How not to waste a crisis opportunity – HDFC Bank’s Ravi Santhanam explains

“This year has taught us to be resilient in terms of coming out of unexpected situations. It has been a tough year for sure and we all have learnt a lot of things in the last 9 months that we have not learnt in the last 9 years,” remarked Ravi Santhanam, Chief Marketing Officer, HDFC Bank. He was speaking at a special event recently to unveil India’s Powerful Influencers 2020, an initiative by Adgully powered by India TV. 

Speaking on the topic ‘From Brand Marketer to Being a Revenue Marketer – How to Leverage a Crisis?’, Santhanam noted that new vocabularies have been added to our language – such as lockdown, pandemic, social distancing. “This is one of those kinds of events that happen once in a lifetime for many of us and it does have an impact on the way human beings conduct themselves. As human beings, we are all creatures of our own habits and as Charles Duhigg in his book on Habit says, “A habit is a cycle of a cue where there’s action and a reward.” 

He added that these habits help people in the smooth conduct of their day to day lives without wasting much energy. “This habit formation has been studied extensively by marketeers and it has been used to drive consumer actions. But what this pandemic has done is, for a long period of time we have never had this kind of an event which has changed the way we do many things. The assumptions that we have been using to conduct our day-to-day lives have been actually destroyed,” Santhanam pointed out. 

According to him, “Revenue marketeers are those who directly drive measurable sales revenues straight through their marketing campaigns. This movement to revenue marketing luckily did not stop. Many traditional business models have found ways and means of augmenting their sales efforts with revenue marketing. Whether it is a building material supplier who generates a lead for supply of cement or steel or electrical hardware during these pandemic times or a bank selling a loan. Most traditional industries have also jumped onto this train and are at varying stages of maturity, some at just generating leads and some to complete end-to-end identification to fulfillment to advocacy.”

He stated three broad steps to becoming a revenue marketer:

  1. Get customers to your property - We call it traffic.
  2. Engage with them to convert the traffic into leads.
  3. Convert the leads into sales.

Speaking further, he pointed out that with this crisis, we faced four substantial behaviour shifts in humans. Fear and greed are two of the biggest emotions that drive our way forward in terms of trying out new things and both these emotions were really up sharply in this pandemic. 

Santhanam shared his mantra for leveraging this crisis. He spoke about five steps – three steps which are for building oneself and two steps which are for building one’s teams. The five steps that he elaborated are: 

  1. To have a mindset to question everything
  2. Articulate your vision again and again
  3. Be interested in others; Don’t be interesting.
  4. Build alliances.
  5. Build learning agility.

He concluded his speech by saying that every crisis is an opportunity and one should never let go of that. One should leverage them to change the way we work to become a revenue marketeer and make sure your actions are rooted in understanding the consumer behaviour, you have the right mix of technology and people skills resources available and invest in a culture of learning agility to keep moving forward. 

Listen to the complete address here:


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