Exclusive Interview: Mark Laudi (CEO, Hong Bao Media) on B2B Marketing and Investor Relations

  • Jaspreet

In the second interview in our exclusive series we chat with Mark Laudi, Chief Executive Officer of Hong Bao Media. Mark is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster and is best known for his live reports from the floors of the Singapore Stock Exchange on CNBC Asia.

In his interview Mark shares with us his thoughts on the B2B marketing and communications in relation to maintaining and growing investor relations, the 3 main important ways he sees the face of media changing, and tips and best practices on how to effectively use different media for your business goals based on his years of experience.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the video are the personal views of the interviewee and and do not necessarily represent the philosophy or viewpoints of their organization or clients.

Transcript of the Video

Hi I’m Mark Laudi. I am a talking head formerly at CNBC but now at the Red Dot Café at Maxwell Road, Singapore. My company produces television news programs where our sponsors are the top story and our sponsors supply the interview guests, main applications, investor relations, internal communications, marketing and also event coverage.

Relationship between Investor and Marketing

Everybody has got something to sell and if you’re a publicly listed company you have your whole story to sell to investors. You want investors to buy your shares. You want to gain extra liquidity in your shares that are listed on the stock market. You want to make sure that when you have to go out and raise capital that you don’t dilute your existing shareholder base too much and you do that by having a higher share price. Now the issue that I guess most investor relations officers have is that they come from a finance background, not a communications background, and so it’s really important that if you’re in investor relations that you understand the basic tenets of communication.

Now at risk of sounding like I’m trying to take you back to 101 in terms of communications, often if you come from a finance background you know the numbers very well but what’s really important is that you’re able to communicate the story behind the numbers. For example if you just take a fairy tale,  take Hansel & Gretel, what is the story – the crumbs that they leave along the path or the fact that they were lost in the woods and they got kidnapped by this wicked witch? Clearly the crumbs are just part of the story and the same goes for the numbers in your company. The financial reports, the numbers, the ratios, are there to support the story. They’re not the story themselves. So it’s really important that you use current and modern communications tools to tell the story and hopefully the numbers will then back your story up.

Changing Faces of Media.

Well the media is changing in 3 main ways. The first is that everyone these days is their own media organization. The equipment is cheap enough. The access to web video servers is easy enough and the whole idea of creating something in-house is no longer as complicated as it was ten minutes ago. In fact you should see the café where we are now and the fact that here I am up against a wall. In fact I’m just going to take a picture here of this camera set-up and the camera people behind it and you can see actually just how, just how simple the set-up is. And what you will also notice as a result is that it’s cheap to buy this equipment, it’s cheap to set-up, doesn’t have to look fancy but the soft skills involved in producing something credible in helping you tell your story in a compelling way – those soft skills are as important as ever. So that’s the first point.

The second point is that just because you’ve created something doesn’t mean that it has the desired effect. Let’s say you’re producing something for internal communications even or something that’s more customer facing rather than investor relations. At the end of the day how will you measure the effectiveness? What outcome are you hoping for? And so the mistake that most people make is they say “Oh well, we have lots of things to say” and then they set-up a cheap camera and they say it. When actually the starting point should be ‘what are we trying to achieve’ and then working backwards and saying in order to reach this goal we need to produce X, distribute that content over Y, and facilitate some sort of action, transaction or interaction through these and these channels – Z. So unless you have X plus Y plus Z you’re not going to reach your ROI. Most people just think about what they want to say. They don’t think about why they want to say it and how they will measure the success. So that’s really important.

And the third point is in relation to simply the production values. I’ve mentioned before how important it is to get people who know what they are doing to produce the content in a brand enhancing way. But we‘ve also noticed that a lot more, particularly on the internet, a lot of video is consumed in a very raw form. It’s almost better to have like a closed circuit television type of view than something that looks like Hollywood. But again sometimes you need to know the rules to break the rules.  And that’s why it’s really important again to make sure you know what the desired outcome is, how you’re going to measure that, and then deciding what content you’re going to broadcast.

Marketing Differentiation in Asia

Investor relations and marketing in Asia versus investor relations and marketing in western countries – there is in theory no difference largely because, particularly in investor relations, the types of investors that most companies want to attract are institutional investors, the fund managers, not so much the retail investors.  They’re important too but the priorities for most companies lie in attracting somebody who’s got 50 million dollars or more to spend on their shares, to invest in their shares so the audience is very global. The real challenge that I find for Asian companies is to adopt the same levels of transparency and simply good story-telling techniques in order to get that message across. In Asia people are not conditioned to speak in front of a camera. They don’t grow up, like Americans do for example, being accustomed to speaking in front of a group of people. I find it surprising just how many chief executives there are who would much rather not speak to their investors, who’d much rather not appear on camera or who’d much rather not, let’s say, speak at an investment conference to put their story forward and that’s a real shame because often the stories that we have to tell in Asia are actually very compelling investment stories. So what’s again important is the soft skills of being able to not just buy the camera and set it up but the soft skills of telling that good story and so if you need help in order to tell that story well, then again, you should seek professional help to, not necessarily get somebody else to tell the story for you, but to be more comfortable in front of an audience, get comfortable in front of a camera and be able to put that story across to investors.

Tips and Best practices

Early 2010 where again we’re seeing things change very rapidly but at this time there are 2 important things that you need to know beyond what I’ve already talked about. The first is that in order to have a real impact with your web TV program, let’s not even call it online video because that sounds very cheap -let’s talk about a brand enhancing web TV program, is that you don’t produce it like a regular television program. I have had quite a number of people who have approached me and said ‘Can you produce like a 45 minute webcast for us’ and to be honest on television that might work – the half hour program let’s say but on the internet people don’t watch for 45 minutes. So first of all throw out a lot of those misconceptions or old ways of doing things on television when you’re talking about producing web television. You really are starting from scratch and in fact many television professionals have a very steep learning curve when they start producing content for the internet because it’s just such a different viewing environment and you’d only have to picture yourself in front of a PC watching something compared to how you would be positioned in front of a television set in a lounge room watching something to appreciate the difference in viewing habits and therefore how that content needs to be produced. So that’s the first thing in terms of tips.

The second thing is that a lot of times I’m finding that customers, or prospective customers particularly, are not really sure of what the outcome is. They’ll say ‘Well why should we spend money on this when we can just buy the equipment and do it ourselves’ and then they’ll end up producing something, they’ll put it up on YouTube or maybe even their Facebook fanpage and then expect a huge response. I’m sorry to disappoint you but it’s not going to happen. First of all you need as many syndication channels as possible. The days of a single touch-point for everyone in your target market went out in the 1980s. There are now so many different channels, so many different websites, so many different screens in outdoor locations – quite apart from the screens, you know the televisions networks that are out there, all of which make up your audience in aggregate so think beyond YouTube, think beyond your own website. Think about where your target audience is and how to best reach them and you might be surprised that perhaps traditional television actually isn’t it anymore. Or it might not even be your website. It might be a mobile site or even a Blackberry or iPhone application. It might be a screen in an elevator or a taxi or in-flight entertainment. Open your eyes to the many possibilities rather than limiting yourself to one or the other. So in summary, it’s not a case of saying ‘do we produce this type of content or that type of content’. It’s also not a case of saying ‘do we put it on this website or that website’. It’s a case of saying ‘let’s produce this type of content and that type of content’. Let the viewer choose. Let’s put it out on this website and this out of home screen and again reaching multiple people so throw out those old misconceptions, start afresh and make sure that you know what the desired outcome is before you start.

Mobile Marketing Usability

There were a lot of expectations for mobile marketing earlier in this decade. Shortly after 3G networks were introduced in 2004-2005, maybe later depending on the market you’re in, it’s really not met expectations. There’s been a lot of soul searching, a lot of experimentation, a lot of trial and error – mostly error unfortunately. We’re now finally getting to the stage where we understand consumer habits on the mobile device, where we know what people are prepared to watch and sometimes pay for compared to, you know, how much we knew about the subject 5 years ago. So the most important thing you need to know about mobile marketing is that if it has to be here and now then yes it makes sense for mobile. If whatever message you have to push out to people, if it can wait until another time or if it can wait until the viewer is in another location then chances are it doesn’t have to be on the mobile. So unless your marketing message is ‘right here, right now’ don’t bother with a mobile phone. Conversely if the opportunity to buy a certain product or service is right here and right now then the mobile phone beats any other device for marketing purposes.

About Hong Bao Media

Little bit about Hong Bao Media – the 15 second elevator pitch. If you are a corporate communications person and you are looking at more measurable ways of reaching your target audience, or you’re a marketing person and you’re looking for immediate return on investment, or you’re an investor relations officer and you’re looking for a way to have a measurable impact on your shareholder base, both prospective and existing, then web television may be for you. You can go to our website to take a look, hongbaomedia.com, or obviously talk to Anol and the team at GetIT Communications to find out how you can actually make much more mileage out of the Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 type of technologies than you ever have been in the past. These are not high budget items but the return is commensurately high.


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