We talked to Karan Gupta of Alchemy Group on how the content agency is creating new-age solutions for brands.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Karan Gupta: Thank you for asking. We are all well and hope the same with you. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a testing time and has toppled the definition of normal for all of us. We have all gone through a plethora of emotions during this phase of our lives and have not witnessed anything like this before. Naturally, the journey has been filled with uncertainties, fears, and apprehensions about the future, but with time, we are all learning to cope with it. In these unprecedented times, we have gradually learnt to survive through the new normal.
At times, the constant surge in cases and media reporting tends to take a toll on an individual’s mental health but being near your loved, and dear ones really does help. One positive outcome has been that working from home has made us spend a lot of time with our families, which often takes a back seat due to the everyday hectic working life.
I hope everyone reading this is safe and practicing social distancing. Let’s hope things get better real soon.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Alchemy Group.
Karan Gupta: Avid traveler, music buff, keen learner, sports enthusiast, and a very social person is what sums me up. As the CEO at Alchemy Group, when I launched the business, the only thing I had beside me was my will and the drive to set up a future-ready digital business that would have tech at the heart of it and offer products and services in this industry which would add direct value to my clients. I am a huge fan and follower of an Electronic music group called Above & Beyond and was inspired by how they built a business with creativity and scale, hence the name AndBeyond.Media from that moved to become a part of the Alchemy Group, which is also inspired by them. My role is to spearhead strategic efforts in various capacities and expand the organization’s footprint globally by steering the conceptualization and execution of key strategies related to the company’s management and operational needs. With 15+ years of demonstrated working experience in this ultra-dynamic and challenging digital marketing space, if there is one thing that I have abided by is this – there are no shortcuts to success. “Learning & Solving” has always been my core mantra.
I began my career back in 2004 and have helped drive the tactical growth of organizations that I have been involved with –be it my previous stint in 2011 at Affinity as Managing Director where I successfully launched their Display & Mobile ad products globally to back in the early 2000s where I served as the Vice President and co-founded a company called LinkLabs Technology Solutions Pvt. Ltd. which later merged with Law & Kenneth to set up and launch their digital arm called Digital Law & Kenneth (LKDIGI). Each business and each stint were a great learning experience for me. I hope to use all the acumen that I have garnered over the years to move Alchemy Group to become the preferred choice of digital media & content agency globally.
How does Alchemy Group innovate?
Karan Gupta: Innovation is the key to any thriving business, especially if you’re in such an active and competitive business environment. A business that constantly innovates and adapts to the ever-changing technological advancements is definitely considered a disruptor. Hence, businesses need to keep up with the market’s pace of change to become more efficient and way ahead of their competitors. Our mantra here at Alchemy Group is to have innovation and technology as our key differentiator in order to constantly reinvigorate our business and keep us relevant to our end consumer.
Alchemy Group is at the helm of technological innovation. We are constantly developing newer ways for our clients to engage with their audience by bringing meaningful value-additions for them. Take our influencer marketing business, WORD, for example, where we strongly believe in a human-first approach to talent identification and high-touch service along with our robust technology and data. Our data-driven AI platform ensures that we give brands the right kind of influencers they’re searching for, backed by deep-searched data integrated directly with social platforms to enrich creator and audience profiles. Hence, we don’t usually opt for the tried and tested formulas while crafting an influencer marketing strategy for brands. Rather, we bring in a twist to get the audience hooked with the perfect messaging.
At the end of the day, if you want to be a respected and sought-after business, innovation is the driving factor to get you the attention you’re looking for. At Alchemy Group, we realise this and are always at the forefront of getting the first-mover advantage.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your business, and how are you coping?
Karan Gupta: There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has left a lot of businesses – both large and small, high and dry with a lot of them being severely impacted. For a few of them, revenues have deteriorated, there has been a significant drop-off in leads and a lot of expectations from clients.
A major challenge that has arisen for the digital marketing industry in recent years is a prospective/ existing client’s unwillingness to pivot to newer marketing avenues and digital tools. Brands and their marketing managers are often comfortable with the approach they have been adopting so far – be it outdated digital modes or traditional marketing methods. However, if there is one thing that this pandemic has taught us is this – digital is the way to go for the future even once the pandemic ends and marketers need to adapt. A lot of offline events and activations have been postponed indefinitely owing to the pandemic, which has forced businesses to rethink their strategy and has given them a chance to shift their marketing spends to digital/influencer-led mediums in order to keep their outreach going and stay relevant. The companies that realise this opportunity and act on it are definitely here to stay.
We at Alchemy Group recognize this and have taken measures always to be ahead of the ball game. There is no doubt that India is one of the fastest and largest growing digital markets globally owing to GOI’s digital India initiative and rapid internet penetration. In alignment with this, we translate the same growth for our clientele and help them see their marketing efforts through an improved lens. Despite the turbulent situation, we have been fortunate enough to have garnered a lot of new clients and businesses during this period and double down on our growth strategies owing to our early insight into the upcoming trends and implementing future-ready mediums beforehand.
In these tough times, the need of the hour is to keep your eyes and ears open to everything that is happening around you, identify opportunities and jump onto the bandwagon as quickly as possible while maintaining your own persona.
Has your business outlook started focusing more on content marketing in these times to drive messaging?
Karan Gupta: Owing to the current situation, it has become imperative to relook the content marketing strategy by understanding what is relevant through the COVID-19 perspective. As a business entity, we are thinking of next-gen, innovative marketing solutions to support our clients in making a smooth transition towards online/digital channels from costly on-ground activities. The campaigns are being designed to keep sensitive issues like health & wellness in mind and use pertinent platforms that suit the brand objective. With the amplified social media usage, KOLs and influencers play a very important role in the consumer purchase cycle. All of these factors taken together in consideration, provide us with opportunities to create the perfect blend of intriguing content and the right set of marketing modules for a successful campaign for all the brands that we work with. With our influencer collaborations, creating content is at the helm of most of the work we do and marketing & amplifying the content is the key to success for many clients who have trusted us with their business. At the end of the day, by establishing a deep-rooted synergy with easy-going and empowering content, a brand has the potential to assure itself a place in the consumers’ minds.
Do you think your business can help brands utilize and benefit from technology-driven marketing strategies?
Karan Gupta: In recent years, there has been a monumental change in the way the audience consumes content. The consumer base has completely shifted online, and the only way to connect with them is through smart, relevant and innovative digital + technological efforts that strike a chord with them. This has been a wake-up call for brands to showcase their technological prowess in order to engage customers in new ways. Marketers are now asked to find the best use cases for their brands to benefit from this shift, helping consumers make the most of technology.
As new technologies show up, marketers are forced to keep up with the trends to ensure they are able to speak their audience’s language by devising marketing strategies that include emerging technology. Consumers are now more comfortable in their daily interaction with technology owing to the emergence of personalized technology, which has made the transition smooth and enabled brands to forge a meaningful connection for improved user experience.
In this cluttered environment, when brands are constantly trying to outdo each other by offering competitive propositions, technology becomes the mainstay disruptor. Moreover, technology-driven marketing efforts are an inexpensive way to develop awareness and establish a business.
Being a tech-first digital media and content agency, Alchemy Group has been created with the purpose of creating new-age solutions for brands looking to forego traditional marketing and push the boundaries to grow their own brand and business. Our focus towards experiential marketing using technology as an enabler will help create granular, real conversations via Influencers, delivering marketing communication not only in local languages but also across future-ready mediums like Digital Audio rather than as legacy mass marketing.
At the end of the day, it’s not just about adding new technologies to your marketing mix for the sake of it. It’s the time to realign your creative plans by including the best technology that can make you stand out with your authenticity and bring you closer to your consumers.
How do you project yourself and Alchemy Group in the future?
Karan Gupta: In a short span of 5 years, Alchemy Group now caters to 700+ large-scale advertiser and media publication clients from around the world. Founded in 2015, our business focuses on experiential marketing backed by cutting-edge technology in an ecosystem thriving on growth and exclusive engagements. Today, the business has successfully delivered an uber-connected environment across all avenues of digital.
Our business is a firm believer in the power of technology and scale via programmatic channels, and we want to encourage everyone to rethink the traditional marketing approach. Our personal commitment and passion for innovation and tech have driven us to constantly look for new ways to solve problems for the existing and new-age audiences by changing the course of experiential marketing. In doing so, we have not only carved an influence by fostering a culture of improved experiences for a diverse set of audiences but also created a highly targeted and inclusive digital network. We will not settle until we become the #1 preferred choice of digital marketing agency in the country.
Your final thoughts?
Karan Gupta: The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the purchasing patterns of consumers, which has inadvertently pushed businesses to re-evaluate their marketing strategies. Now, more than ever, brands have realized the importance of keeping relevant and valuable content at the core of their marketing campaigns – something that strikes a chord with the end consumer. In the current scenario, the underlying message that any business wants to deliver is skewed towards building trust rather than being just aimed at promotional content to ensure a long-term and sustained partnership. These uncalled-for times have called for businesses to become more ethical, expand their horizons and think about real issues rather than being opportunistic.
Hence, we need to tap into the emotional and psychological thinking of our end consumers and generate marketing strategies that resonate with how they feel. These tactics not only help increase brand consideration but also achieve optimum results by way of improved SEO and enhanced business.
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