The Negotiation

In this episode of The Negotiation, we talk with Scott Silverman, currently the Director of Integrated Marketing @ The Context Collective. Scott dramatically shifted gears from morning drive radio host and sketch comedian, to joining Ogilvy in the ’90s to then be sent to Bejing with the instructions “Fix China” referring to the IBM account they managed at the time. Scott has been working in and around China ever since. We talk about launching IBM's e-business and rejecting the oft-used “wall test” when it came to creating creative in Asia. We talk about the importance of localizing imagery or copy for each local market and the difference in measuring impact in the 2000s vs 5 years ago to gauge what was working and what wasn’t. Scott also takes us on a trip down memory lane around the impact mobile had on the marketing agency world in markets like Japan and China and the changes it predicated in digital media, as well as the changes it brought in the consumers the brands were targeting and trying to catch up with the expectation of immediacy.

Show Notes

Today on The Negotiation, Scott Silverman emphasizes efficiency and localizing new technologies as the two keys to brand success.
When it comes to promoting your product, your service, or even your company, you must influence the perception around the thing you intend to bring exposure to. As to “what’s in the soup”, the most sacrosanct are 1) the product, and 2) the key benefit. The brand must be aware of the sensibilities of its target consumer and market accordingly.
Scott brings up Lenovo’s ThinkPad as an example. Instead of simply translating the copy into Chinese word-for-word, the better approach would be to “calibrate” the benefits to better resonate with the Chinese buyer, which may include the tone and manner of the promotional material. “Content is not key,” says Scott. “Context is key.”
Scott works in multiple markets in Asia. To thrive as a marketer in these countries, especially as a Westerner, he says that you must “be like a comedian: You have to know your audience.” For instance, he likens Hong Kong to Shanghai (and even Germany), wherein they simply want the hard facts listed out, sans an abundance of visual metaphors.
Specifically, they want to know these three things: “What is it? How much does it cost? Why should we care?” In fact, Scott does not like to use the term “Asian market” as they are all different, to the point that he now focuses on marketing to individual cities.
Scott believes that direct response campaigns are the best way to measure consumer insights. These are incredibly valuable in that, for a specific product, a brand may decide on different calls to action or rearranging the list of benefits depending on the city.
Measuring data was “very basic” in the 2000s compared to today’s market. This was partly due to changes in communication—back then we had direct mail; now we have email and social media. This allows for more clarity of consumer realities in real-time. “Almost 100% of what I do now is digital,” says Scott.
The recent “tsunami” of mobile solutions has completely revamped the economy. This led to brands opting for more experiential marketing that is uniquely mobile native. The immediacy of mobile is its defining trait. People became less patient, and the longer it took for them to receive something, the higher their expectations for it. “This is what brought creative and media together. It forced a relationship that before was a little tenuous.”
“In order to succeed in China, you need to be willing to fail many, many times. The speed to fail is the speed to success.

What is The Negotiation?

Despite being the world’s most potent economic area, Asia can be one of the most challenging regions to navigate and manage well for foreign brands. However, plenty of positive stories exist and more are emerging every day as brands start to see success in engaging and deploying appropriate market growth strategies – with the help of specialists.

The Negotiation is an interview show that showcases those hard-to-find success stories and chats with the incredible leaders behind them, teasing out the nuances and digging into the details that can make market growth in APAC a winning proposition.