April 6, 2023

Visionary Storytelling To Build Thought Leadership

Visionary Storytelling To Build Thought Leadership

Storytelling is often quoted in context of building brands. Yet, not every organisation gets it quite right. Either the algorithms have filtered the message out or the organisation is stuck in the echo chamber.  

Rahul Mudgal joins Surbhi Dedhia in this episode to unpack the idea of Visionary Storytelling for building thought leadership. Rahul is a seasoned marketer in APAC region and has helped organisation's he has worked for build thought leadership with visionary storytelling.

This episode covers a vast landscape of storytelling, looks in to companies who are thriving with storytelling, being authentic white navigating the digital conundrum plus a lot more.

Rahul shares his opinions on Linkedin - https://www.linkedin.com/in/bezpredelmudgal/

and on Twitter - https://twitter.com/suigeneris_1

Thank you for listening!

You can connect with the host - Surbhi Dedhia - on LinkedIn to share ideas and thoughts on building your #thoughtleadership

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[00:00:00] Surbhi Dedhia:Hello, Rahul , welcome to the making of a thought leader podcast. It's absolutely my pleasure to have you on board today. 

[00:00:07] Rahul Mudgal:Likewise, pleasure is all mine.

[00:00:09] Surbhi Dedhia:We've been talking on, on different topics and one of the topics that often comes along in our marketing world is, uh, storytelling. And in our conversation you always mention, Point of visionary storytelling.

[00:00:25]So I thought for our conversation today, it'll be really nice for the audience to know your thoughts about storytelling and why do you say visionary storytelling. 

[00:00:37] Rahul Mudgal:Sure. uh, it stems from the fact that if you look at all the sort of, uh, trillion dollar businesses that have been built to scale, uh, in, in the world today, They are built on a narrative.

[00:00:51]Right. So it all began with the story.  Whether the story was about the founder mm-hmm. about the problem that the business was trying to solve for, uh, ahead of everyone else, but how business could see the future in a way that it manifested 10 years out that none of us could. Right. So a great example would be, uh, the visionary Steve Jobs.

[00:01:13]Mm-hmm. and how he saw a problem that nobody else could foresee how he solved for that problem much ahead of his times and anyone else being able to imagine, uh, how to solve for that particular problem. And now you and I, uh, room around with these devices in our pockets, right? So, so therefore, uh, I think, uh, you know, and obviously you might argue that, you know, there is only one Steve Jobs that comes along in a century, but, uh, uh, how is it that all of us could, could essentially, have that sort of a mindset or a mental model to think about how we tell stories, whether it's about ourselves mm-hmm. about the lives that we've had, um, as, as founders, as professionals, as, um, as marketers, uh, but also, uh, how businesses can really transcend, their own narrative not limiting themselves to talking about a product or a service, but essentially, having a mental model to talk about themselves in the context of the world around us. Mm-hmm. . 

[00:02:19] Surbhi Dedhia:That is so, um, interesting. Let me just kind of unpack this a little bit because it kind of came to me in, uh, in, in, in, in intense way because you said how do you as an individual, um, You know, put yourself out there.

[00:02:34]Tell your narrative individual meaning not personal, I mean, probably personal level also, but pro we are talking in the context of, uh, professional level here, and then how do you connect those dots to what is happening around you. , uh, with that example in mind, that the storytelling is everywhere around us.

[00:02:53]In fact, we have been telling stories as a human race has been telling stories from the beginning. So what you're saying here is that when you say visionary storytelling, put yourself out there in a sense of. What is happening around you and now start building that narrative through the lives that you've led, uh, led or through the pro experiences that you've had.

[00:03:17] Rahul Mudgal:Absolutely. Um, I, I mean, what you said just reminded me of Yuval Noah Harari's, uh, book about how we love to tell ourselves stories. One could even argue things like, uh, money, uh, is a great story that we tell ourselves and we believe a certain piece of paper has a certain notional intrinsic value, and then we exchange that value and we trust our banks.

[00:03:38]Yeah. With that value. Right. So, uh, it's inherent in all of us. Uh, you know, we want to tell stories. Mm-hmm. . Um, also another important aspect of storytelling is that we want to, uh, have a sense of belonging. Right. So whether, uh, we identify with a certain community with a certain belief, With a certain way of being, right?

[00:04:00]So we as human beings love to tell stories, but also stories that allow us to belong to something. , which is greater than ourselves. Right. Right. Um, and, and how is it that the brands and businesses can really, uh, catch on to that human instinct mm-hmm. And be able to tell stories that are compelling, that allow for people to have that sense of belonging, to a community or, a system of belief, uh, or that is beyond themselves, beyond their, uh, immediate environment.

[00:04:33] Surbhi Dedhia:We are living in a world which is so fast and dynamic, right? Like today there is, um, you know, social media or like World of TikTok, and the next thing you know that is chat G P T and the next thing. And the next thing. How does one really in this situation because I, I don't think 10 years back we were in such an overdrive, um, how does one build that visionary story?

[00:04:59]How does one have the tunnel vision to think so far out and, uh, build that narrative? 

[00:05:05] Rahul Mudgal:Uh, I'll digress for a moment and before I address this question, uh, because this is a question often everyone grapples with, right? So, yeah. Whether you continue to play catch up where you know you are always playing catch up with what's the, uh, what's the hottest medium out there to tell your stories?

[00:05:22]Or, uh, you have a mental model that allows you to simplify what's happening around you and tell your stories regardless of the hottest medium out there. TikTok being one example. Right? So if you go 20 years back, right? So sort of free digital if you will, right? So the most common way of telling stories was linear television, right? So linear television and advertising, whether it was on the television or on radio, or out of home, advertising, right? And from all of that, came along digital, right? And then, the way we tell stories changed, and now you have, um, these algorithms, whether it's the Google algorithm or the Facebook algorithm, uh, or TikTok that decide what stories get consumed, right? Mm-hmm. So we have this entire dichotomy of, uh, two challenges. The one challenge is what I refer to as, uh, filter bubbles, right? So filter bubbles are essentially, those algorithms that serve a content ahead of every other piece of content.

[00:06:27]So how do you bite those filter bubbles and get your story ahead without necessarily having to spend a lot on, say, advertising. Mm-hmm. , um, um, you know, how do you get your story ahead of the filter bubble? The other, uh, uh, problem with that dichotomy is what I refer to as Echo Chamber, right? So Echo Chamber is that, you know, I know Surbhi and Surbhi and I have 10 friends in common, and if we are sharing a piece of content, then it gets consumed and liked.

[00:06:56]And, uh, you know, those 10 people that we know in common are engaging with that piece of content, but we never necessarily. Step out of that echo chamber and we are continuously consuming content being shared amongst the 12 of us. Right? Right. So how do you get the story to transcend filter bubbles, which is the algorithms, and how they serve our content, and how do you transcend echo chambers, which is how do you get your content beyond your immediate, uh, circle of influence?

[00:07:25]Right. And, and the, the way you do that is where you identify who, are you trying to reach mm-hmm. and why is it your, uh, stories relevant to the audience that you're trying to reach? Right? Because I think at the end of the day, um, if I were to simply define marketing and in, in many definitions, uh, but mine is a very simple one, which is you are trying to maximize your relevance and your reach, to the people that you most care about. Mm-hmm. and to the people who you want, to be caring about you essentially. Yeah. Right. It's how you can then transcend the medium and tell stories which are meaningful, which makes sense to that audience, which are relevant to that audience, right?

[00:08:11]Mm-hmm. . So therefore, you have to think if you are telling a brand story, whether it's about a product or a service, how does it transcend? The medium and how does it become relevant to the communities that you're going after, right? So it has to be effort, which starts with, uh, asking a very genuine question.

[00:08:31]And the question is, How is it that you'd want to be relevant to the people that you wanna reach to? Mm-hmm. And once you have answered that question, I think, it's an iterative process. It'll not happen overnight. Right. Because you understand that algorithms are way smarter than us. Um, yeah.

[00:08:47]Chat Gpt is way smarter than us. And therefore, uh, you have to constantly iterate and tweak and, it's like creating a feedback loop and trying to see. Uh, you know, what is the level of engagement with a piece of content that you're putting out there, right? And how does it resonate with the audience that you really care about?

[00:09:08]Yeah. So it's an iterative process. It evolves. Uh, but as long as you are very genuine about, what you're trying to solve for, and you are authentic in your storytelling and not, uh, trying to be flash in the pan or, using, uh, certain, say hashtags and things like that, which might be trending just to be able to get ahead of everyone else because that's not sustainable, right?

[00:09:28]You might be able to do it once or twice, but if you want to, uh, create like a compelling narrative, which is sustained over a period of time regardless of the filter bubbles and the echo chambers, then you need to do it over a period of time consistently. Yeah. Um, and, and, uh, do it in a way that's meaningful for your community.

[00:09:46]Um, so one way to think about it is how is it that my story is helping others? Mm-hmm. , uh, helping others, uh, make better decisions about things that they would want to buy, for instance. How is it that my story's helping, uh, someone become smarter about, say, uh, their financial decisions, right?

[00:10:08]Mm-hmm. . So it's a lot more about education. It's a lot more about advocacy, right? So being able to identify that niche space that you want to, uh, be known for, and how is it that your product or service can be attached? To, uh, a larger context, correct, if you will. Right? So wherein you are trying to identify that area where you might be helping your audience along, um, uh, An issue that that, that you'd want, uh, addressed.

[00:10:40]Right. So it's almost like, you know, it's a rather simple way to put it, but uh, it's the most difficult thing to do, uh, which is, uh, this whole idea of compassion. Mm-hmm. , uh, the idea of being able to put yourself in the, uh, shoes of your audience. And that's, that's often the hardest part. it's, it's always the data point of one anecdote, right?

[00:11:00]So Anec is like a data point of one because, you know, the, the one thing that you'd want to not do and which is why, uh, I feel a lot of marketers are guilty of doing is earlier we used to generalize and we used to have something called customer segment. Right. So we used to think, oh, every 45 year old with a certain household income, uh, living in a certain neighborhood, uh, is a certain customer segment.

[00:11:26]Right? Right. Um, we realized that that is not working. You know, it's, uh, sweeping generalizations and assumptions, which often do not lead to the best outcomes. Then came along, you know, this whole science of personas. Yes. Right. So persona based marketing. Right. So if you think about it, uh, you know, uh, somewhere down the line, even the science of personas or, um, was also, uh, sweeping generalizations.

[00:11:51]Yeah. Um, and therefore, uh, you must realize that, you always need to rely on, uh, deeper research, uh, into your audience and being able to truly discern what they care about at the level of one person or one human being. Which is to avoid generalizations, uh, that we cannot assume anything.

[00:12:12]Right. And our audience is way more intelligent and smarter than, than we give them credit for, and therefore it's in our best interest to be one authentic two, generally trying to solve for their as opposed to trying, trying to sell 

[00:12:28] Surbhi Dedhia:something. Correct. Yeah. I think that's a very important point.

[00:12:31]And as you were giving these descriptions about, how you get to that, storytelling in a dynamic world. I, I kept thinking of different brands that popped into my mind. Like, you know, when you said data point of one, I kept thinking of, uh, Tesla. because when they came, of course it was an innovative product itself.

[00:12:51]But if you look at, uh, how they, when they, when they launched, there was hardly any uptake and to, uh, in competition, General Motors and others were putting so much advertising money behind it. So that was one again, from the automotive world, Harley Davidson, you know how they created this whole cult around their brand.

[00:13:12]So, um, That data point of one again, how, how do they build that whole narrative? And it's still going strong. Probably they have been iterative, uh, as well as, as you said, visionary thinking and uh, maybe you can give more examples. But I think that whole it point of iteration has a very, uh, strong, um, Sustainable factor as well as it is, uh, you know, a logical way to be authentic.

[00:13:41]Also, only when you make mistakes, only when you know that you are, uh, this is not what's serving your audience is when you come back and iterate. So, uh, that is, that is definitely sustainable. 

[00:13:53] Rahul Mudgal:So, absolutely. I mean, Tesla is a story that I, love talking about and, you know, um, the entire world knows Tesla for what they're currently, but a lot of people have probably forgotten, uh, the early days of Tesla and how the brand struggled because, they, didn't have a marketing dollar mm-hmm to spend, because their entire business was very, very capital intensive. And, the their cash burn rate was very high. Um, they were not making any money. Um, yeah, you. And, the initial, uh, cars that were sold were full of snags. Uh, so had a lot of, service issues.

[00:14:27]But what Tesla had was an authentic story about changing the, the world into a cleaner, uh, green energy world. Right? And so that was their north star and they were able to have a community rally around that North Star. Mm. So, uh, and how some of their early adopters were the ones who actually lived with cars that were faulty, uh, but never complained.

[00:14:52]In fact, they helped Tesla as a brand to improve, uh, the customer service. By working closely with the, uh, the r and d team within Tesla. And they were just early adopters and customers, but they were the initial community that was able to rally around the brand, uh, and truly believed in the purpose that Tesla is here, not just as a car company, but a company that is going to change the world for the better.

[00:15:16]Yeah. Um, you took the example of Harley Davidson. I'm, I'm an avid motorcycle. enthusiast myself and so I can tell you that, you know, it's, it's all about the community. It's all about being, being able to instill a sense of belonging, a sense of pride, a sense of purpose, a sense of meaning, uh, into, uh, community, uh, that will rally around your brand.

[00:15:38]Right? So, uh, you know, I always, uh, also take this example of. Uh, 90-9 and one. So if you had a hundred customers, if you think about them, uh, it's again, a generalization, but allows you to have a mental model to picture this. In that, you know, uh, 90 of those a hundred customers, will not bother about, switching from your brand to another brand.

[00:16:02]Nine of those would care to a certain. But, uh, they can also be swayed. But is that one customer of the hundred who's a, who's a devoted fan. For you as a brand, it's to identify that one. Mm-hmm. And that one can rally a hundred more, right? So being able to identify that one fan amongst your customers and then bringing, customer on your side and being able to co-create stories, tell stories that make a difference in a meaningful, uh, uh, you know, impact on that one Right.

[00:16:35]Will then create a strong flywheel or a network effect that will allow you to create a hundred more of those fans. 

[00:16:42] Surbhi Dedhia:Right? Right. And what you just said that, uh, the mental model 90-9 and one is applicable. Yeah. E everywhere, right? Like B2B or b2c. I'm also thinking of, uh, brands or businesses who are so technical and so b2b, they are also like when you, when you think about Tesla, Uh, and Harley Davidson, you are also thinking of that one person who's buying and riding and experience and able to share.

[00:17:11]But I'm talking about, you know, products that go into larger system of factories and stuff and how that impacts the overall, uh, productivity or, you know, the output of, uh, that business. So even that is this, this, this thing that you said about 90-9 and one is very much applicable in that setting as well..

[00:17:34] Rahul Mudgal:Yes. Let's, let's take some examples, right? So you talked about B2B and how it's relevant, right? So, B2B businesses are essentially businesses that are designed to be invisible to the end consumer, right? Mm-hmm. . Um, so, so the two brands that I love in the context, uh, one is a, uh, e-commerce brand called Shopify.

[00:17:54]Yeah. Um, and, uh, the other is a payments brand called Stripe. Mm-hmm. . Let's talk about Shopify for instance. Right. So Shopify, uh, last year did 187 billion dollars worth of, gross volumes on its platform. It has, uh, thousands of small merchants that Shopify represents, right? Mm-hmm. . So in that they just use Shopify's front end e-commerce store to be able to, uh, sell online, right?

[00:18:23]Right. So these are businesses which had physical brick and mortar stores and, uh, Shopify help them with digital rail for them to be able to sell online. Um, while this, uh, figure is in itself very impressive. Uh, what's even more impressive is that, you know, the brands, the merchants that use Shopify, their overall revenue is in the tune of 450 billion, which means that these, these are the companies, these are the small merchants on big merchant who used Shopify to sell online, right? And it's an incredible business. If you think about it. It came from Canada. Uh, again, a visionary storyteller, uh, Tom Lutke who actually, uh, you know, build these rails. And you can argue that, you know, this is like the, the non-Amazon. Amazon, mm-hmm.

[00:19:14]you know, so when you think about Amazon, we don't think that, you know, Shopify is a competitor because what Shopify is helping, uh, everyone do is not necessarily come on aggregated marketplace. , but have a storefront of their own. Right. Yeah. So it's actually changing the dynamic of the business model is democratizing e-commerce.

[00:19:32]Yeah. Uh, in a lot of ways for, uh, for, uh, players within the ecosystem. Uh, and if you think about it, uh, Shopify could have started with solving for every problem there is. Right. But they, they wanted to be, the, the company that solved for everything, but not necessarily themselves. So in a B2B world, it's a lot about partnerships and alliances.

[00:19:54]So they wanted to solve for payments, for instance. Um, they solved for payments by partnering with the lights on a stripe. Yeah. Right. But they didn't stop at Stripe. So they have about 740. Payment partnerships. Mm-hmm. , which allow for their merchants to offer every potential conventional and alternative payment method on a Shopify platform.

[00:20:15]Yeah. Right. So they didn't start with solving themselves. Right. Got it. Um, so it's an. Excellent example of being relevant to a community and that their community is the merchants, right? Yes. The small merchants, uh, who wouldn't have had the bandwidth to be able to build an e-commerce, uh, storefront and be able to, uh, sell online, be able to transact online.

[00:20:37]Be able to collect payments online and do it in a way that's secure. Mm-hmm. You know, um, and do it at scale. Um, so, so if you think about, Shopify an excellent example, but we don't see Shopify. We see those, uh, storefronts. Um, and, and we go and buy a favorite pair of Denis without necessarily realizing that.

[00:20:56]You know, this entire experience is being powered by Shopify. Correct. Um, similarly with Stripe, right? So Stripe Powers, um, the, uh, payment rails for, uh, you know, uh, end number of businesses online. But, uh, mm-hmm , you know, you and I don't necessarily, uh, realize that we are actually, uh, paying through Stripe, but we got it.

[00:21:16]We, we often do that, right? Uh, again, visionary founders, two brothers, Irish Brothers. Patrick and John Collison, and they went from Ireland to the Silicon Valley to be able to start and found this because they thought that, they would not get that kind opportunity in Ireland and they started in 2009 and 10. If you think about 2009, 10. I mean, back then, yeah, payments were even more clunkier than they are currently. Right. And they wanted to, you know, uh, paper for online. Yeah. Yeah. So they wanted to transform, uh, this entire experience of, uh, payments.

[00:21:53]The way they've done that is, uh, you know, if you, if you visit the Stripe website, uh, if you were a developer, uh, you know, who's building, uh, a storefront or any kind of an experience and you want to integrate payments, The way you can seamlessly do it, do it yourself, right? Correct.

[00:22:09]Stripes whole motto is do it yourself. So the kinda, developer, documentation, toolkits, and uh, you know, even the front end, the back end experiences, it's so intuitive and you can get started and within, within minutes you can actually integrate Stripe with any website there is, and it's that seamlessness of thinking about their audience, which is, you know, the developer community who can come on board and be able to integrate seamlessly, right? So, I mean, Again, I can go on with other examples.

[00:22:40] Surbhi Dedhia:Yeah, but I think I get the point what you're saying that even in b2b, uh, there are, um, team number of examples here who have thought about the customer, who have gotten that, visionary, um, storytelling through that thinking of one customer that they can impact and they can build that, uh, brand narrative through.

[00:23:01]Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So we spoke a lot about, uh, you know, the storytelling part of it where, it felt, uh, at least in the conversation that, we are always living in the digital world. And, I think as marketeers we are always like digital first, you kind of adopt.

[00:23:17]And keep adopting the next wave. What, what about the digital non-natives, people who are, boomers who are still in the business, who have, these stories to say and probably they have done a lot more business and they haven't had that experience, to share to the world.

[00:23:36]And how can they adopt storytelling in the digital age? What are your thoughts on that? 

[00:23:42] Rahul Mudgal:Oh, so Surbhi as you'd recognize a lot changed, uh, because of the pandemic in that, you know, we, we had a lot of, pioneering generations who actually became digital natives during this time?

[00:23:56]Yeah. Thanks to the lockdown and grandparents being introduced to digital devices by, their grandchildren and so on and so forth. And we know that there's been a huge uptake, so that digital divide itself is shrinking in that, you know, a lot of, uh, sort of those erst wild generations are coming online, are recognizing the power of digital media.

[00:24:17]But having said that, I think it doesn't hurt to get started somewhere small. Right? So essentially you have to pick a niche, right? So you have to identify, again, back to the, uh, fundamental question, uh, who do you want to be relevant for? And where is it that your audience or that anecdote congregates, right? So where is it that your audience is hanging out? What, what medium is that? Right? So it could be, uh, you know, a Facebook or an Instagram or a Twitter or a LinkedIn. You have to identify that platform or that medium and then start small, and start with yourself. And, you know, uh, everyone has interesting stories to tell you, you know, so it's, it's, it's all about being authentic.

[00:24:57]It's all about being, able to start somewhere, being able to identify where is it that, uh, your audience lives and who do you want to be relevant for? Alright. And it doesn't hurt to get started, and, doing small sort of what I refer to as pilots for experiments. Right, because, it allows you to get some feedback, right?

[00:25:16]So, feedback is important and, when you're starting out, I think, you know, and you're trying to build an audience, lean on friends and family, uh, to get to, to put something out there and, get some feedback in and that feedback loop, helps you iterate, get better.

[00:25:31]and you can polish your messaging, and you can then continue to build on that, right? and it's absolutely fine to, experiment and train. That's the best part about, some of these digital medium. People have, as you know, receding attention spans, which also means that, people don't remember a lot of mistakes for a long period of time.

[00:25:48]good one. Yes, Absolut. It's absolutely fine to try things mm-hmm. and try things even at the cost of failing. I think one of the reservations that, some of the senior generations may have had, is that fear of failure, which is, where I think we need to get over that sort of in inertia and be able to try a few things, even at the cost of, uh, failing. I think that's, that's the one thing that I think is important. 

[00:26:13] Surbhi Dedhia:Yeah, it a very good point there. And also I feel that, , to the digital natives who are already, you know, talking to, uh, you know, people who are hesitating to get on digital.

[00:26:24]I, I feel like don't spread out too thin across all these medium and places. Because if you are experimenting, it is best to experiment in one place, do pilots in one medium, and then decide. And again, to your point, I'm just reiterating here that find where your audience is, and experiment and communicate in that one particular medium and then expand as you get more confident.


[00:26:53] Rahul Mudgal:True, absolutely. 

[00:26:54] Surbhi Dedhia:All right, Rahul, I think we have gone in so many different areas and in quite a bit of depth, uh, but I can't resist asking you this. How can you be really authentic in this whole TikTok world? How can they bring out their whole authentic selv es in, this world where the short reel, short videos and swipes. 

[00:27:18] Rahul Mudgal:Yeah. True. Uh, and you know what, uh, it's not that I have solved for it, you 

[00:27:22]know, so I also grapple with it as much, uh, as a marketer.

[00:27:26]So every day is a challenge. Mm-hmm. The question you have to therefore ask yourself is that, do you want to sort of ride the wave, if you will, uh, and build something that's, uh, almost like a flash in the pan, you know, so you can get, get a lot of peaks and troughs. Mm. Uh, often peaks and troughs together.

[00:27:44]Uh, but over that, would you rather choose something sustainable, right? Yeah. So authenticity allows you to build something sustainable. Two, I think it makes practical sense. Uh, I'll just give you the context of, you know, you might have heard how there's this whole movement, where, Google will be phasing out third party cookies.

[00:28:04]Um, you know, it's already been. It was earlier to be 24, now it's probably 25. And, you know, that changes the dynamic of how you think about marketing and capturing of data exhaust, right? Yeah. Um, increasingly people are becoming more aware of their own privacy and digital ownership and ownership rights.

[00:28:24]And therefore as marketers if you're not authentic, you not be able to capture the attention for a sustained period of time. Hmm. Um, as a marketer, what I truly want to have is a direct relationship or a rapport with my audience as opposed to that. Relationship or that rapport being owned by a platform or a medium

[00:28:47]hmm. What I mean by that is that therefore, you know, this whole movement, uh, around, uh, building first party dataset, which means that, if, I want to reach an audience that, even if I am building it, painfully one person at a time, but I'm building a relationship capital of reaching my audience directly, uh, and forming a rapport as opposed to thinking that, I can get away with spending marketing dollars on a particular medium, and running those, flashy sort of, pieces of content which don't necessarily capture attention for a sustained period of time. 

[00:29:24] Surbhi Dedhia:Yeah. Interesting. So we, we spoke about taking one medium and doing pilots and tests on that. Now in a, in a business to business world, LinkedIn obviously shines out, but you know, there has been a increasing trend of people building brands on Instagram or building brands on TikTok. I, I see so many B2B brands on TikTok and it's amazing what all they have been able to put together in terms of content and context of the a audiences. So what, what are your thoughts on this? So you think about it.

[00:30:02] Rahul Mudgal:Most of the mediums are now gravitating towards becoming TikTok in certain ways. Mm-hmm. . Right. So TikTok has actually changed, if you think about it, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, they all look a bit like TikTok now. Yeah. Uh, they're increasingly adding features that only TikTok used to have at some point in time.

[00:30:21]Right, right. It was essentially, gives you, the, a sense of how powerful this medium has been and how great the adoption has been. And it cuts across culture, it cuts across generations. Mm-hmm. Um, and therefore, you know, if that's the medium of choice of your audience, and you know, even in the B2B world, if you think about it, the only difference between B2B and b2c, uh, very simply put, in the context of storytelling is that, in the b2b, , world, your decision maker is not one consumer. You know, it's a committee of five people that you're trying to influence, right? Right. So five people who are taking a decision on behalf of their business, right? So whether, I'm buying a piece of software on behalf of the organization that I work for, I will not do that in isolation. I'm a committee of five, but, uh, even that committee of five needs to be influenced.

[00:31:08]And therefore, if that piece of software needs to be relevant to all five of them, and if they're congregating on a TikTok, then I will start there, right? Mm-hmm. . So that's why you see. , a lot of these B2B brands also are building pieces of content and trying to be relevant to their communities on a TikTok or whatever else that their audience is.

[00:31:27]Essentially, it's about being able to deeply understand the medium, right? Yeah. So you will, you will think about, uh, a certain story, but it can be, uh, told differently on a LinkedIn compared with the TikTok.

[00:31:39] Surbhi Dedhia:Yeah, true. True. Yeah. Uh, video versus static content versus uh, uh, you know, those carousal posts and all of that.

[00:31:48] Rahul Mudgal:Like, there's just so much option these days and, uh, what you said really makes sense because if, if your decision makers to finally buy products are all congregating at one platform and it, it is easier to convey them messages or nurture them re you know, over a period of time. Through 32nd or a one minute reel, then so be it, right?

[00:32:13]Like it's finally that iterative model that we are going to try and figure out at the end of the day to, uh, make that sale. . Uh, true. I think , going forward there may be many more such, uh, options or within this medium, there are more, uh, you know, things that we can experiment. I actually sometimes wonder if there is any way to, like, so Facebook can, Instagram is obviously integrated.

[00:32:41]You can, you know, kind of. In two mediums together. That was, you know, sometimes I wonder if there is any other kind of integration possible across the social media, you know, not, not integration in terms of, I just pushed the content and it's just published everywhere.

[00:32:57]But integration in terms of how it can convert itself into different ways through these different mediums. So that would be interesting. 

[00:33:06]Yeah, I think, uh, that's where I think tools like Charge G pT might help. Right? In fact, uh, charge G PT is being used and being deployed by marketers. It's keen to do exactly that, where, you know, there's one piece of content and then doing, uh, using charge g PT do clever copyright, which is native to, you know, here.

[00:33:25]Here's a tweet versus here's a, you know, a static post for a LinkedIn with a poster, um, and a behavior dynamic video, uh, that, is being deployed by generator. Yeah. Uh, you know, so, so this. Clever tricks will always come up. And obviously generative AI is a great tool to have, but again, one should always remember and be mindful of, it's still a tool and, you need to know what purpose or what endgame are using the tool for.

[00:33:56]Um, because what you don't want is to lose that sense of relevance, and the sense of authenticity for your audience. Because if you do that at scale, you might, in fact come across as, not being really authentic, and then you might get lost in the crowd and therefore , you'll find that, you'll have those tools, but you'd have to be mindful of always being relevant to the audience that you're trying to reach.

[00:34:17] Surbhi Dedhia:It's very, um, I mean, you already answered my next, uh, question, which was like, how can people transcend the mediums and keep building stories because, and you essentially just said that, that, you know, you have to remember what's your purpose and who you are serving to know how you can transcend different media and still create that, uh, narrative and build the brand. Rahul, I wanna know, what are your thoughts on building thought leadership? Because you speak so much about storytelling and also I feel when you build thought leadership, there is a huge element of storytelling in that. So tell me your thoughts about building thought leadership.

[00:35:01] Rahul Mudgal:Yeah, I mean that's something that I've, been really mindful of doing for more than decade as a marketer. Cause I've led marketing for, uh, professional services and technology brands, wherein I thought, it's a cluttered market space. Mm-hmm. and, uh, therefore, you know, being able to, elevate the brand thought leadership is absolutely critical. Um, and how you build thought leadership is being able to identify, um, that one or two or three areas of interest or the communities that you wanna be relevant. And, uh, really doubling down on content that's educational. Content that is meaningful, uh, purpose driven.

[00:35:44]Mm. But essentially makes your audience, um, smarter. So if in a nutshell, a, to sum it up, I would say thought leadership is about leading with thought, right? Which entails, um, doubling down on research, um, identifying, those key areas that you want to be known for. And then identifying how is it that you can take your audience on a journey to make them smarter about their decisions in those.

[00:36:15]And it starts with, uh, you know, deep research, both, both in terms of research on the market and the ecosystem, but also on your audience and what they, what they truly care about. 

[00:36:25]Hmm. and then trying to find points of Sy synergy, where their interests and your purpose intersects. And then being able to methodically create content driven journeys. Where you take them, on experiences and that's cuts across different media types, right?

[00:36:48]So, it doesn't matter what form the content comes in. So it could be 10 different forms. It could be long form content, short form content, it could be blob or whatever, but essentially, uh, it's very consistent. And it is always, looking at that point of intersection of the interest areas of the communities that you wanna be relevant for.

[00:37:09]And, where is it that they are looking for content? What is it that they would find most meaningful, right? Yeah. So let me give you an example. I think it might better serve the context if I were to give you an example, right? I was, uh, leading this effort of driving thought leadership and advocacy for, uh, a payments brand, which was essentially a two-sided marketplace.

[00:37:33]On one side, we were serving all the large telecom providers in the world. Mm-hmm. , but on the other side, we were serving the brands and the app economy, which. You know, the marketplaces like Apple and Google, but also o t t brands like Netflix and Spotify. Mm-hmm. When I had to build thought leadership where I wanted to be relevant to both Netflix and Spotify, but also telecom providers, we started with saying, what is it that we should then develop content around?

[00:38:02]And we identified that, the coming in of 5G networks, is something that we should develop thought leadership around. Why? Because. You know, uh, you know, telecom brands are spending billions on infrastructure upgrades and wide spectrum, for doing, uh, 5g networks, which will increase and expand, the data speeds and the consumer experiences that are enabled by mobile devices.

[00:38:28]But at the same time, How does it truly change things meaningfully for them? Because, you know, voice and data are getting commoditized. How is it that they're able to monetize that 5G network better? And that is by building that essential service layer, by providing compelling content experiences to their consumers, which is.

[00:38:48]You know, some OTT brands like Netflixes and Spotifys, but also building on top of that consumer experience land. Right. And similarly for, uh, you know, the OTT brands, how is it that the 5g, uh, networks can usher in a new period of growth by them being able to realize and recognize the importance of building experie?

[00:39:12]Which allow for consumers to better relate to the difference between a 4G and a 5G network. Right? Right. And therefore creating the need for the OTT brands to partner with telecom brands and for the telecom brands to partner with the OTT brands. Right. So identify that sweet spot and just. You know, created like a series of pieces of content, uh, including long-term content thought leadership based, research based white papers to, short form content.

[00:39:40]But essentially talking about that inter intersection where the business opportunity for both the telecom brands and uh, OTT brands converged, right. Uh, and being able to go that methodically and, you know, it took us time, but we essentially were able to then create that very strong niche for ourselves in what was a very crowded marketplace.

[00:40:03] Surbhi Dedhia:Wow. That definitely, uh, was a very nice example.

[00:40:07] Rahul Mudgal:In the B2B context, I mean, getting the voice of the customer as part of your narrative is extremely important, right? So, I mean, when I said we created a lot of long, uh, long form thought leadership pieces, um, you know, and, uh, they, they had very strong contributions, uh, from people within the ecosystem, right?

[00:40:23] Surbhi Dedhia:So we had, uh, contributing voices from leading brands like Netflixes, Spotifys, but also, uh, leading, uh, telecoms providers, right? So their voices were part of what shaped that thought leadership. That's essentially important because you can't do it in isolation. 

[00:40:42]Uh, similarly in the consumer context, you see that, you know, the brands that have really done well, particularly, some brands in the fast moving consumer goods or, you know, fast fashion for instance, they've been able to very cleverly use user generated content. Yeah.

[00:40:57]So they create these catalysts or these triggers for the consumers to create content. Then they use that and leverage that content to be able to then further their storytelling efforts. 

[00:41:09]Nice. Nice. Thank you. Rahul. This has been at so many different levels deep, very expansive, both vertical and horizontal. The discussion has gone from visionary storytelling to how you can be authentic to how you use digital and of course how do you build your thought leadership?

[00:41:28]So thank you so much for coming on the show. I think this has been a very interesting conversation. Before I say bye to you, I want the audience to get in touch with you. So where can they get in touch with you? 

[00:41:41] Rahul Mudgal:Sure. Uh, so I'm fairly active on LinkedIn and Twitter, so more than welcome to Connect 


[00:41:48] Surbhi Dedhia:Sure. Wonderful. I'll also put in your, on LinkedIn and, Twitter links in the show notes so audience can get, direct, links from there. 

[00:41:56] Rahul Mudgal:Sounds good. Yeah, this has pleasure. Thanks for having me. 

[00:42:00] Surbhi Dedhia:Thank you, Rahul. It's absolutely my pleasure.