Vanshika Mehta, claims to ‘not be a LinkedIn expert’ but she has garnered widespread recognition on LinkedIn by helping hundreds of people grow through their content. In her early days, she conceptualized, managed, and ran two-yearly charity concert-style events titled; 'Cambridge For Charity' in 2009 and 2010. Also, attended the Global Young Leaders Conference 2010, held annually in the USA, where she was amongst 500+ of the brightest minds globally.
Today, she is a Soloprenuer serving as a branding & storytelling consultant to Startups and SMB's. She has worked within companies in eCommerce, Fintech, and Design using her skills to build their brand and strengthen communications. Vanshika talks to Quirky Writers Media about her journey and how she manages to stay afloat in troubled times
1. Tell us about how you started your journey as a Branding & Storytelling Consultant
It is a very natural journey! I started off my career in marketing - putting my hands in many different segments, from community management to events to email marketing - I’ve done it all. I only started reading about branding and storytelling sometime in 2018 and never left. It might’ve come up on Google or somewhere and I continued to read. The more I read, the more intrigued I got and it sucked me in! I still randomly do Google searches on branding + for + …. And I never get bored reading
It’s only in mid-2019 when I decided to make a hard career pivot into branding and storytelling, did the real journey begin. It was a chance for me to prove my worth from all the knowledge I had gained, and the information I read about. I got my first brand and comms role at a fintech and it was fun! I got to speak to so many people and think much more creatively than just a one-and-done-activation.
Now, in mid-2020, I would like to thank my stars for making me hard pivot Branding and storytelling is the truest calling I’ve had and I couldn’t be happier. I do it day in and day out, and there’s never a day where I’m bored
2. Branding & Storytelling Consultant is still a very new niche, tell me what it consists of and how are you helping startups with the same
Every human has ideas, every human can write, but the struggle comes when writing in a manner that is more than just words on a screen. Storytelling is also not a new concept, it’s been there for years and decades. Recently, it’s gained popularity and has become a much-loved buzzword. The reason behind that was that competition rose, people realized they can’t and shouldn’t compete on price or features. The paradigm shifted to consumer-first. That’s when the 3 key aspects of, storytelling started coming into play - empathy, deep understanding of the audience, and insight into grammar and its quirks.
I help high-growth startups convert their many ideas into stories. Those come out on website copy, PR releases, thought leadership articles, and more. My main role is of a messenger - companies tell me what they want to say, and I put my storytelling hat on and convert it into stories that appeal. It’s quite tough I can’t lie and needs me to be extra creative. The famous ‘sell me a pen’ scenario is the exact description of how complicated storytelling really is. Every single person will answer that question differently.
Branding is where storytelling plays out beautifully. It is after all a never-ending activity that every company takes up to ensure they stand out and stand apart from their competition. It’s a very in-depth topic and requires a mix of psychology + behavior + use of language.
When people say they are a ‘branding expert’, a part of me laughs. Sure, you can be an expert in one field or domain. That being said, that too keeps changing and branding is not in the books - it’s in the brains.
3. Being a writer, storyteller, consultant, and entrepreneur, you’ve worn many hats over the years? What are some of the prominent lessons you’ve learned along the way?
Don’t underestimate yourself. That has been the biggest learning because every so often, we box ourselves up into what we ‘think we can do’ and we don’t push hard enough to leave that box. Therefore, it is important to keep breaking that barrier and boundary - not just for yourself, but for your mind.
The more you push your mind to do what you thought you couldn’t, the more you’ll be ready to take risks and become a better person every day.
Also, you’ll be impressed at the skies you can touch if you stop limiting yourself. I didn’t know I would work in domains like HeathTech, EdTech, and Conversational Tech when I started out. I was ready to take the risk, and it’s been paying off.
4. As a skilled communications expert and writer, what tips would you like to share with aspirational writers?
Firstly, write every single day. Even if it is 100 words or 5000 words. You must write every day to become better at it. There is no shortcut to becoming a better writer.
Secondly, Be open to feedback. Sometimes we get so caught up in ‘our writing is the best’ that we don’t really care to ask for feedback or be even open to receiving it. Being open to feedback helps you improve your writing and structure over time. Ask as many people as you can for feedback, listen to what they’re saying, and over time, you will become a better writer.
5. Looking back at the long journey you’ve had from taking on challenges that pushed your out of your comfort zone, acing your TOEFL examination, and picking up skills along the way, is there anything you would’ve liked to have done differently?
I should’ve created a website and started blogging earlier. I was always a writer, I got caught up in life and didn’t write as much as I should’ve. Everyone should blog and find a space for themselves on the web. If I had started writing even about marketing while I was in college, I would’ve had many many more opportunities and doors open up for me today.
6. What is the new normal for you? Has the pandemic affected the way you work and how?
Oh, this new normal… not sure how much I like it. It did initially turn my business and life upside down, now I’ve gotten used to it. I guess what happened initially is a lot of people pulled back from anything marketing and pulled back on budgets, so it was rough. Now, it’s much better. People are more empathetic and are careful about what kinds of marketing they are doing and how.
What COVID also taught us is that we need to curb useless spending - ahem ahem, sometimes is in paid advertising. Paid advertising is a vicious circle and one that lots get wrong. You need to build and bulk up your organic, then use paid. Not the other way. I hope to see lesser ads and a more organic push to audience-building from brands now.
How do you keep yourself motivated in the midst of such cumbersome times?
Just keep swimming - Dory (Finding Nemo)
7. Apart from the industries that you have worked with so far, what is one industry that interests you but haven’t been able to work with?
HRTech! Such a cool domain. It’s literally software for people, created by people. I’m not talking about payroll and attendance kinds - I’m talking about the HRTech that cares about people and their work-life. I can only imagine how HRTech, used for the right use cases and target audience, will change the way tech and humans work.
8. What do you think are essential components of a well-written piece?
Thought and clarity. If your thoughts are unclear, it would be difficult to convince a user as to why they should read or even engage for that matter.
Next is flow, if your article looks choppy, chances are you’ll have disengaged users. For example, every last line of the paragraph needs to sink into the next.
Once it sinks in, you continue so your reader reads it in a fashion where their thoughts and attention are glued.
(Need an example? Check above.)
The Marketing Talk Rapid Fire
One Fun Fact about you
I understand Arabic, French, Hindi, and a little bit of Spanish. I was born and brought up in Dubai (Arabic), in my school the second language was mandatory (French), at home we spoke Hindi and in Boston (where I studied) my best friend was Dominican.
One novel/book/blog you would recommend
Seth Godin / Rand Fishkin / Neil Patel
One travel destination you are currently missing
Describe your job in less than 3 words