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Business Advice

Adding byte to digital marketing

Blugrapes making its mark in social media
The Straits Times - February 1, 2012
By: Joyce Teo
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Adding byte to digital marketing Blugrapes business director and co-founder Ryan Lim. -- ST PHOTO: TED CHEN

TWO former Nokia colleagues Ryan Lim and Mark Lim went to lunch one day in 2006 and made a decision to start a company called Blugrapes offering mobile marketing solutions.

They were both involved with content development and were frustrated with the digital marketing options out there at the time.

With $2,000, they started the firm at Mr Mark Lim's home and did not draw a salary from the business for a year. Things were slow until they moved into the social media marketing field in 2007. The company was one of two agencies to first introduce Facebook as a platform to brand marketers.

'As a brand, you want to go where the people are. Social media also allows a brand to establish direct relationships with the consumers,' says its business director and co-founder Ryan Lim, 37.

Today, the company has a staff of 16 in Singapore, including consultants and technical staff, as well as three employees in Malaysia.

Turnover hit about $1.6 million last year, up from about $1.1 million the previous year. This year's sales are projected to grow by at least 70 per cent, says Mr Lim.

Blugrapes offers mobile solutions and those on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and helps manage campaigns. It also works with clients to integrate new media marketing into their traditional marketing mix. 'No social media campaign should run by itself,' says Mr Lim.

Much education is needed, he says, as many do not know what social media marketing entails.

Blugrapes also helps clients acquire customer database so they can migrate from Facebook to a new platform if technology changes, he says.

After seeing once-popular social networking site Friendster lose its influence around 2008, they realised they could not depend on one platform.

He says social media campaigns work well with consumers when the brands do not push a product.

One of Blugrapes' clients was a global paint firm. It helped the firm put together a campaign offering information on colours and the emotions evoked.

'We wanted to bring out the issue of pride of ownership so we asked: 'What do these colours mean to you?'' says Mr Lim. 'If you want to feel this way, these are the colours to look out for.'

For three months, it ran a contest inviting people to send in pictures of their home interiors with the best given a free paint-over. The campaign worked. 'It made people think, 'Maybe it's time I paint my house,'' says Mr Lim.

Firms must also face the possibility of negative feedback. 'It can be quite disturbing for some people that, suddenly, the consumer can talk back.'

Right now, Blugrapes is focused on growing the business in Singapore - and Malaysia - where social media has growth potential.

The plan, he says, is to eventually open a Blugrapes office in other regional cities such as Indonesia and the Philippines to better service clients there. 'We hope to retire in five years but we will still own the firm,' says Mr Lim.

 

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