Brands

How ASUS’s Marketing Team Got Everyone to Believe in Content

If you’re reading this article on a laptop, there’s a good chance you own an ASUS motherboard. Since being founded 25 years ago, ASUS has manufactured more than 500 million motherboards—so many that if you lined them end to end, they would circumnavigate the Earth more than three times. Recently, the Taiwan-based company expanded into the consumer electronics game with products like phones, tablets, and wearables, pitting ASUS against the world’s largest mobile providers.

So how does a billion-dollar company known for processors and data transfers learn to speak in a language that any consumer can appreciate? I met with the company’s global content marketing manager, Archit Mardia, to find out.

Mardia, who was born in India, educated in France, and lived in eight countries prior to age 30, is no stranger to the challenge of connecting with new people. We spoke about appealing to his customers’ passions, the internal struggle of getting ASUS executives to buy in to content marketing, and why companies need to embrace customer-focused stories.

(Full disclosure: ASUS is a Contently client.)

For people who are not familiar with ASUS, how do you explain what the company does?

I was unfamiliar with ASUS before I joined the company. I knew a little bit, but I didn’t know how big they were or what they were doing, and once I joined, I was really overwhelmed by the stuff these guys were doing. I was like, “Why the hell haven’t I heard that before?”

I tell people that ASUS is the world’s biggest motherboard company. So if you are using a laptop of any kind, there’s a 60 percent chance it has an ASUS motherboard in it.

ASUS started off as Pegasus, just a motherboard company. From those humble beginnings, it split. The motherboard business came to Pegatron, and ASUS started focusing more on consumer electronics. Today, I am supporting a billion-dollar company. We started off with a smart phone business, and in less than two years, we’ve already become No. 3 in market shares among the top players in Southeast Asia.

How do you explain content marketing to people at ASUS?

This a really interesting story. From the time I have been with ASUS for over four years now, everyone has been talking about digital, digital, digital. To me, digital is nothing. It’s what TV was 20 years back, just another means to reach the audience. But advertising is losing its purpose. You will never click on a banner ad—you are more likely to climb Mount Everest. We found that we, too, were losing purpose. We were losing this connection with the audience.

We manufacture great technology, but being from an engineering mindset, ASUS was just on and on about product, this spec and that spec. We were losing our purpose and then our brand. Consumers were looking to engage with a brand with a purpose. From that moment, it took time to evangelize this internally, but everyone is right on track now and they believe in the value of content marketing.

How did you get the executives on board with publishing content?

It took a lot. We have quarterly business reviews, and we used to spend a lot of media dollars on traditional advertising. It took some convincing, but it was clear from the start that ROI for traditional media was not good, and executives were also looking for a better solution.

We started with content marketing on a smaller scale, on regional levels, and those content marketing initiatives have worked just brilliantly. We took these good examples and showed it to the executives. We showed them the numbers—”We did this with this much”—and that’s how they bought into this whole content marketing thing.

As a marketer, what do you think are some of the most important types of stories to tell?

We address the pain points consumers have with recent technology, how they can be more relevant to their own social channels, and explain ties to basic passion points. For example, a lot of people are passionate about photography, so companies will go out there and say, “This is a great camera!” but they won’t actually go out and tell you, “Hey, look what you can do with it!”

That’s the insight we want to provide. You should talk about your camera, but you should also share examples, talk about what you can do with it. What are the tricks, what are the hacks? That’s the kind of content we are looking to create to help the lives of our consumers and make them better at what they love.

As you try to accomplish that, how do you make sure those goals are both ambitious and realistic?

We are starting off small. We want to be ambitious, but at the moment, we’re being realistic. Like I said, it took a long time to convince people internally. We had this whole re-haul within our organization for people to focus on consolidating all communications that are going on from a brand. It took a long time to set this framework and get the team going right. But once I think the team is set, and all the tools are in place, it’s from that point on where we can start to be really ambitious.

What is the biggest challenge related to content marketing that you are looking forward to taking on?

The biggest challenge is that there’s so much stuff that you can talk about but with limited dollars. You learn as you go. Right now, our biggest challenge is producing content with a strategy that seems like it would work, but I don’t have any numbers to prove it. Going down the line, I think we will learn what sort of things are working really well, what sort of things are resonating with our audience really well, what sort of tone our audience likes. Going forward, I think we can make much more calculated decisions than today.

How has the industry evolved since you started in content marketing?

We get so involved with doing campaigns, running media dollars, doing more campaigns, but really the stuff that works is a cute cat picture on social media. Those get you engagement. That just goes to show people are really attracted to things that they like, shared passion points, pain points, and if you know what they really care about, then it’s a good place to be.

Not many companies have adopted this approach, especially in the technology industry. Most of the companies that I know of do have a content hub, but I feel like they are not quite there yet. So I think within the tech industry, there’s still a long way to go.

Where do you think we are headed next?

I think big things are coming in the next three or four years, when companies will stop putting so much emphasis on traditional media buys and spending dollars on crazy events and experiential marketing. Companies are going to wait for people. People have these sudden realizations and they want to go and find out information. If you don’t cater to those those micro-moments, then basically you are losing out on that timing. This can only be solved if you have this always-on conversation, which is going to be so much more purposeful and meaningful to the consumer and the brand.

What advice do you have for marketers who might be just getting into the game?

It’s always really good to adapt. Like some people say, “Consumers change first, marketers second, and agencies will change last.” I would tell marketers to actually be close to their consumers because they are the ones who change first. Their mindset is what you want to know.

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