Building a playbook for Marketing

A marketing playbook is simply a documentation of the key strategies, processes, workflows, types of communications that should be used to meet marketing objectives to minimize risk and accelerate success. With close to a decade of experience in marketing and from being one of the initial core members of Zomato since the early days, Pramod, ex-VP Marketing, Zomato, recently gave a talk to our Fintech startups titled: “Building a playbook for Marketing”. In it, he shared his experiences from the early stages of Zomato and how developing a low-cost marketing playbook can help early-stage startups build a sustainable customer growth model.
Here are some of the highlights of that presentation.
Pramod advises the startups that before designing a marketing playbook, make sure you go through the exercise of creating target customer profiles, exploring all available organic channels to reach them and scaling the most cost-effective channels. It’s also important to define concrete ways of measuring each campaign’s effectiveness.
An entrepreneur should map their marketing playbook activities to their city’s/locality’s/business vertical’s stage of growth. At an early stage, the focus should be on testing campaigns across a broad spectrum of channels – often requiring a high manual touch, personalized, non-scalable approach. And as the market/business vertical matures, gradually move to more tech/product-driven scalable marketing that targets specific user cohorts and focuses on limited set of channels. Building a marketing playbook as you learn what works for you across markets is very important for a company to be able to leverage best practices and replicate growth across all stages of the business, said Pramod.
The best approach to driving traction in the early stages (e.g. to get the first 500 customers) is to explore all possible channels – digital and traditional – to acquire and retain customers. Some of the most effective early-stage growth channels for Zomato were strong SEO presence with long-tail SEM, content marketing, community engagement (on product, social media and offline) and BTL, added Pramod.
Additionally, early-stage startups with limited marketing budgets should get creative in getting their product/service in front of their target audience vs resorting to paid channels from the get-go. Pramod emphasizes on leveraging strategic barter partnerships to amplify reach across and acquire new users. You should only look at scaling paid media after exhausting all possible organic ways of reaching out to your customers.
Pramod also shared some approaches to driving growth that doesn’t just aim to alleviate risk but also helps you survive and prepare for the crisis the world is currently facing. At a time of crisis, addressing your consumer concerns and needs and building trust are very important, said Pramod. It’s very critical to adapt the product as the consumer behavior is shifting and over-communicate the steps you are taking to address all concerns. A segmented approach to re-engaging with users will be critical in these times.

Pramod also encouraged startups to develop a creative content-marketing approach that is non-promotional, compelling, engaging, and delightful for customers. Pramod advises the early-stage startups to take on a little at a time and make small iterations at various stages of marketing development to work on their marketing playbook . You get the right results only when you learn to balance and effectively manage each element the right way.

About the speaker: Pramod Rao is the former Vice President, Marketing at Zomato. Pramod led marketing and was one of the core leadership team members at Zomato from 2010 to 2019. He also helped set-up and scale operations across different markets over the years and was involved in several 0 to 1x/1 to 10x/10 to 100x projects at Zomato. Prior to Zomato, he was at Bain & Co for three years. He is currently working on building something new.
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