Offline marketing prowess makes all the difference.

It is increasingly becoming a crowded space for advertisers to promote their brands online. Not only is it expensive, with so many ads vying for user attention, it is also becoming less effective.

However, many companies who consider themselves as startups often miss the point – brand building is as important as tracking site bounce rate or user conversion rate. Brand building need not be expensive, but certainly could be considered a long-term investment as you might not see returns within a short timespan. For many startups who want results yesterday, this is something they just do not get.


In a popular Bangkok tech mall : Oppo has grown to be a massive brand through smart offline branding


Brand presence is the essence

Offline or traditional media, if used properly, will generate significant results. Again, we are not saying that it guarantees you a win, but it does improve your odds. A very good example to look at would be 11street in Thailand. For a short time, massive media buys all over Bangkok metro stations, and even television ads did a lot to uplift the traffic to their ecommerce site. Bangkok based restaurant reservation startup – Eatigo also raise investments from Plan B (a Thailand based media company), and it came with access to use tonnes of billboards (for free).


A popular Singapore startup- ezbuy quite geniusly used its trucks for advertising and brand building.


Given the fact that most offline media platforms are not within the realm of affordability for most early-stage startups, you can stop reading here (if you are in a relatively underfunded startup – just kidding!). Not all is lost though, as such companies can go back to the basics of running a real business – making sure customers are happy!


Back to basics – a happy customer brings more customers

Again, drawing from ready examples in the market, many companies fail to consider the basics of brand building and marketing – a happy customer. A happy customer generates tonnes of “word-of-mouth marketing”. 11street for example – was good at driving traffic to their sites, and although lacked in product offerings from the beginning, had solid footing in the Thailand market. There were few competitors, besides Lazada.

However, they were plagued with really bad customer experience (perhaps due to lack of an experienced operations team). Product returns and refunds took forever, and enraged many customers. Failing to have the basic understanding, it seems that the market is already punishing them. 11street (or Elevenia in Indonesia) was sold to Salim Group, and it seems almost likely that 11street in Malaysia (and Thailand) could be sold as well (or in the process)?


11street Thailand’s traffic since May; a steep drop of more than 50%


Set no rules for your customers

“We will refund you within XX working days” or “We will refund you after our seller has refunded us” are all standard safe responses said by almost every customer service person I know. I should know, I used to run a huge customer service team. I tried to humanize our responses and it worked. The truth is, while safe responses covers the business’ “bottom”, it does very little to assure the customer that we are looking after them.

Of course, we cannot please everyone – don’t be ridiculous; however there’s always more that can be done. Start by genuinely apologizing, and giving solutions instead of dictating rules. Time to re-look into your customer service team, very seriously.

Thanks for reading The Lowdown, insight and inside knowledge from the team at Momentum Works. If you’d like to get in touch with us about any issues discussed in our blog, please drop us an email at [email protected] and let us know how we can help.

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at [email protected].


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He has worn many hats in the past - selling advertising space, banking services, and even trading stocks. In 2013, longing for a change of scenery, he joined Rocket Internet’s (now Alibaba’s) Lazada as a online marketer in Bangkok, where he experienced first hand life in a startup. He never looked back since - landing lead roles at Rocket’s EasyTaxi (Singapore), Rocket’s MEIG (Dubai), and Bamilo (Tehran). After that, he launched (and ran) the Thai venture for one of Singapore’s biggest cross-border ecommerce. Last year, Chong put his expertise to work, helping an SGX-listed company relocate to and run operations in Thailand. Nowadays, he’s just chilling by the countryside.