Rishad Tobaccowala: Q&A Session

Q&A Session: Rishad Tobaccowala

Rishad Tobaccowala Q&A Session is happening on December 14th 2021 at 10:00 AM PST (1:00 PM EST)

Rishad Tobaccowala is a Senior Advisor to the Publicis Groupe where he has spent his entire 37 career, most recently serving as the Chief Growth Officer and Chief Strategist of the Groupe. Tobaccowala was named by BusinessWeek as one of the top business leaders for his pioneering innovation and TIME magazine dubbed him one of five “Marketing Innovators. He is in the Ad Age Interactive Hall of Fame and has received a lifetime achievement silver medal award from the Chicago Ad Federation.

Rishad is also the author of “Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in The Age of Data” which helps people think, feel and see differently about how to grow their companies, their teams and themselves to remain relevant in transformational times.

Rishad is also the Chairman of The Tobaccowala Foundation which helps 10,000 people in India gain better healthcare and education.

Rishad has a BS in Mathematics from the University of Bombay and an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.

Rishad Tobaccowala – Transcript

AMA with Rishad Tobaccowala @ Publicis Groupe

December 14th, 2021

It’s time to kickoff our Q&A session with Rishad Tobaccowala Please give him a warm OG welcome.  Rishad Tobaccowala is a Senior Advisor to the Publicis Groupe where he has spent his entire 37 career, most recently serving as the Chief Growth Officer and Chief Strategist of the Groupe. Tobaccowala was named by BusinessWeek as one of the top business leaders for his pioneering innovation and TIME magazine dubbed him one of five “Marketing Innovators. He is in the Ad Age Interactive Hall of Fame and has received a lifetime achievement silver medal award from the Chicago Ad Federation

He’ll be here for the next hour answering questions

Looking forward to it. Thank you

Hello, Rishad Tobaccowala welcome and thank you for taking the time to be with us today. How do you believe mid sized agencies can compete with large conglomerate agencies for the upcoming year in 2022?

There are three advantages that mid sized agencies have which are a) specialization as Clients want best of breed agencies to plug and play, b) agility and the ability to move quickly and c) augmentation which is the willingness to work with others

Hi, Rishad! Welcome And thank you for your time here.

  1. what is your thought process and work process when working on a strategy?
  2. How do you define success?

— when it comes to a marketing strategy?

  1. What are the biggest things we should keep  an eye on in the next years as marketers?
  2. What is one thing that makes someone stand out and you’d instantly hire them/partner up?

Thanks a million

Strategy is  future competitive advantage and therefore one has to think of what your customers and competitors will want and be in the future. Have written about it here…https://rishad.substack.com/p/strategy

Hey, What’s the best way to conduct market research, today? What are you (practically) doing for your clients? Thank you.

No longer work on Client  in my new world of advising and writing but increasingly the best research connects data and insights to draw reality. This involves looking at any in house data and also looking at culture and other trends and finding an intersection. More here…https://rishad.substack.com/p/between-data-and-reality-falls-the

it feels like the big tech / media oligopoly has a stranglehold on advertising/marketing space. what advice would you give to the medium/smalls when trying to negotiate/navigate these behemoths? also, any thoughts on how to be more inclusive / supportive of less represented communities with media purchases (ranging from rural communities to historically underrepresented backgrounds)

The large platforms do have a stronger lock than large agencies….actually clients are looking for putting together the best talent and so think about what you stand for and how well you collaborate. And the large platforms do have new competitors in a re-invigorated TIK TOK. Snap Pintrest etc

One has to ensure that clients recognize that they need to allocate a percentage to these media regardless of cpm and if they do you can find many of these firms

Hey Rishad Tobaccowala, thanks for your time. What advice would you give to a marketing director working for a nonprofit organization with limited funds that wants to reach the largest audience possible? Thank you.

The best way is really to align with the new consumer/customer need for purpose and values and work on gaining word of mouth. Increasingly the future of marketing is about these factors…read this which is resonating with marketers everywhere….https://rishad.substack.com/p/dawn-of-a-new-era-re-invented-marketing

Rishad Tobaccowala, would love your high-level thoughts on what marketing technology experts can/should be mindful of, to ensure we’re building a best-case human focused, digitally enhanced future?

The future of marketing and transformation is technology and talent and many of us forget it…look here on what creativity is really about….https://rishad.substack.com/p/the-age-of-creativity

Rishad Tobaccowala, If you were starting a small agency tomorrow what would you focus on ?

As many of you may be aware I began a free weekly thought letter using substack 70 weeks ago at rishad.substack.com which is now read by 25,000 folks a week including many clients and students where i cover in detail many aspects of strategy, innovation, future of work and more.

If I were starting an agency today I would focus on three areas…a) recognize that talent does not have to be in any market and does not need to work for you full time..how can you access talent anywhere for a limited time…b) focus on areas of the future including broadly web 3.0, omni-channel commerce and DEI  and c) think about how brands and talent can be loyal…more here….https://rishad.substack.com/p/the-great-attraction

One of the biggest things one has to prepare for is how work will never be the same ever again. Check this out for where work is going….https://rishad.substack.com/p/how-to-thrive-in-the-modern-workspace

Rishad Tobaccowala, what are you predicting as future growth channels to invest in?

I believe that Web 3.0 where we move to a more open/less central, more democratized and modular/composable world (think lego pieces vs knowing code) will be the driving force over the next few years. In my piece on creativity above i link folks to some ways to learn about the space

One of the big things I see world wide is Clients and Marketers are looking for people and agencies who have a) expertise either in a channel, their category or a particular consumer , b) agility in able to move quickly, shape shift, combine with their other partners and c) augment their own capabilities by bringing in new thinking, provocations and perspectives. These three areas will lead to success.

Rishad Tobaccowala, Which social platform(s) do you believe will present the best attention/value arbitrage (i.e. “bang for the buck”) when it comes to paid advertising in 2022?

In part it depends on goals and the nature of creative but I sense that right now Tik Tok is really driving a lot of business

We’d have to be asleep to not realize that globalization (transhumanism, centralized decision making, hive connectivity) is one path forward and there is big money behind it;  meaning it isn’t a moral choice but a plan being rolled out (see WEF).  What are your concerns about this? 

We are increasingly connected but at the same time it is both controlling ( see China monitoring) but also empowering ( see block chain). The reality is that we are in the midst of the greatest decade of innovation or what i call the third connected age ( Voice/AR/VR and 5G and Quantum Computing and AI) which will make the last two decades look like childs play….Mandolarian may say “this is the way” but i believe in Lawrence of Arabia where “nothing is written”

Thank you for your time today! I have a small virtual financial firm that provides bookkeeping and accounting (not tax yet) services to companies around the US. What is the best thing to focus on to elevate us to the next level?

Tabitha the basics are to optimize for search, be a content contributor of really valuable stuff on LinkedIn, have a substack and a web presence and be willing to give away some good stuff for free….this will get you leads and interest…..i give away a lot of content for free (high quality) which enables virality of distribution and good word of mouth…show what you do and how you will help versus talk about it.

Rishad Tobaccowala, how do you/Publicis think about the B2B software market as an opportunity as it becomes easier to purchase/consume and starts looking more like consumer and commerce in how it’s sold

I have always believed that B to B and B to C are increasingly similar since a) as you say the channels are converging and b) the buyer is a human who wants solutions, access, value and experience (SAVE)

Today i work by myself ( a company of one) but if you look at my LinkedIN, my substack, my website, my social media  and my YouTube channel it does not look like that….technology allows you to scale globally..

And with the exception of some design help on launching my website i do everything myself…no assistant…not team…this is the biggest shift most people are not getting…

Hi Rishad! Do you think its better for SAAS companies to offer a FREE TRIAL or $1 Trial?


Hi Rishad Tobaccowala! As a CGO, what are the most important growth-related questions businesses must answer?

To grow our businesses we must grow our clients businesses and they look for some things that are product driven ( ideas, insights, inspiration) and some that are process driven( on time delivery, budget controls, collaboration). In the first three they are looking for perspectives, points of view and provocations and in the next three they are looking for ensuring the train runs on time and on track

Rishad Tobaccowala, Thank you! It feels like all SAAS startups are facing the same issue – user attribution. What would you recommend for a SAAS company that sells websites & online tools to realtors –> Hire a sales team or drive traffic to the website for sales?

I tend to believe we need carbon (people) and silicon (tech)…initially focus on tech since it is cheaper, easier and more human to dump tech than find you have a cost of sales or people who do not work out. But sooner or later you need people.

Thanks Rishad Tobaccowala! How often is “revenue” a main topic of discussion when talking about growth with your client’s businesses?

Revenue ( ie is growth) is one of the two most important things they are looking for .The other is relevance ( is their marketing, their partners and their purpose) relevant for the times. Do look at this piece…how to sell better…https://rishad.substack.com/p/re-thinking-presentations

That concludes todays AMA with Rishad Tobaccowala Huge thank you for being here and giving us all a ton of wisdom. here’s the link to his substack it’s a great read http://rishad.substack.com/

Fun chatting …happy holidays

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