Now, I’m no stranger to winning pitches, but I’m also very familiar with losing them, especially when pitching "digital" to clients. Digital marketing and communication has, in the past, resisted a straightforward client explanation, often shrouding itself in an over-complexity of its own making.
Us digital folk can often speak a language unintelligible to the non-digitally inclined chief marketing officer (CMO) or chief communications officer (CCO). We confuse with the millions of possible measurement possibilities, we befuddle with multivariate performance optimization, we disorient with LAMP hosting environments and under-the-hood on-site search enginge optimization (SEO) recommendations that use words like "meta-data" and heading tags.
This problem is compounded in Asia because of a deficit in the way marketing and public relations (PR) is taught in universities and also because of the rapidity of market emergence. Here, there has been a very different evolution of the discipline of digital marketing and as a consequence, of client familiarity.
In Europe and the U.S., digital marketing started slowly and built, layer upon layer, from banner advertising to email marketing to search and so on. Brand managers and organizations had time to get familiar with the concepts, to experiment with techniques for their businesses and to build up experience.
But in Asia, where markets have emerged rapidly, rather than the gradual evolutionary process of the West, the discipline landed with an unceremonious and rather daunting bang.
Additionally, digital marketing still doesn’t have the focus in university marketing and PR courses that it should have. I think this is a global issue to be honest, but that’s a subject for another article. So new communicators, whether client or agency-side, are still not taught a lot of the basics of digital. And so it is that content marketing clicks with clients here. It’s easy to understand. You can pitch it in the way a traditionally trained marketer or communicator is used to buying - based on ideas. Sure, there’s still all the platform and digital stuff that needs to be explained. But I watch, and it feels sometimes like I’m watching in slow motion, clients falling in love with a beautiful film execution that we’re explaining, that will run online and be promoted with earned, owned, paid… "blah blah blah." And I watch them fade out at the "blah blah."
And so it is that content marketing clicks with audiences here. With audiences glued to mobile phones with huge HD screens, watching films on them, or playing games on them, or flicking through photographs on them, shared on their social media channels, on the subway to work or school, oblivious to the posters and hoardings that flash past. Annoyed by the discarded newspaper that occasionally gets blown down the carriage floor.
There’s an acronym that I often use to help me navigate the Asia-Pacific region as an ignorant Westerner who doesn’t speak any one of the hundreds of languages of the region.
KISS. Keep. It. Simple. Stupid. Content marketing ticks that box, big time.