Singapore – Brands are now realising the importance of building communities to build greater relationships with their customers outside of the traditional way of customer retention. Communities are a helpful way for brands to get a deeper understanding of their consumer base. The question is: in a commercially-driven event, how do you monetise such a community organically?

This is what Sophie Ahmed, Senior Vice President of Market Strategy at Hubilo, discussed during her fireside chat in the recently-concluded webinar hosted by MARKETECH APAC and Hubilo.

In the conversation, Sophie explains that a 365 community is a meeting place where all of the brand’s community can come together to do business, meet, network, learn and to feel part of something bigger. Using the example of book and school clubs, she says that a community established is to belong to something, and taps into the tribal part of someone.

“Any brand that can use events to build their leads and grow their business can keep their event alive 365 days. By providing a single sign on access to this community of prospects, customers and partners, they will be able to get greater insight into their behaviours and on a deeper, more emotional level,” she explained.

Sophie noted in the chat that there are two ways to consider when monetising an event: either use it to build growth and indirect revenue, or do it under a subscription model. She notes that in executing these revenue models, brands need to ensure their customers are being offered perks and other advocacy-driven updates in order to retain them in the longer run.

“Within the community, you can have smaller meetups, focus groups, customer workshops, tier it, gate it, host on-demand content [amongst other things] and then have a larger annual event,” she added.

Furthermore, when asked about how these 365 communities allow commercially-driven events to be more personalised, Sophie explained that brands need to use insights from their customer base to decide how an event is oriented to be personalised and deemed effective for a content marketing strategy.

“So you can watch their behaviour, also temperature check their feeling towards your brand and what the market is like. You can now spot industry trends earlier and translate this into how you then personalise their experience at your master event and also pre and post-event messaging, so it resonates,” she said.

Want to learn more about what Sophie has to say in regards to kickstarting your 365 community? Explore how an event tech company can become a partner in your journey. Watch the on-demand webinar here.

The webinar, with the theme ‘What’s NEXT 2023: Events in Asia Pacific’, also gathered industry leaders to deep dive into what it takes for brands to successfully plan their events. Joining the discussion were Amit Wadhwa, chief executive officer at Dentsu Creative India; Milca Javier, head of marketing at Generali Philippines; and Razlan Manjaji, director of global events at South China Morning Post.

Singapore – In the recently concluded webinar, What’s NEXT 2023: Events in Asia Pacific, marketing leaders from different industries came together in a panel discussion to touch base on event marketing as we move forward from pandemic-induced social restrictions. This was joined by Amit Wadhwa, CEO of Dentsu Creative India; Milca Javier, head of marketing of Generali Philippines; and Razlan Manjaji, director of global events at South China Morning Post. 

Moderated by Sophie Ahmed, the SVP for market strategy at Hubilo, the panel discussion saw the industry leaders agreeing that while the innovation of digital made it possible for brands to continually serve events in the virtual form amidst the pandemic, nothing can replace the engagement brought by in-person events.

“Events were means of physically interacting with the target audience, actually making the brand [be experienced] As senior vice president of marketing, physically. And I think Covid has taught us that nothing can replace that,” said Wadhwa.

“What’s interesting in the times that we’re living in, events…of course it is about physically interacting with the brand, physically interacting with the philosophy of the brand, [and] physically living the brand, but I think, more importantly, the events actually lived much beyond the physical event, the event now can actually [move] to digital,” he added. 

When virtual became the lifeline for events, everyone thought it would now be an either/or situation between virtual and physical. But the sophistication brought by the former just proved that in-person events have just gotten better through it. 

“We all keep talking about how digital is booming, and how that is the new medium to be, but it’s not just creating content for digital,” said Wadhwa. “You can actually do something on-ground and then amplify it digitally.” 

What events are making possible for brands 

Despite the momentum of brand events held back for a period, the ‘show’ must go on for them as it serves many purposes on their engagement, brand message, and consumer retention. 

For Manjaji at SCMP, it is through events that they are able to bring together their most loyal readers and subscribers. 

“[Events are] a platform for us to engage our most loyal readers and most active readers…for you to be participating in an in-person event, those people are really invested in the story and journalism that you tell,” he said.

When consumers, or readers in SCMP’s case, are brought together in one shared space, it follows that the brand is able to engage and get to know its audiences better. 

“If you want to think about First-party data, for example; through events, you’ll get to know readers much, much more. Which event [did] they go [to]…who did they talk to – those data [are] actually gold mine for us, and we start to realise the power of events, virtual and in-person, to collect these data. So for us, we use events for that [purpose],” said Manajaji. 

In terms of events becoming a way to acquire relevant consumer data, Wadhwa agrees. 

“We are getting more and more richer [with] our insights with each event because of the data we’re getting, because of the understanding that we’re getting, which wasn’t the case earlier,” said Wadhwa. 

Meanwhile, for Javier that helms the marketing of insurance brand Generali, what events enable is the communication of the brand’s story and it becoming a platform to help consumers understand the brand purpose beyond the surface level. 

“Insurance, per se, is seen as very serious or very stiff, but events enable us, [provide] us an opportunity to tell our story, or to tell our purpose,” said Javier. 

During the pandemic, that ‘story’ changed for Generali Philippines – moving from the strong focus on the value proposition of ‘prevention’ to now strengthening the communication on ‘protection’, and Javier shared that events are what made it possible for them to transcend their initial branding. 

“Through our events, we are able to transcend that purpose, to transcend that story, and with that, this creates opportunities for us to create the leads,” said Javier. 

How to create events that stand out 

Now that we’re seeing in-person events getting back on its feet, the more important question is, how can brands make their events stand out and resonate well with the audience? 

For Manjaji, the foundation is important and that means continuing to treat content as king.

“[Connecting] the right dots is still fundamental; if you fail to do that, your event will be crap, [doesn’t] matter if you did it in a five-star hotel,” he said. 

Wadhwa, meanwhile, said that most of all, the event must sit right on what the essence of the brand is. 

Citing an example, he shared, “If I think music is entertaining, but music is not something that’s a pillar of my brand or is not connecting to my audience, I don’t just pick up music because it’s just getting popular.” 

“I think it needs to fit the brand philosophy; it might sound fundamental, but [a lot of] times, brands lose track of it. I think we need to bring that back,” he added.

In terms of dealing with specific challenges in event marketing such as a limited budget, Javier also shared her insights. 

For her, it’s all about prioritisation. 

“You know what is far more important [to] you when you create [a certain] event,” she said. 

Using ‘weddings’ as a microcosm for the larger event marketing organisation, she said you would need to think about which comes more important than others, whether that’s having grade A photography or whatnot. She shared that for Generali Philippines for example, they focus on the content they aim to give to the audience, which would mean the lion’s share of the budget goes to acquiring credible speakers.

Lastly, on the importance of curating attention-snaring and impactful events, Wadhwa shares that the event simply has to ‘feel real’ for the intended audience – events becoming a two-way communication. 

“[You] can absolutely make it exciting, [if] it’s through a celebrity, or through [a] performance…but [unless] I see myself in it, and I see myself completely engrossed in it, and I start living the brand, it almost becomes a two-way communication,” he said.

“And the moment it becomes a two-way communication, I think we’ve hit the bull’s eye,” Wahwa added. 

The webinar, What’s NEXT 2023: Events in Asia Pacific, also conducted a fireside chat with Ahmed, who discussed about the 365 community strategy in events. The conversation talked about how the strategy can be monetised and used for further personalisation of brands. 

Register HERE to get your on-demand access. 

Singapore – Last November 3, APAC industry leaders gathered in an industry discussion that talked about the future of event marketing as brands and marketers prepare for 2023. Conducted by MARKETECH APAC, in partnership with events platform Hubilo, ‘What’s NEXT 2023: Events in Asia Pacific’ roped in industry leaders from Dentsu Creative India, Generali Philippines, and South China Morning Post. 

The events industry was one of the worst hit during the pandemic, and now that things are gradually getting back to normal, it’s crucial to take a look at how events have evolved and the new trends that have emerged as it rises from a prolonged halt. 

Kicking off the webinar was a panel discussion graced by Amit Wadhwa, CEO of Dentsu Creative India; Milca Javier, head of marketing at Generali Philippines; and Razlan Manjaji, director of global events at South China Morning Post. Moderated by Sophie Ahmed, SVP for market strategy at Hubilo, the group of leaders talked about the importance and strategy of leveraging event-led communities. Furthermore, the panel touched on the best event engagement strategies that brands can employ. 

Meanwhile, Ahmed who’s had 20 years of industry experience in events and marketing, further shared her insights into strategising events through a fireside chat with MARKETECH APAC’s Regional Editor Shaina Teope

In the conversation, Ahmed shed light on the burgeoning strategy called ‘365 Community’, and discussed how said marketing direction can be monetised and give way for greater personalisation by brands. 

The webinar drew marketing professionals hailing from the industries of media, airlines, financial services, retail, and hospitality, amongst others. Attendees come from the markets of Singapore, Australia, India, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. Furthermore, those who took part represented brands such as ByteDance, CIMB, Crimson Hotel, Foodpanda Malaysia, Malaysia Airlines, MetroMart, Netflix, and Tickled media. 

Teope commented, “We can’t just expect the growth of events to be a one-way, straightforward path. Just because it was the in-person format that we left behind, does not mean we’re simply going back to how it was. Events have been forever changed and this is what this industry discussion is for – to get us back on track and open our eyes to newer innovations and strategies.” 

Register HERE to get your on-demand access to the webinar. 

Creative, brand identity, and automation are just some of the most vital elements within any successfully working marketing strategy and campaign. The first two deal with external execution, while the latter refers to operational efficiency. 

In a rare opportunity that gathered Philippine marketing leaders representing diverse industries, MARKETECH APAC, in partnership with Celtra, delved into a discussion on how brands in the market best approach their marketing strategies in the region. In this discussion, we dived deep into what it takes to deliver high-performing creatives and unique brand identity, while harnessing the power of automation to achieve marketing agility. 

In the industry event which carried the theme, ‘Visual2Vision: Leveraging Creativity As Your #1 Marketing Performance Lever’, marketing heads from brands Cambert (Pilipinas), Inc., Canon Philippines, Cebu Pacific Air, Decathlon Philippines, dentsu Philippines, foodpanda Philippines, Generali Philippines, and L’Oréal Philippines each shared how they are keeping their brands top-of-mind in a period where digital has accelerated the bar for which brands are deemed worthy of support and favorability.

Roundtable Highlights: Watch the PH marketing leaders share the top insights from the discussion

Authenticity at the heart of the marketing creative 

During the discussion, marketing leaders agreed that at the core of any marketing creative is authentic narrative and messaging. Danielle Eleazar, foodpanda’s head of marketing for new verticals in the Philippines, said that it all boils down to authenticity because beyond making sure that any creative asset or communication resonates with the market, the consumer has to ‘understand’ the message.

“As long as that creative consideration lies [in] authenticity, it’s something that really resonates with the consumer,” said Eleazar. 

Canon Philippines’ Anvey Factora and Decathlon Philippines’ Jessica De Leon both echoed the said insight. Factora, Canon’s head of marketing communications, e-commerce and retail, said that amongst others, their topmost consideration on the creative side when launching a marketing campaign is building a strong and authentic narrative. Meanwhile, De Leon, Decathlon’s direct marketing lead, believes that a brand’s creative must be “memorable [and] authentic” with tailored messages based on audiences’ needs. 

Meanwhile, for L’Oréal Philippines’ Chief Digital & Marketing Officer, Isabel Falco, building the creatives still goes back to whether it’s able to answer the ‘creative brief’ to be done.

“The topmost consideration for the creative is still going to be whether it successfully answers the creative brief or the job to be done,” said Falco.

However, marketing leaders also stressed the importance of balancing the genuine appeal of creative implementation with execution aimed at achieving business goals. It was Factora who said that in tandem with serving creativity, it’s important to make sure that the overall marketing and communications are aligned with the business direction. 

“At the end of the day, we will always be evaluated [on] the business results and impact,” he said. 

In the same vein, Patricia Bucag, Cebu Pacific Air’s marketing manager, believes that a marketing campaign must, above all, answer to the business need, which in the airline’s case is getting people to purchase. 

At a stage where brand awareness is already high for a company such as Cebu Pacific Air, Bucag said the objective of any marketing initiative becomes purchase-led results. 

Yet, brands today are struggling to meet the speed for campaigns to be launched across the funnel. Brand marketers don’t have the luxury of time to spend on the design craft for each and every asset while managing prompt campaign launch times. In order to meet the needs for personalised consumer experiences without burnout, marketing and creative teams must be equipped to successfully launch full-funnel campaigns at scale. 

Managing the branding identity of international brands

In a world where every impression is a brand impression, the PH roundtable discussion dove into the main topic of brand identity, the umbrella strategy which creative would fall under. 

A number of leaders in the discussion represented the PH leg of international brands such as Canon, and as expected, an entity like Canon Philippines needed to be very strict when it comes to the implementation of all things related to creative to ensure the quality reflects the brand at large. 

How Canon Philippines remains effective in its strategy, Factora said, holistic planning is key. 

“Coming up with a holistic identity is very, very important because Canon is not just operating in a particular segment or in a particular region, we’re operating in different continents in different countries,” he said. 

Factora believes that every great campaign remains to be backed up by holistic planning, and by this, he means integrating not just one function in marketing, but including those from, for example, distribution and sales. This is taking into consideration the sales agenda and channel mapping in the overall strategy.

Meanwhile, we also learned how a local arm of a global insurance brand decides on and manages its branding. For Generali Philippines, it’s all about making the brand’s purpose the compass to draw what steps are best suited to deliver its brand identity. 

Milca Javier, the brand’s head of marketing, said, “The purpose of everything that you’re doing in terms of the creative [and] in terms of your campaign [is important]. You want to craft something that emphasises or, you know, heavily promotes all elements of your DNA, of your brand DNA.” 

Javier raised questions like, “Do we want to evoke something?” and “Do we want to say something to the audience?” So for example, insurance is strong, but then the brand may want to show that it’s not too stiff or that it’s not too serious, and can also invoke fun, so this is where the little details such as typography and brand colour come to make a big difference. 

Ultimately, she said, the buy-in of the branding must come from within before it can even be accepted by the general consumer. 

“It’s really valuable that Generali Philippines, the colleagues that I have within the company, know the importance of the brand [and] the brand identity,” she said. 

“It’s very, very important that all of the people within Generali Philippines are buying into [our] brand identity. This is the core and we have to stay true to our core,” Javier added.

On the other hand, Cambert Pilipinas’ Jenny Arcellana, its head of marketing, shared about how, overall, marketing strategies, including putting branding identity in place, have evolved through recent years. Arcellana said it’s the influencers and the content creators of today that have been the biggest change. 

“So it’s still the same, you know, you have to drive awareness [of] your brand, you have to tell your audience what the brand is, [and] your product – why would it appeal to them, to the target market,” said Arcellana.

But that the change, she said, has been with how you promote the brand and the media available. As a leader in trade marketing, Arcellana commented that amidst these changes, availability and visibility in trade are still very important because a product that cannot be seen cannot be sold. 

“But of course, you have to talk to the right person to whom your brand or product is relevant to,” she said. 

The power of automation in building personalisation in marketing

Realising creative and branding initiatives cannot be discussed without talking about the role of automation in their development. With a wide range of tools and marketing tech platforms at marketers’ disposal, the matter isn’t whether to utilise what but how to strategically harness these enablers to deliver a brand’s marketing strategy best. 

The marketing heads were in unison to say that personalisation is what is made possible by automation–and at scale. Isabel Falco, L’Oréal Philippines’ chief digital & marketing officer, said that there are many different ways to communicate a product’s relevance to a consumer and automation helps in creating many different versions of a creative or marketing campaign to find what is best fitted to a specific audience. 

“We really see the value-add of having the capability to automate, [enabling] us to [do] A/B [testing] at scale,” Falco explained. 

The power to automate tedious design tasks speeds up time for marketers looking to amp up their ​​creative testing roadmap. With tools like creative automation, brand marketers can iterate and update their highly-customised creatives independently without losing time on manual updates for individual creative versioning. By allowing teams the freedom to produce creative variety at ease, marketers can get campaign refreshes out of the door and initiate the purchase journey quicker. 

For Mako Chaves, dentsu Philippines’ MD and Head of Media, one of automation’s top benefits is being able to gain and firm up the ‘audience understanding’, which he believes is the foundation of all great campaigns. 

“It all boils down [to] one thing, which I think is consumer truth. And at the heart of every campaign that we do at dentsu is about deep consumer understanding,” said Chaves. 

He added, “Without every campaign latching onto a deep consumer insight, I think everything will fall, everything will not be genuine and everything will not be authentic.”

Meanwhile, Decathlon’s De Leon wanted to emphasise how automation eventually gives way for the team to have a seamless and smooth working process. 

She said that just like being a brand for sports, efficiency and performance are important to them and utilising the tools that are available makes it possible to deliver personalised and targeted ads to customers.

“Automation really empowers the team to be able to clearly see their next steps and to be able to analyse what’s working and what isn’t…automation allows us to be able to make the work not just efficient, [but] also sustainable for our future customers,” stated De Leon. 

In the PH-focused industry discussion, while marketing leaders shared their customised approaches to creative, brand identity, and automation, common themes remain such as balancing ingenious creative campaigns with business-oriented marketing communications. Marketing leaders have also spoken that although brand identity is the main responsibility of the marketing team – effective branding that resonates with consumers is one that is developed and integrated through the cooperation and buy-in of other functions within a company – proving that belief in the brand identity must emanate from within teams, empowered by tools that aid brand governance. 

Amidst marketing leaders lending their views and thoughts on external execution, the brand and agency heads also shared what role marketing tech like automation play in bringing marketing campaigns home. While leaders cited different areas of marketing they see automation being the most beneficial, they all agreed that essentially, it’s the ability to deliver targeted and tailor-fit campaigns to consumers that makes it easy for brands to achieve marketing excellence. 

Roundtable Highlights: Watch the PH marketing leaders share the top insights from the discussion