Raja Banerji of Tata Consultancy Services: Executing An Editorial Discipline and Thought Leadership Agenda Across a Large Global Organization

A Series of Profiles of CMO Leaders Who Are Redefining the Marketing Discipline

tata_logoRecently our faculty conducted best practices research with leading CMOs to develop Brand Publishing best practices for creating more effective sales and marketing content and better managing the cost and complexity of content operations.

As a follow up to the report, we are conducting in-depth interviews with leading CMOs who to provide insights about scaling content operations in a large, complex organization. Raja Banerji, the Chief Marketing Officer for Life Sciences, Manufacturing and Energy & Resources Business Group, Tata Consultancy Services has taken some market leading steps towards evolving marketing content operations to differentiate the customer experience with thought leadership and support account level marketing. Below, I followed up with him to get more insight into how the role of the CMO is being transformed by the need to become a publisher.

Stephen Diorio: According to the Publish or Perish survey, 96% of the marketing executives surveyed agree that the quality and organization of their marketing content is essential to achieving their growth goals. How do you ensure your content is structured, consistent and relevant in such a large global organization?

Raja Banerji: The quality and organization of marketing content is now critical to so much of what we do as marketers—including branding, demand generation, sales and establishing thought leadership with customers.  We strongly believe that four ideas that lay the foundation of a strong content marketing strategy which has worked well for business group:

  • Defining the objectives and target audience for content marketing – Right content, Right time, Right place
  • Assignment of subject matter experts who can produce content in a phased manner
  • Socialization and Amplification via internal and external communication platforms
  • And mostly importantly, measuring the audience resonance – Who, Where, When and How?

 Stephen Diorio: One of the big factors that distinguishes the business practices and capabilities of high performing marketing organizations (who exceed plan by over 25% in the last year) is their ability to create content that aligns with their go to market process and the customer journey. Notably, it is their ability to deliver a consistent brand value conversation in both sales and marketing channels to change the customer’s perception of value and reinforce value selling approaches in the last third of the customer journey (during sales conversations) that allows them to outperform their peers. But many marketers are struggling to manage the complexity and costs of marketing operations because they lack a structure and strategy for organizing and aligning their marketing content with their core value messages, selling themes, and the customer journey. For example, 71% of companies lack a consistent messaging methodology and two thirds (66%) of the marketing executives surveyed do not yet target their content by stage of the journey. How are you able to achieve this?Growth Prioritities Bloue
Raja Banerji: To achieve the consistency you are talking about it is important to have a framework – or content architecture – that helps marketing executives to manage content consistency in a large organization while providing product, territory and line of business marketing teams the freedom and creativity to create content that supports their unique markets, programs and goals. For example, we have instituted a framework called the MVP Model – Messaging, Validation and Positioning- to direct the development of thought leadership content across the company to ensure it is consistent with the overarching tone of voice and core practice area selling themes. Our content architecture provides swim lanes, guard rails, standards and guidelines for writing effective content. This gives content producers within our business areas, horizontal themes that cut across silos, business units, marketing programs and geographies.

Stephen Diorio: 74% of high performing marketer’s in our analysis are placing more emphasis at targeting their content by person (or persona) to make it more relevant. What steps are you taking to make sure your content is relevant and supports sales conversations?

Raja Banerji: At the highest level, persona-based targeting involves breaking the core audience for front of the funnel social media, content marketing and web marketing programs. For instance, infographics have brought our business group far more resonance than other typical methods of producing content. We follow a well-defined Linkedin strategy through Sponsored posts program to reach niche audiences. B2B marketers like us are also focused on serving key accounts and use Account Level Targeting – what is called as Account Based Marketing – as our primary targeting scheme relative to person (a) or individual based targeting.

In our view, the key objective Account Based Marketing is to be a catalyst to change business, or interject our innovation, thought processes and emerging technologies. We have conducted Innovation days with some key accounts reflecting focused thought leadership and close collaboration with customers.

Stephen Diorio: Most of the marketing executives we interviewed placed a high priority on teamwork and process collaboration across functions and business units involved in content creation as essential element of executing Brand Publishing across the enterprise. How are you able to achieve role clarity and a common understanding of the publishing process?

Raja Banerji: Our business group marketing is evolving as a key strategic function with a clear aim of creating business value by enhancing Thought Leadership, Integrated Value Messaging and amplifying Branding and Visibility to our customers and prospects. Our collaboration is twofold –

  • First at the business unit level where our intellectual capital is centered, the leadership and domain experts define the topics for content creation.
  • Second level of collaboration is with subject matter experts and dedicated writers from agencies who help us with actual content creation. The branding is done centrally and content is promoted through all internal and external communication channels by our marketing team.  And we try hard to get salespeople (we call them client partners) as involved as possible in involved in thought leadership distribution and feedback from customers and influencers about what is working and the nature of the client conversation at the back of the funnel.

To create role clarity, we are developing internal training programs aimed at educating all employees and stakeholders involved in publishing about the process, their role in the process, and the business outcomes the collective process was attempting to drive.

Stephen Diorio: What about external agencies, partners and experts and contributors. Our research says they can make up a third or more of all content producers, particularly as marketers struggle to meet writing demands or seek outside validation and credibility. How have you managed to incorporate these outside partners effectively to support your go to market programs?

Raja Banerji:   We collaborate with industry experts/acamedia to augment our thought leadership efforts in a piecemeal fashion. As we gain experience, we are moving towards establishing deeper co-production partnerships with external institutions including analyst firms, academia, industry body networks The goal of these partnerships are to enhance thought leadership, accessibility, credibility. Our marketing strategy is multi-faceted and our intent is to reach to end customers. We focus on working with high quality publishing, academic, media brands that can give us access to influencers, brand credibility, amplify client reach, new skills, improve content quality, and accelerate speed to market. For example, we are forming academic partnerships to collaboratively develop and drive thought leadership with leading global universities like MIT Sloan Management Review. Our partnership with MIT helps us enhance the quality and credibility of its advisory content, and help TCS practice area leaders establish thought leadership. We also are evaluating deeper co-production partnerships with leading publishers like Harvard Business Review to develop and deliver sponsored research, bespoke events, and editorial content in a more sustainable way and go beyond media to better support our marketing and sales channels.

Raja Banerji is the Chief Marketing Officer of the Business Group at Tata Consultancy Services, where he has worldwide Strategic Responsibilities across the Business Group reflecting impact on Integrated Value Messaging, Sales Enablement, Thought Leadership, Branding, and Visibility & Executive Management.