Life was brutally tough. But beggars could not be choosers!

Malkeet Singh is the Executive Director of Bloomingdale WorldWide Partners

After graduation in 1979, I started working with a couple of multi-national and local agencies as a copywriter and was driven by an innate passion to some day team up and start my very own advertising business.

I teamed up with some colleagues and joined a Kelantanese agency, Li Izuldin Associates in 1986. It was a small agency doing Below the Line (BTL) work for several clients in Kota Bharu.

Life was tough. Brutally tough. But beggars could not be choosers. The internet age was still in its formative years. It was still the era of traditional artwork and sending copy for type-setting and films to the press.

We had to change the name of the company from Li Izuldin Associates to something sounding very international. We asked ourselves, why not look at the then largest departmental store in the United States, Bloomingdale’s, for inspiration. We made our choice by simply dropping the apostrophe and alphabet “s”. Besides, the name resonated “blooming”.

Through the traditional grapevine, we had a visit from a local client, Master Carriage Malaysia (MCM) who were looking for a local agency to handle the advertising campaign for Isuzu.

Although the payment terms stretched beyond 90 days, we persevered and developed an excellent working relationship that led to a growing business.

MCM grew by leaps and bounds to become DRB Hicom Berhad and we were handling the advertising for their entire automotive portfolio and other businesses.
So what were the lessons I learnt?

  1. Success does not rain forever. Nor does client loyalty. The window of opportunity is there only for a certain period. It is imperative to maximise on these opportunities to the hilt for there is no assurance that they will come back.
  2. There is no room for generosity. Be brutally frugal in everything. There will come a day when that precious small sum of hard-earned money can make a major difference. Make savings mandatory.
  3. Never delegate. Business owners must refrain from the practice of overly delegating. Be in firm control of managing clients and finances. Delegation leads to complacency and loss of direction.
  4. Always remain nimble, mean and hungry. The era of bigness is over. Keep staff strength to the barest minimum. If there is overload of work, outsource to free-lancers.
  5. Never take anything for granted. Always have contingency plans in place. That includes a viable and least painful exit strategy or down-sizing of operations.
  6. The business of advertising is not everything. There is more to life. Look around, the experiences learnt in advertising can always pave the way for many other exciting and lucrative opportunities.
  7. Have faith. Businesses can be rejuvenated.

APPIES Malaysia is an annual 2-day Marketing Congress and Awards Festival showcasing, sharing and celebrating the country’s best marketing campaigns. Shortlisted entries will be judged by 24  leaders in the marketing industry who will put the presenters’ knowledge to the test in a unique Live Presentation environment.
Date: 16 & 17 April, 2018
Venue: Grand Ballroom, Eastin Hotel, Petaling Jaya.
Time: 8.30am – 6.00pm
To register, connect with Ruby on 0377262588, [email protected], or

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