How I Make The Transitions From One Business To One Business By Using Digital Marketing In Malaysia?
Hi, my name is Kelly Chong, a mother of two boys, a woman entrepreneur Digital Marketer Consultant. I have been helping businesses to marketise and strategize their marketing plan to maximize their revenue. Today I would like to share my entrepreneur journey 19 years ago and how am I started with inexpensive marketing ideas for small business in Malaysia. I have started about 6 businesses since college. I will share how I make the transitions from one business to one business by using Digital Marketing in Malaysia.
I came from Alor Setar, Kedah. I was a single child in my family. My late father was a mechanic in a timber factory, though he did venture into business as well. My late father always said, if you want something badly, then you have to do your best to achieve what you want. I guest that NEVER GIVE UP message instilled in me since then. I left my hometown when I went to TARC college at Setapak, KL and here where the journey began.
My Entrepreneurship Journey [2001 – Present]
Selling Pre-paid Card [2001 – 2004]
My first business venture throughout the entrepreneur journey was selling handphone prepaid card. During that time, Nokia 3310 is like a status identity. If you owned it, it was like you have the whole world. The situation was quite similar to someone own iPhone SE or Samsung Galaxy S20. That time was the mobile phone booming period (not yet smartphone).
My crime partner a.k.a ex-boyfriend a.k.a my husband, we decided to sell pre-paid card. The reason was cheaper self-consumption and wanted to earn pocket money for living. Ya.. pat tow needed money. So, that time what we think of were “Hey, since we want to use it, why not we sell it to our classmate and coursemate.”
One pre-paid card selling price was RM30. Our cost was RM28. So we earned RM2 per pre-paid card. If we were selling 20 pre-paid card, we got RM40 that able to subsidize our dating fund. During that time, we had motorbike, so during weekend, we would drive our motorbike all the way from Setapak to Jalan Pudu (a small shop, located at 2nd floor) to replenish our pre-paid card stock.
I always shared in my training class, the bigger WHY in your intention, the bigger MOTIVATION you will have to accomplish anything you want.
For this pre-paid card business, we got our customers with a network. We only sold to our classmate and coursemate. Not really ambitious though. At this point in time, I still don’t know how to use digital marketing in Malaysia to promote this business. One month, we earned around RM120 till RM180 depends on our hard-working to approach our customers. As outside TBR got lots of competition from shop lot.
In this business, good thing was we found the high demand industry. But we actually did not work harder to find more customers. We were too comfortable between RM100 plus reward. We at least should sell in the big bulk promotion. So that we can have more regular customers. And we can recruit other friends to be the agent to sell in different faculty so that the outreach was even bigger. But all these I could only think about when I did business reflection after that.
Selling Kids Premium Cloth [2009 – 2015]
After graduating from college, I went into a pharmaceutical MSC to work as a sales representative. This was my important soft-skill learning curves in my whole life. I learned all my sales techniques, negotiation skills, communication skill, problem-solving skills, analytical skills and etc in all the pharma company. I mentioned to any junior before, if you want to have the best training, please work in a pharma company. They can offer the best training in the world with FOC (if you underemployment). I had my most enjoyable working experience in pharma industry.
When my job was getting stable, I started an online business, selling kids premium cloth with my friend who worked from another pharma company (we met in the hospital and become friends while waiting for doctors).
Our first business meeting was at a Mamak store at Subang Jaya SDMC. We roughly planned out our operation responsibilities, product sourcing, capital investment, marketing plan and business direction in 2 hours, then we made a date to Jalan Kenanga and GM Klang to do the product sourcing. That time I was pregnant with my firstborn.
I and my business partner were pulling the trolly (those aunties uncles bring along to morning market) one shop to one shop to negotiate the bulk purchase price, to check the quality of all the premium children cloth, payment terms and etc.
We set our positioning of products is kids premium cloth or leisure cloth. We planned to sell RM50 above per piece of cloth. We decided we use Facebook and Blogspot to outreach our customers and show it as a product catalogue to our customers. During that time, Social Media Marketing in Malaysia was still not that popular. Lots of my friends advise me and my business partner, why not we started our business in Pasar Malam.
But that time I quite insist to try to promote our product on Facebook. I strongly believed that by using Facebook, we could let more customers know about our product. All online exposure responsibilities have fallen under me. Therefore I created the second Facebook account (apart from my personal account) to promote our business. The brand called Little Monzter. I’m not really sure whether Facebook business page had started or not. But what we did is after creating the account, we kept added people in till Facebook temporary block us. Then we did it again after Facebook release the block.
At the same time, we post all the children cloth on the feed to outreach people. Other than having a Facebook account for business purpose, I created Blogspot to work as a website to promote the products. I have forgotten the access like username and password to enter in the dashboard. But I still have the link with me.
I used my first smartphone, iPhone 3, to take photos. For the background, I bought a manila card and then put on the floor. After that, put the kids’ cloth on it, then I climb on a chair and took the photo. I used apps to edit the photo, label it and post up to the Blogspot.
We managed to make a few sales online and deliver online too (using post laju). Each transaction was about RM50 till RM350. Overall business was not good. Online delivery is not that popular yet and most people were still quite sceptical about online shopping. We put our greater effort to push this business until one day we decided to stop any promotion as we see the reward was not so great with the effort that we put in.
To me, good thing to learn from this business was this was the first time I promote products by using online (I have never thought of online marketing will become an essential marketing plan to most of the businesses. Things to improve were both business partner did not fully focus on the business as we still had our stable and comfortable full-time job with us. The WHY was not big enough to continue to do so. I still kept all the cloth in my wardrobe. When my kids’ friend birthday party, I would give out the kids cloth as a present. This marked my second business milestone.
Children Enrichment Art & Craft [2011 – 2017]
This business cost me the most effort, time, finance (at least half a million above) and sadness. I got a SME loan for this business, total RM260K. I am considered one of the luckiest person to get that loan. We took 12 months to do all the preparation. This business is a franchise business and I started to work as part-time in the retail shop to pick up the knowledge of the operation. Preparation to get the loan from the business plan, attend the course, business pitching, follow up with bank took me and my husband for 6 months.
After we signed the contract with the shopping mall (this is the mistake), we got an interior designer and project manager, the recommendation from the franchisor (this is the mistake). So from the design, renovation till started to operate the business, we took another 6 months to go too.
The main reason why I took a franchise business was that I want to learn how to do business and find me a business mentor. However, it turned out a nasty experience and it helped me to witness how an INCOMPETENCE people will really drag you to drain. Based on my previous experience, I wanted to minimize the potential mistake from doing business. So we so trust the franchisor. Eventually, this was the worst decision I ever made. And I resigned from my pharma job and fully focus into this business.
We picked whatever the franchisor suggestion (How idiot I was). We paid the franchisor RM30K franchise fees, RM9K for the interior design draft and RM120K for the renovation except for furniture, company set up, marketing fees and etc. (After the renovation is done, I got 2 renovation sifu to come to the shop, they quote me RM80K can settle already. That time, I did not reveal that I was the business owner).
The most unbelievable matter as we already set the date to start operation day. And we had informed the interior designer and project manager about the date. They had promised that they did not have any problem to meet the deadline. The timeline was very challenging but what we got was the assurance that they will meet the deadline. We trusted them. That time I was with my second pregnancy and Jonathan told me not to go to the site so often as it was so dusty. So, I went there 3 days before the actual day. And you know what. I think you can guess it already. The whole shop was 30% done only.
I was immediately called the franchisor and asked her what was going on. The franchisor was somewhere outing and had no idea at all what had happened with the progress. She promised me that she would follow up closely with the designer and renovation progress. She also said she would hand hold me all throughout the journey (be careful when someone told you this). So, what happened then, postpone the opening of business.
Cut short of this, there were many empty promises ongoing throughout the journey. The first 3 years was still good to go. GST was coming and I knew it definitely will affect my business. So I created another brand named Kidzact to promote children event planner.
Here I started to build the first website with Wix and promoted with Facebook business page. I attended the first digital marketing course in MAGIC too. One of the proudest deals I got from online free traffic with the website were from Prudential CSR program and Empire Shopping Mall. They found me when they searched on Google. During that time, I was not aware of how Google SEO & SEM works.
In 2017, this business sales drop till to the lowest point in more than 5 years of operation. Finally, I had to make a decision to cease the operation. But, another door has opened up for me.
Restaurant YoYo Ping 
This business lead by my husband, Jonathan. Me was more on sleeping partner as I need to handle another business. My opinion to F&B is that F&B entry is low but it is most complicated business model in the world. To me, F&B business needed passion and knowledge. Well, this business closed after 9 months to cut lost. We did try to use the QR code to gain membership for customers as part of the marketing program but it seems not really work.
Online Learning Mandarin [2017 – Present]
Since I was in the internet marketing line, I created (SaaS) membership software to provide online learning. At first, we went into all the universities to promote our program and get people registered into our program. We used traditional marketing ways to promote. We have used Facebook Marketing & Youtube Marketing to generate leads as well. Then we had a webinar and then we followed up and let them register to be the student with whatsapp and email.
I got an invitation to participate in RISE, the tech conference in Asia to do pitching to one investor. It was really a great experience to stand in an international perspective to promote the products.
Digital Marketing Agency – KelC Creative to DMC Solutions [2017 – present]
As I mentioned in my previous business, I have started to use online marketing strategies since 2009. I learned digital marketing from Charles in Magic. With some success stories previously, I decided to convert my previous company into Digital Marketing Agency in Malaysia. I had used my own experience to help other company to grow by using online marketing.
I picked up my affiliate marketing and SEO marketing skill with Charles. My best experience was a simple 10 mins cooking video helped me to earn USD 200. I was so obsessed to make cooking videos at that time. In 2018, there was a boom in internet marketing services. I served a lot of clients who want to make website development, seo service, social media marketing, Google marketing, WeChat Marketing in Malaysia and etc. I built up a collaboration team with graphic designer, copywriter and event marketer.
At the same year, I joined Charles’s digital marketing trainer team to train batches of students who interested in Digital Marketing Course Malaysia. And a year later in 2019, I partnered with Charles and Zevin to form DMC Solutions Sdn Bhd. We expand our clients database and we served corporate clients like King Koil (Malaysia), Berjaya University & TVET, KCC Group Real Estate and etc.
Want To Have A Talk About How Digital Marketing Can Benefit The Business
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