Confessions of a Digital Marketing Hit Man

By Azleen Abdul Rahim

I don’t like to sell, I like inbound better.

By making people inbound and check what I write, indirectly I will swing them to see who I am and what I do, right after they read through those articles. They will eventually see the services or products I offer as well. Every single time they come over to my blog, it’s like I’m planting a small dot on their mind about the name and the brand – Azleen. I keep on doing the same thing day-in-day-out in every channel that I’m on, to ensure that I plant enough about me. I know these dots will disappear in a few days. From dark concentrated black, it will turn to grey, going dimmer by days and totally gone soon. As I planted more dots, the older ones will disappear and the new ones remain there for a few days till they’re gone too. The process has to go on and on. You see, people will forget what they see. Only when things become repetitive, they will notice about it and then they will remember. This is how awareness works.

Awareness will work only when I manage to get through to their mind. Not many people or brand can actually penetrate to another human mind as powerful as Apple does, or maybe as IKEA does or even Nike for example. Many people think they know how these brands do it, but in reality they are all playing a guessing game. That is why you are seeing so many theories out there. Did you notice that those suggested tips and tricks about something are different from one author to the other? That is why I always tell everyone I know, do not believe those theories they read. Use whatever points that you think make sense to you, take a note out of it and that is it. Even marketers like me are also playing the guessing game trying to make a campaign works. Yes, even I have tools to utilise.

If you must now, these big brands like Apple, IKEA and Nike planted theirs into the people’s mind through the most natural way – similar like how love works. It’s through the heart. They make each campaign that they have, dead simple and absolutely personalised. This is why people can easily understand the message. The level of relatability is very, very high. You need to see beyond each marketing campaign they’re doing and take these ‘unspoken’ leads for your own campaign. These are how I learn to improve my skills. Observation.

With a similar concept of acquiring love from the opposite gender, I like to imagine the same situation when I am working on a campaign. To make it successful, I deeply need to understand how human works, and how does love being perceived and the reason behind each love being accepted. For me, brand-to-human love is very similar to human-to-human love. It involves the eyeballs to the heart, the emotions part of it, need a lot of efforts to make it work, building trust and obviously time. All these are for one single answer to a bigger question – why you.

The way I see it, love isn’t about the strategy of marketing you put forth trying to win the heart of the other person you’re in love with. It’s all about you. It’s the matter of how you are being perceived and accepted by that person whole-heartedly. Why must you be chosen over somebody else, can you be trusted in the first place, and in which way you can value add to my life? These are the 3 questions why you must answer yourself on behalf of the person you love before you go out there and approach the person. So similar goes for brands, it’s all about you. That is why building trust is never to be taken lightly especially when your brand is new.

I worked with so many people and brands on their digital strategy, streamlining whatever that needs to be streamlined. Yet there is so little of them really understand the whole idea of digital marketing. Not only that, just a tiny percentage owns enough patience too. They can’t wait to see results, sales and revenue go up, no complaints, people just buy the product when they see the ads and so on. I see so many wet dreams become nightmares after I explained to them why they won’t achieve whatever that was planned in a short period of time. How long then? Well, answer this. How long does it take for you to win your partner’s heart by the way? That’s the answer.

I see those who really endure the painful moments of failure in their digital strategy, strive along a hardship journey to pivot it, invest diligently on creativity, patience in seeing the results, never point fingers at others when things didn’t work out, high level of give-and-take attitude and really believe and work together as a team will prevail. Can your brand endures these, having your hearts bigger than your ego?

When I see negative traits from individuals or brands that approach me for help, I will decline the offer completed. I can never work with these negativities. Somehow there are still a few who didn’t show these at first, and I accepted the offer to work with them on their strategy. In the first few months, everything seems okay but when things didn’t go their way for whatever reasons or perhaps hitting a wall on certain campaigns, this is when I will see their true colours. I will see the vision changes, attitude get consumed by ego, no more common sense decision being made, finger pointing and the entire original plan being diverted and becomes something I couldn’t understand anymore. Once I smell this, I will cut myself loose immediately. These people or companies aren’t worth my time at all. Words will be spoken behind me, so be it. As a professional and positive person, I can never talk bad about others specifically. It’s just not my style. I just move forward. And this is how creative people react on average.

All the people and brands that I worked with really respect the creative ideas, strategy and work being done for them. They understand the value that is being given to them is far more valuable that the investment itself. They acquire all the skills being learned by these marketers, years of experience gained and knowledge being taught and read. All these are being acquired in a short period of time in exchange for a reasonable fee. Despite these, there are also another version of people or brands who didn’t quite get it. I can’t change these kind of mindset so I stay away from them, let them find solutions that suits them well, and wish them best of luck.

The best marketing method is all method. This is what I really believe in. So if you were to ask me whether the digital way is effective than the traditional ones, I would suggest both are equally important and you need to consider both. Having said that, the best part is still you don’t have to sell, as these can be done through inbound.