Circles.Life marketing head Delbert Ty shares their viral campaign recipes

delbert-ty

In recent times, telcos have never been the epitome of ‘cool’ regarding brand positioning. Because there are usually only a couple of dominant telco players in each market, they typically don’t have much incentive to innovate or provide a stellar customer experience.

This means it’s rare for customers to get genuinely excited about a telco brand. At least, this much is true, according to Delbert Ty, head of marketing at Singapore-based digital telco Circles.Life.

Circles.Life is on a mission “to bring power back to the consumers,” explains Ty. Launched in 2016, the company offers no-contract mobile carrier plans with fully digital support.

While this is the norm in many developing nations, the approach is considered novel in developed markets such as Singapore, as incumbent telcos lock customers into 12- to 24-month contracts and provide SIM cards and customer service at offline branches.

With Circles.Life, customers can instead buy a SIM card online and pay as they go. They can take comfort in knowing that the amount they spend on mobile fees sync with the data and minutes they use.

In 2019, Circles.Life claimed to have reached a five per cent market share in Singapore. The company then expanded to Taiwan and Australia that same year.

On top of simple and unique offerings, Circles.Life’s marketing efforts have injected a breath of fresh air into the regional telco space. The company has consistently created viral campaigns that get the public talking.

For example, the brand made waves during its 2016 launch by involving influencers who vandalised what seemed to be a new telco’s outdoor ads offering 3GB data for S$40 (which was the norm back then).

Also Read: Rise of neo telcos in Australia and what it means for us

The campaign sparked conversations that the offering was indeed nothing special and garnered media coverage about Circles.Life’s new data plan (20GB for S$20) after the brand unveiled itself as the one behind this stunt.

Speaking with ContentGrip (an online media powered by ContentGrow for professionals in media, marketing, and tech), Ty shares some of his recipes to help fellow marketers create viral campaigns.

Viral campaigns get folks talking about Circles.Life

viral marketing campaign - circles life vandalism campaign 2016 youtiao666
Influencer youtiao666 vandalised a fake telco ad in 2016.

When done correctly, viral marketing can significantly increase brand awareness. People will Google the brand responsible for engaging campaigns and visit the website. This, in turn, can help the company retarget them later on using paid ads.

Generally speaking, retargeting campaigns cost less than those that aim to bring in new visitors. As a result, this helps to bring the customer acquisition cost (CAC) down.

Higher awareness should also help increase a brand’s overall search volume on Google. Ideally, this will help increase SEM impressions and bring CAC costs down even further. According to Ty, these tactics can apply to any industry, whether it’s B2C and B2B.

“Be clear with your strategy, message, creative material, and plan,” says Ty. “They all have to have in clear linear sync — meaning ‘this therefore that.’ When it comes to execution, you should be able to explain this to any layperson.”

In the case of Circles.Life’s vandalism campaign, the idea was about waking people up to the reality that what incumbent telcos offer is — quite simply — not good. Instead of just showing a ‘brand A vs brand B’ message, the team brought to life the sentiment of customer dissatisfaction through faux vandalism.

Circles.Life announced its most extensive no-contract data plan in this campaign, which was 20GB for S$20. This was an outsized improvement from the 3GB for S$40 commonly offered by other local telcos at the time.

Also Read: Gorilla Mobile’s blockchain-powered offerings are giving rival telcos a run for their money

Viral campaigns should evoke strong, visceral emotions

viral marketing campaign - circles life middle finger sydney
Circles.Life giving 2020 the middle finger in Australia

The core component of viral marketing is not so different from traditional marketing. Practitioners need to have a strategy, a target audience they want to reach, a clear message they want to convey, a creative idea, and a plan that stitches it all together coherently.

“The only thing that sets what we’ve done apart is the creative idea. We think of the Nth level extreme of what can elicit a visceral and emotional response,” says Ty.

“This usually considers culture and local norms, as what gets a strong response in one market could very well fall flat in another. But there’s also a flip side. Something that gets the appropriate emotional response in one market might end up being way over the top in another.”

In the case of Circles.Life’s vandalism campaign, Ty believes the strategy might not work in a country where vandalism is more common (in Singapore, there is very little vandalism).

So marketers need to understand each target market’s culture fully. According to him, culture is the vehicle in which a company’s ideas can be distributed.

viral marketing campaign - circles life 3dollarballer
Circles.Life’s also made headlines in Singapore when its ‘vending machines’ let locals pay S$3 in exchange for S$50. The free money stunt drew such a massive queue that police eventually stepped in to disperse the crowd. This was done to promote the company’s new S$3 unlimited data plan.

To find viral campaign ideas, the team does rapid-fire brainstorming sessions to populate a list of ideas. The team discusses trending topics, perennially hot issues and explores which ones sync well with the brand’s strategy and messaging.

Also Read: Transcelestial aims to help telcos roll out 5G rapidly and cost effectively in SEA

Ty notes that marketers should always try questioning the premise. He asks, “Why are certain things done the way they are? Why is this the right channel? Why should we be liked as a brand? Through this line of questioning, you’ll unearth the weirdest, wackiest ideas that will help you drive distinction.”

To objectively assess whether an idea has a decisive score in “discussion worthiness,” Ty’s team will check Google Trends and Twitter to see what’s trending. Another avenue is to look at media mentions via various tracking tools such as Google Alerts and BrandWatch.

“Lastly, we’ve also explored doing ‘fake door’ tests on ideas by creating meme versions of the concepts and posting them on social media organically. Based on the upvotes and likes, we’re able to assess its discussion worthiness,” adds the marketer.

How Circles.Life handle mystery brand reveals

Several of Circles.Life’s publicity stunts have been kept unbranded initially, with the brand then revealing itself later on to spark interest. This is designed to explore whether the team can achieve more significant virality if the campaign is perceived as ‘organic’ by the public — rather than an advertisement.

viral marketing campaign - circles life australia ad lover charlotte
The first ad features a lover’s break-up message

In Australia, the team decided to do a fake print ad of a scorned lover breaking up with her partner on a major publication. This stunt generated several media pickups, including one from the world-renowned tabloid Daily Mail.

As a former Procter & Gamble marketer, Ty shares that he uses Pantene’s playbook for mystery brand reveal activities. He emphasises the importance of providing a clear narrative that follows each initial mystery.

Also Read: dtac Accelerate discontinues as the Thai telco company seeks ‘new business direction’

For the Australian fake ad stunt, the team followed it up with another print ad. It revealed how this disenchanted lover was breaking up with her telco and that Circles.Life is here for her now.

viral marketing campaign - circles life australia ad lover charlotte
The follow-up ad unveiled Circles.Life’s publicity stunt

Ty explains, “This continuity in the narrative makes it easy for the audience to recall the previous coverage, and we eventually can drive the user’s journey back to our brand.”

That said, some stunts don’t need to be mysterious at all. For example, earlier this year, the telco created a S$20,000 lottery for families who, for some reason, are not eligible for housing benefits or loans from the government. The stunt was introduced as part of its new family plan launch.

Ty adds, “Even though we knew it would ruffle feathers, it only made sense if we put our name on it. In this case, we believed that because we were making a stand, literally putting our money where our mouth is, and most importantly, not selling anything, we’d be able to achieve the cut-through we wanted.”

He reminds fellow marketers to make sure that there is a reason why they’re not revealing a brand during bold marketing stunts. Further, each stunt should be carefully orchestrated not to contradict the creative idea. Lastly, practitioners should be mindful that this is a tactic. Tactics don’t work indefinitely, and they certainly don’t work if the strategy is wrong.

He explains, “Our approach here is that with risky bets like stunts and viral activities, there is an inherently low chance of success. So, no matter how creative you and your team are, you’ll never have a greater than 50 per cent hit rate.”

Also Read: Indonesia’s largest telco Telkom in talks to acquire stake in Go-Jek

Because of this dynamic, Circles.Life’s marketing team hedges the risk by spending less than 20 per cent of their time and money on publicity stunts. This allows them to be braver and not worry about the cost of failure. They spend most of the budget on more traditional and reliable channels that are easily trackable, like performance marketing.

Ty says, “Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is okay, so long as you have a contingency if it does happen.”

This article (in collaboration with BLOCK71 SE Asia Booster) appeared first on ContentGrip

Editor’s note: e27 aims to foster thought leadership by publishing views from the community. Share your opinion by submitting an article, video, podcast, or infographic

Join our e27 Telegram group, FB community, or like the e27 Facebook page

The post Circles.Life marketing head Delbert Ty shares their viral campaign recipes appeared first on e27.

,
delbert-ty

In recent times, telcos have never been the epitome of ‘cool’ regarding brand positioning. Because there are usually only a couple of dominant telco players in each market, they typically don’t have much incentive to innovate or provide a stellar customer experience.

This means it’s rare for customers to get genuinely excited about a telco brand. At least, this much is true, according to Delbert Ty, head of marketing at Singapore-based digital telco Circles.Life.

Circles.Life is on a mission “to bring power back to the consumers,” explains Ty. Launched in 2016, the company offers no-contract mobile carrier plans with fully digital support.

While this is the norm in many developing nations, the approach is considered novel in developed markets such as Singapore, as incumbent telcos lock customers into 12- to 24-month contracts and provide SIM cards and customer service at offline branches.

With Circles.Life, customers can instead buy a SIM card online and pay as they go. They can take comfort in knowing that the amount they spend on mobile fees sync with the data and minutes they use.

In 2019, Circles.Life claimed to have reached a five per cent market share in Singapore. The company then expanded to Taiwan and Australia that same year.

On top of simple and unique offerings, Circles.Life’s marketing efforts have injected a breath of fresh air into the regional telco space. The company has consistently created viral campaigns that get the public talking.

For example, the brand made waves during its 2016 launch by involving influencers who vandalised what seemed to be a new telco’s outdoor ads offering 3GB data for S$40 (which was the norm back then).

Also Read: Rise of neo telcos in Australia and what it means for us

The campaign sparked conversations that the offering was indeed nothing special and garnered media coverage about Circles.Life’s new data plan (20GB for S$20) after the brand unveiled itself as the one behind this stunt.

Speaking with ContentGrip (an online media powered by ContentGrow for professionals in media, marketing, and tech), Ty shares some of his recipes to help fellow marketers create viral campaigns.

Viral campaigns get folks talking about Circles.Life

viral marketing campaign - circles life vandalism campaign 2016 youtiao666
Influencer youtiao666 vandalised a fake telco ad in 2016.

When done correctly, viral marketing can significantly increase brand awareness. People will Google the brand responsible for engaging campaigns and visit the website. This, in turn, can help the company retarget them later on using paid ads.

Generally speaking, retargeting campaigns cost less than those that aim to bring in new visitors. As a result, this helps to bring the customer acquisition cost (CAC) down.

Higher awareness should also help increase a brand’s overall search volume on Google. Ideally, this will help increase SEM impressions and bring CAC costs down even further. According to Ty, these tactics can apply to any industry, whether it’s B2C and B2B.

“Be clear with your strategy, message, creative material, and plan,” says Ty. “They all have to have in clear linear sync — meaning ‘this therefore that.’ When it comes to execution, you should be able to explain this to any layperson.”

In the case of Circles.Life’s vandalism campaign, the idea was about waking people up to the reality that what incumbent telcos offer is — quite simply — not good. Instead of just showing a ‘brand A vs brand B’ message, the team brought to life the sentiment of customer dissatisfaction through faux vandalism.

Circles.Life announced its most extensive no-contract data plan in this campaign, which was 20GB for S$20. This was an outsized improvement from the 3GB for S$40 commonly offered by other local telcos at the time.

Also Read: Gorilla Mobile’s blockchain-powered offerings are giving rival telcos a run for their money

Viral campaigns should evoke strong, visceral emotions

viral marketing campaign - circles life middle finger sydney
Circles.Life giving 2020 the middle finger in Australia

The core component of viral marketing is not so different from traditional marketing. Practitioners need to have a strategy, a target audience they want to reach, a clear message they want to convey, a creative idea, and a plan that stitches it all together coherently.

“The only thing that sets what we’ve done apart is the creative idea. We think of the Nth level extreme of what can elicit a visceral and emotional response,” says Ty.

“This usually considers culture and local norms, as what gets a strong response in one market could very well fall flat in another. But there’s also a flip side. Something that gets the appropriate emotional response in one market might end up being way over the top in another.”

In the case of Circles.Life’s vandalism campaign, Ty believes the strategy might not work in a country where vandalism is more common (in Singapore, there is very little vandalism).

So marketers need to understand each target market’s culture fully. According to him, culture is the vehicle in which a company’s ideas can be distributed.

viral marketing campaign - circles life 3dollarballer
Circles.Life’s also made headlines in Singapore when its ‘vending machines’ let locals pay S$3 in exchange for S$50. The free money stunt drew such a massive queue that police eventually stepped in to disperse the crowd. This was done to promote the company’s new S$3 unlimited data plan.

To find viral campaign ideas, the team does rapid-fire brainstorming sessions to populate a list of ideas. The team discusses trending topics, perennially hot issues and explores which ones sync well with the brand’s strategy and messaging.

Also Read: Transcelestial aims to help telcos roll out 5G rapidly and cost effectively in SEA

Ty notes that marketers should always try questioning the premise. He asks, “Why are certain things done the way they are? Why is this the right channel? Why should we be liked as a brand? Through this line of questioning, you’ll unearth the weirdest, wackiest ideas that will help you drive distinction.”

To objectively assess whether an idea has a decisive score in “discussion worthiness,” Ty’s team will check Google Trends and Twitter to see what’s trending. Another avenue is to look at media mentions via various tracking tools such as Google Alerts and BrandWatch.

“Lastly, we’ve also explored doing ‘fake door’ tests on ideas by creating meme versions of the concepts and posting them on social media organically. Based on the upvotes and likes, we’re able to assess its discussion worthiness,” adds the marketer.

How Circles.Life handle mystery brand reveals

Several of Circles.Life’s publicity stunts have been kept unbranded initially, with the brand then revealing itself later on to spark interest. This is designed to explore whether the team can achieve more significant virality if the campaign is perceived as ‘organic’ by the public — rather than an advertisement.

viral marketing campaign - circles life australia ad lover charlotte
The first ad features a lover’s break-up message

In Australia, the team decided to do a fake print ad of a scorned lover breaking up with her partner on a major publication. This stunt generated several media pickups, including one from the world-renowned tabloid Daily Mail.

As a former Procter & Gamble marketer, Ty shares that he uses Pantene’s playbook for mystery brand reveal activities. He emphasises the importance of providing a clear narrative that follows each initial mystery.

Also Read: dtac Accelerate discontinues as the Thai telco company seeks ‘new business direction’

For the Australian fake ad stunt, the team followed it up with another print ad. It revealed how this disenchanted lover was breaking up with her telco and that Circles.Life is here for her now.

viral marketing campaign - circles life australia ad lover charlotte
The follow-up ad unveiled Circles.Life’s publicity stunt

Ty explains, “This continuity in the narrative makes it easy for the audience to recall the previous coverage, and we eventually can drive the user’s journey back to our brand.”

That said, some stunts don’t need to be mysterious at all. For example, earlier this year, the telco created a S$20,000 lottery for families who, for some reason, are not eligible for housing benefits or loans from the government. The stunt was introduced as part of its new family plan launch.

Ty adds, “Even though we knew it would ruffle feathers, it only made sense if we put our name on it. In this case, we believed that because we were making a stand, literally putting our money where our mouth is, and most importantly, not selling anything, we’d be able to achieve the cut-through we wanted.”

He reminds fellow marketers to make sure that there is a reason why they’re not revealing a brand during bold marketing stunts. Further, each stunt should be carefully orchestrated not to contradict the creative idea. Lastly, practitioners should be mindful that this is a tactic. Tactics don’t work indefinitely, and they certainly don’t work if the strategy is wrong.

He explains, “Our approach here is that with risky bets like stunts and viral activities, there is an inherently low chance of success. So, no matter how creative you and your team are, you’ll never have a greater than 50 per cent hit rate.”

Also Read: Indonesia’s largest telco Telkom in talks to acquire stake in Go-Jek

Because of this dynamic, Circles.Life’s marketing team hedges the risk by spending less than 20 per cent of their time and money on publicity stunts. This allows them to be braver and not worry about the cost of failure. They spend most of the budget on more traditional and reliable channels that are easily trackable, like performance marketing.

Ty says, “Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is okay, so long as you have a contingency if it does happen.”

This article (in collaboration with BLOCK71 SE Asia Booster) appeared first on ContentGrip

Editor’s note: e27 aims to foster thought leadership by publishing views from the community. Share your opinion by submitting an article, video, podcast, or infographic

Join our e27 Telegram group, FB community, or like the e27 Facebook page

The post Circles.Life marketing head Delbert Ty shares their viral campaign recipes appeared first on e27.

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