#AOTYAwards Indonesia judges’ corner: There’s no safe way of doing things

Coming on board as a judge for Agency of the Year this year is Fahroni Arifin (pictured). Arifin is currently managing the brand management and strategy group in Indosat Ooredoo, and is responsible for brand management, marketing communications, consumer events and PR, as well as media management.

Arifin describes his role as “a critically challenging” one considering that the telecom industry in Indonesia is currently fluctuating, given the prepaid registration exercise which resulted in heavy subscriber losses. “This has pushed every operator to strengthen consumer focus approach in the overall commercial strategy. A real ground test for marketers in Indonesia’s telecommunication industry,” he said.

Marketing Interactive: What do you feel is the biggest challenge marketers in Indonesia face today?

Arifin: Indonesian consumers who are mostly within the younger age group are steps ahead and are getting unpredictable, while most marketers still use old-fashioned approaches. We see how marketers struggle to tap into trends just because they fail to catch up with consumers’ behaviour and execute the strategy quickly.

If you’re trying to be relevant by following the trends, you will end up at the bottom of your audience’s discovery, in fact they will not see you at all and will probably laugh at you. Aside from that, marketers really need to understand consumers’ needs on so many levels, and provide solutions that really matter to them. Gone is the era when brands innovate with product and push their marketing teams to get the consumers to accept it. Now, it has to be the other way round.

Most marketers are still setting strategy based on the mediums or even worse, budget availability. This is the omni-channel era where consumers don’t really care whether they experience a brand or product in one medium or another. We’re required to be able to deliver seamless and consistent marketing experiences regardless of the mediums that we have. You can no longer separate between traditional and digital, now they’re blended together.

It’s not always about budget, it’s about ensuring measurable and effective impact on each channel that is relevant with the audience.

For example, a simple tent-card that shows your product information on the shelf could be the winning solution when you’re aiming for a certain target audience in the traditional channel. You just need to understand the purchase funnel of your audience, and steal their attention at the most relevant moment.

Marketing Interactive: Having worked on both brand and agency side, what do you think marketers are looking for when working with agencies?

Arifin: I believe in transformation and integration. This means that both marketers and the agencies have to be very open to extreme changes. There’s no safe way of doing things. Both marketers and agencies need to operate integrally as if they are working under the same roof. That’s inevitable.

The very first thing that I always do is to look at an internal team’s competency in understanding the execution as well as setting the expectation, and then I look at the agency’s competency in understanding the client’s business and creating impact. Both sides have to go extra mile in getting onboard on the other side’s processes.

By implementing that kind of mentality, you will be able to build and work with any kind of agency. It really depends on how the client side is flourishing in the ecosystem. In fact, you will find the same type of agency people moving from one agency to another in very short period of time. That’s how the industry works in Indonesia.

Being picky with the agency resources will really waste your energy. It is easier to gain results by optimising the resources that you have instead.

Marketing Interactive: What will you be looking for when going through the submissions for Agency of the Year Indonesia?

Arifin: I would love to see an agency with the most unthinkable creative solution in omni-channel that really puts the product/service in the spotlight, but also intrigues the consumer to try.

It’s not always about direct-selling, but I believe the biggest homework for marketers is how to leave a mark for a longer period of time in consumers’ minds and later on becoming competition proof. In the telecom industry where almost everyone offers the same solutions, experiences, and pricing method, brand engagement really takes an important role in determining a champion. In any industry where consumers can easily switch brands just because they see a cheaper price set or bad product experience, brand loyalty is the only thing that keeps them staying.

Marketing Interactive: What do you think an agency of the future looks like?

Arifin: The industry is urgently requiring a massive overhaul. I still see some agencies treat different types of industries with similar approaches, yet they’re separating themselves into digital and non-digital, direct and non-direct. The banking industry is treated as FMCG, while automotive being treated as telecom, and the likes. Essentially they are working on the imagery level and limiting marketing as only advertising, and using standard mediums to deliver messages. Meanwhile, massive transformations are ongoing at the clients’ side where product/service creation is becoming integral with marketing, sales and distribution design. Understanding the complete journey is mandatory for an agency.

On the consumers’ side, we see that it’s now the new era where the journey in media consumption can be completely different across product categories. Every consumer has unique preferences and setup in getting information. So the agency has to be able to define a unique approach according to each of the industry’s characteristic, and immerse it into the core business process. Agencies will be an integral part of a client’s operation on a daily basis. In the past, you can avoid that process, but now agencies really need to demonstrate that capability and add impact to business.

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