The Rationale Behind Personal Branding
As global head, marketing technology, at Kimberly-Clark, Mayur Gupta spends a lot of time contending with convergence. Consequently, the convergence of marketing and technology skills with functional disciplines represents a common theme in his posts on the personal blog, inspiremartech.com, he maintains as an emerging thought leader in his off-hours. The blog also marks a point of convergence in Gupta's personal and professional lives.
Although his posts, many of which delve into marketers' DNA, contain personal opinions that aren't affiliated with Kimberly-Clark, the connections and conversations the blog has sparked with other leading thinkers strengthens Gupta's performance in his day job.
What's your current marketing passion and why?
Besides creating breakthrough experiences for our consumers and identifying new ways to leverage emerging and innovative technologies for our brands, it's also writing my own blog on marketing-technology inspiration. A big reason behind this passion is a desire to constantly evolve myself with the evolution and expansion of technology and always find new ways to change consumer's lives. We live in a world of constant change, and to thrive as marketers and drive consumer engagement we need to learn how to get ahead of this change. Blogging provides me an opportunity to share my thoughts, collaborate with other thought leaders, and learn from others' experiences, as well.
What aspect of this rapid evolution are you most drawn to write about?
It's difficult to pin down one area. At the most fundamental level, I love to write about the implications of the speed at which the world around us is changing and how marketers and brands can leverage technology at all levels to simplify the lives of consumers within this chaos. The opportunity in the midst of that massive challenge—driving new consumer experiences that challenge the status quo—is what keeps me up at night and also what gets me out of the bed in the morning.
What other topics compel you to write new posts?
In today's world of totally fragmented ecosystems, there's a strong need to drive convergence at all levels. This need extends beyond the convergence of marketing and technology, which everybody talks and writes about. I'm referring to the convergence of skills within the marketer. Today, marketers need to go deep in many skill areas, not just in marketing. The best marketers are going deep in marketing and finance and technology and sales and media/creative. I'm also referring to the convergence in organizational structures and operating models. It's no longer just a matter of convergence across marketing and technology functions, but also across finance, sales, operations, and so on. If we can't achieve this convergence, then we as marketers can't really drive the so-called “omnichannel” experiences, which will simply remain a myth.
How did you decide to start a personal blog?
It started based off a relatively quick conversation with a colleague of mine at a digital event a few years back. This was when I was a marketing-technology leader at SapientNitro, with clients like Burger King, Citibank, ESPN, the X Games, and so on. In a casual conversation after the daily event activities, we were discussing some of the latest innovation from that day when my colleague said, “Having your own blog and sharing your thoughts is like gradually creating your own brand.” That comment just stuck with me and I went back to my hotel room and started my blog along with a few other social accounts.
What was the biggest blogging challenge?
When I started it was more about what others would think when they read what I'm writing, along with an apprehension that I don't have anything unique to share despite having a number of great ideas. Are people going to think, “What's the big deal, and why is he writing about this? We already know about this.” But then I realized that I was only going to write what I believe in, and that I would only write from the heart. And I knew I would have to do so without worrying about what others might think. It wasn't so much about what anyone would think, but a way for me to share and write what I truly felt and be able to write that without any apprehensions.
What eliminated this concern?
First, I saw that I didn't feel that way about the blogs I read. So many people have something to share and I constantly read and learn from them. Second, I realized that each of us works in a unique environment; there are no standard, defined models in marketing today. Every organization is structured differently, and that means that every organization faces different kinds of challenges when driving their objectives and engaging consumers. The scale and intensity of what marketing experiences varies based on the organization, but the root causes are consistent. Everyone is trying to drive a new model of engagement with the consumer. Everyone is trying to win in the digital world. Everyone is trying to adapt to the pace of change. Our experiences in confronting and addressing these challenges are unique. I wanted to share my unique experience to add value to readers coping with similar fundamental challenges. Even if I did that for just one reader, I felt the blog would be successful.
What else is tough about maintaining your blog?
It's prioritization, time management, and the art of keeping them precise and to the point. There are so many thoughts on your mind and so many ideas that you want to write about them all. However, that leap from taking the thoughts from your mind and putting them on paper is the toughest. Along with that, of course, is finding the time to do it; that's where you end up using your weekends.
How often do you post?
Listen, I'm not the most prolific writer; there are so many out there that I sincerely look up to. I wish I could write more often and drive more engagement with my audience. I aim for once a month, but I would love to have the time to possibly do it every other week, if not every week.
Regarding time, your speaking schedule looks hectic. Do your speaking engagements and blog posts cross-pollinate each other?
Oh, sure. My page views and likes are pretty modest, and I'm not trying to actively drive a lot of traffic. But one of my recent posts, which addressed the new marketing we need in an era of convergence, was
extremely well-received by my blog's standards. A lot of people were reading and sharing that post. It was inspiring, and I decided to use the topic, the concept of convergence, as a theme for an upcoming speaking engagement.
How else does maintaining the blog help you?
As marketers, we learn so much on our day jobs. When I return home from an interesting day of work and I think about what my challenges were and what I learned, it really helps me to write about those thoughts; I get a fresh perspective. I've also made many associations and connections through the blog. I've connected with some incredible thought leaders within the industry, C-level executives, especially a number of CMOs from across the spectrum. Now, these readers might not agree with what I wrote about, and they express their opinions in comments—but that's even more fulfilling. I view the blog as an opportunity to share and start the discussion, which has been a great experience. Even if only one person is reading [a post] and they take the time to write, “I didn't like what you wrote and here's why,” it makes my day and my month.
Starting a Personal Blog as a Professional Marketer
1. Identify your motivation: Gupta launched his blog to cultivate his passion for brand-building in the digital world while engaging with others who share a similar passion and related interests.
2. Recognize that your perspective is unique: Marketing challenges vary by company, Gupta says, because no two organizations—or marketing functions—are identical. Yet, he also believes that most of these challenges share a small set of underlying causes. While he knows he's not the only marketer to weigh in on these root causes, he feels confident that he brings a unique perspective—and a fresh voice—to discussions and debates on the intersection of marketing and technology because his daily experience is singular.
3. Make it personal: Gupta makes plain the source of his writing on his blog's landing page: “My blog represents my personal and independent opinion without affiliation with any organization.”
4. Keep it manageable: Sticking to a one-post-per-month minimum doesn't overwhelm Gutpa's already-crowded schedule. While he'd like to write more, he's realistic about his time limits and wants to avoid feeling that he “has to” post.
5. Be true to your motivation: Gupta diligently replies to commenters who respond to his posts, regardless of whether their messages are supportive or critical. His purpose is engagement.