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Ahead of the Brand Marketing Leaders Summit Singapore 2019, we interviewed Bipasha Minocha, Group Brand & Marketing Director of EtonHouse International Education Group. 
Tell us a bit more about yourself and your role at EtonHouse International Education Group

I started out as a digital marketer before the ‘dot com boom.’ Yes, that’s what it was called back then, in the early 2000’s where we saw people pretty much lose interest in anything digital given its lack of access. I remember endless conversations amongst our tribe of evangelists that the digital renaissance would happen. In the meanwhile, we were the lesser mortals, the traditional marketers were the demigods. The year 2007 changed everything. We suddenly had this powerful device (read ‘the world’) in our hands. The rest as they say, is history. 

I have always been a digital enthusiast and I am fortunate that I am able to follow my passion and make a difference in my current role with the power of digital. I look after the brand and marketing function for the EtonHouse Group. I have a great boss and mentor and a passionate bunch in my team, who may not always understand my restlessness and my penchant for all things new, but they always indulge me. Lesser known fact: I am also a trained early childhood educator and my ‘teacher’ persona comes into play with the right provocation!

What are the most challenging aspects of your role as a marketer in the education sector?

The terms ‘marketing’ and ‘education’ are not usually mentioned in the same breath. ROI is a term akin to sacrilege. Even though education is a sunrise industry, I know people who cringe at the mention of the word ‘industry’ to define what we do in schools. The same goes for parents too. The idea of a ‘commercial’ school is probably the biggest put off. And I understand. I do (remember, I am part educator). ‘Marketing and branding’ in my opinion, should be interpreted differently in schools and other education settings; it is a way to build real connections with your most important stakeholders - parents and students. Because when real connections are made, you inspire loyalty for life. And while you are nurturing that remarkable connection, you are also bringing all elements of the education process into a seamless process. Not only does that process build efficiency, but also aligns everything and everyone to the vision and mission of the organisation. It focuses on the ‘why’ first before the ‘how’ and the ‘what.’ Quoting Simon Sinek, ‘people don’t buy what you do, but why you do it.’ It’s time to move away from advertising led messaging to messaging that connects with the core of the organisation. It’s time to ‘unbrand’ the ‘brand.’ 

The biggest challenge therefore for me has been to change mindsets, not just within my team but amongst all the internal stakeholders. It’s also not easy to build consistency in messaging and experiences both top and bottom of the funnel and across all our schools, especially with the added complexity of sub-brands and schools in many different locations and contexts. 

Have you noticed a change in marketing strategies used at your current company in relation to education, compared with your previous jobs? If so, what are the major differences?
It’s been a little over 2 years that we started on our transformation journey and it’s pretty much changed our lives. We have become increasingly strategic in our efforts. We are a lot more performance-driven and goal-orientated. We have also been conscious to move away from media that doesn’t provide direct attribution. We are increasingly looking at smarter and more innovative ways to create that memorable connection and building a funnel that nurtures CLTV and a lower CAC, moving away from interruption-based marketing to an inbound thinking with content and storytelling at the core of what we do. 

AI and data have proven to be vital when building successful, curated customer-engaged campaigns. How are you best optimising your data for marketing?
AI and actionable data are now pretty much mainstream. They provide a tremendous opportunity for us to scale and be more strategic in our campaigns. We are an education group and our competitive edge lies in developing efficiencies of scale. Both data and AI provide us with the means to do so. We use first, second and third-party data for our programmatic buys and AI to enhance efficiencies in our funnel. We see a lot of potential in the way AI can build scale and efficiency into our budgeting and planning process and we can’t wait to start exploring the possibilities that it can unleash in these areas.

As digital channels continue to evolve, what measures do you take to adapt or embrace these new technologies?
Martech exists to make our lives simpler and less complicated. It also helps us get better and smarter at what we do. I am a firm believer in this. As such, we don’t use technology for the sake of using it. Our approach is to be very intentional and strategic in what we do, prioritising business challenges while using technology to connect meaningfully with all our stakeholders – our parents in particular. Martech brings about transparency and accountability into what we do. Going forward, we hope to evaluate solutions to bring more of these elements into our media buys. Voice search and conversational UI are areas that will increasingly become important while we continue to explore new and innovative ways to us AI. 

Bipasha Minocha will be speaking at the Brand Marketing Leaders Summit on 24th & 25th April in Singapore. Her presentation will focus on EtonHouse’s digital transformation story and how they use MarTech for efficiency and ROI. You can find more details here.

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