Interview with Rajan Srinivasan, Founder, Scatter

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As marketers are embracing content marketing, there is one company that is quietly making its presence felt in Indian landscape and beyond. Scatter is helping marketers redefine storytelling with its cutting-edge technology and strategy. Scatter has already created over 12,000 pieces of content for 100 brands across all content formats. Scatter’s Founder, Rajan Srinivasan shares his story and insights on content marketing space in India.

1) What is Scatter’s Story? How did you come up with the idea of starting the company?

I’ve sold advertising on the internet (sorry if I sound like a dinosaur) first between 1999 and 2001 and then again from June 2005. The banner business was going the programmatic way and falling click-thru rates made the banner even bigger, more disruptive and lower on the yield per pixel. A few companies stood out. These companies used the inherent strength of their consumer offering and built brand messaging around it. They could have taken the lazy ‘horizontal portal’ way out and run standard banners. But they did not. Google, FB, LinkedIn, Quartz and a few other digital companies were truly native and the brand messaging was well integrated – like I said earlier, this was not a lazy approach.

On the other hand, content heavy publishers had editorial teams who needed to focus their time and energy on the day job they had. And not really on creating content for a brand. Content for brands was the “stepchild.” The third and perhaps most important sign was the growing direct interaction between the brand and the consumers across a variety of platforms. There was a real need for brands to up their game and migrate from ad messaging to engaging conversations. The brand was no longer in the centre of the conversation. Brands needed to plug into content conversations (like Dunk in the dark by Oreo) and trending relevant opportunities. This clearly seemed to be a good business to be in. I was also excited about turning entrepreneur after having worked in the corporate sector for a little over 20 years. The timing was perfect. The space was perfect. And I just knew I could build a fantastic team to get Scatter to take flight.

2) How can Scatter help companies with content marketing?

Scatter delivered over 12,000 pieces of content for 100 brands across all possible content formats. We’ve done text, image, video, voice & IVR, whitepapers, research reports and some more formats. Before the entry of companies like Scatter, marketers and advertising agencies botched their first real content opportunity. Remember emailers? The word ‘spam’ (in my mind) is a tribute not unfairly attached to this mismanaged effort and misunderstood medium. Scatter can help marketers resurrect the emailer. Not just that. We’ve helped build websites (for a large Indian auto company I can’t name right now as well as other super large Indian corporates), run and manage blogs, social posts etc. We also have clients where we audit content, plan content strategy, activate the creation and distribution of content, measure the efficacy and then go back to the plan.

Scatter drives results. We help brands and work on real metrics like email open rates, dwell rates on various digital assets, reduced bounce rates etc. We’ve also built out a workflow management platform that helps marketing teams see the entire evolution of content from idea to just short of injecting the content into their CMS / social media. With Scatter, marketers can scale their content marketing to never before highs.

Lastly, Scatter organizes content marketing workshops for marketing teams. Here we dive very deep into the real need for creating content and tie the same to the brands marketing objectives. Marketing teams who have done the workshop with us always land up with a truly robust content marketing strategy.

3) What is the biggest challenge your clients face (both before becoming clients and once they’re working with you)?

I think content marketing is like the latest shiny new toy. Everything new idea has a sense of excitement. Equally, every new idea has very few takers. I recently went to a content marketing conference and the CMO of GE presented a great video on new ideas and how they appear scary at first. View the video here. Content Marketing is at 00:22 of the video, if you get what I am saying.

Having said that, we have been able to articulate our proposition rather well for our clients. Once they begin working with us, they realize they are actually working with India’s first ‘engagement marketing firm’ – if you allow me to use that term. We bring brands closer to their customers. We help our brands engage their customers. 24/7.

4) Where do you think is content marketing/curation headed in India?

When we started our business in content marketing we had a rather narrow view of the space. The economic value of content marketing as an industry seemed terribly small. Most SMEs would have made more money than the content marketing industry. Since then our understanding of the scope of content marketing has gone through the roof. It’s like the universe. It expands every time we look at it. It’s still taking shape. Let’s call things out aloud. PR agencies, creative agencies, banner inventory sales (besides the big programmatic players), content experts etc. are all facing an existential crisis at different levels. They are also morphing their business models or pivoting to a new kind of business – a business still taking shape, but focused strongly on building better brand and consumer engagement.

India can also be the BPO for most English content for the world. We can build world-class content in our nation – and that too, at scale. I don’t mean this as a plug, but you can view this video we created for our YouTube page till the 48th second. It’s fairly neutral till there and you’ll get the idea on the potential of content marketing in India.

One more point: there are going to be several career opportunities in the content marketing space. Marketing teams, publishers, advertising agencies etc. will all be looking to secure their future and invest heavily in content marketing. It will be a buzzy space for the foreseeable future.

5) What’s your advise to companies involved in content marketing?

This is a fantastic area of business to be in. It’s important for content marketing companies to make sure we ‘fact check’ the content we put out. We must also make sure that other checks like those for plagiarism, grammar, copy etc. are done more thoroughly than ever before. The reality is that the large publications can put out content with elementary spelling and grammar errors – but a brand just CANNOT. Social media can be swift and vindictive for brands. Other than this, there are 3 more points I came across recently that left a rather deep impact on the way I am beginning to view content marketing. I hope you find it useful too: (a) Stories are often right under your nose (b) Content has an incredible lifetime value. Content stays forever and the returns on content marketing are for ever too. (c) Content marketing is not just about the internet. It’s about brands talking to customers…anywhere and everywhere.

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