We talked to Rajive Dhavan of What’s In a Name on how digital marketing meets branding and he had the following to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Rajive Dhavan: Well, we are doing just about okay; coping with the new normal and challenges.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded What’s In a Name.
Rajive Dhavan: I’m a B.A. Mass Communication (Journalism) Graduate, with a collective experience of over 16 years. In the first five years of my career, I worked with companies like GE Capital, HSBC Bank & Deccan Chronicle in various capacities that include Process Associate, Process Trainer, V&A Trainer, and Sub-editor & a Columnist. In 2010, I launched my first company, What’s In a Name (WIN Creatives India Pvt. Ltd.) – South India’s leading Full-service Advertising & Digital Marketing Agency – at 23 a loan of INR 40,000 ($500). I have helped over 40 regional & national brands with branding & digital marketing strategies. My other two ventures include Namesake Productions (a Video Production Company) & Just Flaunt Salon (a chain of Hair Salons). My first business book, STFU – Start The F*ck Up, was published in 2015. I also bagged some of the most coveted National & Regional awards in Business & Digital Marketing. I am an eminent Speaker and Consultant and a mentor with T-Hub & Osmania – Technology Business Incubator (TBI) & Mahindra University.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Rajive Dhavan: As one of our key businesses is Branding & Digital Marketing, initially we had a massive impact from the Pandemic. However, soon businesses realized the value of Digital. And it gave a boost to our Digital Marketing wing. Things have improvised a lot since the beginning of the pandemic. However, there’s still a long way to go. The end of next quarter, i.e., March 2021, will give a clear picture of where we stand and how’s the road ahead.
Like many other companies, we made sure that we go incredibly lean. We cut costs in all corners possible. The idea was to focus on survival, as there’s no revival without survival. We also made some critical and tough decisions to fasten the process of recovery.
But then there’s only so much one can do. As optimists, we believe that while this pandemic has been a set back from a short terms lens, in the long term, it will only make things better for us. For instance, if there were no pandemic, the Digital boom that we have seen in the last ten months would have taken at least four odd years. That doesn’t mean the pandemic was good. It just means that there’s always a positive side to every negative situation. There’s an opportunity. After all, this is what makes the crux of entrepreneurship. So, now, we are patiently waiting to see how the next few months unfold. And based on that we’ll chalk a more precise revival plan. We are hopeful of a positive future.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Rajive Dhavan: Of course. The number of difficult decisions in the last ten months would have easily outnumbered the decisions we made in the last ten years, perhaps.
We leaned unimaginable lessons in the few months. Here’s are the key lessons:
a) First and foremost, this is the times that made us realize who the folks truly cared for the company.
b) Then it was about how there’s always room to go lean with our expenses and processes. And one must continue to explore the same even when things are great.
c) It also re-iterated the fact that enormous challenges like these don’t come with warnings. So, as an entrepreneur, one must always be prepared to deal with situations like these.
d) During this time, we also made sure that the entire team’s spirits were high. So, there was regular interaction. A team is as strong as the leader & vice-versa holds good.
e) We also looked at this as an opportunity to upskills ourselves and improvised in areas that were no getting the type of importance they deserved. So, we developed a couple of new websites for our Group Companies. We bagged some of the most coveted international awards; we connected with varied sets of businesses and entrepreneurs, did some tie-ups with brands that complimented our work, and much more.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Rajive Dhavan: That’s a tough one. But one of the best ways to do this is to disconnect, and not take things personally. If done right, religiously, this one mantra can wash off a lot of stress and anxiety that entrepreneurship brings in.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Rajive Dhavan: Our competition is with us. We like to make sure that we are better than yesterday. And we will be even better tomorrow. We believe in the “Kai Zen” ideology of consistent progress, no matter how small. Little consistent progress is much greater and impactful than inconsistent giant leaps.
Your final thoughts?
Rajive Dhavan: Entrepreneurship is tough. It can be lonely. Most folks don’t understand the challenges it brings along. It looks rosy from the outside. But it’s a lot of slogging. If entrepreneurship were easy, we’d only have entrepreneurs all around. So, we need to be strong and continue to focus on things that matter the most; the journey. Nobody can ever be prepared for something like this Pandemic. But when passion, perseverance and adaptability blend, the concoction helps us survive the biggest challenges that may come our way.