Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bridging blogs & advertisers.

Consumers used to be only on the receiving end, taking in whatever information advertisers wants to let out. But online media has opened a new path that allows consumers to be the source of information, to judge and decide what to say. We call this people, bloggers.


I stumbled upon http://blog2u.sg/ today, and out of interest, signed up as a member. However, I am rather skeptical about the system that goes in there. I would say there's both sides of the coin to this portal. What it does, is that it links bloggers and advertisers together. The advertiser will have to pay (in monetary of course) to put a banner ad, a sponsored post or a sponsored review on the blogger's site. It can also come in the form of an invitation to a product launch, event or link to partner's sites etc.

Somehow, I'm just thinking, is this the best and most appropriate method to execute social PR? The primary objective of reaching target audience through social PR is to bypass advertising. But isn't "banner ad" or a "sponsored post", simply just advertising end of the day? And "paying" someone to write something simply won't give you an honest posting. Hence, that defies the evolution of social media and its realiability in the long term.

PR is all about building relationships. The relationship should be transparent, honest and sincere. When identifying suitable bloggers to talk about a product, we should first be sure that these are trustworthy people who are not simply living off posted advertisements. And who are the people reading the blogs? Does the product simply want mass awareness? Or targeted awareness? We should remember that no one medium can reach out to everyone. This is especially evident on the internet, where freedom of choice rules the cyberworld. Hence, we should take into consideration power of multiplication. Is this target group we have chosen the best people to spread the word? How many tiers can it lead to? Which is more effective? Selling the technical specification of a product/event or selling the experience of a product/event?
I think http://blog2u.sg/ will be useful for many direct advertisers, who wish to save the dollars from a good digital PR agency. But I would still suggest, the internet has a long memory. Campaigns and good word can go a long way if the appropriate method is being explored by professionals. A hundred thousand dollars is money well-spent if objectives are met. But a dollar spent could be a dollar too much if it does not work at all.

Of course, I am not indicating that this site does not work. It probably does to a certain extend. Most of those bloggers link their posts to twitter and facebook and plurk etc. So there's still some form of extension there. However, do also remember it's probably the same people, the same links on all these different platforms.
Ask around your office, how many people (who are non-avid bloggers) uses twitter and plurk? Or even digsby? As far as I am concern, I only know of one other person who does apart from me.

Who's reading?

There'll always be a neverending debate on who's reading what on the internet. Tell a client to use twitter as a marketing tool and they will response with a bang on the table as they give their money to a newspaper instead. True, it is hard to determine the returns, the risks and you can't really control your demographics. But for goodness sake, I wonder who invented technology, it is capable of anything.

Found this blog from Guy Kawasaki's tweets. The Brand Builder, written by Olivier Blanchard. It's enjoyable to realise the wealth of knowledge one can find from these folks if you really take time to read them.

There's a new article on social media stats and demos for 2008. It's interesting to see who ranks the top 40 tweetcities in the world and at what a rate this tool is growing intensively. I can't find Singapore on the list though, for plenty of reasons. One, we have a population too small, two we don't exactly have a tweeting population. We are just too small for comfort.

Digital marketing is not likely to take off in Singapore or Hong Kong in a big way because people are sitting too close to each other. There are many modes of communications and traditional media still ranks the most popular way to reach out to target audience. Well, I have to admit even for me, I still read newspapers and watch the TV. Digital marketing takes up only 3% of the total media spending in 2007. Where about 1.6million people are online everyday on this island. The newspaper only circulates about 250,000. So that doesn't really reaches a population of 4 million, does it. (Please refer to digital media report in my earlier posts). However, due to managable distance from home to town, people usually stay out instead of staying in. Hence outdoor media is the one channel that has been growing increasing popular in the past few years. More creative means are being explored from billboards to installations. Government rules have laxed to allow more room for advertising on public property.

However, that also means trying to get attention becomes harder. Many a times, marketeers tend to be successful in executing the "eye-catching" element but may not necesarily be achieving the objective on the movement, whatever that may be. Of course, clients should be realistic about the targets and how will the marketing effort translate into it. No matter it's sales or awareness. As I am religiously repeating, pick the right channels to the right people.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hill & Knowlton and me

I am subscribed to Social Media Today although I admit I don't read it very religiously unless something interesting catches my eye. Well, something did today. The blogger of the week featured Mr. Niall Cook, who is Worldwide Director of Marketing Technology in Hill & Knowlton. I don't know Mr. Cook. But H&K caught my eye.

Sometime not too long ago, earlier this year, I was offered an interview opportunity with H&K. And although the result was negative, but this series of interviews were one of the most valuable lessons in my life. I had the pleasure of meeting the Managing Director of H&K China in Singapore. And I flew to both Beijing and Shanghai to meet with 13 business directors in all. I was also fortunate enough to be invited to an internal workshop on digital PR. The entire process opened a new perspective and worldview for me. It was quite an exciting and mind-blowing process. Although I've always knew PR is a niche by itself, but only then did I began to understand how in depth and what kind of expertise is required to be a successful PR person. It is all a very different ballgame from where I came from. And although the interviews lasted almost 3 months (it continued when I returned Singapore) but I must say it was a time and money well-spent. I couldn't explain how rewarding it was, but I sincerely appreciated the opportunity.

H&K is somewhat very different from some other PR companies I know. I have friends who work for renown PR firms in Singapore and although I don't know much about PR but the values they hold are very different. H&K has very strong integrity about their business and they strongly encourage their clients to anticipate and practice the same transparency. They also understands the importance of constant innovation and finding a new niche in PR with the everchanging technologies. And that the lines between advertising, marketing and PR are constantly getting blured and it no longer is about "traditional" or "digital" anymore. It is essential that each is integrated into one another to provide a complete solution for businesses. Every business director has a clear idea on the kind of team they want to groom and the vision of the company is very clear. Which is something I value alot because I find it impossible to contribute too much to a company I can't seem to see the vision. Getting lost is simple in a mundane office life. Vision, values and positive culture in a company are some of the things I consider the most important when seeking a potential employment.

Someday, I still look forward to be a part of H&K. I think there is a wealth of knowledge and new worldview for me to apprehend from there. It is an organisation I will want to work for.

And here's to share with everyone, the blog of Mr. Niall Cook.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More social marketing tips in the mid of recession?

This talk about marketing in recession seems to be going on forever since the credit crunch began in Europe. There are more and more marketeers discussing the topic and suggesting ways to keep business viable and marketing dollars make more sense in these hard times.

Perhaps sometimes, downturns are a good thing as it forces us to think harder, put in more effort and accept higher challenges. When times are good, all of us just turns into couch potatoes. So there is always both sides of the coin to every situation. Even when everything just seem bad.

Anyway, I'm here today to share Harry's latest whitepaper on the Positive Side of Recession with you. There is always a way out of every sticky situation. It isn't the first time in the history of mankind that we are dealt with such financial crisis. Hence, there will always be a solution to every problem. Whether or not you decide to venture in social media, or decide to stick with traditional advertising, or simply spend more time on creating your brand value, or cut your costs and lie low, everyone may have a different solution. Choose the one that works best for you, there isn't just one solution.

Download the Positive SIde of Recession Here

Thursday, October 23, 2008

List of Social Media Examples

I love my new found friend, Twitter. And start my day updating myself on the news from BBC, CNA and Havard Biz, and of course lifes of my twitter friends through Tweetdeck. I kind of regreted not starting earlier and actually left my twitter account to rot for over a year. Nevermind the bug finally caught on, and you can add me via http://www.twitter.com/belindaang/

I found this link from a twitter friend's posting, on an extremely comprehensive list of Social Media Examples. How businesses use social network to market their brands. I found the list quite overwhelming and useful. ---> ORIGINAL POSTING

Have good fun reading it up!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Measuring Sponsorship's Return

My blog never received fantastic readership judging on the frequency of the posts and value of contents in it. Glad I finally received a response from Nicholas, someone who happened to drop in and left some helpful comments. And naturally I made a visit to his link and found another wonderful site targeted at Sponsorship Marketing issues.

This is a very niche and specialised job and not everyone really understands the gist of it. For the most of us, sponsorship is "you give me the money, I'll put your logo up big. The more money you give, the bigger your logo is." However, that does not actually answers the questions your potential sponsors have for you. Or basically it won't convince them to give you the dollars unless they have so much surplus they don't know where to spend. (Which still happens sometime).

Especially with the context of Singapore, as with most Asian countries. We may want to look at sponsorship in a wider worldview and understand with better depth what it can potentially achieve and play a larger role in the greater marketing environment in Asia.



Measuring Sponsorship’s Return (Original Article - Sponsormap.com)

As a sponsor, is it necessary to measure the impact of a commercial sponsorship investment? After all how many of us believe that sponsorship is sufficiently tangible enough to be measured at all?


These are fair questions for the sponsorship industry, as the slower we pursue measuring the value of sponsorship, the quicker we may hasten sponsorship’s demise. If we do not provide fair and objective estimates of the effects of sponsorship, there may be less money available for sponsorship activities as marketing dollars are allocated elsewhere, perhaps to those areas of marketing that can demonstrate effectiveness.


Most of us believe that we can at least partly measure the impact of a sponsorship investment. We are generally free of the dark old days of sponsorship, when accountability seemed less an issue. This was when sponsorships provided senior executives the chance, to side up to big name stars or to have one’s company associated with a major cause or event, irrespective of the value of that alignment to the company.


Over the years, as sponsorship has grown in popularity and became more expensive, sponsors have examined various ways to quantify the value of their investment. One of the first techniques offered involved tracking televised logo time. One person viewing a logo at one time is an impression. One hundred thousand people viewing the logo over a period of time would provide one hundred thousand impressions. The impressions would be ascribed an equivalent media value and often compared to paid up advertising. Hence, a $300,000 sponsorship investment may have an equivalent media value of $1.2 million, this being the basis for deciding the sponsorships return on investment.


Not surprisingly, many marketing professionals have questioned the value of tracking logo displays as the primary means of evaluating a sponsorship. Although flashing a company’s logo during an event might be cheaper than running advertising during the event, the two are not interchangeable in terms of communication effectiveness.


Sponsorship is the most emotional of all communication mediums, no other medium can compare against the strength of emotional attachment that consumers have with the events and properties they so dearly love. It would seem that to simply rely on an equivalent media value for evaluating sponsorship, completely misses the uniqueness of this relationship.


Measuring the value of sponsorship’s return on investment is certainly achievable. As with other communication tools, sponsorship should be evaluated against clearly defined objectives that can be agreed prior to the commencement of the program. It is against these objectives that the success or failure of a sponsorship program should be decided. Obviously, they need to be set in such a way that performance can be fairly measured. These objectives are invariably given as the principal rationale for the sponsorship of any event whether it be for sports, broadcast, community, cause, arts, business to business or entertainment. The underlying goal is for organizations to obtain a tangible return through the link that is established between the sponsorship property and the company or brand.


The marketing objectives of commercial sponsorship are often based on the properties’ ability to build brand loyalty, awareness and to change/reinforce brand imagery. After all, sponsorship is about changing consumer perceptions and behavior.


When it comes to using sales as the main means of evaluating sponsorship, this is less frequently used. Primarily, it is very difficult to isolate sponsorship’s role in the overall marketing mix from the effects of price, competitor activities and so on. This is not to say that sales should not be used as an objective for the sponsorship program, after all, not many Marketing Directors would be able to convince a Board of Directors or CEO of the merits of sponsorship, if this was not the case. It is better to look at increased sales as an objective alongside other more tangible measures such as sponsorship awareness, brand imagery, customer loyalty and purchase disposition.


Consumer research offers one of the best means of measuring perceptions and behavior in the sponsorship arena. Typically, with the right research methodology we can use sponsorship specific measures such as Sponsor Recall, Passion, and Gratitude to measure against key brand metrics. These metrics generally include brand image, loyalty and purchase intention for example. Such surveys will often pick-up strong indications on how the sponsorship is paying off. It is also common to track sponsorship over a period of time, as this medium is more of a longer-term investment, compared to more traditional media such as advertising.


Besides marketing objectives, other sponsorship objectives may involve building corporate image, hospitality and motivation of internal staff. These also can be measured, as long as we agree that we are measuring attitudes and perceptions be they those of the general public, business partners or employees.


Marketing Directors, Sponsorship Managers and even CEOs are being challenged to justify their forays into event marketing. Whilst most might have clearly defined objectives, if they cannot be measured, how can they quantify the value of the sponsorship investment?


Many companies spend little or nothing on measuring the effectiveness of this important communication tool. This contrasts markedly with advertising where high levels of pre- and post- testing and evaluation are widespread. It would seem that measuring the contribution of sponsorship warrants more attention that it has previously received given its value to a corporation especially in these days of media fragmentation.


Considering sponsorship’s prominent role in representing the core values of the brand or company, surely it is something that we should expect to measure its impact on our consumers, business partners, employees or the wider community. After all, sponsorship is not likely to continue to grow unless it can demonstrate its effectiveness and this means providing tangible measures of its return on investment.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Worst Kind of PR (in my own words)

I made a very short remark on a minister's facebook somewhere earlier this month on the topic. Apparently the China government did not learn very much about transparency from SARs 6 years back.

I was studying in Beijing during the SARs period. Just 10mins away from my school was the first hospital to be infected in the entire capital city. When it was finally isolated, we were told there were 134 cases of SARs within the hospital. A houseman later told us, there were double of the actual figures. Opposite the hospital were a row of restaurants we love hanging out at. The restaurants were only closed for quarantined about a month later. My lecturer himself contracted the virus when he went for a minor operation in the hospital. He was lucky to get out of it alive.

Somehow, this culture of secrecy and cutting off the truth may have been passed down through the generations from the days where Emperors rule and servants are silenced as the dead do not speak. The belief is "the only way to get out of the situation is that the situation doesn't gets out". And quite obviously in the modern day where technology thrives and global transparency is regarded as highly importance, it is no longer an issue of the backyard. Not when in this case, tens (if not hundreds) of international brand names are tainted and reputation tarnished by the food quality control of one single country.

After the bad word got out, panic was aroused and unfounded rumours began spreading from one to another. There was even a so-called "professor or doctor" who went on TV to say melamine can be removed from the body by drinking acid! The country has a vast rural landscape and the contaminated milk can still be easily bought in villages. These peasants cannot afford televisions, they can't read and no one told them there was a problem. The country should have sent all the province heads to the village heads and carry out a large scale educational program to inform the public, even the less previlaged.

Of course, to dig to the bottom of the issue, it was not only a case of badly handled PR. But crossed over to the discussion of politics, education, health and food care. It was a case that shouldn't even have happened in the first place. Crisis management measures should have been in place before the occurence of a crisis as such.

It proved to be a hard lesson, but whether is it a lesson taught, remains to be seen.

The Worst Kind of PR (reposted from The Pitch)

The Chinese poisoned milk scandal just goes from bad to worse. It kind of reminds me of George W Bush’s American presidency, it started off in controversy, took some more big hits and still continues to get worse at an alarming rate.

The complete inability of the Chinese government and the Sanlu Group (the company at the centre of the crisis) to actually deal with the scandal is astounding. The latest installment, according to a story in today’s Straits Times, is that Sanlu had actually asked the Chinese government for help in covering up the crisis. The authorities were made aware of the problem about a week before the Beijing Games began, and chose to sweep it under the carpet.Apparently they were worried about the scandal ‘tarnishing’ China’s image before the Games, and wanted to “avoid creating a negative influence in society”.

Well they were ‘successful’, on some levels, as they did cover up it during the Games so that China’s first Olympics went off without a hitch. That is of course if you forget the dramas surrounding the Olympic torch and Free Tibet protests, the pollution in Beijing and the attempts to stifle the freedom of world media before the Games started. Yeah sure, the 2008 Olympics were problem-free.

And trying to avoid creating a negative influence in society? Well they’ve failed miserably at that. When babies die, you have your negative influence right there. It’s unavoidable. Child fatalities kind of do that to you. Any sort of cover up of that is simply pointless.

The reaction to the tainted milk crisis from those involved as been pitiful at best. It took the intervention of the New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark to spur the Chinese government in to action. Since then panic has spread, and more milk related products have been pulled from the shelves on a daily basis. The affect on the milk, confectionary and dairy sectors has been devastating, and will continue to be so for months, maybe years to come. The crisis has spread from China to the rest of APAC, and global giants such as Nestle, Cadbury, Unilever and Heinz been tainted.

China has not managed to contain the crisis, or managed to minimize its fallout. Some of this could have been avoided by going on the offensive.

Taking cues from the reactions to other product contaminations in other countries, the Chinese government and Sanlu should have ordered a massive product recall. Before there is a chance to test all the products, get them out of stores, even if some may be OK. The mere question of possible contamination should be enough to pull it off the shelf.

Secondly, there should have been a huge public information campaign to inform consumers of what was happening and why, and to reassure them that the problem will be fixed. At a time like this information is vital, and to stop harming more people and creating more hype you have to get active. But now this is basically too late. 53,000 children are ill and four babies are dead. Consumers in China are enraged, and rightly so, while consumers the world over are skeptical about buying anything that might hail from Asia and be milk-related.

Trying to cover up information that will eventually get out is pointless and very harmful. It is much better to try engage with the community, to work to solve the crisis, rather than trying to avoid it or to point fingers at those responsible.

The damage has been done now, and it’s going to take a hell-of-a-lot of advertising and marketing dollars to put the likes of Sanlu and the other brands involved back to the position they were in before the scandal began.

Recession & Marketing (Part III)


Social Media’s role in the tanking Economy

It’s hard to turn on a computer, much less a television, without being inundated with messages about the gloom and doom of our current economic nightmare. But what does that mean for the Marketing world? One thing seems clear to me – now is NOT the time to crawl in a hole and scale back on Marketing. To the contrary - we know from history that most companies will slash the Advertising and Marketing budgets that could turn the situation around and keep them alive. Like a sea captain caught in a storm, the best chance of saving the ship is to turn directly into the waves. Sure, the ride will be rough, but it’s the best strategy for survival.

Social Media and Social Network Marketing in particular has a role to play in navigating the troubled waters ahead. Think about it – people will continue to communicate socially online, regardless of how much the Dow plummets. Consumers might not have as much money to go out to dinner or take a vacation, but you can bet that they will spend as much or more time checking their Facebook profiles, surfing YouTube, checking out new bands on MySpace, or engaging in gaming and other applications on mobile devices. So, this begs the question – why pull back now? Isn’t this the time to put even MORE emphasis on Social Media? Wouldn’t NOW be the time to show customers that you care about them and you empathize with their struggles? Wouldn’t it be great to have positive messages about your company spreading in the midst of all the negative stuff that is spreading out there?

Going back to the fundamentals of Social Media – ask yourself what added value you can provide. Is competitive pricing an option? How about a contest where people have a chance to win something cool while helping others that are struggling in the process? Can your company give a little more to charitable causes that help those most in need during rough economic times? Remember, when times are tough, charitable organizations take a big hit, while being called upon more than ever to provide services to those in need. If you can champion one of these causes and share this enthusiasm with your online communities, you will have gone a long way toward building goodwill and positive associations that will affect the balance sheet for years to come.

Remember, the volume of messaging will almost certainly slow down as companies scale back on ad budgets. Seize this opportunity to double down on your Social Media efforts, or if you haven’t yet embraced it, there’s no better time than right now to get in the game! Show your customers and potential customers that you understand the challenges they face. They will remember your goodwill when their situation improves, and chances are they will have told a few people along the way.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Recession and Marketing (Part II)

The following comments was made by a friend on Linkedin, Mr. Paul Syrysko. I found is useful and right from the books of the expert. Sharing with everyone here.



For 2009, most companies will be cutting back to a very basic marketing plan, getting rid of anything they can. In a recession environment, it’s inevitable. Many marketers will feel it’s the last thing that should be cut but try convincing the board of the company and you won’t get very far. The reality is that investments in brand marketing will decline. So what should you do? Be careful of blowing all the budget on price promotions. Innovation is the key.

Understanding how consumer behaviour will adapt to a recession will give you an innovative marketing plan, product or service idea. And understanding how the supply side of media will change will give you substantial increases in campaign efficiency.

Price promotions for products and services will increase hugely; everything will be ‘on sale’ and it will be a noisy space that any player has to navigate carefully. There may be better ways of marketing than simply slashing your prices like everyone else. For example, why not focus efforts on your most profitable customers instead? Understanding the changes in consumer mindsets is critical. People will be much more careful in selecting the right product or service for them. Impulsive behaviour will drop. Marketing strategies that lower perceived risk will thrive. For example, rather than giving 10% off, deliver extended guarantees to your consumer. Large luxuries will be jettisoned in favour of smaller ones. Instead of going to an expensive tropical island, people will take day trips to their local seaside. Instead of buying a new car, they’ll keep the old one going. Instead of going to the cinema and eating out, they’ll stay in with a dvd.

The shifts in media budgets are going to be huge. Part of this will be contractual - big media deals will stay for a while but short term buying can easily be chopped. There’s also a natural tendency to keep the backbone of a communications plan and get rid of anything secondary. So, the big communication vehicles like tv will stay, albeit in reduced form. Secondary media will drop in price more dramatically, so there will be bargains there.

Moreover, clutter in these secondary vehicles will drop rapidly. So your communication will stand out much more in them. Consider focusing efforts away from following your competitor’s backbone plans so that your marketing budgets work harder for you.

To make good use of heavily reduced marketing budgets, innovation in communication strategy is the key. Don’t just give away 20% on price in a desperate bid to keep up sales volume. Whether it’s consumer insights or media planning, you will need to think hard and do something different.

---- Written by Paul Syrysko

Recession and Marketing

Forecasting 2009





Welcome to 2009, we will be greeted by a cycle of recession. Exactly 10 years since the last world financial crisis.

Sponsorship will be cut, budget for marketing will be majorly cut. Anything that concerns the expenditure department is likely to be given the red light. With no one spending, the economy will definitely see a slower return.

In the line of marketing and branding, we already have problems encouraging clients to spend on a good day. And now, it could be even more challenging. The opportunist would think, "Now that most companies are cutting back, there will be less ads, less 'noise' and less competition for attention. It is the best time to strike and get hold of market attention!" but unfortunately, most CFO aren't too much of an opportunist. They have a P&L balance sheet to report to.

How to make the best use of the recession?

INTERNET : The most effective medium to both consumers and marketeers during a time like this will be the Internet. Reason? As consumers spend more time indoors, cut their budgets on buying magazines, papers or movies, they are likely to spend more time wired. For marketeers, the Internet is the only platform capable of reaching to millions of people without burning a hole in the bank account. Of course, I am now assuming they have a wonderful campaign strategy.

However, the Internet is a very different ballgame as it bypasses the traditional media and attempt to do a direct outreach to the people. Hence, fostering a relationship with the target audience is more important than trying to flood them with spam ads. But this could take some tactic, patience and time. It may not be likely for companies to demand an immediate ROI on the dollars and cents. And for the fact that the Internet is so wide and borderless, it also means more time has to be spent locating the target group accurately and effectively.

Some ideas :

Twitter - Twitter is a popular tool in the US but the trend did not really take off locally. It could however be marketed as a status tool to promote certain sales, movements or latest news. Alternatively, mobile marketing could be used for the following ideas, which however, will come with a different price tag.

Some quick examples :

  1. introduce an hourly sale that happens at different hours of the day. Send a twitter to inform all your customers about it. Create a sense of urgency to buy and a personal touch from merchant to consumer.

  2. In an effort to promote a new product (eg. latest mobile phone) Create an avatar to has a "life" of his/her own. Send updates about his/her life to fans, keep people in a conversation and arouse interest. Tie it in with an event at the end of the day.
Facebook : No, this is not a new story. But I don't expect the trend to fall very soon. The continuous reinvention of facebook sees itself going strong for the next 2 or 3 more years. Bringing people together is an art. But facebook seems to have mastered it to call themselves the boss of social network. It is a wonderful tool in trying to gather people of the same interest, mindset or geographical locations. You can easily identify people without having to spend money on market research. (which I'm not saying that's not important). In trying to do so, you should either strike a chord, raise disagreements, create curiosity or make useful relationships.

However, one should first understand not every business is suitable to tap on these platforms. You should approach a professional PR firm with digital arm or an IMC with digital marketing experiences for professional advise. A reasonable amount of time should still be spent on identifying market trends and results before attempting to utilize the medium. Ultimately, do remember it reaches out quickly to people. Which means, bad news travel fast too! In Korea earlier this year, a rumour about the beef from USA on the Internet nearly caused an up throw of the entire government when large-scale demonstrations (spurred online) fill the streets of Seoul. So just a gentle reminder.


The Opportunist Mindset

It is very tiring to try and vie for attention on the newspaper, TV, radio, outdoor advertising everyday. Millions of ads try to shout for more attention. People today are so immune to it, it basically just doesn't catches any eye anymore. However, in times of recession, advertising budgets will be cut for most companies. There will be less 'noise', less interruptions and we will see our streets cleaner with more "for rent" signs on outdoor advertising boards.

THIS is the BEST time to advertise. Like every good trader will tell you, the best time to enter the market is when the market is down.

With less business, rates for advertising space is likely to be adjusted to attract more advertisers. It will be easier to negotiate for better packages on media buys. You can have a better selection of prime spots, marketing firms are more commited to deliverables and are eager to impress. The BEST time to build your brand is when no one else is trying to build theirs. Create top-of-mind recall with ads, encourage spending with product sampling, demonstrations, sales and promotions, get in touch with the ground by organising events (something for people to see, do and look without spending money), sponsor community projects. And you will see your brand grow to be everywhere on the street (and in the mind). As the economy slowly revives and the market returns to normal, you can now rest your marketing dollar and enjoy fruits of success. Of course, a reasonable ROI should still be measured and strategies to meet sales targets while spending. But please do remember, branding and marketing is not a Harry Potter wizardry that happens overnight. The results may not be evident now, but positive reputation gained is priceless for any company. And the next time the consumer has the dollars in his pocket, he'll make you his first choice.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Work-Life Balance?

I'm on a site check to see if the event venue where I'll be holding an event coming weekends has good internet connection. And as I am done with the routine job, I simply continue logged on at the cafe nearby for a tea as well as to catch up on some industry news. A man sits besides me, doing his daily charting for the financial market.

Last Sunday I was at our Prime Minister's National Day Rally. (In case you are wondering, I'm located in Singapore) But it was also the most historical moment in Singapore's sports history as our women's table tennis team was playing in the finals of the Olympics. Being a big national supporter, I quickly logged on my pda via GPRS to load the live scoreboard as the PM is speaking. And I was able to visualise the live game as I'm attempting to digest the bulk of information on policies and economy fed by our PM. What a way to multi-task.

One of his topic was on work-life balance. Judging on the way we are capitalising technology in our daily lifes, I think the definition of work-life balance has sort of changed. It iterally means work is life and life is work. It is hard to make a balance of something that you do naturally that has integrated into your every day. Of course, as in my previous post, not everyone is as savvy. However, the netizen numbers are rising by the day with our Generation Z entering the society. Kids are beginning to "facebook" as young as 7 years old! (my cousin...) And tutorials are now uploaded into school's server for student's access. Welcome to the virtual-real world. There isn't any virtual or real world. It's just an integrated way of living. And looking at the current trend, apparantly those who does not follow will be left behind quite soon.

And back to marketing, there isn't really such a thing as "traditional marketing" and "digital marketing". Marketeers should identify the fact that both co-exist and it is absurb to distingush the two as separate entities. Marketeers should be where the consumers are, not where they feel most comfortable in. Comfort zones are never a game in the marketing arena. Recognizing that and we can take a big step into the integrated marketing era.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Digital is for Generation Y???

I just returned from Event360, which is a 3-day conference with focus on the Event Industry. And over the conference, there was a speaker from the portal "Conference Bay" who was invited to speak on the latest integrated digital platform for booking of conference tickets. He was explaining the potential of the untapped market for conferences and events on the digital platform and how his company provides the solution to this pool by allowing people to book and bid for tickets at desired prices to fill up the remaining seats of the conference.

Now that created quite some buzz among the audience. As we have a pool of conference organisers at the tables, they start debating on the price control and comparison if people starts bidding at any price they like. Which brings us back to the same case as in travel industry, where you can name your price for air tickets online. Now, why are people acceptable to the practice in one industry and not acceptable in the other? They say, "But we've always done it this way."

When asked how many people on the floor has a facebook account. Surprisingly, that amounts to less than half in the room.

Over the party on the second day. I had a chat with some industry friends from other countries. And not one has linkedin accounts while only some of them uses facebook (not actively) and obviously, none blogs.

On the last day of the conference, a group of us had coffee after the end of the itinery. As we sat down, we decided to exchange facebook accounts. Then a young girl says, "No! I don't want to sign up for it." Apparantly, technology is pretty intimidating to alot of people. The idea is "one is enough, I don't need more". As we chatted further, I realised most of them do not fully ultilize the potential of the readily made available digital platforms. Another young fella said, "I think if you do your job well, naturally people will come to you. Why do we need to market ourselves?", the girl earlier then said, "but we have ads." The comparison between advertisements and a social network is absolutely wrong. It is like comparing an apple to an orange. Interestingly, some of these friends belongs to the media industry, they do media buying and monitoring (on traditional media). Being leader in the media industry, they quite aren't the leader in the new media industry.

The BIG question is... why are so many people ignoring the potential of digital marketing? Why are there so many people relunctant to explore and understand the tools they have at their disposal when they need it? It came to me as quite a surprise that although we assume everyone has a facebook account, that's not all true. And most of all, not enough individuals (not to mention corporations) understand the essence of web 2.0, and thus are ignoring what could potentially translate into an infinite playground of opportunities.

Even in the context of events. We must understand that event marketing has gone beyond building a tentage, installing a background and giving out flyers. Marketing through the medium of event should see through the pre-event stage all the way to post-event. Apart from the operations process which is great importance, if your event does not reaches to your target audience, the desired impact cannot be achieved even if you have planned for a great show. Also, there is such a thing we call the "online event". It can potentially be an "event" online. Coke Cola launched the full animation of "Happiness Factory" on Second Life and invited international media to cover the grand event. If you have no idea what is Second Life, it is a virtual world where you can build anything and has its own rules of economy.

It seems that digital is not restricted to "generaton Y", but even "generation Y" is not picking up the messages coming through in the evolution of technology. It takes time investment to understand about Web 2.0 and how to use it effectively. So if you only try to learn it when the market truly sees an urgent demand for it, that'd be too late.

So, my advise is spend an hour on social networks daily and the results may be very surprising.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Blogs is not a social media strategy!

Harry dropped me an email in linkedin. He says I'm going to like this. And yes I do! It's his latest white paper on corporate blogging. I've always had problems convincing my companies to start some form of social network. Whether for commercial or team bonding purposes. And a lot of companies attempt to explore blogging (or exploit blogger) for short term gains. Social Media Strategy is a long term strategy that will require meticulous thinking and planning. Not everyone and every business is suitable for it. But the wrong ones keep coming on and those who are suppose to start talking on the web is hesitant. So enough said from a baby marketeer like me. Let's hear what Harry wants to say now.

DOWNLOAD HARRY'S WHITE PAPER HERE

Monday, May 26, 2008

ROO or ROI (yet again)

I came across an old article written in 2007 on marketing-interactive.com. Experiential marketing is an ambitious word in Singapore's event marketing industry. Everybody is claiming to do it, yet not many is able to do it. This article gives a localised insight into Singapore's event marketing industry. A likely good read.



REDEFINING EVENT MARKETING
EVENT MARKETING
By: Freelance Writer MKT, Singapore
Published: Mar 26, 2007

What is the definition of insanity? “It is doing something over and over again and thinking you’ll get a different result each time,” the caddy said to Bobby Jones as the champion golfer took six shots to get out of a St. Andrew’s Old Course bunker in the biographical film Bobby Jones – Stroke of Genius (played by Jim Cavziel).

What has this got to do with event marketing? If you recall credit card road shows or any marquee tented event along Orchard Road blaring out unintelligible music, then I think you the consumer and marketer will understand that cookie cutter formulaic events have little place in modern event marketing. In fact probably damaging consumer sentiment to your brand unless you are truly selling something new.

“You have to be sure that what you call an event is worthy of the name. An event should be something special, something memorable and that is not often the case in Singapore. A road show is not an event,” Stephen Cranston, marketing activist and founder of Renegade Asia says.

Where’s the Lustre?

When’s the last time you attended a good consumer or B2B event? Or rather what’s the last event you attended and thought that was “pretty damn cool” – there we go, already coining a new acronym, PDC. I am in Singapore after all, its November / December and the silly season for events is just beginning to ramp up. Double, triple booked I hear you agree. Spoilt for choice, what chance to set a standard in event marketing in a crowded place?

For many brands, event marketing is only part of the mix, but there is a sense of increased emphasis. How do events fit into a slowly converging world of marketing communications? All other advertising mediums are flat or 2D in comparison to what an event can do for the target audiences’ senses. Events are tangible, interactive and engaging to the audience, where results and feedback can be instantaneous. The power of word of mouth is proportional to the experience of an event. Is this measurement on any marketers’ list?

“We look at most marketing tactics for their word-of-mouth value and events score highly. When people talk about word-of-mouth or buzz they too often prioritise online activities when in fact most word-of-mouth still takes place face to face. Events give you the critical mass to get the buzz going and an event by its very nature defines it audience. That is a head start for any good marketing agency,” Cranston says.

“To truly outreach to consumers, we are also placing emphasis on the importance of other channels of communication such as word of mouth marketing. Consumers are increasingly placing more trust in the opinion of their peers,” Irene Ng, GM, strategic marketing, electronics business division, Samsung Asia says.
While there is convergence in media there is a diversification in the ability to drive brand awareness. Repucom Asia, an independent brand media and sponsorship evaluation company agrees with the idea that the days of “set and forget” media framework are over. The more creative marketers are taking control by diversifying and integrating new and more traditional initiatives.

“New media such as branded content television, online and mobile marketing are definitely growing their share of the pie but they are not effective on their own without face-to-face activation at the consumer level. This is where events complete the loop,” Danny Townsend, Repucom Asia says.

Event marketing is a vital communication tool for consumers to better understand Samsung’s corporate philosophy and values and must continue to complement a holistic approach of brand building, loyalty marketing, public relations, and retail and point of sales.

Any one-dimensional marketing campaign will have limited success and the truly successful campaigns of recent times have been able to engage the consumer at many different levels and in different ways. The term experiential marketing comes to mind in trying to define this kind of activity. (see box out)

Technology factor

Aspects of technology are used to enhance many events and create instantaneous reactions as opposed to post event reactions.

For example event photography: not only do we have 10 mega-pixel cameras but companies, like Live Studios create proprietary software enabling instantaneous (less than 10 seconds) shots to be featured on OHP or plasma screens via WI-FI link. Not only can you have (a branded) digital printed photo handed to you within the minute, it also fits in your wallet for keeps.

What’s real cool is the ability to live your immediate past in the present moment.

“We have taken event photography to a brand new level, where the instantaneous experience is becoming almost becoming a standard requirement for any event,” David Ng, director, Live Studios says.

On the corporate side, a brand like Mercedes-Benz will organise ‘Technology Symposiums’, where they invite a selected target group -- also media -- and present innovations, research topics and future technologies of DaimlerChrysler. They also present research vehicles such as our fuel-cell vehicles.

Pico Art, global exhibition and event specialists, thrive on technology to enhance target experience. As well as the IMF convention they recently created the IDA Anniversary showcase event where technology is not on display but in use. Seamless projection to multi-screens is now available; no pregnant pauses to upset key note speakers. Another example is being able to run a live global competition in real time across time zones over 24 hours.

“Today, technology has enabled one degree of separation of networking internationally, innovations and development,” Derek van Dugteren, creative director PICO Art International says.

What was once an advanced form of event or exhibition technology in one market is quickly replicated and implemented internationally and regionally. This gives rise to consistent brand flavour and messaging.

The clutter of too much information brought about by the speed of technology and digital evolution means that events can conversely fill a gap in helping decipher and distil the brand message across target audience.

Digital technology has empowered consumers to make more informed choices and event marketing complements by providing experiences, not just merely information.

“Live communications can provide that extra something which digital technology cannot – face-to-face interaction, personal warmth and so on. Events have also evolved with the times and we do harness digital technology too for a more complete and enhanced experience,” Hugh Yii, director, Festival Square Circle says. The local company was the sole agency to have handled all the social events in the IMG-World Bank Annual Meetings.

Opportunity

Events provide a unique and direct marketing opportunity not offered by other alternate marketing initiatives but like the above on its own has limited impact. Critically it is the integration of a multi-functional campaign involving an event component that delivers results. The key is finding the correct balance and most suited mix for your given product or service.

All parties in the event marketing mix agree there is no “one-size fits all” event evaluation platform as it is critical to understand the objective and desire of each independent brand activity in order to gauge is performance and overall return on investment.

Adidas’ marketing manager James Tan says, “It is through events that we continuously add value to the consumers’ experience of our brand attitude.”

The events pie in some instances may be dwindling but a result of more sensible and strategic planning of spend on events. With other companies it is thriving as these previously more conservative companies look to find a competitive edge in the marketing space. Event marketing is as broad as it is long, and is the most 360 of all communication mediums. Clearly defined in three areas of communication: corporate, brand and product level.

This is especially true for a brand like DaimlerChrysler. Each activity serves the purpose to reach out to a defined target group with specific messages. The relevance of event marketing is increasing in the part of attaining corporate goals.

“All other communication tools such as web-based media communication, classic advertising and so forth are part of a marketing mix, which in our case is more related to brand and product communication,” Helfried Scharff, head, external affairs and communications, DaimlerChrysler, says.

Samsung, a key spender in terms of sponsorship and events, clearly enjoys maximising the link with personal communications.

Given a diverse and yet personal product like a mobile phone, connecting across a broad medium makes sense for it in reaching distinct target audiences. For example its involvement in many world-class competitions such as the Olympic Games, the Asian Games and World Cyber Games is very disparate in terms of target audiences, yet all reliant on mobile users.

More importantly the trend is also to create large scale new events as a local platform to reach consumers. In Singapore, Samsung created unique events such as the Samsung Inline Skating Challenge 2005.

“Consumer trend insights, leading innovative products and design, all contribute to a platform to execute strategic brand building of which event marketing has an increasing role to play,” Samsung’s Ng says.

For DaimlerChrysler, events also play an important role to reach its audience, which are the general public, potential clients and exiting clients, but also media, business partners and society groups.

Its brand Mercedes-Benz holds events, which are necessary tools to convey the message of passion, luxury, and quality and to bring its products closer to loyal and potential customers.

Whilst you can look at new products in websites, advertisements, and billboards and get a first impression, you always it needs the personal touch, feeling the quality, material, design – that’s the most convincing way.

On the product brand side, for example Mercedes-Benz has high-class social events such as the Mercedes-Ball, an established charity event in Singapore. Another example is the Mercedes-Benz fashion week.

Growth & Spend
I will be honest, it is hard to gauge true industry figures as many event initiatives are wrapped up in overall marketing budgets, but there are key factors that point to industry growth. For example, global sponsorship spending is forecasted to hit an all time high of US$33.8 billion (S$52.6 billion) in 2006, a 10.8% increase on that of 2005 (Sport Business Group). That rise reflects that sponsorship has steadily climbed the marketing agenda to the point where it is now a fundamental part of the marketing mix meaning there is a complete positive trickle down effect for event companies.

For many brand owners such as Coca-Cola, Shell, Gillette and Visa, sports sponsorship has been pivotal in their marketing communication campaigns and provided these very different brand owners with a global brand communication platform.

If the recent $3 million US Barclays Singapore Open golf tournament is a benchmark, then there is real growth in events. The Singapore Open is one of many tournaments in the Asian Tour that make up the Tour’s US$25 million (S$39 million) current annual prize money -- a figure reached in less than five years.

According to the latest Business Week / Interbrand Annual Rankings, Samsung’s brand value surged 186% to US$14.95 billion (S$23.3 billion) in the past five years, posting the biggest gain among the top 100 global brands and currently ranking 20th on the list. Why? Well Samsung freely admits and believes its continuous support in events plays a big role in this rise.

“The number and scale of events that we sponsor and organise in a year requires a considerable amount of investment, but this is relative as we believe relevant events are a great platform to outreach and engage our customers,” Ng says.

PICO Art international has also experienced real growth in the past year.

General manager for business development Trevor Soh says, “The growth in our business segment of exhibitions and related services is near 10% and segment for conference and show management is more than 300%. The growth clearly indicates that marketers are still investing in event marketing.”

Naturally a healthy economy is always a factor, but 300% in one year points to significant shift in marketing spend to events.

ROI measurement

In terms of return on investment, it depends on the objective of the event. If it is a premium, high involvement product the emphasis is more likely to be on direct sales and leads generated through direct contact. If it is an FMCG then product and brand association are key to the value of the property. In this scenario the number of contact points related to the event becomes critical.

Soft-factors such as reinforcing the brand image, positive brand perception and increased interest for brand and products helps filter through in measurement of foot fall for retailers.

Techmex Staging Connections’s general manager, creative services Scott Wilson believes outlining an organisation’s event plan is ROI in itself. By doing so a business can expect to drive greater cost efficiencies and clearer communication, one of which satisfies management and the other the customers. On that note the notion of ROI is less important than the notion of ROO -- return on objectives.

“We find that ROI is somewhat an outdated term with the more progressive senior leadership we deal with more often focused on ROO,” Wilson says.

This takes away the focus on financial cautiousness which quite often marketers do at the expense of delivering a creative experience, which drives customer satisfaction.

ROI criteria falls under three main areas of evaluation. Firstly, measure whether or not the key goals and benchmarks set out from the start are achieved, such as whether we were able to successfully deliver the unique selling proposition of a product.

Secondly, carry out active measurement to track the amount of buzz or hype generated from the event, such as the number of consumer emails and calls post-event, or the number of unique visitors to a web site.

Thirdly, report results, which are directly related to or will directly affect business, such as the number of database entries generated, or the estimation of sales based on purchase intent information (applicable mainly to special promotions or road shows as not all events are conducted with sales objectives in mind).

Beyond these tangible methods of evaluation, the event must also promote the values and corporate philosophies. For example Samsung sponsors several sports events because the spirit of sports is in sync with its corporate philosophy to contribute to humanity.

Event marketing needs to be brand connected and placed on the same importance level as all other advertising and communications mediums. Not one size fits all and not stretching credibility.

Events should boost awareness and customer loyalty, making your target audience part of the extended family and rewarding them with rich experiences.

Experiential marketing is the way forward and use technology and driving innovation are constants that should be maximised.

“A miracle is an event which creates faith. That is the purpose and nature of miracles. Frauds deceive. An event which creates faith does not deceive: therefore it is not a fraud, but a miracle,” George Bernard Shaw, playwright, essayist and 1925 Nobel Prize winner, says.

Whilst events are not miracles, the ability to create faith in your brand is priceless.


Box Out:
LET'S TALK EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING

Suddenly, ‘experiential marketing’ is the fashion – the new 360-degree phrase. Ad agencies and marketing departments are preaching to each other ‘experiential’ and starting departments dedicated to the practice. Marketing managers have created a new line in their budget allocations – ‘experiential’ items.

There’s no doubt it’s the marketing jargon of the moment, we’re all talking about it and we’re all excited about it. Really though, nobody can seem to be able to clearly define it?

When you dig deeper and ask managers “What is experiential marketing?” they usually define it by combining several marketing tactics together. However just because you put on a road show tour, create some sampling opportunities in five or six SE Asian cities which have ‘special’ invite only events, or even dare to use ‘guerrilla’ marketing efforts does not equate to an experiential marketing effort

Four things need to happen to create and execute a true event brand experience:
1. The target audience remembers the experience and talks about it after the end of the event.
2. The target audience understands your brand’s place in their lives, the penny drops and word of mouth (WOM) marketing starts sharing the experience and helping friends understand.
3. Your credibility remains in touch with the target audience in a most relevant manner.
4. Repeat business or effort to re-engage the target audience is simpler.

And four questions that need answering:

1.How can I bring the brand to life?
Match experience with current Credibility. Relevant experience that actually reinforces what the brand values to target

2. When and where should I place the brand experience into my consumer’s world?
There’s nothing worse than seeing a great program being executed in the wrong spot and at the wrong time.

3. What are those things about my brand that consumers will really talk about?
No one is going to blurt out your mission statement in real life. Figure out what they will really say.

4. Who are those key influencers inside my target and how can I identify them and connect with them so they drive buzz among the masses?
For example, one of Samsung’s key sustaining strategies for their Ultra Edition mobile phones is to leverage word of mouth communications through the ‘Experience an Ultra Life’ programme, through which 80 applicants were shortlisted to carry the Ultra Edition 6.9 and 12.9 for a period of time and write about their experiences on an Ultra Life Blogg website (http://www.ultrablog.com.sg). To date, it has had over 20,000 unique visitors.

Defining elements of anticipation, exclusivity, and discovery should be imparted into the experience? These are key drivers of PDC factor.

How should I borrow relevant equity?
Borrowing equity isn’t always about ‘sponsoring” something. For example, just being at the right target-relevant spot allows you to borrow some ‘established equity’ from that location.
adidas organised adidas +Challenge football competition 06 at an unexpected location in the heart of the city -- the field between Park Mall and the Atrium (near Dhoby Ghaut MRT).

The responses were naturally overwhelming. The wining team of the 2006 +Challenge were send to Berlin to pit their skills against the rest of the world. Cool factor 10.

To add an experiential layer to marketing programs, companies must insert a brand into a target’s life where they can touch it, feel it, taste it, play it, hear it, use it.

A marketing programme needs to build connectors to a corporate message with the real world and or allow consumers to experience a brand in a ‘real life’ way thus understand the brand’s place in their lives.

Marketing process in which a target connects with a brand and adds it to a list of brands they use and talk about.


Box Out:
CALL IN THE EXPERTS

Engaging an expert inserts a layer of legitimacy to the brand experience.

When society magazine Gethat helped high end-jeweller Loang & Noi to launch its new collection, they invited Diana Francis, the talented Singapore-based professional artist to display her fine work of painted art and create a fusion of window display to complement Loang & Noi’s new line of jewellery – art in itself. The credibility of attaching an expert and incorporating third-party experts as part – or the focus – of branded events can offer a unique experience for customers. It’s not an endorsement, where “hi and please buy” celebrity tactics are employed, but more a fusion of unique shared values. In this case jewellery as art, and art as inspiring jewellery design.

When done correctly, the brand will be remembered for the experience. In some cases, brands are hiring people with expertise in rather obscure subject matter. Finding and hiring those true experts can take a little more creativity.

For example: as part of the launch for the film Madagascar last year, the opening weekend saw a display of four 3D animals (1:3 scale size) crafted entirely by Origami. The giraffe, hippo, zebra and lion were all each made for one giant sheet of paper. It would have easy for standees or furry imitations; none would have come close to the impact, appealing to adult fascination of an ancient art and still capturing children’s imagination. How many origami masters are there in Singapore?

Three quick tips for bringing experts into live events:

1. Where to Look?
In many cases, finding an expert can be as easy as checking the phone book or online directories.

2. Tap Your Resources.
Other brands have lined up experts by leveraging relationships with companies that sponsor their event initiatives.

3. The Deal.
The type of contract you’ll have with experts depends largely on their status and their level of participation in the events. An unknown local expert’s contract might function like a staff or vendor contract.

Box Out:

ACHIEVING ROI

Meeting of Objectives
- Communicating key messages
- Creating memorable and enjoyable experience

Target Audience
- Attracting and reaching the correct target audience
- Achieving target number of participants
- Collecting right database

Funds, Sales and Business Leads
- Achieving target for fund raising charity projects like the Duck Race
- Achieving sales targets for ticketed shows
- Securing sponsors and promo partners
- Generating new business leads from events


Publicity and Media Coverage
- Value of media coverage and editorial

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

ROO or ROI?

In my course of presentations to clients, a very frequent question will be "What is my ROI on this event?". I usually hate that question. It seems like a simple question yet profound enough to be debated for days and to be written into a textbook. What alot of clients don't understand, is that an events cannot be a single marketing effort unless it is an ad-hoc and standalone. It will not be fair to expect wonders to happen without the effective implementation and combinations of other other support like PR or advertising. That is also part of the reason why I am more interested in offering integrated marketing services as there should be a common objective for all the marketing efforts.

I came across this very interesting article, an interview with Rob Aston, manager for Corporate event marketing in HP, written in 2005. In HP, they measure the success of an event with six-specific content-related items they call the "communication metrics". They include the following questions:
  1. Did the audience receive the message?
  2. Did they understand the message?
  3. Did they believe the message?
  4. Did they value the message?
  5. Did they retain the message?
  6. Did they act upon the message?

This is called return on objectives. A very interesting new term not directly related to monetary or immediate returns. The problem is, sometimes the clients are very sure on their own marketing objectives either. They are hoping to get sales, awareness, branding etc etc. Clients must understand there can only be one primary objective and the rest would be secondary. So the priority is weighed and can be more effectively measured in its appropriate metric.

Download the article by Rob Aston HERE.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Breadtalk and the "Peace Panda" buns.


The earthquake in Sichuan has been a heart-wrecking disaster, not to mention Myanmar also suffered a similar fate just 2 weeks before China when a cyclone hit the forgotten land. Both individuals and corporations have stood forward leading the humanitarian efforts in collection of aids in both kind and monetary.

One of the most proactive players, Breadtalk who owns business in China has initiated the efforts by contributing 100% of the proceeds from sale of a specially created bun called the "Peace Panda" as a support to help the disaster. This effort is in collaboration with the Red Cross, and has since put together SGD40,000 in barely a week. What has this done to both the society and their business?

Breadtalk has performed a good example of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and as a CRM strategy, it has indeed worked very well for its brand. What kind of rollover effect does it have? Firstly, media coverage. The earthquake is top of the mind concern for every single person on the street and everyone is interested in reading the latest about it. The fact that Breadtalk has led such an effort has built a top of the mind brand recall for their business, further stregthening their market position as the big brother in the bread lines. Secondly, the interest it has created caused a word-of-mouth marketing effect. The "topic" that people wants to talk about. "Hey have you bought the Panda bread yet?". And another person will be off to buy it as a gesture of support. So it thus created both the "attention and intention" to purchase. Thirdly, no matter in approval or disapproval, people started talking about it on blogs and forums (do a search on google and you will see plenty), tapping the power of Social Media Marketing. The internet has a long memory and reaches beyond just the localised demographics. This further created a stronger branding for Breadtalk in the region.

As Breadtalk has alot of businesses in China, regardless of how insignificant their efforts may seem like, they have already created a top of the mind brand recall for the 1 billion chinese population, especially in patrotic China. So the next time a local Chinese wants to buy bread, they will remember how Breadtalk have supported the disaster. And that will translate into a long term ROI.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Giving before taking.

Linkedin is a very powerful social network that has connected like-minded marketeers together. Through its connections, I am delighted to get to know a few experienced players who are not stingy with their advices and mentorship.

Mr. Harry Hallman is a marketeer with more than 30 years experience and actively answers marketing questions on blogs and writes white papers. You can read all about it on http://www.marcomgeek.com/. How has this made him even more successful than ever? Being a digital expert, by utilizing his strength and providing education materials to the mass in understanding his craft, he has demostrated his expertise in this area without the attempt to even sell his abilities. Most marketeers from big brands surf the web frequently in search of feedbacks on their products and market trends. It is not hard to stumble upon the advices of someone as such and be convinced that he knows what he is doing.

Like by adding his name to this blog entry, I have created another potential exposure for him. And it is a word-of-mouth marketing that he had built up for himself quite effectively. Every client has the same question in their mind. Creative ideas can come from anyone, but WHO can execute it effectively to meet their business needs. Usually, they are concern about the team behind it, leading it and making it into live.

By dedicating time to educate and give, you have then given yourself an additional opportunity to new business. End of the day, our moral education has also taught us we get the most out of giving, this goes the same in the business world. Create that relation and relevance with your customers and they will come running to you for help. That is the rule of Web 2.0. Education is the new marketing.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

CRM

Some say blogging has to be a daily event. Although you don't see me being very active, well, that certainly does not mean I'm closing this blog just because no one reads it.

I've taken a new interest in CRM (Cause-related Marketing). In most business terms, CRM will refer to Customer Relationship Management. But CRM in marketing term is the new babe. Came across this wonderful site giving a good an indepth sight into CRM at http://causerelatedmarketing.blogspot.com/. Paul Jones is a marketing specialist and advises his client to tap on the potential of CRM to establish an emotional connection with their consumer base.

Some people may think CRM is just another smoke screen to cover the money business making it look charitable so that people will buy more, only making businesses richer. Well, there's 2 perspective to it. Firstly, all businesses must be profitable. And that is a natural way of the economy. Secondly, if they put part of those profit into the society, what's there to complain? This is an inevitable cycle. Only when money is made that money can be spreaded. The story about how sincere one corporate is about doing good is another matter all together. The fact is that alot of companies are realising the importance of social responsibility as in some cases, that dictates the brand image and consumer's buying decision. The objective is still positive at the end of the day. And there's alot more that businesses can do to help the needy while establishing a good reputation for themselves. So CRM does have an abundance of unseen potential to be uncovered, especially in Asia.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mobile Marketing?

Singapore sent a total of 911 million mobile text messages for February alone in 2007. With a population of 4.6 million, you really wonder how the billion messages came about when the island is conveniently and nicely connected wirelessly as well.

In a recent effort by the Singapore government to comprehend Mas Selamat, the head of terrorist body - JI, who had escaped the detention centre in early March, all three major telecommunications body sent out MMS with the criminal's photo and notice to all mobile phones within their mobile network.

In 2007, an SMS by an innocent staff of a remote pet shop claiming it was closing down and all the pets if unadopted, will be put to sleep in SPCA that resulted in an island-wide call for adopters whereby the influencing effect was overwhelming, sending thousands of phone calls to the pet shop, and ended up with a news space on the national newspaper - The Straits Times (well, if they had such marketing in the start, they wouldn't need to close down).

These are just some recent examples of the power of mobile marketing although it has never really taken off in Singapore. Just how effective and to what extend of success can it be? Advertisements definitely don't respond too well on SMS, but social sympathy works the best. SMS in this island has saved lifes, from patients looking for blood marrows to rare blood groups to whatever, it has played a huge part in making TV Charity and Singing competitions a success. It has earned millions in the format of SMS games and downloads. But using it as a marketing tool? Hmm.... just how? I don'thave a distinct answer for it just yet.

Text Messages were never very popular in the States. Until American Idol came into the picture. The telecommunication companies jumped on the wagon and developed a system with American Idol to use SMS as the voting platform in supporting their idols. And what happened? It took on a significant 70% increase (let me check the numbers and edit again) in text message users. Only at this point did America realised that it's a very simple and attractive messaging tool for communication. And how did that help America Idol? The channel of direct participation only made it even bigger than it is. American Idol is a star. Revolutionary in both TV and marketing industry.

So what may be some of the more probable use of mobile marketing? I was thinking it could be tapped on as a platform for CSR events. When it's for a good cause, people reads. (Of course, in Singapore, that includes anything that is free.) But good cause usually gets the word around, while ads don't. Send something you would be inclined to forward yourself. But remember, SMS doesn't works for direct sales, it just gives you a larger coverage on your core campaign. It may serve as a good support, but it should be carefully used and never spamed.