Telum Talks To… Azleen Abdul Rahim, Co-Founder at Marketing in Asia

Telum Talks To… Azleen Abdul Rahim, Co-Founder at Marketing in Asia

Tell us a bit about Marketing in Asia (MIA), why and how did you start the publication?
Marketing in Asia (MIA) works pretty much like YouTube. It’s the community that feeds the content, while the platform helps to bring the traffic and readers. I personally believe Asian marketers are insightful and equally good. From my personal observation, the only thing they lack is the opportunity. Opportunity for their thoughts, insights, and ideas to be published on mainstream publications. Their materials are being judged as ‘average’ by their limitation of words chosen, the way they structure the story, and grammatical errors. 

When they lack the opportunity for exposure, they opt to work in silos. They write, produce content, and publish them on their own digital assets. Blogs and social media are the favourites. Then there is another challenge - to bring in traffic. They are all caught in the pay-to-play social media platform antics. No money for ads means no traffic will come by. The blog ends up being a zombie. 

I created MIA to provide solutions to these problems. I want to gather these bloggers to MIA and populate their content into a single platform and we’ll bring traffic in. With MIA’s presence in 14 countries today, they will have a better chance of getting their brands out there beyond their own countries. 

Tell us more about ‘100 Most Inspirational Linkedin Icons In Malaysia You Should Follow In 2020’ that was published in May?
Since 2018, we’ve been quietly monitoring the LinkedIn community in Malaysia. This year is our third year running the MIA100. These are the people whom we think are very special and deserve to be followed. They are the very people who tirelessly spend a huge number of hours on LinkedIn sharing inspiring, authentic content with their community, engage with them, and go the extra mile to give back. And they are doing this consistently without expecting anything in return. These are the parameters we set when we qualify them. Besides Malaysia, we are doing it for the Philippines too. Later this year, we will release one for Singapore, then Indonesia.

You have a team spread across Asia, how do you think people can continue to support local businesses in this period of time?
We all must support local businesses. The country is pretty much dependent on it. One way to support them is to buy their products or services. If you can’t buy a lot, then buy one. At MIA, we are supporting them by encouraging these freelancers and business owners to expose their expertise and write their stories on our platform. We will publish and distribute the content across Asia, with the aim of getting international traffic back to their websites or social media. By helping them to secure international customers, we want them to bring back US dollars out of this gig and reduce dependencies on the local market and eventually sell more.

What's on the cards for MIA in the coming year?
We want to conquer Asia, building a deeper readership from one country to another, one at a time via personalised content for Asian brands and people. By the end of 2021, we hope to have a strong readership in 25 countries across Asia. 

What do you have to say about the marketing trends in 2020 and 2021?
Not all trends can be applied, as many are written by theorists. The only formula that makes sense to survive the post-pandemic era is staying relevant to as many lives as possible. If a lot of people think your brand is relevant to them, you will survive or even make more money. 

Many print media businesses have ceased operations, what should they do to help themselves, in terms of marketing?
Everybody knows the publication industry, be it traditional or digital, is bleeding badly. I predict many more will shut or trim down their ops. It’s not so much of a marketing issue, but I see it more of a fundamental business model challenge, which is not sustainable. If they can consider adjusting some of their strategies, I am very confident they will be able to breathe smoothly again. It could be:
  1. Reduce high operating costs and dependency on large pools or full-time or permanent staff.
  2. Removing in-publications ads as they don't work as readers are not willing to pay to consume content.
  3. Be innovative and reduce reliance for all content to be generated-in house
  4. Monetise their publication sustainably
  5. Take advantage of social media platforms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter to stretch their posts reach further and wider
What do you hope for your readers to take away from reading content on MIA?
MIA is written by the community for the community with the purpose of providing relatable insights for our readers. Each article is written based on the author’s experience, observations, and reading. Some are also sharing their mistakes too, and how they overcame those. We hope that all our readers can grasp these cool stories and apply them to their marketing, business, or life. Learn from them. Be better. 

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