InnoKOL | Ryan Purkey: The Value of Having Trust and Word-of-Mouth already Established in the Reputation of Business is Huge

2021/07/11 Innoverview Read

On July 11th (GMT+8), InnoKOL had a fascinating conversation with Mr. Ryan Purkey, who is the Head of Digital at Tanner De Witt, talking about his unique working experience in marketing and the deep insights on the opportunities & challenges of digital transformation.

Jokia: What’s your motto?


Willing to go. Go and see. Or, as Toyota put it, "Genchi Genbutsu."


Jokia: Can you please share more about your educational and professional background? And we’d love to hear what brought you to marketing and digital transformation.


I obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Oregon. At the same time, I had the good fortune to work with a startup doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) very early on (2000).


That experience began both my formal work in marketing as well as digital transformation.  At the time, a significant amount of advertising was in newspapers, magazines, radio, etc.  Nothing like the ad spend and platform mix that we see today.


For businesses to go online with websites and make use of search engines was transformative.  I was lucky to be working in a place that helped make it happen.


There is a lot of work that gets done by showing up and taking a hands-on approach. It is also a low barrier to entry--no genius-level IQ or prestige required in showing up. (Thankfully for me!)


Further, it helps internalize challenges as a personal choice: will you go or not?  Problems and solutions are available wherever we are, so try and put yourself in a place where you can work on the ones you want to solve.


Both of my parents also worked with computers so I had exposure fairly early on as a child.


Jokia: It seems that explaining digital transformation to outsiders is a never-ending challenge. How would you describe it in one sentence?


I tell them to check out Ghost in the Shell:-) Ok, real sentence: Transformation happens when a digital solution is just as intuitive as a physical one or has such massive savings over a physical solution that it is worth implementing.


Metaphors can help quite a lot though in explaining things. You can see metaphors all the way down to app design as well. Like the "phone" icon on a lot of apps. It's been a long time since people have had phones shape like a corded handset. Or a house with a chimney for a "home" icon.


Jokia: What are the innovative digital transformation strategies to boost customer lifetime value from your point of view?


There are many gaps in digital transformation, because multiple dependencies need to reach a point that allows the whole system to be viable.


So, one strategy is to work in those gaps and help others accomplish what they want to do in-house or on their own, but the gap is too large or costly to overcome.  Digital marketing agencies have existed in this gap for many years.


Another strategy is to take a skillset or profession digital when most others have not--an approach that has seen massive growth due to the in-person travel restrictions of the pandemic.


As a person or company becomes reliably successful in the strategies above, they're more likely to grow and extend the lifetime value of their customers.They are solving problems for their customers in a way that is unavailable from other non-adopting vendors.


Jokia: Over the last three decades, advancements in hardware, software, and networking have made it possible for any business to implement digital solutions. What technologies power digital transformation most from your perspective?


You have nailed it in your question. The combination of all three: hardware, software and networking--in mobile devices, is a paradigm shift in how the world interacts with technology.


Think of it this way, if I mentioned a 'computer' to someone 80 years ago, they would think I meant a person who spent their day doing calculations to record in paper ledgers. 60 years ago, a massive machine that fills a building and takes a team of people to run. 40 years ago, still big--but more accessible with network terminals connected to a mainframe. (The original Tron movie came out in 1982) .30 years ago, computers were 'personal' (PCs) and sitting on desktops in offices, schools, and homes. 20 years ago, they moved onto our laps. And 15 years ago into our pockets.


Again, a rough timeline for the hardware. Over that timeline, the software also becomes progressively easier to use for more and more people. This progression is due to the hardware getting to milestones which enable the software design to be more intuitive. When more of the program can reside in memory, run fast enough to interact with as people expect or do things automatically behind the scenes, digital options become solutions.


Finally, networking also tracks with this evolution. Networking went from people having to physically go to the machines and programs to get results, then to a terminal access point to the devices and programs. Now, people have wireless networks in their pockets. Each of those three key pieces is required and interrelated. That they are now ubiquitous is what gives digital transformation the most power.


Significant digital options cover what entire sectors used to do with ink and paper less than a lifetime ago.  The main challenge continues to be in making the whole process as intuitive as possible for the people involved.


Jokia: How do you think the digital transformation can benefit from the emerging technologies such as AI?


AI provides even more of that "behind-the-scenes" aspect, something that was largely hardware driven in the past. Simple calculations used to take a certain amount of time to run.  The more calculations a computer chip could process and the faster it ran the quicker the program would deliver a result. Now that those powers have scaled so dramatically the software is able to self-iterate towards a desired goal.


This is huge for digital transformation because it makes the interaction that much easier. Still, we're not yet to the Ghost in the Shell level of that.


Jokia: Why KOL marketing is so effective in china?


In one word: Trust.


And it goes both ways. Brands must show that they are willing to trust that a KOL will bring the brand to their audience without contradicting the core brand message. For some brands, that's easy. They have made that decision before in other markets. For example, if a brand is comfortable having a celebrity or sports star be a significant part of their brand, they will be a brand that is likely to trust a KOL.


Consumers--in China and elsewhere--are placing their trust in KOLs to deliver as they have in the past. KOLs attracted their audience through their research, humor, knowledge, and exploits, so those values have to carry forward into their marketing to be most effective.


Jokia: How to measure the ROI of KOL marketing?


Classic measurements of ROI calculations still hold, but perhaps the best is measuring incrementality when working with KOLs. Businesses need to know their baseline return with a given market/sector/platform and then measure the returns seen when working with a KOL. If the baseline is zero, then it's pretty easy to calculate returns.


Still, the value of having trust and word-of-mouth already established in the reputation of business is huge. Marketing is adding a bit more on top of that.


Jokia: What is the challenges cross-border business facing today? 


Travel restrictions due to the pandemic continue to play a significant role in cross-border business. It's like we're running a global experiment of all those developments mentioned prior.


Thankfully the resources are in place to overcome the challenges. When lockdowns firt began, many cloud-based services struggled to keep up and there were outages across several major providers due to the dramatic increase in usage. And hopefully vaccinations continue to improve and gain use so that more people can travel again. Because word-of-mouth and trust are easier in person. "Go and see."


Jokia: We’ve noticed that you are one of the famous speakers in global leading marketing and digital conferences What’s your benchmark to select the top-tier industrial conferences?


I always try to look for a good fit when speaking at conferences and decline an invitation if I don't think I can bring value to their agenda and audience. That is my benchmark: Value. In that regard, it once again internalizes a challenge that we often think of externally: public speaking.


I find that I can speak to groups of any size as long as I have concluded through my research and study that what I have learned is worth sharing. Maybe it brought value in my own life or value to past clients. With smaller groups, it's easier to take a deeper look and make a better connection. Think of it as talking with friends.


With larger groups, there is the network effect of discussing ideas and hearing how others have applied them in ways you've never experienced. Plus you're able to interact with others that you don't see in your regular day-to-day work.

About the speaker:

Mr. Ryan Purkey is the Head of Digital at Tanner De Witt. Ryan is a marketing and digital transformation executive with a record of strategic and tactical business success for companies across APAC. Throughout his career he repeatedly drives forward revenue generating marketing results, process efficiency gains, and resilience that consistently improve bottom-line performance and growth.

Most recently Ryan's experience has focused on professional services in the legal sector and the challenges facing cross-border businesses. He said that even with the added challenges of a global pandemic and recession, growth and abundant opportunity remain sustained.

About the MC:

Ms. Jokia Yin is the Founder of Innoverview and InnoKOL,  the Vice Chatiman of HK International Blockchain Finance Association as well as the Head of Media at United States of America-China Chamber of Commerce。 Jokia has over 8 years of marketing and management experience, much of which has been in the Asia Pacific Region within events and PR industry. She has held key leadership roles executing market research and entry, developing sales channels and revenue generation, building marketing, finance and Operations related infrastructure for a more than 20 events related to retail, tourism, energy storage, blockchain, cosmetics domains.