The idea of confronting the real challenges in today’s digital marketing arises as today’s internet technology has advanced remarkably making most of us to believe we can easily strive in the business landscape simply by going into digital aggressively. We are easily overwhelmed with how effective digital marketing is today by able to track almost everything from Click Through Rate (CTR), Cost Per Click (CPC), Engagement, Impression, Conversion Rate and the list goes on.

MZ is challenged on the fake news issue circulating on FB

The digital world is getting more and more crowded with content creators cracking heads to create all kind of exciting content to attract eye balls and stickiness. This is how Facebook fell into the controversy of not putting up enough effort to filter or counter fake news . Perhaps FB needs those content to continue growing its user base?

Another challenge is the fact that it is excitingly easy to start a business today. The conventional marketing which used to be costly can now be streamlined into digital targeting and feeding desired audience with carefully crafted information. Thus the competition to sell or get attention on the internet is huge.

Is the fake news problem getting out of hand?

The internet world literally turns into a Red Ocean filling with all kind of content, news, scientific facts, healthy diet tips, sport advises and etc. The ironic is that those post that received the most attention and shares on the social media most likely are too sensational to be true. Research shows that people generally loves fantasy and tragic news because it subconsciously put the readers into a better stage and feeling good.

The Big Question is: Do you wish your ad being seen on the display networks built on questionable news channels which is unlikely to drive quality leads or worse affecting your brand image? If no, how to avoid repeating others’ mistake?

Back to the Basic of MARKETING

The basic of marketing is selling a better future

Sales and Marketing is a process of bringing someone from the current unpleasant or miserable stage to a better and delightful future by solving certain problems or fulfilling need. It used to be sufficient for businesses to just applying Push Marketing and solving personal needs.  But it is getting more challenging and competitive to impress and attract customer’s attention in today’s information era. With a smartphone in hand, now everyone is so well-informed with global issues such as poverty, global warming, terrorism and so on. The “mind your own business” attitude is irrelevant as we believe to be living in a border-less world today. War happens in another part of the word may somehow impacts us, it was the case of MH17 being shot down in the war zone at Ukraine while most of the 298 passengers were Dutch and Asian. The seemingly negligible social economy issues are the opportunities for marketers to capitalize in the intensifying digital competition.

MH17 Shot Down
MH17 Crash Site

It justifies the importance of businesses to apply Purpose Driven Content Marketing and Social Responsibly Marketing. The more Social Economy Friendly a business is, the more it stands out from the competitors to cohere with the potential customers who care. Businesses should be looking into rebranding itself and get closer into solving social economy problems, either by actively involved in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Program or redesign/ position its products and services to serve the Purpose. The latter creates a bigger impact because products and services provide a closer contact with customer and more likely to establish a long lasting business relationship. E.g., a bank who offers super low interest rate with long repayment for poor students is more effective than giving away scholarship in the form of monetary donation.

Customer Loyalty

What brands and business owner need to focus today is to build its army of fans who are loyal and sharing the common values. Anyone can easily build tens of thousands of FaceBook likes by burning enough cash and sharing catchy content, but this “purchased” crowd wouldn’t have high level of attachment to the brand. They probably like 20 FB pages in a day and don’t give a d**n about what you are selling or who you are, but only interested on the jokes or fake news which they feel fun about. So how to build your army of fans who can support you even through though economy times?

The answer is to attract and impress people who share the same value with your brand identity and appreciate what you are doing. Brand will need to define the true value it is bringing to the people as a society, more than just solving an isolate problem for commercial reason. For instance an apparel brand who hires foreign labors for manufacturing versus another apparel brand who is known of taking up productivity loss by hiring physically challenged people and actively sponsors new clothes to the orphanage house in the community.

Caring residents doing community work for a cleaner neighborhood

The latter indeed bring a greater value to the society and what is done needs to be strategically marketed to attract people who are kind and passionate about helping others in the society. This group of people will continue buying the apparel brand and turning into a strong advocate for the brand.

Well, the drawback is being perceived as using charity work to obtain financial gain, but this effort can be well explained and defended as a system to give back and redistribute the wealth to the society. One major social-economical issue in the world today is the shrinking of the middle class and the vast growing population of the Poor and the Super Rich. If more manufacturers, business owners are willing to sacrifice fractions of the profit to help the unfortunate and poor, we would have a more balance society with less tragic and crimes. Besides strategizing this effort as a powerful marketing weapon, it also serve as a strong motivator to the employee internally. Employee will have the important Purpose in their daily work besides for the sake of monthly salary. It therefore brings down employee turnover rate which is costly to the employer.

The confrontation of the real challenges in today’s digital marketing continues as more and more brands are adopting Story Telling strategy to delight their targeted audience and form the emotional connection. It is a brilliant way to subconsciously affect the brain to buy into an idea whereby people tend to connect better when they come across something they care about. E.g., a video ad about a single father who worked hard the entire life paying off his son’s college, eventually left an insurance policy worth a million Ringgit after passed away in an accident. No surprise, the brand will create empathy and connect well with its audience, similar to the following one.

However, don’t forget the fact that people is getting smarter now and will realize that it is just an ad (not real). Therefore, the high engagement rate in this case doesn’t guarantee the ROI of high conversion rate leading to sales and revenue. The same insurance brand would have created a more rewarding impact by subsidizing educational fee for the orphan whose parents were killed in accident by a true event rather than a making-up a story. It instantly create a drive within the people who care to sign up with the brand because it was told that part of the revenue will be utilized to help those in need rather than going into the directors’ paycheck whose are already millionaires.

The New Marketing in Today’s Capitalism World

This is also why people were pissed when public fund was used to bail out the failing AIG, which its directors were still flying private jet for meetings. People, especially the Gen X&Y in their 20-30s are the majority who joined the Occupied Wall Street demonstration in 2011.

US Occupy Wall Street Demonstration
Marketing to be redefined in the falling social economy scene

Donald Trump managed to capitalize this with major wins in most of the rural states and make him the new president of the US, whereas his opponent, Hillary Clinton failed to listen to the people and though has won more urban states but still lost to the seemingly easy opponent, unexpectedly. Apparently, Trump’s and his team who have a strong business background knew their audience well and activated a remarkably successful campaign.

Besides, the Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution was participated by teenagers who were furious about income inequality and skyrocketing property price resulted from the political issue.

HongKong Umbrella Demonstration
The new marketing is needed in the debatable capitalism world today

The young generations (between 15 to 30 years old) is the key segment businesses need to digitally impress and build relationship with based on 2 critical factors:

  1. 99.9% of them were born within the smartphone era and internet literate
  2. They form the biggest consumer base in the next 20 years while internet technology continue to boom.

It is the flaw in the modern capitalism which only favors the riches. With all these social problems happening in our extremely connected world today, brand has no choice but to put more focus on its social responsibility and market its effort to gain publicity and promotes the continuity of its effort. Studies have shown that millennials are very concerned and trending towards buying from socially responsible brands. More facts about Socially Responsible Marketing here.

Costly Sponsorship Marketing
Brands are paying millions sponsoring superstar

A brand that spent big bucks into sponsoring star player (thus subsidizing their lavish lifestyle) versus a brand that sponsors a barefoot team of a poor nation, whom do you think connects better to the new gen when both news are equally published/ marketed on the internet? The key is whether enough effort has been put on digital marketing to increase the exposure of the latter?

Facebook ads manager reporting

From dozens of indicators available on FB ads reporting, the most practical one is the Conversion Rate. The others are less practical unless you are working with a brand having multi-million marketing budget where impression becomes critical. It makes sense simply because mass marketing evaluates the price of the sponsorship based on the number of global fans one soccer team has, and it somehow correlates with the jersey and merchandise sales.

Stats about mobile marketing in the US

The old schools: The Rule of 7 suggested that people will buy into something they see or hear 7 times and above, but does it still relevant today?

Individually, I don’t buy something just because I see its ads for many times. I buy because I’m connected to the brand or I’m in need of it urgently (regardless of brand). If I come across something totally new, I will still do my research online to read user’s reviews, comment etc., even I have seen its ads for a thousand times.

The Rule of 7 worked out perfectly during the TV era where public can be bombarded with information, therefore believing what they were seeing as True Fact hence buying into the idea as expected by the brand. Today, it has evolved into re-marketing tactic of Google and FB inserting tracking mechanism to feed targeted audience with matching ads based on browsing history. However, we are now living in the most powerful era of consumer in the mankind history. Thanks to the extremely connected world and the powerful smartphone which allows super efficient information sharing across the globe. People is getting “smarter” in a way and brand can’t bluff them no more.

There’s literally no geographical barrier when you can buy almost anything at anywhere from anywhere on marketplace such as Amazon or Alibaba/ Taobao.

Bad reviews seen on 11street marketplace, Malaysia.

Brands can no longer get away with low quality products or over-advertised products because bad reviews seen on complaint sites, Facebook page or marketplaces serve well as an alarm to the potential buyers. Irrelevant complaint from unreasonable customer will need to be managed differently though.


The internet dimension is inevitably going to be more and more crowded with all kind of content (both true and fake), with everyone racing to attract traffic and attention. Content creators who play the media role aim to boost advertising revenue while brand owners’ ultimate objective is to sell to their targeted customers. The course of action of both parties are generally commercially driven, and that is how our capitalism world works today. However, the buying behavior of the young generation is shifting towards  social responsibly brand and that is why brands’ marketing strategy needs to evolve to catch up with them.

Within this glorious information era where social media has penetrated deep into our daily lives today, almost everything is shareable. It becomes extremely important for brand to carefully design the content and story while trying to make Purpose Driven Content Marketing works . Otherwise, it does more damages than good for being perceived as trying to mislead people.

This KFC ad is the typical example which received many Dislikes and got tons of nasty comment. KFC is trying to play the idea of positioning chicken as a cute and beautiful figure which will be transformed into healthy diet to attract consumer. Apparently, it is not being well received and many have found the ad to be “disgusting”. Only by writing this I noticed that this brand has been a joke on the internet for quite some time. Worse, they seems to be repeating the same mistake with the latest chicken ad. Read more about the latest development of KFC branding.

Should you agree with what I’ve been telling and wanting to find out how we can help your business, simply drop us an email at and we will get in touch with you. We are looking forward to working with purposeful businesses (as stressed in this article) to create win-win, both commercially and socially. Read more about who we are here.

Authored by,

Bryan Tan Linkedin

4th Aug 2017

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