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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.

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, many companies have struggled to adapt to the changing circumstances. Digital transformation has often been a forced effort, born out of necessity rather than a driving desire. Some industries took the opportunity to take hold of their own futures and address the challenges head-on.

One of the digital marketers who drove through digital transformation early on, is Rena Tan, Regional Head of Marketing and Communications for Randstad Singapore, Malaysia, and Greater China. The world of recruitment and human resources has been impacted by COVID-19, requiring adaptation to new working practices and flexibilities, as well as the strain companies have had to deal with in light of hiring freezes and dips in revenue. 

Join us for this remarkable issue of the Marketing Expert Series with Rena Tan as she takes us through her personal journey and professional digital transformation.  


Hi, Rena, thank you for taking part in the Marketing Expert Series! Let’s start with some background, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now? 

I like to think I’ve always had a creative side. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved to write, doodle and draw, create poetry, and was a voracious reader. In fact, my dream is to publish my own book one day. 

I was interning at MTV Asia back in my poly days, and was offered a full-time position on the very day I completed my final exams (yes – they liked me that much!). Pursuing my creative dreams, I went on to become a TV and radio producer at MTV, and later moved to the licensing and merchandising division where I helped launch various consumer products under the MTV and Nickelodeon brands. That stint truly honed my skills in marketing, branding, and communications. 

Subsequently, I was drawn to the bigger idea of marketing my home country. I took on a marketing role in the Singapore Tourism Board and was working on major projects such as the Singapore Fashion Festival, Singapore JewelFest and the MTV Asia Awards. My job took me on a study trip to Disneyland in California where my mission was to research theme parks and their accompanying amenities to build a business case for having big-brand theme parks in Singapore (and this was before Universal Studios came to town!)

Afterwards, I was offered a Head of Marketing role in a recruitment company. Now, including my current role at Randstad, I have been in the recruitment industry for 15 years.

Was there something that drew you to this line of work? Were there any specific experiences that attracted you to it?

The recruitment industry is where I felt I’ve finally found my groove as a marketer. The role allows me to express my creative flair while giving me exposure to all types of people, companies, and industries. 

When I first joined the industry 15 years ago, recruitment marketing was not as prominent. In fact, it was pretty traditional. Companies typically ran newspaper ads, participated in career fairs, and posted advertisements on job boards to attract job seekers.

Over the years, the industry has been constantly changing and disrupted – yet it remained resilient and agile. Since the recruitment industry is constantly evolving, it is extremely challenging and exciting to be working in marketing. You are always running on adrenaline, and forever looking 10 steps ahead to see how you can stay competitive and relevant. The industry, although traditional, has also gradually opened up to new and emerging technologies, especially over the last five years. 

Randstad in particular, was on a digital transformation journey when I joined the company, which gave me a blank canvas to pilot new marketing technologies and ideas. We are also very open to experimenting and although not all initiatives are successful, our leadership believes that failing is also about knowing what works and what doesn’t. This level of trust is really empowering for me, especially in Asia where failure is often frowned upon. The experience is exhilarating, to say the least, because having that autonomy to try new things has opened up so many new opportunities not just for the company, but also for myself and my team. I feel like I am learning something new every day.

Currently, you are the Regional Head of Marketing and Communications for Randstad Singapore, Malaysia, and Greater China. Can you tell us more about what Randstad does and how you fit in?

Randstad is a global leader in the HR services industry, and our mission is to support people and organisations in realising their true potential. We help connect companies with the best permanent and contracting talent in accounting & finance, banking & financial services, corporate & secretarial support, engineering, human resources, legal, life science, technology, sales, marketing & communications, and supply chain & procurement. Our ultimate goal is to touch the work lives of 500 million people worldwide by 2030.

As the Head of Marketing for Randstad Singapore, Malaysia, and Greater China, I’m responsible for the evaluation and implementation of Marketing and HR technology, with a particular focus on regional digital transformation projects for the business. I work with both internal and external stakeholders and partners to develop, trial and roll out initiatives involving marketing automation, demand generation, artificial intelligence, big data, predictive marketing analytics, social selling, design thinking, employer branding, talent communities and customer experience (CX).

I also oversee a dynamic team of 13 marketing and CX staff across Singapore, Malaysia and Greater China – and they look after strategic marketing, communications and branding campaigns, public relations and customer experience management.

I understand you cover Singapore, Malaysia, and Greater China – that’s a broad area indeed, what sort of challenges do you face dealing with such a large region?

The key challenge, I think, is understanding the cultural nuances and socio-political landscapes in each country. As much as you would like to bring some level of consistency and scale for certain marketing initiatives across the region, it might not be possible as there are different rules and regulations governing each market. I personally have to download a number of different apps so that I can communicate more effectively with my team members in the local market.

You need to navigate the local markets with a high level of sensitivity and be acutely aware of the lines you can or cannot cross. This is on top of the cultural and language differences you need to be mindful of when interacting with people from different markets – which I feel requires a strong sense of diplomacy, humility, EQ, and the ability to switch your state of mind quickly from one to another whenever you are interacting with people from the different markets. There is always something new to learn from local colleagues so you will continue to gain new knowledge, insights, and perspectives.

Are there any advantages to dealing with a region that large?

I love learning new things and having a large remit across multiple countries feeds my insatiable curiosity – where I am constantly exposed to new things, industries, organisations, cultures, people and ideas. I’ve learned to work with different types of people, gained stronger problem-solving skills through managing various difficult situations and conflicts, developed better cross-cultural communication skills as well as significantly enhanced my local market knowledge beyond Singapore’s shores. I get the opportunity to improve my Mandarin too when I interact with my stakeholders and teams in China. I would also say this experience has vastly expanded my horizon and perspectives, and made me a more consultative, strategic, and well-informed business partner and leader.

You have a bit of experience in the marketing sector in Asia; before Randstad you worked with Robert Walters.  Have you noticed any changing trends and marketing strategy changes in the region over the last decade or so?

I recently published a trends report on the new skill sets a future marketer would need in the next normal. Future marketers are responsible for championing data-led innovation within the organisation to drive business or better customer experience. They leverage technology and emerging trends in marketing to enhance the end-to-end customer journey. Marketers are not only increasingly looked upon as sales enablers, but also act as strategic business partners and drivers of change. 

We are also shifting to deploy more digital strategies not just as a response to the pandemic, but also to better engage the new generation of digitally-savvy consumers. This explains why there is also a stronger focus on areas such as social selling, social listening, marketing analytics, SEO, online reputation management, storytelling, hyper-personalisation, gamification, voice search and customer experience (just to name a few!). 

I am hopeful that as more companies go through their digital transformation journey, the marketing function will be regarded as a growth driver. The future marketer will be expected to harness the power of data, automation, customer insights, machine learning and artificial intelligence to better attract, retain and engage their organisation’s customers. 

Given the work you are involved in with Randstad, I imagine that COVID-19 has had a big impact. Have your marketing and communications strategies had to change because of the pandemic?

At the onset of COVID-19, I convinced my team that we had to pivot, and pivot early. Globalisation and technology have created a borderless world, and we could never be truly immune to whatever is happening in other parts of the world. If we had waited till the virus became a pandemic, we would not have been able to reap the success we did. We literally threw our 2020 marketing and content plans out the window and started fresh – creating a series of employer guides, market research on hiring appetite and employees’ expectations, employment outlooks, as well as a whole suite of business technology tools and COVID-19 related resources to help organisations navigate the complexities of operating in the midst of a pandemic. Subsequently, we continued to produce content to help organisations engage and manage the well-being of their staff and provide information they need to accelerate business recovery in the new normal.

We have definitely learned to be more agile in these unusual and uncertain times, and constantly try to anticipate what challenges lie ahead and how we can add more value to our recruiters, clients, and candidates.

As a result, we saw phenomenal growth in terms of web traffic and social media engagement levels, and continue to generate a high number of quality leads despite a really difficult year where we saw many businesses come to a halt.

How lasting do you think the impact of the pandemic will be to marketing – and indeed to Randstad – in the coming years?

I think the pandemic has made a permanent positive impact on marketing and hopefully, the way businesses now view the value of marketing. 

In this new world, organisations need to learn how to better engage their talent and customers in a virtual environment, and design new digital processes to attract, engage and retain them. Company leaders are increasingly looking to their marketing teams to help build and amplify their brands online; drive constant sales through new e-commerce models; explore new channels and partners; leverage data to predict customers’ propensity to buy or leave, as well as automate time-consuming and manual processes to drive greater efficiencies. 

We have definitely experienced this in Randstad, and this trend will only grow as more and more business leaders stepped up their organisation’s digital transformation efforts to stay relevant and as a business sustainability and growth strategy. At Randstad we are already experimenting with ML/AI and blockchain and building our own tech platforms and apps through our global Digital Factory so that we can be future-ready.

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

As a marketing leader, I feel we have an obligation to stay ahead of the curve. We need to constantly find ways to disrupt our own industry because others will do it for us if we don’t. 

Hence, I will be expecting my team and I to remain open-minded and agile in our marketing approach, embrace the fact that the market will remain unpredictable and be prepared for change as it will be a constant, whether we like it or not. I will be looking out for new ways in which marketing can evolve further – for example, explore non-traditional marketing channels, tools and partnerships; adopt a data-driven mindset; and continue to benchmark our work with the best in other industries and countries. 

I also hope my team continues to receive the recognition for the amazing work they are doing everyday, not just from me but also the business. They are the real masters in their craft and they deserve all the credit for the successes we see in Randstad across the region today.

Most importantly, I would need to strive to achieve a better balance between work, family, and personal life. My boss told me in a recent performance review that he has no negative feedback for me at all but if he has to pick one, it would be that I’d need to maintain a better work-life balance as I tend to be an incorrigible workaholic, and the pandemic has kind of amplified that trait. I recognise that is not a healthy example for myself, my family nor my team, and this is something I am working on. For instance, I have tried to not check my emails or work during the weekends, and take time out to do things I really enjoy like drawing and gaming together with my family.

Now, I just want to touch on something you mentioned during our correspondence ahead of this feature interview: you’re a working mother with two children, a gamer in a previous life, and I understand that you like to draw in your spare time to destress? Could you tell us a little about that? How did you start and where can we see your work?

As mentioned, I have always had a creative streak and loved drawing and doodling since I was young. However, I never had the chance to pursue my passion for art further because you know, real life gets in the way. I picked it back up again in recent years because my daughter, who like me, has developed a real passion for art. Hence I used drawing as a reason for us to bond and spend time together. Recently we even went for a manga drawing workshop together – and we loved it!

You can check out my humble works on Instagram @sheerdoodles.

I also used to be quite an avid gamer before I got married – and at one time I was really into the MMORPG game World of Warcraft. I was literally “going on dates” with my husband (then boyfriend) – questing and raiding in the virtual gaming world every weekend. I stopped playing when I became a mom (time is such a luxury I don’t have!) and got back into playing casually only recently due to the lockdown. 

Any advice you’d give to aspiring or upcoming marketers? 

For a start, I would perhaps encourage aspiring marketers to keep pace with the trends not just within the marketing function, but also the industry that you work in. Understand your skills gaps in the next normal and take initiative to find out how you can upskill to close that gap. It’s also important to take an outside-in approach and network with your peers to find out where they are at and how they got there. It could help you map your career path. 

However, when I am looking to hire, I tend to look out for talent with a good set of soft skills. I am a strong believer that technical skills can always be taught, but soft skills – or essential personality traits as some might call them – have to be developed. For many people, you either have it or you don’t.

Examples of soft skills that many CMOs like myself look for in marketers would include having a high level of emotional quotient, adaptability, drive, an open and positive mindset, as well as strong work ethics and commercial acumen. Marketers are also increasingly expected to be a collaborative team player, great communicator and champion for change.

Some key advice for aspiring or upcoming marketers:

  • Continuous learning is key. Cultivate an insatiable appetite for knowledge and understanding in the disciplines or areas that are beyond your current role. Learn from the best outside of your function or industry to gain a new perspective on your work.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment. You won’t know if an idea will be a success unless you move it to reality. Be prepared to fail and try again.
  • Always strive to add value and position yourself as a business partner. If you act like an order taker, you will be treated as one. Integrate yourself into the heart of the business and identify challenges/issues you can solve as a marketer.

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

LinkedIn would be the best place as everything you want to know about me is right on my profile page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sheerlock/

If you’re wondering, sheerlock is my avatar’s name in World of Warcraft when I was playing a warlock. 🙂


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.

Digital convergence has been around for a while, following in the footsteps of evolving technologies and upgraded networking. The development of the Internet of Things (IoT) has increased the amount of multimedia available to consumers all around the world – multimedia being the combination of audio, video, and data. 

There’s a lot of talk about digital convergence with a global pandemic raging and how it has been affected. Digital convergence has seen a massive uptake due the digital transformation demanded by the changes of 2020.  But what is digital convergence, really? And how has it impacted society?

What is Digital Convergence?

Digital convergence is the ability to use any device to view any kind of multimedia regardless of what format it takes. This seems very straightforward on the surface of things, but the technology required to allow us to stream videos from our smartphones to our televisions, read emails on our tablets, or send instant messages from our computers, has been evolving over decades. The seamless experiences so many of us take for granted has already transformed the way in which we live and work. 

What Impact has it had on Society?

Digital convergence has given society a new interconnectedness across all facets – both our personal and professional existances. Convergence has opened access to information in all its shapes and forms to all of us, no matter what devices we own. It has also allowed us to share that information more easily with others; we are no longer depenedent on the content’s format to be able to view or share it. This has lead to improved integration in communication, not only between individuals and companies but between machines as well. 

Think about it this way, if we can share information more readily across all our devices without fussing over the kind of shape it takes or its compatibilty with devices, the sharing of data between machines has taken on a whole new speed. 

The downside of digital convergence is ‘fate sharing’. If everything is interconnected across one network, then if something goes wrong with the network everything will be affected. Think of it like ‘all eggs in one basket’ – if the basket breaks, all your eggs will be on the floor in pieces, leaving you with a mess and no omelette. 

The Digital Convergence Revolution in 2021

One of the keys to unlocking the advantages of the digital convergence in 2021 will be agility. The ability to pivot based on the changing circumstances will be the difference between companies that survive the pandemic and companies that fail. 2020 taught us that digitally transformation is no longer optional, but demanded in the face of the unpredictable world we live in – you never know when a start-up competitor will undercut you, or your industry will take a hit, or a pandemic will bring the entire world to a halt. 

No matter the situation, an agile company is a strong company. In fact, 75% of executives believe the pandemic’s lasting impact will mean that we will be working faster and with more agility than before. Combined with the pandemic, the digital revolution has already left behind those brands that were stuck in rigid systems. Those brands may never recover. In fact, in the Forrester predicts that lines between marketing and customer experience functionality will blurred more than ever before, eventually leading to a true convergence and a definite increase on loyalty and rentention marketing.

2021 will be a make or break it year for all brands: either join the revolution or be left behind and miss out on all the opportunities that the new year will have to offer.

Final Thoughts

Digital convergence has carved the path for all future technology. It’s come as the natural progression through the impact of digital transformation and it’s not going anywhere. It empowers the IoT and drives the strategies behind digital marketing, research and development for new technologies, improving the way we gather, communicate, and track data, and as automate systems. Where will it all lead? Only time will tell, but with the rise of seamlessly integrated technologies like smart home devices and voice  controls, we can assume that somewhere down the line digital convergence will give birth to a single digital ecosystem. 

Despite being the tragedy of 2020, the COVID-19 crisis has driven a new wave of digital transformation and innovation approaches. Businesses learned to navigate the challenges of the coronavirus while addressing the needs of their employees, customers, and clients.

A study conducted by McKinsey & Company, a management consulting company, found that COVID-19 has forced many companies to accelerate their digital initiatives.

The research also reported that digital adoption rates during COVID-19 have increased compared to the previous surveys conducted in pre-crisis time.

These findings suggest that the coronavirus pandemic awakened businesses to the importance of digital technology. Most organizations have sped up their digital efforts to keep pace with changing consumer behaviour.

Impact of COVID-19 on Businesses

When COVID-19 broke out, businesses all over the world were impacted by a range of challenges: keeping employees and customers safe, maintaining operations, navigating government support schemes, and managing revenue.

Smaller companies, particularly start-ups, faced more devastating effects, including mass employee layoffs. In fact, small businesses had to lay off people in just a few weeks after the onset.

According to Startup Genome’s Global Startup Survey, a majority of startups saw a decline in revenue since the beginning of the crisis. The key findings from the survey include:

  • 41% of startups globally are threatened in the “red zone”—they have three months or less of cash runway left.
  • 16% of startups saw their revenue drop by more than 80%
  • 74% of startups have had to terminate full-time employees a few weeks after the onset
  • 39% of all startups had to lay off 20% or more of their staff, and 26% had to let go 60% of employees or more
  • North America is the place with the biggest share of companies reducing headcount (84%), followed by Europe (67%) and Asia (59%).

Also, micro, small, and medium enterprises’ (MSMEs) struggle to survive the effects of COVID-19 as the crisis lengthens.

In the ILO SCORE Global Covid-19 Enterprise Survey, survey results show that 70% of MSMEs have had to shut down operations. Nearly 9 out of 10 businesses are experiencing a shortage in their cashflow, affecting business continuity.

Another study  also found that the sectors with the most business closures globally were the following:

  • Travel or tourism agencies (54%)
  • Hospitality and event services (47%)
  • Education and child care services (45%
  • Performing arts and entertainment (36%)
  • Hotels, cafes, and restaurants (32%)

While many start-ups are moving closer to closure and bankruptcy, the pandemic has opened doors to many entrepreneurial businesses.

Entrepreneurs have pivoted to offer goods and services borne out of the crisis, such as face masks, commercial cleaning services, delivery and errand services, and so on.

Moreover, some businesses have managed to stay operational in the midst of COVID-19—and accelerating digital transformation has helped them a lot.

3 Ways Businesses Adopted Digital Technology During COVID-19

1. Reshape Remote Working

A vast majority of businesses across the globe have made an abrupt shift to remote work. Many have normalized the “work from home” model to protect employees, serve customers, and most importantly, establish business continuity.

Remote work and virtual teams also put a spotlight on the importance of technology.

For example, Zoom, a video conferencing application, emerged as one of the most useful tools during COVID-19. Organizations use it to collaborate with their team members, in real-time.

Other online productivity tools and employee-facing technologies have also helped employees to more easily operate at similar levels of productivity, despite working outside the office.

According to a Synergy Research Group study, cloud providers see aggressive growth amidst the coronavirus crisis. It only means that more businesses have moved to the cloud to support a remote workforce.

With COVID-19 making remote work the new normal, companies—small or large —should see cloud-based technologies as a digital transformation priority.

2. Adopt Technology-Driven Systems

The success of remote work setup during the pandemic depends on several factors, including digital technologies.

Small to medium-sized businesses, and most especially, larger corporations must invest in digital tech to manage remote employees and facilitate fast communication and collaboration.

However, the virtual work environment is susceptible to data protection and data privacy risks, requiring businesses to adopt a technology-driven system to allay the fears of security risks.

The latest Exabeam report finds that there has been a significant increase in enterprise adoption of cloud-based security solutions to support a remote workforce.

The data found that 44% of enterprises use cloud-based security products to protect corporate financial information compared to the earlier study, where only 12% were protecting corporate financial information in this way.

Additionally, about 90% of companies said they rolled out cloud-based security products at the right time for the business. Many deployed such software solutions to safeguard customer information while sending emails and sharing files.

Those who incorporated cloud technology have also seen improvements in monitoring and tracking of cyber attacks (21%) and accessing the software’s latest features (20%). These findings are evidence that digital transformation minimizes resources and overheads, allowing security analysts to complete tasks faster and focus on other projects.

3. Digitize Customer Experience

The virus not only changed the way people work but also the way people use the Internet.

With the lockdowns and limitations of activities, people seek out alternative entertainment and socialization. These include the uptake of the use of streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon,  and YouTube.  People are also connecting with distant friends on social media apps like Facebook.

Time spent online has increased, and so has how much money people spend online.

COVID-19 has driven changes in consumer behavior and put e-commerce at the forefront of retail. Pandemic-weary consumers are looking for new normal must-haves online from alcohol to hand sanitizers, face masks, cleaning supplies, skincare products, groceries, and more.

This new consumer behavior pattern has encouraged many businesses to digitize customer experiences using technological solutions like chatbots.

Short for chatterbot, this Artificial Intelligence (AI) feature helped retailers to bridge the gap in customer communications. The tool lets customers receive quick replies to their queries, eliminating the need for emails and long customer service wait times.

Use of live video streaming also spiked during the pandemic. Amazon, a big player in the e-commerce industry, entered into the live streaming space to add a human touch to internet shopping.

Facebook has got more involved with live streaming since many online merchants strive to provide personal assistance and in-store experience to their followers.

McKinsey & Company acknowledged the importance of elevating customer experience in the time of COVID-19. Engagement is a crucial aspect of digital transformation that businesses should not neglect to remain economically viable.

Final Thoughts

Businesses that embraced the digital transformation, adding cloud technology and digitized customer experiences to their arsenal, can weather any challenge, even a pandemic. They can innovate employee collaboration, protect sensitive data, and digitize the customer experience, among other benefits.

The role of marketing in this transformation is crucial. Companies should pair digital tech with a solid marketing strategy to create, drive, and deliver a customer-centric experience.

At 2Stallions, we provide digital marketing services (i.e. social media marketing, search engine optimization, content marketing, etc.) that will help businesses understand and connect with their customers in today’s digital era. 

Check out our complete list of services at https://2stallions.com/service/digital-marketing/.

The digital transformation era is here. Even if we were not ready for it yet, the events of 2020 have defintely propelled us forward. Digital transformation refers to the complete integration of digital technologies into business. COVID-19 has pushed most companies into adopting some digital strategies and technologies to stay in touch with their customers and keep themselves above water. 

Full digital transformation takes time and patience. The pandemic has served as a wake-up call for businesses and their leaders to take the steps towards fully integrating digital systems across their company. Companies looking to undergo a digital transformation do not need to do it all at once. There four key aspects to digital transformation:

  • Processes
  • Business Model
  • Domain
  • Cultural/Organzation

Transforming a company at any time can be an intimidating and stressful endeavour if it is not planned out. By taking on one aspect at a time, companies can ease into the digital transformation strategically. Business processes are often the first to undergo digitization – preferred communication methods changing from old-fashioned memos to email is an example of a digital transformation that took place in the last decade for instance. Later the adoption of VOIP tools such as Skype, and afterwards instant messengers like WhatsApp, Line, or WeChat have been other such transformations that have digitized communication processes within business. 

The transformation of company culture and organization and domain are often next, following the adaptation of communication processes. Tools like project management software, or community platforms like Facebook’s Workplace or SproutSocial’s Bamboo, help bring companies together and unify company culture efforts. 

Adapting entire business models can take longer. Depending on the age and size of the business, it can take a lot of time to transform the very core of any company. Many business models have evolved over time, even if they were decided upon at the start of the company. Changes the company has faced over its lifetime will have had an impact on the way companies function. Digital transformation is no different – a type of evolution that companies will undergo if they are to survive in the new era, particularly after this pandemic.

But why should a company undergo such an evolution? 

3 Reasons to Join the Digital Transformation Era

1. Digital Customer Journeys are on the Rise

Even before 2020’s pandemic, the trend towards the digital customer journey was obvious. The global increase in e-commerce, social selling initiatives, and the general climb in Internet penetration, did not need COVID-19 or social distancing restrictions to allow humanity go digital.

Consumers have more power than ever, able to research their potential purchases and compare notes with each other using reviews and referrals. Social media has furthered this empowerment, allowing consumers to connect with each other in even more personal ways and discuss brands and purchasing options.

Marketplaces and Shopify-powered websites make brands and products even more accessible, allowing potential customers to take their time to make the purchases and do their research. In essence, from start to finish, the customer’s journey is completely digital.

Optimizing customer journey satisfaction is the way to earn customer loyalty, and it’s a known fact that loyal customers spend 67% more than new ones

Digital transformation would allow companies better access to their customer-base, not only for sales purposes but also with regards to marketing tactics. 

2. Increased Data and Insights

A company’s ability to reach its customers is one thing, but digital transformation of processes and systems also allows for the influx of data. With real time information streaming in through analytical platforms, companies can now better track, analyze, understand, and anticipate customer behaviour.

Website analytics through tools such as Google Analytics can help companies gain insight into their audience and content preferences. Other measurement tools provide insight into social media habits, conversations, and again, their content preferences. 

Additionally, with the rise in omnichannel marketing, the integration of online and offline data is an added advantage that a digital transformation can bring about. 

Getting to know your audience even better is a solid advantage, and the data and insights brought in by digital transformation is something companies cannot ignore any longer.

3. Improved Inter-Company Communication & Collaboration

The improvement of in-house communication is something many companies can use. Digitization has saved many companies during the pandemic, keeping employees connected during a time when they may have been forced to work remotely for long periods of time.

In fact, many businesses are seeing an opportunity to shift from permanent, physical office space to a more-remote-based workforce. This, of course, comes with its own downside: not everyone is cut out for remote work for long periods of time, and it is possible that productivity will suffer as a result of this. On the other hand, however, a remote workforce is flexible and, with the help of proper digital transformation, need not be disconnected. 

Providing digital means of connectivity, there is no reason that a company cannot build and maintain a strong, connected team.

Final Thoughts

Digital transformation is the next step in the evolution of business. While the pandemic may be forcing many companies to move faster than they may like, adapting to digital tools and processes seems the logical thing to do.  

Is it time for your company to undertake its own digital transformation? 2Stallions can help. We specialize in digital performance marketing, website and app development, and can help you take the next step towards a fully integrated digital business setup. Get in touch today and find out how to get started.

Consumers are going digital in a big way and businesses need to follow suit. If your company is not yet online, you are likely missing out on a majority of consumers looking for you. A solid digital marketing strategy is an essential piece for building a successful online presence.

A strategy provides your business with a digital direction and goal. It may even reveal opportunities to expand your reach. In fact, companies with a clear digital marketing plan see a 60% faster growth than those without any plan. So how can you kick start your own digital marketing strategy?

Kickstart Your Digital Marketing Strategy

The key to successful online marketing is to build a dedicated strategy that results in a strong return on investment (ROI). Marketing is iterative so it is good to keep your strategy simple. You can always reference and refine it as you go along.

The marketing strategy we recommend is a 3-step process.

You can define and structure your digital strategy in an effective way by breaking down your online marketing plan into this 3-step process.

1.  Business strategy

The first step to an online marketing strategy is to understand your own business, and the market surrounding it. You begin with a review of your company’s strengths and competitive advantage. These are distinct values that differentiate you from your competitors.

This exercise also illuminates areas you should focus on to market your business. So what makes up the business strategy?

a.   Mission statement

Start with your mission statement. It should be a one-sentence summary that defines what your company does.

b.   Objectives

Objectives refer to organizational objectives that are necessary to keep the business running and to maintain your brand identity.

c.   Value proposition

Value proposition is about your company’s unique selling point or the competitive advantage that you have over your competitors.

d.   Elevator pitch

An elevator pitch would be a short summary of your brand’s value proposition. It will be a short sentence that concisely expresses your brand’s value proposition. 

Here is a sample of a business strategy worksheet filled in for a fictitious brand called “H+ Sports”.

After you create your business strategy, you should have a fundamental understanding of your business. The next step is to identify your customers and determine where you find them online.

2.  Customer Strategy

A customer strategy helps you identify who and where your customers are. This makes it easier for you to develop marketing messages specific to each group of customers. Tailoring your marketing message for each customer group results in quality leads and conversions.

The key, once again, is to keep it simple. Here is the sample customer strategy worksheet for H+ Sports.

a.   Target Audience

One marketing message may not answer the needs of all customers. You should categorize your customers into groups based on a common criterion. For H+ Sports, the target audience is split into 3 groups based on gender and interest. This will make it easier for their business to create specific marketing messages for each group.

a.   Audience Goals

Identify the specific targeted audience’s goals. Find out what they are looking to accomplish. Figure out their needs. It is your job to ensure you can fulfill these needs, otherwise, customers have no reason to purchase from you.

b.   Audience technology  

Finally, with audience technology, you want to identify what channels your audience is using so that you can work on reaching out to them there.

Now that you have identified your targeted customer groups and the potential marketing channels, it is time to develop marketing strategies for each of the channels.

3.  Marketing Strategy

The last of the 3-step strategy process is to create a marketing strategy. This will be your guide as you explore different marketing channels. At this stage, you will develop individual marketing plans tailored to the goals of each audience segment.

a.   Goal

Your goal needs to be specific to the results you want to achieve from your marketing efforts. For H+ Sports, their goal is to sell H+ nutritional supplements. Hence, the marketing messages for each channel should follow this goal.

b.   Channel

Continuing with our example of H+ Sports, let us focus on one of the target groups. Let us females aged 18-35 who are interested in fitness. Here we look at the channels where this group is likely to be found, and hence where we should focus our marketing on. From there, develop a marketing idea for each of the media available: paid, earned and owned

c.   Types of Media

Paid media is essentially you paying to promote content. For earned media, it is usually a combined result of strong organic rankings on the Search Engines, and content distributed by the brand. Owned media is any web property that you can control.

It is up to you to decide the type of content you want to publish on each channel. Remember to push out content that will help you engage the audience best on each channel. Once you are done crafting the marketing content for each channel, you are good to go. At this stage, you would have created a cohesive digital strategy that will work for you.

Wrapping Up

Developing a marketing strategy is an iterative process, not a plan set in stone. As your customer behavior continues to change, your business will have to adapt the strategies it adopts.

You can stay ahead of the competition with continued research of your market and customers. Always compare your business relative to your competitors. Gain an advantage by being the first to reach customers and stay relevant to the marketing channels available to you. This will ensure your business maximizes all opportunities to gain the best return of investment (ROI).

What are you waiting for? Get started with your digital strategy now!

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