Interview with Shobha Ponnappa Breakthrough Brand Strategist

As a part of our BloggersIdeas interview series, today we have Experienced Social Media Consultant  ShobhaPonnappa from ShobhaPonnappa who  is making her living  out of her own business. Shobha will share her journey of 16+ years in Digital marketing world. I am sure you will learn lot from her social media skills and efforts she has put to grow her business.

Interview with Shobha Ponnappa Breakthrough Brand Strategist

Hi Shobha welcome to my blog, please introduce yourself to my readers?

I am ShobhaPonnappa. I am a Consultant in Digital Marketing Breakthroughs. I have a forte in brand elevating breakthroughs for the last 35 years.

Working with over 125 global client brands on the extreme cutting edge of digital technology I have developed a breakthrough thinking style all my own. I can “imagineer” competition-transcending brand strategies that allow the brands I work on to float sublimely above the market, with least effort and maximum buoyancy, finding nothing but open spaces to grow larger in.

My website and blog is at http://shobhaponnappa.com. Here you can get a comprehensive overview of my entire consulting repertoire and case studies.

How did shobhaponnappa.comstart, where did the idea come from?

In my 35 years of being in this field, I spent the first 17 years in three large multinational ad agencies – Ogilvy & Mather, J Walter Thompson, and then Lintas Lowe. After that I started I founded and ran my own digital media and marketing multi-million dollar company, Avigna Technologies, for 6 years. We had over 100 huge Indian and global clients and created very differentiated and cutting-edge award winning work.

The company had 175 people. Since then I have been a consultant with my own practice. I started the website as an arm of my consulting practice to see if I can acquire and service clients from all over the globe via a 100% online model.

How did shobhaponnappa.com gain traction in short span of time? What is the main reason for the success of shobhaponnappa.com?Please mention in brief.

The site is gaining traction satisfactorily, but my goals are very big so I am not in a hurry. It will take longer to reach its potential and I want to guard quality all through this journey. Marketing is steady work and especially if you want to achieve high brand awareness, brand saliency and brand authority it is better to cultivate it slowly, steadily and consistently. I am interested in deep and strong traction and long-term momentum and not just a short-term gain. I am aiming for quality of content and quality of brain power from my site and me to make a mark.

ATTENTION: Findxa Best Curated content

What type of content marketing plan do you have for shobhaponnappa.com? Do you prepare weekly content plan or monthly plan?

I have a five-pronged content marketing program.

One: Blogging and Blended Content:

I write a blog post every day or every alternate day. A downloadable pdf template or cheatsheet, a Slideshare presentation, an infographic and a Youtube Video are then created as four companion pieces to the post, on closely related topics. This is a method of “blending different formats of content” on the same post so that it ranks better on Google. And the post also gets the advantage of high rankings of Slideshareand Youtubeto bolster the post.  An example of such a post is at http://shobhaponnappa.com/case-studies-how-well-do-they-work-for-your-brand/.

Two:  Use of Social Media:

I use social media to do three things:

  1. I put in updates in Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest on my post. I also post updates of my post on “amplification and content distribution sites” like Blokube, Blogengage, DoSplash etc. so that my RSS feed is carried to various parts of the blog universe.
  2. I am part of some important LinkedIn communities (and now also on Inbound.org) where I participate in discussions on my subject of expertise.
  3. I curate other people’s great content on my areas of professional interest and make postings to social media … I schedule and make at least ten such posts via Buffer to the various social sites.

Three: Email Marketing and CRM to a huge database of prospects on LinkedIn:

I steadily build my LinkedIn database of connections by trying to connect with at least 25 new contacts daily, and to the whole database I email my exclusive monthly newsmagazine full of very high quality cutting-edge news on the digital marketing industry. My magazine is trademarked HORIZONEERINGTMand has a wealth of actionable new trends in digital marketing for all kinds of large and small brands. I thus nurture my target audience LinkedIn database and grow it steadily.

Four: Onsite Engagement Content:

I have one section of my site called ASKME where I invite queries from readers who are having “brand trouble” so I can help them and others with my published answers. I also have another section on my site titled BRANDCLINIC – this is a webinar that I construct once in a while, where I invite volunteer brands to come for a free strategy reset which I demonstrate in my webinar. I show how exactly I go about giving the brand a big idea and a competitive edge for breakthroughs in the digital marketing.

Five: I am now starting an Influencer Marketing program:

I am planning an outreach program strategy to other influential bloggers to engage them to promote my content. I should be starting this in about a week’s time from now.

How do you get leads for your business through phone calls or your personal portfolio?

I get clients from two sources: offline and online.

Offline, I get clients from referrals by venture capital companies. As you know, I had run my own company with huge venture capitalists investing in it. I thus developed a network of relationships with a lot of venture capital houses and they regularly send their portfolio brands and companies to me as clients.

Online, my strategy is to not pursue clients aggressively or even try for marketing and sales. I just believe in inbound marketing where I put out very high quality blog posts  and social postings that I hope will magnetize clients to come of their own to me on the strength of trust and credibility that I aiming to build for my brand.

How do you deal with Indian clients who are not willing to spend money on SEO & Social Media?

This is a very wrong perception that Indian clients are hesitant to spend. In fact, if truth be told, the rates for professionals like me in India are higher than even Europe and America, and Indian clients are ready for experimentation with the new media and very aggressive too in their approach. Since I deal with the top-rung brands, I have seen nothing but readiness and willingness. Perhaps the SME segment needs more encouragement.

The bottlenecks of hesitation can usually be overcome with good client education on digital marketing, which every good consultant should do!

Read: How to Write a Attention Grabbing Blog Post Titles

How to get maximum traffic from Facebook for your business? Does promoting in groups helps in Facebook marketing?

In general, Facebookis not the biggest social space in my marketing plans. I use Twitter and LinkedIn more for prospecting and engaging clients. But of late I have started examining the option of using Facebook ads to promote my reach. Since I am a B2B operation my clients are congregated on LinkedIn more than other social channels.

For my clients who use need to use Facebook, my strategy usually is to use Facebook as a great place to advertise and get traction for contests, events, promos and launches of brands. In such cases Facebook is a great choice. We can also get to use Facebook groups to gather the audience for such events and time-specific campaigns.

How much traffic you get from Facebook daily? What audience you target for your business?

Not much at all, and neither do I do any great marketing for my own brand in Facebook. For me and my professional growth, Facebook is still No. 2 priority. Since my target audience is usually CEOs, Owners of businesses, Presidents, Marketing Heads etc. These are better targeted by industry, by professional hierarchy, and by job title, and quality of company, and brands on LinkedIn.

I focus on Linked In first, use Twitter to get visibility and frequency of reach, and then use Google+ to get better Google rankings through increasing +1s. Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook etc are second priority sites for me.

How to get ideas for Facebook page? How to get maximum likes for your new Facebook business page?

This is a very often asked question, and many of my clients have the same question to ask of me. Here is my advice to them: I think you should ideally use Facebook for three things where it works very well:

  1. Create a mini-version of your website on Facebook but instead of giving it a serious flavor (which you would do on your website), use it as a fun place belonging to your brand. Let’s say you are a brand into making and selling shoes, your Facebook page can be a brand page for your shoe where pictures of marathon events, running events, exercise and fitness programs, contests, exotic prizes and user-generated photos and videos of a sporty nature can be put up. The idea is to make the website a tool belonging to the company, but the Facebook page a site belonging to the audiences to enjoy the brand and its related activities.
  2. To get more likes for a Facebook page make it a part of your site or other activities. Let’s say you have an interesting video on your website. Tell those who want to see the video on your website to “like” your Facebook page to get entry to see the video. Use cross-channel opportunities to increase likes.
  3. Use your Facebook page to increase signups for new subscribers to your email list. This idea usually works very well.

What is the best thing about Twitter you have experienced?

Twitter audiences are of good quality, and are usually very eager to respond fast because the medium doesn’t need long replies. It is a very fast churning medium with every Tweet having a life of less than 18 seconds. So the more you Tweet the more you are visible, or you get buried under the mountain of Tweets.

I love Tweet Chats and I love the freedom and informality with which people express opinions on Twitter. I also like the idea that instead of meeting people as Groups, you can meet likeminded people if you follow hashtags of subjects of your choice. 

ATTENTION: How to Take Control of Your Events on Twitter

Have you attended any SEO conferences? Please tell us how did you interact with fellow internet marketers.

Yes I have attended many of those in the US and UK. Annually I attend at least two big ones if I can. I would look for conferences more oriented towards futuristic predictions and forecasts and I like to hear people at the forefront of technology explaining the opportunities for brands with these new upcoming technologies.

I have also spoken at some conferences on my area of making breakthroughs with new technologies for brands. The conferences are not just for idea sharing but also useful for expanding my network of contacts. 

What Internet marketing areas are you weak and strong in? Provide examples of both. 

My areas of extreme strength in Digital Marketing are:

BRAND STRATEGY:
Brand Audit
Brand Positioning
Brand Promise
Brand Personality

CONTENT MARKETING:
Content Storytelling
Audiences & Personas
Customer Journeys
Content Planning

SOCIAL MEDIA:
Social Listening
Social Delivery
Influence & Community
Engagement & Experience

SEO & DIGITAL MARCOM:
Search Engine Marketing
Email Marketing
Digital Advertising
Digital Public Relations

MOBILE & TARGETING:
Marketing Automation
Mobile Marketing
Multiscreen Marketing
Social Television

My weaknesses are in time management and I have no time for detailed financial management. So I outsource a lot of mundane work to Virtual Assistants who can do routine tasks for me and my Accounts person is very competent and manages my billing and other financial routines, and they spare my time for Content Marketing, Brand-Building and Client Management.

How to leverage Twitter for your business? How to get targeted leads from it?

I find Twitter to be less powerful for lead generation (LinkedIn is better) but after I have a list of prospects built on LinkedIn, I then nurture them through both LinkedIn and Twitter. Twitter helps me to keep in touch with my contact database and engage them easily and frequently so that I stay top of mind with them.

I know that Twitter traffic is also vital for your website, but I find that Twitter audiences have low attention spans so there is a high bounce rate even on your site. They hardly read 1-2 pages and then they flit away!If there are downloadables that attract them, they sign up for these, but after they become subscribers, they unsubscribe fast also.

How did you get yourself in online marketing? Who is your mentor?

Online marketing is like an addiction. I just started for a lark but now I am hooked. I love the online community of people.

I don’t have mentors as such but in the online world I never hesitate to send a short email directly to any powerful person if I have some point they can help me on. I have thus written to Guy Kawasaki, Jeff Molander, Chris Brogan, Rand Fishkin, Anthony Iannorino and Joe Pulizzi. One of the beautiful things is that genuinely big experts are also very helpful to others and they unfailingly reply and help. They also know I will not pester them so they feel comfortable to guide me when I write to them with a query.

What are the things you didn’t like about my blog bloggersideas.com.

What is there to not like? It is a very crisp site, very well laid out, very informative and most of all it establishes your domain expertise in SEO powerfully. No two questions about that.

But I have a small tip for making it even better. Target audiences react to “benefits for them”and not to the “claims of the consultant”.

For example, rather than saying “I have all this expertise” you may have to re-orient your brand promise into “therefore what is the benefit to the consumer”. You could perhaps coin a tagline for your logo “BloggersIdeas” that is customer-centric eg:

BLOGGERSIDEAS: Ideas to catapult your blog to the top ten in the industry

(or something like that which expresses a promise of results for the consumer).

Nowhere on the site does the consumer benefit come out at all. It needs to be spelt out. You could also include case histories. The site will do even better if it becomes more customer-centric and has lots of articles and opportunities for consumers to share their problems and find solutions. It should be less about what you can do, as a general principle.

I hope you enjoy this interview with Social media expert ShobhaIf you have any questions about this interview, please do ask in the comments below !

Don’t forget to share this awesome interview on social media. I will be pleased if you share this now! Join BloggersIdeas on FacebookGoogle+ & Twitter .

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About Jitendra Vaswani

Jitendra Vaswani is the founder of SchemaNinja WordPress Plugin, prior to SchemaNinja he is the founder of big internet marketing blog BloggersIdeas.com. He is successful online marketer & award winning digital marketing consultant. He has been featured on HuffingtonPost, BusinessWorld, YourStory, Payoneer, Lifehacker & other leading publication as a successful blogger & digital marketer. Jitendra Vaswani is also a frequent speaker & having 5+ yrs experience of in Digital Marketing field. Check out his portfolio( jitendra.co). Find him on Google+, Twitter, & Facebook.

2 Comments

  1. Hello, sohbha Really you are doing a good work as a consultant in digital marketing and providing important information for the people and suggest the Right direction in this field. Presently, social media marketing has reached the higher position in the market and it is playing the main role in all fields.

    Reply  
  2. hello,that is a powerful interview,digital marketing is very interesting.

    Reply  

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