We have known Ashok Hegde and his team at PureTech initially as a client and later as a team that we would connect with in case we had questions on marketing. We have also seen how the team goes above and beyond to deliver what they promise.
When Quantent was set-up we were among the first ones to know and having seen the agency grow over the last two years. We thought now would be a good time to know the story behind Quantent.
When we reached out to Ashok for this interview, he was gracious to accept our request. In this interview, Ashok shares the journey behind Quantent, his perspective on content marketing & more.
What’s the story behind Quantent? And how has your journey been so far?
To answer that, I will need to give you a little background about myself. I have been doing content since 1987 when I started out as a journalist. I quit journalism in the late 90s to turn entrepreneur. Internet was still nascent then. A few of my colleagues and friends from Mid-Day were part of the founding team of Rediff.com. And when my year-old company got a chance to work with Rediff, I jumped at it.
The first digital content project I worked on was a daily magazine on the emerging Internet culture. It was called Rediff Guide to the Net. I was hooked to digital content. You could instantly see the impact of your content. In print, you relied on your gut or editorial judgment to plan your edition. Here, the data told you all you wanted to know. You could use science to plan your content mix.
My company worked with Rediff.com for over a decade. The Rediff team built some great products, all based on research and data. I was part of the Rediff Money content team. We were the first to launch stock market commentary live – and in three languages – with a push of the updates via SMS to mobile phones. It did spectacularly well.
But all my experience till then was on the publisher-side. I had done very little content for brands.
Around 2009-10, I met Prashant, whose company, Puretech, specialized in digital marketing. We began collaborating on many digital content projects for Puretech’s clients. It was an excellent partnership – we brought the editorial and content expertise, and the Puretech team lent digital marketing might.
We worked on some very successful content marketing projects together, cutting across channels, formats, and languages. The common thread across these projects was that our content was driven by a lot on research, data, and science.
The two of us had been discussing the idea of Quantent for a while, and finally, in May of 2018, we decided it was an idea whose time had come. Quantent has had an exciting two years, and looking back; we are convinced it’s the best thing we could have done. In two years, we have built a great team, an incredible roster of clients, and, in our very first year, we won two prestigious awards, thanks to our focus on creating research and data-backed content.
How is your team helping clients with content marketing?
We help clients research, plan and create content across formats (text, video, podcast, social media story or post, live) and channels (social, search, website, blog, app)
Content is a great way to bridge the gap between the customer and the client. We help our clients map a potential customer’s purchase decision journey and identify the moments of truth – who is the potential customer, what is their initial trigger or need, how do they go about researching the product or service, what or who influences their decision, what are the drives and blocks. Once you know the answer to these questions, you can create very sticky, engaging, and persuasive content.
Important to remember that creating content is an iterative process. You have to get feedback from analytics. You have to look closely at performance – what’s working, what’s not, and why something is working or not. And you must use that feedback to constantly improve your content.
What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as an agency?
Fortunately for us, despite being a start-up, we didn’t face the typical start-up challenges. We were already working with a great set of clients even before we set up Quantent, and we just continued that in a far more integrated manner. In our first year, we had a growth spurt, and that did bring a few pangs, especially on the talent front, but we have been able to find the right set of people and now have a great team in place.
Do you believe that the content marketing space has evolved in India, or are we still behind the learning curve compared to other countries?
There’s some great content work being done in India across channels and formats. We are seeing a lot of mature clients demanding cutting-edge content solutions. They are willing to invest in high-quality content. They don’t treat content as a commodity but as a strategic driver of revenues. And that’s allowing content creators the freedom to push the envelope.
Of course, there is still a lot of untapped opportunity given the diversity of the markets, demographics, languages, and consumption patterns. All the more reason why content creators must focus on mapping audiences and building content that is personalised and relevant.
What advice would you give to other companies involved in content marketing?
Content is a critical piece of the digital marketing ecosystem – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It often ends up playing second fiddle or a supporting role. That will happen if we look at content as a commodity or in isolation. But, if you think about it, content is the currency of all conversations. Everything is dependent on content. Make sure content is getting its due in the marketing mix.
Also, a lot of us are focused on creating content in English. But there’s a huge opportunity in the vernacular for branded content. We are seeing some amazing organic traction for the content we are creating in the Indian languages, both in terms of engagement and reach.
What qualities do you look for in potential hires, and how can prospective job seekers prepare for a role in content marketing?
Two qualities we look for are passion and enthusiasm. Passion for digital, content, and data. Enthusiasm to learn and try out new things. Enthusiasm to make a difference both to the end customer and the client through content.