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Main Feature Marketing Southeast Asia

MARKETECH Mondays feat. Singapore Institute of Technology’s deputy director for corporate communications, Royson Poh

For this episode of MARKETECH Mondays, our feature showcasing marketing leaders’ career journey to inspire the next generation of marketers, we sat down with Royson Poh, the deputy director for corporate communications of the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT). Royson has held the position since 2018 and no one would have imagined that with such an esteemed role in communications, Royson actually had his start as a credit analyst at a credit bureau.

The turning point was when within the said analyst job, a supervisor had challenged Royson to take on a responsibility meant for sales which became the spark for him to transition beyond his initial chosen profession. 

Since then, Royson forayed to roles in business development, and for his very first marketing position, he managed the advocacy & outreach efforts of the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) in Singapore. Today at SIT, Royson helms the corporate communications department where he watches over the university’s brand research, web, and social media efforts.

Watch the full interview with Royson on our YouTube channel

Royson’s very first campaign

Royson cut his teeth in campaign management when he was working at SPD. His very first campaign was a national IT literacy program for persons with disabilities with Singapore’s Infocomm Accessibility Centre. 

The campaign’s objective was to drive awareness and registrations for the said national IT training program. Royson shares that this was right at the point where Facebook had just become part of the marketing mix. 

I recall creating my own FB account, testing posts, and figuring out how I could use Facebook to achieve my campaign objectives.

On first marketing campaign

Fast forward to today where digital is now held at a premium, Royson’s leadership at SIT includes heading the school’s web communications and social media efforts. Royson shares in the MARKETECH Mondays interview that he sees his current role as becoming an advocate for digital media, serving as the middle man between on-the-ground social media specialists and senior management. 

“The leadership of the university is typically [going to] be a little bit more senior, [and] they may not be that familiar with social media and digital channels; so for me, I am the middle man working with the folks on the ground who know the channel and the technology [as well as] the agencies who are the specialists, and then kind [of] lobbying for that support or rationalizing with management and getting the buy-in,” shared Royson.

Royson entered SIT in 2014 and was first the assistant director for corporate communications prior to being elevated to the deputy director role. As assistant director, Royson was already responsible for the university’s online branding, communications, and reputation across web and social media. Meanwhile, rising through the ranks, the higher directorial position had him delivering the university’s first digital-led brand campaign which was conceptualized to address specific insights from brand research.

How a banking background helped Royson transition to marketing 

Royson admits that although quite distant, having had his beginning as a credit analyst served as a big help in helping him understand the demands of a marketing job, which has now grown to include data, analytics, and measurement at its heart. 

“[Like] many students, I studied what I was good at, and I was good with numbers. And so I took a banking major, and started working in the finance industry,” shared Royson. 

Obviously now speaking with more expertise and deep insight into the industry, Royson said that while marketing used to be a very subjective field, data has now become a very important part of marketing now involving analytics, web traffic, and social media metrics. 

I think for the young people who are entering the industry and the digital age, they will never realize that marketing used to be a very subjective field. You had a lot of creative types, people working with designs…but that has slowly gone away. I mean that is still a skill set that you need, but data has become very very important.

On how marketing has moved from being subjective to being data-driven

As deputy director for SIT, Royson actually developed a brand management framework alongside producing the first quantitative measure of the university’s brand equity.

Royson said, “The numbers part of the work has really helped me. I see a lot of common skillsets [between] finance [and] marketing especially in the area of data analytics to be able to digest and look at numbers and direct marketing efforts from there. That has been a common thread across my career,” said Royson.

On leadership: “Everyone needs a sense of role and purpose in the team.”

Entering SIT in 2014, Royson was assistant director for corporate communications for four years, where in 2018, he was appointed to his current role of deputy director. 

As a marketing leader, Royson strongly believes in entrusting a team member a specific role by which the person can grow with and eventually gain mastery of.

Everyone needs a sense of role and purpose in the team. They need to come to work knowing that ‘everyone is counting on me’ for this part of the work.

On leadership

Royson compares his preferred approach to the usual rotational work setup. He shares that while this is the way to be in many creative setups, where there is a ‘special assignment’ method and people get assigned to projects, he still believes in the positive result of charging someone a focused role.

“I think that if someone knows what they’re uniquely good at, and they have been entrusted that role, they will come back to work every day [having] a purpose, and they’re motivated.”

Royson adds, “My approach to leadership is really to be very clear about responsibilities, creating roles for individuals, trusting them to do it well, and encouraging them to give them that sense of purpose and that belonging in the team.”

For the new generation of marketers: Keep learning and re-learning 

As a marketer part of the generation that was at the cusp of traditional and digital marketing, Royson shares that it’s very important to never stop learning and to add to one’s experience and knowledge as this is the way to be at par with the ever-evolving industry of marketing. 

It’s very important to have this ability to keep learning and re-learning amid fast-evolving technological advancements in marketing.

On advice for budding marketers

Aside from this overarching view on marketing, Royson also shares his advice on dealing with day to day challenges of the job.

He shared that throughout his career, he learned that sometimes, there is a need to be able to say no and to be able to do that in a professional and mature way, and in a way that delivers value to the organization.

“The biggest challenge of my career is learning how to analyze something critically and having that skill to be able to deliver [an opinon] in a professional and non-confrontational way that would help to complete the final product.”

Royson said that in marketing, it’s important to find a way to express diverse opinions in order to successfully co-create as a team.

Also, his very simple advice, but one that’s equally crucial in the cutthroat world of marketing: becoming your biggest ally and supporter. 

“We face a lot of criticisms in a marketing profession so it’s important to be your biggest supporter and all,” he said.

Ultimately, Royson to the aspiring marketers, “You will never know everything that you need to know [in marketing], you just have to keep figuring it out as you go along.”

Listen to the full podcast of the interview with Royson on Spotify:

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Main Feature Marketing Partners APAC

MARKETECH Mondays feat. PSB Academy’s assistant VP for marketing, Jovan Lin

A veteran of the education industry, we sat down with Jovan Lin, the current assistant vice president for marketing of PSB Academy, to get to know more about the career journey and the leadership of a marketing head in the higher education sector.

Jovan may have spent more than a decade in the industry, but one wouldn’t imagine where he actually began his professional career – in construction. Through a combination of having the right opportunity and making the best of it, Jovan’s career in marketing soon took off. 

He started out as a student recruitment officer and a sales manager for academies that focused on providing IT and psychology education respectively. His transition was something of a slow but sure process, where he gradually took on marketing functions before fully foraying as a marketer. 

Watch the full interview with Jovan on our YouTube channel

From managing projects in construction to crafting campaigns

Recalling his days in the construction line as his first step into the professional world, he shares that at the time, he had to drive the company’s lorry to fetch workers to sites and coordinate tasks under the sun and the rain, and this is all the while attending his part-time degree classes all sweaty and smelly. 

It was until Jovan got the opportunity to enter the education industry that he realized it’s the job fit that determines if you can attain some level of success. 

From recruitment and sales roles, he gradually went on to becoming a full-fledged marketing manager at Kaplan Singapore. Before finally landing his position at PSB Academy Jovan had also become the head of product marketing of Management Development Institute of Singapore. 

Jovan shared that more than anything, his initial stages in sales as a recruitment officer are what laid the foundation for him to become the marketer he is today. For him, his biggest mentor had been the marketing director that helped him fully realize his marketer role, Emily Han. 

“I was there on the ground talking to prospective students, their parents, and that’s where I had the common understanding of what [the needs], the [desires], and wants of prospective students [are]. I think that really helped me in my campaigns and try to create content that really resonates with [the] target audience,” said Jovan in the MARKETECH Mondays interview.

The crucial moment [in my career] was my ex-boss who took a risk on me to take me into a full-fledged marketing role, so that really transformed my career to which I’m fortunate to stick by.

On his mentor Emily Han

Jovan remembers the campaign that really had an impact on him during the early years of his marketing career, making him realize how far he is from the knowledge and skills needed for the job. 

Jovan had to create an online lead generation campaign and went through the usual process of working with a creative agency to develop the assets and creating the campaign brief. When the ads were launched and when he was served the ad on Google network and was beaming with joy as he shared it with his boss. 

Interestingly, Jovan shared what happened next, “She replied, good work but you probably [have] seen it because you were retargeted! After which I thought, why should I be seeing this ad when I am not even considered a relevant target audience for this course?” 

Since then, through this quite naive experience, Jovan began to explore deeper the context of performance marketing, things such as creating audience lists for exclusion, and also relying on first-party data to create more relevant reach.

“I wouldn’t say this is the first campaign, but it is one that I still laughed at myself, but it is sort of an important milestone that shaped my principles and beliefs on marketing,” said Jovan.

As a marketing leader: “I have to trust myself in order for me trust my colleagues”

As the current assistant vice president for marketing at PSB Academy, Jovan oversees the full marketing and implementing strategies that align with the business direction. 

As a leader, Jovan’s main philosophy is putting trust in the team. Jovan believes that at the end of the day, everyone makes mistakes and that working harmoniously among the team means succeeding and learning from mistakes together.

I have to trust myself obviously in order for me to know and translate that trust to my colleagues.

On leadership

Jovan’s definition of successes and failures also evolved as he grew both in life and career. He speaks of metrics for success, and how these have gradually changed from something tangible such as target number of leads and then slowly changing to subsequent metrics such as quality of said leads as he gains more knowledge and skill set. 

But Jovan says that as you grow with times, you’ll find that they are indeed important measures that define the level of business success, but that there is also a much more valuable impact amid marketing to students, one that is slightly less tangible. 

“What matters to me right now is what [social] impact I can deliver to my peers, my colleagues, and even to a certain extent, the students,” said Jovan.

He adds, “When you see certain students going through the education system, and [until] they [graduate], you kinda feel there is this self-achievement, and [you think], there must have been certain things you’ve done in marketing that influenced that choice.”

Jovan on pandemic-induced shifts: a time to shape the future of education

With the education industry worldwide taking a hit from the drastic changes brought by the pandemic, Jovan believes that the biggest question of all is what would the future of education now look like. 

Will online classes now be the norm? Shall students go back to the traditional face-to-face classes when nations recover, or must it be hybrid now? 

The challenge right now for every educational institution is how to look beyond this pandemic for the future of education.

On the challenge of higher education institutions amid the pandemic

He also emphasizes that digital today is seeing great transformation taking in all forms and shapes and at a very fast speed due to the pandemic. 

Jovan believes that we may not have all the answers right, but it also spells an exciting time to redefine the future of education.

“We are in an exciting [time] as I see this period as the moment that may shape the future of education.” 

Jovan to aspiring marketers: “Marketing is forever changing”

With more than a decade of experience under his belt, Jovan has some advice for those who wish to enter and succeed in the marketing industry, and he breaks them into two: marketing as a profession and marketing as an attitude. 

First and foremost, he puts out the most important truth of all, and what serves as the umbrella for all relevant principles in the profession, and that is “Marketing is forever changing.” 

As a profession, Jovan says that data is now the name of the game. A lot of technological advancements have emerged when the digital age saw its birth, and now, long gone are the days of who has the biggest print ad or newspaper ad. 

“Obviously with more tools, data plays a very important role and as marketers, we need to be data-savvy, we need to be able to make sense of data, [and] this is a critical skill set that marketers should invest in,” says Jovan. 

However, with more and more platforms, tools, and solutions made available for advertisers, it is easy to get into the trap of chasing one’s own tail because you would want to chase the next big thing in marketing. With this, Jovan says it’s important to not lose sight of the fundamental principles of marketing, and that is placing the consumer at the heart of your strategy and making sure content is developed with their specific needs and behavior in mind. 

At the end of the day, marketing is really about engaging your audience or customers. Whatever we do, we have to place them at the heart of all things.

On his advice to aspiring marketers

Jovan adds, “Just ask yourself, what do you think your audience wants to see or read or hear, and then from then on, how do you actually create a journey and experience you feel that your audience would be able to engage and enjoy.” 

Now when it comes to attitude, Jovan admits that he himself has not maintained a positive mindset consistently for the past 10 years of being a marketer. 

He says what’s important is “possessing the right attitude to allow you to approach your work the right way.”

Being a marketer is a journey, you [will be] [experiencing] ups and downs. Nobody can win all the time, and when you fail, I think that is when you learn.

Jovan says to those who wish to enter and make a name in marketing

Ultimately he says, “Continuously be open to critics because they will never go away, be open to suggestions as well, and continue to work hard and smart.”

Listen to the full podcast of the interview with Jovan on Spotify:

This interview was done in partnership with Siteimprove. Siteimprove is a global SaaS solution that helps organizations achieve their digital potential by empowering their teams with actionable insights to deliver a superior website experience and drive growth. 

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Marketing Featured South Asia

New ad by India-based EdTech bares the ‘intimidated’ parents in the face of new gen education

Mumbai, India – Most of the time, ad campaigns in the education sector focus on the children or students as part of their messaging. After all, they’re the main stakeholder of education providers, and parents as decision makers would want to know what the school has in store for them. 

One India-based EdTech solution provider, LEAD, which aims to disrupt the education landscape in the country is also breaking the norm when it comes to promoting educational services. 

In collaboration with creative agency TBWA\India, LEAD has released a TVC that puts the spotlight on parents rather than children. In the ad, we see a young mom and dad having an intimate conversation and baring their sentiments about harbored feelings of jealousy towards the wide exposure their child is getting, specifically through a LEAD Powered School. 

LEAD

LEAD, which has presence in over 400 districts in India, offers EdTech solutions for both parents and schools. For parents, it has developed a LEAD Parent-Student app where parents can monitor and accompany their children in learning sessions. The EdTech has also been partnering with schools to make their institutions ‘LEAD powered’ by integrating its innovative curriculum that puts a premium on English and coding skills. 

According to both TBWA\India and LEAD, parents’ view on the newer modes of academic instruction has long been an unexplored insight in communication. A progressive educational landscape inevitably requires progressive parenting and this poses a challenge to parents. 

LEAD’s CMO Anupam Gurani commented, “Growing up, I have witnessed how my parents wanted to provide me with better education but limited opportunities always posed a restriction. Now as a parent, I echo a similar feeling for my child. With our first ever PAN India campaign, we want to reach out to all those parents who are looking to provide better school education to their child but have felt constrained due to lack of options.” 

Gurani adds, “LEAD Powered Schools [solve this] by providing International standard education in small town India, which is our core market. The underlying thought of the campaign is based on a beautiful insight tapping the emotion of how every successive generation of parents wants to give more to their children and in the process learn from them.”

Furthermore, both the agency and LEAD said that the film reflects an often side-swept result of witnessing the significant shift to new ways of schooling and this is the adaptation of parents which at times bring to the surface their unfulfilled desire of the interactive and innovative methods in education that is present today.

“[This is] a clear departure from the old, lecture-based passive modes of teaching and learning that the parents were used to growing up,” both said in a press statement. 

The execution of the film was helmed by acclaimed Director Nitesh Tiwari and he commented, “The ad film captures a parents’ perspective of how a LEAD Powered School is imparting interactive and enriching education, both at school and at home. I admire the brand’s vision of transforming conventional schooling in India.”

Parixit Bhattacharya, the managing partner of TBWA\India, also candidly said, “We often joke about being jealous of our kids because of the exposure they have in a world that is markedly different from the time we were kids. Though universal rules of child rearing still apply, today’s parents are dealing with an entirely new playing field. And the pressure to choose wisely is heavy.”

Meanwhile, TBWA\India’s CEO Govind Pandey, commented, “LEAD has a noble social mission to provide excellence in education to all. This commercial recognizes the role of hardworking progressive parents in the middle India of tier 2 and tier 3 as the real heroes who despite the odds of their generation have made something of themselves and now have the exposure and the determination to know the difference the right school education can make and do not want to compromise in that. Even more so in these uncertain and turbulent times.”

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

This PH NGO’s latest campaign encourages failing students to rediscover their love for learning

Manila, Philippines – In an attempt to break the norm of failing grades equates to the end line of learning, Philippine-baed educational non-government organization Silid Aralan, Inc. (SAI) has partnered with local-based independent creative agency GIGIL to launch a new campaign to encourage academically-challenged students to rediscover their love for learning.

Titled ‘75under75’, the campaign encourages students who have a grade line of 75 and below to join their Ground Zero Program, an educational strategy that customizes their education to their passions, hobbies, and learning style, as well as immerse in supplemental learning methodologies that make underachievers excellent in school.

‘75under75’ draws comparison to well-known lists like from Forbes and Fortune where they publish their most influential and impactful achievers under the age of 40 and so on. For SAI, they would like to focus their resources on helping low-performing public school students, who are the bulk of the student population.

For SAI Founder and Chief Motivation Officer Arcie G. Mallari, uplifting the lives of children and their families requires “malasakit” and excellence. “Poor performing students, especially those who are from underprivileged communities, must be empowered to become not only achievers in school but more importantly productive citizens of our nation,” said Mallari. 

He explained that when education stakeholders work together, transformation in the lives of students happen. 

“Working with children, parents and partners for more than 10 years taught us the importance of having a common goal and of continuously innovating the way we implement our programs,” Mallari added.

As the submission of entries ended last 12 May, the students will be selected to a final list of 75 by a board of judges composed of: Diosdado M. San Antonio, DepEd undersecretary for curriculum and development; Ivan Henares, assistant professor at the University of the Philippines; and Reynaldo Antonio Laguda, president at Philippine Business for Social Progress.

Various individuals from the private sector will also join in the board of judges as well, from Smart Telecommunications, ABS-CBN and Monark Equipment.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

PH telecom Smart partners with Edukasyon.ph for student digital reach tools

Manila, Philippines – Philippines’ wireless communication services provider Smart Communications announced its recent partnership with local education startup Edukasyon.ph to provide a wider reach of educational tools for students attending their online classes.

Through the #LearnSmart initiative, students may now engage in other online learning activities and initiatives such as Smart Pal for online counseling for students, Smart Sessions for webinars and other in-depth topic exploration such as Smart Start for online training and courses for graduating students, Smart Move for case competitions, and Super Smart for online quiz competitions.

For Jane J. Basas, SVP and head of consumer wireless business at Smart, the latest initiative is on par with the company’s goal of bridging the digital learning gap brought by the “new normal” through learning tool accessibility.

“Our education initiatives at Smart seek to cushion the impact of the shift to distance and online learning necessitated by the global health crisis,” Basas stated.

On the other hand, Henry Motte-Muñoz, founder of Edukasyon.ph, stated that the platform’s establishment is focused on helping students be guided in their course choice.

“We built our platform because the youth often have limited awareness of opportunities they can pursue, or lack guidance on how to navigate their path from education to career. With the added challenges of the new normal, we’re grateful for this partnership with Smart, which enables us to engage students in a fresh and exciting way, to help them get ahead,” he stated.