Interview: 'I often tell people that I do two things, and two things only.'

The marketing industry is in a constant state of flux with the advent of technology, new tools for measurement, and new areas of trend. While technology and its benefits have undoubtedly changed a marketers core duties drastically today, at the heart of any successful customer engagement, said Ken Ip, assistant general manager - strategic marketing and group head of marketing at B.S.C. Group, is storytelling.

The B.S.C. Group is a B2B brand playing in the space of interior fit-out and currently represents brands in kitchen and bath, furniture and lighting, and interior lifestyle furnishing. In his role, Ip oversees the marketing of B.S.C. Group's engineering, design, construction, wholesale and retail business with a portfolio of over 200 lifestyle brands.

Candidly, he says,  "I often tell people that I do two things, and two things only. First, I’m a storyteller. I tell stories, connect brands with audiences and audiences with brands."

The second he says, "I am like an agent celebrity. I help ensure my clients or brands are seen or being exposed at the right place and time." 

Sharing more on his current team structure, Ip said although he leads a lean team with less than a dozen individuals, his priority is to continually help grow and fine-tune B.S.C.'s brand DNA. This includes brand voice, brand story, as well as brand standards that enliven the company's brand values through every facet of the customer journey and internal staff experience. 

With 2022 inching in just around the corner, Ip is of the view that one constant that will remain is in having to do more with less. He added that every organisation is now doing as much as they can with lean teams. However, silos, as much as we want them gone, haven't yet been eradicated, Ip explained. "Within every business process, including marketing, there is a bottleneck. If this piece is identified and removed, the number of business activities can be increased without the need for extra resources," he explained. As such, this is an area he ill be personally be looking into, to drive efficiency for his team and company.

While a storyteller at heart, Ip is also a big advocate of big data and new technology. Giving the analogy of a store he said, "Imagine a crowded store with limited cashiers and impatient customers. As a marketer, you now need to think of how can you speed up the payment process and minimise clients' waiting time without adding extra manpower to ensure customer retention. How do you do it?"

This he says, is where technology plays a big role. If with new technology and data, you are able to decipher those with lesser items from those with bulks, you can assign one sole cashier to help these customers, offering a faster option, a better experience and ensure a higher likelihood of a returning customer. 

Apart from his current position at B.S.C. Group, Ip is also chairman of Asia MarTech Society. Ip took up this position earlier this year and believes that MarTech will play a vital role in shaping our brands. Another area that he also has a keen interest in is eCommerce as COVID-19 has dramatically and suddenly shifted more customer traffic to digital channels.

Looking ahead, Ip advised that businesses can do "more with less" amid the uncertainties to make better and smarter decisions. Ip said by applying technologies such as customer relationship management and product information management systems, businesses can solve their pressing needs.  

"In other words, it is really about harnessing information and communications technology, the Internet of Things, and obtaining insights from data. To develop and adopt smarter applications that make day-to-day business more efficient and seamless, we also have a bunch of new vocabularies that will shape the digital industry for many years to come. AI, blockchain, cloud, and data will be the new ABC and Ds," Ip concluded. 

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