I was browsing through Tata Sky the other day and happened to see Baba Ramdev speaking passionately about Swadeshi, Ayurveda and Yoga. It suddenly dawned on that he was actually a great example of content marketing. I’ve long admired him but ever since the whole running-away-in-a-saree affair happened at Ramlila Maidan a few years back, my admiration had turned sour. However, Baba Ramdev has faced all troubles with a smile. After having followed his antics for the last few years, I believe he’s one of the greatest content marketers in India.
Baba Ramdev and his Rs. 2000 crore behemoth Patanjali Ayurved has been giving sleepless nights to almost every FMCG multinational in India. He seems to have overtaken the board room discussions in several consumer product companies such as Colgate-Palmolive, Dabur, Lux and even Britannia. With the barrage of news articles and press that Patanjali is getting, the media seems to have gone nuts covering Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved, a manufacturer of ayurvedic medicines, food products and consumer goods.
Patanjali Ayurved is doing great by selling thousands of products which are priced lower than the competition in nearly all categories – that’s a major factor in its rapid rise. In a price-conscious market like India, this works. Like other brands, Patanjali too is an active advertiser. They have around 112 ads on Youtube (on 1 of their channels) for their products which you can see here. In fact, they have become one of the most active advertisers in recent times according to several news reports. With over 8 owned social media channels across Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, Baba Ramdev and his team at Patanjali are also a content marketing machine. They have been creating tons of content to educate and inform their core customers.
Of course, it helps when you own a television channel and are a preacher by profession who has renounced all worldly pleasures.
But the fact that Baba Ramdev still manages to be at the core of all the content that is produced by a company which will soon hit Rs. 5,000 crores in revenue makes all this quite mind-boggling. How does he do it? And why does he do it? Is there something which amateur marketers like you and me can learn from this hoopla?
Lessons we can learn from Baba Ramdev about content marketing
The more I think about entrepreneurship, hustling and developing innovative content marketing strategies for startups and companies, the more convinced I become about the power of remarkable content. I’m actually quite amazed at how important content is – it is indeed the backbone of any “good” plan. And Baba Ramdev’s example of content marketing proves it to me. Apart from Yoga and Ayurveda, I’ve bumped off some interesting content marketing and branding gyaan from Babaji and would love to share these lessons with you.
Lesson No 1: Take a bold stand
To be really successful in business, you have to build a brand. And to build a brand, you have to take a stand. Babaji’s stand is simple – Embrace Yoga, use ayurvedic products and stay free of disease. He wants to build swadeshi products to “save” India from greedy multinational companies. He’s very open and brash about it. He has courted lots of controversy for other issues such as black money, political ambitions, homosexuality. He’s also been the butt of several online jokes for putting himself out there. Yes, taking a bold stand is risky. It can be controversial. But if you truly believe in your stand, it will separate you from the competition. His bold stand on defeating MNCs has given him respect from small-town
Yes, taking a bold stand is risky. It can be controversial. But if you truly believe in your stand, it will separate you from the competition. His bold stand on defeating MNCs has given him respect from small-town shopkeepers and village Kirana stores who happily promote his products over others. He’s developed a core following which sits at the heart of the Hindu hinterland.
Lesson No 2: Consistently produce content
Since 1998, Babaji has consistently been waking up at 3:30 AM, first doing Yoga for himself, then doing Yog on National television for the masses and teaching us how to live a healthy lifestyle, the Vedic way. These televised Yoga camps are what made him popular. You have to consistently produce content and if you’re persistent enough, you will eventually figure out the difference between good and bad content.
Apart from just promoting his brand of Yog and Ayurved, consistently talking about the same things has earned him a deeply loyal following in India and abroad. And these raving fans have converted to Patanjali products without batting an eyelid. That’s the kind of trust he has managed to built. Every new product he launches becomes a comfortable upsell to Patanjali’s existing customer base. For example, if they were only using Patanjali soaps yesterday, today they are also using Patanjali Liquid soap. Tomorrow it’s going to be Toothpastes, brushes and whatnot. From the business aspect, acquiring new customers is much more expensive than upselling to existing customers!
Lesson no 3: Produce lots of content
Baba Ramdev has hundreds of videos with days of footage on Youtube which cover almost every conceivable topic in Yoga, Ayurveda and his company Patanjali Ayurveda. Not only do these videos play a very important role in building trust with customers, these videos educate, inform and consequently, sell his products. And many of these videos are not short, promotional ones – they are in-depth documentaries where he talks about the history, usage, manufacturing processes, benefits, market reality, etc. of his main products. For example, see his 40 min documentary on Patanjali’s ghee manufacturing process and chyawanprash manufacturing process. It seems Babaji has taken it upon himself to tell the world how ALL his products are made. And the competition is not even close. Here’s a quick capture of how three competitors are faring on Youtube.
Not even close right? Now you might be wondering why a corporate company would ever want to share their manufacturing processes with the world? Well, that’s what these companies have got wrong. The future belongs to those who can confidently showcase their products, philosophy and ideas to the world consistently. And online content marketing is the best, most effective and affordable (in the long term) method of going about. You might be surprised to know but this is the exact same tactic used by Elon Musk for promoting his businesses. Here’s a video look at Tesla’s manufacturing plant video:
You might be surprised to know but this is the exact same tactic used by Elon Musk for promoting his businesses.
Here’s a video look at Tesla’s manufacturing plant video:
In fact, there’s an uncanny similarity in the way Baba Ramdev and Elon Musk talk about their work. Here’s Elon’s tour of SpaceX:
One of the world’s foremost technology visionaries, sometimes known as the real-life Tony Stark and the Steve Jobs of heavy industry by fans, shares a marketing style interestingly similar to our very own Swamiji. Baba Ramdev doesn’t look too crazy now, right?
Lesson No 4: Own your space, completely
Yoga, Ayurveda and Vedic Education – Baba Ramdev is popular for his televised Yoga camps in several parts of the country. And at nearly all these events, you will see him promoting Patanjali products. When it comes to promoting a company which sells Ayurvedic medicines and healthy food products, educating and teaching Yoga and Ayurveda to the masses, and how these work to keep a human healthy is the perfect subject matter for creating content. Baba Ramdev has also proposed to set up a “Vedic Education Board” to develop a curriculum that incorporates traditional Indian culture in school textbooks. This is yet another example of owning everything and anything in your space!
Never afraid of controversy, Babaji offered to hold Yoga camps in JNU after the much-hyped controversy that happened there. His aim? To enable students to live a healthy and positive life. In recent times, he has also proposed to set up a “Vedic Education Board” to develop a curriculum that incorporates traditional Indian culture in school textbooks. This is yet another example of owning everything and anything in your space!
Lesson No 5: Promote all Areas of your Business
In addition to giving virtual tours of his factories and yoga camps, Baba Ramdev has gone as far as making special videos for showcasing his sales counter and a video to encourage people to start their own Patanjali stores. I searched for how to become a distributor for Patanjali products and came across this video which clearly told me how I could do so. Now I don’t know much about sales and distributors so I checked if other companies also advertise this information. Turns out, it is not that common a practice. Britannia definitely doesn’t do it. Clearly, it’s going to lose its market share in biscuits! With thousands of shops and stores selling Patanjali products, it’s no surprise their sales are breaking numbers.
Is all this content marketing even working?
Here’s a revenue forecast from Financial Times:
Patanjali has grabbed the attention of their competitors, stock brokers, newspaper and consumers. With sales hitting the roof (they are confident of hitting Rs. 5,000 crores in revenue in FY16), it’s safe to say that Baba Ramdev has become quite successful in his mission to take Yoga and Ayurveda to every Indian and perhaps, Global household.
I spoke to a few local shopkeepers and they were happily complaining that Patanjali’s production was not being able to meet the demand. There was always a constant shortage of many products.
Patanjali has been so effective in its marketing that even cash-strapped banks in India are offering them loans. This is remarkable in a financial environment where banks are suffering from several instances of corporate loans going bad.
To conclude, I would request all brand managers and marketing folks who happen to read this post to think deeply about the type of content they are producing, if at all any. Are you simply having celebrities endorse your products in your commercials or are they going above and beyond the line of duty to actually open up about your brand?
It’s time to start creating meaningful, remarkable content. If you liked this post, please do share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn! Also, for more examples of content marketing and other interesting posts, do subscribe to our newsletter.