TheSmallBigIdea popularly known as (TSBI) is an agency that believes in providing digital first solutions to brands combined with unique storytelling abilities. TSBI has been in the news for their great work with films like Good Newwz, Bala, Dream Girl and more.
TSBI has completed 6 years in February 2020.
Medianews4u spoke to Harikrishnan Pillai, CEO and Co-founder, TheSmallBigIdea about their journey, achievements and a lot more.
Congratulations on TSBI’s 6th Anniversary. How has the journey been? How did it all start?
Manish and I started TSBI in 2014. We both come from the media and entertainment space. We saw an opportunity in the expanding digital space and felt the need for interesting storytellers to help brands navigate this entire expansion of the digital space and that’s how we started.
We have been really successful in doing that in the last six years, not only for entertainment brands but also for brands beyond entertainment from tourism brands to FMCG to BFSI. The idea is to tell a great story. Whether it’s for a TV show or anything else. It has been a very interesting journey for us.
What is TSBI known for in the marketplace? We know about the exceptional work that TSBI is doing in the movie and film business. What else is TSBI an expert at? Your domains of expertise?
In terms of services, there are three very clear divisions, one is content marketing which is right from creating social media content for a brand to shooting an ad film. Social media creators, shoulder content, short format videos, podcast to an ad film, so that’s is what we do from a content marketing standpoint.
The second is media planning and buying, let it be on social media platforms like Facebook or on Google, to something as interesting as programmatic advertising. Everything from a typical branding based campaign to a performance marketing campaign.
The third, which is very interesting and it sets us apart from anybody else in the marketplace, which is our specific focus on analytics. It has been a focus for us for a really long time and usually in regular parlance, analytics is used from a media marketing and performance marketing standpoint. However we at TSBI use analytics from our contents and storytelling standpoint also.
We use data to drive great stories, get great insights and convert them into building a strong narrative for the brand. From a service standpoint, these are the three broad services that we have, apart from obviously SEO, website development and things of the world but these are the three key elements that we kind of present from an industry and category standpoint.
Television is our strongest hold and category films is also something we create. Category films is actually just a one year old phenomenon. We’ve created category films for tourism and lifestyle brands for example, the Bahrain tourism in India. The entire Bahrain Gram Tree is handled by us, in sports we have the ISL Football team, Chennaiyin FC, Disney and Star Sports in the consumer marketing division. We have worked with FMCG brands like Canapure for launching their catalogue in India.
If you had to highlight the top moments or achievements of TSBI since its inception, which would those be?
I think one of the few moments that we really cherish is the fact that when anytime a client renews their contract, that itself is a great feeling. I mean, I’ve been a client for many years, and it’s very difficult because agencies usually keep changing in a year or so or maybe three years that too only if they are doing a substantially strong job.
When we were young and new, for us to keep renewing contract with clients was a high point because one says that there is a lot of confidence in the client as to what we do, so every time a contract is being renewed, I think it’s a high point for us, because that means that we’re doing something right.
I think the second high point generally is when people call through reference. One gets business through cold calls, but if your work has been noticed in the industry and you know, you are doing well. It has been six years now and I don’t remember us calling people and letting them know what we do as it’s always through referrals of people calling in and saying that we have seen your work, that is the high point for us at TSBI.
We don’t have a churn in our company, the employees have been with us for a while. Our strength is about 75 people and about 35 of them have spent more than two years to three years. Four of them have spent more than five years with us.
The fact that people stay here and continue working for us says that they see more than just a job, but see a career. Rather than calling in an account win or achieving a certain sales number because they are all moving targets, moments which talk about great client confidence, great employee confidence, great industry confidence, I think are the moments that give us a high.
What were some of the key learnings that you brought to TSBI from your previous stints at ZEE and Reliance as the brand manager?
If you look at ZEE and Reliance as companies, they give a lot of autonomy to the people who work, I’ve had fantastic bosses who did not look at my age or look at my years of experience, what they looked at was what do we get on board? And if we are good, smart, and we’re willing to take that risk? They gave us a lot of responsibility and that’s the biggest lesson from there that I have got into TSBI is that if you’re willing to be committed to the job, if you’re willing to kind of stretch yourself, if you’re willing to work, then opportunities are never going to be far away. We keep saying this to our team members, we tell them that you take care of the job; the job will take care of your career, so you should not worry about your career, your only focus should be what you do in your job and that’s something that I think my previous organizations taught me by saying that talent is in abundance, but having the right attitude towards your job is the most important thing.
The second learning that I got from my previous organization was that there is much more to servicing a client than just giving great ideas. When I was a client, I used to see agencies come and give great ideas, and everybody would be extremely impressed, but when it came to execution, you’re stuck with average work.
I think what we brought into TSBI is the fervour with which we go and chase the account and the passion with which we go and deliver that campaign and that I think has really helped. That’s probably the second lesson that we have kind of brought from my professional work life of having worked with companies.
Tell us about TSBI Bharat and its journey?
If you look at the Indian internet penetration, it’s among 1.3 billion people, only 42% is really exposed to internet that means that there is a very large population which has probably not even experienced internet. Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or any other platform is new to them, so the next hundred million users will be coming in that and Facebook might not be their first social media platform of choice. They might not consume social media platforms the way that we consumed when we started. English might not be their first choice, they probably would look at a regional language and they might look at social media very differently, because they might have learnt already from all the elements that we’ve already gone through and they might jump a few stages.
So that particular audience set needs to be spoken very differently. TSBI Bharat looks and enables brands, who wants to talk to tier two and tier three India. The next hundred billion will come onto the digital platforms.
This started when we were handling Chennain FC and we were looking at using Tamil to reach out to audiences. It has fans across India but it’s really Chennai and Tamil Nadu that literally beats their heart. If you’re looking at a Bhojpuri channel, you have to speak to them in a certain dialect and in a certain manner.
Right from our hiring, we have got people from cities such as Indore and Jalandhar. We have actually recruited people from these markets, either they’ve been flown in and are working with us here in Mumbai or they’re working natively from there.
We have got experts on new platforms, like TikTok, ShareChat, Likee and we’re working closely with them to figure out what could we do next with these platforms and that’s already helping.
Which are your some focus areas for 2020?
Rather than the new focus areas, some of the old focus areas that still continue are providing digital first solutions to all the brands that we are reaching out to. Playing a larger storytelling role for brands beyond entertainment and films which has been and continues to be our focus.
There is already work that we are doing in the studios business, which is right from short format content to ad films, so focus on TSBI Studios and TSBI Bharat continues, focus on Ace, which is called Advanced Content Evaluation, is an in-house product, which helps brands tell better stories. Focus on data analytics that will also continue.