Page 1

the singapore

marketer knowledge for marketing excellence


The 4Cs of Innovation


$5.35 incl. GST

18 Zero-budgeting marketing is here to stay, here’s why 22 What Brands must learn from the Entertainment Industry

The Official Publication of the Marketing Institute of Singapore, the National Body for Sales and Marketing

Editor’s Note Dear Readers, Welcome to another issue of The Singapore Marketer (TSM)! On behalf of the contributors and readers, I would like to thank our out-going editor, Mickey Hee, who has invested to advance the profile and content of TSM. Launched in 1993, TSM is always positioned as Marketers’ know-how guide a gateway to connect to what truly matters to Marketers. With me on board now, I will ensure the publication remain its relevance and appeal in the marketing community and beyond.


April - June 2018

Editor Gerry Gabriele Seah Contributing Writers Scott Bales, Dennis Ng, Lynette Seah, Chris Reed, Miguel Bernas, Cat Williams-Treloar MIS EXECUTIVE COUNCIL President Mr Roger Wang 1st Vice President Mr Freddy Tan 2nd Vice President Dr Roger Low Honorary Secretary Ms Gerry Seah Asst Honorary Secretary Mr Dylan Tan Honorary Treasurer Mr Ken Tay Asst Honorary Treasurer Mr Lee Kwok Weng Production, Advertising & Circulation Joreen Yee Design & Layout Kelvin Wang Publisher Marketing Institute of Singapore 51 Anson Centre #03-53 Singapore 079904 Tel: (65) 6327 7580 Fax: (65) 6327 9741 Email: Website:

We are diving straight into the hottest topic in 2018 for this issue! Digital Marketing and Digital Transformation has been the most current talking points for Marketers, especially with the introduction of cashless payment modes, Google display ads and search engine optimisation in the last five years. According to Admaster Digital Marketingtrend 2018 report, 70% of advertisers continue to increase digital marketing budget, this goes to prove that digital campaigns works for most brands, even more so than the traditional media. Unlike traditional media, digital marketing may go well without investing a cent. As the cliché saying goes “Content is still the king”, content always go hand in hand with digital campaigns. Marrying content and digital marketing strategies makes your ad more relatable and close to heart compared to paid digital ads that may not even be clicked at. Some may think that the “4Cs of Marketing” has lost its relevance with the advancement of technology. I would defer it as the “4Cs” has their new found meaning alongside with the digital evolution. Please read Scott Bales’ article on “Embrace the 4Cs of Innovation to keep up with rapid evolution in digital marketing” to find out more. Digital marketing campaigns are undeniably important for brand building purposes, however, performance measurement is also key. We have several articles that touched on data collection strategies in expanding digital marketing insights which will prepare you well for the rest of your digital campaign in the year! Before signing off, I wish to express my enthusiasm about this opportunity and I look forward to providing you with knowledge based publication in years to come as an editor. Happy reading! Gerry Gabriele Seah


The Singapore Marketer is a quarterly magazine published by Marketing Institute of Singapore. The views expressed in The Singapore Marketer do not necessarily represent those of the Marketing Institute of Singapore. No responsibility is accepted by the Institute or its staff for the accuracy of any statement, opinion, or advice contained in the text or advertisements, and readers are advised to rely on their judgment or enquiries, and to consult their own advisers in making any decisions which would affect their interest. All materials appearing in The Singapore Marketer is copyright. No part of the publication may be reproduced without prior written permission of the Marketing Institute of Singapore. The Marketing Institute of Singapore welcomes contributions and letters. These might be edited for clarity or length. Articles, letters and requests to reproduce articles appearing in The Singapore Marketer should be sent to the Editor, Marketing Institute of Singapore, 51 Anson Road, #03-53 Anson Centre, Singapore 079904 or write to or


Content Page

04 COVER STORY The 4Cs of Innovation - Keeping up with rapid evolution in Digital Marketing



Data collection strategies to expand Digital Marketing insights



How to maximise the potential of data for a greatly improved business



Zero-budgeting marketing is here to stay, here’s why



Stop sitting on the data – Make use of all that beautiful business intelligence you’ve been collecting



What Brands must learn from the Entertainment Industry


the singapore marketer apr-jun’18


Cover Story

The 4Cs of innovation

- Keeping up with rapid evolution in Digital Marketing » By Scott Bales Over the past decade, both the maturity of the digital market and organisational skill sets have continued to grow. Many companies still have people in key decision positions who are digital immigrants. Digital immigrants are those who were born before the existence of digital technology but who have adopted it to some extent later in life. Some of these companies are being surpassed by competing teams for a few simple reasons. In this article, we look at the common symptoms of organisational stagnation when it comes to digital marketing, followed by actions that can be taken immediately to set companies on a path to innovative digital marketing success. There is a core trait that defines the modern digital economy: as the norms and culture of customers

continue to evolve, many companies face an uphill battle simply keeping up. At the heart of this issue, there are a few tried-and-tested ways to discover whether or not your company is making mistakes in its digital marketing efforts. Symptoms of digital marketing malaise: 1) Self-Awareness: The digital world is a two-way communication ecosystem, where it is vitally important to not only speak to your strengths, but also listen to the feedback of the market. If key decision makers aren’t openly talking about negative sentiment and feedback, and considering ways to ‘accept’ someone else’s point-ofview, then it’s highly likely the most important members of the company have their heads buried in the sand.

2) Problems, not Products: The behaviour of the modern world is driven by a natural desire to solve our own problems. For 20 years we’ve lived in a world of Google, where the answer to any question is just a couple of clicks away. As a result, the needs of the market are in solving problems, not just pushing products. If any of your marketing communication involves mentioning the features and functions of your product or services, you’ve already missed the boat. People don’t buy mortgages, they buy homes, and the journey the customer goes through to buy a home starts well before their application for finance.


the singapore marketer apr-jun’18

...building a culture of innovation around how digital marketing is approached by your organisation helps you to constantly evolve your approach.

Solving the malaise: the 4Cs of Innovation


Far too many companies immediately leap to build technology and automation to solve their digital marketing problems. This is a way of creating certain failure and always results in budget reductions or declining motivation to innovate. Instead, building a culture of innovation around how digital marketing is approached by your organisation helps you to constantly evolve your approach. These “4C’s” are designed as a journey – culled from the collective wisdom of dozens of organisations, hundreds of consultants and an ongoing desire to find a way to scale the thinking behind innovative institutions. These principles apply to any size organisation in any industry.

Context One of the first important parts is actually context, and context is mainly focused on selfawareness, reflection and ambition. Context in itself is knowing how you’re structured commercially, organisationally, physically in your geographic locations, your physical offices, your hierarchies of control, and then understanding those current situations is vitally important, mainly to have a single source of truth around where you lay today. No innovation process starts off with all of the answers; it’s nearly impossible to create new strategic options that scale beyond an experiment without context. That is because most experiments have challenges as soon as an organisation tries to integrate them. This is where the initiative faces the battle of fitting into incumbent standards, processes and procedures. Organisations need to

understand their current state and their future aspirations. This sets the direction for innovation. This step requires some soul searching - Is the context of your organisation actually making it difficult for you to deliver innovative digital marketing campaigns? Culture With the foundation of context and understanding of your customer’s needs in place, organisations need to work on creating a culture that will empower an innovation process and innovative thinking to thrive. Successful companies invest in culture through HR and Learning & Development to train for and embed the new innovative culture. I often help such companies with recruitment and the deployment of plans to ensure alignment with organisational priorities and motivations. If innovative, passionate

Cover Story

individuals feel they can’t solve problems within your organisation because the culture is not in place, they are likely to go elsewhere. (Or, worse, create their own ventures and disrupt the industry.) Innovation through compliance never works, like the deployment of any skills. You need to look at those who are most willing to try new digital marketing ideas whether it be on new social media channels or with new content formats, and then make heroes out of them. Allow these people to start the journey and be the first to do things like training programmes, hackathons, trying new ideas, and celebrate their successes no matter how small.

Capability When you understand your context and have an innovative culture embedded into your organisation - you need structured methods to identify and evaluate innovative digital marketing ideas to invest in. Borrowing from the worlds of design thinking, lean start-up and venture capital, organisations can build tools that guide initiatives through a framework that empowers individuals to become ‘intrepeneurs’ – catalysts of internal ventures that could become strategic options. Collaboration Once an organisation accepts they can’t be good at everything and realise their place within a

value chain (that creates valuable experiences for customers), they can accept the need to work seamlessly with collaborators to deliver customer value. This also extends to the principles of knowledge, experimentation and waves of evolution. When done well, collaborations should extend the value chain the organisation participates in. This is how you truly solve the digital marketing malaise - by not only understanding your customer’s needs but also the context of your organisation and embedding a culture of innovation into your business that means you are able to adapt to the constantly evolving world of digital marketing.


Scott Bales is a leading digital and innovation consultant as well as a innovation and digital strategist, serial entrepreneur, TEDx keynote speaker and author. He is also the Managing Director of Innovation Labs Asia. His upcoming book is entitled “Innovation Wars”.


the singapore marketer apr-jun’18



Data collection strategies to expand Digital Marketing insights

Âť By Dennis Ng

Consumer insights have always been key to good marketing decisions. With the growth of e-commerce shopping through TaoBao, Lazada and ezBuy in the local retail space, the ability to gather good insights has become even more critical for today’s digital marketer. But how are insights gathered? Despite the easy availability of quantitative data today due to the big data explosion, good consumer insights are obtained from a combination of both quantitative and qualitative data. This is because, while quantitative data tells us where and how much consumers are spending, it requires qualitative data to reveal the whys of consumer behaviour. This article discusses quantitative and qualitative data collection strategies for better consumer insights.

Insights from Quantitative Data The quantitative data collection strategy for digital marketing insights needs to be built around the consumer’s path-to-purchase. The path-to-purchase is the terminology used to indicate the path a consumer will take, from initial awareness of the product (seeing an advertisement) to the final purchase of the product (through payment). As the digital world evolves, the typical path-to-purchase of a consumer is anything but straightforward. It can begin in the online world when the consumer watches a YouTube video of the new product, to him visiting a physical store to check out the product or checking the prices on his mobile phone for cheaper online alternatives, and finally the consumer purchasing the product online using his laptop. The main

point is that the customer can hop from one channel to another throughout the path-to-purchase journey. In short, omnichannel behaviour has become common. Either online or offline, researchers are increasingly finding that the mobile phone is becoming the lynchpin across channels since customers are using their mobile phones both for online shopping and during their offline visit to the physical stores. The objective of data collection and analytics is, therefore, to analyse this journey for all the touchpoints, identifying obstacles and drop-off points in the path-to-purchase. Figure 1 below shows a typical pathto-purchase for a consumer product.


the singapore marketer apr-jun’18

10 Figure 1 – Consumer Path-To-Purchase Taken from:

While web analytics tools like Google and Facebook are necessary to evaluate the company’s internal touchpoints, external data like big data is required to gather a 360 degree view of the customer journey through both online and offline touchpoints, within and especially outside the company. Very often, to fill in blanks in the journey, the help of third-party data providers may be required. Due to the different sources of data, there is a need for customer stitching before a holistic picture of the path-to-purchase can emerge.

The best practice in data analytics has moved beyond the simple measures of website clicks, Facebook “Likes”, Click-ThroughRates and Conversion Rates. In today’s digital world, companies are increasingly moving to a more sophisticated form of analysis called attribution modelling to harness the availability of big data. According to Google Analytics Help, an attribution model is defined as “a rule, or set of rules, that determines how credit for sales and conversions is assigned to touchpoints in conversions paths.”

Once data has been measured it is important that the data is used not just as descriptive analytics to describe the current situation, but more importantly, the data has to predict how consumers are likely to behave in the future, what is called predictive analytics. Figure 2 below shows how predictive analytics are based on measured data of the past to extrapolate future customer behaviour.


online contributions to develop insights into attitudes, opinions and motivations. Compared to web (text) mining, discourse analysis goes beyond comments to understanding the deeper motivations for those comments which are necessary for valuable consumer insights to emerge.

Figure 2 – Using past data to predict future behaviour Taken from: The Digital Marketer

In summary, quantitative data can help generate consumer insights through the tracking of the consumer’s path-to-purchase and using the measured data to build models which can predict future consumer behaviour. Insights from Qualitative Data Although big data and good modelling can predict the paths customers take, more traditional forms of research are still necessary to uncover the whys of consumer behaviour, and thus the importance of qualitative market research in generating consumer insights.

A qualitative data collection strategy can consist of one or a mixture of the following techniques including web mining, discourse analysis, netnography or companysponsored sites and communities. • Web mining consists of the use of a software to collect and analyse consumer information and feedback. Primarily textual in nature, it includes information from social network feeds, emails, blogs, online forums, survey responses, corporate documents, news, and call centre logs. • Discourse analysis on the other hand involves the analysing of

• Netnography is the online version of ethnography, the method of collecting information through first-hand observation or participating in the culture or group or customer segment being studied. Netnography is simply doing the same by participating in an online community to develop, probe and understanding consumer value system and behaviour within a culture or tribe. The immediate challenge is to find the most appropriate online social space for the consumer target to provide the insights required. In certain situations, a researcher may wish to conduct both ethnography (face-toface) and netnography (online) to gain a better and deeper understanding of their customers as Figure 3 illustrates.


the singapore marketer apr-jun’18


Figure 3 – Ethnography and Netnography Taken from: Kozinets, Robert V, 2009

• Organisation-sponsored sites can also be used to test, develop and gather feedback from consumers. This is especially useful for new product ideas since the insights gained can help towards the success of the new product. Better still, companies can allow for the co-creation of new products by customers themselves as they can be assumed to know their needs best. Figure 4 below is an example from Starbucks.


Figure 4 – MyStarbucksIdea Taken from:

In conclusion, marketers are advised to use both quantitative and qualitative data collection strategies to gain insights. Although big data is readily available and much in vogue today, marketers would be advised to also complement big data with strong qualitative data to gain valuable insights into the whys of consumer behaviour so that they can uncover needs not yet expressed which forms the basis of new products of tomorrow.


Dennis Ng was formerly Country Manager for Visa Worldwide where he held positions with responsibility for product development and marketing. Dennis continues to consult in areas of marketing strategy and research. Dennis holds an MSc in Consumer Insights from NTU and BBA from NUS.


the singapore marketer apr-jun’18



How to maximise the potential of data for a greatly improved business  By Lynette Seah Does size matter? Is it quality over quantity or vice versa? Data is irrevocably a part of life and businesses know the importance of data; used to help strategise and tweak content to meet demands, to know what those demands are and also measure the outcomes of actions taken. Strategies for the design of data collection programmes vary. If an organisation is considering whether to collect data on its own or get help from an external consultant, it will need to have enough information to make an informed decision about how to proceed. Insights gained from marketing reports and research such as trends in customers’ behaviour and their reaction to market forces help in providing valuable information in customer retention which increases revenue streams in the long-run. In constructing frames for a data collection programme, each will have its characteristics, relative importance and potential for the supply of data. In

addition, some information must be obtained from external sources, such as international market data. Depending on the industry, there almost always will be a mixture of industrial, small-scale commercial, artisanal, subsistence and recreational type of data. Again, depending on the objective of the data analyses, is there a need to include socio-cultural factors? With so many data variables across various stratification, how do we make data strategies work and be accessible, with accurate results? For purposes of data strategy, the alignment will involve the harmonisation and convergence of current and future data sources through standards, data collection processes, analysis and dissemination policies and other means of assuring future convergence among various systems, administrative data systems and surveys. The ultimate goal is to encourage synergy across these data producers in ways that enhance


the singapore marketer apr-jun’18

If a picture is worth a thousand words, data visualisation is worth at least a million.

the organisation’s capability to analyse and provide solutions within the organisation and externally. Data Visualisation


“By visualising information, we turn it into a landscape that you can explore with your eyes, a sort of information map. And when you’re lost in information, an information map is kind of useful.” David McCandless Research has shown that 93% of human communication is visual, according to Using visuals in data analysis helps to enhance and empower digital marketing insights. If a picture is worth a thousand words, data visualisation is worth at least a million. The best data visualisations are storytelling tools that spark discussion and elicit calls to action. It helps with grasping difficult concepts or identifying new patterns. With interactive visualisation, you

can take the concept a step further by using technology to drill down into charts and graphs for more detail, interactively changing what data you see and how it’s processed. Laying the Groundwork How to visualise data? By using business dashboards that leverage on data analytics, that helps to connect, select, and visualise data insights. • Understand the data you’re trying to visualise, including its size and cardinality (the uniqueness of data values in a column). • Determine what you’re trying to visualise and what kind of information you want to communicate. • Know your audience and understand how it processes visual information. • Use a visual that conveys the information in the best and simplest form for your audience.

Be careful with what you show Visualised data trumps the non-visualised data in terms of importance. One of the biggest dangers with dashboards that you see people do all the time is taking some important business outcome and dividing it up by groups such as “revenue by channel, by customer type, by sex, by race, by state,” and so on. These might be reasonable, accurate and objective things to portray, and they might be empirically correct. But often, people look at the dashboard and think that the groupings are necessarily the cause of the outcomes. That’s really dangerous. If your dashboard shows that customers using your app spend more than customers who don’t use the app, it’s really easy to let a great visualisation convince you that the app is the cause of the increased spending. You can easily forget to think, “maybe there’s something else causing the difference.

Feature How will data visualisation help businesses? 1. Enhanced Assimilation of Business Information - Helps to get messages across quicker, explaining complicated process. Presenting your data points as visual statistics will keep your audience interested in your facts and you are more likely to act on your findings. 2. Provides evidence. Data visualisation can create a ‘source of truth’. When using data to provide evidence, the aim is to influence the way decisions are made, change behaviours and improve performance. 3. Unlock collaborative opportunities with stakeholders. By presenting to stakeholders with facts in graphical form, your date is more likely to be viewed, understood and discussed by them as compared to you emailing them lots of spreadsheets. This drives a more collaborative approach and enables knowledge-sharing. 4. Derive actionable insights. Visual data can help to uncover the way it’s connected and interlinked and reveal patterns that aren’t always apparent in the spreadsheets. E.g.

spikes in sales at certain times of the year can be identified where business can make use of such information in their planning process. 5. Better Understanding of Operational & Business Activities. Visualisation means you can identify and plot pain points for organisation swiftly and effectively, and identify remedies. The dangers Software designers almost certainly were not thinking of you or your industry specifically. Attributing the right meaning to the visual is important. The ability to visualise data and get practical insights means that business client relations teams can hold data-driven discussions where there is factual evidence to support ideas. Decisions are made based on collective understanding of data points. By generating leads together, it can result in breakthroughs to significantly improve business bottom-lines. The broader issue of information security, which has become more important than ever with trends

toward collecting big data – large and complex sets of data used for analytical purposes. As data volume inevitably increases, visualisation manages influxes of new information and makes it easy to find trends. From these visual trends, you can easily understand your best next steps with less time and energy dedicated to data analysis. You save hours of time by looking at the big picture instead of a thousand puzzle pieces. It also brings important but subtle correlations and relationships between business conditions into focus. Various departments finance, sales, and marketing teams not only have an avid interest in what their data tells them, but they have the means to actually go after the answers. Visualisations can be distributed among teams easily, and your teams will be much more receptive to an attractive visual than a massive Excel spreadsheet. Remember, data visualisation in a vacuum is useless. Make sure you explain why your succinct visual story matters.


Lynette Seah is an Australian Chartered Accountant with over 28 years of experience in MNCs such as PWC and J.D Edwards. As a passionate advocate of digital transformation, she believes that the use of technology and data can help businesses to stay competitive and relevant in this aggressive and fast-paced digital economy. It is challenging for Enterprises and SMEs to adopt, adapt and plan their digital journey.


the singapore marketer apr-jun’18


Guru Talk

Zero-budgeting marketing is here to stay, here’s why

Âť By Chris Reed Zero budget marketing took hold in 2017 and will run rampant in 2018. Why? Because it works. Why do you need to spend millions on fancy creative and media if the customers are not viewing and not engaging and there is no longer any compelling reason for it? Companies like Unilever are cutting back spend and not seeing any difference in sales. Other brands never spent a cent on media and have risen to become household names and able to drive engagement and sales, the most obvious being brands like Facebook and YouTube. Even if you look at more traditional brands like retail giant Zara they spent zero money on media and yet everyone shops in

their stores no problem. How do they do this? They deliver products people want. They analyse trends, they look at what people want, they listen and they constantly change their product range. Fast fashion perfectly executed. Authenticity is the key in zero budget marketing Simple. Word of mouth and social media does the rest. Authentic influencer marketing is key to their success. Why would they need media? Krispy Kreme is another brand never to spend on media. They rely on retail location and design, consumer engagement, happy in-store experiences, the quality of their products and positive word of mouth on social media and beyond.


the singapore marketer apr-jun’18

All your brand needs are authentic, engaging, original, raw content.


Krispy Kreme invests in their employees who all go to Krispy Kreme University and learn about the product and the customer. Sriracha Sauces, Kiehl’s, Spanx are all FMCG brands not investing in media but focusing on the customer experience, word of mouth, content marketing and influencers. There are many more turning their backs on media buying and focusing on the quality of the customer experience, the product, listening and of course all the free channels out there already. Social media has taken away the need to spend money on media. Nothing beats authentic content marketing going viral organically through naturally, i.e. unpaid, influencers on a channel that a customer loves. I attended a B2B conference in Sydney last year, and the event was sponsored by King Content and my agency Black Marketing. King Content got up on stage at one point to justify why you

needed to be spending money on media to promote your content. I stood up and started a debate with them about why this was total rubbish and that authentic, compelling content did not need media spend. They went bust in 2017. Black Marketing is still going. Word of Mouth is the only marketing tool you’ll need Now that video has taken over every platform from Facebook to WeChat to LinkedIn why do you need a media budget? All you actually need is customers talking about your brand and sharing their experience on social media channels targeting your customers. A great example of this is Lego. Lego doesn’t need to spend any media monies, the customer does it for them. If you put Lego on YouTube you will find literally millions of videos made by fans. These are everything from short film adventures to fully fledged

feature films, reviews and fan discussions. Compelling content for every Lego fan and free marketing with free media. Why would Lego need to spend money on media? If you look at all the B2B brands also doing this, then you make a compelling case for not spending on media. Richard Branson and Virgin’s entire strategy is based on developing his personal brand and sharing his thoughts, his storytelling in all B2B channels like their website and LinkedIn. By doing this, they are accentuating the employer brand values of Virgin and making it a more attractive company to work for while opening opportunities for Branson to create more Virgin brands. All your brand needs are authentic, engaging, original, raw content. Content marketing and storytelling will do the rest along with authentic influencers and advocates.

Guru Talk Striking a balance between Short-term savings and Long-term investment How do clients/agencies strike a balance between short-term savings and long-term investment is a question often asked. I would say that this is putting the cart before the horse. All that is currently happening is that brands are realising that they didn’t need to spend this kind of money on media in the first place and it’s now going back to a more sustainable level. Welcome to the new reality. If a brand like Unilever can knock off hundreds of millions of dollars from their media spend and nothing different happens to their sales, then this also applies to every other brand too. I would also argue that brands are still investing. They are simply investing directly into the brand itself. Everything from building followers in their own Facebook, WeChat, YouTube and Snap channels to improving the product,

improving their customer service and creating compelling content both through the company directly and user-generated is a direct investment in their brand. That is brand building. What benefit is spending on media going to do give them that this strategy does not? How do you balance accounting for every cent spent and brand building is also another question asked? I would reply the same, by accounting more directly for every cent spent on content and social media and investing saved media monies into consumer experience, training, the product, the store a brand actually is investing in their brand. Zero budget marketing is the future If you build up your social media channels, you own those followers. If you engage with those followers to share your content and their content on these channels you

own that content. You own it all. That is a direct investment in your brand long term. The best example of this is Red Bull. They are a media company to rival any others. By building their brand through compelling content marketing and social media, mostly through influencers and fans they have become the ultimate media brand for targeting their audience. Their media channels include 4 print publications, 3 TV channels, 6 websites, 2 mobile apps, 3 music labels, cinema, books, feature films, action features, TV documentaries, magazine programming, reality TV, short formats, live broadcasts, still images and every kind of content that you can possibly imagine. That’s better than any usual media channel gives you. Zero budget marketing is here to stay. It is the future of smart marketing.


Chris is the Only CEO with A Mohawk. He is a serial, global entrepreneur having created Black Marketing - Enabling LinkedIn For You, The Dark Art of Marketing - Personal Branding For Entrepreneurs, Mohawk Marketing - TripAdvisor Engagement For You and Chris J Reed Mastery Masterclasses that Engage, Delight, Educate and Entertain.


the singapore marketer apr-jun’18


Business School

What Brands must learn from the

Entertainment Industry

» By Miguel Bernas Today we are living in a world of unprecedented consumer choice, especially around media and content. For decades, media enjoyed a kind of covenant with consumers: media companies provide entertainment for free, and in return, consumers paid a simple road tax in the form of interruption. Whether it was a full page ad in between news stories, a radio spot in between songs, or four breaks an hour for commercials on television, it was a small price that consumers were willing to pay. Today consumers expect to be able to consume content whenever and wherever they want, on the device of their own choosing. In such a world, consumers prefer to pay a subscription fee for quality content, whether news, music or streaming video, provided it is advertising-free. They would rather browse the web through installed ad blockers than tolerate another pop-up or banner ad on their mobile screen.

So why do many marketers still expect that tolerance of interruptive advertising remain the same as in that golden age of media? This cannot go on indefinitely. Indeed, there are increasing signs that consumers are becoming less tolerant of advertising as we know it. According to a report by Pagefair, ad block usage is growing year-on-year by 30% globally, with markets in APAC growing my 40%, or over 600 million devices running ad blockers globally at the end of 2016. How long before annoyance turns into resentment towards brands? Understanding the basics of storytelling The challenge for brands in the age of consumer choice is this: create content that my target audience will seek out and willingly consume, rather than avoid. To do this, we need to return to the basics of good storytelling: the very building

blocks of narrative that compel people to stick with the content and trigger the desired emotional connections. Yet for an industry that spends billions of dollars on content, many marketers don’t understand these fundamentals. Should we be surprised? For decades, “good” advertising was governed by rules based on the prominence of a logo, the accuracy of PANTONE colours or the number of seconds a product was visible onscreen. Fortunately, there is an industry brands can turn to for guidance: Hollywood. The modern entertainment industry has mastered storytelling over decades, in turn based on the study of classical literature and mythology. First, you have the Hero’s Journey, sometimes referred to as the “monomyth” or common template tales that involve a protagonist who goes on an


the singapore marketer apr-jun’18

Understanding these storytelling elements are key to brands developing content that matters to audiences.

adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed. Extensively written about by Joseph Campbell and other authors, it is the basis of the three-Act story structure common to nearly all feature films.


The Hero’s Journey first establishes the “ordinary world” of the hero – his everyday, mundane existence – in Act 1, usually interrupted by a herald of messenger that makes the hero choose the life of adventure. The middle of the story or Act 2 depicts the hero navigate the “adventure world,” overcoming challenges, making choices and recruiting allies along the way. In the third and final Act, the hero confronts the forces of antagonism and now must return to the original world, usually changed or made better from the experience. Movie buffs will find this story structure familiar, used in almost every movie from Casablanca to Erin Brockovich to Star Wars.

As such, the Hero’s Journey is the template for all modern storytelling, with its roots in ancient myth and legend. Its ability to capture imaginations and mesmerise audiences has been demonstrated over thousands of years. To master it is to master the art of storytelling itself. The second key lesson from Hollywood is the understanding of characters. Christopher Vogler, Hollywood executive, scriptwriter and author, in his book The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers defines eight types of characters or archetypes universally used in movies: Hero, Mentor, Guardian, Herald, Shapeshifter, Shadow, Ally and Trickster. Each has his own unique characteristics and contribution to the story. Let’s focus on two of them: The Hero is the main character, usually the one whose perspective the story is told. Whether immaculate and selfless like Kal-El of Krypton from Superman or ruthless and amoral like Tony

Montana from Scarface, the hero’s role is to “hook” the audience and have them root for him. The best movie heroes either has audiences leaping out of their seats when he vanquishes the villain or weeping as he dies serving the cause he believes in. The Mentor, on the other hand, plays a relatively minor role. His contribution is to guide the hero, provide that tool or special knowledge to help the Hero on his journey. He is Frodo’s Gandalf they Grey or Luke Skywalker’s ObiWan Kenobi. His contribution is the enchanted ring or magic sword that helps the Hero fulfil his journey. Understanding these storytelling elements are key to brands developing content that matters to audiences. Finding the most appropriate role for your Brand One of the most difficult pills to swallow for marketers when developing content in the age of

Business School digital media is accepting that in developing your content, the Brand cannot be the Hero.

Hero; he must make these difficult choices on his own if the audience is to share the journey with him.

To understand why, we must review the Hero’s characteristics: he begins in the ordinary world and is changed by the end of the story. The Hero is the one who makes all the choices throughout the adventure. The Hero is the source of the audience’s empathy as the story unfolds through his eyes. The Hero is the one who believes he can make the world a better place. In short, the Hero is the audience.

Too often, brands fall back on old habits and clumsily shoehorn their product into the story where it has no right to. This results in the complete opposite effect, where the brand’s presence is rejected rather than welcomed. Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner video is one the most cringe-worthy recent examples of this.

Marketers generally struggle with this concept because the rules of advertising dictate maximum prominence for the brand. However, the best role for the brand is that of the Mentor, without whom the Hero could not have accomplished his mission. Because he was provided the magic sword, the Hero was able to triumph. And yet at no point does the Mentor make decisions for the

Still, there are brands who get the right balance of cinematic storytelling and the brand’s seamless yet important presence. VISA’s 15-minute short film “#TokyoUnexpected” depicts a Thai woman’s own Hero’s Journey alone in Japan. The credit card company’s presence is fleeting yet important and at no moment does its presence feel out of place or unwelcome. The film boasts over 20 million video views, mostly through organic sharing.

Likewise, the Francis Ford Coppola Winery’s 11-minute film “The Red Stain” blends Italian cinema-style storytelling with an example of how wine makes for great conversation. Most recently, HP’s short film “Paro,” released for International Women’s Day, tells the story of a young Indian girl finding her voice as author and storyteller. As with the other examples, the printer brand’s role in the story is simply as enabler, allowing the principal characters to make their difficult choices. These important lessons from the modern entertainment industry provide a framework for brands to succeed in their own Content Marketing journeys. By harnessing these vital elements of storytelling, brands can develop content that will attract audiences, evoke powerful emotions and develop affinity for the brand that makes such sentiments possible. Good content is the only kind that is truly ad blocker-proof.


Miguel Bernas is an Independent Digital Media and Marketing Consultant who has led marketing for major brands like Nokia, PayPal, Singtel, Mediacorp, CNBC, Yahoo! and MTV. He is a proponent of content marketing and transmedia storytelling, having led content strategy and production teams throughout his career.


the singapore marketer apr-jun’18


Learning Site

Stop sitting on the data

– Make use of all that beautiful business intelligence you’ve been collecting » By Cat Williams-Treloar I’ve observed that more time is spent collecting data and not enough time taking action. It’s something I’ve seen businesses struggle with for the past decade. Sadly, despite sexy dashboards and APIs to connect we are still trying to build 36-storey condos rather than the simple house of data that we need to do business. How do you know if you and the team are over indulging and building a data condo? Time, action and results. If more than 80% of the time is spent collecting data and the group runs out of steam, energy or resources to use it, then it’s time for a re-think. We need to get better at asking what we want from data rather than collecting because we can. When we ask questions first, we have the power to become leaner and active in our digital marketing decisions.

We’ll work out five speedy data collection strategies for five different scenarios so that you and your team can spend more time taking action: 1) FOR DAY-TO-DAY MICRO DECISIONS Forget about perfect and fall inlove with micro dashboards! From Google Analytics to Crazy Egg to Facebook Analytics, there are a ton of useful tools out there that allow you to see what’s going on without the need for re-engineering analysis. There are also straightforward ways to pipe this through if you are looking at an overall visualisation tool or dashboard across the business. I recently worked with a client who was building an accidental 36-storey condo. The team was diligently collecting, mining, cleaning, structuring and then collating some more. I asked the group what decisions they were

making with the current data. There wasn’t a simple answer because the team had forgotten why they were collecting data other than to justify digital spends. The solution was to identify what questions needed answers. Together, we decided on three questions to answer for day-to-day tactics. The first was “what’s working”, the second “what’s not working” and third “what don’t we know?”. We asked these three questions in the context of the business goals. That’s all the team needed to keep moving was a simple start, stop and continue. 2) FOR MORE SIGNIFICANT QUESTIONS ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE BUSINESS Have you been called to a “strategy meeting” recently to build out the next five-year roadmap?


the singapore marketer apr-jun’18

Sometimes planning cycles are organised in enterprise businesses, other times these meetings strangely happen last minute. As a Marketer, what can you bring to the table? It’s time to cast aside the monster dashboard and last quarters 100-page analytic report. If it’s a five-year outlook, collecting intent data is gold. Look at search trends and behaviours to anticipate what your customer needs will be in the future. Search trends are a goldmine for marketers – and benefitting from using this doesn’t require hours of painstaking, detailed analysis.


I worked with a client recently who wanted to know where to grow over the next five years. We used a range of social trend and search data to identify the value, volume and intent. We looked at the data both short-term and over multiple year periods to spot real trends. Using intent data we were able to decide which countries to focus on and in what order. A long-term strategy doesn’t need to be complicated and nor does the data that you bring to the table. 3) FOR SPOTTING GAPS IN THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY Let’s be pragmatic. If you want end-to-end analytics, this is probably going to take you a gazillion dollars and twelve months to gain traction. If you are looking for a quick solution

to spot gaps in your customer experience, it’s time to turn to unfiltered, raw qualitative feedback. I remember when I first worked in research agencies almost 20 years ago, this was before we had automated coding for qualitative responses, dazzling word clouds or a way to filter down responses. I would sit there with a cup of coffee and read customer responses one by one. I’d then share what the customers really said. You can do too, even if it’s just for a couple of hours. Get everyone in a room, chart out what you know today about the customer experience. Ask each team to get involved including Sales, Product or Customer Success for their inputs. Open up the latest round of tickets, feedback, NPS or however you collect data and manually take a look. I did this recently with a team and spent time moving through customer feedback to spot how we could reduce churn and improve customer lifetime value. In addition to uncovering growth opportunities, we came away with two key takeaways about how the team were currently working. The first learning was the team hadn’t been communicating outside of their silos. Each group whether it was product or sales or even customer success was dealing with each of their own customer challenges. Each group had their

own dashboards, reporting and way of viewing the world. No single person was in charge of connecting the feedback to build a better experience. The second learning was because no one had ownership, there wasn’t a single list of the most critical builds or actions for the customer. It was a missed opportunity as this could easily feed into the companies product roadmap and overall strategy. We’ve worked so hard over the past few years to identify ways to make things more efficient. Doing something that doesn’t “scale” such as sitting as a team and discussing individual pieces of customer feedback is going to improve your customer experience more than any automated dashboard. It’s often the raw, unfiltered qualitative feedback that helps to explain what matters. Don’t shy away from it. 4) FOR “GOING DEEP” WITH CUSTOMERS There’s nothing more useful than a human touch when connecting with customers. Last week I was chatting with a C-suite who was talking about a competitor brand who had built a culture of going deep with customers. Whenever there was a problem, hiccup or piece of feedback the team hunted down the customer

Learning Site

whether it was on their mobile, facebook, email, twitter or in person to listen, learn and make it better. It sounded like a relentless culture that was wholly focused on the customers’ needs. It reminded me of a presentation I saw from a food delivery startup in Singapore a couple of years ago where the CEO encouraged the teams to leave no stone unturned when resolving a customer issue. What can we learn from these businesses and how they collect feedback? We can learn how to get back on the phone even when it goes unanswered. We can learn how to make time to go and meet a customer in person when we know the conversation is going to be uncomfortable. And most importantly, how to react with speed and persistence. With my client, we talked about how we could create a similar

culture. We talked about how we could collect more insights by actively asking, by making an effort, working fast and by making time to go deep. We talked about how we could start a central collection point of feedback whether it’s a Google Document with quotes or whether we could update CRM records with what really happened rather than a glossy summary. Their new goal is to speak to every unhappy customer over the next 30 days by coming down from the C-suite tower and going deep. 5) FOR TESTING A NEW IDEA This final question was prompted by a CEO who wanted help testing a new product offer. How do you test market demand with a new idea? Option one is you can take months going through product testing by building the whole thing.

Or option two, you can set up a landing page and drive search and social paid traffic to it. See if there is interest until you crack the magic formula. Simple as that. Testing new ideas is when you want to collect data that’s quick and useful. Make sure that you have a large enough sample size to make a call. Keep testing only a couple of variables so you can spot what’s working. And keep testing, testing, testing. Better to be quick than perfect so you can keep moving. Remember, the answer isn’t always more data or how to build a data condo. It’s about what the question is, finding evidence and taking fast action. A brilliant client of mine used to talk about using our “Marketing Gut”. Our craft, skills, knowledge & critical thinking is there for us to be bold and make a call.


Cat Williams-Treloar is a Human-Centered Business & Marketing Expert who founded Humanisation, a company that helps brands launch in APAC with Go-To-Market strategies. Her secret sauce is putting humans first in Human-Centered Marketing.


WE’RE GOING DIGITAL! Download the full issue of The Singapore Marketer on

the singapore

marketer knowledge for marketing excellence

The Singapore Marketer (Apr-Jun 2018)  

In this issue of The Singapore Marketer, we dive into Digital Marketing and Digital Transformation, an emerging area that many marketers hav...

The Singapore Marketer (Apr-Jun 2018)  

In this issue of The Singapore Marketer, we dive into Digital Marketing and Digital Transformation, an emerging area that many marketers hav...