The founders of the agency speak about their journey, evolution of digital marketing over the past decade and their goals ahead
SoCheers, a digital marketing agency born in 2013 during India’s digital evolution, has completed a decade in the business. The agency has grown by leaps and bounds over the years.
Talking about how completing a decade in the business feels like, founder Mehul Gupta and co-founder Siddharth Devnani say that SoCheers has been on the growth path since 2013 and, hopefully, the momentum will continue.
As per Gupta, SoCheers came into existence because he and Devnani wanted to leverage the full potential of digital, as a medium.
“The idea back then was to convert people into digital custodians. The time spent on digital wasn’t as high as what it is today. We felt that we could push digital and enjoy the merits of the medium. The focus is still on building on digital’s great synergy.”
Evolution of digital marketing and it's challenges
During the initial years, the duo focussed on introducing digital marketing, as a concept, to local businesses and SMEs. Their clientele slowly moved to sectors like hospitality and enterprises.
“From then on, we entered the next phase along with a lot of entertainment and OTT brands. We’ve always had a mix of sectors, and we do it consciously so there’s always a lot of cross-learning happening. At the moment, we’re going beyond entertainment and working with many BFSI, real estate and FMCG brands,” Gupta says.
He states that when he and Devnani started out, brands were spending hardly 5% of their budgets on digital. Over time, brands started allocating 30-40% of their budgets to digital.
Devnani adds that the way advertisers spend on digital, has evolved over the last decade.
“When we entered the space, Vodafone and Airtel were the big spenders. Two years later, Amazon and Flipkart also started spending big money. We then saw the likes of Zomato, Swiggy and, now, OTTs become the big spenders. Until last year, entertainment was topping the charts for us. This year, it’s retail, BFSI and FMCG.”
On the challenges of running a digital agency, Gupta says, “There’s no dearth of talent in the country. We have a great bunch here. The challenge is to retain and sustain our guys. Finding and retaining the right talent is key. Since we’re in the service sector, we have to hire and train them in a way that is a step ahead of the industry.”
According to statistics, there are 1,000-plus digital agencies operating in the country and the list continues to grow. Even traditional creative agencies are upscaling to cater to the digital needs of their clients. Hence, the competition is intense.
Asked how they feel about the market, the co-founders say that digital marketing has always been a competitive space.
“For us, the journey of learning is constant, because the medium itself is evolving. We want to work with passionate people, because loving what you do is the only way forward. Having more agencies in the business has only helped us and our relationship with our clients, because we always have to be on our toes and learn constantly. It’s a great place to be in,” says Gupta.
“When brands are looking to select a digital agency, they have a broader mindset. For example, if you want to buy a pair of running shoes, you will go for Nike or Puma. You won’t buy it from, say, a Zara or H&M store. We’re all at a level playing field.”
2023 and the road ahead
While the spending on digital marketing continues to increase, there was a slowdown in January 2023 in certain international markets due to the global economic situation. However, quite a bit of recovery has happened on the back of Indian clients, who have scaled their spending, say the duo.
“We did see a slowdown around January, because of the anticipation of what was happening in the global markets. We work with clients across the globe and have seen certain markets become very cautious with their spends. March onwards, we started onboarding new clients and projects. We want to execute projects that are a mix of marketing and tech. The upcoming quarter will be a busy one for us,” says Gupta.
The agency, in its 10th year, has added a new vertical – ‘SoCheers Spark’ to its business. It will work with brands and NGOs that share the vision of making a difference in the society. SoCheers Spark will focus on generating purposeful, impactful and influential campaigns that shed light on unspoken causes.