often use when trying to decide which way to go.

If you have Rs. 1,00,000 to spend on a marketing campaign, what will you do to get the highest possible ROI?

You could think of content, social media, SEO, email databases, flyers, or even straight-up ads.

But what if you just burn the whole stack of cash & broadcast that live on social? It’s entirely possible that you will go viral & end up getting a lot more attention & engagement than anything else.

Just an idea for you to think about, sometimes the best ones are really simple.

Animesh: Yes; that’s true Nishchal…

Now, what’s next in your life? Where do you wanna see yourself after 5 years down the line?

Nishchal: As the Director of Marketing at Airmeet, I’m pretty sure I’ll be taking the company all the way to establish it as the world’s dominant platform for virtual events & meetups.

And since I’m a digital nomad in a fully-remote company, I might end up traveling & living in different parts of the world. I have done this multiple times, where I would travel to a new place like Bali or Australia for 2-3 months. I’m sure once COVID is behind us, you’ll find me on a remote island 🙂

Animesh: That’s really great Nishchal :). Now one last question, what is your opinion about the work we are doing at JobsFrontier to empower the Digital Marketing Community?

Nishchal: Without a doubt, I think you’re doing a phenomenal job at building the right kind of community.

Often organizations try to scale their communities rapidly instead of investing in better knowledge & better interactions within the community. That’s where you’ve really made a lot of effort and I think you’re on the right path.

Animesh: Thanks Nishchal for such encouraging words, this really helps us believing that we’re doing the right thing for the community. 

Conclusion:

Thanks once again Nishchal for such honest and insightful answers. It was really a pleasure Interviewing you for this series.

Dear Readers,

I hope you all have enjoyed today’s episode of Marketing Mavericks. If you wanna get in touch with Nishchal, you can catch him up on his website.

Please share it in your network & help up to reach more & more like-minded people in the Digital Marketing community.

Let’s learn and grow together…

Cheers!!!

Marketing Mavericks