Do marketers in Asia face similar marketing challenges to those in the West?

You won’t believe how many times I have been asked this, both in Asia and in the West.

On the whole it’s a resounding ‘yes’, though of course with respect to the challenges themselves, there are differences because of the clients’ circumstances (available budget, their capabilities, etc) the category development itself and of course, the needs, culture, experience and affordability of the target customer/consumer.

From many meetings with clients in Asia (and thinking back to my own experience as a client too), when you consider some of the key marketing challenges listed below, that you see clients face in the west, you find they often resonate well within Asia too.

Though their ranking often varies in comparison, especially when you consider challenges like the final one below… Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Marketing Solutions, which, particularly in many markets in South East Asia, is not a big priority with many organisations, as yet.

Also, there are sometimes challenges with data platforms in some organisations where accessing the relevant data to be able to adequately determine marketing activity and supplier spend levels for analysis is more difficult than you’d expect. So getting your hands dirty with data can take a bit more time and effort, requiring a bit more digging to uncover what’s needed to understand the landscape of many of the challenges below, before being able to develop solutions to turn the challenges into marketing quality, efficiency and cost improvements.

All marketers, however, face similar pressures when they address the below marketing challenges…. time pressure, resource pressure, cost pressure, budget pressure, ROI pressure….and …. skill/capability pressure. 

So what are some of these key marketing challenges?

  1. Marketing and Management Alignment
    What role does marketing currently play in the organisation and how well aligned is it in delivering against the needs and objectives, within the marketing strategy?
  2. Complete Resource and Roster Optimisation
    What resources and capabilities are needed to deliver the marketing strategy and how well is it set up utilising these internally and externally? How well does the roster of agencies work together and how well do their capabilities meet current and future needs?
  3. Total Media Transparency and Value
    Are the owned, earned, paid and shared media managed collectively, not to mention is the performance maximised and transparency achieved in investment, value and performance?
  4. Implementation and Process Improvements
    Are all processes aligned and optimised internally and externally to deliver quality, speed, efficiency and value in marketing optimisation and implementation?
  5. Solving Data & Technology Issues
    How much is technology impacting the marketing function and how is data managed to deliver tangible insights and value around your customers/consumers experience?
  6. Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Marketing Solutions
    Is responsible conduct important to the organisation and how well is marketing supporting it’s delivery through it’s thinking and actions?

So how do you take on these challenges and what issues are faced?

The first four challenges especially resonate as opportunities in Asia.

When you consider the second challenge above, as an example, whether I was in senior marketing roles in Asia or Australia, the issues were identical…finding the time, resource and skills needed in my team to carry out an extensive supplier review. Though there were far more resources in Australia than in Asia, it was still a nightmare as it had to be added to the already long list of everything else that needed to be done across eighteen brands to drive the business.

The classic challenge of the urgent versus the important…where we know it all just has to be done and done well.

Though help was at hand from the commercial team, I must admit I wish that the experienced consultants that are around today, were available back then, with their proven processes, chemistry session strategic workshops and sensible timelines to add efficiency and focus around fit and capability, so that my team spent the right amount of time on the right areas.

Not to mention, guidance around remuneration approaches, having thorough benchmarking data, so not just relying on internal historical cost data and the comparison across the selected suppliers for pricing/fees, but a deeper perspective to enable an all round better outcome with the chosen suppliers.

So, in Asia if there are fewer resources available, then a pragmatic approach to data collection and viable solutions to challenges that are executable/achievable need to be taken.

A client in Japan that I had the pleasure of working with recently played back the above perspective. The team was under strength and stretched with their planned activities. Yet they were helped through the required supplier evaluation and selection process with a tailored approach that enabled clear decision making based on valid data points.

The end result was that the client was amazed they had been able to fit this important challenge and solution into their very busy workload, supporting their decisions and choices with supporting metrics. The client observed that to do such without a robust approach would have led to an inefficient use of scarce resource and an unclear outcome.

The outcome is …..a very happy client and supplier engagement, with the desired outcomes at the briefing stage being delivered with clearer commercial arrangements in place too.

A few final thoughts…

The marketing challenge above, in general, would be pretty similar everywhere, though the circumstances with which a solution needs to sought would be unique to a client’s circumstances and the market within which they operate.

The important thing to take into account here is that though marketing challenges are similar, the process that needs to be adopted needs to be tailored around the client in order to deliver solutions that are achievable and deliverable. However, the client in turn needs to ensure resource support is there to ensure the required work to deliver the chosen process is carried out efficiently and effectively.

The good news for clients facing marketing challenges is that help and guidance is on hand nowadays, whether it’s a hand holding approach or something more hands on.

Help is at hand…

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