What’s Next: Tony’s Top 10 Tips for Entrepreneurs: Page 2 of 3

 
4) Invest in marketing
 
If you have the greatest idea in the world, please, please, please put some money on marketing. This is because if you don’t put money on marketing, nobody is going to hear about your great idea.
 
There are so many great ideas that never took off because of a lack of marketing.
 
Marketing is not about the dollars, it is also about public relations (PR). In AirAsia, we had no money. So I ran around with a red cap on and said controversial things so that the press would always take a picture of me. That was our marketing in AirAsia’s early days.
 
We have been through so many issues, and marketing played a key role in overcoming them.
 
Remember SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome)? At that time, nobody wanted to fly; we all thought we are going to die.
 
Everyone cut their advertising, but I told my guys not to cut because this was the best time to build our brand. In fact, we tripled our advertising and everyone looked at me and said, “Are you on drugs?” I said, no, it is the best time because no one else is advertising.
 
When the first Bali bomb attack happened, everyone cancelled their flights. I said to the guys, we cannot let the Bali route die. We must continue to fly.
 
So we came up with ‘Love Bali’ campaign, giving away 10,000 free seats, and it worked. All 10,000 seats were snapped up in like under one minute. And all those who got those seats told all their friends about it on social media. Your best advertisement is your customers.
 
5) Leverage social media
 
When Malaysians get a good deal, they will tell the whole world about it. So the 10,000 people who went and had a good time in Bali, told 10,000 people that they had a good time. That was the early gestation of AirAsia’s social media.
 
We realised the power of social media very early on, so when Facebook and Twitter came up, we latched onto them. We were early adopters. We now have 32 million people on our various social media platforms, and 7% of our business comes directly from social media.
 
The Bali campaign taught us that our best advertisements are our customers.
 
6) Don’t be scared of complaints
 
Complaints are actually free market research. Someone took the effort to write to you to tell you where things went wrong and how they should be improved. These are things that companies pay a lot of money for consultants to tell them that same thing.
 
So we treat every email preciously.

 

Next page: Branding tips and never underestimate the potential of your staff

 
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