Harikrishnan Pillai from TheSmallBigIdea: “Long gone are days when clients get swayed by fancy pitches”

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BizAsiaLive.com caught up with the CEO and Co-Founder of TheSmallBigIdea, Harikrishnan Pillai about the success of TheSmallBigIdea despite the pandemic.

While many entertainment industries suffered in 2020 due to the pandemic, what are your thoughts on the surge in the digital space?
Surge in digital space was always in the pipeline which further got accelerated during the pandemic. Brands and agencies who were equipped, got on the ship and rode the wave while some others had to hurry or are still struggling. It is a crucial period and an influx point for brands and agencies alike.

For example, we at TSBI saw a huge surge in e-commerce business coming our way during the pandemic. Along with E-commerce, creator based marketing also gained popularity. While the production value reduced, creator value increased which in turn increased our studio and creator based business.

Despite the pandemic, digital marketing also saw an upswing, what’s your take on this?
Digital business saw an upswing due to multiple factors. Offline businesses who never or seldom spent online had to amp up their online expenditure. Categories like print, radio and outdoor saw their revenues move to digital, because of the massive shift in audience behaviour. This surge could have been much more significant, but brands have also become much more prudent about their expenses and hence there is an overall impact in the marketing spends.

When it comes to marketing, has the pandemic changed the communication strategy for brands?
I think the pillars of communication have slowly pivoted to trust, empathy & necessity. There is a sense of frugality and realism that has propped up in the way brands are building narrative.

Long gone are those days when clients get swayed by fancy pitches and price cuts.

During the lockdown, did you acquire any new clients?
We continued acquiring clients in 2020 and we are looking at Y-o-Y growth of 50%, driven by e-commerce, studio and creator business and TSBI Bharat.

What’s the focus for TheSmallBigIdea in 2021?
In 2021, we continue to keep our leadership in the media & entertainment space intact, while focusing on driving growth opportunities with MarTech solutions, e-commerce and the studio business. TSBI Bharat will help us drive growth in the regional space.

What are you doing to serve your clients despite the immense competition?
Long gone are those days when clients get swayed by fancy pitches and price cuts. They want to work with partners who share a vision and deliver consistent growth. We have built strong relations with our clients with over 80% of clients repeating business with us Y-o-Y.

Under TSBI Bharat, what insights are you using to cater to different regions, cultures and languages?
TSBI Bharat was launched in November 2019 with an intention to help regional and national brands targeting regional audience in the language they are most comfortable in. Our strategy is simple. We hired cultural experts from local markets and they are placed there as they service the brand. Our strong research and analytics wing supplies primary and secondary data to the Bharat team which is merged with solid storytelling. Currently 20% of our social media revenue is generated from ‘TSBI Bharat’.

Final message
The coming few years belongs to insights, storytelling, technology and regional markets, all four of which has been the focus area for TSBI over three years now. Our persistent and early efforts will bear fruits for the agency and its clients, as an entire ecosystem focusses to surge in the new digital wave.

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