SEEK Asia’s Ramesh Rajandran on the Future of Marketing

Ramesh Rajandran, Chief Marketing Officer at SEEK Asia (pic above), believes that while the role of marketing – the fundamentals of marketing – hasn’t changed, it continues to develop and evolve with the times.

“In every business, marketing is super-important. I’m a huge advocate of ‘customer experience’ (CX), because experience matters. Experiences are going to define businesses that will live through this pandemic. If you focus on the customer and you deliver a great CX, and that spreads across the business, that’s great. Today, I’m not just looking to buy a product; I need to buy a product that connects with me; has the right purpose with regards to how I want to interact with that brand or service,” said Ramesh.

Ramesh was speaking with Daphne Iking in the second session of the ‘How To Pivot’ series organised by JobStreet. The objective of the series is to help Malaysian’s widen their job opportunities while obtaining priceless employment tips from market experts.

The main objective of this series serves to build the awareness of JobStreet as a brand that cares and constantly adding value for candidates. This stems from the reality that, with the onset of the pandemic, many people had lost their jobs and are unclear about how to apply their skills, knowledge and work experience in other vocations.

Ramesh emphasised the importance of putting customers at the heart of everything that businesses do; not only for the success of a marketing strategy, but also for the success of the long-term business as a whole.

“Today, marketers understand that having a customer-centric mindset and focusing on developing an amazing CX is key. Companies not only have to put customers at the heart of storytelling, but of the products that they build, and the touchpoints that their customers are interacting with. You need to know who your customers are, how they move through your experience, and what emotional dynamics and information are required to make events successful.”

According to Ramesh, businesses needed to build marketing into the corporate culture.

“We need to break down silos and make sure that every department understands the roles they need to play in terms of the customer experience and the customer journey,” he explained.

“Further, data is being commoditised. Without data and data analytics, you can’t build proper marketing campaigns in this day and age. You need to be able to use data so you can measure your ROIs, talk to management, the C-suite, and the rest of the organisation on how marketing can add value.”

Ramesh was expressing his perspectives in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic. As part of Australian-based employment marketplace SEEK, SEEK Asia operates under the JobStreet and JobsDB job portal brands in Southeast Asia.

“COVID-19 has caused havoc in the livelihoods of many people. Many people were affected back in March 2020, when the first MCO was implemented. When JobStreet did a survey, 1 in 3 had had their livelihoods disrupted. About 18% of them were permanently retrenched due to the pandemic, and 11% had to stop working temporarily. 48% of people who were still working had to take a pay cut of 10%-30% to ensure that their businesses kept running.

“On top of this, the way people were working were also changing. Work/life changed; everybody had to work from home, and this created a chain effect in terms of how people who traditionally walked into an office or a call centre could still carry on their jobs. Businesses had to rethink how they were going to operate within hours and days of MCO being imposed.”

SEEK was no different, as it had to rethink its marketing campaigns. “For instance, nobody was actually driving to see billboard advertisements. We took a step back to think about what people wanted to hear from us during a pandemic. I’ve lost my job; the issue is not finding my next job, it’s about sustaining my life.”

The pandemic and movement restrictions imposed by many governments globally – including the MCO in Malaysia – had changed employment and job trends.

“If you came to our platform and looked for ‘work from home’ jobs, you would see a tonne of jobs that would allow you to work from home – that was not the case before this. We are also seeing from our research that the remuneration or the benefits given to these kinds of jobs are also changing, so businesses are allowing employees to have an Internet connection at home, which was never the case. Sometimes you had your mobile phone subsidy, but now you see subsidies for Internet connection. You are allowed to buy an extra monitor, get a new table – so all of these are changing.”

When asked about what businesses sought from marketing professionals, Ramesh was of the opinion that, in general, businesses looked for people who were passionate, brought something new to the table, were innovative, and had a good culture and mindset.

“When it comes to marketing skills, if an organisation says it’s looking for 5 years’ experience and you only have 2, don’t shy away because there’s potentially an opportunity for you. I would also say that it’s time for upskilling and reskilling; look at the growing job demands in marketing. If you’re starting out fresh and you want to go into marketing, take a course online on data – how you read, collect, and synthesise data.

“Next, look at the trends that are happening in the marketing space, digital marketing for example. If I’m going to have someone join me on social media, I would expect that person to actively use social media and understand how social media is leveraged and how he or she can bring value to the organisation.”

Did Ramesh have any advice for people who wanted to move into marketing as a career?

“Don’t lose passion. Be innovative. Try things that are new. Start harnessing your leadership skills. Try, get dirty, experiment, fail fast. These are all things we have been saying for the past 5 years, but now, they’re becoming a reality.”

The intent of the ‘How to Pivot’ series is to produce a series of content with industry experts, meant to be educational and informative, on how the affected workforce can then pivot to other areas, while expanding their skillsets and knowledge to seek other employment opportunities.

The first session was with AirAsia’s Senior Lead of Culture and Employee engagement Achilles Sureen, which can be also be viewed here, who had shared about the importance of reskilling employees due to flights being grounded during the MCO.

“AirAsia has a collaboration with Google which resulted in the formation of our technology academy. Its intent is to reskill colleagues – many being pilots and cabin crew staff – so that they are able to transition to new careers,” said Achilles. “This is especially important as digitalisation is so pervasive today.”

For more news and updates from JobStreet, visit their website and follow on Facebook. Meanwhile, people who are seeking jobs urgently can also add the #WorkNow to their JobStreet profiles, which would then connect them with employers with immediate hiring needs. 


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