Evangeline Leong is on a mission to deliver KPI-guaranteed social media marketing campaigns
What’s your story?
I started my career in a bank but made the jump to a marketing agency and spent 10 years there.
One day, I was talking to the owner of a noodle stall in Singapore about the fierce competition and rising costs of operation. When I asked him what his secret to success was, he said: “我的口碑很好” (my word-of-mouth recommendation is good).
I realised that social media interactions were the modern-day equivalent of word-of-mouth recommendations. After realising that there was a gap in the industry for this, I decided to start Kobe.
What excites you most about your industry?
I love that this industry is characterised by constant, dynamic changes. The social media landscape evolves lightning-fast and it’s demanding having to stay on top of all these developments. However, the challenge is enjoyable and rewarding.
I also love that there is a lot of psychology at play—as marketers, our bread and butter is really understanding how consumers think. If we want to succeed, we must be very confident in our analyses of our target audiences. What message will best capture the attention of this group and get them to take that first step towards a purchase?
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
I’m a firm believer in finding your ikigai, or ‘reason for being’. It’s a concept that teaches us to find a balance between our passion, talent, what the world needs, and what keeps dinner on the table.
If you find that your work lies in the perfect intersection of all four things, you’re constantly driven and fulfilled. I’ve spent a lot of time making sure that my team and I have found this balance. Once we’re there, pushing past our limits isn’t a problem at all.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
The most useful skill I’ve learnt, especially in light of recent events, has really been to maintain a mindset of ‘playing to win and not playing to draw’. This means that we must never operate as if we’re trying to cut our losses or play on the defensive—instead, we must never stop aiming for success.
For example, amidst the COVID-19 situation and the gloomy economy, I made sure never to have a mentality of ‘damage-control’. We never considered firing our employees or implementing pay cuts. If anything, we hired more people because we were thinking of our long-term success.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Interestingly, I draw a lot of wisdom from the Mandarin character for ‘win’. The character (赢) is made up of five smaller characters:
亡 (Death) – Always remember the reality of the situation; stay pragmatic.
口 (Communication) – Remember to convey information to your stakeholders well.
月 (Time) – All things have their time; continue to work hard and yours will come.
贝 (Money) – Gather the assets and ammunition you need.
凡 (Whatever may be) – Be at peace, whatever the situation. If you’re too fixated on an ideal outcome, you give up when things aren’t looking good.
Who inspires you?
I don’t have one single perfect idol I look up to—in fact, I’ve found that what drives people is usually their friends and loved ones.
For me, personally, I’m constantly inspired by the people I work with. I gain so much from all the little things around me every day, like the realistic observations and learnings that my team shares with me. That alone is enough to keep me hungry to learn more and improve myself.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
I’ve recently been watching a Chinese a historical drama about merchants in the 1800s.
One thing I picked up from the show is really that there is a key difference between small-minded business owners and great ones: the former is satisfied when they win at the expense of others, while the latter is only satisfied when they achieve a win-win situation for everyone involved.
I’ve also learnt that we are defined as much by what we choose not to do as what we choose to do. It’s important to understand what your key principles are and to never violate them.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Honestly, I would not change anything about my journey, no matter how painful or difficult it was to go through at first. I’ve learnt from every mistake and grown, and I’m content with the way things have turned out so far.
How do you unwind?
I try to stay active by doing a mix of yoga and bouldering. Also, I enjoy playing with my dog Cookie.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
That marketing is as much an art as it is a science.
I always believed that you just needed numbers and data, because that’s the most accurate and logical approach to things. The arts have no substance, no practical utility.
However, in Kobe’s first year of business, I found it extremely challenging to accomplish anything with my ‘strictly-science’ approach. When I invited Cha Lin, my co-founder, to join the business, she educated me on the ‘art’ side of the work.
This transformed my outlook on marketing, and now I’m a firm believer of finding the balance between science and art.
Everyone in business should read this book:
‘Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite’ by Paul Arden
The book has so many stories that demonstrate the power of thinking creatively. As an entrepreneur, it is especially important to slow down and realise that everyone else is already thinking the same way.
If that method hasn’t solved any problems, should you really be taking the same route? Is there a better way that nobody else is considering?
Shameless plug for your business:
Kobe is an influencer specialist agency based in Singapore, the first and only company that delivers KPI-guaranteed social media marketing campaigns.
Driven by patented AI technology, we empower more than 500 brands (such as McDonald’s and Coca Cola) to influence. Kobe offers access to over 100 million users through 6,000 content creators across Southeast Asia.
Kobe has received global recognition as Marketing Interactive’s ‘Gold Award-winning Influencer Agency of the Year 2020’, and is an official Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok partner.
How can people connect with you?
Find me on any of my personal social media channels like Instagram or LinkedIn.
Social Media Links?
– LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/kobe-global-technologies/
– FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/kobeglobal/
– Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/getkobe/
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series. Every entrepreneur featured has been recommended by one of our previous guests.