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The future is already here. There has been a full-on video revolution year for marketers. 

Without a question, video marketing is one of the recent additions to our marketing toolkit. You may still have doubts. Is it truly worth it to think about using videos to market your brand? Do you have the necessary resources to generate video content? 

The answer is simple: Yes, it’s worth it. Video is one of the most powerful and successful digital marketing techniques available, not simply because everyone is doing it. Here are three reasons why you should start using video marketing now. 

1. Video Shows Great ROI

Given the fact that video creation is not the easiest nor the cheapest operation, it pays off. Furthermore, online video editing tools are evolving all the time and becoming more affordable. Even your phone is capable of producing great video content. 

Another plus is that your videos do not need to be flawless. It’s all about the content! People are most turned off by videos that do not effectively describe the product or service. It didn’t matter as much whether the product was of low quality or had a bad design. So it’s fair to say that content is like pizza – when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good!

2. Video Builds Trust

Through video marketing, you can attract customers’ attention, create interest, and deepen your relationship with them. . People are more likely to be engaged and have their emotions stirred by video than any other content.  

When it comes to the audience, YouTubers have emerged as the most potent social media influencers for promoting your brand. As a result, if you’re serious about content marketing, you need to also be serious about video.

Promotional videos can also help to build trust. Some customers are still wary of purchasing goods and services via the internet due to concerns about fraud and cheating. Effective marketing videos, on the other hand, showcase your items in a conversational way. Customers stated that videos provided them with greater confidence to buy online. 

3. Google Loves Videos

Visitors will spend more time on your site if you use videos. As a result, more exposure creates trust and informs search engines that your site has valuable material. Moovly provides us with numbers: If you have a video integrated on your website, you’re 53 times more likely to rank #1 on Google. Since Google acquired YouTube, the number of influence videos have on your search engine ranking has increased significantly.

Make sure to optimize your videos on Youtube for SEO. Make sure your YouTube videos are SEO-friendly. Make titles and descriptions that are intriguing. Include a link to your company’s website, products, and services. Provide a path for potential clients to take the next step. Also, to promote even more activities, look into the realm of interactive videos.

Bottomline 

Video marketing is becoming more popular and affordable. Video usage is increasing due to technological advances, but it’s also because it’s simple to share across the world. Creating marketing videos for your brand involves both creativity and an understanding of human psychology. The combination of these elements enables true advertising miracles at a low cost.

Emotionally charged, creative video advertising can be spread on the Internet in a matter of days, getting millions of views. And that is precisely the goal of video marketing!

Let’s face it, getting the attention of your target audience isn’t easy in today’s marketing environment. 

The concept of viral content is a modern enigma. It might appear as though videos of singing babies or fascinating deep-dive profiles of Instagram influencers suddenly gain millions of views. When it comes to viral material, there is frequently an unexplainable element of luck and timing, but for the most part, it boils down to planning, thinking, and attention to detail.

Here are four tips to create content that goes viral:

1. Know your audience

Successful content is entirely dependent on your audience and how they respond to it. 

The first step to “virality” begins with your audience. Understand why your followers follow you, understand their background, then deliver posts that fulfill what they’re looking for. It’s hard to grow an audience without first establishing your brand and deciding the sort of follower you want to attract. Determine your desired niche or area of expertise, such as industry expert, social media maven, or brand influencer.

It’s hard to grow an audience without first establishing your brand and deciding the sort of follower you want to attract. Determine your desired niche or area of expertise, such as industry expert, social media maven, or brand influencer. 

2. Find a great hook

When it comes to social media, people want to know upfront what they’re looking at. 

People will see your title and choose whether or not to click through. Include precise and actionable information in your headline to make it more appealing. Use a statistic in your headline or inform people how many tips they will receive. 

People actively seek out information that guarantees a reaction because we know that if we respond, others will most likely react as well, ensuring that your shared content receives guaranteed views and likes.

3. Create content worth sharing

Another way to create viral content is to write content that people can relate to. Once you’ve captured the attention of your audience, you must deliver on the emotion or content promised in your hook.

People watch silly cat videos on the internet because they feel something when they watch them – a sense of levity in a chaotic world, a connection to a cherished pet, or just the opportunity to chuckle. The video of a cat about to pounce isn’t life-changing, deep, or even somewhat significant, but it does evoke emotion.

The most current trend in internet content is toward authenticity, which acts as an emotional hook in and of itself. After the audience complained that they didn’t want to see picture-perfect versions of life, the Influencers or content creators are now sharing about their hardships, life lessons, and day-to-day lifestyle

Their content is effective because people can connect with and relate to it, and they believe that others in their networks will as well. This is how content becomes popular: the creator understands what their audience wants to see and delivers it in a way that encourages the audience to share it.

4. Make it visual

The packaging of everything needs to be pretty, isn’t it? Can you imagine the value of video if a static image is worth a thousand words? 

Many industry professionals propose producing video content across social media networks to promote engagement lately. You might believe that making a viral video is risky, but there are a few things you can do to help your content take off. 

To begin, keep in mind that longer isn’t always better when it comes to videos. The majority of individuals use mobile devices to access social media. This indicates that people are probably on the go or multitasking while watching your video. The key to a good video is to quickly hook viewers with an engaging title or thumbnail image, and then to end the video before they are bored.

 

Bottomline

In today’s oversaturated digital market, making viral content is more difficult than ever. A great social media post requires a combination of attention to detail, planning, and chance. A solid hook, good content, and an awareness of what your audience wants to see are the three components of viral content. 

How you approach social media now should be an extension of yourself — an extension of who you are. Don’t try to be something or someone you’re not. Don’t try to hack the algorithm. Just show up as your true authentic self and watch what happens.

 

For external to the sector, financial technology may seem completely alien. The truth is, however, that the world of fintech (finance technology) is not so far removed from our daily associations – we use it all the time, whether we’re fully aware of it or not. More than that, however, is that fintech leads the way in data-driven marketing, allowing for great strides to be made in this aspect. 

Joining us for this issue of the Marketing Expert Series, is the Head of Marketing for award-winning fintech company, Finology: Vahid Ebrahimi Fakhari. Passionate about data-driven digital marketing and the impact that it is making across all kinds of industries, Vahid takes us through his – and Finology’s – story.


Welcome to the Marketing Expert Series, Vahid! Thank you for joining us! You’ve done so many amazing things in your life, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now? 

Thank you for inviting me, it’s my pleasure. 

Originally from Iran, I’ve decided to pursue my studies in Malaysia for a Bachelor in Marketing and a Master in Business Administration (MBA). 

After graduating, it was quite difficult to find a job that fit my education qualification. So instead of just waiting for the mountain to fall on my lap, I took a job at a start-up called Loanstreet, (a financial marketplace under Finology) as an intern to kick start my career. I took this opportunity to sharpen my hard and soft skills. After much blood, sweat and tears, metaphorically speaking, I managed to get myself converted into a full-time employee as the company’s Digital Marketing Executive. 

Over the past few years, I have worked on multiple aspects of marketing and business development from campaign ideation to execution, developing marketing strategies, expanding revenue streams, and working closely with clients and partners on multiple projects. 

Fast forward to today, I’m Head of Marketing for Finology and leading Loanstreet our marketplace platform. 

What was it that drew you to this line of work? Was it something specific?

During my first year of working as a digital marketer, I found out that I enjoy creating data-driven strategies based on out-of-the-box thinking, and that’s what gives me fire. The fact that what I do requires both critical thinking and creativity made me pursue this line of work. It’s not just one thing or one set of skills to be good at: it’s a mixture of soft and hard skills and I realized I enjoy being a generalist and contributing to the holistic growth of the business.  

Currently, you are the Head Of Marketing for Finology. Please tell us more about Finology and the work the company does.

Finology is a FinTech company that specializes in enabling seamless access to financial and insurance products. Our mission is to simplify the process within the conventional financial sectors through our API services and market distribution channels. 

Our recent recognition includes being the Seedstars’ Global Winner of World Competition 2020/21 and Frost & Sullivan’s Asia Pacific InsurTech Entrepreneurial Company of the year (2020).

Data-driven marketing has been shifting the way in which many industries are approaching their marketing strategies. Is it the same for you and Finology? Why do you think that data-driven marketing is becoming such an important aspect of businesses?

Data is fundamental to marketing – always has, and always will be. 

Traditionally, marketers use data like market studies that were available at the time and their assumption of the target market to meet marketing objectives, which often requires a lot of trial and error. 

Today, where businesses are mostly in the digital space and with digital tools in place, the data that marketers get are in real-time. It means that marketers can now measure, analyse and improve their marketing strategies and optimise their campaigns in real-time by personalising the customer experience, targeting well-defined marketing segments, building long-term engagements that lead to customer retention while getting new customers.

Now, COVID-19 – the pandemic has had a clear impact on all sorts of industries; in what ways has it affected Finology and your strategies there?

We did feel the pinch. Fortunately, because of the diversity of the products and services we offer, we managed to tackle the situation. Of course, we had to re-strategise and shift the focus on the products and services that demand was spiking. 

For example, due to movement control orders, motor insurance renewal centres were closed and people had to renew their insurance online. This created a spike in demand. Finology provides online insurance renewal through API services by enabling distribution channels to provide this service digitally. This service is available on our very own marketplace platform, Loanstreet, as one of the very first movers in this sector.

Another instance would be that during this pandemic, we can see a spike in online content consumption. Since we also produce personal financial content via our marketplace, Loanstreet, we took this opportunity to refocus on increasing traffic to our blog.

Are you anticipating any long-lasting trends based on what the fintech industry has experienced during the pandemic?

The pandemic has accelerated the shift to online banking, advancing the existing trend by several years. Many people who switch to using online services during the quarantine will continue to do so even after things are fully back to normal. Customer behaviours have changed and financial institutions must follow it and work with fintech companies to digitise their services. 

What about you, personally, when this pandemic is over, what’s next for you?

I can’t wait to start travelling, meeting my friends and colleagues more often. As much as working remotely is a new normal, I believe meeting face to face helps ideas to thrive and build stronger relationships.

Any advice you’d give to young and aspiring marketers specialists? 

Don’t limit yourself to your job description. Learn from different aspects of your work and business. It’s always good to be very good at a certain set of skills, but also it’s important to know why you are doing what you are doing.  

As a marketer, you are the frontline of the company and it’s important to know other parts of the business. So you have to have good critical thinking skills to understand your business, products and audience, learn about your competitors, get insights from other teams, do A/B tests and make sure to prioritise your marketing efforts based on your ROI.  

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Vahid. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you?

People can always connect with me on LinkedIn.

Digital marketing has taken a turn since 2020, expanding and growing into industries it hadn’t really touched before. Demand for digital tools like cloud computing and enterprise management software has increased. Marketing cloud software has never been more important. Growth and development in the cloud software industry have flown to the top of the list, with brands and companies clamouring for it to support their remote staff and clients.

In this issue of our Marketing Expert Series, we get to meet Elena Sanchez, Marketing Director for ASEAN at Infor. Join us as Elena shares her experiences and her passion for marketing in this truly motivating and inspirational issue of the Series!


Welcome to the Marketing Expert Series, Elena! It’s great to have you with us! Let’s start with the basics, tell us a bit about yourself! How did you get to where you are now? 

Thanks for inviting me!

About me in a couple of words: originally, I’m from Spain, I always have a big smile, and have strong values. I am a mother of two young kids so I run double or triple shifts!

When I was younger, I wanted to create “new things” so I became an Industrial Design Engineer. When I realized that engineers are normally stuck with plans and 3Ds I did a Masters in Marketing Management and started my marketing career in the lovely city of Valencia, Spain.

Then, Singapore…just happened! I was on a fun trip with friends through Asia and I felt in loved with the city so, a month later, I found myself a job… and it’s been almost 11 years!

Now I lead the ASEAN field marketing at Infor.

Cloud Marketing

What was it that attracted you to this line of work?

I am one of those people that really love what they do. I love marketing strategies, understanding the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ behind customer decisions and the beauty of tracking the intent through the sales cycle.

I love the art of testing and bringing the right content that will attract and convert through the right channels. I also love seeing how our customers improve their processes with our software and become brand advocates, that’s the best possible marketing you can do!

To me, in brief, marketing is the art of making the right impression on our customers’ minds so we can find, influence and win their trust to choose our products and stay with us.

The biggest reward for a marketeer like me is seeing our customers become more efficient and bringing that value to their own clients. That’s always the cherry that tops my cake every day.

Looking back at your career, it’s clear you have a lot of experience throughout the region across a variety of industries. Are there any specific experiences that believe helped shape your career?

Dozens of experiences shaped me into the person I am today.

Starting humble and grounded is a key one. My first job in Singapore was in a small local SI/Cloud Computing company. In this role, I learnt to be hands-on to the max and wear many hats, be versatile and work with a tiny budget. I was doing the end-to-end of the campaigns, from the strategy to the graphic design of digital campaigns – thank God, I had a design background! – to the managing of the platforms (google ads etc.) and data analysis.

I couldn’t afford fancy agencies, so I had to think “cheap” and creative and find partners with a budget! I even re-launched the company website and ended up coding meta-keywords, editing content and changing URL titles etc. myself. This truly paid off as most of our leads started coming inbound.

Later I joined the multinational world where I had more resources, proper marketing automation software, multiple stakeholders and teams that would support you and helpful agencies like 2Stallions that could help outsource and scale the campaign management.

In this environment I learnt to adapt and collaborate widely, it is a different ball game where communication is king to avoid siloed work.

Elena Sanchez - Marketing Cloud SoftwareCurrently, you are the Marketing Director for ASEAN at Infor. Can you tell us about Infor and what it is that the company does?

Infor is a multi-billion-dollar Cloud Software company. Our biggest value proposition is around the deep industry-specific design of our software as our Industry Cloud Suites are designed for the industry needs, so the majority of the functionality is there out of the box.

This fact, plus the ability to be truly on a multi-tenant AWS cloud – to save cost, upgrades, maintenance etc. – and combined with our elite customer support makes us a powerful software option in those industries we play in.

Infor is a massive, multinational company with offices all over the world and thousands of employees and customers. What is it like to be a Marketing Director at Infor?

Even if the company is big, you tend to work with the same 50+ regular people. It is a matter of good communication horizontally and vertically while orchestrating the show.

The culture is one of the big pillars for Infor, people here are nice and friendly and my team is just SIMPLY AMAZING! Super-efficient, pro-active and with a big sense of accountancy. I have a lot of love for each of them.

Only one thing to confess, I am a very social person so one of the skills I had to develop through the years in the multi-national environment was to control my long chit-chatting, sometimes you can’t possibly get the job done if you don’t focus and cut to the point.

Does the company’s size impact the way you develop your strategies?

Yes, it certainly does.

Bigger companies usually mean bigger budgets, bigger policies, more tools, stricter brand guidelines and messaging, bigger targets, more reporting, and a longer approval process.

All this impacts the campaign strategy and the timelines to put a campaign to market.

Now, COVID-19 – I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask how it has affected Infor? Has there been a change in demand for your services?

Every problem comes with an opportunity! For example, Supply chain software is in high demand, COVID has caused disruption in logistics globally. Companies had to deal with peaks on demand for certain products, source other materials and products etc. and certainly not all companies were able to cope with changes in demand patterns, track and trace their products through the chain or forecast as needed.

On the other hand, this tiny virus has caused quite a lot of damage in many of our targeted sectors and hence, many of our customers put their IT budgets for software on hold.

However, Infor is still growing despite the pandemic and we are seeing a big shift to “cloud” software. Many companies struggled to provide remote work-from-home work as they were not on the cloud before, or had no way to access it if not in their offices.

How has the pandemic impacted your marketing strategies?

We shifted to 100% digital, what else could we do? We had no other choice than to think digital and think creatively.

All those beautiful fun events in Thailand and elsewhere were converted to sitting in front of laptops at home. No packing and flight needed but also no afterparty with wine mingling with the customers. I never thought of running a large event 100% online, but it is possible! Even virtual wine tasting is possible too!

Where do you see the region as a whole going due to the impact of COVID-19, any lasting B2B trends you think the industry will show as a result of the pandemic?

In my view, 2022 will be a “more normal” year and some trends will continue:

  • Hybrid events with virtual and in person options.
  • Hybrid work arrangements to allow people to work partially or even totally from home as a default.
  • Also, more trust on employees working from home. Previous miss-conception of “work from home” is not efficient.
  • More cloud-based applications, less on-premises software.
  • Possibly some companies will reconsider the amount of travel they used to do and reduce it.

 

Elena Sanchez - Marketing Cloud Software

What about you, when this pandemic is over, what’s next?

  1. Party!!!!! big hugs and large catch ups.
  2. First stop: Spain to see the family.
  3. Make a bucket list of trips to do, get rid of my mask and continue smiling

Any advice you’d give to young and aspiring marketers? 

Recipe for success: listen to your audience, research your key competitors, dare to be different and add a pinch of creativity and lots of love. Test it out and make sure you know how to measure success, run pilot campaigns and scale up what works, analyze results and try again.

Most importantly: enjoy what you are doing and never stop learning!

Thank you for sharing your experiences and insights with us, Elena! How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you or Infor?

People are welcome to email me at elena.sanchez@infor.com

 


The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions will showcase the stories and expertise of marketing experts from around the world, join us as we explore how marketers navigate the challenges of the regions and industries they work in. If you’d like to be featured in a next issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Please reach out to us via email.

If you are interested in building your own company’s digital advertising, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.

 

 

The medical industry is a complicated sector, now more so than ever before. It’s an industry many of us have taken for granted for many years, and it comes with many different facets. When we visit a doctor or go to the hospital, most of us don’t even think about the compliance and credentials that the workers in this industry have to obtain before they can go into practice, we drop in to get the remedy for what ails us and then we’re on our way again. The truth is that the world of medical compliance and accreditation is complex, and takes special understanding to navigate.

MedTrainer is a company that delivers educational and credentialing tools to help support the healthcare market, and leading their marketing efforts is Evan Fehler, Senior Director of Marketing. Join us for this issue of the Marketing Expert Series as Evan explains some of the ins and outs of this fascinating industry.


Hello, Evan! I’m very excited to have you join us for this issue of the Marketing Expert Series! Let’s start with the basics, please tell us a bit about who you are and how you got to where you are now. 

Hi everyone, thanks for having me. 

I got lucky getting into marketing. I was always more of a business owner than a marketer, and a friend of mine helped me get a job on a marketing team in a product owner/GM type of role. My background was leading people and building businesses. 

Marketing turned out to be a great fit.

Currently, you’re the Senior Director of Marketing at MedTrainer. Can you tell us about MedTrainer and what it does?

MedTrainer was founded in 2013 to deliver affordable learning, compliance tools, credentialing, and accreditation support to the healthcare market all in one platform. In 2015, we launched the first iteration and quickly became a success primarily through word of mouth. 

Today, MedTrainer has over 2,500 customers representing over 15,000 healthcare locations and supports over 300,000 healthcare professionals. We maintain a blend of technology and human-assisted support which has led to something unique in the software industry.

Our goal at Medtrainer is to make healthcare compliance easy. We do this by simplifying 3 core areas: learning, credentialing, and compliance tools. This ranges from training to accreditation, incident reporting, and so much more. 

For example, we offer medical eLearning that helps medical and support staff maintain the education requirements placed upon those who work in the industry. As you can imagine, compliance and accreditation requirements can change from time to time, and, as a result, it can be tricky to stay on top of it. 

Aside from education, we also help our clients with their credentialing process and maintain their regulatory compliances. To do this, we offer different software based on our platform.

And what does a Senior Director of Marketing role look like at MedTrainer? Are there specific channels or strategies that you use to raise awareness about the work that MedTrainer does?

I oversee the marketing team and strategy development. To me, marketing is simple: the better aligned you are with sales the more likely you are at being successful in supporting them which is our #1 goal. 

On the whole, I like to say healthcare is 10 years behind when it comes to marketing and sales strategies; one step ahead of government. My team and I focus on bringing modern marketing tactics to a slow-to-adopt industry.

I imagine that MedTrainer is earning its stripes at the moment, so to speak. How has the global pandemic affected your marketing strategies? 

Healthcare has stayed busy but the industry focus hasn’t necessarily been on compliance software. As a whole we want to stay relevant and helpful to the market so when the time comes that they are ready to buy, MedTrainer is who they will go with.

Do you foresee any lasting trends for the industry that you will need to navigate as a digital marketer in the future?

Marketing used to be a game of ‘how do you catch people that were ready to buy’. That’s table stakes now. Nowadays, marketing has become a game of ‘how do you build your brand’. In today’s game, it’s important to have brand recognition and make what you do clear so that when your audience is ready to buy you’ve already won the race.

Before you joined MedTrainer, you were Director of Digital Marketing at SmartRecruiters, a company aimed at helping companies recruit the best talent – it’s a very different industry from what you are in now. Was it a tricky transition?

SmartRecruiters was very enterprise-focused whereas MedTrainer is very SMB/MM focused and we are beginning the transition to the enterprise. The strategies, operations, and daily activities are very different between the two. Fortunately, before SmartRecruiters, I came from Nextiva which was SMB/MM focused as well, which helped this transition immensely.

You also do some digital marketing consulting. It’s something we’re seeing more and more, with many digital marketers opting to share their knowledge outside their primary company – from your own experience, why do you think that this is the case?

As I mentioned before, catching people in the market for your software is table stakes – the minimum – and yet there are a lot of companies who don’t have the skillset to set that up. There’s a big opportunity for all demand marketers to take advantage of consulting opportunities, and I highly recommend it.

Any advice you’d give to young and aspiring marketers or entrepreneurs? 

Get closer with the sales teams. Be a business owner. Be a learner, steal everyone else’s best ideas.

The secret to getting promoted is driving results and having clear career development conversations with your boss. State your goal and ask what it will take to get there. This is the part that most people miss. After that, it’s just about delivering results.

Thanks for taking part in this Series, Evan, and for sharing your experiences with us! How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you?

Thank you! You can connect with me on LinkedIn.

A lot of digital marketers seem to find their way into their specialties because of some discovered passion for the field, either early on in their education or later in their careers. As we’ve seen throughout the Marketing Expert Series so far, digital marketers come in all shapes, sizes, and many different backgrounds. It takes all kinds of experiences and approaches to make a difference in the world of digital these days, and it’s that variety and passion for innovation that makes digital marketers such fascinating individuals.

To emphasize that very point and joining us for this week’s issue of the Marketing Expert Series, is Shun Di Lim, Content Manager for Hewlett Packard Asia Pacific. Join us as Shun Di talks about how her digital marketer’s journey came when someone took a leap of faith, and take a peek into the world of digital marketing for a high-flying brand like HP.


Hi, Shun Di! I’m very excited to have you join us for this issue of the Marketing Expert Series! Thank you! Let’s get warmed up. Can you tell us a bit about who you are and how you got to where you are now? 

Having been an avid gamer since young, an IT degree was a natural choice for me to pursue; I was fantasizing about a career in the gaming industry! In my final semester at Monash University, I met my first boss, Datuk Tim Garland, Director of TBWA Malaysia. Datuk Tim was on the judging panel for a business case presentation competition in which I took second place. That’s when I took a leap of faith into the world of advertising and marketing for the next 5 years. 

Currently, I am with Hewlett Packard (HP) as a Content Manager, Asia Pacific based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

You’ve been in and around the world of digital for many years – really since the start of your career. What drew you to this line of work? 

I was extremely fortunate to have a boss who took a chance on me. He believed in me and gave me freedom and opportunity to pitch ideas. He let me dabble in digital marketing on my own, strategising, branding, and analytics for various clients. To upskill my knowledge, I completed Facebook and Google certifications. 

After three and a half years with TBWA, I was head-hunted to join other agencies, where I was presented with opportunities to gain an understanding of a holistic approach to digital marketing, adding performance marketing to my portfolio. 

Clearly, you have a passion for digital – marketing, websites, performance, advertising – you have experienced the full scope of what the digital world has to offer. Is there any facet you are more passionate about over others?

This is a hard question to answer! Can I say all of them? 

Having experienced multiple facets of digital marketing, I am able to understand the intricacies and insights that connect one facet to another, resulting in a more polished outcome.

With the ever changing and evolving world of technology and social media, one has to be constantly kept abreast of the latest, especially with performance marketing and SEO, to get the best bang-for-buck or pivot to ensure impactful campaigns.

Currently, you are the Content Manager, Asia Pacific at HP. What is it like to manage content for such a widely recognized brand?

I joined HP at a very exciting time, growing our online store – HP Store – and establishing our brand throughout Asia. My role is to develop content strategies with a team of designers, writers, and developers, aimed at creating user-friendly gateways to our online stores. 

I really enjoy the process of analysing competitor positioning and laying out content on a landing page to increase traffic and average time on site. The most satisfying part is when all our hard work is rewarded through conversions for the store. 

I like the challenge in producing positive results for an already recognised brand, and strategising for multiple customer segments.

You landed this role at HP in 2020, when COVID-19 interfered with many lives and companies. What is it like, to enter a brand new job during a pandemic? 

I was enjoying my stint as a Digital Marketing and Performance Manager with a Muslim travel and tours agency for a year when COVID-19 hit and I lost my job. 

Fortunately, digital marketing is even more relevant during the pandemic and I am  grateful to have landed a job with HP in a short span of time. Like a duck to water, I quickly eased into the Content Manager role and am currently enjoying both job satisfaction and the great company culture. 

Do you have any suggestions or advice for other job seekers who might be having a hard time finding employment during these uncertain times?

Stay hungry and curious. Every interview is an opportunity to learn how to sell yourself, your experience to a prospective employer. Upskill yourself and get certified. Learn something outside your job scope, outside your comfort zone.

Lastly, always remember: When one door closes, another opens. 

Has COVID-19 impacted your work and the strategies you’ve had to use to overcome the challenges?

The nature of my work with a global computer organisation and its ePlatform had no negative impact. The team is constantly in touch via Teams, Zoom, and email. Working from home is a plus, no need to wake up early and rush through heavy traffic to and from work.

Are there any digital trends that have come out during the pandemic that you think we need to think about for the future?

Companies could get used to the idea of a remote workforce, especially those with a digital-centric business model. Good thing Zoom existed well before the pandemic, hence working from home and communication was made almost seamless. 

What about when, finally, this pandemic is over  – any big plans for you?

Travel, travel, and travel! I can’t wait to embrace the wanderlust and explore different countries and cultures. Also, to reconnect with friends socially in person.

Any advice you’d give to young and aspiring marketers or entrepreneurs? 

Advertising is a great place to build your experience but brace yourselves, working hours could be long and the work is hard. 

Always follow your heart. If you have a passion, make that your career then your job won’t feel like just a job. 

Thanks for taking part in this Series, Shun Di, and for sharing your experiences with us! How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you?

Hit me up at LinkedIn or by email!


The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions will showcase the stories and expertise of marketing experts from around the world, join us as we explore how marketers navigate the challenges of the regions and industries they work in. If you’d like to be featured in a next issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Please reach out to us via email.

If you are interested in building your own company’s digital advertising, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.

Event planning and public relations are integral parts of the marketing industry. Both aspects are entire disciplines under the umbrella of digital marketing, and take skill and experience to do well. Planning events and staying on top of media relations is demanding, often requiring dedicated managers to keep on top of the many tasks and resources that come with it. You might say it takes an expert marketer who lives for event planning and PR alike.

In this month’s issue of the Marketing Expert Series, we meet one of those experts. Michelle Chan has more than 20 years of experience in international event planning and management and PR. The Director of Event Planning and Public Relations for the Carat Comms Event Management organization for the last 15 years, Michelle is an extremely skilled marketer, focussing on beauty pageant planning and self-confidence. Join us on this rare opportunity to dig into the world of event planning and public relations and see it through Michelle’s passionate eyes.


Welcome to the Marketing Expert Series, Michelle, thank you for taking the time to share your insights and experiences with us today. I’m very excited to have you join us for this issue! Can you tell us a bit about who you are and how you got to where you are now? 

I am an event planner. I like working in a structured environment and executing tasks step by step. My passions are really about all things related to beauty; I believe the beauty industry is everlasting and always in fashion. It is human nature to be attracted to beautiful things and beautiful people and it’s a universal law that products marketed and promoted by beautiful individuals sell.

In the beginning, I started as an event organiser for shopping centres and community services. I began organising beauty contests for the local Lions Club’s charity programme at the national level, after that, I slowly graduated to full beauty pageants, and evolved into organising international beauty contests in Malaysia and overseas.

I am especially grateful that business associates or companies from overseas trust me to handle their entire event planning project locally or out of the country. I wouldn’t be where I am today if not because of these open doors and opportunities.

You have a lot of experience in the world of international event planning, marketing PR, and media – more than 20 years, I understand. What drew you to this line of work?

At heart, I love the planning work that goes into projects.  I enjoy the feeling of fulfilment and a sense of achievement after the completion of a project or event. It also helps that I like making new friends and meeting new people.

In event business, I get to meet people from all over the world and with all sorts of backgrounds, skills, and industry experiences. The result has been to broaden my horizon and my exposure to the world.

When I started as an event organiser, I never expected to venture into public relations and media, let alone social media marketing. The nature of the event management, however, is such that you realize quickly that you have to learn about event publicity, and engage with a wide range of media including organising media interviews, press conferences, media launches and the like. As time passed, my experiences grew and I picked up the skills and knowledge I needed to really master this area of expertise.

Your passion, as you explained it, is for event planning and talent management. You’ve been the Director of Event Planning and Public Relations for Carat Comms Management for 15 years now. It is my understanding that you are a founding member? Tell us about the work that Carat Comms does? What is it all about?

Carat Comms Management is an integrated marketing company that provides services in the event, PR, and content planning across different industries. We create PR campaigns through online and offline activities to engage with the customers such as media interviews, media planning, and social media advertisement media buy. We also offer event productions in different styles and themes to match with their brand image and so promote brands and grow their business effectively.

We have worked with businesses from a wide range of industries including lifestyle, property, beauty, fashion, accessories, F&B, skincare, retail, e-commerce and luxury brands. Apart from the local market here in Malaysia, we also receive regular enquiries from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the Middle East, to mention a few.

Just so it’s out there, I think many people around the world have only a vague understanding of beauty pageants. Are they really only about popularity and ‘who’s the prettiest’ or is there more to it?

This is a common misunderstanding, there’s certainly a lot more to beauty pageants than meets the eye! It is a total package that makes one person stand out. The look, personality, communication skills and most importantly the heart. Beauty is inside out but not just skin deep. Community contribution is an important part of our judging criteria. During the judging, the beauty contestants have to present their community services portfolio to the judges.

It’s not every day that we get the opportunity to speak to someone so integral to organizing events like this – I think a lot of us don’t fully understand what it takes to organize and run a pageant (or any other event on a large scale). What sort of challenges do you face with event planning of this nature?

I think the greatest challenge is how you manage the human relationships – these intangible resources that require maintenance and care as much as any tangible assets. Fostering good human relationships is fundamental to our business because we work with people. In this line of work, I have to deal with many parties ranging from suppliers and vendors, sponsors, media for contestants, VIPs, sometimes I even have to handle the contestants’ parents!

As a result, it’s vital that we foster good relationships with all these parties and build trust so we can get things done smoothly. I am very grateful to everyone who has put their trust in me as their leader, otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to get things done effectively and efficiently and I would not be where I am today.

Is there any specific marketing or PR strategies that you have employed over the years that you find to be most effective when spreading awareness about events?

The marketing strategies that we use largely revolve around building publicity through multiple channels. It really depends on the nature of the business or events and their target audiences, but generally speaking, we will select the most suitable media channel to reach out to. In the past, we focussed more on mainstream media, nowadays, however,  social media marketing also plays an important role in the marketing of events.

What is it about event planning that you are most passionate about? Is it the people or the energy or something else entirely?

For me, it’s the people in each of the events, projects, or programmes. With each event, we get to work with different people from different industries and learn new things from working with them. I always look forward to new projects and the new challenges that come with the different themes, structures, and people. I’ve discovered that a new project and new challenges inject new energy into me that keeps me moving!

Of course, Carat Comms isn’t the only work you do nowadays, is it? You are also the Director of Marketing and Business Development at the Gurkhas Group Facility Management. Can you share a little about the work you do there?

The Gurkhas Group is a Hong Kong-based facility management company that expanded to Malaysia in the year 2019. Gurkhas Malaysia focuses on providing commercial cleaning services. I am the local director and founding member in Malaysia in charge of business development for the Malaysian market.

 How does the work vary between Carat Comms and the Gurkhas Group? Is there any overlap between the roles?

My marketing skills and entrepreneurial experience gathered in Carat Comms helps in establishing growth and business development for the Gurkhas Group. The overlapping part is really in the marketing and leadership skills.

What’s great about these skills, particularly marketing and digital sales skills, is that they are applicable across different industries. Good leadership skills, of course, are essential for any business. It’s why I am always looking for opportunities to learn and grow to improve my leadership quality.

 

On top of that, I understand you’re also a ‘Certified Image Grooming Consultant’ at Colour Me Beautiful. What exactly is a ‘Certified Image Grooming Consultant’? What kind of work do you do in that role?

I train people, especially career women, on personal grooming, to focus on how to build a professional image and essential etiquette in their career development. I cover makeup, dressing, social/business etiquette and run a ‘walk in high heels’ workshop to build up the body posture and poise. I’m a big believer that if you look good, you will feel good and confident. Grooming is essential nowadays in order to look outstanding and to convince people you can bring them value.

I can’t imagine it’s been an easy time in event planning this last year. Has COVID-19 impacted your work and the strategies you’ve had to use to overcome the challenges?

Covid 19 has seriously affected our physical events. As you can imagine, all our in-person event planning has been stopped and is pending since the beginning of 2020. I have tried to pivot to virtual events but found that it lacks the impact and grandeur of physical ones.  Many of our clients, however, have shifted to online and digital PR, and as a result, we moved on to provide strategic PR planning and campaign solutions for them.

 Are there any event planning trends – like virtual events, for example – that you think will continue to impact the event planning process and industry after the pandemic is under control?

Some business events will be partly or totally changed to online events. People have become used to these changes, and it does improve the event’s reach – virtual events are easier to get to, after all.

It will depend, however, on the nature of the event! Not all events are effective online or virtually. This is especially true for entertainment and experiential events; the online impact is not as great as the physical event where people get to experience the impact of the ambience of audio, visual and the stage show. On top of that, it’s human nature for people to connect face-to-face; people are getting bored meeting online in the long term during the pandemic period. As a result, I believe some events will return to the physical after the pandemic is under control.

Any advice you’d give to young and aspiring event planners or marketeers? 

Be creative, resilient, and work very hard to collect hands-on experience. Be still and calm in any circumstance and always have a backup plan for any event you are planning.

Be tech-savvy: keep up to date with the latest technology in marketing and content creation. Marketing trends change daily, if we stop learning we will be left behind and get replaced by younger generations who are tech native.

Thanks for sharing your insights and experiences with us, Michelle! How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you?

Please connect with me via

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michellechan7233/

Email: Michelle.chan@caratcomms.com.my

 

Have you ever mistaken social media listening and social media monitoring as the same thing? The truth is, the two are not the same, the former is the action taken after the latter.

Social monitoring is simply looking at social media channels. You do this to keep tabs on your brand mentions, monitor engagement rate and check relevant hashtags or industry trends.

Social listening, on the other hand, looks beyond the data. It is the process of pulling insights from those social mentions and customer conversations to identify room for improvement and take action.

If you’re only monitoring, you’re probably missing out on crucial insight about your brand. Incorporate the human side of data into your marketing strategy to grow your company and become an industry leader.

More About Social Listening

Social media generates countless business opportunities—and social listening can help you unravel them. This process allows you to understand what people think about your brand, their problems or needs, how they compare you to the competition, and the similar information.

The main thing to remember is that social listening involves monitoring. It analyses the information gathered and the mood behind the data to help you with many different aspects of your business, including:

  • Boost customer engagement
  • Manage PR crises on social media
  • Track your competitors’ marketing activities
  • Identify influencers and brand ambassadors
  • Improve your social media sales funnel
  • Stay ahead of trends and the competition

Social Listening Glossary

As with other disciplines, social media listening is full of marketing terms and jargon that can become overwhelming, especially for new marketers. 

At 2Stallions, we’re well aware that translating the marketing lingo can be tricky, so we’re here to help decipher the code so you not only understand but can learn the language for yourself. Here are some basics to get you started:

Brand Authority, also known as company reputation, refers to how the audience perceives a brand. Several factors can influence authority, including content, active online presence, and engagement over social media.

Brand Awareness describes how recognisable a business is to its customers. It involves remembering the brand’s name, its expertise in the field, customer service quality, products or services, and so on.

Brand Health takes brand authority and awareness a step further. It is a metric that determines how strong a company is and how true the brand in delivering its promises to customers.

Brand Monitoring is the process of tracking various channels to gain insights about the company, its products, brand mentions, and anything connected to the business.

Click-through rate (CTR) is the ratio of the number of users who click on a specific link or call-to-action. Businesses use this to measure the success of a social media advertising campaign.

Communication Channels refers to the platforms used to engage and reach out to potential and existing customers. It consists of the brand’s official website, blog, and social media profiles (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).

Consumer Insights are the interpretation of customer data, behaviours, and feedback. They help businesses understand their customers’ expectations, improve customer service, and devise new marketing strategies.

Crisis Monitoring is a series of actions performed to prepare for and prevent damages when a company faces issues.

Dark Social describes the invisible social shares that happen through untraceable or private communication channels, such as messenger, email, and text messages.

Engagement refers to the activities that the audience take on social media to communicate with a brand. Examples of such are likes and favourites, comments, DMs, replies, shares and retweets, clicks, and mentions.

An influencer is a person with a large follower base on social media because of his or her authority and knowledge in a specific industry.

Keywords are the words that describe best what you want to find on social media platforms and the web.

Reach tells how many unique viewers or social media users have seen a piece of content (i.e., blog, video, etc.).

Share of Voice (SOV) is a term borrowed from traditional media, which refers to the number of times a brand is mentioned on the web and social media.

Social Media Mining is the process of extracting data from user-generated content on social media sites and mobile apps. Businesses use this to find patterns and trends that can get them a competitive advantage.

Social Mention refers to name-dropping a person or brand on social media. It can either be positive or negative and can share a public perception of a brand.

Social Selling is a strategy that uses social media platforms to establish rapport with prospective customers.

Social Sentiment describes the emotions behind social media. It is expressed through posts or comments on social networks, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, and more.

Why Use Social Media Listening

Creating a solid listening strategy will help your business in many ways. It lets you connect with your audience, foresee and avoid disasters, monitor your competitors, find your tribe, discover new sales leads, and make your brand stand out.

1. Engage Customers

It is a rule of thumb for businesses to listen to what people say on social media channels. Thanks to social listening tools, tracking and gathering online mentions has become a lot easier.

By analysing brand mentions or online discussions, marketers can engage with customers and respond to queries immediately.

For example, a customer mentioned your brand on her social media post to raise an issue about your product. This instance allows you to address the concern. You can either reply directly to the post, share a tweet or FB post that clears out the misunderstanding, or do both.

Think of it as a long-term marketing strategy. If you keep your customers in the loop and interact with them, you encourage them and more people to trust your brand and take action.

2. Manage PR Crises

A positive social sentiment makes customer engagement easy to achieve. So what happens when people put your business in a negative light? Simple. The engagement also goes down.

It is good to be aware of any malicious content, spiteful social media users, and other negative mentions that could undermine your brand. And, social media listening can also help with that.

For example, you can create an alert “notify name@company.com if more than 200 negative posts circulate on social media in any given hour.”

Fake news and negative word-of-mouth can spread like wildfire on social media. With this crisis management solution, you can control potential crises and prevent a PR nightmare from happening.

3. Track Competitors

Monitoring your competitors is never a bad thing. It helps you identify the trends in your industry, check out similar products, and gain better knowledge about customer preferences, among other benefits.

And the best part? You can reveal their weaknesses and create better solutions that cater to the audience’s needs.

Such things are now easy to pull off thanks to social listening. The process lets you collect competitors’ data from social platforms and forums and find trends or useful insights.

Whether you want to know what events your competitions held or are holding, how attendees feel about the event, what type of content appeals to most people, and the like, social media can provide you with an answer.

Get meaningful insights and data out of online conversations and brand mentions. This strategy will never fail in making your name or products more attractive than your rivals.

4. Identify Influencers

Online personalities or content creators in social media, like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram are now influencing consumer’s choices, hence the term influencer marketing.

Because of their engaging content and the trust they built with their following base, online audiences see them as opinion leaders and value their thoughts, product recommendations, and so on.

In fact, most people found influencers more realistic, more authentic, and easier to relate to than celebrities. No wonder more and more businesses partner with influencers to increase brand awareness, boost organic traffic and engagement, and generate sales.

If you’ve not engaged with an influencer before, social media listening can help you get started. This marketing process will help you gain insights into who are the important people to connect with, so you can establish a partnership with your natural brand advocates and look for opportunities to collaborate.  

5. Discover Sales Leads

Social listening also plays a significant role in discovering new sales leads. Once your online mentions are gathered and filtered, you can find the right audience and reach out to them.

Decoding your brand mentions allows you to join discussions as they happen, address the online public’s concerns, provide timely solutions, and most importantly—develop relationships with potential customers.

As the old business saying goes, “People do not like to be sold, but love to buy.” Customers hate being sold to right away. They want to feel in control of their purchasing decisions rather than having someone else tell them what to do.

This is where social media mining comes in handy. Such a process makes social media listening more effective as it helps uncover hidden patterns and trends from social media platforms.

When you understand people’s sentiments, you can nurture customer relationships and create an effective social selling strategy.

6. Improve Brand Image

As discussed, social listening does not focus alone on metrics or data analytics. Instead, it deciphers the sentiment behind every bit of data.

The fact that social media listening is two-fold means that it can help in establishing a powerful brand identity.

It provides an unbiased evaluation of audience preferences and needs, which can help in the following:

  • drive customer engagement;
  • develop lasting relationships;
  • learning trends for improvement;
  • managing online brand reputation;
  • optimising communication activities;
  • establishing a position in the industry

How to Get Started with Social Media Listening

Now that you know how following and interpreting social media conversation help your business thrive, let us look at the steps to creating a winning social listening strategy.

1. Define Your Goals

The first step in the process is to define your goals. Be clear on what you want to get out of social media listening.

Setting a goal will help plan all of your efforts going forward. It jumpstarts the whole strategy as it lets you choose the topics, brand terms, interactions, and keywords to monitor on social media platforms.

Here are a few goals that you could build your strategy around:

  • Drive website traffic
  • Manage your brand reputation
  • Understand your consumers better
  • Increase engagement with your audience
  • Create relevant content for your target audience
  • Gain more followers and retain your existing customers

2. Determine Channels to Monitor

Once you have your goals set, determine what social media channels you like to monitor. This next step informs you whether your goals are achievable on the platforms that your audience use.

For example, your goal is to drive more website traffic. Facebook and Twitter are the best platforms for this because they allow users to post links, unlike Instagram.

It helps to audit first each social media app or site. Know where most of your audience hang out and where they interact with your brand. In this way, you can keep a laser focus on social listening initiatives.

3. Choose The Right Tools

It is crucial to pick a social media listening tool that will enable you to discover your social media mentions, regardless of your company size or level of competition.       

Below are some factors to consider when choosing a social listening tool:  

  • Business needs. Check whether the tool meets your business needs—be it PR and marketing, customer service, security and compliance, customer research.
  • Pricing models. While “free” is a popular price point, free-trial tools provide limited functionality. It is better to opt for fee-based offerings that can best accommodate your needs.
  • User management. How many people will use the tool? Can people use the platform simultaneously? These are a few user-related questions that you should keep in mind before sealing a deal with a social listening tool vendor.
  • Software/ Tool features. Look at the tool’s features and compatibility. Does it have a single dashboard? Can it analyse a whole range of metrics, such as trending themes, media exposure, social sentiment, and share of voice? Questions like these can help you decide on selecting the right social listening software for your business.
  • Flexibility. A platform that allows integration with existing tools (i.e., Google Analytics, Hootsuite, etc.) is a must-have. It enables you to incorporate social media listening seamlessly into your business strategy and allows you to share reports with everyone.

4. Create Action Plans

The last step to creating a social media listening strategy is taking action. Use the insights you gathered in mapping out a series of activities that can help you achieve your goals.

For example, your primary aim is to improve your brand image. There are two things that you must do. First, make sure to respond to complaints and questions quickly. Second, take time to acknowledge and reply to positive mentions.

Bonus: The Best Tools for Social Listening

Keeping tabs across social media channels requires a great deal of time and effort. Thankfully, several tools can make social media monitoring more manageable.

Here is a list of social listening tools that you can use as reference:

  1. Awario
  2. BrandWatch
  3. BuzzSumo
  4. Falcon.io
  5. Hootsuite
  6. Keyhole
  7. Mention
  8. Oktopost
  9. Sprout Social
  10. Tailwind

The Takeaway

As more people turn to social media for product information and business research, the need for monitoring your social media channels increases.

It is indeed impossible to read the minds of your followers or customers. Thanks to social listening, you can now understand the mood behind their social activities. This process gives you access to what people are saying about your brand, industry, or even your competitors.

So, if you have not tried incorporating social media listening into your business strategy, now is the time to jump on the bandwagon.

2Stallions can help you get started, establish a better relationship with your target audience, and never miss a relevant conversation about your brand. Contact us today to learn more.

A digital maturity model (DMM) is a structural framework that companies use to see where they stand in their digital maturity. Most digitally-savvy companies will be aware of a DMM and may understand their place in it, but many struggle to use the model to help them plan their future. To fully understand how a digital maturity model can benefit your company, it’s important to grasp how they work.

What is the Digital Maturity Model?

One of the most common DMMs you encounter when researching them, is the Google and Boston Consulting Group version. These two entities collaborated to build the model which consists of four stages, in this case: Nascent, Emerging, Connected, and Multi-Moment. This model showcases the basics of DMMs – the skeletal structure if you will. Companies often have their own versions, with different names but essentially all DMMs follow the same concepts: 

  • At least 4 phases of digital maturity ranging from ‘beginner to master’ levels. These phases, or stages, come with requisites, digital tools or skills that a company employs at certain stages, that dictate the digital maturity. The names of the stages vary from company to company, so don’t get distracted by the titles. What the Google-Boston model calls ‘Nascent’ others may call ‘Starter’ (at 2Stallions Digital we call it the ‘Basic’ stage).

  • The universal truth of a DMMs is that it plots effectiveness versus efficiency. The aim is to optimize both effectiveness and efficiency, with the last ‘phase’ providing perpetual, lifetime value. Different companies may set different definitions or standards for each stage depending on their business goals.

Why do you need a Digital Maturity Model?

As we mentioned, a digital maturity model is a framework that helps map and guide your company towards a digitally successful future with potential limitless opportunities. Without know where your digital maturity currently stands, it becomes difficult to plot your course to digital maturity. Data shows that a focus on improving digital maturity improves efficiency and effectiveness of marketing and business success.

Essentially, think of a digital maturity model as the roadmap that guides your company through its own digital transformation.

The future is digital. If the global pandemic of the 2020s teaches us anything it’s that digital transformation is not only inevitable, it’s also necessary for company growth and long term survival. Digital transformation drives new business opportunities and operational efficiencies that were previously bottlenecked by traditional systems and processes. With the rise of digital technology, organizations are  able to easily redefine the way they operate, but all that depends on the what stage of digital maturity you are in. Enter the digital maturity model!

How can you use the Digital Maturity Model to Drive Business Growth?

A digital maturity model lays out  priorities and goals needed to achieve the next stage of digital maturity. So where do you start? The first thing is to understand where your company is currently at – is it just beginning its digital transformation, already further into its journey, or close to achieving full digitization? Depending on where you are in your digital transformation journey, that’s where you start with your digital maturity model.

A digital transformation comes with significant opportunities and threats, and it impacts every industry. Increasing digital and online connectivity allows companies to improve their entire business, improving internal cohesion, customer relations, and sales and marketing strategies. 

Depending on what stage you’re in, you can use the DMM to set objectives, targets, and define the strategies and tactics you need to get there. To use our DMM as an example, if we would find that you’re at the ‘Ad Hoc’ stage, where you’re running online ads but need to improve the ROI (return on investment) or perhaps you have a social media presence but aren’t seeing any engagement.

The stage’s name ‘Ad Hoc’ indicates that you might be reacting to developments rather than proactively planning out the strategies to drive them. Working towards the next stage would include the development of a consolidated strategy based on your business needs and objectives. Each stage comes with its own targets and its own direction, aimed at reaching the next stage. 

Final Thoughts

Every business needs a roadmap to get to where it wants to go. With the inevitability of a digital transformation lying in wait for every company, it’s vital that your business learns where it stands in its digital maturity and where it wants to go. Mapping the journey and following the plan it lays out is the biggest strength of having a DMM tailored to your needs. 

Of course, it helps to have a guide on the journey, just to help you navigate. That’s where we at 2Stallions Digital Marketing Agency can help you! We’ve got a decade of experience helping our clients grow their businesses by leveraging digital performance marketing. 

Education is a vital aspect of modern society. Young people learn to navigate the diverse world around them, and grow their social skills during their educational journeys. Education, of course, takes different forms – homeschooling, private tuition, public schools, higher education like universities, etc – but they all have one thing in common: they are all striving to help build a better society through our youth.

Higher education marketing is a role that many of us will have encountered at some point in our lives, whether subconsciously or obviously. Physical flyers or digital advertisements have at all drawn our attention to different educational opportunities. In this issue of the Marketing Expert Series, we delve into the complex and fascinating world of marketing in the higher education industry. Join us as we speak with Ooi Lay Tin, Head of Marketing & Sales at the International University of Malaya-Wales in Kuala Lumpur. With her vast wealth of knowledge, Lay Tin talks in depth about her diverse experience in the industry and her outlook of its future.


Welcome to the Marketing Expert Series, Lay Tin, thank you for coming onboard. Let’s kick off with a little background, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now? 

During my school days in Penang and my uni days in Kuala Lumpur, I was an introvert. I also bloomed late in my career. For a time I worked in the publishing and the retail industry – all very much people-based lines of work. Since then, I have been in the private higher  education industry for some 29 years. 

The demands of a customer-facing and business development role, and adapting to constant change, moulded me into more of an extrovert in my work. I enjoy learning and solving problems. Somehow I never liked standardised operational or compliance work. In marketing, sales, business development, and communications no two days are the same. These areas are always evolving and are even more challenging to navigate in difficult times.

What was it that first attracted you to this work? 

It all started with an opportunity to join an enterprising Malaysia education group (MBf Education Group) and work with the president. The internal Management Development Programme allowed me to move into areas I showed an affinity for.  

At an international marketing conference, a topic on the “Importance of Branding Strategy” really spoke to me. I even did my MBA dissertation on it!  Afterwards, all my bosses gave me opportunities in different roles to help their organisations grow.

Looking back now, I realise that my underlying interest was in writing and communicating, meeting many new people, while further developing myself.

Currently, you’re the Head of Marketing and Sales at the International University of Malaya-Wales (IUMW). It seems like such a unique combination – Malaysia and Wales – can you tell us a bit about IUMW? 

Yes, I am back in an organisation that has links or roots close to my heart. I am a proud alumna of University Malaya. 

IUMW is owned by two prestigious universities – University of Malaya and the University of Wales, UK. Set up 8 years ago, it provides affordable study for students in Malaysia and more than 40 other countries. We offer programmes at the foundation or pre-university level to MBA, DBA and PhD. 

The University is special because of its Dual Awards programmes. When students graduate, they receive 2 certifications, one from IUMW and one from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) in the UK.

Dual Awards programmes also provide a valuable opportunity for students to experience global education by spending a semester abroad at UWTSD in the UK.

What is it like to shape the marketing strategy of a university like IUMW? 

While there are similarities, each university I’ve worked at has its own organisational culture, is at a different product lifecycle stage, and attracts a slightly different market segment. The market strategy depends on differentiation, specialisation, segmentation and positioning. 

Being young, IUMW has a much flatter and leaner structure. With its reputation and management,  the academic quality is very much governed by the University of Malaya, a highly ranked university internationally and the oldest university in Malaysia. 

This year, we looked for modest growth by increasing sales of existing programmes and introducing new online programmes. We are also growing distribution channels using student recruitment agents and direct digital marketing efforts, competitive pricing, and partnerships. Our efforts using omnichannel marketing focus on the highest return initiatives. 

For 2021, it’s about enhancing student experiences and rebuilding consumer confidence in online and blended learning.

Do you think that we will continue to see a growth in the online and blended learning opportunities in Malaysia and South East Asia even after the pandemic is over?

Students need to study and follow well-structured lesson plans so that they can graduate on time. With the uncertainties and the dynamic changes of the last year, institutions are blending online and face-to-face learning. This entails combining online seminars and tutorials with face-to-face delivery prioritised for workshops, and studio and practical laboratory work.

We expect growth; both students and lecturers find this blended method of learning viable. The downsides, however, include lack of social interaction, limited collaborative learning,  and the need for more preparation and adjustment time.

The review of pedagogy (approach to learning), learning design, curricula and assessments  to meet the needs of the future generations and global  competitiveness of the education industry will need a lot of effort.

Before joining IUMW, you worked as the Deputy Director of Marketing at Monash University Malaysia, and before that you were at Taylor’s University College, ACCA and at the International Medical University. You clearly have an affinity for marketing in the education sector. What is it about this industry that drew you to it? 

I’m thankful to have led marketing at 5 top education brands, contributing my ideas, and sometimes even shaping structure at each institution.

Somehow opportunities were always there for me as a higher education marketer and I do like a people or service-related job. At IMU, I worked alongside professors of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and nursing. These super smart yet humble colleagues inspired me. It’s like they say: everyone you meet knows something you don’t. I spent days talking to students and parents about study opportunities in Malaysia and abroad. We shared countless real-life experiences and stories with them. The end goal is to make someone else’s life better. 

Can you give us some insight into your time at Monash and Taylor’s? What was it like? Is IUMW very different?

Private higher education is very competitive and the Ministry of Higher Education strictly regulates it. Taylor’s was always on-the-go and would invest a lot to have top-of-mind recall. It had large marketing budgets and produced amazing work, they still do it today. It was a place determined to be a trendsetter.

It was a privilege to work for Monash. Working with such a strong global brand, I got noticed and was even invited to events as a panel speaker at marketing conferences. I worked with the CMOs in Australia and was involved in brand refresh, brand reputation projects, research positioning, and digital transformation projects. The scale of marketing campaign projects aimed at global audiences amazed me. The ‘Monash – Change it” campaign, for example, focused on research initiatives to bring real positive impact to communities. (For these projects, I worked with Ms Margot Burke and Mr Fabian Marrone, CMOs of Monash University in Australia).

In IUMW, my aim is to help in talent development, team upskilling, spearhead the digital marketing direction, and using resources effectively and efficiently.  Exploring the huge Malay student market is an interesting new project. With the changing customer landscape, my team and I spend time to finetune our customer lookalike audiences and customer personas. We also work with industry and brand names that want to collaborate more with universities.

In every organisation, I have worked with incredible people – colleagues in Malaysia and abroad and  mentors who have become personal friends. It is truly a satisfying industry to be in.

What is the best part of your role? Is there a specific thing you enjoy most about your work?

In a way, it’s about getting visibility. Business viability rests on a strong and visible brand and annual student growth. With this knowledge and the skills I’ve learned, I can go places; I feel that I am seen and heard.

I enjoy working with many different people and learning from them. I like helping academic researchers profile themselves and their outstanding research. I feel relevant when it comes to digital transformation, especially in brand building and key market outreach. There’s so much to learn and I enjoy sharing results with like-minded people from the sales and marketing fields. 

Recently, however, I feel that it’s much more about doing something meaningful for younger people. For example, I feel like we should be working with Student Councils and youth leaders of clubs and societies.

Universities have been under a lot of pressure during the pandemic. How have you and IUMW worked to overcome any obstacles or challenges you’ve had to face this crisis?

When the COVID-19 situation hit universities in March 2020, our priority was the health and safety of our students and staff. Communication and messaging played a key role in this area. 

We also sought the help of our parent universities since we needed to accelerate our digital teaching readiness. Today, we use a plethora of tools such as Google Classroom, Open Learning, Zoom, Discord, and Labster (Science) to deliver the lessons. 

On the marketing front, my team sets up virtual open days and exhibitions, runs live chats and FB sessions, hosts webinars, and responds quickly to our customers. I am grateful to have a team that can work outside the normal office hours; for example, when we reached out to interests from the Middle East markets in the virtual education exhibition. 

What about for you, personally, when this pandemic is over, what’s next for you?

I have yet to see many more exotic places and experience new cultures. Travelling within the country and to other new places abroad such as Scandinavia is on my agenda. Meanwhile, I have earned certifications for coaching and mentoring. I’ve also successfully completed the certification to be an HRDF trainer. 

There is still so much I can offer.  I would like to help SMEs (small-medium enterprises)  set up sales and marketing functions. Help them  build a talent pool, set KPIs, integrate and streamline key processes, that sort of thing.

Now, your career and your many successes are inspiring to women everywhere. I understand that you’ve done some work to help advocate for women entering more C-level, leadership roles. Could you share something about that with us? Why is it so important for women to be part of the leadership fabric?

Women improve the company’s performance and gender-diverse teams have higher sales and profits (Gallup). Having women in leadership roles can bring some balance to male-dominated industries. My contribution would be in the area of ‘brand visibility’. I am glad to assist many female academic staff tell their research-related stories. I also enjoy helping them get noticed by upper management, and be able to compete for and win grants or funding for their projects.

Now is an exciting time for women. We are strong and capable and we need to support one another by acknowledging achievements and encouraging each other.

My colleagues and I look forward to helping  young students and student leaders increase their confidence and unlock their potential. 

Any advice you’d give to young and aspiring marketers, particularly those with an eye for the education sector? 

After all these years, it’s truly a blessing to be in the private higher education sector. It helped me guide my own children in their educational journey and they are making good progress in their respective careers.

All experiences are individual, and for me, it would be to have a love for learning and keep company with knowledge workers. Be curious and have the ability to communicate well with a wide variety of stakeholders, from your customers (students and parents, alumni), corporate colleagues, media agencies, to the rest of the academic  community. We need to emphasize interpersonal skills and learning to sustain conversations. 

The decision to pursue a higher education degree or postgraduate degree requires a lot of research, thought, budgeting or financial commitments, as well as some soul searching for the intended career pathways. A young marketers planning to build a career in this specialised area of marketing should:

  1. Enjoy working with people and be customer-centric or customer focussed. You will have to create campaigns that appeal to the emotions of students and their parents. You don’t work on your own so you need the support of the academic team.
  2. You must be digital savvy. Understand the purpose of your campaigns, and know which need investment: video marketing, podcasts, social media campaigns, website development, Google search, etc.
  3. You should enjoy creative work and  engaging with your target audience. You should also know that you must deliver the right message and outcomes (lower cost per lead, conversion rates, etc).
  4. You can grow in this industry if you are someone who loves to learn and isn’t afraid to  ask “why?” or “how?”.

Things to consider for career growth for young people in this sector:

  1. The international education, distance learning, and virtual learning market are expanding. Aspiring marketers will find lots of opportunities to learn, contribute and to grow. Foreign universities are always looking for talents in Malaysia and the South East Asian markets.
  2. Learn finance and analytics to understand the student enrolment numbers and to help you make business decisions. 
  3. As a staff benefit, most  institutions offer full or partial scholarships for you to continue your postgraduate studies. We look for staff with open mindsets, seeking to do more.

It’s been a great pleasure and privilege to learn more about you and your very impressive career, Lay Tin, thank you for sharing your experiences. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you?

I am quite active on LinkedIn and use it as a learning and engagement tool with people around the globe. I am also active on Instagram @ooilaytin which I use to showcase my home cooked food and travel experiences.


The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions will showcase the stories and expertise of marketing experts from around the world, join us as we explore how marketers navigate the challenges of the regions and industries they work in. If you’d like to be featured in a next issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Please reach out to us via email.

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