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When you put determination, tech-savvy and the motivation to expand your knowledge together, you get a great digital marketer. As we’ve discovered over the many issues of the Marketing Expert Series, digital marketers find their way to their careers from all walks of life, arriving in the world of marketing from varied backgrounds and educational streams. 

Crispian Leong is a digital marketer who symbolises us all in this aspect: motivated, and determined with a background in computer science. Not content with the path his degree had launched him into, he made a change and landed in a marketing career that has lasted the years. Now, as the Head of Marketing Singapore for Pet Lover’s Centre, Crispian shares his story and his hard-won knowledge about how to make the best of any digital opportunity.


Hi, Crispian, welcome to the Marketing Expert Series! Thank you for joining us. 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 guess you can say I stumbled upon marketing as a career. I can honestly say I wasn’t one of those lucky people who knew from the get-go what they wanted to be when they grew up. 

My education routes were either planned by my parents, teachers or the system. Even the course that I ended up graduating from – Computer Science – wasn’t my first choice. I actually wanted to study journalism, but none of the local universities offered back in 1996 and studying overseas was out of the question as I didn’t want to burden my parents financially. 

So. Computer Science. I didn’t know anything about it, nor did I expect to get anything useful out of it either. I just thought that since I’m a fairly logical person with a good grasp of science and mathematics, it would be a course I could most easily obtain a degree in.

Only during my final year project with IBM, did I realise being a programmer or a system administrator wasn’t something I wanted as a career. I preferred a job where I could talk and collaborate with people and develop… things. 

The job market in 1996 was quite good for graduates in Singapore. Companies were expanding or being set up and there weren’t enough graduates to fill the manpower crunch. I was spoiled for choice when I was sending out resumes, and there were plenty of job openings in sales and marketing. 

Eventually, I joined a firm that distributed computer hardware and software. I remembered the pay being quite decent at that time, and I was sold when the HR Manager said, “You’ll definitely get to meet lots of people and go for incentive trips paid for by vendors like Hewlett Packard and Microsoft!” It sounded fun, and it was!

I remembered thinking, “Well, if this doesn’t work out I can still fall back on my IT degree”. But somehow, marketing stuck. One year became two. Two became four. Then I joined SingTel and spent 10 years there, and the next thing I realized, it had become a career.

 

You’re the Head of Marketing at Pet Lovers Centre Singapore. Can you tell us a little about what it is that Pet Lovers Centre does exactly?

Pet Lovers Centre (PLC) is the largest pet care retail chain in South East Asia with a presence in Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. It was founded in 1973 and the brand offers the widest and freshest range of products you can ever find for your pets.

On top of that, PLC offers a wide range of services from pet grooming to pet boarding and even pet pharmacies. 

As the Head of Marketing, I oversee all aspects of marketing across the region – including digital, retail, PR and e-Commerce, and I have teams in Singapore and Malaysia that help me.

 

The pet care industry is massive. What sort of strategies do you find most useful for spreading the word about Pet Lovers Centre? How do you stand out from your competition?

The thing about PLC is that we are the largest and most well-known pet retail brand chain in South East Asia, so a lot of strategies that we employ are defensive. What do I mean by that? In Singapore and Malaysia where we are the eminent brand in the industry, we don’t need to splash obscene amounts on outdoor or mall advertising. 

Our prolific retail footprint is our OOH brand advertisement. Our main advertising dollars are spent on digital and social media. Even then, we only spend enough to ensure our brand and products are positioned right at the top of searches, that our shopper ads have the largest impression share amongst our competitors, and we do enough work with the KOLs to ensure our share of voice is optimal. 

This gives us more time and resources to do the type of marketing which, in my opinion, is most important – strengthening the brand within the pet owners’ community. And we do that through CSR activities and collaborations with animal welfare groups, organizing meaningful and educational events to inform people on responsible pet ownership, and so forth.

 

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

I joined PLC in May 2021, in the midst of the pandemic. Consumer behaviour by then had certainly shifted. We saw an almost two-old increase in online sales. All I ever did when I joined was to review and fine-tune the SEO, SEM and social media go-to-market processes, tighten the narratives and visual consistency, strengthen the performance marketing tracking, and viola! We saw conversion rates jump three-fold between May 2021 and October 2021. As of last month, our conversion rates were at an all-time high despite the relaxing of COVID restrictions in Singapore and Malaysia.

Most times, you don’t actually need massive life-altering paradigms to make positive uplifts to the business. 

 

What sort of lasting impact do you believe the pandemic’s forced acceleration of digital transformation has had on Pet Lovers Centre and your industry in general?

Well, more people appreciate the joys of digital shopping. They’re also more confident in shopping online now. This is good because PLC is well-positioned to meet the demands and challenges of this shift in consumer behaviour, having an e-commerce platform and marketing communications firmly entrenched in the digital space even before the pandemic happened.

And this trend is not going to revert anytime soon. So the important question is – what’s next right?

Well, the key challenge I am gleefully tackling right now is how to strengthen the Pet Lovers Centre brand affinity. People know our brand, but how do we make them love us and stay with us longer? That involves quite a few exciting initiatives involving omnichannel marketing strategies, further enhancing our app and launching a new price communication platform. All very exciting and which I am currently knee-deep in.

 

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?

For sure this impact has permanently changed how my team and I work. I mean, I had to reorganize my team and put the less digitally-savvy teammates on courses to upskill themselves to speak the digital lingo. 

When I first joined, I’m not afraid to say that I realised I had shortcomings in certain areas such as SEO and Google Analytics myself, and for the first few months, after work, I watched tons of YouTube and LinkedIn videos to sharpen my SEO and GA skills just to be able to have productive and meaningful conversations with my digital marketing managers.

 

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

Always place your customers at the core of what you do. Always ask yourself – how does this narrative help our customers? Can we improve this process to delight our customers further? Will our customers’ lives improve from this feature or product?

 

It’s been a pleasure to learn more about your work and your experiences, Crispian, thank you for sharing these insights with us. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you or Pet Lovers Centre?

I’m reachable at my LinkedIn profile


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.

 

As the world slowly crosses into a post-pandemic norm, it has become more important to understand how brands adapt and change to meet evolving expectations and considerations. Digital marketing is about having an adaptable mindset, letting you take in information, foresee trends and act accordingly – brand marketing is no exception here. In this issue of the Marketing Expert Series, experienced brand consultant and digital expert, Tania Tai, takes it one step further. 

Encouraging us to ‘outsee, outthink and outdo’, Tania shares her life and career experiences. She offers insights into the world of brand consulting, and what it takes to make a strong, lasting impression on consumers and team members alike. 


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

My pleasure Olwen. I have always believed in the shaping influence of life experiences. Honestly, it’s quite amazing how seemingly unexpected connections come together as mini-experiments for us to tinker, learn and grow in new domains. All we need to do is stay true to ourselves yet have an open mind to explore and muster up enough courage to pivot when the time is ripe. As such, was my journey of self-discovery until I found my calling in brand consulting.

The early years in divergent fields of financial audit and hospitality taught me valuable lifelong lessons. If you take systems-based thinking from auditing and fuse it with the precious human moments from hoteling, violà! You will have a winning combination to drive success in branding, marketing and communications.

I will always be grateful to Su (founder of Su Yeang Design, subsequently Holmes & Marchant) who provided the first stepping-stone when I contemplated my career pivot and nurtured my growth trajectory in the pioneering years of branding in Singapore. Fast track 20 years down the road, I’ve had the privilege of working alongside visionary leaders across categories to co-create brands that are worthy of remark. This is the worthy work that I do. And I’m still as passionate about until today – helping brands find their purpose, design better futures and become that special force of positive impact in the world.

Marketing, as we know, comes in many different shapes and sizes and can be rather demanding. How do you believe that marketing leaders can help their brands – and their teams – grow in today’s world?

Thriving in these exceptional times requires a very different mindset. Brand owners need to plan ahead, ride the wave of hopeful rebounds and help society regenerate. Just like how Pantone launched a more vibrant colour palette to mark a brighter 2022, I’d like to share some useful habits to help marketing teams grow their brands and ride this optimistic wave back to normalcy:

Outsee: Consider the brand ecosystem and deep-dive to align beliefs. The power of branding lies in how meaningfully your brand connects to beliefs, be it leadership, customers or employees. When customer experiences are well aligned with culture (i.e. employee experiences), and brought to life by brand experiences based on the bedrock of shared values to improve the world, you will discover the magic formula for sustainable branding. The ultimate goal is to build brand love by forging deep emotional connections based on empathy and compelling storytelling.

Take for example the rebranding of Progresif, a telco in Brunei. Beyond the impressive numbers of new customers onboarded, the zero to hero story of its successful rebranding was because we created a brand that stood for all things progressive from the retail experience to the curation of an emergent tribe of influencers. Little by little, a new Progresif movement was born, fueled by a growing tribe of Progresifs who believed in leading where others feared to tread. And it was this progressive tribe of loyal customers that helped the brand weather Covid’s perfect storm.

Outthink: There is nothing more inspiring when beautiful minds come together at ideation sessions during workshops. Whenever you’re in need of a creative jolt to solve the toughest of challenges, always remember that imagination is our strongest currency. Ideation is a non-linear process, so be prepared to reframe challenges and reimagine your world from a different lens.

From experience, let me share a lateral thinking technique that has been particularly effective – “Embrace Constraints”. During the envisioning workshop for Penang Butterfly Farm, one of the breakout team activities was to come up with a new brand name for the well-loved tourist attraction. We needed to hunt for a name that better reflected their refreshed positioning to be the voice of nature – an edutainment destination of the future that celebrates the unsung heroes of nature (i.e. insects and butterflies). Under the constraints of a whole slew of taboo words, such as “butterfly”, “nature” and “park”, ideation ventured into the unexpected. A turf that is far from the norm. Eventually, it was an exploration in a science-inspired realm that “Entopia” came about, coined from “Entomology” and “Utopia”.

Outdo: In the go-to-market race to the next normal, the world has reset at a different level. The pandemic has mainstreamed conversations on sustainability, digital futures and a hybrid way of life. Whether your brand is ready for the metaverse or not, brands now have more room to play across platforms virtually and/or physically. With the blurring of boundaries between online and offline and access to rich data-driven insights, welcome to the era of omnichannel marketing on steroids!

This is the time for brands to shine in moments that matter by sharing content that enriches the lives of their customers. Brands that win the battle, will be those that are prepared to back what they promise with heartwarming brand acts. So that more people can not only see and hear what the brand is about but also feel the brand love.

Take the case of Lexus when they launched the Lexus ES Self-Charging Hybrid “Feel Your Best” campaign last year, emotional AI was used to offer viewers a more personalised experience through facial recognition. Imagine adapting content real-time in immersive cinematic sequences. Imagine the thrill of an ad that responds to your emotions just as the car responds to the driver’s behaviour and needs. Wow!

You’re the outgoing Managing Director at DIA Brand Consultants. Can you tell us a bit about the work you did there? How does it compare to other career experiences?

DIA made its way to Malaysia when I settled here 15 years ago. At that time, branding was still in its nascent stage. It was exciting to build the business and share the invisible aspects of branding that people often miss or overlook. Through the years, I’m thrilled to have helped businesses at different life stages unlock their full brand potential and empowered brand teams to realise their path to purpose.

A career in brand consulting is like no other. It’s fascinating because you get to work with a lot of different clients from divergent industries, which gives you the chance to immerse and understand each category better. Perks of the trade: when you consult on FMCG projects, you become a smarter consumer too because you will understand the category and the competitive landscape most intimately. And so, you will know how to make the best choices that suit your needs.

How did the developments of the COVID-19 Pandemic affect your own strategies at DIA? What challenges and/or developments did you have to adapt to since the start of 2020? 

The benefit of a diversified portfolio strategy is that your business becomes more resilient in times like these.

From a project perspective, new opportunities emerged in the health and wellbeing space, which led to projects such as DuPont’s digital immunity cookbook and Top’s Anti-virus laundry detergent packaging revamp. When you brand, you brand for the long haul so that you can hit the ground running faster when the good times return. That’s why brand training and design thinking workshops carried on unabated during these pandemic times. Although workshops did take a very different form, 100% virtual and more interactive, thanks to Miro.

From a workplace perspective, we had to quickly adapt to working from home. Suddenly, the home transformed from a downtime nest to an uptime hub. A whole new set of challenges around work-life integration jump-started the future of work. Looking on the brighter side of life, the team had to learn faster, become more disciplined and self-aware, and master the art of setting boundaries. Regular check-ins, fun projects, wellbeing gifting and virtual parties kept the team together while apart. True to the wisdom of Stoic philosopher Seneca, on how adversity sparks greatness.

What sort of lasting impact do you believe the pandemic’s forced acceleration of digital transformation has had on the various industries in which you’ve worked over the years?

The pandemic has left a mark on every industry, and the world has changed. Once we have tasted the convenience and benefits of digital life, it is hard to go back. The stage is now set for more exciting times of digital integration and data mining post-pandemic. As people are by nature highly social, which is why I believe that hybrid experiences will be the future of everything, from the way we live, learn, work and play. Right here, right now. This is the moment for all of us to respond with a deeper sense of awareness as a community to reshape the world that we should make.

Do you think that this impact has permanently changed how you will go about your work in the future – whatever work that may be? 

Yes, the impact is here to stay for a long time to come. The best way forward is for everyone to embrace the future of work as soon as possible and use this opportunity to reinvent. Given the current reality of burnout, anxiety and mental health concerns, we will need to find new ways to collaborate better remotely or in-person going forward.

To manage a hybrid way of work, it’s healthy to be more transparent and lock-in downtime too. By scheduling non-meeting times, especially heads-down time (when we need alone-time for deep thinking) or me-time (for self-improvement and growth to stoke our passion). It’s good to make time and schedule these often-neglected moments so that we can always be at our best.

Leadership and mentoring have never been more important during uncertain times, especially for women. What role do you believe women with successful careers, like yourself, can play in the lives of women today?

Leadership and mentoring have evolved in these uncertain times too. Irrespective of new joiners or experienced professionals, many interesting situations present themselves as meaningful coaching-learning moments. Women, like men, play multiple roles at home or at work. The key is in finding the right happy balance.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has painfully highlighted the disproportionate impact on women in Southeast Asia. A sad fact according to the recent research by the Asian Development Bank at the end of 2021. There is much work to be done to reverse this, be it through peer professional networks or mentoring startup communities, or even reaching out to those not typically under the radar, such as Women of Will for single mums or Ideas Academy to educate displaced teens.

What would you say to aspiring marketers just starting with their careers?

If you love a world in perpetual beta, thrive on discovering something new everyday or get a high from solving thorny problems… Brand consulting is the best career to start off with. Here you will have the best arena to hone your full-stacked marketing and creative thinking skills amidst a smorgasbord of industries. It is indeed a career less ordinary, where taste, style, wit and intelligence come together wonderfully. It is the best platform for you to discover yourself and how to navigate your future.

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

I’m taking some time off the grid at the moment, so LinkedIn would be the best way to reach out.

The world is a very strange place. As we drift towards a post-pandemic normal, we are finding ways to grow from the lessons we learned during the last two and half years. Many of the adaptations we’ve had to make have been out of sheer necessity, for the survival of society and our economies, and many of those adaptations will have lasting considerations for the future.

One of the adaptations we’ve made is the increase in our use of digital tools for self-improvement and advancement – especially when it comes to job hunting. Leading the charge, platforms like JobStreet by SEEK ran special initiatives to bring people together and provide much-needed help when it was needed.

In this issue of the Marketing Expert Series Julie Wang, Head of Marketing Singapore for JobStreet by Seek, shares her insights and experiences in her role during the pandemic.


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

I’m currently the Head of Marketing at JobStreet by SEEK, Asia’s leading online job portal. I started my career in advertising sales and was at my peak when I decided to do a career switch after 5 years, to pursue my passion in marketing. It was a painful decision at that point in time, not only to have a 50% pay cut but to also start from the bottom of the ladder. I did feel that this risk paid off, being able to gain exposure at the giant FMCGs companies of the world like Nestle, Unilever and Danone for both local and regional markets. I even manage to put my classically trained FMCG marketing skills to good use by starting a tea training school.

In 2019, after 10 years in FMCG, I decide to take stab at the world of e-commerce/tech marketing and joined Lazada as I believe that this is the future. It was a very interesting period where e-commerce growth exploded due to Covid. I recalled having to deal with late-night crisis management of panic & bulk buying on our grocery channel, RedMart after the government raise its DORSCON level to Orange. It was also a period that saw an unprecedented adoption of e-commerce even among the most traditional brands. Consumer buying behaviour was also erratic and dynamic. That further built my agility to make the most out of the changes and capitalize on new opportunities.

Having made several career changes by then, I decided to take the offer at JobStreet by SEEK as a way to share my career experiences and help job seekers improve their lives through better careers, while at the same time, continue to hone my skills in tech marketing.

 

Tell us a little about the work that JobStreet does and the role you play there.

SEEK’s purpose is to help people live more fulfilling and productive working lives and help organizations succeed.  We are committed to making a difference to our community as well as to our company. Our strategy is to match more candidates to opportunities than anyone else through using our marketplace scale to build a radically more efficient and effective employment marketplace.

As Head of Marketing for Singapore, I’m responsible for moving the company forward not only to be a more digital, data driven, and innovative organization but also to achieve in-market operational excellence for local activations through my team of 10 that cuts across brand building, performance marketing, content, PR, SEO & social.

In March 2022, we held Asia’s biggest virtual career fair that connected thousands of job seekers to tech and digital job opportunities across various career stages to fill employment gaps as the economy gradually recovers.

 

Is there a part about your role that you enjoy most?

I love how this role enables me to empower job seekers to find work that is rewarding, and they can be passionate about, and by finding companies motivated and able employees.

Late last year, we launched the #LetsGetToWork movement to encourage job seekers to stand up and stand out, to take that bold step and pursue the job that they love. In last month’s virtual career fair, we also launched the Women in Tech series to encourage gender diversity in the tech sector. I feel proud and fulfilled to lead such initiatives to contribute back to society,

 

How have the developments of the COVID-19 Pandemic affected your own strategies at JobStreet? What challenges and/or developments have you had to adapt to since the start of 2020? How did you overcome these challenges?

The COVID-19 crisis had deeply scored the world’s workforce, with entire industries forced to temporarily shut down, stalling or cutting off the jobs these industries supported. As the pandemic unfolded over the rest of 2020 and to mid-2021, total employment in Singapore continued to fall.

Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are also getting more frustrated at work, fuelling the Great Resignation wave and hence, giving raise to vacancies especially in growth sectors like tech and healthcare.

At JobStreet, we started the #LetsGetToWork movement and Asia’s Biggest Virtual Career Fair to empower job seekers to pursue the job that they want, to upskill and reskill in the face of rapid digitalization while helping hirers to better find qualified candidates through our hiring tools and career fairs. At the same time, continue to advocate to hirers for healthier work cultures, gender diversity and building a multi-generational workforce to better cope with the changing needs of employees.

 

Marketing, as we know, comes in many different shapes and sizes and can be rather demanding. How do you believe that marketing leaders can help their brands – and their teams – grow in today’s world?

  • Know your consumer, audit and rewire your marketing programme when needed
    It is critical to know what your consumers are thinking, how are they feeling and what are their beliefs. Be in tune with changing needs of consumers (we definitely see more of this with the pandemic) and even anticipate ahead with data analytics. Focus on what is working, fix what is broken, and cut what is not working anymore.
  • Drive authentic engagement with a clear and meaningful brand purpose
    Consumers today are being bombarded by too many messages every day. Hence, they are also getting savvier and choosing which brands to engage in. Therefore, a clear and meaningful brand purpose that resonates deeply with your target consumers can help to motivate and engage them authentically. Knowing this will allow brands raise from the clutter and stand out.
  • Invest in Innovation
    With digitalization, the marketing landscape is evolving more rapidly than ever. What is relevant today might be obsolete tomorrow. Hence, if you don’t try new things or invest in innovation, your brand’s ability to grow will be limited. Consider setting aside a part of your resources to experiment outside the box.
  • Develop talent and capabilities for the future
    A strong team can be the competitive advantage that takes the organization to new heights. Engage your people and address their concerns early. Be invested in their career development and build their skills for the future.
  • Lead authentically with empathy and humility
    The pandemic led to many employees changing priorities, with many shifting towards jobs that are more fulfilling and meaningful to them, as well as a positive work culture. It is therefore, more important than ever before to focus on building authentic connections and trust with your team. Make the extra effort to understand their situations and what they are going through, in order to offer support and help. Recognize their contributions and keep them motivated with positive reinforcements, so that they can remain dedicated and joyful about their work, their leader and the company they work for.

 

Any advice for aspiring, young marketers?

In today’s VUCA world, agility is key and change is the only constant. What seems like the right thing to do today, might become irrelevant tomorrow. So be prepared to constantly unlearn and relearn. The more you know, the more you don’t know. Never stop learning.

 

It’s been great to learn more about you and your work, Julie, thank you for sharing. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you and the work you do at Jobstreet?

They can connect with me via LinkedIn.


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.

 

 

 

 

 

Most of us thinking about wealth management and financial planning as something meant for the 1% – those with enough money to actually need such services. The truth is, wealth management and financial planning is something we should all be doing – if only to safeguard our retirement funds.

Helping us fully understand the importance of correctly managing and saving money for a secure and safe future, is digital marketing expert Jason Huan, Chief Marketing Officer at Endowus. Join us for this issue of the Marketing Expert Series as Jason lets us into the world of wealth management and financial planning.


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

It’s been a good 15 years since I last graduated from the pioneer batch of a Technopreneurship program in NUS (National University of Singapore) which focuses on Technology entrepreneurship. From there I’ve honed my functional capabilities across various sectors from education, financial services, and recruitment, to my recent 5 years where I’ve spent time in fast-growth technology companies as the CMO for Lazada Singapore / Philippines as well as Endowus, a wealth management app where I’m currently based.

I was largely on a generalist track focused on digital marketing skillsets. And in the various roles that I’ve served at, I was razor-focused on ensuring that these roles would attend to the knowledge gaps for me to effectively strategise and execute marketing campaigns in an integrated manner.

 

You’re the Chief Marketing Officer at Endowus. Please tell us a little about the work Endowus does and your role there.

Endowus is the first and only digital advisor in Singapore that is able to manage the core of Singaporeans’ wealth in 3 key sources – namely, the national pension scheme (CPF), a retirement scheme (SRS) and cash. The founders came together to solve for retirement adequacy by curating time-tested and more affordable investment products in the market, as well as removing errant fees being levied on investors that eat into returns by introducing an all-in-one simple fee structure.

The result is creating an investment platform that’s 100% aligned to our clients’ interest as we are not incentivised by anyone else but the client to act in their best interest — as we rebate a 100% of trailer fees back to our clients.

As part of the founding team, I was entrusted with the role of building a brand that is underpinned by core principles of trust, transparency and security. And as a brand which launched through Covid-19, we were thrust into hyper-growth as we doubled down on paid performance on digital channels, as well as content and community marketing, creating video and web content to help people manage their wealth better over periods of uncertainty. Amidst orchestrating content initiatives that are focused on delivering financial literacy, brand campaigns are developed to help people understand how we can help grow their wealth, alongside amplification via paid performance channels.

 

Is there a part of your role you enjoy most?

I think more than just the role itself is the company’s mission and values. We were founded on improving accessibility to better investment products, as well as lowering the cost of investing which overall improves investment outcomes, so people can live better tomorrow. And I find the work that I do extremely meaningful as a result.

Retirement planning is typically not on the top of the priority list for most, but it doesn’t take a lot to be better planned for that important eventuality. At Endowus, we want to make that first step to building a retirement nest easier.

 

You also spent some time at Lazada Group – how do those experiences differ from your time at Endowus? Did it prepare you for your current role in any way?

I think the key similarities between the two were that they were hyper growth-focused, where traffic and customer acquisition are key objectives on top of building a strong brand. But where the length of the sales cycle is concerned, they differ vastly in that there’s absolutely a lot more products that can be attractive to a customer on Lazada, versus considering an investment product that requires a minimum investment on Endowus that may fluctuate with market changes.

While the consumer psyche between an e-commerce site and an investment platform is vastly different, from digital marketing touchpoints to the UX onsite, optimisations to improve content discovery and eventual conversions are conceptually similar. Overall, the way we optimize ROI for traffic, as well as customer acquisition, is similar, adjusting for revenue projections based on customer lifetime value.

 

How have the developments of the COVID-19 Pandemic affected your own strategies as a CMO? What challenges and/or developments have you had to adapt to since the start of 2020? How have you overcome them?

We pivoted very swiftly when news of an islandwide lockdown broke. We converted in-person events to webinars to which we broke down a curriculum-based seasonally on the market and economic events that were unfolding, to help people understand the benefits of taking ownership of their financial health.

The key challenge was convincing investors that they should be looking at managing their wealth more than ever during this period of volatility. But in doubling down on education, as well as outlining our track record from a sound investment strategy—we managed to increase client acquisition many-fold as well as trend strongly as one of the leading robo-advisors with the largest video reach on YouTube, on top of gunning awards for supporting financial literacy.

 

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

Specific to the industry, I think there was a pronounced impact on the need to enhance one’s knowledge of personal finance and investing. As Covid lockdowns affected economies everywhere, shuttering companies and causing people to go out of work, there was a need to be more financially responsible rather than live paycheck to paycheck.

For the savvier investors, there was also the need to be personally empowered to make their own financial decisions as physical bank branches and financial advisors were out of reach. The acceleration in the adoption of digital advisory services like ours while met with initial apprehension is now understood as the new way forward to managing and growing wealth.

 

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?

Financial advisory services have typically been a high touch business—, particularly wealth management. Banks have long depended on their physical presence to reach their clients with more sophisticated products and services. Our work requires us to optimise the way we manage wealth for our clients, from setting up the stage to understanding their needs, to performing KYC, all on a digital platform—enhancing and continually improving on an app-first experience is critical to business success.

In terms of overall strategy, we are hyper-focused on app-first enablement, and optimising the experience around that. From engaging and acquiring our clients via performance marketing channels, to enhancing their ability to explore other products and services we can offer based on their needs at different life stages. We need to be able to offer a holistic one-stop experience that continues to delight them as they grow their wealth with us.

 

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

Never stop learning. The world has evolved tremendously over Covid, and the world of marketing will continue to evolve at a fast pace with changes that are not within our control. Tightening privacy laws, changing regulations—no matter which area of functional expertise, it’ll inadvertently affect your strategy.

 


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

Feel free to drop me a message on LinkedIn anytime!



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.

 

One of the brighter things to come out of the global pandemic is an increased focus on education technology (edtech). With so many lockdowns and restrictions, children and adults were unable to attend classes and courses in person. Education providers were forced to pivot and develop alternate ways of offering their subjects and programs. This shift to online education and technology has allowed many of us to continue with otherwise-stalled learning paths, opening avenues for further learning and opportunities for growth.

One edtech company that has successfully navigated the last two years is General Assembly (GA). Joining us for this issue of the Marketing Expert Series is Sima Saadat, Head of Marketing at GA. An experienced marketer and passionate about edtech, in this interview, Sima shares her story and how she – and GA – grew together against the odds.


Hi, Sima, 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 am originally from California. I started my career in HR as a New College Graduate Recruiter. Then I decided I wanted to shift into marketing and I took on a role at a startup doing Partner Marketing. I moved around from a few different startups and learned so much at each one of them. 

Eventually, I joined an EdTech company called Teachers’ Curriculum Institute. It was there I found my passion for the edtech industry. I wore a lot of hats at TCI and got to experience different marketing tactics and strategies. When I moved to Singapore, I wanted to stay in EdTech and was excited when I learned about a Marketing Producer role at General Assembly. 

I joined right before Covid, when a major of our local marketing strategy was around events and community building. Once Covid hit, we (and everyone else) had to shift tactics, providing me with an opportunity to help with a new strategy. I’ve grown my career at GA starting as a Marketing Producer, moving to a Partnerships Manager and now am the Head of Marketing for the APAC region.  

 

You’re the Head of Marketing APAC at General Assembly. Please tell us about the work General Assembly is doing and your role there.

General Assembly is working to help professionals pursue careers they love. We do this by focusing on the most relevant and in-demand skills across data, design, business, and technology. GA confronts the global skills gap through award-winning, best-in-class instruction and innovative opportunities across diverse communities. GA works with students online and in-person across the globe and partners with top employers to help companies source, assess and transform talent.

My role specifically is focused on brand awareness and lead generation within the APAC region. I help get the word out there about GA and build a community. 

 

Has General Assembly’s role changed since the onset of the global pandemic? For example, has there been a change in the courses people are choosing to take?

The reasons for students to join General Assembly (GA) have often revolved around wanting to transition their career into tech and to ensure their skills evolve with the job market demands. While the pandemic has not changed students’ reasons for joining GA, it has highlighted the need to pick up tech and digital skills that they could apply to their current work or next role. This is largely driven by the shifts in the market and companies accelerating their digital initiatives.

We didn’t see any specific changes in the course subjects people were choosing, However, we did see a transition in the modality of the courses. Previously, GA offered all-immersive programs as 10-12 week-long full-time courses in areas such as Data Science, Digital Marketing, Software Engineering, and User Experience Design. This requires individuals to leave their current jobs to take up the course full-time and transition to a new career.  

One of the trends we noticed during the pandemic is that while people do want to transition to new careers, they are more hesitant to leave their current jobs – understandably! Last year, we began offering our immersive courses in a “Flex” format. They are the full curriculum, but run part-time over a longer 20 – 24 week period, allowing individuals to pick up new skills while remaining in their current jobs and then transition to a new role after they graduate. 

 

How have these changes affected your own strategies as Head of Marketing? What challenges and/or developments have you had to adapt to since the start of 2020? 

Like many companies, much of GA’s events were only in person. GA hosted a wide variety of in-person events to build our community, brand and educate the public. The events were a place to gather industry leaders to discuss trending topics within tech and beyond. However, when the pandemic hit, we had to quickly transition our entire event process to become virtual. The goal was to continue to provide quality content while building and fostering our community virtually. 

The content and partnerships strategy around events had to shift, as zoom and webinar fatigue began to emerge. In order to stand out and continue to provide quality content, GA produced a few event series, which allowed for a virtual conference feel and was able to tie the content into a common theme. Partners were also excited to join in with GA, as we became experts in running virtual events. The series quickly gained a reputation as a fast way to hear about the latest trends or learn something new in a casual and friendly environment. 

 

Some companies – especially those in the digital space – are finding hybrid or pure work-from-home models very useful, with many planning not to return to traditional office spaces. Do you think these different working models are sustainable in the long term based on your own experiences? How will a sustained remote or hybrid work situation for your audience impact your marketing initiatives for General Assembly?

We are currently working in a hybrid model, where we go into the office two days a week and work from home the other three days. Personally, I love it. I feel it’s the best of both worlds. From a product perspective, we are also offering remote courses and hybrid courses. This allows us to meet our customers wherever is most convenient for them. 

Similarly, our marketing efforts around community building can move towards a hybrid method. Remote events allow us to have amazing panelists from all over the world and we open up the knowledge share to a larger audience. Of course, on the flip side, in-person events allow for networking with like-minded individuals within your specific community. Offering a variety of opportunities for our audience to interact with General Assembly allows us to expand our reach and build a stronger community. 

 

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

Previously, there were some reservations around virtual learning and its effectiveness. However, now that learning online has become parts and parcels of life, most can realise and appreciate its benefits and advantages compared to traditional learning formats. It is so impressive how the instructors can adapt their teaching methods to keep the students engaged and excited throughout the class. 

The pandemic also popularised the usage of some great tools such as Slack to help enhance a virtual classroom environment. I believe even as in-person classes can resume, both teachers and learners will continue to appreciate the flexibility of a hybrid arrangement.

 

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?

There have definitely been strategic shifts that resulted from the recent changes. We’ve transitioned all in-person events and workshops to online and on top of that, expanded our strategies to incorporate greater digital and content marketing. The benefit of running events virtually is that we can maximise the value of the content generated by using it for other platforms like our blog, social media, and more. Allowing industry experts to share their knowledge through multiple platforms continue to provide value to our audience. 

Diversifying our marketing approaches will also allow us to work smarter as we have more access to data around what is and isn’t working, and then channel our efforts and resources on the winning strategies.

As for the next few years, I envision the strategy shifting towards more content-based marketing and data analytics to find new target markets who are ready for reskilling and upskilling.

 

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

Beginning my career in the startup world helped me learn to be agile and to embrace the growth mindset. Jumping into any and all projects made me appreciate how important it is to continuously be learning and growing. No matter what type of company you work for, I would always advise young marketers to insert themselves into as many different projects as possible. 

In the tech world where things are constantly changing, you’ll never know all there is to know, so don’t be scared of working on new things and figuring it out as you go. And for any specific skills you might need, General Assembly is here to help! (Shameless plug) 

Another piece of advice that I know is common but extremely important, is to find a mentor. It sometimes can feel awkward or forced, but having people you can rely on to support your career can make a huge difference. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and reach out to people you look up to. 

 

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

Feel free to add me on LinkedIn, and learn more about General Assembly online. Make sure to check out some of the amazing events our team is working on!

Variety and diversity of digital marketing experience coupled with a strong head for numbers and finance sound like the perfect recipe for a successful marketing career. And it is. As we’ve seen throughout the Marketing Experts Series, digital marketers come in all shapes and sizes – from all walks of life and all sorts of backgrounds and education.

Minh Hien To is no exception.

With experience stretching across Australia, the UK and Singapore, Minh currently heads up marketing for Snaphunt. Join us for this issue of the Marketing Experts Series and learn more about how she and Snaphunt not only navigated the changes and challenges of the last few years, but came out thriving.


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

 Thanks for having me! And what a question to start us off! 😄

I am very lucky to have found my passion for marketing quite early on. I feel like there are two different sides to my brain. On one hand, I have always been good with numbers: I’m obsessed with analytics and problem-solving. On the other hand, I’m a storyteller: I love conceptualising and bouncing off ideas with people and eventually figuring out how to make that idea a reality. I studied Marketing and Finance at university and at the time they felt like completely unrelated fields. In retrospect, they are in fact very complementary to what I specialize in today, which is Digital Marketing.

I started my career in traditional marketing in an FMCG firm where I had the opportunities to be part of a spectrum of traditional marketing channels from visual merchandising, events, TV sponsorships, to newspapers and radio campaigns. Around 2014, when digital marketing was gaining momentum, I gained a great deal of hands-on experience from launching a new website and running my first Google and Facebook Ads with a big project I was spearheading. That was when I caught the curiosity bug and decided to delve deeply into Digital Marketing and make it my focus.

Looking at your career, you’ve worked in a variety of different industries over the years. How have your experiences evolved over the length of your career?

That same sense of curiosity and eagerness to learn which got me into digital marketing has led me to where I am today. I now have almost a decade of experience under my belt across Australia, UK and Singapore, working with some of the most innovative brands. I have also gone from FMCG and Retail to eCommerce to Technology. One thing that hasn’t changed though is my genuine enjoyment for what I do. As the Digital Marketing landscape continues to rapidly evolve, I get to try new tools and figure out better and more effective ways to do everything from SEO, Content, social, CRM to paid advertising. And yes, I’m still very obsessed with analysing metrics to optimize exposure and conversions while getting better value for our bucks.

I also believe that the ability to apply and transfer your skills and to adapt to different industries becomes increasingly important as we get further into our careers. I’m always up for a challenge – with every brand that I work with, I have always been invested in the brand story and found a way to relate to the customer persona. Once I’ve cracked that, soaking up information about the industries became a lot easier – it’s like once you have a sturdy foundation, you can always build on it layer-by-layer.

Is there a particular career experience that stands out for you? A project you enjoyed most or a challenge you’re glad to have faced?

I had the pleasure of working with 8020 Ventures which is an incubator for industry-first brands including Bootea, Third living, Cocowhite and Sneak Energy. It was a thrilling experience leading an in-house marketing team that acts like an agency, in a start-up environment! Each brand had its unique target market, a completely different tone of voice and strategies which meant that we had to be super organised, but also agile to be able to jump on opportunities and activate campaigns all year round. So no two days were the same and it was an amazing and stimulating playbox for any marketer! I was also able to experiment a lot with various channels from podcast advertising to gaming influencer marketing and target niche audiences from socially conscious millennials to hard-core gamers. I’m also super proud of what we achieved with such young brands in such a short amount of time, not only in terms of revenue but also brand loyalty and international reach.

Currently, you’re the Head of Marketing for Snaphunt. Tell us about Snaphunt and the work that you do there as the Head of Marketing.

Snaphunt is a leading remote hiring platform that helps companies find and hire the right talent for their teams, anywhere in the world. What has really drawn me to this role from the very beginning is the opportunity to make an impact at scale. With what we’re doing at Snaphunt, we give job seekers the chance to accelerate their careers internationally and the flexibility to choose the best job for them, no matter where they are based. At the same time, we’re helping employers reach their business goals by hiring A-players from their teams and removing the geographical boundaries when it comes to recruiting for talent.

As the Head of Marketing, I am in charge of both B2B and B2C marketing. My ultimate goal is to:

  1. Raise brand awareness and attract candidates and employers to the platform,
  2. Build the customer acquisition funnel and pipeline, and
  3. Drive customer engagement from both audiences. We do these through a range of organic and paid channels, from content generation, SEO, social media to partnerships.

I can imagine that the Pandemic has impacted how Snaphunt and its competitors have had work – has COVID-19 impacted your marketing strategies?

Funny story! I had worked at Snaphunt for exactly 4 weeks before the world went into lockdown. As a tech startup that depends on hiring, this changed everything!

There were a lot of uncertainties in the world which led us to take a supportive approach with our marketing instead of an aggressive sales approach. It came down to how we could bring value to our target audiences, build connections and help them navigate through this turbulent time. We hosted webinars for job seekers to guide them through the virtual hiring process, and guide managers on leading from home for instance. We also leaned more heavily on organic channels and partnerships rather than paid advertising to nurture leads until the market picked up.

Do you feel that there has been a change in the demand or need for hiring platforms like Snaphunt?

Definitely! I think the world had already been moving towards digitalisation prior to the pandemic but we certainly accelerated that process drastically over the last 2 years.

When it comes to the world of work, our perception of how work is done has completely changed and we’re seeing companies and people choosing remote work as a permanent option going forward.

Companies are a lot more comfortable with hiring virtually or remotely and it’s now a candidate-short market where companies need to expand their pool in order to find the right talent quickly. There’s definitely momentum that has built and we are seeing that traction first hand at Snaphunt. Last year we hit 10x growth and we are now helping thousands of companies hire remote and onsite talent in 90 countries.

Do you think we’ll be seeing more developments for hiring and recruitment platforms and their strategies as the world adapts to new normals?

With the opportunity of remote work, there are tools that help with not only hiring and employing global talent but also in employee productivity and engagement. There is also a lot of synergy that can be created between brands to provide end-users with comprehensive solutions to solve their problems.

How do you think this will impact your marketing strategies at Snaphunt?

I believe what we created and are offering at Snaphunt is pretty unique. We are riding on the waves of not only last year’s amazing growth but also the remote work momentum. On top of that, we’ve built an audience in APAC, which is arguably one of the world’s best tech and digital talent hubs.

This gives us the confidence to explore new channels for marketing to draw in new audiences while ramping up our customer engagement and retention strategies to ensure we communicate our values clearly and quickly to drive conversions.

Many marketers have reported a lasting impact on their lives and careers, how has the pandemic affected you personally and professionally?

As I mentioned, professionally, the pandemic impacted literally everything I do for work and navigating it continues to be a fun (and sometimes stressful) rollercoaster.

Personally, I really appreciated the reset. Working from home means I’m saving so much time from commuting, I’m also eating better because I can prepare my food daily and I can work from anywhere.

And finally, any advice you’d give to young and aspiring marketers? 

Stay open and continue to pick up new skills. There are so many aspects to marketing that it can be a little overwhelming at the beginning. And you don’t know what you don’t know! There are many online courses out there but I found I learn best when dealing with practical problems. So keep at it and give everything a go!

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

You can hit me up on LinkedIn – I’m always up for a chat or a virtual coffee/tea!


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.

 

 

In the marketing sector there’s a lot of overlap between roles, from marketing outreach initiatives to active business development strategies. Many marketers find their way into their roles through varying pathways. The thing with marketing is that it takes a certain skillset – communication with one’s audience, clear descriptions of products or services, etc. – that can be developed a variety of ways.

Joining us for this issue of the Marketing Expert Series is one such marketer. Pei Khoek is an experienced marketer and business development specialist. In this issue of the Series, Pei takes us through her journey, starting out as a journalist to her work now as business development consultant and marketer.


Hi, Pei, 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 love to tell stories; my first job is a feature journalist in Sin Chew Media Corporation. I was with Sin Chew for 6 years, my last position there as Personal Assistant to Executive Director.

I developed an interest in marketing when I was working alongside the Executive Director, who was managing several departments including Marketing Dept. The marketing activities fascinated me. To me, a marketing campaign is a series of story-telling activities that is creative and innovative. I want to learn more about marketing and its strategy for a successful marketing campaign. Once a day, my boss came to me and showed me a postgraduate students recruitment advertisement, next thing I know is, I was on the flight to Scotland for a marketing postgraduate course.

I didn’t work in marketing after I return from Scotland. When Cense Media (now OOGA X) started Kupikupifm – the first Sabahan community radio station was established, the founders invited me to join the team & be the Marketing Manager for the radio station. That’s officially my first marketing role. One year later they started CITYPlus – the first Chinese Business Radio Station in Malaysia, and my responsibilities expanded.

I spent 3 years with Kupikupifm & CITYPlus, it was challenging, yet fun. We have a bit more freedom to do things unconventionally and get to experiment with some of our ideas. Some works, some failed, but the experience and the teamwork are priceless.

I left the radio stations to explore something else, but now I am back with the radios.

You’ve been involved in marketing and business development roles for many years, what was it that attracted you to these roles?

What I like about marketing and business development are the challenges, and opportunities those challenges bring to you. I am attracted by the creativity I see in many international marketing campaigns, those ideas!

To promote a new product, to enter a new market is challenging, every breakthrough we seek in an existing market with existing products is even more challenging. Those challenges are priceless learning processes for me, they have shaped me to become who I am today. I have to be honest that I am not a very creative person, you need the creativity to design a good marketing strategy, but I have been involved in many ideations processes, strategies meetings, and I must say, teamwork always works the best.

Is there a specific thing you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy the learning. Marketing and business development is constantly evolving, especially now in the era of digital marketing. I still remember when I learn about marketing 12 years ago, we are still talking about in-store sales events, newspaper advertising etc. Google SEO was new and upcoming. Now, Google is almost in everything we do, social media is more powerful than traditional media, KOLs are more influencing than a country leader.

I enjoy the challenge because every challenge brings new learning. It can really drain your brain to run a successful campaign. So, be innovative to achieve the result you want. That’s probably the reason I always take up a new role in a new industry, for learning and self-improvement.

Currently, you’re the Business Development Consultant at OOGA X. Please tell us about OOGA X and the work you do there.

The OOGA X brand is a holistic and complete communications platform that embodies our aspirations to be the ultimate media ecosystem partner in our (ever-growing) sphere of engagement. The O.O.G.A acronym itself stands for ONLINE, OFFLINE, ON- GROUND and ON-AIR. The “X” serves to remind us that our horizons and potential are limitless. The OOGA X brand represents an ecosystem that is built on multimedia and communications platforms that are beyond just radio or, audio alone.

Currently, I am helping OOGA X in hirings and restructuring the revenue team. We are a small team developing busin

ess opportunities with a different external partner, more than half of the team is new and never have media experience. Although there are challenges, I find that we are able to think out of the ‘media ads’ box because we are from different backgrounds. I enjoy seeing the team grow and bring results to what we are doing.

OOGA X owns Kupikupifm & CITYPlus, our on-air products are quite complete. As we said earlier, OOGA X is designed to be a holistic & complete communications platform, in 2nd half of 2021 we started to work with external business partners on developing more products and services for online, offline and on-ground, and I can’t wait to introduce the new products in 2022.

In 2020, you also founded Indeed Pilates. What drove you to start up a new company in the middle of the pandemic and why Pilates? How did you overcome the challenges?

I love Pilates. I am a certified Pilates instructor and have been teaching Pilates in my free time for some years. Before the pandemic, I have a Facebook group that I share Pilates videos with my clients, to encourage them to exercise every day, that Facebook group is called ‘Pilates Everyday’.

During the pandemic, fitness centres were operating on and off, many people’s fitness routines is being disrupted. It affects their health, physically and mentally. Hence, besides sharing Pilates videos on Pilates Everyday Facebook group, I started to conduct online classes for some clients, to keep them active.

After the first MCO, Yen Nee, who is also a certified instructor, my now business partner in Indeed Pilates and I met up for a coffee, and we ended up with an idea of creating an online Pilates website for people to practice Pilates whenever they want, wherever they are. A few months after that coffee session, we launched Indeed Pilates.

There were a few challenges, the greatest one is to change people’s habit of wanting physical classes. When we first had this idea of creating a Pilates website with on-demand workout videos and live online classes, I did a quick survey among my clients, only a small percentage of regular gymgoers are open to attending classes online, and most of them are reluctant to pay for on-demand workout videos. Because you can watch many free workout videos on YouTube, why pay?

To overcome that, we package our online classes and video-on-demand service in one subscription plan. Our core idea is to work out whenever and wherever. Before we can get people to change their habits, if we sell the video-on-demand service separately, no one will subscribe. Hence, we package it with online classes to allow clients access to the videos as an added value service.

We ran a social media campaign focusing on the importance of certified instructors and exercise whenever, wherever. The campaign objective was to educate people on knowing the instructor’s qualifications and to own a flexible workout hour. We also ran another campaign that gave free videos and classes access to 100 medical frontliners, to show our appreciation to the frontliners because many of them have back pain due to long working hours during the pandemic.

We received positive results from those campaigns, and some feedback too. When the lockdown continued in 2021, we increased online classes from 4 classes to 8 classes per week while maintaining an upload of 2 new workout videos weekly. I must say that we are lucky, the third lockdown helped the growth of Indeed Pilates because, after 2 MCOs, people are becoming used to attending online classes and workout at home. Even when fitness centres are fully operating now, there are people who have already been converted to online classes because they find it more convenient and time-saving.

We understand that to grow the business, we need to offer more services. When Selangor entered phase 4 of the national recovery plan, we started to conduct a monthly physical Pilates workshop for knowledge sharing and hands-on adjustments during workouts. We received encouraging business growth with that move.

In Jan 2022, we have a certified Yoga Instructor on board, adding 4 yoga classes to the online class schedule. We still upload 2 new Pilates workout videos weekly, but the number of classes increases to 12 online classes per week. Currently, we have more than 90 Pilates workout videos listed on the Indeed Pilates website, all by certified instructors, free access to Indeed Pilates’s members.

Pei in Bentong with CITYPlus team

Now, aside from your day job and Indeed Pilates, I understand that you’re involved in charity work. Can you share something about PeopleStories and what the charity does exactly?

I started to volunteer in PeopleStories in 2021, contributing my time and skill as a member of PeopleStories marketing & fundraising team.

PeopleStories is a 4 years old charitable organization that helps children in the Bakong district of rural Cambodia to access to schools. Besides scholarships, PeopleStories also give bicycles to students, to provide easier access to school. By 2021, PeopleStories started working on the Smart School Anywhere initiative that aims to bring digital learning to rural Cambodia in 2022.

Why is it so important to have entities like PeopleStories? What role do you see them playing in the future?

Pei in Bentong helping the flood victimsPeopleStoies operates fully on international & local volunteers, and 100% of donations go to fund education programs. It is a young charity passionate in creating greater access to education in rural Cambodia.

I am impressed by the result they achieved. The founder Victoria is fully committed to PeopleStories program, and she dreams big for better education for children in rural Cambodia. For the determination and genuine heart that she has, I believe PeopleStories is able to improve education quality, reduce school drop-off rate in Bakong, because I have seen PeopleStories latest initiative – Smart School Anywhere 3 years plan, it is developed and managed by a group of professionals from different countries; I am moved by the new STEM For Girls initiative – it is a scholarship to support girls in pursuing STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math); I have read inspiring & encouraging stories about the local students, they are hungry for knowledge and they too, dream big.

In 2022, you can help a student to have a bike to ride to school at USD60, or support a student’s education fee at USD25 per month – Pei Khoek • PeopleStories SchoolForLife 2022 (raisely.com)

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

I want to go on a pub crawl in Munich or a whisky distilleries tour in Scotland. I miss my friends in Europe and I really would like to spend time with them again. I have a 1-year-old niece whom I haven’t met yet, she is the cutest little creature on the planet, I am dying to cuddle her close.

I used to travel a lot before the pandemic, I will definitely travel again when the pandemic is over.

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

If you want to be a successful marketer, you need to be creative & innovative, at the same time master in data analytics skills and be result orientated. Be open to new learnings, new concepts, new ideas. Always try something new in everything you do. Be persistent and resilient. Be a team player.

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

Thank you too. People are welcome to contact me via Linkedin I am happy to take questions and open to collaboration ideas.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

People can always connect with me on LinkedIn.

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