An Introduction to Targeting StrategyThe following is an excerpt from The Evangelists: Insights from Leaders of the Nation’s Most Beloved Brands. Written by Monica Padillo, this chapter is titled "Believe In The Process.” In it, Raymond Zorilla, the Senior VP:External Affairs Bus Dev & Security of Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in patience and looking at the bigger picture.
Don’t lose sight of your long term vision
Like many homegrown brands in the Philippines, Phoenix Petroleum had very humble beginnings. When the startup company moved from Davao to Metro Manila, it was an underdog compared to the big-time oil players in the country.
Raymond Zorrilla, Senior Vice President for External Affairs at Phoenix, shared that he’s been with the company since its early days in 2009. Since then, he has assisted the company in legal and marketing matters, and is currently the governor of the Phoenix Fuel Masters basketball team in the Philippine Basketball Association. He aids in protecting the company’s image first and foremost, but he dabbled in the company’s human resources and marketing departments as well.
However, Phoenix wasn’t always the well known brand that it is today.
“Although Phoenix was a publicly listed company, it was not known in the oil industry. There was no news about Phoenix, or any of its programs. Everything was just always below-the-line, nothing above-the-line, and no one was picking up the stories,” Zorrilla shared. Falling back on his background of law and working with other oil companies, he used his strong relationships with the media and reporters to help ease Phoenix into the media’s eyes.
In its early days, the primary concern of Phoenix was budget. It was an unknown company compared to competitors, which had grand marketing schemes at their disposal. The majority of Phoenix’s budget was dedicated to expansion efforts and building stations and depots—not for marketing. “So we were really new, and we never imported. We could not source our own products, so we had to buy from other oil companies,” Zorrilla shared.
Phoenix acted as a middleman, buying oil from others in wholesale and then selling it to retailers. This style of business left it with a small profit margin, and along with their existing budget constraints, they were urged to work harder at promoting themselves to retailers.
The company’s style of marketing then was to make cold calls. “We asked our team to check on all companies that require fuel and visit them, regardless if they are already being supplied by other oil companies,” Zorrilla explained. “We didn’t go for ads, and we didn’t go for commercials. We didn’t have those for several years.”
Zorrilla also takes pride in how the team members were fast decision makers. Being a startup gave them a smaller organizational structure within the company, and along with their cold calls, making fast decisions helped them adjust to spur-of-the moment changes with their partners and customers. “Unlike others, who at that time had more complex and larger systems, they had to go up the chain, and then eventually had to seek approval from international bosses. We never had that.”
One of the biggest hurdles Phoenix faced was advertising itself to the general public. It invested in billboards and newspaper ads, but it still did not gain enough attention.
It wasn’t until Phoenix signed Marian Rivera, a popular female celebrity, and Manny Pacquiao, a world famous boxer, as endorsers that the company’s popularity rose. As the company slowly gained attention, Zorilla and the other heads of Phoenix were then able to create a major advertisement campaign complete with jingles and commercials. Their extra efforts in advertising paved the way for its first major campaign with a tagline that still sticks to this today: “Sasamahan ka ng Phoenix, Ano man ang trip Mo.” (“Phoenix will go with you, with whatever you want.”)
“Trip, in a colloquial sense, can mean anything,” Zorrilla explained. It was similar to asking someone what they want to do, or what they like. This tagline was included in all of the brand’s marketing efforts. “It was also a play on what’s literally your trip, meaning your travel. And we will fuel your travel,” he said. “Which is why, ‘sasamahan ka ng Phoenix’.”
Zorrilla shared that his work philosophy is based on knowing himself first; he starts with identifying what he believes in before he starts marketing anything. He chose to believe in Phoenix and this belief showed in how he went about his work, from starting out relatively unknown, to the famous brand it is now,
He believes that someone can only market with confidence when they believe in what they’re marketing. It’s important that he has faith in what he puts out to others. “How can you be credible, if you don’t even believe in yourself?” he said. “If people believe in our character, they can believe what we say. And if they believe us, our reputation will be that we are credible, and we are dependable.”
To get more insights from other marketing leaders like Raymond Zorilla, please check out the full book, available for purchase here.
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