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Manulife SG branding lead Cheryl Lim on the future of marketing

We’re constantly bombarded with an influx of information. Yet another content piece espousing how things have changed in the marketing industry, news about technological advancements, and the latest trendy phrases and jargon. Ironically, the saying “change is the only constant” seems to really be the only thing we can count on these days. Amid all these developments, what does the future of marketing hold?

Let’s get personal

Real brand engagement is all about being personal – it’s important to build one-to-one relations where consumers and fans feel like they are truly valued by the brand. I believe this will remain important regardless of the advancements of technology. Consumers today expect an individualised service and a personal approach in every aspect when they deal with brands. These expectations will be here to stay, given the increasing number of touch-points to reach out to consumers. Gone are the one-to-many marketing models which used to work very well in the past. Showing consumers you truly care will help build the foundations of a strong relationship

Let AI help you

Integrating AI into the customer experience with chatbots and automation to supplement the overall customer engagement efforts is a great way for your brand to connect with consumers. Using chatbots will present more opportunities for both consumers and brands to communicate. AI can also boost marketers’ productivity by empowering them to channel their time and money more effi ciently by directing resources at advertising, OOH and online targeting efforts at the right segments during opportune moments.

For example, we can create personalised, predictive one-to-one journeys (hyper personalisation) for customers to ensure they’re able to get the best possible brand experience in their interaction with the brand.

Let’s keep it clean

It’s not enough to just gather data – marketers are trying to figure out how to separate useful consumer insights from the noisy data waste. With clearer data signals, marketers can use relevant insights to develop smarter, more targeted campaigns. Sometimes having the right data isn’t enough – brands also need to learn from the data they have to optimise the customer experience.

One way to repair existing data is by cleansing, appending and de-duping it. Do audit data sources regularly to identify which sources are bringing in quality issues, then resolve it to improve the situation. Also, assemble open systems that integrate well with technologies the company is using or platforms with multiple capabilities so systems can be connected tightly

Let storytelling keep you in style

In a highly cluttered digital age where we are constantly bombarded with messages, our brains are trying to manage information by choosing what we want to connect with. This emotional tug (of the heart) plays a powerful role for brands. Having good data hygiene, coupled with authentic storytelling to bring forth your brand values, is key. It ensures consumers perceive you as a trusted brand they identify with, ultimately, becoming your brand ambassadors. Storytelling helps engage and relate to your audience and this humanises your brand.

Evoking emotions is a powerful tool to connect on a deeper level with your audience and increases the probability they will take action after viewing your outdoor ad, reading your texts, watching your video or listening to a jingle that you produced. Doing this well can differentiate you from your competitors in a “same same but (very) different way”. And, more importantly, a great story told well can turn a reader into a customer.

The writer is Cheryl Lim, VP, head of branding, communications and sponsorships, Manulife Singapore. The article first appeared in Marketing’s The Futurist print edition.