3 Mind Boggling Business Ideas I Learned in Thailand

When I was in Thailand, I was prepared to shut my mind off from anything business-y.. or anything marketing related.

I mean, i wanted to heal.. and healing I did.

I had an awesome meditation experience and I couldn’t ask for a better exposure to world than I did in my three months there.

Funny thing is.. old habits are hard to break.

When I was there, granted that I don’t speak Thai very much, but I definitely learned about how things were done over there.

When people think of Thailand or SE asia in general, people think not-so-savvy business people. But totally understandable as Thailand is still a developing country and it has its fair share of problems  and issues. But of course, having grown up in US, my views are skewed.

But here’s the thing.. Thailand is now the #1 destination spot for international tourism according to

Not US.. not China.. not UK… yes, Thailand. A small country in SE asia that’s supposedly backwards.

Apparently their marketing is kicking ASS.

Some might say “oh it’s the cheap prices”… “oh it’s the red light districts”… or “oh it’s the food”.

But do you know how many countries have ALL that but not get one even 1/10th of the tourists that Thailand gets?



Walking around Thailand and experiencing the things for myself, i realized the marketers there are quite awesome.




1) Leverage your existing partners

If your business has any partners, make sure to take a FULL advantage of them

A lot of Thai companies, especially wireless service providers, have these kinds of posters in places like KFC and McDonalds:



The way it works is like this.

If you have cell wireless service, they give you these loyalty rewards points (that you can redeem for only once) at these retail locations.

Usually they’re some kind of small thing.. like fries, or a snack or something like that.

This is my guess the way it works is that whenever a reward is redeemed, the cell company pays the retailer.

Now why is this a win-win for everyone?


– the consumer feels like he/she is being thanked for being a loyal customer

– the retailer makes sale (i.e. zero friction since the person receiving the product doesn’t have to pay)

– the company (in this case the cell service company) gets (practically) FREE advertising at insanely high traffic locations  throughout the entire country


I say PRACTICALLY free because getting advertising space in these malls can run THOUSANDS of US dollars a month. Instead, they’re getting it for a FRACTION of that.



2) Use social media

If you’re a marketer or an entrepreneur (or both), I’m sure you’ve heard that you have to use social media.

I’ve seen a lot of brilliant social media marketing in US.. but in Asia, it’s 100x better.

For example, a mobile IM app called “Line” is quite popular in SE asia, including Thailand.

It’s so popular that they’re using these emoticons in TV advertising and of course RETAIL locations.

Why? Because people can identify with these characters.



The way it works is that people would take pictures with these characters… with the company’s marketing message or advertisement in the back. When they post this pic on  some form of social network, they’re hoping that they would get free branding advertising for their company.

And of course more branding = more likelihood for conversion/sale later.

Instagram is no chump either. People use these instagram’ish looking back drops to get FREE mentions and advertising for thei products and service.


Yes, people are quite fond of them:



3) Not ALL innovations have to be earth-shattering breakthroughs

This is the biggest mantra in business… innovate or die. Of course, as with any other entrepreneurs,marketers, or inventors, when I heard it.. i thought it meant I have to come up with the next killer algorithm .. or some killer technology.

It doesn’t have to be.

Let me explain.

There was a restaurant next to a place i was staying at. It was run by a lady who also happen to live inside the house that was attached to the restaurant. (Actually it’s pretty common that Thai houses are built like that – part retail & part residential).




(Actually these pics aren’t her store exactly, but similar in terms of .. well.. “layout”. But you get the point)

The thing is.. her food was awesome but her place was quite dirty.

When it rained, there would be a little mud lake that would form for a few days… stray dogs would come and do it’s business around there.. and yes, there were FLYS EVERYWHERE. I’m talking at least 30-40 flys at any given point in time.

I ate there maybe 3-4 times.. then at which point, I couldn’t take it anymore. So I stopped going, along with my Thai friends.

I heard from my Thai friends a couple of weeks later that she was quite sad that I stopped coming.

So what did she do? She innovated.

She put up sticky fly sticks that catches flys.



When i went BACK, she must’ve reduced the fly count by 95%+. I mean, it was AMAZING.

So, guess what.. the CUSTOMERS came back (including me).

The simplest innovation yet the biggest improvement to the business.



What simple innovations have you seen that makes a huge business improvement?

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Ex-code monkey turned entrepreneur, marketer, blogger, and speaker. TaeWoo writes about online marketing and growth hacking. You can read more about him here.

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