One On One With Serial Entrepreneur & Veteran In Digital Start-Ups, Peter Wingsoe

Recognized as the original creator of the micro-endorsement space, natural-born innovator turned serial entrepreneur and veteran in digital start-ups, Peter Phillipp Wingsoe touts over 25+ years of experience in marketing, retail management, business development, strategic advisory, and consulting. With a professional background in and distinct aptitude for brand acquisition and expansion in unchartered markets and territories (i.e. Southeast Asia), Copenhagen-born Wingsoe’s comprehensive knowledge of the international landscape has made him a consummate resource within all partnered organizations. Currently a lead strategic advisor to several million dollar multinational corporations across Asia, he executively counsels the territory’s largest corporations with holdings in real estate, hotels, retail, and the F&B sectors with a personal history of having aided the growth of many companies from start-ups to conglomerates.

Previously, Wingsoe co-created and served as EVP of Pink Dot, setting into swift motion the now-popular American e-commerce and online grocery trend, and then moved on to serve as the VP of Marketing and Business Development for Blue Jay Inc. before co-founding the award-winning, full-service communications agency Entertainment Fusion Group in 2002, with present and past clients that include Oakley, LG Electronics, Lacoste, MTV, Hugo Boss, Guess, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino LV, Ubisoft and Boost Mobile. Notably, Peter co-founded the first-of-its-kind “in stream” advertising platform ad.ly, along with other household names in the digital sphere (Tinder, VMoney, Looksy.com). Splitting his time among his residences in Los Angeles, Bangkok, and Manila, Wingsoe continues to speak routinely at global forums on brand innovation, brand extensions, and SEA growth opportunities.

StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Peter to discuss his journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down?

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

Well, I work mostly as an advisor/consultant nowadays, I advise many start-ups, but also well-established brands. At this point, I often consider myself more of a teacher than anything else and more often than not, I’m told that I should write a book, start my own YouTube channel, or even a TV show, “How to Build a Business” or “How to be a Successful Entrepreneur.” I suppose it would be like “Fixer Upper” or “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares,” but for businesses. I don’t think I’m quite there yet, but maybe I’ll go that direction one of these days, but now is not the time for that; nevertheless, I do spend a lot of time trying to help other businesses grow.

What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?

Ultimately, I recommend using all! and I use none, lol. No, in all seriousness for a brand to thrive, social media is a must in today’s world.

I currently work with several companies and advise all my brands to review each social media platform and decide which is most relevant, not only to the brand but also the business. In general, I highly recommend Facebook/Instagram for consumer products and direct-to-consumer brands here in the USA, but that is not to say there aren’t many others that can be considered.

Up-and-coming social networks i.e. TikTok, should not be dismissed either. Even though many brands are still trying to figure out how to appropriately utilize these newer platforms to the fullest, it’s important to include some of these new platforms. A brand should always be willing to explore new channels. You don’t always have to be active on the platform yourself, and many brands are not, but it is still necessary to have a voice on the platform. We have done many campaigns on newer platforms using ambassadors and influencers to promote and incorporate the brand into the influencers’ own feeds and seeing major success.

I highly recommend not just looking at any single social media platform but all existing options and how you choose to engage with your prospective customers, be it via informative pushes or to directly engage with the customer.

What is your experience with paid advertising, or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?

I’ve done quite a bit of paid ads as well as sponsored content over the years, much has changed but YES, it works. Whenever possible, I always recommend brands doing a mixture of both or all. Today it is extremely easy to create paid advertising or campaigns utilizing Facebook/Instagram as they have created a very simple to use “self-service” platform that anyone can use, but there are also easy to use 3rd party plug-ins that are great.

When doing sponsored content or engaging with influencers and celebrities, getting an agency involved is helpful, as they can better advise who is appropriate for the brand and who has the reach and engagement that is needed in order to maximize the return on your investment. As previously mentioned, I advise many direct-to-consumer brands, we’ve done endless content and celebrity campaigns over the years and been doing a lot more during these past few months during the lockdown.

Additionally, I am a huge fan of retargeting campaigns using email, social media as well as other paid media outlets. There are many easy to use self-service tools/plug-ins that can be used depending on the e-commerce platform that the brand is utilizing and I’ve found that brands doing this as part of their paid advertisements budgets are seeing more success.

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

There are so many forms of Marketing; direct marketing, email marketing, online marketing, even events, seeding…etc., and the list goes on, but regardless of the marketing I usually like to divide my targeting into 2 main categories…

1. Capture new Audiences; regardless if you are a new brand or established brand it’s always important to engage with new customers. Everyone needs to grow one’s customer base, because the reality is, no matter who you are or what you sell, you will always lose some old customers and those will need to be replaced with new customers if you want to grow.

2. Engage and Convert your existing customers; basically, make them come back and engaging with them in order to get them to purchase more and hopefully become your unofficial brand ambassadors by helping you drive more traffic and recommending your products to others.

Personally, I approach each one a bit differently, I look at it a bit like a funnel…

At the top of the funnel, we have the new customers, I try to target those via a larger and broader approach, capturing a larger audience as specifically as I can, with targeting tools provided by the various marketing initiative or ad networks for that matter.

For existing customers, further down the funnel, since I already have been able to collect basic information about them based on the previous purchases I prefer to go after them in a much more targeted approach.

At the bottom tip of the funnel, I like to target very specifically which is based on what each customer likes; as said before I am a huge fan of retargeting campaigns, basically focusing my marketing spend specifically on customers that have already engaged with the brand using various marketing initiatives.

Also, I’m a big fan of (believe it or not) email campaigns. Utilizing the correct platforms and creating a mix of automated flows and custom campaigns, I have seen brands being extremely successful and generating a significant return on investment. It’s good to remember they signed up for the newsletter, so if you give the customer interesting content to engage with, more than not, they will.

Lastly, I don’t think any campaign is complete without incorporating SMS into the mix. SMS has had a slow start here in the United States although already embraced in both Europe and Asia. It is only recently with the proliferation of the Gig Economy and through “instant gratification” and the need for feedback that text updates have become the norm.

What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?

First of all, I think it’s so important for people to be able to understand your Brand, regardless of how you decide to approach your Marketing, PR, Advertising…etc. First and foremost, you need to be able to effectively communicate your brand’s message in order for people to be interested.

I think that the most important things in building a successful brand besides color palettes, style guides, logos, filters, and slogans are content and ultimately, overall messaging.

But simply writing some slogan or creating content is just half the story. In order to be effective, the content must be consumed by the target audience and understood.

From a more traditional perspective, I think PR works great at launching a product because you get to use the credibility of whoever is writing about the product to get your message out and for customers to get a glimpse of who or what your brand is all about so it can come across as being very organic and authentic. Secondly, I like to use videos, on the brand’s site, in Social media, or via Ads, as videos have an incredible ability to awaken emotions within each of us if it’s done right. Ultimately the response we want from the customer is “WOW, I want that.”

When we look at some of the most successful products, you will quickly start realizing that it’s not necessarily the product that people are after but much more the Idea, the lifestyle, and the emotions that are awakened within us, that make us purchase that certain product. For example, when selling a diet product, brands will often showcase not only skinny models but extremely fit models, which then makes us, as consumers believe that if we use this product, we too, will look like that those people showcased. Similarly, car manufacturers may try to sell you on the freedom that the car will give you again, rather than the fact that it gets you from point A to B, they are all focusing on emotions rather than just the actual product.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

Wow, that’s a hard question to answer especially during this time of Covid19. I suppose letting people go is always the hardest thing to do. I never like to let people go because of downturns, especially not good and loyal ones. I always look at my teams as integral parts of the overall success of a company. I know that it’s not necessarily my doing, but the teams’ doing as a whole. I am here as a visionary and a guide to my teams, but I’m not here to drive it day-to-day, and without my many teams, I’m ultimately nobody.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

Well, as a self-made entrepreneur what mistakes have I not made! (laughs) And yes some of them have been very costly, but then I believe that mistakes are part of the road to success. I don’t think there’s anyone out there that has not made mistakes, after all, we’re all humans, we all make mistakes. The most important thing is to learn from your mistakes and not simply give up and get discouraged because of them.

I’ve been part of many successful start-ups over the years, and although I consider it all luck, you can’t always hit the jackpot every time. Most people never win the lottery, and some people hit it once, very few people hit it more than once, and business is much the same way. I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of several successful start-ups, not all my own doing, but with great teams that led to that success.

One of my partners once said to me, “If you can do it once you can call it nothing but luck, but if you can do it twice you can call it skills!” So even though I often say it’s all luck, I do suppose I have some skills because I’ve done it successfully more than twice.

What new business would you love to start?

Good question! Hmmm, I like consulting and once in a while, speaking engagements as I like to share my knowledge. I recently started a small fund investing in start-ups, but if I had to choose something new and wild, I’d say Hotels! I’ve been fortunate enough to be the executive advisor to the CEO of one of the most successful hotel and retail developers in Thailand. With over a dozen hotels in Thailand, chains in both Germany and the UK, as well as a local retail portfolio, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the inner workings of that industry. Though it may not be nearly as sexy as owning a tech start-up or a direct-to-consumer brand, It’s a space that still fascinates me.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

Appreciate more. I was born in Denmark, and a very early age went to Germany for schooling. Germany was amazing, a bit tough, but I learned a lot, but when I came to America and started ninth grade I was bored. My teacher quickly recognized this in me and gave me a challenge, to skip a grade and go to 10th grade. I did that and then ended up skipping two more grades that same year, essentially doing all of high school in 1 year. I loved the challenge and went on to college, and like high school rushed through in record time, and then immediately went to work full-time! It was always go go go! I was a pure bulldog that just rushed through life and I completely forgot to stop and smell the flowers along the way and much worse, I often forgot to appreciate the people around me.

I once drove from Los Angeles to New York and invited a friend to come along for the ride. What was supposed to be a nice relaxing 10-days trip cross country, stopping along the way to see all the beautiful things American has to offer ended up being a coast-to-coast drive in less than 2.5 days. Needless to stay, we didn’t see or get to do much at all. Luckily she is still one of my best friends and she eventually forgave me, and today we often laugh about it, but I’m sad that I never took the time to appreciate those times more. I suppose it’s never too late and now with COVID, maybe soon is the right time to do re-do that road trip.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

”In life, it does not matter what you say, it only matters what people hear” -My mother

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

I suppose I would give them the same advice as I got…

”In life, it does not matter what you say, it only matters what people hear” – Me

But I also think its important to…Never give up!

I’d like to share something that I live by and I read every day to remind myself….

THE ONLY REAL FAILURE IS THE FAILURE TO TRY, AND THE MEASURE OF SUCCESS IS HOW WE COPE WITH DISAPPOINTMENTS, AS WE ALWAYS MUST.

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