#Asia Effective marketing is about good storytelling: Pat Villaceran


The CEO and Founder of AED Global is all about creating authenticity and longevity in customer engagement


Image Credit: Shutterstock


The world of digital media is an increasingly crowded space. Terabytes of information are pumped into the web as more traditional media outlets and brands migrate their platforms online; never has there been a time where so many businesses are jostling for consumers’ attention.

Indeed, the digital era has made profound changes in the way people consume media. Consumers are spoiled for choice; they are drawn to the shiny, eye-catching things. If your brand doesn’t grab their attention in the first few seconds, you’ve lost a potential customer, reader, or user. As age-old advertising adages would tell you – the key for enabling engagement is crafting a good hook.

So what is the key to creating a good hook? Well, for media outlets, it is about lapping up trends. A quick sweep through your Facebook feed would reveal that articles with ‘click-bait’ titles such as “You are never going to believe what he did next!” are all the rage; you get plenty of ‘likes’, but would they necessarily translate into meaningful engagement?

e27 speaks to Pat Villaceran, CEO and Founder of the social-for-profit media agency AED Global to find out what creates long-lasting and genuine customer engagement and how her company is achieving those goals.

Is the click-bait anathema to strong customer engagement?

Beginning life as a news and editorial agency, the folks at AED Global are adherents to journalistic writing standards, and Villaceran is no fan of the click-bait.

“Most of the time, click-bait headlines do not really provide the correct information. This method could give immediate entertainment to readers, but this does not create a lasting impact on them,” says Villaceran.

Also Read: Personalisation is the key to connect with customers

That is not to say you shouldn’t create attention grabbing headlines – what use is a headline if it does not entice readers to read the rest of the article? You need to, however, ensure the body of the content lives up to the headline. You don’t want to create a spectacular opening and only to have it fizzled out before the main act.

“Misleading click-bait content are like ‘commercials’ in our mind. They are like background noise in our daily tasks. If you combine a great headline with an outstanding content, you can actually leave a mark in your readers’ memories,” she adds.

How should you view metrics?

Metrics are crucial to analyse and track the growth of your brand. But it is also easy to fall into the trap of “vanity metrics”. More subscribers and users or more ‘likes’ look great on paper but what value do they provide?

“If you are a local cupcake restaurant in Chicago, would it help you to get 100K followers in Thailand, for example. Though, popularity-wise, that could help at some point, this does not really connect you to your ROI (return of investment)…you want to tie it back to your marketing efforts and see if it resulted in an increase in local sales,” says Villaceran.

Marrying marketing and journalism

Although it was initially delivering only news, AED Global has branched out to other media-related services including marketing. It recently launched a cohesive branding service service – Plexuss Marketing.

“As we grew our audience-base and started partnering with different brands, we discovered that businesses needed assistance in other aspects of their promotion. So aside from the native banners, we saw a need to create a more sustainable service to our brand partners,” she says.

Plexuss Marketing is AED Global’s in-house business marketing solutions agency that provides a variety of assistance from business consultation, content marketing, website design, and social media.

But marketing and journalism are different animals, and, in some ways, diametrically opposed to each other. The former is about promotion, the latter, about objectivity. So how do you marry the two seemingly contradictory fields?

“We’ve been told recently that this has been an ‘uncharted territory’ and that what we’re doing is somehow the ‘impossible’. It is true that journalism and marketing are different species, but I think having a journalism background has made it easy for us to transition into this industry [marketing],” she says.

Also Read: The best time to start acquiring customers for your business

Villaceran says having journalism as the foundation helps them to infuse storytelling elements with social media, business planning and technical design, allowing them to create a cohesive brand story, which readers can use to establish a stronger connection with the brand.

Developing tailored solutions to brands

One of the ways AED Global help ensure its employees understand and execute quality content marketing is through the HubSpot certification programmes.

“HubSpot is a very important aspect for Plexuss Marketing because our services follow the overall HubSpot ethos which is Inbound Marketing – the type of user experience where brands provide outstanding value,” she says.

AED Global’s success managers carry different HubSpot certifications including Inbound Cert., Hubspot Cert., Inbound Sales Cert., (for businesses who will focus on connecting their content efforts to sales), Hubspot Design Cert., (for those businesses who will start off with their online media presence), and Contextual Marketing Cert., (an advanced marketing cert that could be applicable to more complex digital strategies).

“We want to be able to show our clients that our success managers are capable of handling unique business needs such as SEO techniques or creation of an effective editorial calendar.”

AED Global also recently launched an upper-tier programme for companies seeking accelerated growth: “I Got Grit”. In it, companies can gain access to a dedicated team of success managers.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a local restaurant in HK who would like to be known as an international tourist go-to place, or you’re a tech startup whose goal is to get one million app downloads in Google Store. The bottom line is, if you have a team who’s working with you towards a common goal, everything else gets easier,” says Villaceran.

Also Read: A step-by-step guide to startup marketing

For example, if your brand needs marketing experts in social media? AED Global will allocate a product manager and social influencers.

A business is made out of many moving parts, and one may not have the resources to expertly handle every aspect. Leveraging on external agencies to manage areas of business you are unfamiliar with would allow you to focus on your core strengths.


Content marketing is the future of branding. Especially for SMEs who have little to spare for advertising, content marketing is the only viable way of getting the message out effectively with low resources..

“It doesn’t matter if you are a one-person team; if your content provides value to the audience, that’s what counts.” says Villaceran.

“Statistics show that people normally skip commercials and ignore most of the banner ads displayed in digital media sites. These ‘old’ marketing techniques have very low impact for our smart audiences nowadays, making their “expensive” efforts obsolete,” she adds.

Content marketing allows the audience to see “the man behind the curtain” she says. It becomes an intimate relationship, giving both the audience and brands a voice.

Disclosure: This article was produced by the e27 content marketing team, sponsored by AED Global.

The post Effective marketing is about good storytelling: Pat Villaceran appeared first on e27.

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