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While most companies were badly hit by the pandemic, one business in particular was actively looking for alternative ways to transform their business.
“The event company where I was working in was in a difficult situation due to the pandemic. The entire event staging business was in big trouble. I had to take a huge pay cut.
“I was doing a gifting business as a side hustle and pitched the idea to my ex-bosses. But it was not enough to save the company that was already losing a lot of money,” says Daphne Tan, Marketing Director of Skitch.
Retrenched, but with a severance package in her hands, she did not hesitate to put all her money in the gifting business.“I have so much belief in this business, so I put my entire severance package in it. To me, it was really a do or die gambit.”
Explaining the business model, she says the company she started in May 2021 and curates gifts for festive seasons like Raya and even for Mother’s Day.
She also does corporate gifts, and this is where public relations agencies can get involved in pitching gifting ideas to their clients.
The success of her business is not only based on her contacts from her former employment. It is also a result of her resolve and business acumen.
“This is how we develop our B2B approach. We rely heavily on our corporate clients and most of them are my ex-clients, like Shell and Nestle.
“They represent a new pool of customers and that is how we grew the B2B and corporate segment of our business. We started off by sending cold emails or making cold calls and it worked for us,” she says.
Despite facing challenges at the start, she came up with some practical solutions.
“Our major problems were logistics and sourcing for the printing of our boxes. The movement control order had put many companies out of operation. We had a hard time on that front, looking for suppliers and companies to work with. Another problem was our gifts used to be very artistic. We wanted to stand out from other gifting companies.
“But right now, we can’t really do artisanal stuff because it crumbles easily. We have to come up with new ways to repackage them into something that can withstand being rough-handled while in courier transit.”
For Daphne, the shift in business model did not really affect her sales. It is all about meeting the clients’ budget.
“As long as we meet our clients’ requirements with something that is of quality, they’re happy,” she says, adding that for her it is to do business with passion over making a quick buck.
Nevertheless, Daphne says her business did not really benefit from the various economic and financial packages available for smaller businesses.
Daphne depends heavily on online promotion of her products, particularly on Facebook.
Two weeks before the launch date of her online business, she got 1,000 followers on Instagram. The company’s Facebook account is linked to the Instagram account.
The company spent quite an amount of money on boosting posts on Facebook to reach out to a larger customer base.
While digital marketing is the go-to tool for businesses there are many routes to take and at times it can be overwhelming. Selecting the right platforms and channeling the resources carefully are critical to achieve the right results, especially during these trying times.
For Skitch to get their social media strategy right, their digital infrastructure will play an important role, for instance a robust internet connectivity ensures all her communications are delivered smoothly and fast. And since her business ecosystem resides entirely online, using a simple all-in-one solution will give her more control over digital marketing activities while she can use the time saved for other things like crafting those adorable gifts.
Daphne is still weighing her options when it comes to moving her digital business forward, her number one concern is about conversion rates and costs. This also led her to try out marketing via influencers as the trend of using popular social media individuals was popular marketing method among small entrepreneurs.
“We don’t pay them, we just give them a set of gifts, and it’s up to them to talk about it on their social media networks. Using influencers is quite effective,” she admits.
The company also shared its plans for expansion across Malaysia, aiming to reach Sabah and Sarawak soon. Indonesia and Singapore are also two new markets they are targeting.
For those who are still planning to start an online business, she says they must be brave.
“We are in the digital era, and you have to learn a lot of things and jargon to succeed online. Most important of all is to be brave.”
Support Skitch by visiting them at https://www.skitch.my/. A homegrown business highlight by Celcom Business.
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