Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Protect-A-Bed's official launch in Thailand: Sharing the game-changing decisions

After a year of intricate planning, my new venture finally had its chance to properly launch itself to the public, thanks to The Mall Group's support, at the Discount Overload warehouse sale at IMPACT Muang Thong Thani last month.

Anyone who knows me long enough would know that I am no stranger to trade shows, in fact, I can be considered an expert in them, but a day into the event, I realised that a warehouse sale in Thailand was no trade show. Visitors were 99.9% local, and were more attracted by celebrities and bargains than anything else. Launching a completely unknown brand (fyi we are selling waterproof mattress protectors) under such circumstances was not going to be straightforward.

Our initial strategy was simple. Look professional and foreign (making it clear that this is an imported product), make our booth accessible and welcoming (thus the 7-11 concept) and arm ourselves with 2 pretty PCs (product consultants) who were well-trained in the product.

The cashier was behind the booth, so we kept the back open so that customers will come in and browse after paying for other goods
The mattress protector minimart

Not helped by almost an entire day of torrential rain, our first day fell flat. There was some interest but 0 sales. Being the captain of the ship, I had to react, and over the next few days, changes were made everyday and rewards were reaped. Here's to share some of the game-changing tactics adopted that will ensure you do not make the same mistakes:

1. Close the booth up, it's a pop-up store, not a walkway

Customers can't walk through anymore

Yes, the booth needs to look open and welcoming, but it cannot be so open, especially on both sides such that it becomes a convenient walkway for customers to cut through to get from one point to another. Having uninterested traffic passing through does you no good, and is extremely distracting.

2. Communicate the concept effectively

As proper as our first design looked, customers could not link the booth to beds at first glance. This was very serious, as Thai people we already unfamiliar with the concept of mattress protectors in the first place.

My 2 pretty and hardworking PCs 
Once the mattress rolled in and the products were displayed, things started looking up, as very much less explanation was required to communicate our ideas to the customer.

3. Localise

The initial concept of looking imported worked, but to a limited extent. As important as it was to impress the public, it was even more important to attract their attention. It became obvious once it was clear that there would be no expat crowd and that most of the people came looking for huge bargains.

We quickly designed a new sign highlighting some main points in Thai, and of course about our discounts

4. Stop the crowd

This final and most important game-changer, was unfortunately, not initiated by me. Knowing our struggles, the organisers threw us a lifeline. They came to us with 2 racks which could be placed at the centre of our walkway, which ensured our products would intercept all passers-by.

The ultimate game-changer
Once the potential customer stopped, the selling could begin, and with a good product and some extremely committed sales people, there would be at least positive vibe generated from all the discussions. Our sales figures finally shot up considerably after this change completed our jigsaw of adjustments.

Though I would not consider our launch event as a rousing success, we definitely made the most of it and learnt some valuable lessons along the way. More importantly, it gave us a good feeling of the potential of our product and the motivation to move ahead and make bigger splashes in the market.

See you at our next event, most probably at Big C Rama 4 from 16-23 November 2013!

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