From The Evangelists: Walter Wong of Angkas

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When it comes to unconventional marketing in the Philippines, chances are Angkas will be included in that list, if not landing the top spot. As the Head of Marketing, Walter Wong has certainly had a hand in popularizing the meme marketing that social media savvy millennials are fond of sharing online.

From the get-go, Wong knew that selling the idea of motorcycle taxis would be difficult; even though they were known to be fast and convenient, motorcycles were considered dangerous, and many of its would-be users were not ready to give up the comforts of cars. As with many novel products from small upstart companies, it was important that Angkas’ marketing team built an initial loyal base that, while small, would serve as the brand’s evangelist early adopters. From a marketing communications perspective, dilution weakens the message, so trying to appeal to everyone would create the paradoxical effect of appealing to no one, reducing the brand’s messaging impact and traction. According to Wong, it was better to focus first on finding the right message that resonated with key users, and work off the momentum from that instead. The more a brand invests in connecting with their audience well, the more they will grow and stand out organically as well.

“There wasn’t a desire to appeal to every single person. We knew the audience we needed to get, so we would just need to optimize for that audience. It just so happened to be millennials like us,” he said. “But you’re going to turn some people off and possibly rub them the wrong way, especially older or more conservative crowds, which is fine. As a business, you can’t serve everyone anyway, and the millennial market we targeted was more than enough to keep operations going and growing. Maybe later on, the messaging could evolve as many brands do, but it hasn’t been necessary yet for motorcycle taxis.”

When asked about Angkas’ secret to success, it was that they never followed any conventional brand rules, formulas, or templates. Wong said it was important for them that they forged their own path and found their own ways to connect with their audience so that they could stand out. While most brands tend to follow trends, it makes it harder for them to differentiate themselves and stand apart from a sea of similar messaging and practices.

Wong explained that Angkas tried a lot of approaches at the start, and that they never had a fully-laid out plan on how the brand would come out and relate to people from the get-go. “It was a continuously evolving process that required us to try a lot of things, many which failed, and pick out the things that worked and build on top of those. The great thing about running social media for a relatively unknown brand is that you get to make lots of mistakes without really having much to lose. That gives you a lot of freedom to experiment and to be fresh.”

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