The rapid growth in digitalisation has resulted in hyper-localised and more frequent marketing campaigns and asset production of smaller budgets. This has resulted in many businesses working with fragmented marketing service providers in pursuit of more effective, viable and cost-effective marketing solutions. Today, the market is seeing opportunities for agencies and professionals to offer specific solutions for clients to fit their specific marketing needs. They include areas such as brand strategy, social media marketing, web development, content curation and so on.
However, for SMEs and micro business owners, the decision to choose between agencies or independent marketing professionals can be mind-boggling as they struggle with budgets and the quality of services. This challenge has brought three professionals to come together and adopt data algorithms to match the right marketing and creative talents to business owners as well as heads of marketing according to the needs and budget they can afford.
To find out more about this new start-up, MIA speaks with Nur Khairah Abdul Rahim, one of the Co-founders of Independents.
1. Hello Khairah and welcome to Marketing In Asia. I am excited to find out more about your platform. I understand that it was set up by three professionals. Share with us more about this power team, your team’s background and your passion.
Hi Tina, pleasure is all mine – thank you for all that you do to enhance the awareness and education of marketing within our Asian region, and for this opportunity to introduce Independents!
My 2 co-founders; Jit, Weina and I met in a startup accelerator programme where we connected over this similar problem that we’ve experienced on different fronts. As a marketer on the client-side, I’ve felt the pain of working with uninspired agencies and freelancers – who couldn’t deliver the value that I sought. On one hand, agencies are expensive – and even after you’ve decided to spend that money for their services, you may get assigned a junior team compared to their larger more renowned MNC clients with bigger budgets.
Working with freelancers from various marketplaces on the other hand is more affordable but takes up too much time for recruitment and there’s a shortage of high-quality talent and teams who understand the local market nuances that I was targeting.
Jit, my fellow cofounder comes from an advertising background and has worked with top advertising agencies for over 20 years and most recently as Creative Director. He saw how agencies’ creative teams were increasingly down-sized, over-stretched, and not empowered enough with technological developments that could help them deliver more value when it comes to marketing. Till today, despite working with hundreds if not thousands of creative talent, there wasn’t a universal objective way to track, measure creative performance and talent as most of them are still maintaining a pretty manual approach to identifying suitable talent (whether it’s full time or part-time talent).
When we met our fellow cofounder, Dr Weina Du, who is a data scientist who has built and applied machine learning algorithms in institutions such as OCBC, Rakuten and A*STAR, and most recently applied such an algorithm to solving employment matching opportunities, something clicked. What if we could solve the problem of better measuring creative talent potential based on past performance, skills and team dynamics? This was an opportunity – given the increasing trend of fragmented marketing specialists and freelance talents in Southeast Asia and Asia.
With Independents, we’re hoping to be the go-to platform for Asia’s Top Creative and Marketing Talent on-demand
2. Tell us about Independents, its aim and the target audience you are reaching out to.
Marketing today is evolving at a faster speed than ever before – this complexity is heightened by the effects of a pandemic that has upturned media consumption habits and made the need to adapt quickly quintessential.
At Independents, we offer a solution for every time-pressed marketer whilst still keeping quality and value high. Whether you’re a regional marketer who’s looking to create customised regional or local assets for Asia, or ahead of marketing at a fast-growing start-up, or a business owner who needs access to strategic advice, and the best team to make it a reality.
Here are 5 ways are how we hope to provide unparalleled value when it comes to doing marketing in Asia:
High-Quality Assurance: Top talents curated for every project’s needs. Our unique matching algorithm scores talents based on skills, industry experience, awards won, portfolio design/copy style match based on your brief, and team dynamics score for the best match that fits your budget!
Proven Track Record: On average, our talents have 7 years of experience, and 60% have advertising agency experience including top ad agencies and worked on over hundreds of brands in Asia – both big and small.
Fast: Data-centered quality talent matching is done within 48 hours of receiving the brief
Local talent: Work with talents who won’t just understand your local market nuances but who are within your same time zone!
Flexible on-demand hiring: In-house team is stretched but you still have many urgent campaigns and assets? We understand. We offer flexible on-demand talent for your ad hoc marketing needs. Pay as you go, or enjoy greater long-term savings with our long-term credits-based solutions, Creativity as a Service (CAAS) which offers flexibility to work with the preferred group of talents, with no expiry date!
3. How do you market yourself as unique or different in the industry?
We provide unparalleled access to top-quality talent across the region. Want a logo designer who’s talented at hand-drawn logos? Want a content writer who can write localised blog content for Indonesia? Or a growth digital marketer experienced with e-commerce social media campaigns?
4. Who are your clients and which services are more popular among them?
Our clients include MNCs, SMEs, startups and even large advertising agencies. Some of these include DBS, Griffin Kinetic, Vivo, Waitrr and Mullen Lowe.
The most popular services are writers, designers, video content producers and digital marketers.
5. We have seen the growth of outsourcing over the years. Where do you see Independent’s growth in the industry in the next 5 years?
We foresee a continued strong trajectory of growth and hope to be in Indonesia and Malaysia by 2022, and 3 other Asian markets within 5 years.
6. What are the top three challenges you face in this business?
Good talent especially in Asia come and go – they switch from freelancing to full-time employment, thereby reducing the chance to keep working with some of them over the long term.
Although we’re growing and now have over 300 curated talents on our platform, we’re barely keeping up with the growing demand for good talent – although one can say that is a happy problem!
Our platform is still in the beta stage – whilst features like the talent scoring algorithm are completed, it is not completely automated yet and we’re halfway done with our full list of project management tools but rest assured, we’re working on this for the best project experience.
7. How do you talent scout your professionals and how do you ensure that they are the best fit for your clients?
Our onboarding platform collects detailed information such as
experience in the industry
Portfolio samples that are reviewed by a council of creative directors
personality test scores that are complemented by
thorough data points from 360 degrees Net promoter score surveys by clients and talents
This is fed into our machine learning models – to better understand each talent’s strengths, and suitability for project matches.
8. How do Independents market themselves?
At this point, we’re relying heavily on word of mouth referrals. However, we’re looking to grow, and will be driving greater awareness with B2B digital marketing campaigns. Thank you for the opportunity to share more with fellow marketers too.
9. Based on your experience in helping companies and professionals who are looking for an outsourced team, what are your top three advice for them in terms of requirements and expectations?
As a marketer, there are a few key considerations when it comes to marketing campaigns:
What are the outcomes you seek and why?
target timelines for content deployment and
budgets you can work with
The clearer you are about the above, the easier it will be to start working and driving the results you seek. Also, a good brief always includes as much relevant information and context – no small detail is too much when it comes to building remarkable creative work that will stand out. Take the time to share your hopes, your learnings and leanings, and then trust the team of specialists assigned to your project to do the magic and deliver the results you seek.
10. How can our readers reach out to you and your team, Khairah?
They can reach us via our website: www.independents.ai