Elton Kuah is a noteworthy entrepreneur from Malaysia. He is the founder of Enrich Social Media, a company that specializes in internet marketing services, business strategy planning and hotel booking solutions. His immense expertise and passion for this field is widely recognized in the industry. He is an International E-Coach of Youth Employment Network, a certified member of Social Media Summit Success USA, a columnist for E27 Singapore on social media and the moderator of the Telemarketing Forum. Through the years, he has trained numerous people in the areas of government, telecommunication and retail on social media and internet marketing. For his efforts and in recognition of his expertise, he has received numerous awards and accolades including most recently, an award for Global Business Mentorship from the the Deputy Minister of Finance in Malaysia. In 2011, he has even co-authored a published book titled: ‘Are You Ready To Be The Next Entrepreneur?’
A prolific entrepreneur who has received a lot of media attention. We have the privilege of hearing from Elton as he personally shares with us his wealth of experience and the insights he gained from starting up Enrich Social Media.
Elton could you tell us what Enrich Social Media is all about?
Aside from what has been just mentioned. Enrich Social Media also focuses on Facebook advertising optimization, affiliate marketing, crowd funding solutions to generate more returns on investments and sales distribution for business owners. At Enrich Social Media, our target industry is food and beverages, retail items, fashion, travel, tourism and creative small and medium business that need services for brand awareness.
How was it like working on your venture in the beginning?
At the beginning, I worked from home. During that point in time, I conducted trainings and conferences to help businesses and business owners build awareness about the kinds of services and expertise we offered, so social media marketing. Through these trainings a lot of businesses became interested and they started to seek us out. Expansion came naturally, that is essentially how we started in the beginning.
Did you encounter any major challenges when you first started?
Yes, several challenges. At the beginning, there wasn’t enough awareness of my company. The other interesting thing I noticed is that in beginning customers usually took a long time in deciding whether or not to purchase the packages we offered. I supposed this ties in to the awareness of the company. However, in my opinion, there is also another contributing factor and that is market perception of social media. A lot of people perceive social media as something that is free, in their eyes it is something they can do for free usually by themselves. In some cases, I think there are even people out there who don’t value social media as an outlet that is as important as traditional forms of media like newspapers and flyers.
There was also a challenge in funding as well. This is usually a challenge for most businesses but for me this was an interesting one. You have to see it in line to what I’ve just said about how people were not really picking up our services in the beginning. Because the customer base was not growing rapidly due to a lack of market understanding of how social media can benefit them, the sort of revenue we had at the start was slightly diminished.
I also had troubles finding the right people. Getting the right workers who can do an effective job is not an easy. Especially in the field of social media, which is really a knowledge based industry. Malaysia is also a relatively young country and quite young with regards to social media and technology in general. So finding people who were capable in tech like in graphics design, internet marketing, programming, intellectual property competence was a very tough challenge. We needed these people because in my opinion getting people with these competences is essential in forming a good foundation of a social media marketing company.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I overcome these challenges by working with mentors, developing “purple cow” concepts of my services that create the ‘wow’ impact for prospective customers. I also focused on developing constantly evolving business model and enhancing relationships with people who directly or indirectly increased the value of my products and services to customers. Our focus was to increase market reach in the fastest way possible and this was done through direct advertising on Facebook and propriety solutions used to increase marketing effectiveness. Also, what was most important in my approach towards overcoming the challenges which we faced, was my personal approach in fostering online community management as the strength of my business model as it is not something that can be easily duplicated by competitor. One example of this was me creating awareness through videos I posted in my Facebook Page, where I connected with users and customers out and taught them about social media. I also teach in class and give valuable information via media, offline talks and online blogs.
How has Enrich Social Media developed since the start up?
Life in Enrich Social Media has been constantly evolving, from the ideology and practicality of how my company started and how my life evolves to build the business to the level it is now and the next step forward. Having this magazine to feature my story gives me privilege to share my experience to help my audience understand more of how an industry practitioner works.
What can you tell us about the use of social media in Malaysia?
The use of social media has been on rapid growth in Malaysia. Currently, there are 14 million users in Malaysia. In terms of the demographic of users, the active age is between 18-35 years old. I think in Malaysia there is growing trend in social media. Primarily, this is due to increasing the mobile integration in people’s daily lives and more and more Malaysians are also choosing to utilize social media more and more when they are online.
How important do you think social media is in the context of business and entrepreneurship?
I think it is very important. Social media is especially important for business and entrepreneurs. It is important in the sense that social media allows for direct engagement with customers. At the end of the day, this translates as market feedback. It also allows you to directly build and encourage customer loyalty in and accessible way which was something that was difficult to do in the past.
Is there anything interesting you can tell us about the industry at the moment?
The industry for advertising in digital media space has the potential to create $1.6 billion dollars in revenue. It has a lot of market potential and is constantly evolving, so that creates a lot of opportunities for people to grow their wealth and capitalize on this market.
Has Enrich Social Media faced much competition?
Yes there is competition, especially from major players and agencies in the digital media industry. In my own understanding, there are many internet marketing agencies in the market and the market is entirely unaware the differences. The market does not fully understand what the agencies are able to provide but most importantly, the actual value of effective advertising value to enhance businesses at its bottom line.
How do you deal with competition and stay competitive?
I work with partners who can add value to solutions. What I think is very important is to really understand how customers operate in their own business environment and process, and then think about how we can contribute to help them further. An example of this is that my company is one of the certified agencies, certified by Facebook for Small and Medium Business. One incentive of being Facebook certified agency is that we can gave free $100 advertising coupons for a new Facebook Page created within 28 days. So obviously this has the capacity to help businesses move into the new age dominated by Facebook. This is one of the ways we could contribute to businesses amongst others.
For my own purposes, I think personal branding will be one of the key focus in attracting the right partners into the business, and effective marketing perception and systemization would be current point of business. To enhance customer experience, by putting myself in service mode before buying mode, I can truly get to a point where my customers is able to experience our services and truly feel how I really care for their businesses. I also believe effort is important, you want people to feel the effort put in to ensuring deliverables are reachable, or doing my best to ensure customer objective are serviced rather than just sell my solution direct to customer without chance of experiencing it.
What do you think are the common issues businesses have with social media?
I think the main thing is understanding how social media works and how does it has a powerful potential to generate the correct return on investments. So there is this general misunderstanding that is causing businesses not to fully utilize the correct means to generate those returns. There is also a difference between social media and general advertising. The rules of engagement is the main principle of social media as compared to advertising, so many marketers and companies are not familiar in regards to how to approach it and adopt social media. Social media is also something that is hard to truly master, its always evolving, I mean think about Facebook. Facebook changes its interface every now and then.
So from working on your venture have you learnt any important lessons that you could share with our readers?
Definitely. From experience of working on Enrich Social Media I think I’ve learnt a lot. I think it is important to evaluate your goals and also evaluate whether what you are doing is aligned with your core mission and purpose in life. The other important lesson, is maintaining effective relationships, as people hold the key potential of creating great opportunities that we may be unaware of. One other aspect in my life is that I do not take rejection, and criticism personally, as there is always life lessons to be learned from shortfalls, if you take this kind of approach you will improve more as person. I know this fact as I constantly faced rejection in life, in 3 and ½ years of business, I have faced total of 1,277 rejections. Some people may find this hard to take if they do not have the stomach the hard facts to be an entrepreneur. So resilience is important.
Any advice for entrepreneurs out there reading?
Always be humble, focused and flexible in your business approach. Be clear on what’s your goal during the business journey as this will keep you on ground to deal with obstacles along your journey. I think true success for is when you are able to deliver something of value beyond just the customer but also society as such your journey as an entrepreneur should be never ending.
You mentioned success, how do you see success?
In my own definition, success when you are able to achieve your life goals and at the same time you are capable of giving sustainable value to society. The person doesn’t have to rich in materially, which is superficial. The greater thing would be when his life has a positive impact to society. That is real success.
What are your personal values?
I am someone who likes to be learn constantly and outdo myself to have sense of achievement in life. My personal values are efficient work ethics, learner and flexibility. I am someone who respects people who works hard for their vision and doing their best effort to achieve it.
So what is next Elton?
I have a lot of future plans for Enrich Social Media. One of them is to bring in the right partners who can add value to the company and building a more active presence in the Asian region. Also, I am exploring collaborative opportunities with partners such as key media players and PR agencies, brand influencers and people who have direct relations to end user to create win-win synergies for all involved. As for personal development, I am going to Hong Kong in August for Dragon 100 Conference representing Malaysia and to expand my horizon regionally.
Connect with Elton and Enrich Social Media today:
Email: [email protected]