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Nexia Asia Pacific – Marketing during the Covid-19 Crisis

At the recent Nexia Asia Pacific e-meet in August, fellow member firms shared insight into their marketing initiatives on how to be relevant in a time of consumer behaviour and priorities shift.

 

 

 

 

With social distancing and remote working becoming the new normal in today’s pandemic gloom, businesses are recreating new marketing strategies to connect with their customers. At the recent Nexia Asia Pacific e-meet in August, fellow member firms shared insight into their marketing initiatives on how to be relevant in a time of consumer behaviour and priorities shift. Here are the highlights of the panel discussion that unfolds Covid-19 situation in Australia, Japan, Vietnam and Singapore.

Panelists include the following:

Q: How are you navigating the new normal and communicating with your customers during these uncertain times?

Australia – COVID-19 has given us a unique opportunity by forcing us to think outside of the box for how we communicate with the both our clients and the wider market. Now more than ever it is particularly important to stay connected with our clients, so it has been a series of virtual meetings, phone calls and emails. The ‘new normal’ also means that things can change quite quickly so we need to be monitoring the situation closely and be ready to communicate any developments to the market. We do this via regular and timely updates distributed through digital platforms (website, social, email etc) all of which continually shows clients that we are on top of the developments and that they can trust us to help navigate them through which is really important.

Japan – If our clients request us to visit their offices, we can respond to it. However, to reduce the number of visiting, people during these visits, and as well commuting at different timings to avoid jam-packed trains. We also try to work from home as much as possible to comply with government’s request. Fortunately, the firm has implemented Amazon Workspaces, many years ago, which protects clients’ important and sensitive information. As a result, we can work anywhere, safely, with no data security risk even if we work onsite at clients’ premises. Clients who are also working from home welcome this desktop-as-a-service system that safeguards their important data which is not stored in our machines.

Q: Are there any new channels that you have explored to meet consumer needs and stay connected with your audience?

Singapore – Customer experience has taken on a new dimension that makes us rethink how we can innovate during this crisis and anticipate change. In fact, there are more engagements between clients and us, in lieu of face-to-face interactions, with the many webinars and virtual events hosted. The ability to answering their questions and receiving their feedback, are all made possible with real time connection, thus increase in efficiency. Furthermore, it is also cost-effective to host a webinar as compared to a physical seminar considering the various miscellaneous expenses. Collaboration and partnerships are also essential during this period to benefit local business communities and stay united. We are not alone, so don’t stop at reaching out to others.

Japan – We also implemented online channels to exchange information with our clients. We are also using e-meeting tools, such as telephone, emails, Skype, Zoom, Teams, Google meet etc. I recognise that there are so many e-meeting tools due to Covid-19. Depending on clients’ preference, all aspects of our business audit, tax, consultancy services, business developments, and even HR interviews can be conducted via these e-meeting tools. We have also conducted online networking events like drinking sessions with clients after 6pm which worked very well to stay in touch with them.

Q: Do you approach your clients proactively for needs?

Australia – Relationships are something that we pride ourselves on and this pandemic has shown us that we need to be more proactive when it comes to building these relationships – both with our staff and with our clients.

It has been encouraged across Australia to pick up the phone and reach out to clients to check in and see how they are going during such uncertain times. This conversation can be very enlightening into their needs and not something that can be achieved via email. This may seem like a small act, however, to clients it shows that we genuinely care and I think that this is really appreciated.

Vietnam – We stay proactive to connect with our clients through emails or conference call. In case they need to set up offline meetings, we try to reduce the number of people etc. This Covid-19, there are a lot of new policies by the government, so we keep in touch with our clients through emails, update the news through conference call and webinars to share information and improve our service. This is a good way for us to adapt to current situation.

Q: What are you doing to promote thought leadership and added capabilities?

Australia – Since March, the focus has been on keeping our clients and the market ahead of changes that may affect them. With COVID-19 developments being released so rapidly, our teams needed to concentrate on compiling key communications ready to be released almost immediately. We looked at channels that were quick to implement however made the information more personal and easier to digest. We launched podcast series and created interactive online tools (ie to assist clients understand any government support packages available for them). We also continued to utilise emails, social media, paid advertising and also a significant increase in virtual events. With fewer developments being released in relation to COVID-19 now, we are putting more resources into producing other thought leadership materials (newsletters, articles and reports), distributing these through all available channels.

Vietnam – To improve our leadership, and we made changes in our strategies to catch up with clients. In Vietnam, the fintech, startups and smaller scale companies have increased, so we exchange knowledge within this market. Our partners are working on potential clients by training internal teams to catch up with new markets in Vietnam, for instance, improving our service in finance control management. We also have a lot of smaller scale events for closed-group clients.

Japan – We reached out to Japan’s famous business marketing publisher, Nikkei Computer, a top information technology magazine, to feature our digital project on virtual desktop, Amazon Workspaces. Through these articles, we received positive feedback from existing and potential clients who think highly of our project, and some medium-sized accounting firms also became interested in implementing this. We were able to obtain trust from everyone in this sense. The timing was perfect as we were able to work smoothly per our normal operation when Covid-19 struck.

Singapore – We create platforms that connect clients and partners to discuss on business trending topics, sharing of business pain points, and identify partners to work on solutions. Generally, building a network of resources to mutually benefit those in need by leveraging on other’s strengths. One good example is the launch of Nexia InnoLab, a platform where it bridges the gap between end-users and solution providers, however in this instance, technological solutions. We aim to create value in our business preposition to our clients and tide them through this difficult time.

Q: How do you see marketing rethink and thrive to prospect and build audiences for incremental growth?

Singapore – In the technological space where there is near-zero downtime, end-users expect faster, if not, immediate turnaround of works and responses. It sets us thinking on how to manage today’s new wave of data and using it to better personalize our services. Being an early adopter of technology gives us the first mover advantage when the pandemic struck us unprepared. We were ‘virtual-workplace’ ready before. And now, we are enabling our digital capabilities by introducing AI, RPA and blockchain, into our course of work. These do not simply serve as an emergency fill-in, instead a long-term value when the world eventually normalised.

Vietnam – On short term plan, we will continue with the temporary use of current technology, such as, mobile phones, WhatsApp, to share our knowledge with clients. For longer term strategies, we have to think on ways to apply technology such as AI or blockchain. In Vietnam, there are a lot of changes in the digital space that can apply to accounting and finance industry. We use these opportunities to implement new work processes such as, e-Invoice etc. These will be good for both marketing and to improve our technology knowledge.

Q: What is your take on businesses reducing their marketing budgets?

Australia – In such an uncertain time, reducing budgets is understandable, however the focus needs to shift to implementing more cost-effective strategies than what a firm may normally do. Rather than costly in person events, merchandise, or large advertising campaigns, the focus should be in directing these budgets towards alternative avenues that still expand reach and brand awareness. Digital marketing is one key example of this – as long as the basics are already there, for example the firm has a website, you can focus on a content strategy (including articles, videos and distributing recorded webinars/events) along with looking at search engine optimisation, which is one simple yet cost effective way to achieve growth. In Australia, our organic search (Google, Yahoo etc.) accounts for over 50% of our sites traffic and is the main source of leads for our website.

Singapore – Against the rough financial backdrop we are in, or we’re just looking for ways to cut costs, it makes sense to re-examine our budget and start making cuts – safely. Big ticket items in the likes of physical events, exhibiting at seminars or roadshows, can be rechannelled for better use. Reinvest, if not embark now, on digital marketing campaigns that generate new and quality leads.

Invest in digital market tools. Whether to help us dig through data or fine-tuning our social presence, the right tools are not only time-saving but maintaining our sanity to focus on what is more important.

Q: How does your firm keep up with new marketing strategies in this fast-changing business environment?

Japan –Some bigger firms in Japan are hesitating to acquire new clients due to the pandemic where shortage of manpower resources and higher audit risks. Similarly, we are seeing manpower crunch. To curb this situation, we are hosting a lot more webinars for recruitment purpose, and as well to engage with our prospective clients. In addition, we have revamped our website to receive more inquiries from potential clients.

Vietnam – We have different strategies for the firm. For short term planning, we analysed the market and have improved our services by providing consultancy services to prospective clients on restructuring, particularly, human resource planning and cost cutting measures. We also recognise that M&A activities have increased due to a lot of new investments. In the longer run, we need to explore technologies to improvise traditional methods of accounting or tax services. To introduce smart contracts through blockchain or e-Invoice through AI. These are some ways to adapt to the new market after Covid.

 

CONTACTS
For more information, please contact:

May Tan
Marketing & Communications Manager
maytan@nexiats.com.sg