Interview with SAI Marketing
Company Name: SAI Marketing Counsel Pty Ltd
Company Address: 6 Hollister Place Carlingford NSW 2118
Phone Number: +61 (0)2 8206 2428
1) Can you tell us a little bit about you, and the marketing services your business offer?
My name is Mahesh Enjeti. I am a strategic marketer with 37 years experience in the business, of which over 25 years were spent in executive level positions (Research, Analysis, Strategy, Sales, Marketing, Communications, and General Management) in diverse sectors including entertainment, tourism, banking, advertising, consumer/ industrial products and consulting.
My business, SAI Marketing Counsel Pty Ltd (www.saimarketing.com.au) is a boutique strategy consulting practice with a focus on creating new brands, building existing brands and reviving declining brands. The letters S, A and I in the business name represent Marketing Strategy, Customer Analysis and Business/Brand Innovation, our core competencies.
Our tag line Brand new thinking…..and doing reflects our ability to creatively solve every marketing challenge posed to us however big or small.
2) What’s the history behind your business and how did you get started in the marketing industry?
I have been always driven by the urge to solve problems and the passion to help people. Even during all those 25 years spent in corporates, I had an innate desire to become a consultant one day. In the year 2000, following a major restructure in Star City casino, I walked away with a few months’ sustenance and a work laptop (for which I paid $300) to start my own consulting career.
I earned my first “pay check” three months later from a modest copywriting assignment. Simultaneously I started teaching Marketing at the Executive MBA Program at the Australian Graduate School of Management (I continue to pursue teaching and mentoring at the Sydney Graduate School of Management even today).
It took months of perseverance to convince prospective clients that I can do strategy as good as the best Management Consultants, Marketing Consultants and Brand agencies and here I am at it after 11 exciting years.
3) Who is your target customer and what type of marketing needs they have when they seek your help?
Our customers do not belong to any particular sector, size, geography, or age. Much of SAI Marketing’s business comes through referrals. Our clients come from all parts of Australia and beyond (US, India and Norfolk Island) and in all shapes and forms.
SAI Marketing’s client list includes global enterprises such as DOLBY, LG Electronics Australia, Allergan Health, Tourism Australia, NBNCo, Department of Human Services to smaller organisations like Omniche Holidays (travel), Metro International (garments), Trinity P3 (marketing management consultants), The George Institute (medical research), Norfolk Tourism (tourism), Australian Marketing Institute (industry association) etc etc.
Any business whether a start up, a mid-market operator or a global corporation needing strategic marketing advice and willing to hiring the best in the business is a potential client. Clients usually come to us when they have to address a really thorny marketing or business challenge and are looking for analytical, strategic and creative skills in the one single provider.
We consult across sectors so are able to apply learnings from one business to another allowing a fresh perspective every time.
4) Marketing is always changing, evolving, how does your company evolve trying to keep up with the trends of the marketing industry?
We are able to continually sense the changes happening in the environment and respond to these much more easily because of our inherent strength in strategy and our disciplined process of thinking. We apply the same skills that we use for our clients in our own business analysis.
My presence on the NSW State Council of the Australian Marketing Institute and the judging panel for the AMI National Awards for Marketing Excellence, experience in teaching and mentoring young, bright, tech savvy MBA students, my passion for reading, writing and presenting at national/international conferences has allowed ongoing opportunities to keep up to date with the latest trends in the industry. I recently contributed three case studies to a forthcoming Marketing text by Kotler et al to be published by Pearson Education Australia.
5) Online Media vs. conventional offline media… where does your company see the future heading?
It is important for marketers not to be obsessed by that dividing line. We see media as an ongoing conversation and not as a discrete channel. We like to engage consumers through the most appropriate means depending on the context and need. It is not about online or offline.
There will be a day when some online channels reach saturation levels or become less effective and we will all begin to seek newer or at times some traditional alternatives.
6) The Million dollar question: What’s the secret for a successful marketing strategy?
In my view, strategy is a bridge that connects resources and capabilities within an organisation with opportunities in the market place.
The essence of any strategy whether corporate, business or marketing strategy is sacrifice – the ability to decide what not to do as much as knowing what to do. The reason why most strategies fail is because businesses are unable to implement them properly. The reason why many fail to implement is because they do not have the resources to be able to do everything they take on.
Embrace opportunities that come your way but make sure they are aligned with your vision and strategy. Recognise that the environment is dynamic and that the strategy needs to be tweaked from time to time. But remember that you need to be disciplined in choosing what to do and what not to do.
7) What do we need to look for, when hiring a marketing company?
Clients should look essentially for three things in a consultancy – competence, compatibility and cost consciousness. Our clients work with us because they know we have the expertise and experience in making a difference to their business and bottom line. They are committed to the long term sustainability of their business just as we are. They appreciate the fact that we treat their money with the same respect as we treat our own money.
8.) How do you see companies marketing their services in 10 years time?
The logistics of selling and delivery might continue to change over time but the concept of value will always remain fundamental to this exchange. The separation between products and services will blur even more as consulting companies try to productise their services and products take on an increasingly more significant service component.
Crowd sourcing businesses will consolidate as declining prices will drive many players out of the market. As a result, quality, sustainability and customer care are likely to regain importance in the consulting business.
9) How do you see the marketing industry in Australia evolving? What concerns you, what excites you?
I am disappointed that Marketing still means Marketing Communications in the industry at large. Please read my blog at http://www.saimarketing.com.au/blog/april2012/blog.html for my thoughts. Unless we shift this paradigm, we cannot earn the respect of the business community. Marketing must define, drive and deliver the future value of a business, not merely create awareness, preference and intention to buy in the present. For this to happen, marketers must embrace Finance more readily.
It is this challenge that also makes marketing so exciting in the years to come. There is a huge opportunity for marketing to draw from multiple disciplines, hire people from diverse backgrounds, adapt learnings from different industries and truly become a driving force for the organisation as a whole.
The practice of Marketing will continue to flourish as long as we recognise that consumers are people at first, brands are the business, a medium is a conversation and marketing is a fair exchange of values.
10) Tell us about one of your favourite marketing projects you have been involved with? Can you describe what was so special about it?
SAI Marketing Counsel repositioned Norfolk Island as The World of Norfolk some three years ago. By cleverly leveraging the concept of the world, we were able to differentiate tiny Norfolk (a mere 5 kms. by 8 kms. in size) from bigger, more exotic island destinations in the South Pacific. The brand promise Small world. No small wonder captured the sense of bewilderment and connectedness that the place, its past and people inspired in visitors. (Details of this and other case studies can be seen on http://www.saimarketing.com.au/9.html).
There are many more projects that we would have also liked to showcase but this one is very special for one reason. After we presented the brand strategy at industry and community forums in March 2009, there were many in the room that were moved to tears. We have never witnessed such emotional connection between a brand’s expression and the people shaping its experience.
Note: SAI Marketing was recently asked to develop a communication platform to leverage the brand strategy they had developed earlier.
11) Favourite marketing authors, books and influences?
Theodore Levitt, the legendary author of Marketing Myopia, an article which appeared in the Harvard Business Review in 1960) is my marketing guru. Forty years later, I wrote a piece titled “Strategic astigmatism – how to balance focus and perspective” in the HSMAI Marketing Review, New York as my homage to Ted.
I see marketing as inseparable from business, the person who influenced my business thinking early in life was Peter Drucker. More recently, I have admired thought and business leaders like C.K. Prahalad, Prof RA Mashelkar (of Gandhian Engineering fame) and Richard Branson.
12) Now time for the marketing expert to market their services: what makes you a top marketing consultant?
Top consultant is not an absolute term. I am not and will not be a top consultant for everyone. SAI Marketing is no doubt among the best in its business for clients who are looking for a unique combination of creativity and strategy in building their brands
Strategy that is not creative cannot differentiate. Creativity that is not strategic cannot deliver lasting impact. Businesses looking for both in the one consultancy will find us incredible value.
If you need to get in touch, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call +61 425 254 659 or +61 2 8206 2482