Contributed by Humi Yoshikawa, Head of Marketing, SAP Southeast Asia
South East Asia is a unique and vibrant region, culturally diverse and historically rich – the 10 countries of ASEAN consistently amaze and never fail to enchant.
After organising a particularly successful event in Singapore, I considered to myself, wouldn’t it be nice if the same blueprint could be applied to the rest of the countries in South East Asia? Ah, but if that were the case, event marketing would not be as mentally stimulating.
In today’s dynamic, connected world, it is becoming more challenging to make an impression and to deliver perceptions that are new and impactful. The focus cannot be just on cutting ribbons and hoping the event ends well; it must be more about leaving a sweet after-taste and building that special, lasting connection with people in any given country through the local language, business etiquette and cultural nuances, such as dress codes, the sense of time and the management of hierarchies of power.
This sweet after-taste will manifest itself in both conventional and unconventional ways, through word of mouth, social media and regular media.
When SAP took its World Tour to seven countries in Asia, a different plan was meticulously tailored to suit the preferences of every country. SAP World Tour took place in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan and Vietnam – a range of countries with huge differences in terms of culture, language, infrastructure and intellectual property.
Here are my takeaways from the events:
• Knowledge is power: In order to make an event successful, understanding and knowledge capacity are crucial. Events differ in terms of understanding and grasping the nuances of what is required for a particular event is imperative. Events such as corporate meetings have their own demands of protocol and procedures – varying from culture to culture. Entertainment events like concerts require knowledge of various supporting resources to be put in place. Before commencing with the management of an event, develop a pristine understanding of what needs to be done – and how. Get integrated with how things work in a particular country. It is an excellent idea to ask for the advice of local people because knowledge IS power.
• Two steps ahead: Once a high level understanding of what needs to be done is obtained, it is time for the planning phase. Design a detailed plan of action to be taken. Assign responsibilities and timelines to the various members of your team. It is crucial to know what to expect so as to avoid surprises!
• Respect another’s land: Organizing an event in different countries requires a number of approvals, permissions and procedures to be obtained. These range from permission from the police, civic authority clearances, environmental clearances, etc. We tend to disregard the importance of these documents. It’s best to remember that when in Rome, do as the Romans do.
• You’ll never walk alone: Everyone in an event plays a crucial part in its success. The best part is of course understanding and being aware of how people work differently. This awareness will only build team spirit and make the team the true star at the event.
• Murphy’s law: Rehearsals may have been done ten times. Every box on your checklist may be ticked. Sadly but truly, that does not mean that nothing will go wrong. It is advisable to arrange for emergency power backups and other technical backup systems. Being over-prepared is better than being caught unprepared.
• Analytics is amazing: The success and impact of an event can be measured by the traditional means of collecting feedback forms, follow up emails and through word of mouth. This would only take up time. Alternatively, the modern marketer can make use of high performance analytics software to measure the impact and success of your marketing campaigns. You can easily analyze the pulse of what your consumers are saying about your campaigns and your products from the web and social media.
The world is getting smaller every day with information now available and accessible in the palm of our hands on mobile devices such as Blackberries, iPhones or iPads. More people are turning to interactive technologies and mobile applications for social and business purposes. The future of business is without doubt mobile.
Going local is key to making marketing events standout, but the right technology can also help us listen to our customers’ feedback and aid us to understand whether we are on the right track.