A Marketing ROI Strategy for Half the World’s Population

At MEET, we talk a lot about the critical link between clearly defined buyer personas and marketing ROI. But for international scaling companies, developing the right marketing strategy also requires a careful account of the unique cultural ways of doing business in each foreign market.

Marketing ROIIndia’s vast size and gateway access to Southeast and East Asian markets represent enormous opportunities for scaling firms. As such, insight into how to “make it” can be extremely useful.

For advice on how to succeed in achieving marketing ROI in India, we sat down with Nilesh Gopali, Founder and CEO of AAVOR. AAVOR provides international business advisory services for cross-border growth of ventures, especially those where the Internet plays a significant role in their expansion.

Getting into the marketing mindset for India

Depending on one’s experience with similar scaling endeavors, Nilesh’s first tip for maximizing marketing ROI is to let go of preconceived notions about your target prospect.

“In many developed nations, you’re marketing directly to the customers you want to buy your products and services. Hence your marketing message is centered around them—how they will benefit.”

Nilesh explains that in India, your marketing audience is almost always a third-party distributor or channel partner and not the end-user customer. “Never in your life, will you interact, meet or do anything with the end-user in the Indian market.”

“You have to think in a completely different way when marketing in India.”

As a result, your target persona is your channel partner, which in turn directly impacts your marketing message and strategy.

“Your messaging should reflect both how good your product is for their customers and how good your company will be as a financial partner.”

Keep in mind: in India, there may be multiple layers of intermediaries involved in selling your product nationwide. As a result, a highly effective marketing strategy will help to ensure that your first channel partner will subsequently sell your product to the next one, who in turn will reach the end-user.

Don’t try to beat the system

To put his recommendation into context, Nilesh provided an example of what happens to scaling firms that try to side-step channel partners and market directly to their customers.

“I have seen companies that come to India with plans to do online marketing to our population of 1.4 billion. To their surprise, they do not make a single sale, despite the price being in-line with other Indian products and services.”

The problem, as Nilesh points out, is that nobody may want to buy that kind of product online. The culture dictates that this type of product is best bought in a shop with customer service. International scaling firms don’t have that perspective and therefore run the risk of sinking millions into a failed marketing strategy.

Third-party distributors, on the other hand, specialize in this knowledge.

Who are potential channel partners?

In India, Nilesh describes a potential channel partner as anyone with access to well-trained talent and resources. Depending on the sector you are in, this may be a bank, an educational institute or an engineering college.

What is convenient for scaling firms is the fact that channel partners will collaborate and synergize with you to determine the best working relationship. “Ultimately they know they are talented resources and may even be open to forming a joint venture.”

The added value of marketing to India

Marketing ROIDespite the time, resources and mindset shift required to maximize marketing ROI, many international scaling companies chose India for one simple reason: they believe that what works in India will work with 40% of the global population.

And they’re right. Nilesh suggests that for those who are looking to develop their product or services for India, the probability of it being replicable across Asia Pacific and Africa is very high.

“That’s where the talent, the resources, everything comes into focus. Because you’re not just marketing to India, you’re marketing to about half the world’s population.”

For more insight into India market-entry, check out our full interview with Nilesh Gopali titled: Capitalize on the India Growth Story for Market Entry.  To check out all of MEET’s webinar content on how to successfully scale your company in the U.S. market, subscribe to our YouTube Channel.


MEET (meetroi.com) helps international B2B growth companies soft-land and scale in the U.S. through trade shows and in-person events. MEET’s processes help its clients ramp-up sales quickly and maintain a steady stream of high-quality prospects going forward.  Contact Bill Kenney for a no-obligation conversation: bill@meetroi.com or +1 (860) 573-4821.

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