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Olwen van Dijk-Hildebrand

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If you thought you had it rough these last few years with a global pandemic on, try being smack in the middle of all of it. In this issue of the Marketing Expert Series we talk challenges and outlooks with Michael Teh, Head of Marketing at the Kensingston Green  Specialist Centre

A medical centre focused on the care of expectant mothers and children, you can imagine just how busy their lives have been over the last two years. In this interview, Michael gives us a glimpse at the challenges that he and his team have faced at the KGSC and just how their perseverance has paid off.


Welcome, Michael! Excited for you to join us on this issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Let’s start with something easy. Tell us a bit about yourself! How did you get to where you are today?

Hi, it’s good to be here, thank you for the opportunity. 

Actually, I was headhunted for this position. I was a layman working in property development for Sales & Marketing for 14 years when, rather unexpectedly, I made a switch to the medical industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. People had been telling me that healthcare is recession-proof, and I listened. The switch wasn’t just from one industry to another, I went from technical to clinical; it was totally different from what I have been doing in the past. This is one of the things I find most exciting and challenging having made the change. 

COVID-19 changed my life. The pandemic made me rethink my priorities and I realised I wanted to make a change. At the time, I was thinking to survive in a recession-proof industry, hopefully lasting me for the next two decades and leading me to retirement. I was extremely grateful to my former bosses and managers, all of whom helped prepare me, learning while growing with the company.

medical marketing expert, Michael TehCurrently, you are the Head of Marketing at Kensington Green Specialist Centre. Please tell us about the work that the Kensington Centre does and your role there.

Kensington Green Specialist Centre (KGSC) is a multi-disciplinary private hospital that focuses on O&G (Obstetrician & Gynecology), IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization), and paediatrics.

As Marketing Head, my role is perpetually challenging, at least, I think so. Working together with my team, my charge is to make things happen in accordance with what is best for the company. 

How has the Kensington Specialist Centre grown its marketing presence in the last two years?

Two years ago, we were still very new in the market, but we still had to field enquiries via social media and be able to share our location, specialities, packages, pricing, consultants, facilities, etc. in what is a highly competitive market. 

Along the way, we managed to address all enquiries and challenges. We stuck to our positioning – to serve the community and all the corporations around us.

By the time the border is fully open again, we will be ready to go regional market.      

What has it been like to work in the medical industry as Head of Marketing during the global pandemic?

It’s been a challenge every day. Over the course of the last two years, I’ve met so many doctors, specialists, consultants, business chambers leaders, business owners, politicians, competitors… 

We’re all in it together, but it’s not easy. We strive to deliver our best, all while leading the team, meeting our KPIs, planning for online and offline marketing campaigns. As Head of Marketing, my goal is always to make sure that everybody on my team is being nurtured and educated on how best to put in extra efforts to overcome all the many challenges that we face. 

How have you overcome challenges you have faced during the last two years?

Coming up with new ideas to overcome the challenges that spring up is always time-consuming; it’s a tough process. Persuading and getting all senior management to buy into my idea isn’t particularly easy either. Luckily, I have very a supportive senior management staff.

What about for you personally when this pandemic is over, anything excited planned?

After all that we’ve been through, I realize prevention is better than finding a cure, that’s why we roll-out so many screenings package. To be ready and manage what we can,  rather than to hope that something like a cure will just happen is more important, and far more practical. “Ever ready” is the keyword. Going regional market is our future direction.

Any advice you’d give to young and aspiring marketers, particularly those with a passion for the medical industry? 

I suppose, no shortcuts. The chances to strike the jackpot are very slim. Everyone must be ready or equipped with skills and knowledge to overcome any upcoming outbreaks or changes. Everybody starts from scratch and every picture tells a story. To know and understand the mechanism of the industry makes a lot of difference. Work hard, keen to explore, think extra, will help to elevate. What you know and who you know is very important as well. 

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

Via Linked in linkedin.com/in/michael-teh-99ba4858 or via email at Yeowheng.teh@kgsc.com.my, or micteh88@yahoo.com.

Two years after he stepped away from the role, Dhawal Shah, co-founder of 2Stallions Digital Marketing Agency, has resumed the role of Regional Managing Director. He takes over from Daniël Heerkens, who leaves to pursue opportunities outside the Agency.

“Daniël has been with us the last six years,” says co-founder Dhawal, “and has been a big part of our growth and expansion into a regional agency. Over the last two years, Daniël’s leadership held 2Stallions steady as the world came to terms with the pandemic. We wish him the best in his next adventure.”

During his time away from the MD role, Dhawal joined a startup accelerator as Limited Partner – investing in, mentoring, and advising startups in the technology sector across APAC, and additionally, he has trained thousands of marketers in data-driven digital marketing focused on analytics.

“The digital acceleration happening globally is unbelievable,” says Dhawal, “and it is important that our clients should be able to trust in us to introduce them to newer approaches to marketing that drive growth.”

Dhawal is establishing a stronger ‘growth culture’ within the Agency, aimed at building better and longer-lasting relationships with clients, partners and agency team members. With him at the helm, the Agency and its clients will benefit from his advanced experience and expertise in technology and digital marketing.

Coding and building websites since childhood, Dhawal started his career in Silicon Valley. He founded 2Stallions in 2012 after Razy Shah (no relation) approached him with the concept of a digital agency. Since then, 2Stallions has always been on the forefront of digital services. The Agency offers its clients bespoke, highly-tailored digital marketing, creative, and development solutions based on their needs.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has irrevocably changed the way in which the world navigates and uses digital technologies, its impact on the environment and communities has affected the 2Stallions team on a more profound level. As a result, the Agency is looking to support projects that help alleviate this impact throughout Southeast Asia.

“We’re entering a new chapter,” Dhawal explains, “one where we need to think bigger and broader, but also sharper and more efficiently. A lot has changed in the last two years, and it’s important that those of us in the digital space change with it, especially when we are charged with helping other companies do the same.”

2Stallions has worked with multinational clients throughout APAC, as well as from the US and Europe, over the years. They have a physical presence in Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and India.

With its headquarters in Singapore, and now, with its MSC Status and continued expansion into Malaysia as an operational hub, 2Stallions is off to a strong start for 2022 and will continue to serve its clients and partners in the digital space.

Content marketing is one of the most diverse and involved sectors of the digital marketing industry. In this issue of the Marketing Expert Series Sendhelper’s Dheepu George takes us on a deep-dive into the world of content marketing and writing. A dedicated and award-winning journalism graduate, Dheepu has been working in the digital content sector for many years. His passion for journalism – especially for writing – has allowed him to work at the heart of digital marketing. So join us for this issue of the Series as Dheepu takes us on a journey, sharing his knowledge and experience.


Welcome, Dheepu! Excited for you to join us on this issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Let’s start with something easy. Tell us a bit about yourself! How did you get to where you are today?

Hello, I am Dheepu George. I am an award-winning journalism graduate from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. Prior to pursuing journalism studies, I was at the helm of launching Sendhelper, the best home services brand in Singapore now, in 2015. Since then I had been leading its business operations and partner management before I went on to explore my passion for journalism, and writing in particular, in 2018. Post my graduation, as chance would have it, I returned to Sendhelper but this time as the Head of Content Marketing. I am proud to say that this homegrown startup is one of the top 50 rising tech startups in Southeast Asia.

I am also a creative writer who happens to be a confessional poet although I pretend not to be one.

Currently, you’re the Head of Content Marketing at SendHelper. Tell us about SendHelper and your role there.

Sendhelper is one of the top 50 rising tech-enabled startups in Southeast Asia. We are a managed online marketplace that connects verified and trusted home service providers with households in Singapore. We offer a range of services like cleaning, cooking, laundry, aircon, handyman, home improvement and renovation, pest control, disinfection, elderly care, and tasks and errands.

I am the head of content marketing at Sendhelper. My role is to devise strategies to create and market value-driven content that connects with our potential and existing customers and service partners across all brand platforms and social media channels. We create digital content – images, videos, articles – that answers questions and provides solutions to problems around household chores. Ultimately, our objective is to build a brand name that households can count on through delivering connected content experiences and thus helping them make informed decisions through their buying journey.

As a content marketer myself, I often get asked this question: what is content marketing exactly? What role does it play in brand development and digital marketing in general?

Content marketing in simple terms is creating and distributing relevant content to reach and nurture new customers with an objective to convert them as well as to retain and delight existing customers. Good content should address a customer’s pain points by providing them with appropriate solutions and helping them in each step of the buyer journey.

Content has always been at the core of every consumer-centric organisation and their marketing strategy. Only the methods of creation and channels of distribution have evolved or changed. Content marketing allows organisations to tell their brand stories to potential customers. In the long run, it helps you build brand awareness and authority. To grow as a voice of authority in a given domain and construct a positive brand image in the minds of customers, a focused and connected content experience across channels is necessary. Innovative content ideas will help you stand out from the rest.
You have a clear affinity for content development for customer acquisition – in your opinion, what is it about content marketing that you find best helps drive customer acquisition?

Content marketing is about telling stories, stories that will resonate with your target audience. At Sendhelper, we create content that provides easy and convenient solutions for tackling household chores. We create content that provides customers solutions to enjoy an improved and stress-free lifestyle.

Content marketing helps you to build relationships with customers and enhance brand trust. Once you earn the trust of potential customers, they will eventually stay invested in your brand. What I like about content marketing is that we provide customers valuable information in a way it is easy to consume without demanding them to buy from us. There is less noise of hard-selling. 

Say, for example, an expat living in Singapore might not be well educated about local rental agreement and different clauses in it. These clauses suggest mandatory home maintenance, regular aircon servicing etc. To help them understand these requirements, we write articles, create visually appealing and shareable infographics about it. Someone who moved in recently will definitely find this content informative and helpful. Content marketing attracts or pulls customers to like and trust brands.

Being said that, content development for customer retention is as important. It wouldn’t be right to say I have a clear affinity for customer acquisition. As much as we focus on the top, middle and bottom of the funnel, we must keep creating interesting content to nurture and engage with existing customers. Newsletters and social media engagement are great examples of this. It will bring you opportunities to upsell as well as more referrals. Any content marketing strategy should equally focus on both customer acquisition and delight after purchase; tell stories to delight them so they never will have to regret choosing you.

Social media requires a different approach than say, writing copy for websites, or developing articles; how would you suggest that a newcomer to the content marketing field learns how to navigate these different channels?

Whichever channel you choose to write for or create content, the key is knowing your audience. On social media, a more conversational tone is preferred over something formal. You can incorporate humour and friendly banter to draw the attention of your target audience and thus improve their engagement with your content. Finding your voice is necessary here because that is going to be the brand voice people will recognise eventually. Although Facebook allows for long-form writing, I would advise you to keep written content short and simple on social media otherwise.

Writing articles is a different ball game. It is more like writing a journalistic piece, a feature story, I would say. Here research is important. Decide on what to write about based on search queries your target audience performs on search engines, feedback from regular customers or any topic you think is relevant to your business. You have the luxury to adopt flowery prose instead of simple sentences. However, make sure you present content in a digestible form with proper headlines and signposts. Using an appropriate and focused keyword based on your initial research will optimise your article for search engines.

Website copywriting must be to the point that will convert customers. There is no room for long-winded sentences and flowery words.  Remember how your target audience will land on your website page. They would search for a solution to their problem on a search engine using a keyword and end up on your website. Once they are on your website, you should provide them with the exact information they are looking for. Otherwise, they will quit the page immediately (bounce off) and go in search of other websites. Consequently, a higher bounce rate will adversely affect your SEO rankings.

Ask yourself, have you got all the necessary information on your landing page that a potential customer wants to know about you, your product or service offerings? Eventually, you need your website visitors to take a desired action like navigating to another page or proceeding to make a purchase. Lack of enough and easily consumable information shouldn’t break the deal.

Who are you writing for? What is the objective of the content? Why are you writing it? How and when do you want your audience to take action? – These are the basic questions you need to keep in mind when writing for different channels.

Can you share some tips on how one can develop compelling content on social media or other platforms?

The first and foremost thing required to develop compelling content is to know your audience or who your customer is. Have a persona in mind. If you are creating content for everyone, you are creating for no one. The way you communicate to a stay-at-home mum is different from talking to a professional who is a bachelor. The language, choice of words and topics will be different while crafting content for different customer personas. Also, you must have a thorough understanding of social media platforms on which your target audience is more active and engaging; know where they are! You need not necessarily be on every social media platform. Choose the ones relevant to your audience, understand the nature of the platform, its algorithm and create customized content for each of them. You should also understand that what works on one platform may not be as effective on another. For example, articles and infographics work well on LinkedIn and Facebook whereas videos are effective on Instagram Reels, Tiktok and YouTube, and images on Pinterest.

Once you understand your audience and learn the nuances of each platform, look out for real-life experiences your customers have shared with you on social media or the customer service team regarding your products or services. Solutions to their pain points can be turned into a blog topic or infographic, videos of happy customers are great additions to your social media, important days, festivities and observances every month are topics for content creation- these are some of the tips I can tell you from the top of my head.

2020 and 2021 have been interesting years, to say the least; as marketers, I think we’ve all seen a shift in how our audiences approach to content. What sort of new opportunities and/or developments do you believe will continue to grow, or indeed, develop based on the world’s experiences with COVID-19?

From my personal experience, I realise that customers value ‘trust’ more than ever. They wish to engage with reliable brands that assure quality and safety. From this standpoint, I would say creating high-quality content is the way forward. Content that evokes a feeling of belongingness, a sentiment of camaraderie and consideration, a sense of safety and care, a desire for endurance, and a need for empathy will play a vital role in every step of a customer journey moving forward. Consumers will only engage with brands they trust in a post-Covid world. I don’t think they will take chances with businesses considering the physiological and psychological challenges they endured in the past year or two. Brands that promise peace of mind will succeed.

Any advice you’d give to young and aspiring marketers, particularly those with a knack for storytelling or content development? 

If you wish to grow as a storyteller or a content developer, keep your eyes and ears open. Consume any content that comes your way and try to make sense of it. Read as much as you can – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, articles, journals etc. Pay attention to content created by global as well as local brands so that you can adopt some of their best practices when you create your own content. This is how you learn until you find your own style. Improve your writing skills – learn to write without spelling or grammatical errors, learn to write in simple sentences and paragraphs. Pick up some basic image design skills (Photoshop or Canva), video making and editing skills (Adobe Premiere, Canva or VN Editor) and an understanding of content management systems like WordPress. 

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

You can contact me on LinkedIn. Feel free to send me a connection request. If you are interested in poetry, send me a follow request on my Instagram handle, @dheepugeorge.


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 the 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.

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.

Over the course of the Marketing Expert Series, we have heard about the lives and careers of marketing experts from all around the region – and even outside of it. Asia is a diverse region, with as many marketing strategies and tactics as there are markets. One of the joys of this Series is hearing how regional marketing experts deal with each individual market and adapt to the different needs and expectations of each country and target audience. 

In this issue of the Marketing Expert Series, we meet Alice Yu, one of the most dynamic, motivated experts we’ve had the pleasure of interviewing so far. Born and raised in China before moving to Singapore a little over a decade ago, Alice brings a passion for marketing not only to her professional career but also to her personal and community efforts with her non-profit community, Mama on Palette. Join us in this issue, and discover how all paths can lead you in the right direction, as long as you’re brave and motivated enough to make it happen.


Welcome to the Marketing Expert Series, Alice, thank you for joining us! Let’s start with some background, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now? What drew you to this line of work?

Hi, I’m Alice and my Chinese name is Yu Yuebo. Thirteen years ago, I came to Singapore from a small town in Anhui, China. My city is famous for its rich culture known as ‘Hui Pai (徽派)‘. Many famous writers, poets and artists were born or used to live there. I guess I was inspired, and have inherited a little of their creativity and most importantly an appreciation for it.

In 2018, I was recruited as one of the 200+ Chinese scholars to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) degrees in Singapore universities. During that time, there was no doubt that I should choose Chemistry, as I had done somewhat well in national competitions on the subject. 

My family’s expectation for me is to pursue a PhD and then become a professor. Ironically, upon graduating, I did receive a PhD offer in analytical chemistry from a well-respected professor with whom I worked to publish two papers in science magazines. But I rejected the offer.

Why? 

Because afterwards, I did more than eight internships and part-time jobs in university as a librarian, social media marketer, researcher, brand marketer, office administrator, corporate comms assistant, and lab assistant. I also did three years as a special reporter and tutor. 

During all that time, my true passion became clearer and clearer – I wanted to work in a field that allows me to communicate with people (as opposed to dealing with flasks and beakers). I love listening to stories and moreover, telling stories. I realized that what I wanted to be was not a professor, but a marketer.

When I came to that clear realization, I had a few seconds of pride in knowing what I wanted, but it wasn’t an easy path towards the dream. 

I can’t remember how many times I was turned down during job interviews with feedback such as ‘you don’t have a marketing degree’ or ‘you are inexperienced’ (yes, after hearing I did 10 internships)’. 

In between all the rejections and the subsequent depressions, two things that cheered me on: 

  1. A supportive partner (who’s now my husband) who understands and encourages me to pursue my dream 
  2. A non-rejective family, my mum and dad, who never said yes or no to what I was doing (“as long as you can feed yourself!”) 

Because of them, I was able to stay positive. I took my steps slowly, first as a management trainee, then an Account Executive in a PR agency, then an in-house marketer at a start-up where I was able to evolve my role from a program manager to a marketing manager, from covering SG local market to three markets including Europe and China. Afterwards, I took another regional marketer role in a bigger company and then managed a small content & social team at a Fortune 500 multinational company.

Now I’m moving on to another exciting opportunity to kickstart an entirely new function in partnership marketing in one of the biggest B2B tech companies in the SEA region. Along the way, my title and scope change, but the only thing that stays the same is my wanting to tell exciting stories and connect people/communities for good.

Over the course of your career, you’ve gained some experience marketing to the Chinese market. What sort of challenges did you face? How did you overcome them?

Marketing in China is definitely one of the most sophisticated, yet exciting topics to talk about! I could spend hours on it. To summarise the key challenges based on my experience of helping international brands enter China market include:

  1. Connection – regardless of the tier of the cities you are selling your product or service to, a strong local network is essential. It is even more important when you are moving to 2nd or 3rd tier cities where traditional performance marketing drives lower ROI than mouth-to-mouth referrals. Building a powerful network also gives brands chances to steer effective partnerships.

    For example, during my startup days, we hosted a two-week-long phonics boot camp with one of the biggest parental influencers in Shanghai, that led to over 3000 leads and 30% conversions. For those who are interested, read further on the ‘Pinduoduo’ model, where buyers are encouraged to share products they are interested in via their own social networks and invite their friends and family to form a shopping team and benefit from attractive prices
  2. Speed – there’s a buzzword among Chinese young Millenials ‘手慢无’ which means ‘if your hand is slow, the thing you want will be gone’. It is often used when shoppers are competing for limited edition items during e-commerce sale seasons such as ‘11.11’. The concept applies to the marketing world, too.

    For example, trend jacking is known as a great way to drive engagement. While I notice brands in Singapore usually take 1-2 days to react to new social buzz, which by Singapore standards is considered fast enough, in China it could be the first 1-2 hours after the hot topic is out! In my contribution to China Marketing Insights, I shared that Luckin Coffee’s record-breaking campaign was made in merely 13 days. Their marketing team took the first-mover advantage by working with Lelush, a Russian contestant that gained top popularity in Tecent’s reality show ‘Produce Camp 2021’.

    The commercial ads had almost two million views on Bilibili within 24 hours and the official hashtag #瑞幸冰咖推荐官利路修 (Chief Recommendation Officer Lelush) broke a billion mention record on Weibo. It also led to historical high product sales. After then, many other brands jumped onto the bandwagon to hire Lelush as their KOL, but no one did it as successfully as Luckin.

  3. Empathy – On many occasions, I’ve shared the importance of dropping stereotypes, egos, or any preset perceptions before entering the China marketing game. Just like localisation is not just about translation (if you think it is, rethink it quickly); knowing the Chinese culture and being able to drive emotions that resonate with the local audience requires big efforts in listening to the people, talking to them, and even having hotpot with your target group (like the young Chinese says, ‘nothing can’t be solved over a hotpot’).

    Many global brands, even local brands failed as they didn’t really listen or have real conversations with the locals. Some good examples include Dolce & Gabbana’s controversial ads which ​​depicted a Chinese model struggling to eat pizza, cannoli and pasta with chopsticks. Locally, former Harper’s Bazaar China editor Su Mang received many backlashes from Gen Y and Zs for her ‘inappropriate interpretation’ of a buzzword, involution, as ‘a reflection of high desire but low willingness to put in the work among the young generation’ during a reality show. So that patience to closely study China marketing trends and truly understand the meaning behind social topics can’t be neglected. In fact, that’s the key to your marketing in China’s success. 

You have done some amazing things, as a marketer, and, as a woman. It’s clear that you are a woman with a mission, please tell us more about your community and podcast, Mama on Palette.

I’m humbled to be recognised as a ‘woman with a mission’. I’ve always considered myself as a woman with passion. 😛 

My friends often ask, ‘Alice, why are you doing so many extra things?’ Their next question would usually be, ‘isn’t a full-time job and the motherhood duty enough?’ 

I know it all comes from a good heart, as they know my husband and I have been taking care of our kiddo on our own without a helper or grandparents, so there is a lot on our plate, but I do feel that doing the ‘extra things’ helps me to gain energy, rather than the reverse. 

Take Mama on Palette as an example – I started the nonprofit community four years ago after I became a new mother and suffered from baby blues. Art helped me walk out of postpartum depression and I even managed to publish a picture book which is now available in all public libraries in Singapore (you can borrow it here if you are interested). This experience showed me that art can be a powerful tool to help mothers achieve better mental wellness, which is something I feel that today’s society doesn’t pay enough attention to. 

Marketing to China and Mama on Palette expert, Alice YuSince then, I’ve been writing blogs to share my own parenting experiences and inviting mothers to tell their stories via the platform. Along the way, we had the honour to be featured in The Straits Times, 958 City Channel, Channel 8, The Pride by Singapore Kindness Movement and Lianhe Zaobao. 

Despite the challenging COVID time, we hosted our first exhibition at National Library Singapore gathering artworks of eight mother artists to celebrate Mothers’ Day in May. We just launched our first Mama on Palette podcast two months ago focusing on art, motherhood and wellness, and it is now ranked No.7 in the Art category in Singapore. I have the vision to turn Mama on Palette into the No.1 Go-To platform for parents to appreciate and practice art in Singapore. There’s still a long way to go!

Now that COVID-19 seems to finally be getting under control, what’s next for you personally?

To be very honest, I do not think COVID-19 is under control yet. That’s why it’s still important to keep our social responsibilities to protect each other and our loved ones. It’s not easy. We weren’t able to see our parents in China for almost three years, needless to say, our desperate hope to be able to travel again. 

Personally, I had a few hectic moments of managing back-to-back work calls and caring for a home-based learning kid, but I took all these as chances for building resilience. Through the challenges I also found a new purpose for Mama on Palette, that is how we as mothers could use art to destress and establish better mental health. 

I practice art therapy techniques often to pull myself out of negative thoughts and refresh my mind before jumping back to the daily battles. I take every change as an opportunity to self-reflect and evaluate my passion, priorities and skillset. That’s why I decided to leave the financial services industry after two years and return to the tech field, and also I will take on a different portfolio that drives more direct business impact.

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

Looking back at my own career map in the past eight years, I think I benefited from three characteristics I was born with or that I have learned:

  1. Resilience – What exactly does it mean? For myself, after I identified what I wanted to work as, I didn’t get there immediately. In fact, it was quite a nonlinear path.

    After leaving my first job in the education field, I had to pursue a part-time communications degree to ‘prove’ myself to potential marketing employers. Over half a year I juggled evening classes and teaching home tuitions around the island so that I could balance my investment and income. When I was happy that finally, I had a full-time marketing job in a working environment I like, I found out I was pregnant. I had to move on looking for a more stable, better-earning job without losing track in marketing.

    After I had a few years of marketing under my belt, I began to realise it’s a field not hard to get in (I might be a special case), but hard to get up, so I had to continuously upgrade myself by learning at least two courses every year, spending time on making connections and staying up to the trend. In the meantime, I always want to give back.I use my after work to mentor students, teach marketing courses, and build my own Mama on Palette community to help mothers who suffered from postpartum depression (PPD) or live a happier parenting life through art. Given the COVID pandemic, parenting becomes harder as well with home-based learning arrangements. So no matter which stage of life you are at, being resilient is really the key to thriving.
  2. Learning – As mentioned I keep a cadence of learning two new things every year. Here are two main drivers behind me: one is to keep up the attitude to stay humble, stay curious, and realise there’s new knowledge I can grab to make a better world; the other is to stay energetic – I gain my energy from discovering new domains.

    If one day I retire and don’t need to worry about making money, I will be very happy, sitting in a library or bookstore the whole day, as there’s so much more to be learnt!

    Learning also brought me many opportunities: without self-studying how to develop a WeChat account and build my own IP ‘Doggy and Catty’, I wouldn’t even know there’s a job category in ‘social media marketing’; through Mama on Palette I also learnt a lot such as building my own website, crafting EDMs and jumping onto Live sessions with my community members to talk about motherhood and art, and even rolling out our first podcast that is now ranked No.7 in the Art category in Singapore. I literally believe that opening a book, attending a course, or whichever format of learning resources, is like opening a door to new possibilities. That’s why learning always makes me feel excited.
  3. Network – If there’s something that I feel grateful for in my career besides being able to work in marketing, that is building my network and meeting all the fun people along the way. After my third job, all the opportunities I received next were through connections, mostly from LinkedIn. I always believe social media is a double-edged sword: you may get lost by chasing flashing waves or setting unrealistic comparisons that eventually led to anxiety or depression, but you can also make the best use of this ‘rented land’ (as Carlos Gil wrote in his ‘The End of Marketing’) to build your personal brand for free, connect with people that could potentially become your future employers or partners, or promote your business.

    Relationships are not always about profit or loss, buy or sell; in fact, the fewer commercial elements in your intent of building a connection, the longer-lasting and more profound an impact it has. Building an effective relationship is also about providing value. Just like Eric Sim, a personal branding expert once shared with me, ‘if you know how to use Canva, volunteer to help the others with a better design; if you are professional with excel, offer to provide your potential employer some historical data analysis and insights.’

Don’t worry if you are too young or inexperienced, you always have some unique value in you that you could offer in exchange for friendship, so step out of your zone and make real, impactful connections.  

Coincidentally, I am working on a career book for Gen Zs where I interviewed 13 leaders with a variety of backgrounds to share their life stories and practical tips on good challenges and hard-earned lessons along their career journey. This is not to self-advertise but I do believe the book will bring more food for thought for the young and aspiring marketers. I learned quite a lot through conducting those interviews. My book will be published in Q3 next year and I’ll do my best to make it available both in print and digital format so more can benefit from it.

 

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

I’m usually active on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aliceyuyuebo/ sharing marketing, growth and community-related stuff. I also welcome people to connect with me via https://mamaonpalette.com/ if they are advocating for art, motherhood and wellness related causes and join our community here with already a thousand members. 


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 the 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.

With everything that 2020 and 2021 have given us so far, namely a global pandemic, it’s easy to forget that climate change is still a threat. While it’s vital that we talk vaccines and defeating COVID-19, it’s also important that we do not lose any ground in the battle for the planet. One of the companies keeping this conversation at the forefront is Geneco, one of Singapore’s leading energy retailers. 

Joining us for this issue of the Marketing Expert Series, is Geneco’s Head of Marketing, Alex Chan, who shares the importance of green energy for Singapore and Geneco’s place on the frontlines for greener energy initiatives. With a background in marketing that cross-cuts multiple sectors and industries, Alex offers insights that help deepen our understanding of marketing, especially when it comes to marketing green energy.


Hi, Alex! Thanks for joining us in this issue of the Marketing Expert Series! Let’s start with something straightforward: tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get to where you are now? 

 

It’s my pleasure and thanks for inviting me to the Series

 

I always believe in the power of language and visual elements, and how it impacts the way one feels or think, whether it is a tv commercial or even a billboard. From then, I knew that this was an area that I always wanted to pursue, and that’s why I studied Mass Communications during my university days.    

 

I started my career in advertising agencies as account servicing. Over time, I wanted to be in the end-to-end marketing journey and be a key influence behind campaign results. Soon after, I had an opportunity to work in the marketing team of M1, a telco company, where my passion to be a marketer truly ignited. One gig led to another, I had the opportunity to work in another leading telco StarHub and other industries, such as FMCG and Chemical.

 

Over my 17 years of experience, I was also fortunate to spearhead multiple award-winning brand and marketing campaigns. And that led me to where I am right now – Geneco, a retail brand of YTL PowerSeraya, in the energy industry.

 

As I progressed in my career, I realised that the marketing landscape is dynamic and evolves incredibly quickly. There is always something to learn, skills to hone and strategies to adapt. This is one key reason that continues to fan the fire for my passion for marketing.

 

Now, you’re the Head of Marketing at Geneco, a leading electricity retailer in Singapore. What does your role entail?

To make it concise, I would like to describe the Head of Marketing role as having two key focuses: Brand-First and Digital-First.

 

This role charts the path in building the brand of Geneco. In the competitive energy market with 12 retailers, consumers are immune to an endless bombardment of tactical shout-outs with ever so slight differences in prices, plans and promotions. There is a need to balance these functional attributes and differentiate the brand with emotional attributes. This is where brand building comes in, this is where it worked well for Geneco, and we will continue to do so.

 

In the world of digitalisation, this role is also required to develop and optimise digital performance as well as social media strategies. As Geneco is a digital company without any brick-and-mortar shops, its online presence has to be built towards delivering effective direct-to-consumer results. As part of customer engagement, this role also looks after the development and enhancement of the Geneco mobile app, which was recently revamped and relaunched. Singapore has a mobile penetration of 155%, one of the highest in the world, and we see the need to leverage the mobile app as a two-way platform to continue to engage and build loyalty with our customers.

 

Energy companies are all in the process of adapting to the impact of climate change. Green policy is in fashion, so to speak, what with the Singapore government launching its new Green Plan 2030. What steps has Geneco made to align with this initiative?

First, I would like to explain the brand name ‘Geneco’, which is made of two key parts: ‘Gen’ refers to our organisation as energy experts with over 50 years of power generation experience and electricity retailing for 20 years. And ‘Eco’ represents our commitment towards building a sustainable, greener nation. The brand purpose of Geneco is ‘Power The Change’ – our brand is not just about providing electricity, we aim to have a positive impact on the social, environmental and cultural aspects that shapes the lives of Singaporeans.

 

Since Geneco launched in 2018, we have embarked on this eco-journey by offering green electricity plans to our customers. Beyond this option, we have also initiated a program called The ChangeMakers, partnering with 6 like-minded organisations, Comcrop, Cultivate Central, Food Bank Singapore, Green Nudge, Refash and Repair Kopitiam. Each of us brings our area of expertise to encourage Singaporeans to adapt their lifestyles with greener practices.

 

Since the multi-agencies announced SG Green Plan 2030 earlier this year, Geneco is even more driven to work towards the 2030 vision with its green targets.

 

The first initiative we had was on Earth Day, 22 April. We announced the launch of our comprehensive solar installation solutions for residential, commercial and industrial customers, to help offset carbon dioxide emissions. On the same day, at Windsor Nature Park, we planted the first 50 of 250 trees that we have committed over 5 years. This initiative is under the NParks’ One Million Tree movement, and which is part of the SG Green Plan as well. 

 

The next key initiative, and which I am very excited to share is the launch Power Eco Add-on – Singapore’s First-and-Only green add-on for an electricity plan.

 

Can you elaborate a little on this? How has it been received so far?

 

At Geneco, we always challenge ourselves and strive to create impactful ways to empower customers to Power The Change for the environment. Along with SG Green Plan 2030, we are even more committed to encourage and ease Singaporeans in embarking on a journey towards building a greener home for all. 

 

Through the study on how Singaporeans responded towards climate change, we had the insight that while 80% of Singaporeans do care about the environment, 75% felt they lack options to act sustainably and 56% felt sustainability choice was of poor value.

 

And we were determined to make that change and worked on an innovative product that is the first of its kind – Power Eco Add-on.

 

Not only we simplified 6 plans to just 3 plans, but we also addressed the pain points of customers with 5 key differentiating benefits:

 

    • Flexibility – It allows customers to choose between Carbon Credits or Renewable Energy Certificates.
    • Affordability – Customers is able to select the level of green contribution from 25/50/75/100%, which starts from just 40cts more per month.
    • Impact – Customers can help to offset/avoid up to 3920kg of carbon dioxide emissions and that’s an equivalent to 192 rain trees absorbing in a year. 
    • Simplicity – Customer’s sign-up journey takes less than 5mins
    • Certified – A digital certificate will be sent to the customers for their green contributions

We coincided with our launch on National Day, not just to celebrate our Garden City’s 56th birthday, but also to reinforce our commitment to the SG Green Plan. We hope to rally Singaporeans to ‘Go Green Your Way’, which is the campaign tagline, and do their part for the nation.

 

And in just a month, we are heartened to see 10 times more customers who chose this green add-on actively as compared to the past. This result is exceptionally encouraging as it shows the growing commitment that Singaporeans has. It also reflects that the green path to SG Green Plan 2030 is a promising one.   

 

 

Being more focused on green initiatives, I imagine your marketing strategies and approaches have shifted as well. Could you tell us a bit more about what marketing activities you’ve been using to engage your customers and partners? Have there been any marketing challenges?

 

If we think about it, the need to protect the environment is not a recent trend or topic. Years ago, our nation has quite a few green initiatives, such as the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. And as shared earlier, though 80% of Singaporeans are aware and do care about the environment, such green practices have not been adopted widely over the years.

 

One of the key attributes is that the green topic is not a popular one for an engaging conversation, let alone to evoke any action. 

 

Since its inception, Geneco has always strived to be a responsible organisation. We always seek to understand what challenges our customers are facing and how we can ease and encourage them into adopting a greener lifestyle.

 

For example, to amplify the Power Eco Add-on campaign, we looked for partners that not only understand and are aligned to our purpose but also have a wide reach for us to leverage and increase the campaign awareness.

 

We eventually collaborated with the ever-popular bubble tea chain Playmade, as the design of Power Eco Add-on’s varying green contributions is in the likes of the sugar level choices concept for bubble tea. With the strong bubble tea culture in Singapore, this partnership will allow us to reach out to more Singaporeans through our gamification and initiatives together.

In addition, we also engaged prominent social media KOLs, who range from eco-warriors to those who just started their sustainable journey, to talk about their own green lifestyles and then explain the benefits of Power Eco Add-on.

 

Through these collaborations, we believe that we are able to reach out to the masses, create meaningful conversations and open up new narratives on a sustainable future.

Let’s switch it up a bit now. You’re a successful marketer with a variety of experiences across a different number of well-known brands. How have your career experiences shaped you as a marketer?

I am very thankful for the opportunities I had as each industry has its own learning curves, customer behaviours and marketing strategies.

For example, some companies focus on tactical approaches; others focus more on brand building. Some companies are smaller scale with a different set of priorities, while the bigger companies have a different set of challenges. Some companies’ core business depends on having physical stores or presence; others are going digital-only.  I was fortunate to be exposed to these experiences, which made me learn and re-learn and helped in shaping my skill sets as a marketer. 

 But what made a significant difference was that I had many inspiring mentors throughout my career. They didn’t just teach me about marketing but also guided me on how to be a more rounded individual, collaborative team player and a better leader. Some of them made an effort by translating their thoughts to me; while others inspired me by the way they led, approached and resolved matters. 

 These are valuable learnings, which will stay with me as a marketer and as an individual. 

 

Looking back at your career, is there any experience that you feel had a bigger impact on your life as a whole? Or do you feel like they all add up?

 

There are definitely key moments in different stages of my career that influenced my journey. As I look back and beyond my own experiences, it culminates into two key takeaways that I will always reflect on – the constant need for self and skill improvement.

 

Marketing has evolved rapidly over the years, advanced by technology. The media landscape has been significantly disrupted, renowned companies who led in the past have been overtaken by e-commerce platforms, customers have vastly different consumer habits now, and with the Covid-19 pandemic, these changes are accelerated – the list goes on.

 

What I feel is important, during these waves of changes, is to hold on to our marketing basics, as these foundations will never waver. Then complement these foundations by learning constantly whenever there are new opportunities, and keep applying what we have learnt. Only then, I feel we can build ourselves upwards and be stronger marketers.

 

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

I hope to give three pieces of advice and hope these will resonate with them.

Stay on top of the latest, whether they are trends, topics or happenings. It can be over casual conversations with your agency partners or connections with your peers in different industries; to be relevant is everything in this field.

Stay curious in the ever-evolving marketing landscape. Learning never stops, whether you are a marketer of 10 months or 10 years, there is always something new to add to your expertise. 

Most of all, stay passionate. No matter how challenging it gets, remember why you chose Marketing and keep the fire burning bright. It will only make you stronger over time.

Thanks for spending some time with us, Alex! How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you?

Thanks for having me. For those who might have more questions or simply want to connect, they can easily find me via LinkedIn; I will be happy to share more. 

 


The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions showcases 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 the 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 or online presence, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.

Strategic marketing and branding is one of the leading sectors in marketing today. Gone are the days of ‘set and forget’ marketing tactics or ‘hope for the best’ strategies; nowadays, it’s all about strategic insights and taking action on collated data. One of the affects of this shift is that marketers must now have at the very least a good awareness of the impact of their work – and, hopefully, an ability to understand that impact.

As we’ve seen before throughout the Marketing Expert Series, marketers come from all sorts of backgrounds and paths. For some, jumping into the world of marketing is no surprise: a logical step from their background or education that just makes sense. One such individual is our Expert for this issue, Bernard Yong, the Head of Strategic Marketing and Brand Experience at Mah Sing Group, one of Malaysia’s leading property developers. With an affinity for data and analytics, and with a Bachelor’s in Software Engineering, it’s no surprise really that Bernard found his way into marketing, bypassing the IT industry altogether.

Join us for this issue of the Marketing Expert Series to gain a deeper insight into the world of property development marketing and strategic marketing and branding.


Welcome, Bernard! Thanks for joining us in this issue of the Marketing Expert Series! Let’s start with the basics. Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get to where you are now? 

My background actually is in Computer Science, more specifically in software engineering – I have a Bachelors. However, I haven’t touched a single line of code ever since I graduated back in 2002. I guess at that time, a career in programming just didn’t strike my fancy. After graduating, I did a stint of corporate advisory (with an international accounting firm), where we advised clients on fund-raising and listings.

I first got into property in 2006. Although I had no background nor experience whatsoever in property at that time, I’ve always had a personal interest in property as a product, as an investment vehicle, and as an embodiment of someone’s dreams and aspirations. My role was as Marketing Manager, handling high-end strata projects in Kuala Lumpur.

From there, I moved from strength to strength, and have been in property – in one form or another – ever since. My initial years were focused on sales & marketing, and I made the switch to specialize in Branding and Strategic Marketing when I made the move to TRX City Sdn Bhd back in 2012. Moving away from the core of sales and marketing, into branding and B2B initiatives, was a great learning experience.

I joined my current company in 2017, and my portfolio – besides handling branding & strategic marketing – expanded in 2020 to include the nascent Experience Management division – which I basically kickstarted. The purpose of this new division is to drive increased customer satisfaction amongst our buyers.

Were you always interested in marketing? How did you find your way into this career?

I’ve always had an interest in marketing. During my 20s, I embarked on quite a number of start-ups and business ventures (part-time), ranging from an online clothing retailer to an aggregator of property news. As with any start-up, a robust understanding of marketing was a must, and all these learnings complemented and added value to what I was doing in my day job.

Currently, you’re the Head of Strategic Marketing and Brand Experience at Mah Sing Group. What sort of work does Mah Sing do and what role do you play there?

Mah Sing is one of Malaysia’s largest property developers, and my role is multifold as I head two departments within the organization.

One of my departments – Branding & Strategic Marketing (BSM for short), is the steward of the brand, focusing on driving positive brand perception, awareness and recall. This department also handles all group-related marketing initiatives, ranging from group sales campaigns to partnerships and sponsorships. We’re also tasked with improving overall marketing efficiency for the group, in terms of increased conversions, reduced CPAs, and improving overall marketing ROI.

My second department, which is Experience Management (XM), serves to improve customer experience and satisfaction with regards to our business. We kickstarted a ‘Voice of Customer’ program, where we obtain real-time feedback from customers, and use it to measure out NPS and CSAT scores. With this in place, we’ve then had to work to develop the right KPIs, set up the right organizational structures, obtain the buy-in from key stakeholders, in order to drive change and improvements.

Property development is an interesting industry. What sort of challenges do you face and how do you overcome them?

Yes, it’s an interesting industry. The main challenges now are, and I’ll keep it brief:

  1. The awareness and discovery phases of marketing are increasingly taking place online. This may not seem like a big deal for most industries, but property is still a very bricks-and-mortar physical product. Customers mostly still want to see the physical product (in our case, it’ll be the show unit), before they sign on the dotted line. So, it is this straddling off online and offline, or online-to-offline (O2O as they call it), and striking the right balance, which poses an interesting challenge. We overcome this by building up our online offerings and channels, as we’ve always been strong offline. By building up, I mean ensuring that the sales process is digitized so that it can be monitored and tracked, focusing on increasing the effectiveness of our web assets, shifting more spend to digital marketing, and training and upskilling our team to sell across different modes of communication.
  2. In Malaysia, the property market is going through a soft patch. Structural issues mostly – oversupply caused by many years of rampant development, economic slowdown caused by COVID-19, stagnation in wages and compressed affordability, etc. We’ve responded by shifting our product offerings over the years, to focus more on mass affordable properties. 91% of our recent products are priced below RM700K. The days of selling million-ringgit properties are for now at least, put on hold in view of buyer preference and sentiment.

Let’s talk about you personally, you’re a successful marketer with a lot of experience in branding and creating strong customer experiences. How have your career experiences shaped you as a marketer?

I think all our experiences, be it career or personal, help shape who we are as a professional. There were many lessons learned, and yes mistakes made. I think given my background in IT, and my fondness for data and analytics, I’ve evolved into a marketer who is very much focused on performance.

No matter what we roll out, my question to my team is always “Well, how did it do? Did it meet our objectives?”. The days of execution for execution’s sake, or as the famous saying goes “Half of our marketing budget is going to waste, the problem is I don’t know which half”, are long gone. Marketing is becoming increasingly data-centric, and attributable, and that has greatly informed the way I approach marketing, and even branding in general.

Looking back at your career, is there any experience that you feel had a bigger impact on your life as a whole? Or do you feel like they all add up?

They definitely all add up. I can name one experience which really made me pause and evaluate myself and my approach to leadership. There was one incident where my department suffered a flurry of resignations. Needless to say, this was highly discouraging – to me personally, and disruptive to our operations.

Looking back, I believe I could have perhaps been more attuned to the sentiment of the team, and been that stronger leader they needed at that time. A bitter pill to swallow, yes, but a necessary one. That has definitely impacted the way I lead now, hopefully for the better. I’m still learning.

Now, COVID-19 – the topic none of us can ignore. How have the lockdowns and movement control orders impacted the property market and your work at Mah Sing?

It definitely has impacted the property market. While interest is still high, people are still registering their interest and making bookings (online), there is still a lot of waiting and seeing before they finalize their sale (sign on the sales and purchase agreement). We hope that with the NRP announced recently, the opening up of the economy will happen sooner rather than later.

Do you think there will be a lasting impact from the pandemic that will affect how property developers and indeed marketers go about their business?

Yes, it will. This has been a global, market shifting experience. One that will leave a lasting impact. For one, the way property developers design properties will change. From the previous focus on increasingly fancy common areas and a focus on ‘placemaking’, we have shifted to a strategy of ‘homemaking’, whereby the home is now the core of your personal life. A home is now to be more flexible, cosy, intimate, secure.

In terms of marketing, the massive shift to online and virtual channels will definitely affect how we plan and execute our marketing campaigns. We’re still experimenting with a lot of different formats and mediums, and it’ll be an interesting journey of learning for sure.

What’s next for you, personally? Is there anything you’re looking forward to most when this pandemic is over and done with at last?

I most look forward to hitting the skies and travelling with my family again! I think 99% of people out there would echo this sentiment.

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

To achieve success for all your plans and initiatives, you need to know what success looks like. What is the outcome (measurable) that you want to achieve? Plan that out, measure it, and work your butt off to achieve it. In today’s world, there is no longer a divide between traditional and digital marketing. Marketing = Digital. So, get comfortable with metrics and analytics, it’ll serve you well.

Thanks for spending some time with us, Bernard! How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you?

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

Mobile/WhatsApp: +6012-5266551

 

 

 

 

Are you wondering what a Content Specialist does every day? We’ve got good news for you! We sat down with our very own content writer who’s responsible for guest posting, and creating content that’s well optimised both for the search engines and our target audience.

Let’s get to know more about her!

Meet Faye – Content Specialist at 2Stallions!

Hi! I’m Faye Garcia, a 20-ish Filipina who found a living through writing. Yep, you’ve read it right—I’m from the Philippines! 

I’m the rose among the thorns, ’cause I’m currently the only lady in the SEO team. I write SEO-optimised articles and other content for 2Stallions and its clients. I’ve been doing this stuff for over 2 years…and guess what? I’m still loving it! 

Before I became part of the 2Stallions family last March 2019, I’ve also produced content pieces for various websites, blog sites, and more in my past work experiences.

When I’m not working, I’m either spending time with my toddler, doing housework, binge-watching K-dramas or listening to BTS’ songs (Yes, I’m an ARMY!). Out of all those things, I love having quality time with my son the most. I find joy in homeschooling him, playing hide and seek and doing any sort of activity with him.

What goes on in the day-to-day job as a Content Specialist?

My workdays don’t look the same. There are days that I’m so swamped and days that I only work on a few things. However, one thing is certain regardless of how busy my week or day is— I’m obviously writing! (laughs)

Google has become my virtual BFF. I ask questions, and I like it when it’s very generous in giving me answers. I hope Google is like that to you, too. 😉 

To give you a glimpse of how my typical working day looks like, here are the things I regularly do:

  • Check my work email. Like other employees, I check my email before I start working. 
  • Open the article requests sheet. The SEO team has this G sheet that contains the article requests and statutes. The SEO guys input the details (i.e., keywords, website URL to link, intent, etc.) into the sheet. Then, I check what needs to be written first.
  • Coordinate with SEO specialist/s. I coordinate with the SEO specialist handling the client project to verify things. I usually do this when working on branded content requirements (i.e., landing page copy, articles to be posted on client’s websites, etc.).
  • Get content ideas on Ahrefs. I log in on Ahrefs to explore content ideas and search for a topic that I would create content on. 
  • Research. Before I start writing an article, it has become my habit to collate related articles and relevant statistics or studies. Once I’ve gathered the essential information, I create an article outline—write title suggestions, subheadings, and add corresponding references to each section—to build the content flow.
  • Write, write and write. Need I say more? Most of my working time is spent on writing. If you’re going to ask how long before I finish an article, I would say… it depends. It depends on the topic’s complexity and the article’s word count. Can I also include here my son’s mood? 
  • Upload articles on WordPress. As mentioned, I also write internal articles. Once the articles are approved, I upload them on WordPress and optimise the meta tags using Yoast SEO.

Why do you think SEO content writing is important for businesses these days?

The world today revolves around the Internet. Most people use the Internet in their daily lives—from searching for products and services to finding information, connecting with friends, customers, or businesses, shopping, watching videos, and more.

With thousands of websites, articles, and content to be found online, how could you ensure that your business gets to the first page of Google? Well, just writing the content isn’t the solution. You must also write it for your readers and the search engines and incorporate the right keywords into the content to ensure high search rankings.

You’ve probably heard or read a lot that SEO-optimised web copy and articles have higher chances to show on search results pages (SERPs) than those that aren’t. You know what? That’s a fact!

A keyword-rich, shareable, and informative article will help drive more organic traffic to your website. This organic traffic may translate into qualified leads, and these leads may convert into paying customers. Did you see the domino effect there? That’s how powerful SEO and content marketing are when combined.

Do you have any advice for fresh graduates who are currently looking for jobs and are open to exploring different career paths? Would you recommend them to work as a Content Specialist?

As the popular adage says, no one is born an expert. If you find a job and feel like you’re not doing well, think twice, thrice, and many times before quitting. Don’t pressure yourself too much. Take things slow and enjoy the process.

If you have a flair for writing and are curious about how content pieces increase a brand’s discoverability, boost conversion rates, improve user experience, and build credibility, then you might want to consider SEO writing as a career path.

What challenges do you face as a Content Specialist? How do you overcome them?

I think most writers have experienced writing fatigue. There are times that I find it hard to write a good article introduction. Whenever this happens to me, I take a breather; pause for a quick snack or enjoy a cup of coffee.

Where do you get your motivation for your day-to-day tasks? Do you have any special sources of inspiration or drive?

The piling up bills are what keep me motivated. Just kidding. 

Ever since I was young, I have been fascinated by how powerful words are. This fascination has led me to the idea of exploring the world of writing and taking a Communication Arts Degree. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t land a writing career in my first two jobs because I lack experience. To make the long story short, I finally got lucky and worked as a Junior Content Producer in a marketing agency two years after my college graduation.

THIS. This story alone is my primary motivator. Whenever I lose motivation, I revisit my past and realise what I’ve gone through before getting on the job I dreamt of. 

As years go by, my sources of motivation keep on growing—my son who inspires me to do better, my colleagues who share their feedback and my bosses who recognise my contributions to the company.

In case you’re reading this and losing motivation, know that it’s only momentarily. Take the time you need. Look back on those bumpy roads and appreciate the people around you.

Can you share with us some of your favourite marketing guides or resources?


To be honest, I don’t have my favourite marketing guides. But I often find myself reading HubSpot, Content Marketing Institute, and Neil Patel articles. Apart from those sites, I also browse grammar forum sites like english.stackexchange.com. 

Is it true that agency life is ‘work without play’? Tell us a little bit more about the culture at 2Stallions.

I’ve worked for different agencies (office-based), and I never get to taste the ‘work without play’ thingy. I remember we even had game rooms, where we played Jenga, board games, Pictionary, and more. 

Despite the WFH setup, I must say that the culture at 2Stallions is no different from my past employers. Here, we have monthly team outings, where we take on virtual games and quizzes. It’s good to have these things once in a while and take a break from the daily word war with myself.  

Also, I appreciate the trust that the management gives to their employees. I, myself, is a living testimony because they allowed me to work on a flexible schedule, so I can balance my responsibilities as a Content Specialist and as a mom.

Wrapping Up 

Get to know our #2Stallionsfamily with the #2Steamstories tag.  Discover the works done by our diverse team of digital marketing professionals who will bring your ideas to life with impactful designs. Browse and download our case studies now! 

If you’re looking for a content marketing expert, don’t hesitate to contact us

 

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.

 

 

Marketing has many different facets, and it takes time and experience to fully understand it. Different experiences will provide different perspectives and learning opportunities, all of which help grow a marketer into a veteran. The global pandemic has had a big how we tackle digital marketing, and it will have a lasting effect on the way we approach marketing strategy. 

Speaking to us for this issue of the Marketing Expert Series, is a man with plenty of experience and perspective on how that experience can help develop strong, sustainable, and ethical marketing strategies. Chuin Ming Lee is currently Head of Marketing for Unit4, and with more than 20 years of experience in the marketing field, it’s easy to imagine the insight and expertise he can bring to the table. Join us for this issue of the Series, as Ming takes us through the journey that brought him to where he is today.


Welcome to the Marketing Expert Series, Ming! Thank you for joining us! Let’s start with the basics, tell us a bit about yourself! How did you get to where you are now? 

Thank you for inviting me to this interview series. My career in marketing started more than 20 years ago as a product manager for Thomson Reuters serving both the news media and financial markets. My role grew and evolved over the years with the company before I moved to other wonderful organisations including HP, RS Components, Getty Images, Autodesk and now Unit4. I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to work in a variety of different industries with different business models and customer demands, and that has afforded me great learning experiences throughout my career journey.   

What was it that drew you to this line of work? Is there a singular or series of experiences that attracted you to it?

The biggest attraction for me is that marketing is a central business function in any organisation. As a marketer, I always feel that I’m in the thick of the action. As a result, I can make direct, meaningful contributions to how an organisation performs. Also, the marketing role usually involves working with stakeholders across the board, from senior executives to sales teams and customer support to product developers and programmers in the back office. I really enjoy working with this diverse group of people where I get to also learn about their work and business priorities. Furthermore, I am also lucky in that I have always held regional roles at global companies, where I can interact and work with people from across the world. I find it truly eye-opening to experience different cultures through my professional career.

Looking at your career, we encounter an impressive list of roles throughout the APAC region. How has this shaped your professional and personal life?

I grew up in a small city, where most of the people I knew are very much like me. Looking back, my general outlook on life used to be very provincial. Through exposure to diverse corporate settings and international colleagues, I find that I have developed a much broader perspective on life in general. I have grown to value and appreciate the fact that there’s always more than one way to skin a cat. Exposure to a diversity of ideas, values and practices has been invaluable in making me a more well-rounded and effective marketer. I have leveraged my broad-based knowledge and experience to see things from different perspectives and bring fresh eyes to problem-solving, for example.

Are there specific roles or experiences in your career that you value above others?

The best experience in my career has been one where I was not only able to contribute to the company but to society. I cannot see myself working for a tobacco company, for example, knowing that their products have an impact on people’s health. However, when I was working for Thomson Reuters, I always felt that I was part of a larger mission. We were not just delivering value to shareholders, but we brought important and impartial news to the world. Our journalists were risking life and limb in war zones and other dangerous environments so that the rest of us know what’s going on. I was part of the team that delivers this information and having that sense of mission was a huge personal motivation to go to work every day.

Currently, you are the Head of Marketing for APAC at Unit4. Can you tell us about Unit4 and the work that the company does?

Unit4 is a global company with a 40-year history in Europe, but unfortunately, it’s still largely unknown in APAC. We provide the latest technology in Enterprise Resource Planning solutions, serving customers mostly in professional services, public sector, nonprofit, and education. We help mid-tier, people-centric organisations to transform the way they work, by providing a better People Experience to their employees, and in turn to their customers as well. Our integrated system helps organisations to manage HR, Finance, Procurement and Project Management functional processes on a modern cloud-based platform, which is easy to use and fully customisable to unique business requirements.  

COVID-19 – the topic on everyone’s mind, and it will certainly leave a mark on many industries. How has it affected Unit4’s business? Has there been a change in demand for enterprise software?

The COVID 19 pandemic has made many companies aware of the limitations of on-premises systems. When countries imposed lockdown restrictions, and companies realised that their people are not allowed or were not able to access their physical offices, they suddenly felt a greater sense of urgency for the move to a cloud-based solution. Our Unit4 solution is based on Microsoft Azure, and having that internationally recognised and secure cloud platform has helped us to differentiate our solutions in the market.

I understand that you joined Unit4 in the middle of the pandemic, how has this impacted the way you approach your marketing tactics for Unit4?

Like many other marketers, we have lost the ability to host physical events due to government restrictions in various countries. This means that there’s now a lot more emphasis on digital activities and virtual events. That in itself is not necessarily bad, as we often get higher ROI from such activities. However, our sales teams have lost the ability to interact and meet with prospective customers face-to-face. Also, everyone is focusing on digital campaigns and activities, and the present challenge is for us to figure out how to stand out from the digital noise. This is not an easy task for a little-known brand like Unit4. 

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?

The impact of COVID-19 will not go away anytime soon. Many companies have reduced their physical office space, and invested in work-from-home systems and implemented remote-working policies. People will likely continue to work from home at least part of the time even when the pandemic is over. There will be a greater need for companies to better manage their remote workforce and ensure their people remain motivated and closely engaged in the business. There’s also a greater sense of urgency for companies for the digital transformation of their business. We’re already seeing organisations starting to invest in digital operation platforms and move to the cloud, just to remain competitive. Those that don’t embark on this journey risk being left behind.    

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

Personally, I can’t wait to travel for leisure again! Singapore is a very tiny place and it’s beginning to feel like an island prison; as a joke, I’m starting to call this country “Singa-traz!” It would be nice to have a change of scenery after being stuck here for almost 2 years! And I’m not very particular either on where to visit, even a short trip to neighbouring countries would be nice. I just hope all countries can roll out their vaccination programmes smoothly and get the pandemic under control soon. 

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

When I first started out in my career, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. It’s only by trying out different roles that I finally found something that interests and excites me. Therefore, I would encourage young, aspiring marketers to be courageous and try out new roles for themselves if they are as uncertain in their chosen career as I was. Even within marketing, there are different areas of specialization, and if you don’t like one, you can always try some others that interest you.  Also, marketing is not an exact science, and it often takes a lot of trial and error before you come up with a campaign that works. Again, my advice is to always keep an open mind and be willing to try new ideas and new campaigns. That’s the only way to improve and reach new heights!

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

People are welcome to connect with me on LinkedIn