There’s nothing quite like discovering the secret ingredients behind the perfect sauces in Asia. Whether it’s the sesame oil, or finely sliced kaffir lime leaves, or just a touch of ginger, often a single ingredient or combination brings the dish together perfectly.
Digital marketing in the region is the same: The right combination of strategies means the difference between success and failure in a rapidly growing marketplace.
According to the CMO Council, digital advertising expenditure in the Asia-Pacific region already accounts for just over 28% of digital ad spending worldwide. The mix is shifting away from conventional broadcast mechanisms to more nuanced forms of customer engagement. In the CMO Council’s survey, 63% of marketers said they are planning to increase investment in content marketing, and 62% said they are investing more in mobile marketing.
So the money and intention to embrace digital are certainly there, but one very important ingredient is missing: skill. Almost without exception, marketers know the world is changing. In fact, it has changed more in the past two years than in the 50 before it, but responding to this rapid change is proving a challenge: Only 46% of those surveyed by the CMO Council rated their digital marketing capacity as “highly proficient.”
The rate of change is not going to slow, but marketers can bridge this gap by adopting a strategic approach to people, processes, and products.
1. People power: The first point of call for all digital marketers is to hunt out the digital natives, wherever they happen to be within the organisation, and look for ways to nurture and share their talent. Digital natives aren’t defined by age or educational background; rather, they possess an adaptive skill set, excellent communication skills, and a natural curiosity about new technology.
Some of the world’s most successful companies are finding ways to pair digital natives with complementary skill sets among other staff to create a two-way mentoring arrangement. For example, coffee behemoth Starbucks created a cross-functional mobile team drawn from different departments. Engineering empire GE regularly pairs staff with different levels of experience to exchange skills, rather than the more traditional top-down mentoring model.
Not only do these pairings boost skills across the business, they also help to break down business siloes, boost collaboration, and share scarce skills.
2. Process improvement: Because change in the digital environment is relentless, so, too, is the need to create processes that can be tweaked and updated constantly. Without procedural improvement strategies in place, digital marketing will not be able to keep up with technological change while also delivering on the business requirements.
One approach is an A/B strategy: Get your A-team to focus on forward-looking complex projects, while your B-team dedicates its time to creating digitally sound business-as-usual activities. This way you can maintain the present while you prepare for the future.
3. Products in transition: One of the most exciting elements of Asian cuisine is how flavours seep into ingredients at all stages of cooking. Marinades ensure the tangy, sweet and spicy flavours are deeply embedded in dishes, not just added at the end.
Similarly, digital marketing strategies need to be embedded in every step of product design and development, not just added on at the end. All products and services need to be built on the digital imperatives of automation, scalability, and accessibility in the same way Asian food is built on layers of flavour.
Creating new and relevant products requires a capacity to mix ideas in new and unexpected ways. Incorporate digital marketing, communications and fulfilment into the beginning of the product design process.
The right combination of people, a focus on process innovation, and recognition that digital strategy needs to be embedded into every step of product development will enable marketing departments to bridge the resources gap permanently.
While the vital ingredients of digital success aren’t all that secret, success comes from finding the combination that works for you and your business.