Business lessons from Singapore old time Towkays

By | CYH

Singapore towkays in the good old days knew the importance of marketing. They had no social media in the past and the newspaper is the most powerful medium (because most couldn’t afford to buy a radio or tv) to reach the masses.

So they ended up setting up their own newspapers with the objective of advertising their own products.

Tan Kah Kee set up Nanyang Siang Pau to promote literacy but also to broadcast his rubber products.

Aw Boon Haw, who went into loggerheads with Tan Kah Kee, set up Sin Chew Jit Poh to advertise his tiger balm.

Leung Yun Chee, together with Jin Yong (yes, the author of many wuxia novels like the legend of the condor heroes), set up Shin Min Daily News to peddle axe brand medicated oil.

So the first lesson is that you must find ways to put your product or service in your prospects’ faces more often than your competitors (like those irritating video ads attempt to do).

But all the press submitted under the Singapore government’s media law in the 80s. They were sold to SPH. Lianhe Zaobao is a merger between Nanyang Siang Pau and Sin Chew Jit Poh. You can see both names under Lianhe Zaobao even today. This is the second lesson – Grab the power and market share as much as you can before the rules change.

The third thing is that you can make a lot of money selling placebos like tiger balm and axe oil. You might think that it is harder today because people are more educated and won’t fall for such things. But these products are still available today is a testament that it works. In fact we have new age placebos too – like branded running shoes that supposedly help you run faster or supplements that cure your health problems. It is the story you sell.

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