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Navigating Success in Vietnam: 3 Key Insights from a Korean Entrepreneur Leading a Marketing Agency in Vietnam

July 2, 2024

Meet Juhong Lee, the CEO of a digital marketing agency in Vietnam. 

With a career spanning marketing agencies, IT companies, foreign enterprises, and venture capital firms, he has accumulated a wealth of experience. Now, he runs a comprehensive marketing agency with a team of 40 people in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 lockdown, his company, C-Laps, is rapidly expanding. 

Credit : Juhong Lee

C-LAPS is a marketing agency that provides clients with optimal marketing strategies and solutions at reasonable prices, leveraging its exceptional execution and in-house content production capabilities. The agency produces high-quality marketing content using its own equipment and studio, specializing in creating engaging online and offline content that elicits strong responses from customers.

Established to lead the marketing industry in Vietnam, a market transitioning into a massive consumer base, C-LAPS boasts the ability to swiftly respond to changing trends in Vietnam. The agency's strengths lie in its in-house content production capabilities, deep understanding of social media, and data analysis proficiency.

Discover the story of Juhong Lee and his journey right now!

Source : C-LAPS

Working as a Marketer in a Systematic Organization

Q: You have a graduate degree. Have you always been interested in marketing?

I majored in ‘Korean Language and Literature’ and ‘Journalism and Broadcasting’. I had a vague goal of pursuing a career in advertising or public relations since then. In the first advertising agency I worked at, most clients were international, so I often communicated in English via email. Many of the employees were proficient in English, which made me realize my own limitations.

I decided to solidify my academic foundation in marketing in an English-speaking country and improve my English skills. I spent about two years in Australia, combining my studies with some sightseeing—a bit of a guilty pleasure (haha).

Q: Did your English skills improve?

It's hard to say my English skills made a huge leap. Even now, working in Vietnam, I still stumble and use incorrect grammar.

However, in Australia, I learned how to quickly adapt to unfamiliar environments. The experience taught me how to live as a foreigner and use a foreign language without major inconvenience. This self-reliance and adaptability have been invaluable.

Q: Did you start your marketing career after returning to Korea?

While attending graduate school in Australia, I worked at KIA Motors in Sydney. Although my role was in marketing, it steered me towards the automotive and IT industries. Upon returning to Korea, I formally joined a marketing company and handled clients in the automotive sector.

Ultimately, the experience of working as an employee at a marketing agency has been extremely beneficial now that I run an agency.

Q: Where did you move after working at the agency? 

I moved to a KOSDAQ-listed IT company, a typical Korean KOSDAQ-listed company, where I experienced Korean corporate culture in its entirety.

Credit : Juhong Lee

Q: Agencies require a flexible and creative atmosphere. How was the culture and working style different from when you were in an in-house marketing department? 

In-house marketing requires a strong sense of numbers. You need to plan, allocate, and execute budgets, aiming to meet specific KPI targets. At the agency, the focus was more on quantifiable contract details like the number of articles rather than client revenue and performance.

When working at an agency, you rarely have the opportunity to delve deeply into whether the client's business is fundamentally doing well. Only top-tier agency employees manage to do that. 

Q: What did you learn from working in these two different organizations? 

Experiencing the different cultures and systems of the two organizations was beneficial. 

The first agency I worked at was foreign, and so were most of the clients. I frequently dealt with the Korean branch managers or Asian marketing managers. 

Entering a Korean company, the culture, atmosphere, and system were entirely different. As a listed company, I also took on PR tasks, working closely with the IR team and CFO, which required developing a good sense of numbers. 

Reflecting on it now, I was fortunate to have experienced that work. Now, I consider numbers the most important aspect, realizing that I received excellent training back then.

Q: After working in the IT industry, where did you move next? 

I transitioned to another global automobile company (Mercedes-Benz) for marketing. Having initially built my career in the automotive industry, I had relevant experience that facilitated the move. 

I didn’t expect to travel extensively worldwide. I primarily organized press and influencer tours, introducing new or flagship models. 

We hosted these opinion leaders from around the world for 2-3 day events following prepared tracks. These events occurred almost monthly, in various locations like San Francisco for autonomous driving events or the mountainous regions of Austria and Switzerland for SUV showcases.

Q: The frequent travel must have been exhausting. How did you manage it? 

The system and various aspects were quite different from my previous company. Mercedes-Benz Korea is essentially a sales subsidiary, making only a few significant decisions independently. Our focus was marketing and sales, not development.

We strictly adhered to headquarters' manuals, ensuring consistency across all global marketing activities. The lack of autonomy limited our creativity.

Q: So, excelling within the given manual was crucial. 

Yes, the key was adapting the manual to Korea’s unique environment. Major events were scheduled annually, and we executed them accordingly. Despite needing localization, the overarching framework was predefined, leaving us little room to influence the products and services we sold. The main challenge was figuring out how to excel within those constraints.

Q: Have you applied any of this experience to your current business? 

Interestingly, while running a marketing agency in Vietnam, our main clients are Korean. A significant part of what clients expect from us, and what we excel at, is localization. For example, we adapt existing products, like cosmetics, to fit Vietnamese consumer preferences and localize marketing campaigns to drive sales.

Working at Mercedes-Benz Korea taught me the importance of excelling within given parameters and focusing on key tasks. Localization, including language and adapting to local contexts, is a crucial service we offer to our Korean clients, and it’s something we pride ourselves on.

Credit : Juhong Lee

Survival Skills Learned in the Startup Scene

Q: It's interesting that your next job was in the startup field. 

2014-2015 was a period with a significant startup bubble in South Korea. I mainly interacted with other marketers, and a friend I hadn't seen in a while mentioned they had moved to a startup. 

Before that, I wasn't interested in startups. I thought it was peculiar but started paying attention when I saw many people in the industry moving to startups. Eventually, a friend offered me a position, and I transitioned to The Ventures, a venture capital firm.

Q: What kind of work did you do at The Ventures? 

Typically, when we think of an investment manager, we imagine someone conducting financial due diligence and making future predictions based on quantifiable metrics—a role suited for someone with a traditional financial background. 

However, early-stage investing doesn’t work that way. You often make decisions based on a pitch presentation, involving a lot of risk-taking, much like gambling. When successful, the returns can be enormous.

Early-stage investing is more akin to business development. After developing a service, it needs immediate marketing and sales efforts to progress to the next stage. This involves creating road-maps and ensuring smooth execution at each step, which is the role of business development (BD). 

My entry into The Ventures was through my marketing career. For instance, after an app is launched, marketing becomes crucial. That's where I came in, participating in short-term task forces for about 2-3 months, acting as a sort of mercenary for the project.

Q: So, do you work like a member of the team at these companies? 

That's correct. Startups inherently have various constraints. They don't have separate finance, accounting, or procurement departments; instead, everything is often handled by a single CFO. The title sounds grand, but in reality, it means handling all financial matters.

At the accelerator, we had a pool of experts for common startup needs. Besides myself, there were designers. Bringing in capable senior staff as full-time members in a startup is often an overinvestment. So, we had members performing various functions to enhance organizational efficiency. 

Looking back, I had the mission of maximizing efficiency while keeping costs and investments minimal.

Working with people obsessed with efficiency, always pondering "How can we improve it?" changed my mindset significantly. Previously, it was about adhering to the budget, but later it became about ensuring a clear return on investment and improving upon past performance. This experience is very beneficial in running my current company.

Q: You were with The Ventures for five years. You must have seen the rise and fall of many startups. 

Pretty much, I've seen cases where I thought, "I won't be able to contact this person directly anymore" and the opposite, "How did such a successful team fall apart so quickly?". Both types of stories are common in the startup world.

Credit : Juhong Lee

Q: What key lessons did you learn from cases where things didn't go well in the early startups? 

While it varies depending on the timing and team, generally speaking, unsuccessful teams often dissolve entirely. When a specific functional team or department suddenly leaves, it causes the startup to collapse. In such cases, no matter how competent or smart the CEO is, I haven't seen anyone manage to recover successfully.

Q: Is the primary cause of such situations usually conflicts among the founding members? 

People often say, "It all comes down to people", and the reasons can be diverse. It could be emotional issues, legal reasons, or disagreements over equity distribution. 

Teams that started with co-founders might not remain as such, especially if equity is disproportionately held by one founder, leading to problems as the company’s value increases. Some teams had weak awareness of equity relationships, leading to issues. Teams formed based on short-term interests often fall apart when faced with external difficulties.

In small organizations, individual capabilities are crucial early on. They rely heavily on personal skills, and each person’s role is significant, often with a lot of autonomy, which can be attractive to job seekers. However, as the organization grows, managing team members and building a strong culture become critical.

In the past, many startup founders had technical backgrounds and struggled with organizational management as their companies grew, particularly those who started their companies right out of college or from research roles. They often found it challenging to lead and manage teams effectively.

In contrast, senior founders with around 20 years of work experience tend to manage better, even if their ideas are not groundbreaking. They usually start with long-time colleagues, which helps in running the company smoothly and stably.

Source : C-Laps

From Branch Manager in Vietnam to CEO of a 40-Employee Company

Q: When did you start taking an interest in Vietnam? 

The investment industry was booming at the time, with aggressive investments and quick exits. 

To advance further, we aimed to identify promising overseas startups and expand globally. We established branches in India, Vietnam, and the U.S. The Ventures' CEO had previously exited from a Silicon Valley startup and founded The Ventures with a vision of supporting young entrepreneurs, thus operating with a global mindset from the start.

I had no personal ties or prior interest in Vietnam. My relocation was entirely circumstantial. 

Our investment company uniquely decided to set up a branch in Vietnam and needed someone to manage it. My colleagues either had children in high school or were newly married, while I was single and somewhat proficient in English. Thus, I had no grounds to refuse the assignment. 

Initially, I traveled back and forth, just testing the waters. But once I arrived, I found it to be a great fit. From a pure business perspective, Vietnam presented many opportunities. Personally, the lifestyle suited me well, including the weather, food, and the friendly people.

Realizing Vietnam suited me better than expected, I started to expand my efforts there, and things went well. Consequently, I took charge of the Vietnam operations. 

In Vietnam, I facilitated the entry of startups in which our company had invested. I played a bridging role in helping these investment firms establish themselves in Vietnam, successfully bringing several over, with whom I still frequently interact.

Source : The Ventures

Q: How did you transition from managing the Vietnam branch to starting your own business? 

I made a common mistake that many entrepreneurs with an investment firm background make. I thought, "I could do better myself; why am I only helping others succeed?" (haha)

Q: When did you hire your first employee after starting your business in Vietnam? 

During the preparation phase, I already started hiring local employees. Fortunately, having worked in Vietnam, I had a basic understanding of who was good and who knew what. Setting up the team was relatively quick, including some former colleagues. We started with a team of six right away.

Q: So you already had team building in place. That’s not common, is it? 

That's right. Many people who come to Vietnam to start a business or set up a branch face the biggest challenge in forming the initial team. 

Especially for those who are not entrepreneurs but branch managers, finding the right initial members is tough. Without a local network, they rely on platforms or job sites, which are hard to navigate without knowing Vietnamese. 

Even if they find candidates, conducting interviews can be difficult. It's challenging to find excellent initial members in such a situation, and conversely, it's hard to convince Vietnamese job seekers to join an unestablished company.

Job seekers typically don't want to be the first hire. It's easier to persuade and recruit if you already have a couple of members. Once you have 20 or 30 employees and a set-up office, hiring becomes much easier.

Credit : Juhong Lee

Q: How was the COVID-19 period for you in 2020? 

It was very tough. The lockdown in Vietnam was so strict it was beyond what would be considered reasonable in Korea. Many business people gave up and returned home.

Q: I can’t imagine how severe it was. 

Business came to a complete halt. I was in an apartment where even the elevators stopped working, and we couldn't use the stairs. Everyone had to stay at home. Eventually, grocery stores and supermarkets opened for online orders with home deliveries. The number of Korean residents in Vietnam dropped significantly, probably to one-fifth of the previous number.

Q: Did you ever consider quitting and leaving during that period? 

I wanted to quit and leave badly. Fortunately, I relied heavily on fellow entrepreneurs in similar situations. We kept a daily check-in via Zoom, ensuring everyone was okay and reporting to the consulate if anyone went unresponsive.

We somehow managed to endure the lockdown, which lasted about 100 days. Surviving that period helped us transition to the next step. For those entering Vietnam post-lockdown, starting took much longer and involved many trials and errors. Having endured such an extreme situation, nothing phased us afterward.

Q: What happened to the initial employees you had hired when the lockdown hit? 

Some stayed, while others left. During the lockdown, many companies didn’t pay their employees, as no one could work. With a sense of duty, I continued to pay part of their salaries, thinking it would be better than the time and effort needed to rehire and retrain new staff later.

Initially, I thought the lockdown would last a month, at most three weeks, similar to a two-week quarantine. 

Ironically, the lockdown wasn’t lifted because the situation improved or cases decreased. The number of cases kept rising, but the government realized the economic collapse and growing dissatisfaction meant more people were at risk of dying from suicide than the virus. The economic situation was dire, as people couldn't carry out any productive activities. Many Vietnamese friends were living hand-to-mouth, without savings, and asked me for loans during that time.

Despite the hardships, I believe that my decision to maintain the team by continuing to pay salaries was meaningful and beneficial. It allowed us to move quickly once the lockdown was lifted.

The day after post-lockdown, credit : Juhong Lee

Q: Did you start gaining more clients as things settled post-lockdown? 

Yes, when the market opened up right after the lockdown, we were better prepared than others, giving us a significant advantage in acquiring new clients and projects. With the normalization of flights in 2022, many businesses from Korea were looking to enter the international market, particularly Vietnam. At that time, there were only a few Korean-run agencies in Vietnam available for meetings.

Competitors could quickly hire staff by offering higher salaries, but they lacked references and portfolios and had to rely on the capabilities of local Vietnamese employees. Their experience in commercializing marketing services for clients was limited, so potential clients likely saw the stability and reliability of our services as a differentiator. Our employees had long-term experience working with Korean clients, which gave them valuable insights.

For instance, Vietnamese designers, creating with the local aesthetic, might not initially satisfy Korean clients. Through feedback, our Vietnamese staff learned what designs appealed to Korean clients, enhancing their understanding and insight. Now, the likelihood of our Korean clients approving design outcomes has significantly increased.

Q: How many employees do you have now? I noticed you occupy an entire building. 

We currently have about 40 employees. We initially started in a shared office space before moving here. As we established ourselves, we aggressively hired more staff. During 2021 and 2022, we were still a very young company, and with the ongoing pandemic, it wasn't the right time for extensive marketing. For several months, with no projects, we focused on training our staff, which in hindsight was beneficial.

Our significant focus on training paid off in the long run. By the second half of 2023, we were able to concentrate fully on our core business as a marketing agency. Without the previous constraints, we began taking on more projects and increased our staff proportionally. Fortunately, since the latter half of last year, we've seen a steady influx of inquiries and continued growth.

Credit : Juhong Lee

Q: What is the biggest challenge for companies looking to enter the Vietnamese market? 

The primary challenge lies in effectively localizing their services and marketing to the Vietnamese audience. While creating a competitive web or app service tailored to the Vietnamese market—such as a Vietnamese version of Curly or Zigbang—is feasible, attracting customers and promoting the service is where difficulties arise.

Marketing needs to be done in Vietnamese by locals, as Korean personnel cannot execute this effectively. Companies often depend heavily on their Vietnamese employees, but performance issues can arise, leading many to seek our help. 

I rarely see Korean entrepreneurs in Vietnam successfully managing marketing teams with local staff. Performance issues, high turnover, and incidents caused by employees are common problems, diverting attention and resources away from core business activities.

Q: What approaches or strategies do you recommend for companies looking to enter the Vietnamese market? 

Having been active here for four years, I consider that period as a learning investment.

Koreans tend not to view the time needed to understand and adapt to a new market as an investment. They often see it as an unnecessary expense and try to skip steps, which eventually backfires.

But it's crucial to have a longer lead time and be patient in understanding the market. For instance, many rush to sign an MOU with potential partners immediately. However, even if things don’t progress immediately, it’s important to take a long-term view. 

Most Korean businesses don't factor in learning costs or communication expenses. In Korea, effective communication is often taken for granted due to cultural and linguistic homogeneity.

Here, the communication costs are significant, and underestimating this can lead to misunderstandings and inefficiencies. It’s vital to recognize and address these costs to facilitate smoother operations. Understanding and adapting to the local market conditions, and allowing time for this process, is essential for success in Vietnam.

Q: It seems like communication costs due to language barriers might be overlooked. Quantifying them is difficult.

Indeed, not just in Vietnam, but in any foreign market, communication costs are constant and should be factored in from the start. 

To succeed in Vietnam, it’s important to approach things differently than in Korea. Detailed manuals, clear communication strategies, and understanding the local context can significantly reduce the communication losses that occur. 

Many people believe that hiring an interpreter will solve all communication issues, but losses still occur. Communication losses happen in various ways, so it's crucial to account for them when budgeting or setting up necessary personnel.

For example, you rarely hear about a Korean company creating a 100-page manual for their operations in Vietnam. They tend to skip over detailed documentation, thinking, "This is how it should be done; everyone should just understand it." There's a lack of detailed rules set out in manuals for all employees, which is something Korean companies often overlook.

On the other hand, Japanese companies are meticulous with their manuals. While this isn't necessarily the perfect approach, it shows an awareness of communication costs and an investment in addressing them. Korean companies tend to skip over these crucial steps too often.

Recognizing the ongoing cost of communication and investing in reducing it through proper training, documentation, and local support can make a substantial difference in the effectiveness of operations.

Credit : Juhong Lee

Q: From your company introduction, it looks like you cover many marketing areas. Did you plan this expansion from the beginning?

We followed market demand rather than focusing on a specific area from the start. We didn't narrow our focus, like saying, "We specialize in photography." What clients expected from us was not just marketing but successful localization. What we offered varied depending on the client's situation, so we kept our options open and adapted to their needs initially.

Over time, as we gained more experience, references, and improved our skills, our services naturally evolved. For example, we didn't declare ourselves as "beauty specialists." Instead, we repeatedly worked on projects based on actual client demand, which led to building a strong portfolio in the beauty, fashion, and food sectors.

Q: As your company grows to 40 employees, the role of middle management becomes crucial. Did the initial team members grow into managerial roles?

Among our current team, we have four senior managers who have been with us for a minimum of one year to a maximum of two and a half years. When they first joined, they didn't have significant authority or responsibility but quickly developed their internal capabilities.

Finding managers or senior-level employees who meet Korean standards is challenging here. We found it more effective to identify individuals with strong potential and nurture them within our system and processes. This approach not only has a higher success rate but is also more cost-effective. 

From the beginning, we avoided hiring experienced or senior staff and focused on developing our team internally.

Q: I've heard that in Vietnam, job turnover is high and employees often leave for slightly higher salaries. Do you have any specific strategies to create a long-term work environment?

As a relatively new company, my longest-serving employee has only been with us for two and a half years. So, I’m not in a position to confidently advise others on this matter. Personally, I prefer hiring young talent because our industry doesn’t offer much for seniors.

Even though I am involved in the practical work, my understanding of platforms like TikTok is limited as a user. It’s challenging for me to develop marketing services and present them to clients in such a rapidly changing environment dominated by social media. Younger employees bring valuable, accurate insights that have a higher success rate.

Q: How do you manage the work of your Vietnamese team members practically?

I don’t teach them, “This is how you do TikTok marketing.” 

My contribution to advancing juniors to senior positions involves imparting a sense of numbers, business perspectives, customer management, and soft skills necessary for working effectively within an organization, like reporting systems. Hiring juniors and fitting them into our company’s system has proven to be more effective.

While it’s true that they might leave for higher pay, many employees tend to stay once they become accustomed to our system and processes. 

Of course, some of our initial members have left. Regardless of their reasons, I respect their decisions. However, I’ve noticed that many who left are now working as freelancers. They should ideally be taking more strategic approaches to maximize their careers, but they often lack this mindset.

Creating a supportive environment where employees feel valued and see opportunities for growth can help in retaining them. Providing continuous training, clear career paths, and a positive workplace culture are essential. Furthermore, understanding and addressing individual needs and motivations can contribute to longer tenure and reduced turnover.

Credit : Juhong Lee

Q: Compared to the Korean work environment, it seems Vietnam lacks clear career growth stages and mentoring for each position.

That's correct. The immediate and effective response to financial incentives is something I agree with. However, there's a crucial point that might be misunderstood. 

In Korea, there are stock options, various benefits, and performance-based bonuses (PS). Here, apart from salary, employees are not familiar with other incentives or benefits they could expect. Due to a lack of awareness and experience with these systems, Vietnamese employees tend to have fewer motivations outside their salaries.

Q: Ten years ago, even in Korea, the concept of startups was unfamiliar. It makes sense that Vietnam would have even less familiarity and experience with such incentives.

Exactly. The options for rewards are limited to cash or tangible gifts like meals, so naturally, money is the most appreciated. This can lead to the misconception that Vietnamese people can be easily controlled with money, but I don’t see it that way.

Q: Given that you provide feedback and teach soft skills, some employees might not accept it, especially if they think you don't understand their specific tasks, like TikTok. Have you encountered this?

I generally try not to interfere too much with practical work. My role is that of a CEO, not to control every task they do. Specifically, with content creation and production, I usually stay hands-off.

Of course, there can be times when I feel something isn't right, but the standard varies among people. If something exceeds acceptable levels, I ask why it was done that way rather than outright stating it’s wrong. I provide enough explanation and listen to their reasons. If they lack a strong basis or a convincing reason, I may not accept their viewpoint. 

Nowadays, we rely on data rather than intuition. We discuss numbers because employees readily accept quantifiable data. If I say, "I’ve done this before, and it won’t work that way," they won’t be convinced without data to back it up.

This approach helps create a more understanding and cooperative environment, fostering growth and better communication within the team.

Q: Do you discuss client feedback for qualitative areas like design?

Yes, I always emphasize that while it's important to reflect the client's requests as much as possible, it's also crucial to speak up if there are specific local insights. For example, in Korea, using white or black might be common, but in Vietnam, that might be seen as not designing at all. If there are fonts, colors, or design elements that are generally unacceptable or uncommon in the Vietnamese market, I encourage the team to communicate this to the client.

I usually advocate for accommodating client preferences, but if a client wants to emphasize something specific, we should incorporate that. For brand clients, if they have existing brand guidelines from their operations in Korea, we try to follow the established tone and manner as much as possible. However, this often creates issues because sometimes what the client wants may not resonate well in the local market.

One of my core principles is that "We work for the client's satisfaction. We are an agency, and the client outsources to us, so their satisfaction is our top priority." 

Some employees, especially designers and artists, have their own philosophies and convictions about their work. If they focus solely on their style without considering client feedback, they may struggle in an agency setting. 

During hiring, I stress the importance of flexibility and the ability to adapt their design style to meet client feedback. "We are an agency, and our goal is the client's satisfaction," is a mantra I often repeat.

This approach helps in balancing creative integrity with client expectations, ensuring that while we deliver quality work, it aligns with what the client envisions and what will work best in the market.

Credit : Juhong Lee

Q: Do you have specific criteria for hiring Vietnamese employees?

The most important criterion for us is flexibility. 

In the agency business, flexibility is crucial due to the ever-changing nature of clients and projects. Even if you want to work with a particular client for a long time, if the results aren't good or the client moves to another agency, you have to adapt and move on to other projects. Employees need to be able to adjust to different projects and client preferences, and those who lack this flexibility will find it challenging to work with us.

Vietnamese employees, in general, tend to have less flexibility. So when hiring, we don’t put much emphasis on resumes or initial conversations. These are often not strongly correlated with actual job performance. If there are no major red flags, we prioritize giving candidates a chance to work with us. The termination flexibility in Vietnam is much higher than in Korea, so it's more efficient to hire quickly and assess performance on the job.

We don’t go through multiple hiring steps. Instead, we bring people on board quickly and make decisions based on their work performance. This can mean letting someone go within a week, a month, or two months.

Q: I've heard that Vietnamese employees can be quite passive, doing only what's assigned. Some say you need to build personal connections, like celebrating their parents' birthdays, to improve this. What do you think?

I haven't used that method much, so I can't speak to its effectiveness from personal experience. If someone finds success with that approach, then it’s the right method for them. Everyone has their own style and know-how, and I don’t believe there’s one correct way.

While proactive employees may excel when given more responsibility, even passive employees can be valuable if they consistently deliver quality work within the given time and budget. In the agency business, the primary goal is client satisfaction. Therefore, passive employees who fulfill their tasks effectively are still significant assets.

For those who are proactive and creative, we provide opportunities to showcase their abilities through internal projects. For example, we have a studio on the second floor of our café where our business managers independently handle various tasks without much intervention from me. This allows them to thrive in a space that encourages initiative and creativity.

Q: What direction do you envision C-Laps taking?

As always, C-Laps aims to be the most stable and effective company in localization in Vietnam. Our services and the industries we handle may evolve with market trends and changes. Our primary goal remains to achieve customer satisfaction while securing more clients and taking on more projects.

Until now, our clients have mainly been those who have heard about us through word of mouth or discovered us when expanding into Vietnam. We are now planning to broaden our market to Korea. I am actively engaging in external activities to increase our visibility in Korea, preparing to make C-Laps a known name there.

In Vietnam, we plan to expand our collaborations with local companies as well. For instance, many Vietnamese companies need marketing services for the Korean market, such as resorts, casinos, and the tourism sector, as well as real estate companies specializing in high-end apartment sales. These products and services target Korean customers, given that Korean tourists make up the largest segment of visitors to Vietnam. We aim to identify and reach out to these local clients who wish to connect with the Korean market.

Credit : C-Laps

Three Key Insights from the Conversation with CEO Juhong Lee

  1. Not Every Team Member Needs to Be Proactive : Many CEOs struggle with motivating and managing employees to be proactive. However, if every employee is overly proactive, it can lead to numerous projects being started but none being completed properly. As long as an employee performs their role and duties well, they are valuable to the organization in that capacity.
  2. Isn't Hiring an Interpreter Enough? : Before attempting international expansion, one might think, "Can't I just hire a local interpreter to manage the local staff?" The effectiveness of communication can vary greatly depending on the interpreter's industry knowledge. Messages can often get distorted through interpreters. Relying solely on an interpreter can lead to significant opportunity costs, so it's crucial to be cautious.
  3. It Ultimately Comes Down to People : No matter how good a service or product you bring, effective local marketing and communication are essential when entering a foreign market. The cultural and background differences between Korean entrepreneurs or branch managers and the local market can be significant. Therefore, building a local team is crucial. Even though it may take time and incur costs, it's vital to secure a pool of talent through various channels and ensure they fit well with the company before fully entering a new market.

Written by Never Sleep (Link)

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I am a productivity consultant and run a marketing agency. I discover and share inspiring stories from small businesses, including startups and solopreneurs. My work focuses on providing insights that help these organizations enhance their productivity and achieve sustainable growth.