In the beginning, there were programmers, there were marketers, and there were writers. The three may have met occasionally, at gallery openings, and local cafes, but largely their worlds stayed separated. But then I joined ServisHero, and the three were forced into a Brain Trust session.
I had spent the last few years writing about business and finance, while standing strong not to have it clouded by the scoundrels in the marketing department. Much like any other editor, I treated my writing with the same sort of snobbish flair, and so believed firmly that any aspect of marketing ‘undermined editorial integrity’. Pulling myself out of that mentality and deep diving into copywriting and hard-selling issues about technology was a very daunting prospect.
One year of trial and errors makes you realise that the two are not very different! I was still writing to an audience of readers (customers) and they were curious about an important topic (hiring trusted service providers), and wanted to learn more (how to use the app). Whenever I start writing a finance cover piece, I’d start by introducing the backstory, lay out why it’s important and how it’s relevant to you – then I’d assume you had zero finance knowledge and lay it out as simply as possible so that even your grand aunt could relay it back to you word-for-word. The same process can be used (I found) when writing about the benefits of hiring a part-time cleaner. Storytelling is essential and transcends across genres and audience types.
And so I began writing…
Like most eureka moments in life, ServisHero did not start with a product in mind, it started with a problem. The inherent lack of efficiency spread throughout the Malaysian service landscape visible in the form of desperate servicemen and women nailing signboards on trees and electric poles was the spark that ignited ServisHero. That, and an unnervingly warm apartment in Kuala Lumpur and an over-priced air-con repairman that sent one man on a mission to end it all.
The initial task was to bring the traditional directory online – to take those desolate signs off those wretched trees and create a community where users can easily find service professionals. Next on the memo, was building the actual technology to host these million servicemen and women and then finally getting the word out to stakeholders of all sorts – selling not just an idea and a short-term solution, but a resolution to a pervasive problem.
Once the plot was set, a huge part of the marketing vernacular is the story of the people behind the product – no, I don’t mean the team, but largely the service professionals (dubbed as Heroes) who are at the core of the product. Humanising your product is crucial, and narrating the stories of these individuals was how we communicated our product.
Fast forward a few months, and our strategy became clearer. We put the overwhelming volume of data we collected into truly understanding what our customers wanted. Our goal now is to become a purpose and data driven company by shaping our revenue pursuits based on a deep understanding of our customers. We have a clear mission to empower small businesses by providing meaningful and actionable data to businesses and governments to support SMEs.
So there you have it. This is how I segment the marketing messages of ServisHero and this has made the last few months of living under the shadows of a charming hypocrisy so much more bearable. More on actual copy-writing to follow shortly!