How To Avoid Burnout & Thrive In Marketing with Deepti Tiku & Kage Spatz

Marketing Strategy Series by

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Deepti Tiku Marketing Expert

Yoga can be instrumental in transforming people’s lives by helping them attain physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.

As a part of my Marketing Strategy Series, I’m talking with my fellow marketing pros at the top of their game to give entrepreneurs and marketers an inside look at proven strategies you might also be able to leverage to grow your business. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Deepti Tiku.

Deepti is the Senior Director of Corporate Marketing at Ridecell, the leading platform for shared and autonomous mobility operators. Prior to Ridecell, she served as the Head of Marketing Services at Standard Chartered Bank and served in sales, marketing, and market research roles at HDFC Bank, the largest private sector bank in India. She was also at the WPP Group, a British multinational communications and advertising company.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting and what lesson you learned from that?

I’m not sure if this is funny (it certainly wasn’t at the time), but it was notable. In the early days of my marketing career, I was managing my first multi-million-dollar campaign. As is the case with most major global brands, our creative had to live within a strict set of guidelines that covered tone, voice, imagery, font, etc.

This shouldn’t have been an issue, but we were investing a large portion of the budget in outdoor and I had a sense the brand-approved font would be difficult to read in this setting. Still, as a rookie marketer, I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers. So, I ignored my instincts and followed the guidelines to a T. We got our creative approved and I did a recce — essentially a prelaunch site survey — with the media agency to select our placement locations. All our boxes were checked.

Wanting to make sure my first big campaign launched smoothly, I had to double-check those boxes. I did another recee the night before the actual launch day to check the installations. I realized then my initial instincts were right. The font was completely unreadable. My world came crashing down and I went into a full-on, heart-pounding-in-my-ears panic.

After a breath or two, I went into action mode. I called the vendors, pulled the creative, and — because our agency team wasn’t available in the middle of the night — worked with the printers to get the font updated. Within less than 24 hours we had the new, legible creative printed and installed. The budget took a bit of a hit with the re-printing costs, but I had a wonderful manager who knew I made the right call and praised my presence of mind. I proved I could navigate difficult, unforeseen circumstances, which I soon learned would always be part of the job.

This experience revealed how important it is for me to trust my instincts and eye for detail, no matter how new I may be to the situation. I also learned marketing guidelines are not sacrosanct. We need to filter them through the lens of the audience experience and break the rules on occasion to support that experience. Lastly, I came to realize the value of relationships. I wouldn’t have been able to pull off the emergency creative swap if I didn’t have vendors on my side who were willing to move quickly to fix the mistake.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

When I started pushing the boundaries beyond the accepted playbook — changing up processes, testing out new ideas, and refusing to accept the status quo — things started to click into place. I wasn’t always successful, but I knew I couldn’t be afraid of failure. I developed a desire to do things differently and internalized what I learned in the process.

When I was working in the banking industry, I was involved in the relaunch of our savings account value prop. The main differentiator in the market was, of course, savings interest rates, but we couldn’t compete on that. As a team, we reframed the proposition, presenting the benefits of competitive mortgage products, a cost-effective online trading platform, and a highly rewarding credit card as savings.

This unprecedented approach positioned the savings account as an enriching banking experience rather than just another me-too product. It was a tremendous success that taught me how to be a true innovator — not changing everything just to change it, but seeing things from a different angle and helping others do the same.

What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?

Knowing when to rely on others is huge. Sometimes this means you aren’t the only person in the room with the winning idea. Collaborate with people, take an interest in your colleagues and their experiences, embrace the value of an alternate viewpoint. These relationships will bolster you when things get challenging and plant the seeds that just might turn into your next big idea at 4 a.m.

Relying on others also means knowing your strengths and hiring your weaknesses. Early in my career, a mentor encouraged me to bring a level of self-awareness to my work. This helped me both see my weaknesses and be willing to hire people who complement my strengths, so we can all work smarter together.

Another side effect of constant self-examination is a hunger for self-improvement. You should never lose your desire to learn. Invest in your professional development, share your learnings through a blog, take on teaching assignments, join groups where you know you’re not the smartest person in the room.

A more tactical tip for avoiding burnout is to stay organized. In marketing the work is never done. But an organized workflow and calendar will help you prioritize and make room to have some fun in the midst of all the to-dos.

Consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. Where do you see the future of marketing headed?

The transportation industry was already in the midst of re-inventing itself when the pandemic took hold. Over the last decade, many millennials and city-dwellers started reconsidering car ownership. Instead of buying a car only to have it sit idly in a paid parking space or driveway, this group is opting into the convenience of shared mobility options that reduce expenses and environmental impact.

Now that the pandemic has changed every aspect of the economy, we expect these trends to continue and even accelerate. While, yes, people are more skeptical about public transport and ridehailing, the lasting shift to remote working and reduced travel will make car ownership even less attractive in the future.

At Ridecell, we provide a SaaS platform to OEMs, dealerships, rental agencies and private fleets looking to capitalize on these trends with little to no experience in the mobility space. This means, as marketers, we have to invest in educating our customers. Before we can even think about being “salesy” i.e., marketing our products, we have to help them understand what it takes to build a successful business and what challenges they might face. In our industry, this consultative approach is what gets customers to the table for the conversation.

Can you please tell us the 5 things you wish someone told you before you started? Can you please share a story or example for each.

  • Don’t be afraid to try new things and new roles — especially early in your career. This will give you some perspective on yourself and what you actually want to do before you settle into a career path.
  • Surround yourself with people who both challenge and teach you.
  • Enjoy your own company. I understood the importance of this much later in life when I met my guru Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev who said, “if you are alone and you are getting bored, obviously you are in bad company.”
  • Learn to meditate. It brings balance and alignment to your personal and professional life.
  • Find a mentor early on and maintain that relationship throughout your career.

What books, podcasts, documentaries or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?

I’m always reading marketing industry pubs like Ad Age, Marketing Profs, and B2B Magazine and listening to the Business Wars podcast hosted by David Brown and the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast hosted by John J. Wall and Christopher S. Penn. When it comes to tapping into the expertise fellow marketers, I turn to networking groups like the AMA and Together Digital.

One more question! You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Yoga has played an important role in my life. It’s helped me maintain balance during the tough times, recover from illness without relying on medication, and, most importantly, learn how to just live and enjoy life.

So, if I could inspire a movement, it would be one that increases the awareness of mental health issues and the role yoga can play in transforming people’s lives by helping them attain physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing.

Thank you so much for sharing so much value with us!

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