What would you say if I told you that one of the most celebrated faces of Indian cuisine is the one from whom you can pick up content marketing lessons?
Food. Content. Marketing – mix the three ingredients in the right proportion to get a perfect marketing lesson.
Chef Sanjeev Kapoor doesn’t need an introduction. He was the first male face taking center stage in a woman’s domain in India with his TV show Zee Khana Khazana. I still remember the show being one of the eagerly awaited shows of its time. The show has had an amazing 17-year run and like most things associated with Sanjeev Kapoor, morphed and adapted to the audience’s liking without altering its core value proposition.
With over 150 books and DVDs, several awards, restaurants and his own TV channel – Food Food, this chef extraordinaire’s fan following from India and around the world easily reaches millions.
Behind his recipes and lessons on cooking lies the unique path he has followed that has made him a formidable force not only in India but around the world. Here’s what we can learn from him about marketing yourself and your brand.
Allow your content to be accessible
A leader is only as good as his number of followers. And our dear chef has always put his followers first over everything else. His shows, earlier restricted only to Sundays, allowed him to share only a couple of his expert recipes. As a leader, he wanted to do better for his fans and followers. By creating over 150 cookbooks and DVDs back in the days, he allowed his content to be shared via more than one medium, reaching out in the best ways possible. With the increasing popularity of the internet, not only are his recipes available online but so are his videos. He was an early adopter for presenting his TV show videos online which has also given an important dimension to disseminating his content.
The chef now disseminates his content via his personal TV channel ‘Food Food’, which is growing to be one of the leading food channels in India. Another great example of adaptability that we can learn from Sanjeev Kapoor app available for both Android and iOS.
One other thing that deserves a definite mention from a content marketing perspective is making recipes available in Hindi, the local Indian language. This move ensures that not only do the recipes reach a wider core audience but also reaches them in the language they understand.
It’s not just the deliciousness of the recipe. The sheer variety of it is mind boggling. Being a chef for the past two decades or so comes with a treasure trove of marketable content. The lesson we learn here is that while our content bank can’t be built overnight, neither are brands. It takes constant work over decades to build a bankable brand – and the work for it starts today and is to be done every day. Here are some numbers that do the talking-
17 years, 120 countries, 500 million viewers for Zee Khana Khazana making it the longest running TV show in Asia!
10 million copies of cook books sold
8 Lakh+ Youtube channel subscribers
25 million hits a month on www.sanjeevkapoor.com
10000+ recipes on the website
12+ restaurants owned
This is one case where there is a free flow of available content making it difficult to pick and choose. And yet, the website has won awards for its user-friendliness which makes it a great example of not just having content but knowing how to market it.
As marketers, we mentioned in our previous blog on how a website having 400+ blogs was more likely to direct visits than one that didn’t. This number puts things in perspective on how Sanjeev Kapoor, has, over the years, ensured that that content he creates via different channels is assimilated well on his website as a central source to attract traffic.
And here goes the SEO
The other big part of content marketing comes from the power of its organic traffic. Being one of the most popular chefs in India, it is a fairly common practice for people to search for random recipes appending the chef’s name to the keyword string. It also helps that a ton of recipes has been his own creation. Long tail key strings like ‘Sham Savera recipe Sanjeev Kapoor’ are so common that his name appears in Google’s auto-suggest whenever you look for a recipe!
But the SEO goes a step further to ensure that not only does the website rank when people search by brand name but it also ranks well when searched for recipes. Try it yourself. Google for ‘chicken biryani recipe’ or ‘palak paneer recipe’ and you’ll invariably find the website in the first page results. The same can be said for thousands of Indian recipes. The website is even optimized for “No Onion No Garlic” – a popular search term with a large population of vegetarians.
Building upon partnerships
Once you have the upper hand in creating quality and quantity content, it is time to offer your users a little more than before. Sanjeev Kapoor endorses a select set of products ranging from modular kitchens to artificial sweeteners. Each of these products hitches a piggyback ride on the chef’s marketable qualities and ability to reach millions and themselves add to the expanding numbers.
Exploring synergies and creating new avenues to market your brand is a great way to expand your story line and take your brand to the next level. Sleek, in this case, reaches 10 Lakh Indian homes annually.
Expand your offering
From restaurant franchisees to the Wonderchef line of products, Sanjeev Kapoor has stepped out of the television in your living room and entered your kitchen to bring out the master chef in you. And he is doing this while constantly innovating his core offering of Indian cuisine. You see his distinct touch in dishes like Blue Lobster Biryani, the tangy Mango Murgh Makhani or the stone-flamed Lamb Chops with Haleem, all of which are designed for an international audience but without losing their Indian base.
As a content marketer, it is important for us to keep innovating our offering. After all, how much can you market and remarket the same thing again and again? This may often mean stepping out of our comfort zone and exploring a new path but it’s a gamble that usually tends to pay off.
An interesting way to source ideas for a new content offering can, in fact, be hidden within your own website. Explore Google analytics to see which links people have used popularly over a period of time to exit your site. The outbound link data is a great way to know why someone is exiting your site, giving you an opportunity to retain them by expanding your own offering.
Work on your PR
Being a celebrity chef comes with its perks on having stories written about you without being asked. Everything you say (or sometimes don’t say) can construe news. But like all brands, certain stories need to be expertly crafted. A ton of the online PR happens from other websites referencing their recipe links to Sanjeev Kapoor’s website. Good old backlinks are still alive and kicking in SEO land. The more quality original and authoritative content you create, the better the chances of third party websites linking to you. In this case, you, without fail, also create content they innately love.
Sanjeev Kapoor has traveled the world taking a little bit of India where he goes and bringing back a little bit from his world explorations in his cooking. But he hasn’t missed an opportunity back home to be a part of news either.
He has backed a local food delivery startup called Zupermeal (which eventually closed down), made his presence felt in the local Kala Ghoda Arts Festival and of course, traveled with the Prime Minister to Abu Dhabi to cook his favourite vegetarian dishes. Needless to say, if there is a good story about Indian food, you’ll see him mentioned.
Be social. Let people in
One look at the chef’s twitter handle and you’ll know he takes time out to re-tweet fan tweets as well share a bit of his personal life with the world. He also has a different handle exclusively to share his recipes called @SKRecipes and uses the hashtag like #IndianRecipes #butterchicken and #paneer to expand its reach. He has successfully connected with his fans on twitter via twitter chats. He has taken the time out to understand fan problems and presented them with solutions. For example, his mobile app has features like “In Your Fridge” where you can enter the ingredients in your fridge and the app suggests what you can cook! Its other features like ‘Shopping List’ and Restaurant Locator also solve interesting problem areas. Putting yourself in your user’s shoes and solving their problems efficiently can make a marketer extraordinaire – a lesson well shared by Sanjeev Kapoor.