Exchange and global opportunities

Dim sum with a digital entrepreneur

David Ketchum says Hong Kong evolves so fast the jackhammer should be a national bird, but it’s more than the changing urban landscape he’s witnessed in some 20 years as a marketing and public relations professional in Asia.

Over a casual lunch at Cyberport – an ICT hub of more than 300 technology and digital tenants – the veteran entrepreneur advocated the need for strategy, content relevance and measuring return-on-investments by the quality of the impact on consumers rather than the amount of work you’ve put in.

After a stellar career with global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller and Calvin Klein, then building and selling technology venture Upstream Asia, and starting others, he says letting go of stuff that doesn’t make sense is a skill worth developing.

For David, it’s meant tough decisions to survive as a digital entrepreneur, such as knowing when to say ‘no’, and when to take a chance.

Some lucrative client opportunities may inject cash into a new start-up but if they don’t match your service offering, can drain resources and take focus away from other opportunities.

Sometimes it’s an exercise in compromise. David had to let go his passion for public relations practice to focus on what he knew to be a gap in the marketing and media landscape.

He recently established Current Asia, a multi-national business-to-business marketing start-up that makes sense of the complicated consumer journey and drives return on investments for clients through deployment and implementation of new marketing technologies and platforms.

Surprisingly, he says even some of the largest companies still don’t have it right in this digital age.

Technology is increasing competition. The programmatic approach – such as real time media bidding and buying – has influenced a new wave of customisation, automation and measurement of marketing investments to target individual consumers wherever they are on the purchase cycle.

Getting the right message, to the right people at the right time on their preferred platforms requires a combination of information technology and marketing skill.

While the CIO and CMO may have a boardroom battle for budget control, it makes sense. Digital provides behavioural data which marketers can then use to understand and target consumers.

Marketers must access and use data wisely to be effective, and make sure that person wanting a mountain bike receives promotions before their purchase – not after it.

Over our dim sum lunch, David shared some valuable advice to our study tour group of emerging professionals:

  • Think of yourself as working for yourself. Build a personal brand you can transfer, share and amplify through business to gain new work.
  • There is no speed before direction. Say ‘yes’ to opportunities early in your career. You can be discerning later, but start your career trying new things.
  • Practice what you preach. Be the best example of what you are selling to your clients.
  • Don’t over-promise and under-deliver, but rather the other way around. Client trust is built on your marketing effectiveness.
  • Be impatient. If you’re not happy, start looking for a new job.

Master of Business (Public Relations/Integrated Marketing Communications)

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