Sanjeev Kotnala: Consultants have solutions before you have a problem

19 Aug,2020

By Sanjeev Kotnala


A consultant has limited scope and very niche knowledge. But, PowerPoint ki-Kasam, a good consultant, can force-fit his pet solution and strategies to any solutions. Presenting the third and concluding part of the series



Have you ever watched boiling milk? Kaushik, the owner of ‘Super Track One’ consultancy, asked.

Not getting any answer, he continued. ‘It takes time, nothing seems to happen for a long time and then saala it just rises. It rises fast, and unless you manage to control the fire, it spills over. Simple. But even when it overflows and you are happy that at least milk boiled. How will you react, if someone tells you the milk has cuddled? That’s how I am feeling right now. I have invested in ages working on the brand. I Kept motivating them. Shown them new dreams: distribution and all. And now when I made them sign the celebrity power couple, shoot a film and take the brand on TV. I am here not drinking to celebrate, but f*%&ing drink to forget. I am from Bihar. I studied management and created great campaigns. So what If today, I live in Faridabad and service client’s in Noida, I Kaushik knows how to make Paneer our of cuddled milk. Ask Vermajee.

I looked at Kaushik, he did not seem to be the same person I had spoken a few days back. Then he was when he was on top of his world, the TVC was finally going to release.



Yesterday, I received a call from my friend and a great consultant; Vermajee from Faridabad. He told me, ‘Kaushik will f*&%ing commit suicide. Kotnala, please speak to him. Saala Kaushik is drinking too much, and I think he is depressed. Yeh. Mumbai advertising-waalo ne uski le li hai Bhai. I will be with him in the evening. F&*% Corona, it’s our friend who needs us right now’.

I knew Kaushik was strong. But then there is no point taking a chance with such things. What pressure could Kaushik be feeling?

Kaushik always cribbed about nepotism in family-owned businesses and a coterie of consultants operating in Mumbai advertising-marketing consultancy circles. So, he shifted to Delhi and then to Faridabad. His expertise was owner-driven business.

In the evening, I took Kaushik from Faridabad and my favourite Consultant friend Vermajee from Ghaziabad on a zoom call. I was ready to give Kaushik close listening.



Kaushik had not finished. ‘Big consultants and advertising agencies are not willing to dirty their hands. They sit there in multi-storied building’s and wait and watch people like me work. I take the milk and simmer it long, long enough to boil. Then they land up like vultures to eat the Rabdi. Never mind, I know vultures don’t eat Rabdi’.

He continued pouring his heart out. ‘It takes time Bhai, it takes time. You educate the client. You must do it slowly so that the client never knows he is being educated. It’s an art. Make Babujee understand the need and the potential. Make the combined family see sense in the proposal, and then it is time to deliver. Oh, one has to make Bhabhi understand. Then there is the next generation sitting in the meeting with their ideas from some management school abroad or LinkedIn knowledge. You have to align them and make them see the picture’.



‘A brand does not start with a Cannes award-winning advertisement. Not from day one. Forget Cannes, brands cannot think of winning at the GoaFest or Delhi ad club. They have a different level of understanding and needs. Woh Kaun tha saala Passlow need-want hierarchy waala.( who the hell that was Passlow who talked of need-want hierarchy).

‘Maslow’, I corrected him.

‘Yes, Maslow. Then listen to kaushlow now, yeah it sounds nice. A consultant in an owner-driven organisation has to build trust and become a part of the family. Understand not only Passlove ( I did not correct him again) hierarchy but Kashlow hierarchy of the clients. And then be real professional. Don’t allow the wrong hierarchy to lead the right opportunity. You understand’.

‘I do’, I told Kaushik. There was no other option.

‘With time, you slowly make the family synchronise their vision, desire needs with the category and brand’s needs. I am a professional. I won’t do anything silly. Why should I topple established relationships? The client gets the creative they deserve. And I ensure it is the best within the constraints’.

I was impressed by his passion and energy into what he was speaking.



‘Even if the client blows all the money to sign the celebrity. The product has to be nice and must deliver functionally’.

‘Do you think we signed celebrity for the consumer? Ghanta’.

‘Bhabhi liked Aif and Babujee was fida on Reena. Couple deal. Eek lo, dushrey par 50% off. I said, sign even the son. Or ask the couple to have him at the press conference. Could not manage, small-time brand. It would have broken record on Instagram for sure’.

‘Celebrity couple film dealer conference and sales meet mai challegi. Since the announcement of Aif-Reena as the brand ambassador, the email box is full. Rakshit Bahi has to even change his mobile number. So many dealership enquiries. The salesforce is sold on targets, you know why? Because, if the situation improves – Reena will come for the sales meet and award the best performers. Saala aab Lagda Godha bhi thoroughbred jaisa bhagta hai’. ( now, even the lame horse is racing like a thoroughbred).

Abhi Dekh, Phate Doodh ka Paneer Banata hu. ( I will make cheese out of cuddled milk).

‘We have released the second film. People are talking. Suddenly they know the brand. Kamrey mai ujjala ho gaya Bhai’. (the darkness is over, there are bright possibilities).

I looked up as if I was getting the synopsis of Marketing Gyan.



‘Mai Kaushik Hai, Kya Bola Kaushik ( I am Kaushik), I will never allow Mumbai Grugram consultant to take a bite out of my client. Aur liko. Aur likho ( write, write). Bhabhijee kush hai. Bhabhijee Kush, She shook hand with Aif’.

‘Babujee and son are busy visualising record-breaking revenue possibilities. And I tell them, this twitter is what 2-3% of self-claimed influencers. Hardly any from our B2B community. Ghanta assar padta hai ( There will be no impact)’.

‘Facebook and Instagram I managed to manage likes. Bhabhijee’s friends have liked the film, and they want to meet Aif and Reena. I promised I will do that in the next shoot. The agency is writing the next script in some exotic location’.


Kaushik was the right talent for the market and the category. I was worried, sudden exposure will make the vultures strike. But then that is his business. And Vultures may not see viability in the business for some time. They want Lakhs as retainer-ship per month, Babujee will give Ghanta.




‘Ha bol Kaise call Kiya yaar’. Kaushik was back to being Kaushik, my friend.

‘Nothing. Just felt like. Was thinking how would you react and Vermajee was worried. He said you were drinking’.

‘Oh, that was a celebration’.


‘Yes, few next generations in the owner-driven business and agencies handling such accounts have contacted me. They want me as a retainer and advise them on how to make Bhabhijee and Babujee see the importance of advertising. I am already talking to Balwan, Saamir and my favourite Husmita Sen for the other brands’.

‘F*&^ing I am rocking. Think I will even write about it in linkedIn’.

‘Bola na Phate doodh se bhi Paneer nikaunga’.( I will make cheese out of cuddled milk)


Sanjeev Kotnala is a brand marketing consultant and educator. He writes for MxMIndia every Wednesday. His views here are personal.  You can reach him via Twitter at @S_kotnala


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