TheSmallBigIdea, popularly known as TSBI is a full service digital agency that has been an agency to reckon with. A specialist in film marketing, TSBI has some very happy clients and brands that use services such as Social Media Management, Video Content Production, Digital Media Planning & Buying, Social Listening & ORM services, Augmented & Virtual Reality amongst other ancillary marketing services.
The agency has clients across Media and Entertainment, Tourism, Sports & Education.
In this Straight Talk with Manish Solanki, Co-Founder & COO, TheSmallBigIdea has really opened up and shared the ethos of the agency and what drives them to provide better solutions to their clients every passing day; even while fighting a pandemic.
TSBI has grown phenomenally over time, who would you credit this achievement to?
We, at TSBI, believe that it is the small things which create the biggest impact, contributing to the success of the organisation. Our ability to convert small insights into performance bearing plans which have a big impact is undeniably the most intrinsic attribute we nurture.
Over the years, we have put together a team of people, with different capabilities, that forms the foundation of our success. At TSBI, we believe in grooming a team which focuses on S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) goals to crack the most challenging projects.
And finally, all the healthy competition in the digital marketing arena, keeps us on our toes always.
There are a lot of agencies in the market… how do you see TSBI be the differentiator among so many agencies?
Adapting to an era of data-driven decision making is what keeps us above the regular. TSBI Bharat was launched with the sole objective to tackle that effectively. TSBI Bharat serves as a communication conduit to reach out to the rural and sub-urban users who are making their presence felt through apps and social media platforms that allow them to communicate in their language of choice.
Delivering engaging personalised pitches, supported by relevant numbers has helped us build credibility. Our social listening tool ACE has enabled us to effectively use enterprise data to deliver the right content to the right audience.
Keeping personalisation and curation at the core, we have made specialized content our forte. We have honed our story-telling skills and married it with our ability to gauge the pulse of our target audience; the result is appropriate, to-the-point content, that is easy to digest within the attention span of the user. With TSBI Studios we are leveraging our creative skills to focus on short-format content, podcasts and ad films.
What have been the major achievements of TSBI that you would want to share?
Every successful project is an achievement for us as well as a learning experience. Two things that have been instrumental to our growth are TSBI Bharat and our business under the M&E Section.
Through TSBI Bharat, we are reaching out to consumers that access content in language of their comfort; these-comprise almost 90% of new Internet users in India. We deliver content in the regional languages, providing cost effective digital solutions with shorter turnaround time. We are already working with channels like Zee Punjabi and Zee Biskope in this area.
Any key learnings that you brought to TSBI from your previous stints at ZEE and Times Television Network, that has held you in good stead at TSBI?
Digital is all about the idea and the insights within; marketing has taught me to be able to identify a saleable/bankable idea. It’s not just the idea but also its execution that is important. With the marketing-ism that I learnt, I’m able to look at an idea and work out its possibilities in terms of resources, budgets, pain points, limitations, etc.
In short, the isms that work for me:
I – Idea. Always choose an idea that is insight-driven
S – Scale. Effectively extend the reach of the idea with an optimized budget
M – Medium. Select the right vehicle for the idea to reach its potential audience.
What are the opportunities you see in the current digital ecosystem?
I firmly believe that all future digital opportunities lie in the hands of the consumers, literally. Internet usage in the past few years has been moving towards hand-held devices rapidly. The current lockdown has changed the way we live and we are slowly moving towards a new lifestyle, a new work culture, and even new habits. Most companies are going to encourage a WFH arrangement, movies and shopping will now happen online. If the buyers and users are going to be online, then companies with their brands are bound to follow. An online presence will become an important part of every business, big or small.
With the buyer and seller both online, digital media will become the go-to medium. Media agencies will be redefining branding, the content will be big and will drive promotion across channels. With increasing movement on social media, it will play an integral role in brand marketing and promotion, we anticipate an increase in influencer marketing as well. Neo Social apps like TikTok, Helo have shown a tremendous growth trajectory clearly indicating that the platform has been well accepted by the users.
What is the team-force at TSBI like and what are the skills that you look for in candidates who wish to join TSBI?
TSBI has seen tremendous growth over the last 6 years. While we impart the necessary training we encourage our young and dynamic team to learn on the job. The entire team is equipped to take an idea from germination to final execution. While Identifying teams, we look for candidates who are passionate, go-getters and subject matter experts but more importantly, their attitude and values play a stronger role.
We get reimbursed for our efforts in churning out great campaigns, but we get paid because we love what we do.
What has been the impact of Covid-19 on your clients’ business?
It is a difficult time for all businesses, and it isn’t any different for us, or our clients. While there will be challenges, I would like to believe they will be short-lived.
Brands will be cautious in spending and become more prudent in defining campaign sizes and budgets; i.e. will ask for more cost-effective exposure. We will have to work around optimized budgets and crisper content.
Some of our clients from the film and tourism sector are having a direct impact of the pandemic and the lockdown. But it is all a matter of time before they will get back; maybe in newer formats or avenues. Fortunately, our television entertainment and BFSI business have been stable.
So, there are ups and downs, but we are optimistic on the outcome. Time is of the essence, we will all come around.
What is your assessment of this pandemic and when do you see things going back to normalcy?
There will be no going back to normalcy… because normal has changed, at least for the next 1-2 years. And how we live in these years will determine how we are going to live for the rest of our lives.
The viral infection will wear out one day or the other; it is the impact it will have on our lives that will remain and will change our behavior socially as well as our preferences. Man is a creature of habits, so it remains to be seen whether 3-odd months of distancing will be enough to change our habits or will we all go back to square one once the lockdown fatigue wears off.
Post lockdown, of the many things we feel that the consumer buying behavior would be transformed. Presupposing the consumers’ moves is going to be a challenge; so, both the brands as well as the media agencies need to deep dive into these changes and act accordingly.
What should brands do in this time of uncertainty?
We recommend brands to explore smarter ways to keep the communication active and not pause.
Considering the uncertainty and changing consumer behavior, research and analysis will play a decisive role in determining user dynamics, so deep dive on analytics and identifying the rights insights and trends could be a good way to go.
COVID 19 has pushed the audience to be online, so its recommended that the brands are active and focus on content marketing to drive brand recall. This would ensure that once the lockdown is over, brands are in the consideration set of audience which in turn will help in driving sales
The lockdown period has generated a lot of influencers considering the ease and comfort, so using influencer-program with the right context marketing could be a good avenue to try and ensure brands to remain active.