Interview with SMU lecturer Ms Patricia Lui

Ms. Patricia Lui is currently a full-time lecturer of marketing at the Lee Kong Chian School of Business in the Singapore Management University.

Ms. Patricia Lui is currently a full-time lecturer of marketing at the Lee Kong Chian School of Business in the Singapore Management University. She completed her Ph.D. in Marketing in 2012 at the University of Western Australia.

Her focus research of interest are Consumer Behaviour, Digital and Social Media Strategy, Service Excellence, and Brand Strategy.

She has been consistently in the Top Ten Adjunct Faculty, Dean’s Teaching Honour List at Lee Kong Chian School of Business. She was also nominated as Outstanding Teaching Adjunct at the Singapore Management University.

Patricia Lui

The internet has changed the lives of every individual in this world. Almost every person has an electronic device that has access to the internet. That is because almost everything can be done online including making purchases. That is why businesses go online in order to market their products and services online.

This is where digital marketing will come into play. Digital marketing is a type of marketing that is done through the internet. It is generally used as a way to promote business through many online platforms. In order to get a better idea, we asked Ms. Patricia Lui to give us her insights regarding the importance of digital marketing for businesses.

How important is digital marketing for businesses in Singapore, especially small businesses and entrepreneurs, during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Without doubt, with the growing demand for online shopping in the consumer market and changing in-person engagements with clients to buying online through self-serve digital channels in the business market, digital marketing has become crucial for SMEs. UOB, Accenture, and Dun & Bradstreet conducted the ASEAN SME Transformation Study 2020 across Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore during the third quarter of 2019 and May 2020. The study collected data from 1,000 SMEs aiming at gaining insights into how they responded to the COVID-19. The key findings showed that the top priorities in tech investment are building capabilities in digital sales and services. While 48% of the SMEs had a decrease in sales, 44% incorporated an online business model during the COVID-19. The results further supported that SMEs must have a digital marketing strategy.

The coronavirus pandemic affects the demand sides of SMEs. Demand is much lower due to reducing consumer spending and consumption. SMEs need to reach out to broader target segments and even expand outside Singapore. They can find these potential customers online in a much more cost-effective way. When SMEs are present online, it makes it easy for customers to find and access the business before deciding if they want to interact with the brands. For example, customers are now using online review sites, or Google Assist to find brands and look for peer reviews. A Google My Business listing provides relevant information about the SMEs, and makes it possible for the brands to be seen by customers online.

What advice do you have for small business owners in Singapore who are thinking about digitising their business or engaging in digital marketing?

The digital economy has changed the way businesses operate, including the SMEs in Singapore. SMEs need to utilise digital technologies to create brand awareness, engage their customers and drive conversion. Digital marketing provides equal opportunities to every business, regardless of its size and business nature, to be present online. SMEs would benefit from conversions and increase revenue.

However, getting started in digital marketing requires SMEs to be mindful about the cost and long-term commitment. I strongly advise SMEs to look for help from the right group of people. For example, IMDA Singapore offers SMEs a structured programme called “the SMEs Go Digital” aiming at helping SMEs using digital technologies and building digital capabilities to seize growth opportunities. The programme allows SMEs to get started and more importantly, it covers different aspects of how to digitise the business, and of course, including digital marketing. IMDA has put together most of the tasks that SMEs need to know and do in the SMEs Go Digital Programme. It is a good start for SMEs to send staff attending the programme as the staff would build a comprehensive understanding of how to get different digital aspects connected and integrated for creating a unique digital business model for their business. As a result, SMEs would benefit from the new ways to connect, collaborate and build a business.

In summary

Ms. Patrica Lui stated some good points regarding the importance of digital marketing for businesses especially during these crucial times. Furthermore, she gave us insight that online shopping will become the new normal even if the pandemic ends. Thus, she cited that businesses should plan their digital marketing strategies.

She urges them to find the right people to help them. Aside from attending digital marketing learning programs, it is also a good option to hire digital marketing experts. As a result, businesses, especially SMEs, will benefit from the new ways to connect, collaborate and build a business because of digital marketing.