PKD Nambiar (39, Born on 29 May, 1976) is a Serial Entrepreneur and Marketing Strategist. Armed with over 20 years of experience as a ‘Marketing Strategist’ and a serial entrepreneur, PKD Nambiar, Managing Director & Chief Strategist, Flags Communications Pvt. Ltd. and Managing Director, B-Square Group of Companies, is a name to reckon when it comes to Marketing& branding. He is a renowned startup and turnaround specialist and a sharp communications strategist for the SME sector who has helped more than 100 businesses across India and abroad.
Born in the beautiful God’s Own Country, Kerala and a software engineer by profession, he was at the helm of entrepreneurship right from the young age of 17. His professional career began with Mitsui, one of the largest corporate groups in the world. After Mitsui, at the age of 23, he ventured into his first startup which was a dotcom business. He then setup a software development firm, B-Square which specialized in ERP, CRM and e-commerce solutions and earned the patronage of reputed companies in USA, UK and India.
In the year 2005, PKD Nambiar setup Flags Communications, one of the fastest growing ‘Marketing Communications’ agency in the country today. In the year 2011, he added www.bookmyseats.in, an E-commerce company handling large format event ticketing, into his business portfolio, thereby increasing the ventures under the ‘B-Square Group Of Companies’.
In an exclusive interaction with The Policy Times, PKD Nambiar, Serial Entrepreneur and Marketing Strategist shares his thoughts about changing trends in marketing and branding, serial entrepreneurship and many more.
Q. Is Marketing beyond 4Ps or 7Ps in the digital era?
Answer: Marketing has changed drastically over the last decade. The new-age marketing is very different from the traditional one with the complete focus on Customer. Today, the brands and businesses can no more plan a marketing strategy only by focusing on the product or services, but have to plan the strategy keeping customers as the prime focus. A customer is never bound to buy a particular product or opt for a particular service, as they have plethora of options available online. With Digital Marketing gradually overpowering all traditional marketing approach, I have no doubt that instead of 7Ps it will soon be called as 8Ps of marketing with Customer Interest as one of the main aspect.
Q. What are the common marketing mistakes that the world’s leading brands have been committing recently?
Answer: Many leading brand are overconfident about their products or services. This overconfidence is often visible in their marketing approach. One such recent example is Google Pixel phone. Despite heavy advertisements and PR exercise, it couldn’t make any mark in the market. This clearly reflects whether a brand is big or small, whether it is a global player or regional. What matters the most is to make sure that each marketing activity must be practical without any overconfidence or arrogance. Speed is the key of today, whether it is in product innovation, product launch, marketing activity or customer support. If you look at the big brands, you will notice that they too are making mistakes with half cooked product launches (without proper market tests), over-aggressive promotion, which is not aligned to the product, mis-matching commitment of customer support, etc. The recent examples are from Nissan, Samsung and many other global players who are making these mistakes only because they want to overtake their competitors. Whereas, in the case of Cocacola and Apple and few other global brands, you will notice that they never submitted to the market pressure for their product launches or over commitment to their TG.
Q. How do you define Serial Entrepreneurship in India? Is it different from the Western world?
Answer: Except a very few, serial entrepreneurs in India are primarily those who want to create a business in order to safeguard themselves from any kind of chaos in their primary business, which is very different from the western world, where most entrepreneurs venture into a new business with clear cut strategic plan. While the trend is gradually changing, many traditional entrepreneurs of modern India are seen to have created larger business than their primary business. Large Indian corporates are a fine example for the same, Ambanis, Birlas, Tatas and the real corporates like ITC, L&T, etc. have really shown the real path of serious serial entrepreneurship by giving equal weightage to each of their business. So, all I can say is India and Indians are catching up with the western world really fast.
Q. Exiting business is still a real challenge for Serial Entrepreneurs in India. What are the standard processes or steps to exit your venture?
Answer: I think this is not true any more, with new company law, insolvency act, etc. coming into existence. Unless one makes a real mistake, it will not be much of an issue for some one to exit. My advice to all would be to have good corporate governance in place in your organization and the law will always be there to assist you. Problems do take place when shortcuts are chosen.
Q5. Being serial entrepreneur do you really think that generating new ideas and selling it to others works in Indian market?
Answer: Starting a new venture is not so easy any more. Competition generally helps in the business, but it is clear that after the e-commerce boom every second person is starting their venture without a concrete idea. These group of people also do not hold the courage create an organization from the scratch. A lot of young entrepreneurs do come to me for marketing ideas and most of them portray that they have unique ideas with them. Whereas, I believe the same might have been tried by so many others. They talk very less about their business and highlight more upon results that are in million of dollars. So, the challenge is for virgin ideas, which are problem solving product or solution for the community, but instead we find more copy cats in the market. If you have smart and practical idea, you don’t have to go and sell it, the buyers will come to you.
Q6. You are a “serial entrepreneur.” Don’t you think beyond a point, you want to stick to one business than concentrating on many?
Answer: As I said earlier, it is a challenge for people like me who have not been able create ‘X’ factor so far in any of our business, but if you are able to create multiple business, which can complement each other and create value for the entire eco-system, it makes a lot of sense. Also, please note that the life of businesses has come down drastically, so it is not a bad idea to have multiple businesses to stay afloat always. But it is important to understand that you can’t travel multiple boats at the same time, so you need to create many captains to run different businesses.
Q. It is said communication is key in business and branding. Do you see any change in PR approach or corporate communication strategy in India recently?
Answer: As the world has changed the businesses have also been changing. In fact, if you don’t change and go with the time, you may soon vanish. Most of the Indian companies have understood this and have come in terms with the new order of communication. In the recent past, I have seen many brands including the SME sector companies who have started talking about Marketing Strategy, Communication Strategy, Digital Marketing, etc. This is a great development. From conventional PR, now many of them understand about Digital PR and its importance. The right communication strategy with a serious action plan has become a must for the brands to become relevant in the competitive market. The world of communication and business is changing so fast, if you don’t change fast, the time will change you, but then one cant guarantee whether that is for good or bad.
Q. How is technology / social media impacting PR or communication strategy in India?
Answer: As I said earlier, brands have started understanding the power of PR & the need of effective communication plan. Today, no brand manager or strategist can plan a marketing strategy without having an effective Digital Marketing strategy. Using technology wisely and timely can really take the brands to newer heights. The impact of social media with its reach to every hand can create big impact on your business. Needless to say, the technology also comes with a lot cautions as it can even create trouble for your organization. I always recommend brands to engage good experienced agencies for strategizing and implementing both PR & Digital Media communication plans.
Q. As you were associated with Mitsui, one of the largest corporate groups in the world. Why you have decided to get separated from it?
Answer: It was my first job. Getting job in an MNC for a 20 year old was definitely a big thing. I worked in their various departments close to 3.5 years. After 16 years, I would still say that the learning of working with the Japanese helped me in planning every working day for me. But, I was very clear even when I was studying that I wanted to have my own business. I never liked monotony in work and starting my own venture gave me much more opportunity to explore, help and grow.
Q. You are also considered as Corporate Speaker. Kindly share some of your learning experiences?
Answer: I have started this with sheer passion. But when people started liking it and I got some great reviews for my lectures, I started taking it seriously. The learning from these are very different than your daily corporate meetings. You get to converse and engage people from different sectors, age group and most importantly from different regions. While motivating others, I too get motivated for a new start everyday.