What does Korean drama series have to do with the florist business? Nothing, if someone asked five years ago, but in today’s marketing landscape, it can become a differentiator to one’s business.
Speaking at Digital Marketing Asia 2019 Singapore, FarEastFlora.com MD Ryan Chioh learned this the hard way when cotton flowers took Singapore Millennials by storm last year (after they made an appearance in a popular Korean drama series) but FarEastFlora.com did not have the product in its offerings. Chioh said, “Every other competitor was offering it and we weren’t. We were losing out. By the time we got into it, I think we were quite late into the game.”
Following the incident, Chioh said the marketing team is now actively tapping on to social media to find out what consumers want, instead of coming up with ideas based on what they think. This is just one of the many lessons FarEastFlora, which has been established since 1999, picked up over the years.
Chioh added that the brand has come a long way in digital marketing, from sending out generic EDMs to now having a more targeted approach through the use of predictive analytics and artificial intelligence. This had resulted in the brand seeing a higher return-on-investment from its EDM and customer retention campaigns.
“We have learned that it is more important to engage, and send out relevant information,” said Chioh, who added that the company is currently experimenting with new technologies to better segment its customers.
Adding on to the conversation, Maneesh Sah, head of marketing and communications, Asia at Aon said the use of data analytics is not confined to business-to-consumer marketing alone. Aon, which sells insurance and HR solutions to businesses, said that through customer data, it identifies illnesses that are more prevalent in organisations as well as the costs associated with those claims. It leverages those insights to help companies devise well-being programmes to tackle those diseases proactively and in turn, save cost. Sah explained that such initiatives help to increase customer retention and generate alternative revenue streams.
Sah said data analytics can also be used to identify the “micro-moments” in customers’ lives. He defined such moments as a time where customers are ready to be informed, to discover something or to purchase.
As a marketer, you have to ensure that you have content in front of them when they are experiencing these micro moments to influence, entertain and persuade.
As more consumers research or look for inspiration online before purchase, Sah said content has become the foundation of digital. The rise of YouTube, in particular, has led the company has invested in a tool to create and edit videos faster. Instead of taking two to three months liaising with a vendor to create a video, it is now able to do so independently on a daily basis.
To produce quality content, Aon also hired staff with a journalistic background. He explained that companies need talent that have the skills to push the content to customers. This includes managing agencies effectively, and understanding how paid media platforms such as Taboola and Outbrain work.
Agreeing with Sah on the need to have the right skillsets is Venaig Solinhac, head of marketing and digital, Asia at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). She said the company practises “reverse mentoring” where the Millennials in the company will train the middle management in the latest developments or trends in the digital space. To broaden perspectives, GSK also regularly invites external industry leaders to give a talk in the company. She added:
Digital transformation – it feels like you do it once and it’s done, but actually, it’s everyday.
Another common misconception, according to Solinhac, is that only the marketing function needs to be trained in digital. For the pharmaceutical company, it is important to educate the medical and legal departments as well. She explained: “At the end of the day, they approve the content. So, if they don’t understand why it’s important to communicate certain things differently, they won’t approve.”
Meanwhile, Honeywell Asia senior director of marketing Lynn Hyang Freeman said the key attributes to look out for in marketing talent is a digital mindset and the ability to “learn and unlearn”. They need not be Millennials or have a wealth of experience. For smaller companies that do not have the luxury to hire a lot of people or refresh the whole team, she said it is even more critical to define organisational goals and find the selected few that can help to meet those objectives.