Exclusive interview with Dominic Ng (Demand Generation Manager,Cisco Systems), Part II

  • Jaspreet

In the second part of his interview Dominic Ng (Demand Generation Manager,Cisco Systems) gives us his take on social media measurements and metrics in the sphere of B2B marketing, how B2B marketing differs from B2C marketing in an Asian context, and his advice to marketers on how to navigate the changing landscape of B2B marketing in Asia.

Dominic shares with us how to leverage on the trackability of social media and new digital technologies to meet and prove your ROI against your original communications and marketing plans, and provides some interesting advice and thinking points for marketers looking to stay relevant, increase their reach to their customer, and meet their organization goals.

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 Interview

Social media measurement and metrics

In the most simplified form, I think that metrics in itself is ever evolving because ultimately if what is most important to the consumer is changing – sometimes it could be how interesting that video is therefore I stay on it to get that brand awareness that you capture, sometimes it’s because how clear you are in terms of your product comparison or how many other people are interested. I mean these days there are things like DELL Swarm, there are things like – there are many other community sites that advocates sort of like a voting or an auction process and it’s about how the rest thinks and ultimately we always go by that group majority.

It’s almost democracy in its basis – that if everybody thinks this is good – there’s probably some reason therefore let’s take a look at it. I think that in itself, in a layman context, is what we track. I mean in terms of metrics, I think we sometimes do tend to overdo it especially when it comes to being marketers. We do need to have an answerable metrics to report to our bosses, to our managers and all and we kind of pick out all the comments, we’ll pick out traditional metrics like impressions, clicks, registrations. I mean all this, genuinely, are important but it might be even more important to come from a consumer point-of-view and ask yourself, ‘does the number of times still matters as much as it used to when I had TV then and I had no internet or am I looking at all these different channels and they all serve a whole bunch of impressions?’. So does the traditional media measurement still stay? Now that’s the first question.

The other bit is we always talk about duration and how accurate the entire duration of the engagement might be but ultimately you might engage right now with that particular platform, you might go through multiple different media channels to see. Say for example, you go to work this morning. You take a bus to work. You see a bus-stop ad that says the latest iPhone from M1 or Starhub. The next moment when you get onto your bus you see a whole bunch of kids all on their iPhone playing games, talking to their friends, checking their emails and thereafter when you get off your bus you kind of walk past one of those outdoor digital signboards that has an iPhone advertisement playing and the next moment you have a friend coming to you, talking to you, showing you some stuff on his iPhone on the latest discussion at work.

By the time you sit down, if you ask me, is then the iPhone the most practical gadget you should have on your hands right now to lead the right lifestyle for your business needs, is it recommended by friends, is it something that’s going to be supported by huge vendors in the market – probably yes. Was any of this intentionally was planted, was it only one of it that convinced the consumer that iPhone should be the phone to buy – probably not and I think in the similar context of measurements – as we try to break them up logically into different metrics, and into different channels, we try to break traditional advertising into media, creative, PR, to direct marketing. Ultimately they might all be the same, if I could even suggest that, because the metrics that you use sometimes are universal and a lot of the times there is a complexity and it’s cyclical.

Why do I say its cyclical? Because when you approach the entire comms planning process you will be thinking to yourself: what do I know about this consumer, what do I want them to know, what do I need to ask – and then you come up with a whole brainstorm, all the excellent brains coming down, sitting down whether its marketers, whether its sales, whether its PR, sitting down together to come up with that great idea, that great insight that the consumer wants and that will actually be the tipping point for them buying your product. Thereafter you architect your entire plan, program or campaign in that basis; but after you finish that entire plan traditionally you would stop there. Its like buying a print ad. You buy a print ad, you do post production, 2 hours before time send it off, do a colour set and check for the final approval and FA and off it goes and thereafter you’re out to enjoy your holidays. That’s all done, you wait patiently, do a survey and hope it all goes well.

But today if you’re looking at digital media you’re looking at things that’s all trackable, you’re looking at metrics. Metrics – it’s a tricky thing. It’s a good thing but its also a tricky thing. When you finish the plan there are then 3 more steps you need to take. One you collect the data, you reanalyze the data and most importantly, and what’s always lacking, it’s actually feeding that same set of data back into your original plan and starting to refine from there. This entire cyclical process of refining the marketing mix could be at the speed of a weekly basis or even a daily basis for some of the channels. But ironically, I think, touch your heart and ask yourself how many of us do it even on a yearly basis. Now that’s going to be tricky man.

B2B vs B2C marketing in Asia

I think whether it’s B2B or whether it’s B2C in its aspects, bringing it broader again, I think, it’s going to be a case whereby definitely there’s no segregation between what we call traditional or digital or web marketing or interactive marketing. I believe they’re all quite the same. Yes the components are all, I would say if you put them as digital marketing b2b it’s trackable. It just also means a company needs to focus on a whole bunch of things that all are accountable or can be tracked and have metrics around them and have accountability around them. We all try to draw beautiful charts of them funneling in a linear direction but ultimately we all know in our hearts that they’re actually cross-references and they’re actually cyclical and they weave together a huge matrix of how we define our performance results.

I actually think that’s going to be the crux of B2B marketing and probably in the next 5-10 years platform that initially evolved, I think coming from the technology background and a programmer’s background we all think of the latest gadgets, we think of the latest technology that could be implemented whether its HD video that we talked about 5 years back, whether its interactive video that actually allows engagement or digital signboards that allows you to do a touch screen and interact with the overall ad. We create all these technologies but then I think the tipping point for any technology to be relevant to the consumer is at the point whereby there’s actually a business need for it and I think if you look across at all technologies that’ve developed and then you look across at the trend of how our consumers are maturing across the different markets that’s why at different points of time I think a different country will pick up different technologies that fit their needs.

I think that is what we need to really observe, we need to be able to spot when the business trend meets the technology trend and that’s going to be the sweet spot where we interact where we pick out the best channels to speak to the consumers about what they need in their lifestyle.

Advice for the B2B Marketer

Never ask for a case-study, which will probably kill a lot of people, who need to prove to their boss that this actually has a matrix around it because if you have a case-study means it’s been done before but you know that in every single engagement is going to be different. Yes you have a point of reference but we all know in the sense of sales and marketing that there is a first mover advantage. Some may argue it’s a second mover advantage. Nevertheless if you’re the 2nd man you may not have the 1st guy’s case-study. But you do know one truth or fact is that if you’re there first you’re going to be able to leverage the maximum profit margins in any case whether it’s a business, whether its an initiative, whether it’s a product launch, what channel you choose to use. Maybe it’s time you think how to weave together what you know versus what the business needs and create your own workflow and get like-minded people to think around that entire spectrum.

Yes you still bet a certain amount of subjectivity to the metrics that you get and you actually literally take a bet but I have tried many times and I do believe that’s the best way to get your returns. Because traditionally if you want a 1-to-1 there are a lot of channels you can use right now and they have been tried and tested. You don’t actually have to do anything. But that said realistically you should always try to weave together something new within your current things that you already know because you already have fixed channels that are going to bring you fixed returns – now that’s an answerable result to your boss.

The other 20% if you don’t try something new you’re going to realize over the span of 5-10 years of your working career in terms of marketing you’re going to end up with probably only one channel left that you know. Now how’s that going to work to save your job. Now that’s going to be tough so that’s my key advice for anybody who wants to do not just digital marketing, not just B2B, but marketing as a whole and these days we can say sales support because ultimately it’s just getting closer and closer. In the end it’s about the company makes the money, the sales guy has an opportunity to talk to the customer, the marketing generates this pool of potential customers that you can leverage on, and if you work it backwards these are the things we need to keep in mind and then look at the overall customer landscape and ask yourself are they behaving that way – yes we might not as a business be as nimble, as smooth, as fast, as consumers but that said if you do not keep that 20% new and get as close to them as possible will you ever get them without that first step?


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