The Silicon Review
“pH7 Communications, Shanghai, China recently was awarded a Grand Stevie® Award trophy -- MOST HONORED MARKETING AGENCY in The 2022 (19th Annual) International Business Awards®”
pH7 Communications is a fast-growing strategy driven marketing consultancy in mainland China founded in 2019. The company has now developed into one of the most well-known independent agencies with more than 60 employees serving for more than 30 international and domestic brands. pH7 helps brands create stories to reach their consumers and stakeholders to ultimately fulfill their business goal. The company’s key strengths include brand communications, public relations, social and influencer marketing, sports marketing, corporate relations, etc.
In recent years, with the booming development of e-commerce, a lot of pH7’s communications business has been closely related to e-commerce. Through marketing campaigns, pH7 helps brands increase traffic on e-commerce platforms and fanbase on social platforms. pH7 Communications, Shanghai, China recently was awarded a Grand Stevie® Award trophy -- MOST HONORED MARKETING AGENCY in The 2022 (19th Annual) International Business Awards®, the world’s leading business awards competition. Nominees were not able to apply for Grand Stevie Awards directly. Winners were determined by their performance based on the total number of awards won in the IBAs. pH7 won this honor with five Gold, two Silver, and one Bronze wins in marketing and PR categories on behalf of several of their clients.
In conversation with Mindy SHEN, Founder and General Manager of pH7 Communications
Q. What was the motivation behind starting pH7 Communications?
The marketing environment in China is dynamic. The founding team is no longer satisfying with staying in international agencies or MNCs just to fit in a standardized workflow and well-developed benefits system. They all want to keep pace with the times and they started pH7, a highly agile marketing agency that can adapt to the changing environment and meet the needs of our clients.
We also want to create a humane work environment for our team and give each person the recognition they deserve for their growth. We are a company with international mindset and methodology, and also a highly agile communications agency that fits the local culture in China. Our clients include not only many international brands (such as Vans, MLB, Arc’teryx, Burton.), but also local mega brands (such as ANTA, Tencent.). At the same time, we are also a people-oriented company.
We stick to three words ‘integrity, honesty and caring’. These are who we are, whom we hire and whom work with.
Q. How do you maintain your clients and win new win new ones?
It is simple. We maintain our clients by the services we offered. We win new clients by existing clients.
Firstly, we understand our clients and their business status. We offer sound strategy. Beyond core services, we help them integrate channels, and voluntarily involved in pre-planning including product design, test, sell-in sessions and etc. We want to make sure we are on the same page.
Secondly, we are agile. For example, during the epidemic, many celebrity shootings and events had to be cancelled. We quickly adjust communication tactics according to market situation, such as replacing explicit shoots with more executable KOL collaborations, and adjusting offline activities into social media campaigns. We are agile in execution, planning and also the trends.
The other thing that is more important is our professionalism. Our business is a people business. The professional and high quality of service is based on the maintenance investment of our people. Their qualification brings out professional service to our clients.
In addition, we value growing together with our clients. We don’t position ourselves as a “supplier”. Our clients are our co-workers, our peers. Every time we work together, we have good mutual feedbacks with our clients, which help us win trust and do better for the next campaign.
Q. A well-strategized marketing strategy will help the company build trust with consumers, potential clients and customers. How do you create a roadmap/campaign that will meet the clients’ demand?
First, identify the right team members. When we assemble a service team, we take into account the interest of the individual team members. For example, recently when we started serving Burton, we asked which employees enjoyed snowboarding. We believe that interest can provide more motivation in work. We do a thorough market research for our clients before we make a strategic plan -- who are the targeting people, what kind of lifestyle they have, and where they get their information from, etc. Behind a campaign roadmap is understanding of the client’s brand and products, a deep knowledge of the consumer group, and a grasp of the communications environment. Each of our communications plan is customized. The most important, we need to bring values to our clients instead of spending money.
Q. Tell us about your content development. What are the factors that will contribute to the engagement level?
Content creation is one of our company’s strengths. We not only create brand-owned communications materials, but also co-create content for brands with media, influencers etc. on various media platforms. Understanding the target consumer group is the first step to developing successful contents. When we customize marketing proposals for our clients, we do in-depth consumer research and media audit to ensure that our content will be of interest to them. Furthermore, we need to be sensitive to the media environment as well as social trend. For example, when we were promoting a custom shoe program for Vans, we found that the Gen-Z group in China generally have pets or like to follow pet-related social media content. We incorporated this discovery into our communication tactics, encouraging young people to customize Vans shoes with pictures of their beloved pets. This social campaign was a huge success and won many international communications awards.
In addition to content creation, the distribution and amplification of the content is also the key to determine whether the campaign will be successful. In China, where social media is booming, many brands want their marketing campaigns to be explosive and gain huge attention. Some brands may spend large budgets on celebrity collaborations and blockbuster shoots. However, budgets allocated to communications are often limited. Content needs distribution and amplification. Which platform channels to launch, when to launch… etc. are essential as well.
Honestly, to get a great content, details are evil.
Q. Expertise is the first and biggest advantage of a right marketing firm. How do you source the right talents to maintain the quality of your services?
Our first principle when selecting people is in line with the company’s values - Honesty, Integrity, and Caring. If people do not share the same values, then they will be unable to work together effectively. Furthermore, we are eager to develop young talents from entry level to leader level. In terms of talent development, we have a well-established coaching system that emphasizes on-the-job training. As part of our training program, we also have a lot of up-to-date and tailed-made training, not just in marketing communications skills, but also in project management and team management.
Talent retention is of utmost importance to us, which is why we provide above-industry-average company benefits to our employees. At the same time, we also have a variety of company activities to make people better immersive in the company culture. For example, we not only organize yearly outings, but also, we have festival activities all year round. Last year, we even had company debate competition, calligraphy competition, etc. to involve and engage all the employees. It is our goal for the company to become a place where people can think independently, grow together, and feel contented.
Q. What does the future hold for your company and its customers? Are exciting things on the way?
China is a fast-growing country, and if you look at the Marketing and Communications industry, there is a big change every one to two years. For us, a communications consultancy, we must maintain our agility, enthusiasm, and adherence to our core methodologies. We are seriously paying attention to Web 3.0 and some technology-based marketing solutions companies. Meanwhile, we firmly believe that in any real or virtual circumstances, understanding the consumers and stakeholders is always the most important thing. And it is always content that matters. We are adapting to changes while staying true to our core, which is our insistence on communicating positively.
Meet the leader behind the success of pH7 Communications
Mindy Shen, Founder and General Manager of pH7 Communications has 15 years of proficient experience in marketing communications and public relations in varied industries including sports, fashion, lifestyle, liquor and FMCG. Prior to founding pH7, Mindy was VP of MSL China and also spent years in marketing team of PUMA and New Balance. Mindy has solid capability in strategic planning and implementation, project management, content planning, celebrity and media networks and consumer insights. And as the leader of pH7, she has great communication, leadership and management skills as well as strong entrepreneurship. Mindy is also a mom with 2 boys and a life lover who enjoys hiking, cycling, climbing and reading.