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Azleen Abdul Rahim

Co-Founder Diary: What It’s Like To Run A Company Remotely

No money means I need to work on this more creatively then

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

If Netflix and Spotify can make me sign up without having to meet their representative, I too, can make people sign up for NSE’s social media management services. That was my initial thought. The only difference is that they have the money to make it happen and I don’t.

I think it is possible nevertheless. No money means I need to work on this more creatively then. All I have to do is to crack my head a little bit more, especially on the how-to as I can see that this is the only way moving forward smoothly. No physical interaction, borderless and a volume game. Luckily enough, the COVID-19 outbreak truly validates our business model. It has been years running now and we are facing minimum turbulence so far. Fingers cross still, as many of our clients are facing a lot of uncertainties out there.

Seriously, it wasn’t easy during the initial stage. We’ve done things remotely since I can’t remember when. Long ago. But the real-deal phase was back in late 2017. Prior to doing it right, there are a few things I had to work on first.

First and foremost, I must ensure the what-we-do and why-us messages are crystal clear. This will set the stage pretty nicely. We simplify our social media name, make it clearer so that people are aware of what we do. NSE – Social Media Manager. There you go. Nothing could be clearer than that one. 

That being said, the next one we did was to limit our services options. We keep it simple, straight-forward and easy to understand. Just two options available, Plan 1 or 2, and that’s it. We put forth all the expectations, our activities and KPIs clearly too. This is to minimise questions.

The toughest part is the process. I need to sit down quietly together with my team to visualise the initial journey of the customers, our response as the internal team and our permanent freelancers. There are three perspectives altogether. We analyse one single step at a time and stuff to prepare for each. What are those things? They are answers, documents and forms. Whatever it is, every single one of them must have a pleasant experience. From Step 0 right up till the end, even after they become our paid customers.

The offer. To entice the audience to drop by and see our profile and way of thinking is easy. The difficult part is to convert them into paying us and become our customer. After observing a few large brands on how they are doing it, it’s pretty clear that we need something special if we really want to pull this off. We created what we called the entry-level product. Our Plan 1 is so freakin’ cheap loaded with huge value compared to what they’re going to pay. They find it difficult to say no to this one, really.

Despite having all the process and stuff figured out, still, there are people who want to know more details. We need a platform where we can do a real-time interaction with them without having to expose our private mobile number. We thought WhatsApp was the best bet especially here in Malaysia as it is the most usable mobile app and user-friendly, however, after months utilising it, customers began to abuse it by texting us beyond office hours and late-night demanding answers there and then. They also started to create WhatsApp Group after WhatsApp Group until the situation goes beyond control as thousands of notifications are received daily.

We put a stop to WhatsApp. We just use it for internal communications only. For customers, we opt for Facebook Messenger for the real-time chat and email for long-form ones and those with attachments. Google Drive, the shared folder platform is also utilised heavily to minimise email dependency.

We agree to a meetup only when they’re okay to proceed with our proposal and ready to pay the initial payment. The other caveat to this is that they too must be willing to fork out RM100 in cash and pay us right after the meetup. Then only my team will pay them a visit. Some people insist on having a physical meeting because they believe that it is the only way to make us understand their expectation. On the other hand, we believe that it can easily be solved by either a phone call, email or perhaps via instant messaging. After knowing that the physical session is chargeable, they somehow agree to opt for a phone call instead. There you go. It can be done actually.

Running the day-to-day operations of NSE is not that difficult as we prefer to run it in the simplest way possible. The structure of this company is designed to be very lean. We have full-timers, yes, and we have a number of permanent freelancers too. The utilisation of tools and certain specific apps really helps us a lot to make things smoother.

NSE is still growing despite being a lean, bootstrapping and small company. Yet we managed to make large brands in Malaysia and some parts of Asia to fall in love with our work. They don’t have to know us. They don’t have to meet us. Yet they know their social media journey is in good hands.

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Azleen Abdul Rahim
Written By

Azleen Abdul Rahim is the Co-Founder of Marketing In Asia. He also runs NSE, a social media company. Follow him on LinkedIn and Azleen.com.

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