Sven Lung is CEO at Green Park Content. He previously launched the ecommerce fashion giant BrandAlley.com, which he grew to $200m revenue, and is a former partner at the billion-dollar investment fund Draper Esprit – where he was part of the initial funding round for Graze.com.
Sven launched Green Park Content in 2014 and establish operations firstly in Sao Paulo before moving to London in early 2016. Actively involved in the day-to-day running of the business, Sven has overseen rapid growth to a 150-strong team across 11 global locations today.
We caught up with him to ask him about his business right now.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
I am the CEO of Green Park Content (GPC), a global tech-oriented brand publisher with a mission to ensure brands transform the way they use content via the creation of attention-grabbing editorial, videos, and images. Having created leading online fashion retailer BrandAlley.com and health and beauty media platform Doutissima. I have a real passion for ecommerce and enjoy helping exciting companies like Unilever and Danone become publishers, by creating engaging, purpose-led content. Key to this are the 3 C’s of Social Media Marketing: Content, Community & Commerce. It is a strategic approach that has been fundamental to GPC’s success.
How has your typical day been impacted in the short term by the pandemic?
Well I am delighted to be with my children a lot more, but from a work perspective it has been surprisingly constructive. Each country is being affected by the pandemic in different ways, Given that we have offices in Singapore, Jakarta and Sao Paolo, I am continually fielding a lot of out-of-hours calls and meetings, with colleagues and clients, to tackle any problems they may be having, and to help them stay positive and focussed. While we strive to make meetings efficient and straight to the point, there is always time for the expression of feelings and the sharing of experiences. Doing so allows us to become more like a family. On the client side I love how human my interactions have become. You would be surprised how many CEOs and department heads of multinational companies enjoy wearing Bermuda shirts and shorts on videocalls while under lockdown!
What are your favourite tools and techniques to help you get your work done at the moment?
Microsoft Teams is great for any CEO or manager trying to lead a team, but my favourite tool is the book “Influencing Virtual Teams: 17 Tactics That Get Things Done with Your Remote Employees” by Hassan Osman. I highly recommend it. In fact, I recently created a webinar where I read and discussed excerpts from the book to a captive audience of a 100 people! The reaction was extremely positive, and we had some really constructive conversations afterwards.
Which companies have impressed you since the outbreak?
Amazon is an amazing company. It is almost unbelievable how they continue to keep their promises and deliver under extremely difficult circumstances to so many customers. I also have to mention our client Unilever, whose CEO, Alan Jope, recently announced new strategies to adapt to new consumer demand patterns and changes in behaviour as the world moves out of the crisis and into recovery. The company is huge so to be able to steer it in a different direction shows how nimble and organised it is.
What changes are you making to help your brand connect with how people are feeling and experiencing the pandemic?
The reality is we are not a B2C brand but often our clients are, so we support them creatively to engage with a myriad of people and cultures across the planet. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that the global economy would shrink by 3 percent in 2020. I remember how tough it was steering my business through the global financial crisis of 2008 when the economy only shrank by by 0.1 percent. There will be some tough times ahead and a lot of bored and unhappy people. That is why businesses must adopt a content marketing strategy, focussed on communities, as well as customers and colleagues, which keeps people entertained, informed, and educated.
What trends have you seen in the last few weeks in your sector?
Suddenly people who have never touched the internet are having to engage with e-commerce. They are browsing websites, ordering groceries, and even trusting companies with their bank details. The digitalisation of the world is happening right now at an unprecedented rate, to the extent we are seeing what equates to a 15-year penetration of ecommerce in the last four weeks alone.
Direct to consumer is another big trend that we are seeing. Brands need to sell direct, online in order to survive and the three c’s “content, community, and commerce” will be integral to the success of any online retailer, helping turn an inquisitive visitor, to interactive participant, to customer and finally advocate.
What advice would you give a marketer right now?
The world is being digitalised and you need to provide content that you have never had to provide before. Do so by using your work to address and answer people’s problems and sooth their anxieties. Also adjust to shifting business priorities. Some recent research I read indicated that budgets will significantly increase for virtual events (78%), web content (72%) and blog content (57%).