Akkado: Curious Solutionists Successfully Assembling a Holistic Marketing Picture

Abhishek Sharma,Chairman

Abhishek Sharma, Chairman

In an exclusive conversation with siliconindia, Abhishek Sharma, Chairman, Akkado, shares the inspiring story of Akkado.

Tell us about the inception story of your firm. What was the idea that motivated you to establish Akkado?
Jigsaw puzzles have always intrigued me. Seeing how each piece can come together to complete the entire picture, reminds me that every piece has a significance. If any piece is missing, it just distorts the entire picture. This is the very concept I applied at Akkado. Different verticals coming together to design the successful picture of Akkado as a complete integrated marketing agency.

The idea of innovation inspired me to evolve. The grit and will to overcome the obstacles with innovative ideas and adapting to the situation was the key to my inspiration. The idea that changed my life. The vision to find the innovative pieces to complete the picture of dream inspired me to start my own integrated marketing agency that catered to various aspects of the industry, thus creating an impact.

How do you evaluate the current landscape of Marketing Industry in India? What are the present market barriers and opportunities in this field?
The Marketing Industry is ever so booming. In order to out-think tomorrow, you need to have the right kind of armoury. At Akkado, we have the ammunition that is the perfect blend of curious minds, budding aspirants and experienced. The experience helps us to understand different scenarios of different verticals. With their in-depth knowledge and a wide range of contacts, it helps us in deciphering the marketing personality and stay up-to-date. Their deep knowledge of the marketing scenario and strong personal relations with clients helps us to be future ready.

Mixing in the blend of experience are the live wires of today’s generation. Their new age thinking and the urge to follow all trends give us a new perspective on things. The best part is their research & development skills. They have a knack of being technologically advanced and are updated on the current scenario.

With my many years of experience, I have come to the conclusion that you need to adapt & innovate in order to overcome the obstacles. To excel in loyalty programs, first you need to get into the skin of the consumers, understand their emotions and think from their perspective. Defining the target group, measuring loyalty through all sales channel, and rewarding loyalty sufficiently are some of the major obstacles lingering. To understand the event and activation segment, budgets, venues, and technologies have always been the issues that we as an agency need to overcome in order to organize an impactful event. If we talk about Merchandising, quantity, quality, and logistics are few aspects that create a barrier for the agency. But all these obstacles are opportunities for us. We are an integrated marketing solution provider. As an agency, we take-up all the challenges and find solutions to overcome them. It is rightly said that every barrier is an opportunity for us and every opportunity leads to success.

Tell us about the major challenges that Akkado faced during the early years of inception. Also, how did you overcome those challenges to evolve as a recognized name in this segment?
With the ever-growing industry, being stagnant & monotonous is not a solution. You need to be proactive & persistent in order to stay ahead in the race. Constant evolution and rapid transformation are the essentials to stay in par with the changing scenario. Akkado as an agency took time to emerge. Just like water takes time to freeze, Akkado gradually emerged as one of the best-integrated marketing solution provider in India.

Bringing best talent on board was a step towards overcoming the obstacles. The idea was to have a youthful exuberance along with the experienced mindset to create the perfect blend to understand the market well. There is a constant evolution happening around the world to adapt and innovate in order to stay ahead of the race. This just gave me an idea to have an in-house team of experts that would help in creating magical experiences in events, loyalty, technology and merchandising.

When all these aspects are present in-house, then all you need to do is saddle-up your steed and work towards the goal with utmost grit and determination. Challenges can be eliminated and opportunities will present itself.

What are the various pain points that clients come up to you with? Tell us about the initial steps taken by Akkado to mitigate these challenges?
As an integrated marketing agency, we are the best solution providers to our clients. We have created that strong bond between us and the client that all their issues are taken personally and dealt with. Since we have worked with many clients and in different fields, I feel that these are the queries that are common across all the platforms.

Budgets are always the bone of contention. Clients come to us with an ideology of minimum budget and maximum experience. In order to achieve that, we need to be well versed in the market. From creating a new loyalty program to curating the entire event to managing the logistics to developing technology, we need the right people for the right kind of job. Collaborations are effective
when you have good relations in the market.

Technology has become the epicenter of any investment by the client, whether it is loyalty, activations, events, or merchandising. But using technology comes with complications. With an in-house tech team, it gives us leverage from the others, as their expertise helps us in executing technology-driven activities seamlessly.

Some minor concerns too need to be catered with utmost focus, as these small things can snowball into catastrophe. For instance, in Loyalty programs, identifying the right TG is a major concern, and how we can engage & interact with them time and again in order to keep their interest. In events & activations, finding the right venueis a major concern. For merchandising quantity & quality is always the major factor, as the deadlines given are more often constrained.

"We have created that strong bond between us and the client that all their issues are taken personally and dealt with"

What are the major services offered by Akkado? How are these services helping in meeting the inception ideology of the firm?
Akkado with a vision in mind and mission in hand is diligent to move forward and create everlasting experiences. The ideology has sowed the seed of success that will bloom into a tree of experiences. Our vision is to create a platform for all passionate individuals to come together and build a globally recognized brand for meeting aspirations, while our mission is to be a 360-degree marketing organization. To achieve this, we use various tools.

Loyalty & CRM: We create everlasting strategies & CRM programs with end-to-end service delivery. We use data to gain unique insights into customer behavior, which results in compelling loyalty propositions and effective engagement programs.

Events, Activations & Exhibitions: We create inspiring, creative and experiential events for all our clients. From customer events to internal communications to product launches, our experience within the industry has helped us to create memorable brand experiences that your audience will truly remember.

Merchandising & Gifts: Adding an element of resilient tangibility to consumer relationships, Merchandising is the arm that helps us render white glove services with the designing, branding and procuring of merchandise that helps clients establish a powerful association with their consumers, employees and others.

MICE: Orchid’s travel partner ‘Travel Clinic’ expertise in planning the logistics, the hospitality of the guests and creating the entire itinerary of the event from ticketing, to their stay to travel to their entertainment. With an in-house managed app, we are able to provide our travelers with a seamlessly convenient experience of traveling abroad.

Audio Visual & Creative Solution: Enhancing the consumer-brand relationship and experience, we at Akkado also offer our clients with audio video, creative and media related solutions.

Technology Solutions: Our in-house team of tech experts help us to leverage our ideas to the clients with good technical support, henceforth convincing us and the client to go forward with the desired technology, whether it is app development for loyalty or tech-driven idea at an event or activation.

Tell us about the latest technologies you use in the process? Also, how do you ensure the quality of services through technologies?
Technological advancements are taking place every second. Clients are adamant on using the technologies that give a personalized touch and connect their brands with the targeted audience. Hence, we update ourselves about the technologies being used globally.

For loyalty programs, App Development has laid the perfect platform for the brands to build upon and offer a truly personalized touch. Our in-house technology team has created mobile applications and interactive websites for Honda Joy Club and Oreedoo respectively. We have managed a database of 200,000+ applicants on other applications and associated with many sponsors for our in-house property Orpay. For Events & Activations, technology is the most important aspect that helps in creating personalized experiences. We have used Projection Mapping at various events that have brought alive the brand essence in a visually spectacular way.

The use of Live Streaming has taken the experience onto everyone’s devices. Transforming reality to virtuality, Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality have changed the dimension of the experiences. Using RFID technology to welcome the consumers and connecting social media creates the perfect hype. With our strong relations with vendors and collaborations with tech companies, we ensure the usability and durability of the technology.

In this cut-throat market competition, what makes Akkado different from other players in the industry? What would you consider as the USP of the firm?
For me, what makes us stand apart is our flexibility to adapt to different situates perfectly. Camouflaging with clients’ mindset also helps us in resonating with the ideology and syncing with their perspective perfectly.

Our strong relations with vendors and collaborations with tech companies have helped us in delivering the desired output expected by the client, whether it is events, loyalty or merchandising.

A proactive, prudent and persistent team helps in staying ahead of the curve. The youthful exuberance
along with the experienced mindset creates the perfect blend in understanding the market well. It also helps in devising strategizing and overcoming challenges in the future.

With the needs and expectations increasing from the client side and their plan to go full throttle in the market, we also need to up our game. With social media booming and videos creating a huge impact, we started our own Audio Visual segment that caters to creating high impact (real & animated) videos for the clients. We have an experienced loyalty team that comes-up with proactive ideas for the existing clients and new clients keeping in mind the new market trends. With an in-house tech team, we are at an advantage to create technical experiences seamlessly. An entire concept & strategy with 10 years of experience between them is setup that does a complete R&D about the brand and creates a strategy incorporating all the new aspects. When all these aspects are present in-house, that is the USP we at Akkado possess.

In your opinion, what are the major factors that have contributed to Akkado’s successful journey in this domain?
Our success makes us saddle-up our steed and prepares us for the future to make the experience bigger and better. We have worked hard and now it’s time to celebrate harder. Recognition towards the people who have made us successful motivates them to give their all. A motivated employee creates a successful agency and it’s the agency’s duty to make a successful employee. Akkado as an organization works on some basic strategies and tactics that have contributed majorly to our successful journey, which include teamwork, innovation, ethical work environment, and flexibility.

Please throw some light on Akkado’s organizational culture and employee program?
I have always believed in investing in my employees. It motivates them to bring-out their true potential. At Akkado, everyone from all divisions &levels is approachable and they interact with employees on daily basis. This creates a positive perception in the employee’s head and they become relaxed and more focused. Happy employees are more productive, better leaders, more creative and are better team players.

To keep them happy, we have sudden bursts of entertainment as well that takes their mind off from work, refreshes and relaxes them entirely. Fun driven team building activities are on them. Everybody participates in fun activities. It becomes a perfect platform for the new joiners to break the ice and strengthen the bond between the existing ones.

We do not shy away from celebrating festivals with a big bang. Hypnotica is an Akkado IP that engages all the employees every Diwali in fun driven activities followed by unlimited dancing. We feel the best part about Akkado is that we as a family celebrate small accomplishments as well with the same zest and zeal. Every year we take our employees for an annual offsite to an exotic location (national & international). The idea is to celebrate our accomplishments full throttle and prepare ourselves for the future.

How has Akkado charted-out its map for future? What are the developments that we can expect from the firm in the years to come?
Over the years, we have ring-fenced our clients with all our verticals and have created an impactful indent on their minds. The expectations have risen, and in order to surpass theirs and our own expectations and milestones, we have to saddle-up.

The first thing on the agenda is to bring the great minds together and expand our team. We want to create great work opportunities for our employees so that they can grow personally and professionally.

The rule of this industry is that we cannot be monotonous. We have to keep innovating in order to surpass our client’s expectations, as well as the benchmark set by us internally. We need to deliver projects with newness and out-of-the-box ideology that syncs with the brand and client’s expectations and take it a level-up.

With a vision in mind, we have to retain our clients in order to grow. From proactive pitches to new concepts & strategies, we have to up our game in order to be game changers. If we can retain our old clients, that’s when we can forge towards getting new clients on board.

To achieve and accomplish all of the above, we need to keep our employees happy and motivated. We need to be diligent in order to work towards the betterment and well-being of the employees. We have a yearlong plan for them to grow professionally and retain their focus and evolve personally by bringing-in the tone of entertainment so that they feel relaxed.

If we accomplish all, we’ll sail through the year with new milestones achieved and new experiences created.

Key Management
Abhishek Sharma, Chairman
An event industry veteran with 25+ years of experience, Abhishek’s understanding of Brand, Marketing, and Media Communications made him a complete Marketing expert.

• Akkado’s projects were felicitated at BAM Awards 2018, where they won ‘GOLD’ for Conceptualization and Execution of Airtel Leadership Conclave
• Excellence in Event Management Service – NIZAMS, ICICI Lombard

• Platinum Member of EEMA
• ISO Certified

ICICI Lombard, Mercedes, BMW, Pepsi Co, Vodafone, IFFCO TOKIO General Insurance and Sleep well, to name a few