Things That Can Help Marketers Speed Up Technological Adoption in the Philippines
Much can be said about the budding local tech scene in the Philippines. On one hand, the country is more receptive to technology today than ever before. In fact, startup incubators such as KickStart Ventures and IdeaSpace have had no problem attracting technopreneurs and bringing their bright ideas to life. Schools like De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila University have been opening up to supporting student-driven tech projects that aim to foster innovation among the nation’s youth. Meanwhile, businesses have also warmed up to accepting Near Field Communications (NFC) as a mode of payment, utilizing NFC for loyalty card programs, and even enabling NFC for non-NFC enabled handsets. And, SMEs now enjoy the option of accepting carded payments via a mobile POS terminal linked to the merchant’s smartphone.
On the other hand, despite the marked progress in technological adoption, the Philippines as a whole is not yet completely ready to accept advanced technological innovation. Here are some hard facts that keep us grounded – 80% of Filipinos remain unbanked; e-commerce has not yet gained full traction; and, only 25% own plastic cards (e.g. ATM, prepaid, or debit cards).
As part of a company that is passionate about constantly introducing new technologies to an emerging market such as ours, here are 4 lessons I have picked up along the way:
1. Different strokes for different folks
While it can be tempting for a tech marketer to do as big brands do and funnel marketing resources to the top ATL/BTL channels that guarantee massive reach, marketing technology may require further introspection and a deeper analysis of the market in terms of its readiness, existing level of awareness, and potential reception.
Something I had to learn the hard and expensive way – the tried and tested method of getting a celebrity endorser will not promise a substantially higher sales figure or an increase in subscriber count (despite how perfect the celebrity is for the service, and the general affinity we Filipinos have towards local celebrities). Most of the time, targeted and more cost-efficient alternatives exist – in my case, this came in the form of strategic digital ads and a mean remarketing roadmap in place.
2. KISS: Keep it simple, stupid
Before launching, run through the service once, twice, and three times over. If you can afford to, schedule a pilot testing period where you have a closed group use the service before the commercial launch.
It’s very easy to overestimate the level of market readiness and to overlook easy errors (see #2). My boss always reminds me to ensure that everything is “dummy-proof” – just because the entire company and our partner agencies get it, doesn’t mean the market will.
3. Work starts after the launch of a service
Unlike other industries, post-launch is when the real work begins in the world of technology. Since the Philippines is just about to cross over the technological frontier, we are not yet blessed with a ready portfolio of local executions to benchmark from in terms of best practices and what-to-avoid’s. Hence, post-launch is when one is truly able to recalibrate the service and map out the appropriate next steps, with your customers guiding you every step of the way.
Customer feedback is gold, and the good thing about launching new technology is that the market is generally more forgiving when they encounter bugs or system errors that disrupt user experience. (True story: We once published a mobile app that prominently featured the typo “updateting.” Thankfully, aside from the number of concerned – read: agitated – emails we received and the sharp blow to our egos, I am happy to report that we did not suffer from a loss in the number of app users.)
4. Love for technology and innovation
As with any other industry – be passionate about what you do. This passion will serve as the strong, invisible force that nudges you to continuously gather innovative inspiration from just about anything you read or watch, see or hear. “Innovation” – a catchall that gets thrown around more often than the word “love” – and for good reason! The attitude of continuously seeking ways to innovate is the key to staying in front of the game. This will ultimately serve any marketer – as well as the entire country – well.