There are so many components to digital marketing. The actual content you produce, how it makes you discoverable and then the actual deployment. These require different skill sets. Does a digital marketer need all these skills or is it alright to be specialized in one?
I tell our students – who are a mix of students, entrepreneurs and working professionals – that it is very important to understand all aspects of digital marketing. You may go and outsource your work to someone, but at least you will know what that person is doing. When we train people, sometimes they come back to us saying they understand things but do not have the time to undertake action. I recommend industry professionals and they collaborate. So now when they are having a discussion, it is a mature discussion as both parties have the required knowledge.
Content creation is important too. In today’s day and age, you need to have good ideas or a thought process. Spend time on creating content around that idea that tells a story. Add value for your audience. Even if you are not successful, there is always feedback to learn from.
A lot of the programs that you offered were literally free of cost and were quite intensive three-day workshops. What has this meant for you as a brand as well as a business?
The number of people we trained during this lockdown is as high as the number of people we trained in the last 10 years put together. The first impact is on branding. When 80,000 people and 15,000 teachers are registering, we have an overall registration of 1 lakh+ people. Now they know North Storm Academy. So let us assume that they each go and tell three other people about us. That is 1+3, 4-5 lakh people that know about North Storm Academy. No marketing can beat word-of-mouth marketing. People think if they are getting so much value in the free course, surely the paid course would be better. That becomes a big selling point for us.
For example, around 5500 teachers attended our FDP and we said this is all you need in an FDP. At the same time, we know that these teachers are generally doing some tuition or part-time classes side by side. We asked them if they would be interested in a basic paid course for teachers or a teacher branding course? Do they know how to make a website? They don’t. Do they have a website? They don’t. Do they want a website? The answer is always yes. Do you want to understand how to create a Facebook or Instagram page? The answer is yes. Do you want to understand how to shoot videos using free tools? The answer is yes. But do you know how? The answer is no.
Because they know us and they’ve been talking to us, they believe in us. They say yes, I should be doing this. We charge them a small amount of Rs. 500 per person, to train them for self-branding for two days. 600 people actually registered for this. It was the branding perspective that interested us, not the monetary outcome. But when you do the simple math of 500 x 600, that’s a good Rs 30,000. It’s not a huge amount, but a decent amount during the lockdown period.
We did a workshop for Indians living in Dubai, and the total number of people attending was just 16. That kind of disappointed us because we got accustomed to seeing numbers like 800, 10000 and 20000. But those 16 people liked it so much that two people actually went ahead and bought a paid course. We realized we should explore this market. It gave us direction and opened our eyes to where we should be advertising, who we should be targeting, what sells or doesn’t sell, etc.