INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Taking the Positives out of a Negative Situation
Laurent Couche, managing director at Asia Media Studio tells us about graphic design services.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Laurent Couche: COVID-19 has not become widespread in Thailand, where I now live and work, thanks to strict controls by the Government. International travel is heavily restricted, and I have not been able to get home to Belgium to visit my family, but that aside, I feel fortunate to be living here in these times.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Asia Media Studio.
Laurent Couche: Born and raised in Belgium, I graduated from the well-known Belgian private art college CAD (College of Art & Design). After leaving college, I came to south-east Asia for a holiday and ended up settling in Thailand! I founded Asia Media Studio in 2008, recognizing an opportunity to combine my European-influenced business appreciation with my background in all facets of creative graphic design. I am proud of the success we have achieved over the past 13 years; we now employ 25 staff, have created original, impactful branding, packaging designs, brochures, websites, digital campaigns for over 500 clients, and built a business for the future.
How does Asia Media Studio innovate?
Laurent Couche: Our success over the past decade has been built on our strengths in branding, marketing, and website design & development. In recent times, we have applied these disciplines to the recent developments in digital marketing, social media, and SEO marketing and support this by employing talented, committed specialists to devise and execute highly successful campaigns for our clients.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Laurent Couche: Last April, the first national lockdown had a significant impact on, in particular, the hotel, tourism, and travel sectors that have traditionally accounted for a significant proportion of Thailand’s GDP. With several clients in this market, we were also impacted, and business definitely saw a downturn. We, though, took the opportunity to review our own marketing initiatives and devoted freed-up design time to fine-tuning our website and creating a new e-book, new company profile, and a number of e-presentations. This helped us implement a successful wide-ranging sales effort to attract new customers in markets such as the medical and healthcare sectors that have not been badly affected by the pandemic.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Laurent Couche: We have a talented and committed team at AMS that we were determined to hold on to. The staff all helped in this goal, working from home for 6 weeks and accepting a salary reduction for 2 months. (We were able to refund the salary losses this January). To support the work-from-home situation, we needed to re-organize, introduce remote communicating and increase individual responsibilities, and this now seems to have brought the team closer together and improved our overall efficiency.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Laurent Couche: A new confidence in remote working, together with the redesigned marketing collateral, has enabled us to promote the company in a positive and timely manner that is appreciated by both existing and new clients. On-line communications and video conferencing have become much more prevalent tools of the business, and our people have embraced these with enthusiasm and skill.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Laurent Couche: Very little, unfortunately! We know, though, the advantages and disadvantages of working in Thailand and didn’t anticipate any support…
Your final thoughts?
Laurent Couche: I would be lying if I said COVID-19 hadn’t had a negative impact on the business, and it has been a stressful time for us all, personally, socially, and economically. We have, though, tried to take a positive approach, and we have developed the confidence to embrace new ideas, new communication channels, new market sectors, and new disciplines that we believe will stand us in good stead going forward.
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