Marketing strategies that matter to people


Mark Alvarez, Camille Ang and Gian Louis Yap – PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED

Josiah Go is President and Chief Innovation Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders Inc. Research for the 17th Mansmith Young Market Masters Awards is ongoing. Forms are available at

At the 16th Annual Mansmith Young Market Masters Awards (YMMA), we asked three of the marketing rock stars to talk to us about formulating a compelling marketing strategy.

Here are the learning points from: Mark Alvarez, Managing Director of InSites Consulting (Philippines) / YMMA Awardee for insight; Camille Ang, Marketing and Demand Group Leader at GrowSari / YMMA Awardee for Marketing Management; and Gian Louis Yap, Brand Director at Procter & Gamble / YMMA Awardee for Brand Management.

Q1: If you could identify the three most important tips in formulating marketing strategies, what would they be?

Mark: It’s about having a real customer-centric mindset and culture: first of all, having a real desire to understand your customer or your market – know how they think, feel and behave in order to so that you can better understand their experiences. Second, being able to spot gaps in their experiences (whether it’s a lack of empathy, experience, or relevance) and translate them into opportunities and solutions. And finally, quickly deploy and test the solutions in your target market and always repeat the process to keep improving.

Camille: 1) Understand customers. Make use of the data available on your customers, whether quantitative or qualitative. The former can be pulled from your existing data set, but the latter through what they say about their weaknesses and their experience with your product / service. 2) Use this information to deliver a key message that resonates. A good key message is one that very clearly understands your customer and the value your brand brings to them, presented in a way that they understand, in the touchpoints where they are present. 3) Monitor and optimize. Whatever your marketing initiative, feel free to perform A / B testing to find out which one would work best, and repeat as you go. It doesn’t have to be perfect the first time!

Gian: 1) Be very clear about your business goal. What do you really want to do? Do you want to recruit new users for your brand? Do you want your existing users to switch to a new product? Do you want to add another item to your consumer’s basket? 2) Once the business objective is defined, make it very clear who you want to target. What is their profile ? What is their current behavior and how do you want to change that? What is the obstacle preventing them from achieving the current business objective? 3) Finally, evaluate different solutions or ‘how’ and see which one best fits your business objective and target audience. Know what you will be doing and, more importantly, what you will NOT be doing.

Q2: How should marketing strategies be different during the pandemic, when many customers face an uncertain future?

Mark: As Filipinos grapple with change and face unprecedented challenges, brands must meet both efficiency and convenience expectations, but also deeper human needs. With the uncertainties brought by COVID, customers expect brands to help them in their daily lives. They need a good product and service, but a seamless experience is just as important. Brands need to play a bigger role in our lives.

As such, brands need to go beyond consumer marketing to be important to people. In other words, brands should let go of their own perspective on the world and use “relevance to people” as the most important goal. So, for everything we do, we need to help brands and businesses determine how they can be relevant and meaningful to their customers. This is what defines a successful business today.

Camille: Empathy is incredibly important, now more than ever, because this pandemic has been and still is difficult for everyone. Empathy in the sense that we should really put the customer first, to find solutions that truly improve the lives of the customers we serve, and to always be there to provide advice if they need it.

Gian: With the uncertain future and the economic impact of the pandemic, consumers are looking for value-for-money offers that have been proven to work. They are not able to try new product offerings, especially those ordering a premium over their current purchase. Consumers are looking for services and benefits that they have been able to provide time and time again. Therefore, one should focus on doubling one’s basic offering and ensuring that the consumer is able to access it (physical availability) and remember it (mental availability).

Q3: What is the best source of growth for brands, pandemic or no pandemic?

Mark: At the heart of it all, we have to remember that it’s about the customer. We are here because we want to listen, empower and elevate the human experience and build sustainable brands. Let your customers be your north star and sail in that direction.

What made companies successful in the past was that they made the perfect product. What makes success today is getting closer to customers. And with this pandemic, brands must stay much closer to their customers, collaborate permanently with them to co-create a sustainable future, always be in touch with their realities and their tensions. In doing so, brands can reposition their products and services according to the changing needs of their customers.

Camille: The best source of growth for brands, pandemic or not, is really to focus on how to retain existing users, and to retain them even more, because in the end, we want to have a clientele that can be. also your brand ambassadors, who will then help you acquire users. Word of mouth is incredibly important, and it comes from existing users having incredible experience with your product / service.

Gian: The best source of growth for brands is always to drive penetration, by recruiting new users. There will always be existing users who will fall (drop the brand on their next purchase) to a normal situation, and this is all the more accelerated during a pandemic due to uncertainty and the economic crisis. Brands should always strive to find ways to reach new users to replace existing users, as it will be risky to expect existing users to 1) stay day after day and 2) keep paying more for a similar benefit for brand growth.

Q4: In your opinion, which marketing measures are overestimated and underestimated? Why should we use more or less of these metrics?

Mark: There are indeed several marketing metrics that can be used from brand awareness, consideration, purchase and even customer loyalty and satisfaction. While these are available to us, what is paramount is how we intend to use these metrics to help us gauge our definitions of success, how close we are to what we are. have defined as our business goals from the start. So overall, no single metric is better than another, but rather how they will serve their purpose in helping you define success.

Camille: It’s easier to understand how important business metrics are as indicators of success, like number of users, sales, etc. and experiment, which you can use as a starting point to further improve your product / service.

Gian: I think “reach” in itself is overrated. Some marketers fall into the trap of blindly pursuing reach without thinking about the quality of the reach: what does the consumer actually see and experience? Yes, they are affected by a digital ad, but they immediately skip the ad or don’t even remember it. Therefore, one should always think about the consumer experience behind this scope. On the other hand, I think “household penetration” is such an underestimated measure, always lagging behind market share. Market share will always fluctuate, but penetration is the key factor for good long-term market share performance.


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