Marketing Expert Interview Series: Hidden Ingredient in Marketing Partnerships with Dipinjeet Sehdev

For this part of Sideqik’s Expert Interview Series, I sat down with Dipinjeet Sehdev, head of Internet Marketing & Brand Relations at KEF America. Dipin and I spoke a few weeks ago and not only did he renew my passion for awesome sounding music but his expertise running marketing partnerships and recent success with some awesome partners prompted me to ask if I could share some of his insights and best practices with you.

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Kurt: Here at Sideqik we are familiar with your company, but for those who are not, tell us about your company and what amazing products you guys are creating.

Kurt: Here at Sideqik we are familiar with your company, but for those who are not, tell us about your company and what amazing products you guys are creating. 

Dipin: KEF is speaker manufacturer. We have been building and pioneering speaker technology since 1961. Our founder, Raymond Cooke (an ex-BBC engineer), had one simple idea; create the best loudspeaker possible with modern materials and technologies. That idea is still with the company today and we are on the forefront, creating revolutionizing speakers, and coming up with concepts like the KEF Blade. We released the “KEF 50 Years of Innovation in Sound – Limited Edition Book” that goes through our history and technological advancements. You’ll read about things KEF developed decades ago that other speaker manufacturers try to use today.

Kurt: KEF runs marketing partnerships all the time, and to me, they really highlight the music experience. What are the benefits to you as a marketer for organizing these marketing partnerships?

Dipin: Absolutely! Working with partners helps us tell the KEF story from different perspectives. To tell the music story we have launched the KEF Connects program that highlights different musicians and experts in their respective fields. Then on the opposite end, we partner with companies like Geekbeat.tv so we can tell the technology story of KEF’s innovations. To switch gears again, by partnering with design magazine; KEF can tell the story of how much technological effort goes in the shape of the speakers for better performance, without having to compromise on style and looks. By having these partnerships it puts the KEF story into context so that different audiences can appreciate all aspects of what KEF does, and we do it very well.

Kurt: “Content marketing” is the buzzword of the day. And it’s a great strategy but not every company or marketer has the team or resources to really do this well. From following KEF, it seems like that is something you’ve been able to help many of your strategic partners with. How have you been able to include some of your partners in KEF’s content and what has the response from consumers been?

Dipin: In the audio industry KEF has taken the stance of education. Educating consumers about all aspects of the music and recording industry. To showcase this we came up with the Masters of Sound event. What we did was bring in a legacy producer, Ken Scott (an Abby Road engineer who worked on albums like The Beatles’ White Album), an up-and-coming band, Staying for the Weekend, and a world famous studio, MSR Studio. We invited all members of the media and press, from Rolling Stone to fashion experts to tech blogs, like Gear Patrol, to attend a night with KEF in MSR Studio. We created a platform for a legacy producer to discuss his thoughts on how the audio engineering aspect of recordings has changed over his life time. Derik Lee (2014 Grammy Winner) of MSR Studio discussed his current challenges in the quality music space and the band discussed how, as artist, they want their music, and the passion they put into their music, to reach as many people as they can without compromise. What the press and media walked away with was a better and deeper understanding of why KEF cares so much about making sure music reproduction in speakers is perfect. You can read about the event on our blog, KEFDirectBlog.com and see the video on Youtube.

Kurt: Can you share with us the advantages of sharing your audience with your partners? What do you get in return and how does this benefit KEF?

Dipin: The advantage is creating the brand lifestyle. Our partners end up using our products in their everyday life and it becomes their point of reference in audio. By sharing our audience with our partners KEF can get a better understanding of how users of KEF products interact with other products in their daily lives. As different products enhance different aspects of peoples’ lives (i.e. getting a better car, new clothes or new phone) KEF Speakers enhance the audio part. By working with different marketing partners we can make sure the enhancements are easy as possible for consumers to understand and see in their daily lives.

Kurt: As we mentioned earlier, you focus a lot on strategic partnerships, if you were able to give a bit of advice to another head of marketing, what would you say are the top three things to look for in a partner before entering a marketing partnership?

Dipin: The first bit of advice is; get out of your comfort zone. It is easy to only think about your Brand and marketing partnerships in your industry, but look outside your industry to see how your brand or product can enhance another industry. My personal example is, “I love listening to music in the evening during the week, but an album can sound much better with a Glenlivet 18 in my hand.”

The Second bit of advice is think long term. Consistency pays off over the long haul. Trends sprout up and die quickly. Hopping on trends can easily lead to your brand dying along with the trend and becoming an unnecessary causality. Legacy branding is what will keep your message strong and consistent as trends come and go.

The last bit of advice is broken up into 2 parts. The first is every partnership strategy needs to have a ROI. In the end, all partnerships need to lead to sales. Which leads me to my second point of; Don’t underestimate the power of ‘No.’ It can be hard to say ‘No’ to opportunities, especially if they are cheap or cost nothing, but being able to say ‘No’ will protect the brand and more importantly the consumer perspective of the brand.

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What amazed me about talking with Dipin is KEF’s willingness to experiment with new marketing partners and desire to keep trying things until they find the right mix. They’ve found a great mix of taking the lead in cross-promotions and knowing how to include marketing partners in the creation of much of their content. If you ever get the chance to see one of their KEF Blades in person, it will forever change how you think about those earbuds that came with your iPhone.

What topics and questions do you want to hear in our next interview series? Let me know below or on twitter at @KurtUhlir . Be sure to follow Dipin at @Datsm1015 too.

Note: This article was originally published by Sideqik on Sideqik.com after I wrote it. Need a real influencer marketing program, check out their data-driven platform.

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