The absolute dependency on performance marketing is reducing, says Harikrishnan Pillai of TSBI

In an interaction with, Harikrishnan Pillai, CEO and Co-founder, TheSmallBigIdea and Manish Solanki, COO, and Co-founder of TheSmallBigIdea talk about the agency completing its 9-year journey and plans for the future

Nisha Qureshi
New Update
The absolute dependency on performance marketing is reducing, says Harikrishnan Pillai of TSBI

(Left) Harikrishnan Pillai, Manish Solanki (Right)

Digital marketing and content agency TheSmallBigIdea (TSBI) has recently turned nine, and through this journey, it has carved a niche for itself with its work. 

The agency has been involved in the marketing of some well-known movies like - Thappad, Mimi, Badhaai Ho, etc. Currently, they are also involved in the promotions for Ranbir Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor starrer ‘Tu Jhoothi, Main Makkar’.

Apart from this, the agency also has an influencer marketing and content arm. 

Harikrishnan Pillai, CEO and Co-founder of TheSmallBigIdea and Manish Solanki, COO, and Co-founder of TheSmallBigIdea said that they had started the firm nine years back because they felt digital was the future – which was a common sentiment among all digital marketing entrepreneurs back then. 

“So, there was nothing new behind our reason to start this. However, where we are different now is that we have definitely carved a niche for ourselves. Especially in a few categories like entertainment, tourism and e-commerce. We are the preferred agency and feel that we are considered to be one of the top independent agencies in the country,” Pillai said. 

“Most importantly, something that we consider very close to our hearts is that we are considered to be an employer of choice. We were very clear that as an agency, and because it's a people-driven business, we wanted people who work with us to feel a sense of connection and belonging,” he added. 

Focus for 2023 

According to Solanki, they want to focus on their strengths this year and retain all their clients. He also shared that when it comes to global expansion plans, they want to be present in those markets where they have a significant piece of the pie.

“Fortifying our strength is where we want to focus and sustain our clients. It’s easy to get clients but difficult to sustain them. Digital transformation is something we are focusing on," he said.

 "We have a global presence and the aim is to continue that presence. However, we don’t just want to be present in those markets but also have a sustainable business in these markets,” added Solanki. 

According to Pillai, they want to make content that resonates at a certain level with audiences.

 “We don’t just want to make content but also want it to make a direct difference for our clients. We are a growing agency and have been seeing consistent growth for the past three years, and that’s what we expect to continue,” he said.

Pillai further explained that what makes an agency different today is how well they use its resources and strengths. “Today, we have all the strengths that the other agencies have but how we use them to drive efficiency matters. We were the first ones to start an indigenous wing called TSBI Bharat which had cultural experts from different parts of the country helping brands crack those markets. Everyone knows cultural nuances are important but to say that we have TSBI Bharat where we will hire people specifically not as translators but as cultural experts in my opinion is disruptive,” he explained.  

Evolution of content 

Content dynamics today have evolved because of shorter attention spans today, said Pillai, and added that as a result of this, the way brands are spending is also changing. 

He said earlier brands had limited options so they would stick to a budget, but today anyone with a phone camera and the internet is a content creator and because of that, the long-format journey has shifted to a short-format journey. “So as an advertiser, I would not want to miss anything.” 

“Earlier people used to use all their budgets to make one film, today you need to curate content every day in different formats. Today even on digital you have ten different formats like audio, audio-visual, short-form, long-format etc. Content format and platforms both have increased,” he said. 

He further stated that the hold on performance marketing is slowly reducing because regulations are coming in and people are getting conscious about their data. “Even marketers are focusing more on content. I’m not saying that performance marketing is out of the window but the absolute dependency on performance marketing is reducing,” he added. 

How is AI impacting content creation 

Last year, everyone was talking about Metaverse and NFTs and come 2023, the chatter is about ChatGPT. According to Pillai, it’s not just a gimmick and AI will actually increase efficiency. 

Talking about how the agency is looking at using AI for themselves, Pillai said, “We are looking at technology enabling efficiency and reducing time and dependency on people so we can focus more on creativity. We are also focusing on performance marketing to give us more data and analytics so that we can make informed decisions.”

“We have our in-house analytical tool called ACE (Advanced Content Evaluation) which looks at data on social media platforms and gives advice. It will tell you if SRK’s smile works better than an angry Salman Khan,” he elaborated. 

Lastly, Solanki said that over years they have worked with various kinds of clients including traditional brands. He said they want to focus on work that will actually make a difference and not just noise. 

“So, there is award-winning work and then there is real work. Sometimes, some award-winning work truly is effective. However, it's all about how you deliver consistently and how you get in real impact instead of just noise-impact,” concluded Pillai.

digital marketing agency digital marketing TSBI movie Harikrishnan Pillai Ranbir Kapoor TheSmallBigIdea content creators Performance Marketing Shraddha Kapoor