digital marketing advice


Search engine optimisation (SEO), content marketing (CM), and social media marketing (SMM) might be different tactics but they share a common goal—to increase organic traffic to your website.

SEO works better when paired with the two. Your content pieces will attract more eyes when optimised for search engines and shared on social media. And, you’re likely to improve your social media reach using the right content and set of keywords.

In short, integrating these three techniques enables a digital marketing flywheel that lets you enjoy the best of both worlds and increases your chances of doubling your search traffic.

Understanding the Three Techniques—SEO, CM, & SMM

SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing, thumbs up icon, desktop, keyboard, graph, red arrow pointing up,

Search engine optimisation (SEO) focuses on boosting your website presence. It’s all about optimising your site to improve its visibility and rank higher in the search results pages.

Content marketing is the process of creating and sharing content (i.e., videos, blogs, infographics, social media posts, etc.). This discipline relies on SEO to increase brand awareness and consequently—generate visits and drive website traffic.

Social media marketing refers to the use of social media platforms for promoting a business, product or service. Sharing engaging and SEO-optimised content helps increase your brand exposure and boost social media traffic.

Read on to find out how you can increase organic traffic to your website using these three techniques.

Tips for Boosting Organic Website Traffic

Increase organic traffic to your website, desktop, desk planter, keyboard, mouse

1. Optimise for the Search Engines (and Readers)

Ranking on search engines like Google is the primary purpose of search engine optimisation. Broadly speaking, there are three core pillars of SEO: technical SEO, on-page optimisation and off-page optimisation.

Here’s how these optimisation techniques differ:

Three core pillars of SEO, on-page SEO, off-page SEO, technical SEO

Technical SEO

Technical SEO refers to the process of meeting the technical elements of modern search engines. It involves strategies, including crawling, JavaScript indexing, rendering, linking, and more.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO is the practice of optimising elements such meta descriptions, headlines, title tags, and content on your website to earn more relevant traffic from search engines. All these on-site elements should include targeted keywords to help your website rank higher.

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO on the other hand refers to optimisation techniques done outside your website. Inbound links, social shares, domain age, citations, and reviews are a few of the off-site ranking factors that help improve your search rankings.

While SEO is about befriending the search engines, it’s also crucial that you optimise your website for your readers. So how do you do it? Simple—develop a keyword strategy. You may use long-tail keywords that will identify your website as a destination for a particular topic.

This blog post, for example, is intended for those who want to get more traffic to their website. Using the keywords to increase organic traffic would be effective because there’s less competition for the term and people search for it.

2. Create Content Pieces for Your Buyer Personas

Optimising for search engines is useless if you’re not driving profitable customer or client actions. This is where content marketing comes into action; it connects with your readers and influences them in making purchasing decisions.

To ensure you entice them until the decision stage, create content pieces that fit your buyer personas—fictional yet realistic representations of your target customers. If you haven’t created your audience personas, here are a few tips that may help you in designing them:

  • Check your existing customers and social audience. Gather information, such as age, location, language, spending power and patterns, interests, challenges, and more.
  • Learn why they love your products or services. Tapping on social media listening is one way to find out about customer experiences.
  • Identify customer goals. Are they only researching, looking for reviews, or are they ready to buy?

Once you have buyer personas in place, you can deliver content that will be most relevant and valuable to your audience. The easiest way to use your audience personas is to cater your content to them.

Here are the three stages of the buyer’s journey along with their ideal content types:

  1. Awareness stage: where personas are experiencing that need to be fixed. Blog posts, social media posts, and explainer videos are ideal pieces of content targeting this stage.
  2. Consideration stage: where personas are considering solutions to their pain points. The best content pieces to offer for this stage are product comparison guides, case studies, and free samples.
  3. Decision stage: where personas have decided on their solution or turned into buyers. Examples of ideal content formats for the decision stage are product descriptions, free trials and demos, reviews and customer testimonials.

These stages names sometimes vary. For example, they might be called the ‘Education’, ‘Consideration’, ‘Purchase’ stages instead. The concepts, however, are generally always the same and are tied directly to the market funnel.

3. Promote & Optimise Your Social Media Profiles

Did you know that an optimised social media profile has a high chance of driving organic website traffic? Social media optimisation follows the concept of SEO, where relevant keywords are included in bio sections to make the profiles searchable.

When writing a social media description, be sure to make it keyword-rich. Add relevant keywords naturally, so your target audience can find you in the search. Doing this not only increases your discoverability but also helps increase organic traffic to your website.

Aside from creating keyword-rich descriptions, you can also boost your organic social media reach by doing the following:

  • Upload a high-quality picture. Your profile picture puts a face to your name, so it must reflect your brand. It should also be recognisable; avoid using an image that has nothing to do with your business.
  • Add links to your website. Take advantage of social media’s ability to build brand awareness. Include links in your bio section to lead target customers directly to your website.
  • Use hashtags sparingly. Hashtags are like keywords that categorise the content. Consider adding relevant hashtags to promote your business and boost your visibility.

4. Update Old Web Content & Blog Posts

Here’s another link between SEO and content marketing: when you update your old web content or blog posts, you get Google to crawl your site more frequently. It’s like technical SEO, where search engine spiders crawl your website, but without coding—just upgrading.

Having fresh content is critical for your website because Google favours frequently updated content. If you frequently update your website or articles, Google finds it easier to search for your web pages and add them to the index.

Frequent updates can help you have a better chance of ranking on the search engines. While a higher post frequency doesn’t necessarily increase your overall website rankings, it can increase organic traffic to your website.

Here are some of the best practices for content updates:

  • The key is quality, not more content. If your blogs are only 300 words long, bumping up the wordcount is a good idea. However, adding paragraphs just for the sake of updating can’t guarantee you good results. It’s necessary to keep your content standards high and write around what your readers want.
  • Incorporate valuable, targeted keywords. Keywords are a vital part of SEO. Optimise your content for a more relevant keyword. Targeting new keywords can expand your search visibility and help you bring more traffic.
  • Add new or update old links. Like keywords, internal and external links also play important SEO roles. Interlinking your web pages and linking your blog posts to your website can positively affect your SEO. Revisit your website and blog posts, then do the following:
  1. Find and fix 404. If one of your blog posts is linked to a 404 page, update the link and add a significant link.
  2. Spot outdated references. Blogs typically mention references, such as studies, research, and statistics. External links can build your website authority, so check whether they’re working and update them to more recent findings.

5. Create Meaningful & Evergreen Content

Creating evergreen content doesn’t only increase organic traffic to your website, but it also keeps driving regular traffic to your web pages for as long as you want it. The reason behind this is simple—such content doesn’t go out of date.

Not only does evergreen content stay fresh for readers, but it also remains popular in search engines. Google will find your content relevant, allowing you to become more visible and rank higher in search results pages.

To help you strengthen your evergreen content marketing strategy, we listed some actionable tips that will help you do just that.

    • Choose evergreen topics. Keyword tools like Ahrefs can help you look for popular, consistently searched topics. Use such tools to see what keywords have positive trends and build your content around these keywords.

When writing blogs around evergreen topics, avoid using terms with a short lifespan, such as this month, last year, yesterday, and more. If you’re thinking about writing for a relevant year, for example, ‘content marketing best practices in 2021’, update the content every year or ensure the content will remain valid over time.

    • Update content when necessary. As discussed in the previous point, Google recognises web pages with fresh content. You should refresh your content as often as necessary to ensure it’s evergreen and increase its chances of driving traffic or attracting leads and shares.
    • Build high-quality backlinks. The good thing about evergreen content or regularly update content is that it can generate consistent leads, establish a brand reputation, and above all—give higher search engine rankings.

To ensure your business reaps these benefits, build links to your fresh content, encourage sharing on social media, and consider doing guest posting.

6. Get the Most Out of Social Media Targeting

Social media also holds power in your search rankings. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms can help you reach thousands of customers, which means you get more chances of increasing organic social media reach.

However, publishing content on social media isn’t enough to improve your SEO results. You should also consider capitalising on social media’s ability to reach specific audience types. By choosing who sees your content, targeting ideal audiences and engaging with them becomes easier.

Facebook, specifically, allows you to target any of your posts to a certain demographic. These general demographics include gender, age, relationship, educational status, location, interests, and language.

Suppose you own and run a women’s fashion store in Singapore. You could target your posts to female shoppers who live in or near Singapore and are around 20-40 years of age. Here’s how you can start setting up Facebook targeting:

  1. Click Settings at the top of your page.
  2. From General, check off the box next to Audience Optimisation for Posts.

Follow the steps below to limit your post’s audience.

  1. Click the targeting icon before publishing your post.
  2. Tick Restricted Audience at the top, then select the age and locations of the audience you want to see your post.
  3. Click Save.

To target a specific audience in your newsfeed, use News Feed Targeting.

  1. Click the targeting icon before publishing your post.
  2. In the News Feed Targeting section, enter the criteria of the people you’d like to reach in News Feed.
  3. Click Save.

Also, you could specify when to stop showing your post organically in the news feed—this is called post end date.

SEO, Content & Social Media: Stronger Together

Search engine optimisation, content marketing, and social media marketing are equally essential in helping you increase organic traffic to your website.

One doesn’t outsmart the other as all concepts can raise awareness of your brand, build an audience, and ultimately—convert prospects to customers. Instead of treating them as separate, different practices, why not integrate your SEO into your content and social media marketing strategy, or vice versa?

If you’re up for this idea, 2Stallions(a full-service digital marketing agency) would gladly help you get started. Our team of industry experts will draw your target audience to your website through on-page and off-page SEO, engaging content and improving your social media presence.

Learn more about our complete line of digital marketing services here.


Originally published: 13 August, 2021
Updated: 16 December, 2022

Social Media Marketing Has Revolutionized The Way Marketers Communicate With Customers

Social networks have changed the fundamental ways in which marketers communicate and interact with their customers. Social media has become one of the must-have digital marketing channels for almost all brands.

Social media marketing is now an integral part of the marketing mix of any B2C or B2B company that seeks to have direct contact with its customer.

With 4.74 billion global social media users, it is no surprise that companies continue to turn to social media to reach their target audiences.

Marketers who have successfully built a strong social media presence experience greater engagement with their customers and a significant increase in lead generation.


  • Ad spending on social media is projected to reach over $173 billion in 2022 (Statista)
  • 83% of marketers report confidence in the ROI on social media marketing (Hootsuite)
  • 27% of social media users look for inspiration for things to buy or do (GWI)
  • 26.2% of social media users use the platforms to find products to purchase (GWI)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, social media took off even more than before as people turned to the Internet to stay connected to loved ones. This is coincidentally the first and foremost reason why people use social media.  

Even now that most countries are out of their lockdowns and vaccines are slowly pushing the pandemic into the history books, social media is still a go-to place for people of all ages to connect and share. As a result,  social media marketing remains an essential strategy for businesses.

Future of Social Media Marketing – Take a Dynamic Approach

While social media marketing is immensely valuable and beneficial to your business growth, your social media strategy will have to differ based on which social networks your audience spends their time on.

Consider the following data:

World's Most-Used Social Media Platforms October 2022 DataReportal

Your target audience may be on one or more platforms – or they may be on five or six! To get the most out of any social media marketing strategy you are going to need to create dynamic content that is not only interesting for your target audience but also adapted to each platform you’re going to use to reach them.

What is Dynamic Content?

Dynamic content refers to content that changes based on data, behaviour and interests of the users.

Different social media platforms have different sets of demographics, interests and types of content consumption. Therefore it’s essential that marketers tailor their social media content to suit each platform’s users.

The Components Of Dynamic Content On Social Media

A dynamic approach can be applied to both content and paid social ads (including retargeting ads). Whether it’s content or paid ads, the type and presentation of content will have to change based on the behaviour and interests of the target audience. 

The key is customization and personalisation.

Dynamic Paid Ads

For paid ad campaigns, the most common practice is to customise blocks of tailored content (ads) that are displayed on social media according to the rules for particular subscriber groups.

Using tools such as Facebook Dynamic Ads & LinkedIn Dynamic ads marketers can customise the “look” of the ad and leverage the various targeting options available.

When marketers create retargeting ads, they can choose to target a group of customers who are most likely to convert (for example, customers who have left items in the cart or have browsed your site previously).   

Creating a Facebook Dynamic Ad

When you create a dynamic ad, choose assets that make sense together when combined. You can choose up to 30 assets for your dynamic creative ad.

You should also:

  •  A/B test best call-to-action buttons 
  • Reach the right people with the use of pixels
  • Keep the text short, clear and to the point 
  • Draw attention to your image with movement/ formats

Dynamic Monthly Social Content

Using insights gathered from your social media channels, marketers should also plan their monthly social media calendar according to their customers’ interests and purchase intent. These can be gathered using the page insights function that all your social channels will have. 

Tips for planning your social media calendar:

  1. User Segmentation
    Segmentation is a method of dividing your visitors into specific groups and customizing both your content and the user experience for each segment. You might want to check out our guide to creating a customer strategy, this will help with audience segments.
  2. Collect Relevant Data
    Collect consumer insights based on the products that the user has been looking at.
  3. Adapt Your Branding and Creative Approach
    Change the content type and style based on all the data that has been collected thus far.

How Dynamic Content Future-Proofs Your Social Media Strategy

A one-size-fits-all social media content won’t cut it anymore.

If you’re trying to reach customers on TikTok, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram you need to tailor your approach to each platform.

Your customers are increasingly demanding. They expect their interactions with businesses on social to be tailored to who they are, their goals and their needs.

For marketers to maintain a competitive advantage, they must adopt a strategy that is flexible enough to reach their customers at multiple touchpoints.

That is why we recommend a dynamic strategy which will deliver long-term value and drive social ROI for any company.

A dynamic Approach Optimizes Your Content to Drive Conversions and Sales Faster

Dynamic content is your first step towards better audience targeting to bump up social ROI and achieve business results for your brand.

It is a versatile and cost-effective strategy which will help businesses receive the most return on ad spend.

With a dynamic approach, marketers are optimizing content which will appeal to their existing and potential customers.

With dynamic ads, you can:

  • Reach more customers: Show people items that are tailored to their interests, regardless if they’ve been to your website or app
  • Complete the sale:  Dynamic ads retarget your website or mobile app shoppers to remind customers of items they’ve left in their shopping cart
  • Find new potential shoppers: Using a function known as broad audience targeting, you can reach new people who’ve expressed interest in your products (or products similar to yours) even if they haven’t visited your website or app yet
  • Save time on creating ads: Marketers just need to create an ad template that automatically uses images and details from your catalogue for products you’d like to advertise

As a result, dynamic ads help quicken the conversion process and increase conversion rates because you are targeting customers who have the greatest probability to buy from you.

Rather than incurring a huge ad spend on a general audience, marketers will achieve better results with the least possible amount of ad spend by selling to customers with the highest purchase intent, across all the stages of the marketing funnel.

Wrapping Up

The steps we’ve provided for you to create a dynamic strategy are relevant for Facebook and other social media channels. Feel free to adopt any of the tips we’ve provided and get started on creating your own dynamic strategy today! 

Not game to go at it alone? Contact us today, we’re happy to help.


Originally published: 22 May 2020
Updated: 25 November 2022

The finance industry is a complex arena, requiring special insight and expertise to excel. With the last few years, the industry – like all other industries – had to make monumental changes to adapt to the changes in human behaviour.

In this issue of the Marketing Expert Series, we talk fintech, banking and how they’ve changed. More than that, we are given the rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of the inner workings of the industry. Our guide for this journey? Kevyn Eng, vastly experienced, Head of Growth and Marketing at Hugosave, Singapore’s first Wealthcare® and savings app aimed at helping users manage their finances more healthily.

Hi, Kevyn, thank you for joining us in our Marketing Expert Series. Let’s kick off with a little background, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now? 

I started my career in Public Relations with two of the world’s most respected consultancies—Fleishman-Hillard and Burson Marsteller—serving finance, industry and B2C clients. I had the chance to be exposed to the dynamic world of Banking and Finance.

In 2009, I entered the banking space, specifically, payments. In those days, marketing was an end-to-end function that combined today’s business (product marketing) and marketing roles (marketing communication). I’m always grateful for the wide exposure and opportunities to be involved in almost every component of the integrated marketing spectrum. For instance, I was fortunate to have entered banking at the point RBS took over ABN Amro’s payment business and, within two years, executed another brand change to ANZ. In this short span of time, I was thrust into two major bank rebranding exercises and that experience really taught me much.

2011 was another interesting year when I worked on Marketing Communication for private banking clients in Southeast Asia. Though frequent travels were tiring, the direct exposure and working relationships formed with agencies and partners across Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand were valuable. Today, I still keep in contact with some of them.

2019 was yet another milestone year when I moved into the Intelligent Banking business. Leveraging open banking, cognitive banking and ecosystems, we pioneered changes in mindset, processes and business models, all within a giant bank with a global presence.

Today, I’m leading the Growth and Marketing department of Hugosave, Singapore’s first Wealthcare® and savings app.

You’re the Head of Growth & Marketing at Hugosave. Please tell us about Hugosave and the work you do there.

Launched in July 2021, Hugosave is Singapore’s first Wealthcare® and savings app which helps users become financially fit by spending smarter, saving more, and investing diligently, starting with gold.

Today, more than 50,000 users in Singapore are using Hugosave to optimise their finances. The Hugosave Growth & Marketing department commercialises the business, driving customer acquisitions and CLV whilst optimising acquisition and customer costs. This is done through an in-depth understanding of users’ needs and behaviours, and close coordination and collaboration with many internal stakeholders. We actively acquire and engage our clients through a mixture of broad-based marketing to personalised communication triggered via our CRM platform.

Building the Hugosave brand from a nobody to a multi-award-winning name, the high-performing team deploys a multi-lever approach involving PR, Branding, Content, Social, Communities, Digital Marketing and advertising channels. We also plan and execute innovative campaigns, rewards and partnership activities.

What sort of impact did the COVID-19 pandemic have on Hugosave?

Covid-19 has fundamentally changed the way the world works. On a macroeconomic level, it has significantly disrupted supply chains, impacting the global movement of goods and services. This increased the cost of doing business and jacked prices of goods and services up across the globe.

In Singapore, where natural resources are scarce, we are heavily reliant on global supplies. The increases in prices have definitely eroded our savings, disrupting our financial plans and reducing our purchasing power.

The need to save has never been more apparent. Consumers have now a heightened awareness of the need for sufficient emergency funds and saving for rainy days. It’s a double whammy when they now have to spend more on daily essentials due to inflation. Hugosave is well-positioned to help customers save in a painless manner. In line with our Little, Often, Early mantra, we think consumers can still achieve savings when they set aside small amounts of savings on every spend they make. Our Roundups feature on our Hugosave Debit Card does just that. It rounds every transaction up to the nearest dollar and saves the spare change, aka Roundups, in Gold. The precious metal is widely accepted as a safe-haven asset and an inflation hedge.

Consumers can also set scheduled savings in Gold, in any amount starting from S$0.01. This automation at the back allows customers to continue with their daily lives with minimal disruptions and pinch.

Hence, this is a golden time for Hugosave to engage our prospects and encourage them to start their Wealthcare® journeys, and hopefully with us.

How have the developments of the COVID-19 Pandemic affected your strategies as Head of Growth & Marketing? What challenges and/or developments have you had to adapt to since 2020? How have you overcome them?

From a marketing outreach perspective, we see the shift in our budget and investments fully into digital marketing, content creation and public relations.

Whilst we continue to believe in face-to-face interactions with our prospects, the situation during Covid-19 forced us to be sharper in the way we communicate, to further simplify complex finance terms for consumers. Online attention is also way shorter than a physical interaction and so messages needed to be more succinct and on-point.

What sort of lasting impact do you believe the pandemic’s forced acceleration of digital transformation has had on your industry?

The digital wave has accelerated faster as a result of the pandemic. From eCommerce to content consumption, the digital space is now the default for many Singaporeans. As a by-product, our push towards a cashless society has also moved quickly.

Does this then see the death of the piggy bank since there’s even lesser use for coins? Here’s where we introduce Hugosave’s digital piggy bank. Rounding up transactions to the nearest dollar, the cents are now saved and invested in Gold. So not only do customers save from incurring unnecessary processing fees from banking coins, they have a good chance of seeing the investments grow and protecting savings from inflation.

In the world of personal finance and Wealthcare®, a similar wave is happening. Innovations and tech disruptions to traditional banking services have grown tremendously.

Opening banking and SGFinDex paved the way for data democratization, and clients now have greater control over their information. With that, it also spurs growth in Wealthtech apps with better journeys and simpler and easier-to-understand propositions that help clients manage their finances more efficiently and effectively.

Do you think that this impact has permanently changed how you and your team go about your work? Where do you see your strategies going in the next few years?

Definitely, Hugosave is primed at the right time with the right proposition built by the right team.

In times of FUD, people turn their attention to saving opportunities as they tighten their belts. This makes the environment ripe for a business like Hugosave. We provide a platform for our clients to protect, preserve and grow their savings without feeling the pain. From automated savings with every spend via our Roundups feature to scheduled money pots, savings are invested in relatively lower-risk assets such as Gold, enabling their growth.

As a Weathcare® and savings App, we naturally reach out to our customers on a mobile-first principle. Over the Covid-19 period where physical interactions are limited, we make our marketing investments digital. Social media, in particular, Instagram and TikTok is key channels we utilise to get our messages out.

We have also taken the opportunity to explore audio podcasts via Spotify and Twitter Spaces. These platforms enable us to deliver our messages where our clients are. Apart from performance buys, we have also embarked on building our communities on Facebook & Telegram. It’s very interesting to note that our TG community has grown and overtook our Facebook Group within four months of its inauguration.

Communities will continue to be our focus and way to drive multi-way conversations. As we continue to dish out information and bite-sized education on personal finance, our communities will benefit from discussions with us, and amongst themselves.

How do the last few years impact your insight into how personal finances should be managed? Do you have any suggestions for people on how to better control and manage their financial situations?

Savings has almost become a forgotten topic as Cryptocurrency speculation sweeps across the youth’s mind space with the ‘get rich fast’ opportunities. The bull run of the crypto space prior to 2020 saw many trying their luck. Arguments that savings were too slow in accumulating wealth and such investments would work far better.

Looking back now, many have now understood that such speculations are highly risky and should be taken with much caution. With a gloomy economic outlook, people now turn their attention back to savings.

In Hugosave, our philosophy is to start your savings journey with a little, often, early. Start small to avoid feeling the pinch and slowly increase once it becomes second nature.

Keep a schedule going so that you continuously buy into the market, achieving dollar averaging and the potential to mitigate timing risk. Finally, start as soon as you can so that you enjoy the power of compounding interests.

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

My personal mantra is, “Keep going, you’ll get there”. Marketing is a diverse, dynamic, ever-changing industry that continues to reinvent itself as it responds to consumer and social developments. Sometimes, it feels chaotic and frustrating when plans change and we pivot fast to keep ahead and stay relevant. Bite the bullet, keep going and you’ll get there.

It’s been great to learn more about you and your work, Kevyn, thank you for sharing. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you or Hugosave’s work?

Follow me on my LinkedIn or simply visit the #Hugoverse!

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.

Content calendar (or editorial calendar) is a simple concept: a schedule of when and where to publish future content (posts, video materials, podcasts, etc). An efficient content calendar normally includes dates for publishing upcoming content, planned promotions, social media promotions and posts, and updates to previously published content.

A content calendar is of extreme importance for businesses because it helps devise and track marketing strategies. Not only does it help a business stay organized, but it also helps with monitoring SEO performance.

How to Use a Content Calendar Efficiently

That being said, even the finest of content calendars won’t be efficient if they are not used to their full potential. In plain words, creating a content calendar and not following up and updating it is not the way to go about things.

The most common goals a content calendar should help achieve are, as follows:

  • Ensures that planned tasks are going as planned
  • Provides overview of upcoming tasks
  • Ensures ideal content distribution
  • Ensures that collaboration is taking place

Additional features may be added as per specific goals, but these are the very basic and essential ones.

Elements of a Good Content Calendar

As is the case with everything in life, there is no universal rule when it comes to content calendars. However, while they are highly customizable, they still should feature a number of elements that are crucial for every marketing strategy. These include editorial, promotional items, platform and upcoming ideas.

A content calendar should be planned well ahead and created in such a way that it can be easily customized as needed. To ensure best results, stick to your OKRs.


Editorials should be the starting point of every content calendar. Namely, their goal is to list the posting schedule and all content planned for publishing.

Promotional Items

Promotional Items are pieces of content that will promote your services. They can vary in form and usually include a mixture of posts, podcasts, newsletters and various announcements.


Choosing the best platform where to host your content calendar is paramount, especially when there are multiple contributors. The calendar should be easily accessible to every contributor at all times.

A good email marketing calendar relies on swift responses, so if you’re running a large business, a suitable platform is essential.

There are numerous options when it comes to the choice of a platform and other content calendar tools, the most popular of which we will list hereby:

  • Trello (for marketing teams)
  • Asana (for marketing teams)
  • Slack (for marketing teams)
  • Coschedule (for marketing teams)
  • Google Sheets (for individuals)
  • MS Excel (for individuals)
  • Google Calendar (for individuals)

Certainly, there are other options as well, but there is a good reason why some tools are more popular than others.

Upcoming Ideas

Finally, note all ideas as they come as these can be later turned into efficient strategies. Keep in mind that audiences change (and so do trends), so the ideas you get along the way are extremely significant.

Whether it’s the new Gmail templates or customer feedback, make sure to note all of the important insights in your content calendar.

How to Organize Your Content Calendar

Organizing a content calendar is a serious undertaking, especially for businesses with many contributors. However, it is not impossible and there are some best practices to help you in this matter, too.

First of all, make sure you have chosen the very best platform for your needs. Immediately define the dynamics of posting.

Content calendars for small-scale marketing plans may include only post titles and the dates when to post them.

On the other hand, complex content strategies should best feature all the steps of the content creation process that are easily understandable to all contributors.

Calendar Templates

Creating a template is always a good idea as it serves two purposes:

  1. It simplifies the process.
  2. It helps contributors get used to the routine, making the whole process faster and more efficient.

Again, no rules are set in stone, but some elements are simply logical to include in a content calendar template. Here are some tips:

  • The topic
  • Content-type
  • Publishing date and time
  • The channel where the content is to be published
  • Person in charge (for marketing teams)

Remember to follow through to ensure your content strategy is going as planned.

The Frequency of Publishing

This is a tricky question, especially since feedback is essential in this matter and is often one of the toughest elements of a marketing strategy.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, we will still provide some ideas in hopes they will help you make better decisions.

I.e., social media posts can be published more frequently, as they also include reposting of older content that new followers haven’t had the chance to see.

It is generally recommended to publish at least one new blog post weekly, as you’ll want to keep your audience engaged.

Recycle Older Content

As mentioned above, there will always be new customers and followers who haven’t seen all previously published content. Hence, it is always a good idea to recycle older content.

In addition, it is highly recommended that you update older posts with new information, so re-sharing the updated versions is simply a must.

Be clever in your approach. Even if there won’t always be new information to add, you can make an infographic using the existing blog posts. You can go one step further and turn them into video material, a podcast… ideas are endless.


As you can see, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to brainstorming your content calendar. It is an inspiring process, but don’t forget to simplify the steps that can be simplified.

It is of utmost importance to ensure that the entire content team is on the same page and that all new content is relevant.

Keep updating older posts and recycling the content for best results, and your marketing strategy will flourish.

Guest Author

Viola Eva is passionate about digital entrepreneurship, flow, and mindful marketing. As a marketing consultant and founder of Flow SEO, she has worked with clients ranging from individual digital entrepreneurs to software companies to multi-national corporates and government institutions. She is a speaker, educator, and specialist on all things SEO known from Search Engine Journal, UnGagged, Pubcon, Wordcamp Europe and many other events and publications.

We’ve discussed account-based marketing (ABM) strategy before, and talked about its resurgence in recent years. ABM – also known as key-account marketing (KAM), is a B2B marketing strategy based on goal-setting and key account targeting. In essence, ABM allows companies to better reach and communicate with individual prospects or accounts, treating them as a market of one. Think of ABM as a one-to-on approach instead of a one-to-many; generating specific leads with a fishing line rather than fishing broadly with a net.

Typically, an account-based marketing strategy is used to help align sales and marketing teams and maximize return on investment (ROI) for marketing campaigns. To make it clear, there are some very good reasons why companies might want to adopt ABM in their B2B marketing strategies:

5 Reasons You’ll Benefit from an Account-Based Marketing Strategy

1. Personalised Communications.

ABM relies on research and knowledge of target prospects, as a result, it allows for improved personalised communication. Peronalised marketing strategies are proven to have a higher impact on engagement, appealing to customers and prospects’ emotions. Personalized email introductions, for example, that address people by name rather than by the boring, generic, ‘Dear customer’ or ‘Hi!’, have a greater chance of drawing and keeping interest. ABM takes personalized marketing to the next level, developing specifically targeted content that engages decision-makers and draws them through the buyer’s journey.

2. Improves Marketing Resource Efficiency.

One of the key weaknesses of a traditional marketing funnel is that it is often stretched too thin. Traditionally, marketing resources tend to be expended on raking in as many leads as possible. ABM helps structure and plan marketing efforts so that they are being spent in the right places on the right accounts to drive the most revenue. Think of it as a strategy that focuses your marketing and sales efforts where they will do the most good.

3. Enhances your Tracking.

ROI is a critical part of analysing your bottom line and engagement. It’s important to review and track the impact of each of your campaigns to continuously improve and build on your successes. By understanding the effectiveness of each individual aspect of your ABM strategy you will be even more effective moving forward.

4. Increased Alignment of Sales and Marketing.

One of the biggest problems we encounter in today’s traditional marketing departments is that sales and marketing teams function in individual silos. A key strength of ABM is that it draws sales and marketing teams together, out of their individual pillars and into a joint team with the same goals. A solid ABM strategy requires that sales and marketing work closely.  ABM keeps these teams working together instead of working independently.

5. Defines your ROI

All marketing initiatives need to be measured, and ABM is no different. The difference is that ABM provides a clearer, more focused picture of your ROI because it is a clearer and more focused approach. In any marketing activity, measuring ROI is critical and, nowadays, is more easily accomplished through the vast array of automation and software tools we now have at our disposal. ABM allows us to see both the return on investment for an ABM initiative and areas for improvement based on how leads are responding to your content.

Final Thoughts

Account-based marketing can have a massive impact on your B2B marketing strategy. Using a more focused, united approach, it is a strategy that provides a higher quality of leads that are more likely to convert to higher-value customers. It’s a more efficient use of both your marketing and sales teams, aligning them in pursuit of enhanced lead generation.

Are you looking to enhance your ROI on lead generation? We’ve done some great work in this field using SEM and SEO, or get in touch and let’s work together to optimize your lead generation today.

Account-based marketing (ABM) strategies, allow for marketers to increase their focus, prioritizing quality over quantity and thus improving ROI and the conversion of leads into higher valued customers.

Traditional B2B sales and marketing have been around for a long time – changing and developing with the growth of the digital landscape. It allows marketers to use a broad approach to lead generation, to capture a higher quantity of leads without necessarily focusing on their quality. As a result, the sales and marketing funnel tends to get more and more narrow the further in – true to its ‘funnel’ shape, as it were. However, as a result of this approach, the majority of B2B leads collected never convert to customers. Enter ABM.

What is Account-Based Marketing?

Account-based marketing is a focused approach to B2B marketing that brings marketing and sales teams together. This teamwork – often nicknamed ‘smarketing’ – allows for sales and marketing teams to align their strategies and work together to target best-fit prospects and convert them into customers. The age of information and the Internet has raised the stakes, driving competition between digital marketers, who are always fighting for the attention of their potential customers.

This competition tends to drive return of investments (ROI) up, and companies want to focus on the highest ROI need and thus place their attention on high-value accounts while considering account penetration, marketing penetration, and logos. Reaching business goals means that marketing teams need to use strategies that combine sales and marketing tactics so they can focus on high-value accounts that deliver the highest level of ROI.

Why should you adopt Account-Based Marketing?

Capturing the attention of potential customers is a lot trickier today than it was even a few years ago. With the rise of digitalization, everyone is vying for attention left, right, and centre. Engagement is a valuable digital currency, and in an era where everyone and everything is connected, it’s what marketers are vying for. Using ABM, sales and marketing teams can direct their energies towards potential and existing accounts that deliver the best ROI.

ABM is not a new idea, but it has seen a new boost because of the latest developments of technologies and the evolution of the digital landscape. ABM is a proven strategy that helps boost marketing ROI, drive attributed revenue, generate more conversions and qualified leads, and align sales and marketing. Generally, B2B marketers target their leads using broad tactics, casting a net, to appeal to as many different prospects as possible. This tactic may generate more leads in the long run but doesn’t deliver the best ROI.

The implementation of a strong ABM strategy can help improve ROI, drive attribution revenue, improve conversions and generate qualified leads. In the past, it was more difficult to scale ABM initiatives because of the level of personalization it required. However, with the development in technology, it’s now fairly straightforward and more affordable than ever before, making it easy for marketers to adopt an ABM strategy in their team to drive higher ROI and customer value outcomes.

7 Steps to Implementing Account-Based Marketing

1. Gather your Sales & Marketing Teams

ABM aligns your marketing and sales teams, so it’s only right that you start it off by bringing both departments together. Too often we see pillarization between sales and marketing, and one of the key strengths of ABM is that it gets rid of that pillarization and aligns the two. Both departments can strengthen each other by sharing information.

2. Define & Set your Goals and Strategy

Once you’ve got your teams together, you must work together to establish joint goals and tactics. Sales and marketing need to work together for ABM to deliver on its promises, and the best way to get them aligned is for them to discuss and agree upon KPIs and target goals. While tactics need to be adapted to each department’s strengths, of course, they do need to be aligned to reach their joint goals.

3. Select your ABM Technology

Thanks to the development of technology, ABM has seen such a resurgence in recent years.  Without the growth the ABM software development, we’d have no chance to scale our strategies. As a result, getting a good handle on the available ABM technology and learning how to best use it is an important step to scaling your ABM strategies.

4. Choose the Right Targets

ABM strategy relies on research, and there’s no getting around it. Once your team has established its goals, setting targets and prioritizing them is next. If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to develop and optimize your buyer personas. Remember, it’s a good idea to have your sales team involved in this optimization since they speak to customers and prospects one-on-one probably more often than your marketing team does.

5. Select your Channels & Craft your Messages

Know your target audience? Great. Next up is making sure that you reach them the right way at the right time, in the place where they’re most easily reached. This means choosing your channels and crafting your messaging. Again, the sales team can be of use during this process, so be sure to include them.

6. Execute your Campaigns

Once you’re happy with your messaging, it’s time to get your campaigns out in the world.

7. Evaluate & Optimize

Of course, once your campaigns are live it’s important to stay on top of them. Campaigns, like any other piece of marketing, should never be ‘set and forget’. Evaluating their progress and impact and making live tweaks to optimize them is part and parcel of any strong marketing initiative, especially one backed by ABM strategies.


Wrapping Up

Account-based marketing is a powerful tool that not only aligns marketing and sales more effectively, but also boosts lead generation efficiency. At its core, account-based marketing is all about converting more leads by improving the quality of the leads gathered from the start of a marketing campaign. ABM has seen a resurgence, and it’s not difficult to see why, in this age of digital transformation it is a more efficient way of capturing high value leads and convert a higher number of them into higher valued customers.

If you’re interested in learning more about account-based marketing or B2B strategies, check out some of our relevant other articles or reach out to us directly.

Integrated Marketing Communications – IMC for short – connects marketing teams, making sure that all brand messaging and communications are aligned and consistent. With the united front that IMC provides, companies are stronger and better able to communicate both internally and with external parties like customers, prospects and partners. 

But what is an IMC really? To fully benefit from the advantages that a fully integrated marketing communication strategy offers, it’s important to understand exactly how it works. Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore the powerful impact that an IMC provides. First, though, we need to establish a few basics, just to make sure we’re all on the same page.

What is Integrated Marketing Communications?

Integrated marketing communications (IMC) helps marketing teams connect all of their communications and messages to keep consistent branding. Essentially, IMC is the strategy that takes your marketing department from separate initiatives and activities, with different messaging and approaches, to one interconnected approach. IMC takes all the various marketing activities, collaterals, and channels and merges them with one branding message and tactic. 

Consider all the elements that make up a marketing department for a moment. There’s marketing – consumers, products, services, corporate -, public relations, content, creative, perfromance, and lead generation, to name a few. Marketing is a very large field after all, so it’s no surprise that the many different aspects can sometimes clash into each other without something to unify them. 

Enter integrated marketing communications, the unifying force that can tie all the different marketing targets, objectives, and strategies together. Bridging the gaps between the disparate marketing agendas is key to advancing any overal marketing goal and reaching any company KPIs. 

Examples of an Integrated Marketing Communications Campaigns

There are several great examples of IMC campaigns, many of which you’ll not even have noticed when you’ve come across them. All we see is the end result, a consolidated, integrated message that touches us in all the right ways and motivates us to purchase the products or services they’re advertising.  Take the following two campaigns for example:

1. Always #LikeAGirl

Feminine care brands like Always and Dove are consistently trying to be the voice for good. They adovcate for self-esteem and inner beauty. Knowing that their products start to play a role in young girls’ lives usually around the same time that they also start struggling with their self-image and self esteem, Always is always determined to make a difference. The effort they’ve put into their campaigns has won them multiple awards from various institutions.

2. Snickers: You’re not you when you’re hungry

Many of us feel ‘off’ when we’re running low on energy, and we need a pick-me-up. Snickers hits the nail on the head with the “You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign. It’s one of the most well-known advertising lines to date and chances are that you’ve seen the ads somewhere whether on television, at a bus stop, or on YouTube.

Snickers integrated marketing campaign

Both these campaigns deliver a single brand message to their audiences, integrated and consolidated brand messaging. We don’t see what it ties together, and that’s the point – all that we know is that there’s a message and it’s clear. These campaigns tie together all of Always’ and Snickers’ messaging across the marketing board and because of that solidarity the advertising resonates more strongly with its audience.

Final Thoughts

Integrated Marketing Communications pulls together otherwise disparate strategies and brand messaging. By bringing everything together under one banner, companies strengthen their marketing and branding both internally and externally. As in all things, a united front is a stronger front and sends a stronger message.

Are you looking to strengthen your brand messaging? Would you like to run IMC campaigns that empower your company? We can help with that

 Happy 2021! Welcome to this year’s first issue of the Marketing Expert Series. This week we take a step back from the world of corporate marketing and branding and take an insightful stroll through the world of marketing academia. This week we talk to Dr. Mansur Khamitov, who, up until the end of 2020, was Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Nanyang Business School (NTU), and has now joined the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. A prolific thought leader and influencer, Dr. Mansur’s work has been featured in Forbes, The Economist, Harvard Business Review, and many other publications.

Like all things, marketing has many facets both positive and negative. When we look at the world of business, we sometimes forget that there is a dark side to it all. Ethical marketing and branding is the focal point of much of Dr. Mansur’s work, shedding light on the darker underbelly of marketing practices. The global COVID-19 pandemic has inevitably impacted these practices as well. Join us as we dip into the world of marketing academia with one of the world’s leading experts and explore the experiences and motivations behind Dr. Mansur’s life and work.

Welcome, Dr. Mansur, and thank you for joining us in our Marketing Expert Series. To get the ball rolling, can you tell us a little about yourself? How did you get to where you are now? 

Thank you for thinking of me and for your kind invite. Sure, I’d be happy to tell you more. In a nutshell, I’m inherently a marketing guy. I view myself as a thought leader in the domains of marketing in general and branding in particular. 

I started out in the industry before transitioning full-time to academia back in 2013. While my passion has always been in the practice of marketing, I came to realize back that the corporate world – while incredibly stimulating – was not something that I wanted to do long-term, which led me to pursue my PhD. 

Aside from my career, I’m an avid sports fan, traveler, poet, book lover, and musical enthusiast.

You’ve lived, studied, and worked in different countries across the world – Kazakhstan, Canada, Singapore. What’s it like to study and work in those locations with differing cultures? 

The cross-country and cross-cultural perspectives are definitely the ones I cherish. Those experiences have been truly invaluable. It’s always a little bit of a steep learning curve and it takes time to adjust and fit in, but once you figure it out and find a way to navigate your cultural surroundings, you actually start to see and enjoy its beauty. Ultimately, these diverse cultural experiences contribute to your self-concept and form a big part of who you are, enabling you to embrace the cosmopolitan identity of a truly global citizen.

You also spent several years in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry working for some very well known names like Procter & Gamble and Polpharma. How did those experiences influence your path as a researcher and academic?

A lot of the stuff I do presently has been shaped and inspired by my past industry experiences in branding and marketing management at P&G and Polpharma. Even my original interest to pursue a marketing PhD has been driven by my passion for branding, and this intrinsic interest in brands and branding has stayed with me ever since. I take pride in grounding my academic research in real-world, cutting-edge marketing problems. Not to sound critical but a lot of my fellow academics have a tendency to sit in their ivory towers, work on very abstract theoretical problems, teach decades-old outdated insights, and completely lose touch with what’s happening in the industry. This is not my path and as a business school professor I would very much want to avoid it and instead strongly prefer to keep my finger on the pulse of latest industry developments and trends.   

Unlike other interviewees of this Series, you’re now a professor, with research focuses like ethical branding and brand transgressions. Why this particular focus? What was it that first drew you to these areas of research? 

A lot of my early research has focused on what I call the positive or “light” side of branding including consumer-brand relationships and brand loyalty. While these phenomena are quite common and prevalent, we’re seeing a huge increase of widely publicized cases of brand transgressions, corporate misconduct, and firm wrongdoings as of late. I’m finding myself increasingly fascinated with this “dark” side of branding and its ethical (or rather unethical) implications. The two key reasons that drew me to this area of research are:

  1. The sheer prevalence and magnitude of such high-profile brand transgressions (think Luckin Coffee misconduct, HSBC money laundering controversy, Foxconn scandal, etc.) 
  2. Comparative lack of research on the dark side of branding compared to the positive or light side of branding.   

Has your research been influenced at all by the different places you’ve lived and worked over the years?

It sure has. As a case in point, I’m currently working on a research project where I and my co-authors compare the relative effectiveness of different brand relationship strategies (e.g., brand love, attachment, identification, trust, etc.) across different countries and geographical regions, including the ones where I myself got a chance to live. 

Another recent example comes from a consulting, advisory, and thought leadership engagement I had with Eastspring Investments (part of Prudential Group) and Duxton Consulting Group. As part of that large-scale project, we surveyed thousands of Singaporean consumers as well as consumers from other parts of Asia which I’m quite familiar with.    

Ethical marketing practices are a big part of the modern landscape. Do you think the 2020 pandemic is going to change that landscape, or impact the importance of these practices?

If anything, my prediction is that we will be seeing an increase in the importance and significance of ethical branding and marketing practices, doing the right thing, and brand purpose for that matter. Decades of research on the topic clearly indicates a substantial financial, reputational, and loyalty upside for brands and companies that have embraced ethical marketing practices as part of their DNA. 

In the current tough landscape where people are particularly sensitive to value-based violations, performance-based violations, safety and security crises and failures as well as other types of corporate breaches of trust, brand teams that are able to pull it off are likely to be disproportionately rewarded. Having said that, any such efforts have to come across as authentic, genuine, and credible. It’s all about actually walking the talk as opposed to simply jumping on the bandwagon.      

Do you see your own work changing due to the impact of COVID-19?

As business school professors, we’ve been truly fortunate and privileged in many different respects both in the pre-pandemic period and the current pandemic period. Having said that, like many of my colleagues, I had to make a number of adjustments to my regular routines. These range from switching many of my undergraduate and graduate classes entirely online in an extremely short period of time, changing my data collection methods from in-person to remote, to no longer interacting with my co-authors and colleagues in person for an extended period of time. Research-wise, I’m seeing a number of my branding projects naturally evolving to have more of a prosocial, societal, and well-being angle to them.  

What about for you, personally, when this pandemic is past, what would you like to do next?

I’m very much looking forward to this pandemic being finally over, sooner rather than later. I am starting a bunch of new and exciting projects including, but not limited to studying the dark and negative side of brand personality and corporate arrogance on one end and the upside of brand trust and perceived competence on the other end. I can’t wait to fully dive deep and make more progress on these projects in the coming months. Personally, I’m very eager to resume travelling and get a chance to visit my and my wife’s parents and friends which has been long overdue.   

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

Be agile. Be daring and brave but don’t cut corners. Develop a habit of regularly stepping out of your comfort zone and learning something new and useful. Engage in continuous learning and personal and professional development whether via your mentors, peers, thought leaders or via free cool platforms like Coursera or edX. 

Thank you, Dr. Mansur, for sharing. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you?

I’m typically very open to any collaboration and cooperation opportunities and prospects. Hence, I’d love to keep in touch with all fellow marketing enthusiasts. The easiest and most straightforward way to connect and keep in touch is either on LinkedIn and/or Twitter. Alternatively, I do have my personal webpage, which contains more information about my background, interests, and projects.

Thank you, hang in there, and please stay well & safe! 

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 marketing presence, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” When Anthony J. D’Angelo said these words, he impacted many individuals and industries alike – especially those in the marketing and communications sector.  Creativity, passion, and learning all go hand in hand with a marketer’s ability to deliver relevant and insightful information to our readers. The way in which marketers harness creativity leads directly to some of the massive innovations that they are able to put to use. 

From the cradle to a whirlwind of a life that traverses the world, Marta Grutka has never let go of her passion for learning, a passion that has allowed her to empower the marketing industry for more nearly two decades. With experiences spanning AOL, Hollywood, corporates, and personal businesses,  Marta’s expertise ranges from setting up company communication departments from scratch to stepping into full leadership roles. She has advised corporations, mentored individuals, and now she shares her story with us. Join us now in the second issue of our Marketing Expert Series, and be inspired by Marta’s passion, and her drive to share that enthusiasm with the world.

Hello, Marta, and thank you for joining us in our Marketing Expert Series. 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 the kind words, I feel very blessed to have lived such an adventurous life and often ask myself that exact question: How DID I get to where I am now? It’s been a bit of a windy path that has taken me all around the world, and admittedly not all of it has been “by design,” as I have tended to follow my heart more than a “step-by-step” plan. 

I’ve moved cities, countries and continents in six weeks or less eight times now: three times primarily for love, and the rest primarily for work. I’ve been a “career learner” more than a “career ladder climber,” so many of my decisions have been based on the opportunity I saw to stretch and enjoy myself while making a meaningful contribution. I’ve also started three companies/side businesses since 2002, again, based on the opportunity I saw in the market and my confidence that I could deliver something better. 

At the moment, I am working to make some quantum leaps and am committed to being more intentional with the career and life choices I make next. Hopefully the rest of the interview will give you a bit more insight into the types of experiences I’ve had, and that they will inspire! 

What was it that first drew you to this work? Was it something you were always going to do?

My father used to talk about me “reading my linen book” when I was in my crib as a baby – he swore I could understand what I was looking at. Whether he was right or not, storytelling was a big part of my foundation. I grew up doing musical theatre and playing violin, and was drawn to foreign languages, studying French and German in both high school and college. When I was young I journaled a lot, did public speaking and improv and was the Editor-in-Chief of my high school yearbook. So I guess it was a theme throughout my life, though I never thought of working in communications or marketing per se. As it turned out, it’s been the perfect path to bring my love of learning, languages and travel together with some of my natural gifts.  

When we look at your website and your CV there’s a list of some serious achievements, for example, you describe yourself as ‘one of the original digital storytellers at AOL’, what was that like?

It was one of the most incredible work experiences I have ever had, actually, and is a good example of the types of career journeys that the best companies can take people on to retain them. It was the late 90’s and America Online (AOL) was leading the way in terms of bringing the Internet to the U.S. My second day on the job, we celebrated reaching five million members nationwide – a very exciting moment! 

Back then we were mailing floppy disks to people’s homes so they could load AOL software onto their computers. Email, instant messaging, and participating in online communities were brand new concepts to most people, and a big part of the jobs I had over six years at AOL was to educate the general public about the possibilities getting online could bring to their lives. 

I started in the AOL Greenhouse, which operated like a VC firm for entrepreneurs who had great ideas for online businesses that they wanted to bring to market. If we liked the concept and felt it had legs, we invested some seed funding and gave them a full launch team providing tech development, content/creative services, and PR and marketing support. I was an account executive driving the teams to pull everything together, and also did quite a bit of execution on every front – it was a great way to learn what it takes to create a successful digital brand from start to finish!

Six months later, I moved to the International Channel, one of the content areas on AOL targeting a US-based audience interested in global affairs – a dream come true for me at the time because I’d just finished my Masters in International Relations in Belgium and loved the idea of being able to bring people from all around the world together in an instant! 

In this role, I was the head of content strategy and programming and led a team of 300 remote staff/volunteers who received free AOL accounts and other perks in exchange for creating or curating and cross-linking to the “best of the Web” and helping me to come up with fresh topics and fun ways to engage people. We developed very niche communities – like Tagalog chat rooms or Royal Family fan clubs – with regularly scheduled activities and special events – it was very dynamic and incredibly creative work. 

In that position, I was also responsible for business development and built an advertising model that today people are calling “programmatic.” Back then, it was just common sense: sell a banner ad to the BBC or Financial Times on our global news page, for example – but the intention was a bit different than it is today. Today, it’s about “getting eyeballs.” But then, the intention was about making it easy for people to find the very best quality content available anywhere. 

It was well before Google, so the AOL pages were a gateway to the content that was out there, and we had strict editorial standards about what we promoted and exposed people to. Before leaving this role and moving to the new product marketing team, I helped to support the launch of AOL into the UK, Australia, and, finally, Hong Kong during the handover from British rule – it’s incredible to see the state of things in Hong Kong today as I remember this! 

My last role as comms director in the new product marketing group involved even more complex education and engagement, as we were talking about things that were very futuristic at the time. I traveled the world attending trade shows promoting our “AOL Anywhere” strategy and vision of a world where “You can watch a movie on your phone.” You could literally see people’s eyes glaze over – they simply couldn’t comprehend what we were talking about – so we did a lot of work with early adopters and REAL influencers and media who were not paid, but received early demos and tester samples of the AOL service on some of the first mobile phones, internet appliances, and interactive televisions, and in exchange they could help write or talk about the experience. 

By this time, the inherent issues associated with the Internet started to emerge, too, and so my job became as much about customer service and crisis comms as it was about generating positive consumer press. Before I left, AOL was big enough to buy Time Warner – it was the largest corporate merger in history and a case study of what happens when such an integration is done too quickly and the culture clash is mismanaged. 

The work I did at AOL set me up for my next role in Hollywood, and that role brought me to Asia.  

You’ve also worked with a lot of other brands during your career, like Disney, Alibaba, Danone, and the NBN project in Australia. What do you find most rewarding about working for brands or projects like these?

The people. 

The other day a friend and former colleague and I were lamenting the fact that it’s been very hard to find a place with as many creative, fun, smart and generally talented people as the group we worked with at AOL. You can find a few here and there but it’s not the norm as much anymore to see entire companies with exceptional talent from the top to bottom and across the organization. 

I like to have fun while getting things done and to learn from the people I am working with. In that way, I’ve been lucky to work with some great individuals at every brand, and almost every one of them has been on the leading edge of their respective industry or issue. The most progressive people and companies have always been purpose-led, too, which is what makes the work truly rewarding. 

At the moment you’re not in a full-time position, instead you’re consulting and helping other companies all over the world from the comfort of your Singapore home. Is remote work something you’ve done regularly for brands or is it a result of the circumstances we find ourselves in this year?

I have been working remotely and managing remote teams since 1996 – it’s been interesting to realize that so many companies and people were still not as familiar or comfortable with that this year, and that many places weren’t even offering flexible work options! 

Over the years, though, I’ve done too much of it!! I am much more in my power when I can put on a nice outfit, go to a proper office, be organized in my own space, see other people and co-create solutions in person than I am when working from home, in cafes, or even coworking spaces all the time. So, ironically, my primary focus this year was to land a full-time, in-house leadership position, and the opportunities that came to me were in other countries, which made COVID a hindering factor in terms of making a move. I am fortunate that because I’ve done so much working from home and consulting I was able to negotiate remote working arrangements with those companies – it’s also a sign of how progressive and open they were in their thinking. 

I don’t feel it’s desirable or sustainable for us to imagine that we’ll never go back to the office again. I think it’s dangerous also, to imagine that everyone will be “doing their own thing.” It takes HUGE amounts of energy to do your own thing in a way that is sustainable and not everyone is cut out for it. I don’t see companies micro-hiring indefinitely, either. 

Where do you see your work going due to the impact of COVID-19 in 2020, any big changes you’re gearing up for?

Like many, I’ve been asking lots of questions about how I can make the most impact now. And I am realizing that my diverse, global, remote, digital, marcomms, consulting, entrepreneurial, professional background, as well as some of the personal challenges and deep heartaches I have overcome and hard lessons I have learned along the way as a result of this unconventional, “leading edge lifestyle” make me uniquely qualified to help a lot of people and companies right now. 

In other words, I am starting to see how my whole life has prepared me for a time like this. I can help create conscious solutions and would love a true leadership/C-suite role where I can have a meaningful impact. 

In the meantime, I am ramping up my executive mentoring work and offering some COVID specials to help people prepare for 2021. I also have just started a three-month program that will teach me how to lay the foundation for a thought leadership practice, and am excited about that. 

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

A massive trip to visit my friends in various countries – I am sure I am not alone in that – and especially London, which has been calling to me for years! 🙂 

I shared in another interview earlier this year that I have not given up on finding a loving life partner, and during COVID I received some dedicated coaching in this area that I believe has made me ready for that relationship to drop in soon. I also enjoyed virtual voice lessons twice a month since May, and would love to get back to doing some singing with other people when this is over. 

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

  1. The words we speak and the pictures we see create our reality. In this regard, you have a very real and incredibly important responsibility to be mindful in the work you do – always look for the most meaningful story you can tell and then do so in the most positive way you can. 
  2. Treat your job like an artform, but always think like a savvy executive, ensuring it adds real value to your audience and the business. 
  3. Comms and marketing roles give you insight into entire organizations and industries, and access to some of the most influential people in the world, if you can learn to work across the marcomms mix, you will have even more choice – the world will be your oyster, playground, and your stage.
  4. For Heaven’s sake, PLEASE learn how to write!!!!
  5. Don’t buy the hype! Get a great mentor, be open minded and focus always on doing what is right for real people – make that your “bottom line.”   

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

Thank you again for your interest! People can email me at or book a complimentary, quick-start conversation via my website:

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 marketing presence, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.

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