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‘If you do not know how to market your strengths, you’ve got a problem’

“Marketing is about getting people to buy more frequently and at a higher price. That should be a marketer’s top goal,” Kenny Ong (pictured), managing director of Malaysia and Singapore at Universal Music, said. Ong said it is important for marketers to understand his or her role in the “whole scheme of things”, in order to achieve the ultimate goal in driving revenue.

He added it’s imperative that marketers know how to get consumers to buy at higher prices. Nonetheless, to achieve this, you cannot simply push product sales.

“According to a famous Cantonese proverb, ‘If a cow doesn’t wish to drink water, it is impossible to push the cow’s head down to drink water’. The same theory applies to consumers when brands are trying to push product sales,” he said.

He added that while there are numerous tools available to marketers, it’s important to use the right tool. Using the wrong tool is akin to “trying to force the cow to drink water”. But with the right tools, it will be a nudge in the right direction.

“You can’t force a cow to drink water, but what you can do, is put salt in its grass that will make the cow thirsty and drink the water. That’s what marketing is supposed to be – a nudge in the right direction,” he said.

In terms of marketing tools to influence and win the hearts of consumers, Ong said marketers could use compliance, behavioural influencing or attribution methods. But he highly encourages them to aim for the last one – attribution.

The compliance method, which is also one of the most common methods used by marketers such as giving out discounts when consumers fulfil certain actions and influence behaviour, should be used sparingly. “If consumers do something and get rewarded, it is an obvious marketing tactic. When marketers do this, it is almost like pushing the cow’s head down to drink the water,” Ong said. He added this method to induce an action from consumers is often short-lived. What marketers should aim for instead is long-term success.

“When consumers love your brand and you do not need to tell them to buy [your product], they will fight for your brand. That is attribution, and it should be the ultimate goal for all marketers,” Ong added.

Marketers also need to understand the core purpose of their brand’s products and services, and know why consumers actually buy their products.

“Once you find what those core purposes are, you can push your marketing,” he added. Citing the marketing success of McDonald’s, which Ong said while the brand “may not have the best beef burgers in the world, it certainly sells the most beef burgers globally”. This is because of its brilliant brand promise and business model. He added, that marketing is not always about just the product, but rather marketing to your brand’s strength.

If you do not know how to market your strength, you’ve got a problem.

Ong also lauded McDonald’s for being the master of two Cs – convenience and consistency – in its business model.

“The marketing pillars of McDonald’s has always been that it is the master of convenience (as a fast food chain with one of the largest numbers of drive-throughs operating 24 hours); and consistency (in terms of branding, feel and taste),” Ong added. Therefore, when marketers understand where their strengths lie, they will know where to put the focus in terms of marketing and investment.”

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