Marketing Insights from CEO of SPH Magazines

Jereme Wong

Most SMEs face seemingly insurmountable challenges when trying to market their products and services and get people to support them.  In fact, some of these bosses look enviously at the bigger companies and wish that they had their vast resources. To some extend, even feeling sorry for themselves or begrudging the success of these corporations.

It is thus a rare opportunity for us as a pretty small SME to get a sneak peak into the world on the other side – a conversation with the CEO of SPH Magazines, Mr Loh Yew Seng. Although SPH Magazines is a S$100 million company, it is still classified as a SME in Singapore’s context (see it is true…check out the definition here).

Disclosure: clickTRUE is an associate company of the SPH Magazines Group. 

Jackie: Hi Mr Loh, thanks for taking time off to chat. Let’s dive straight into it. Is it difficult for companies to market themselves?

Mr. Loh: Call me Yew Seng. It’s a pleasure to share and spar on topics occasionally with practitioners like yourself. Marketing is still about creating that Brand Awareness, propagating and distributing that Interest, creating more Desire and finally driving towards Actionable outcomes. Our consumption ways have and will surely evolved over time. Our needs can change and our impression of what is good can be influenced. No matter how technology advances, we are still trying to market to human beings, our clients are still the man and woman and not robots. We have emotions, we yearn for hope and trusted vehicles. We listen to our friends or experts before we make our purchase.

Jackie: With Google & Facebook, wouldn’t it be easier for companies to advertise? Why do we still hear much complaints?

Mr. Loh: Admittedly, Google and Facebook have done a great job portraying themselves as an effective advertising medium. They are like two planets with strong gravitational forces attracting advertiser over the years. However, do not be naive to think that one can create a strong and sustainable brand by advertising with just 4 lines of texts or a carousel of images. Don’t get me wrong. These are great technologies that makes a portion of the work we do as marketers easier.

Jackie: Is there an example that you can provide us on how one should do marketing to get impact in Singapore?

Mr. Loh: We did a recent campaign with Ctrip, a popular online travel agent from China who is big in tactical pay-per-click on Baidu, China’s largest search engine. As a new entrant to Singapore, they knew that they need to focus on awareness among consumers and increase brand visibility in an engaging manner, while gaining insights into their travel habits.

To achieve this, SPH Magazines created a fun and interactive travel quiz which ends with a recommended travel destination for the reader and an opportunity to win a trip. The quiz was then marketed across 13 relevant digital editions in our SPH WIFI Library and their online platforms, together with an email marketing programme, aggregating a reach of 5.1 million consumers. Over 15,000 people completed the quiz over a period of 2 months.

Ctrip was wise and clear about what their objectives of the campaign were. Beside the tactical outcomes, they needed a trusted brand to associate their brand with. A vehicle that has earned trusted readers and segmented affluent viewers. A network that assures their brand safety throughout the implementation anytime and anywhere on multiple devices. That’s our SPH Magazines Advantage. You can find out more about this on our blog.

Jackie: Hmm…it seems that besides expecting returns from marketing campaigns, one must be realistic that enough people must know about the brand first. This means budget should be spent on branding and awareness. I know most SME bosses hate to spend on branding. They expect to get profit from each action they take. Call them Kiasu…or Kiasi …but they are always afraid to lose out or get cheated of their hard earned cash by the marketing agencies.

Mr. Loh: I remember you spoke to me about your client, John – the aspiring SME owner who has done well. He probably had a good run with you on the lead generation ROI run. I will recommend that he considers at these time a Branding campaign on an 80/20 approach to reach out, to brand build and let more related audiences beyond Facebook and Google know why he is kinda of a Big Deal 🙂 (using John’s words)

Tell you what I can help you and John on next steps. We are in support of Singapore SMEs going places just like ourselves. For every month he is on your awesome lead generation platform, we will offer him a one-time 50% off up to 3 magazines insertions or online advertorials on his right audience from our Men’s Network. To top it up, we will also bring awareness of his products and services onto our Facebook pages with our tens of thousands of fans. This will offer John a much needed boost in his Brand Image, bolster Trust value and achieve some PR mileage with our writers and editors. Something that tactical platforms like Google doesn’t do well. How’s that?

Jackie: That’s amazing value, Yew Seng. We at clickTRUE will also reciprocate on this offer. Your Branding campaign clients will also be able to test our tactical packages at 50% off for 3 months. I think this will be interesting for SMEs to make use of to gain an advantage at a great value. Will mention to John as soon as I can of this “I’m kinda a Big Deal” package. As a savvy business owner, he will recognise this immediately. Always a pleasure talking to you, boss.

Yew Seng: Pleasure. Alliances and strategic partnerships – Sun Tzu. More value for the industry. Indeed wise.

So if you’re interested, find out more about the 80/20 Branding and Tactical of the “I’m kinda a Big Deal” package. We have never done anything like this before… and we may never do this again. 🙂

ps: We are only working with 10 SMEs on this package this month. CHOPE your space by filling up the form below.

pps: Hi, the above offer has ended. But you can still check out our Leads Generation Services or go ahead to get one of our online marketing guides

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