The different Movement Control Orders (MCOs), as well as the total lockdown implemented during the first two weeks of June in Malaysia, have certainly disrupted businesses and tourism. According to Malaysia's Department of Statistics, the number of domestic visitors in 2020 dipped by 44.9% from 239.1 million to 131.7 million. Like many brands, the pandemic has not been easy for LEGOLAND which was propelled to transition. With a series of closures that limited how consumers could interact with and experience LEGOLAND on-ground, LEGOLAND Malaysia's head of marketing Zeeshan Khan (pictured) told A+M that the company created some alternative brand experiences for its customers.
The company has prioritised on-brand content, more engagement-driven campaigns and regular communication with guests and consumers. Additionally, LEGOLAND is also shifting its focus to build internal capabilities and skillsets within its team to drive agility in its marketing efforts.
When connecting with consumers amidst movement controls, Khan said:
The most important factor here is that ‘always-on’ consumer focus.
It is important for brands to pre-empt, figure out and resolve issues or challenges while also maintaining communication and engagement. From a business perspective, LEGOLAND experimented with new hybrid products, greater flexibility, setting up an online retail store, and a more robust CRM platform, among others. Although the resort remained closed, the company was using this approach to maintain brand love and memorability at high levels.
A recent study by Forrester found that marketing’s scope is contracting. Marketers seldom take a leadership role in business-critical activities such as CRM (40%), revenue growth (33%), or new products (23%). As companies gear up for a life post-pandemic, marketers will need to regain ownership of their roles to help drive business growth. While Forrester's study found that many senior marketers are frustrated at how the discipline had been marginalised, Khan said that marketers, by all means, are not powerless.
"In fact, these people have the power to make decisions, collaborate and test by using a combination of big data, insights, research, past learnings and many more. If fuelled with the right skillset and executive focus, marketers are able to overcome short and long term challenges," he explained.
For example, with the current pandemic, marketers would need to overcome newer and stiffer obstacles in order to sustain the business. Khan explained that while some marketers have the luxury of a wider range of choices to tap into, such as serving new market segments or a completely new consumer behavioural trend, others will have to wait and watch for market conditions and consumer confidence to improve.
The shift from agency to LEGOLAND 'a dream come true'
Khan leads LEGOLAND Malaysia's marketing team covering everything across the paid, owned, earned and shared media ecosystem. Aside from the usual day to day duties, Khan takes interest in product development, consumer insights, pricing, partnerships and eCommerce bit. All these are key functions for LEGOLAND that allows it to test, measure and select what works best for the business, Khan said.
He joined LEGOLAND from Carat Malaysia where he was client business director. He also helmed leadership roles at Mindshare and MEC, and was head of media at Telenor in Pakistan. When asked why he chose marketing as a career, Khan explained that it was always about the numbers. According to him, it felt great to draw conclusions, formulate what-if scenarios and hypotheses.
"I always felt that a good marketer has to be rooted in numbers and that is kind of what motivated me to start off within the agency world in the media planning stream and the natural progression to the media agency ecosystem," he said. He described his journey to LEGOLAND as "a dream come true" as it is a fun and meaningful brand with total focus on creating a great consumer experience.
Comparing marketing to a mystery novel, Khan added that the "scintillating bit" about marketing is the range of decisions and occasionally challenges one is involved in, similar to the sub-plots and twists in a novel. Despite the challenges, Khan said marketing has its perks as well, especially when it is completed with the experience of working with different functional specialists and people with diverse backgrounds and capabilities.
Khan is also a panellist on A+M's upcoming Digital Marketing Asia conference held from 9 to 25 November. During the panel titled "The power of customer insights: Fuelling customer loyalty with activated data", Khan said he will cover the power of customer insights and how data can help to accelerate customer loyalty.
According to him, this topic is exciting both personally and from a generic point of view as well. "We are all customers and I am pretty sure we attach very high value to brands who make that effort to understand our consumption patterns, preferences and delight us accordingly. This is now a must understand function for brands and loyalty is what really differentiates a brand from a product anyways," he said.
In this digital age, everything to Khan is exciting from a content perspective. However, not everything can be adopted or owned by brands for to main reasons. He said everyone has finite resources and brands need to determine the net consumer impact.
"It is great to be part of things that are new and shiny but this is really for a brand or marketer to determine whether it will help the brand grow," he said. Citing GlobalWebIndex's numbers from early 2021, nearly 63% of time spent consuming all media is online. This is now split across a multitude of channels and apps such as social, OTV, streaming music, podcasts, and online news. This brings about the need to evolve measurement and a unified approach is stronger than ever in digital marketing. "Ultimately," there is a lot of continuous learning for marketers and discovery for consumers," he said.