With the Movement Control Order (MCO) in place, a lot of businesses have been forced to cease operations and have no source of alternative income. Some have been granted permission to operate and have found ways to generate income on their products and services. But there are others who have no means to operate even if the company were to pivot their businesses.
Therine Goh, chief operating officer and co-founder of AdEasy Sdn Bhd, noticed how a lot of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) were struggling to stay afloat because of the MCO. As AdEasy, an online booking platform for offline advertising, is a company that services mainly SMEs, she felt it needed to do something for these companies. And so AdEasy set up the #AdEasyJagaSME initiative.
With the objective of helping Malaysian SMEs sustain themselves during this critical time by encouraging the public to buy local, the company set up a website, adeasy.co/jaga-sme, to help drive immediate revenue (and visibility) to these SMEs via a one-stop webpage.
“We are an SME ourselves and know how hard things are. We genuinely wanted to do our part to support them in any way we can because we feel it's the right thing to do. We brainstormed, developed and launched this initiative in just three days,” she tells Enterprise.
Goh explains that SMEs can list themselves for free and go live within 24 hours on the webpage. SMEs are also encouraged to list items or offers that make it easy for customers to decide and buy, like a “buy now, use later” strategy.
There is a "support" button under each listing that redirects customers to the SME’s own website, social page or contact number to find out about their products, services and offers. Goh says AdEasy is also giving free shout-outs on its social media platforms.
All the SMEs are pre-checked by AdEasy, says Goh, adding that this initiative can carry on even after the MCO ends to help during what is foreseen to be a long recovery period. “We approached our media partners for support to promote this, and we're happy to share that many of them responded positively. Some are giving free-of-charge ad space and most are shouting out about this on their social platforms and websites,” she says.
Response for the website has been good since launching on April 8 and it has received submissions from over 70 SMEs to date. “We hope more SMEs will list, and of course more people will know about this webpage, and buy from them,” says Goh.
As with every other industry, the advertising industry has also been hit during the MCO. Most of AdEasy’s users are postponing their advertising plans and those who have campaigns running have put them on hold.
“Our 1Q and 2Q projections are impacted and our revenues have dropped by more than 50%. We're fortunate that our media partners are very understanding and willing to put all campaigns on hold till further notice without any delay charges,” says Goh.
Broadcast and online media are definitely benefiting from the MCO, she adds, because with everyone required to stay in, these are the most consumed media. Based on a Malay Mail article at the end of March, Astro TV's viewership increased 43% since the start of the MCO.
“Most of the print media are shifting online, so they can continue to deliver content. The most impacted would be out-of-home media, such as billboards and cinemas,” she says.
For AdEasy, it is business as usual, with everyone in the company working remotely, says Goh, adding that the company will be applying for the wage subsidy programme announced by the government through a stimulus package for SMEs.
“We have our daily morning standups, where the entire team calls in to share their plans for the day. We then have our evening checkouts, where we update each other on what we've achieved that day. Communication is constant throughout the day within the team,” she says.
“We're also checking in frequently with our users to let them know we're there if they need help. We're working closely with our media partners to come up with promos for when businesses are ready to roll out their recovery plans.”