Content Marketing and Indian Outsourcing: Like Oil and Water?


With content marketing now firmly established as a preferred way for companies to build trust and engage their target audiences, it’s no surprise that the strategy is catching on in emerging markets, including India. Recently, New Delhi hosted the Content Marketing Summit Asia, an event designed in part to explore what it takes for companies to develop an effective approach to content marketing. Judging from the list of speakers and panelists from mega-brands such as Coca-Cola, Volkswagen, Yahoo, JWT, TCS and many others, it’s clear that lots of notable companies have embraced content marketing as an important component of their overall marketing strategies.

But what about smaller Indian firms with far less marketing muscle? Specifically, can the thousands of scrappy outsourcing companies – many competing for the attention of Western clients on the basis of cost, speed and people power – successfully integrate content marketing into their promotional arsenals? And is the very nature of content marketing antithetical to the approach to marketing traditionally taken by Indian BPO/KPO (business/knowledge process outsourcing) firms?     

Indian outsourcing has grown into a mammoth $21 billion industry largely due to three factors: low cost, fast turnaround times and high quality (though this last attribute is questionable sometimes). Companies in India’s BPO and KPO sectors rely on aggressively touting these factors in an effort to distinguish themselves from their competitors, both within India and elsewhere. When dealing with prospective Western customers, the eagerness of many Indian companies to please, along with their “can-do attitudes,” lead them to overpromise (and sometimes under deliver) on their services. The result, often, can feel like a cacophony of voices, all proclaiming “We’re the best!” “We’re the cheapest!” “We’re the fastest!” “We can do it all!” A decidedly un-content marketing-like approach.

We would argue that, while there will always be a segment where the lowest price wins, the West has grown weary, and more than a bit suspicious of this sort of un-nuanced hard sell. Companies that come across as “all talk, little substance” will be ignored in favor of others that provide real value, insight and expertise. It’s time for Indian outsourcing firms to step up their game and begin cultivating meaningful, trusting relationships on the basis of more than just price and speed.

Clearly, some Indian companies will fail in this regard, either because they are too entrenched in the old way of doing things, or simply because they lack the depth to provide this type of enhanced value. But firms that make sincere efforts to adopt content marketing strategies and provide relevant, useful information to their intended audience will rise above the noise, and stand to benefit enormously in the long term.