Blog Posts

Flower Gift Korea Journey Part 2 – 5 Month Update

It has almost been 5 months since my family has launched our online store, FlowerGiftKorea.com

Things have been up and down since we started, but I have to say, things are looking very good. Every month we sell more than the previous month, our social media presence is growing, and as of now, we have close to 25 five star reviews on Facebook and Google!

First off, I want to thank all of our customers for trusting us with their orders. Honestly, there is nothing more important than valuing your customers/clients.

Selling things primarily online is pretty tough at first. First of all, people need to know that you exist. That can be difficult, but we have been working really hard. We post something on our social media accounts almost daily and do our best to respond to emails/messages as soon as possible. Also, as I mentioned in another post, most of our first few customers were people that I or my wife knew, or a friend of a friend. So, it always helps to know a lot of people when you are trying to run a business.

It’s been fun making flowers, putting together orders, and delivering them to various places in Seoul, Gyeongido, and Incheon. Over the last 5 months, we have added a bunch of new products that were requested by customers. We added wines, a chocolate bouquet, new flower designs, and cakes (these needs to be requested). However, we haven’t been able to add balloon products, which was requested as well, but maybe in the future we will add these. And we still are in the process of adding more and more products for people to choose from, so they can send gifts to their loved ones in Seoul and other areas in South Korea.

Every day has been different, so far, our smallest volume of orders has been just 1 small chocolate box, which only cost $13. However, we have had as much as 5 orders in one day, and for some odd reason, the day we had 5 orders, we had the biggest order to date so far, where one person spent close to $600 on various gifts.

Flower Gift Korea delivery in Seoul South Korea

Also, it would be nice if we received orders well in advance, but I would say that about 35% of our orders are made on the day of delivery! Luckily, we’ve been able to fulfill all of the same day order requests. And the cool part is that we sometimes get multiple orders to places in the same neighborhood, which makes the flowers easier to deliver in Korea.

It’s been a lot of fun receiving orders from all around the world. For the record, most of the orders are coming from the US. Also, most people have been buying from us by placing their order directly on our website. However, some people communicate with us on Facebook and we send them a personalized invoice via email. You can hear me talk about where most of our sales are being made, and how much interaction we get on our various social media accounts by listening to one of our latest podcast episodes.

Though things have been going well for Flower Gift Korea, there is one thing I need to fix. I need to fix my sleeping habit. Since most of the flower orders are placed by people living in the US, the orders and questions via Facebook or email are sent while most people should be sleeping in Korea. So, on most days, I wake up 2 or 3 times in the middle of the night and check to see how many orders have come in. I don’t know what it is, maybe I’m paranoid, or maybe I’m just excited. And whenever we get a big order, I wake up my wife and tell her, and we celebrate for  few minutes before we go back to sleep.

It’s really fun and exciting to wake up to money coming in to your paypal account.

Oh, and I still remember the first time I transferred some of the money from our paypal account to our bank account. Since my wife never used paypal before, she didn’t really feel like the money was real when it was stuck in our paypal account. But once she saw some money show up in her bank account, she knew it was the real deal.

I will do my best to keep you guys updated with the progress of Flower Gift Korea and share relevant information that can help you further build your business in Seoul and other parts of South Korea.

Flower Gift Korea Journey Part 1 – Facebook Marketing

It has been a few months since I have posted something. The last time I posted on MarketinginKorea, I announced that I would be taking a break. However, I’ve realized that I have a lot of valuable content I can share with the readers and listeners, so I decided to make some time to share some of my Marketing experiences as I operate my new business, where I’m in charge of the marketing and custom service.

If you haven’t figured out by now, my flower business has been launched! Well, our business, meaning my wife, my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law, and I. And guess what?! We’ve already made some sales! Unbelievable! Yes, it is! And all the sales aren’t from family members, so that’s even more shocking. But, should I really be that shocked? (This is not to sound conceited in any way)

Well before we get into my theory as to how and why I was able to make some sales within literally a day of launching my website, let’s talk about some of the ways I’m currently marketing my business.

Here are some (paid and free) ways that you may be familiar with:

  1. Using Facebook
  2. Using Google Ads
  3. Paying for advertisement space on a website

In this post, we will focus only on Facebook. So, there are a bunch of things I have been doing on Facebook, since of course there isn’t just one way to market on Facebook. Here are just some of the things I’ve done to leverage Facebook.

*For the record, I’m actually one of those guys who uses Facebook mostly for the feeds. Meaning, I use it to read news, see what people are up to, and that’s pretty much it. I wish I were more “social”, but I just naturally don’t engage in long conversations or publicly message that many people on Facebook. And even though I’m not the most “social” guy, I’ve been able to use Facebook to get leads and spread the word to probably thousands of people by now, that FlowerGiftKorea.com is the place where you can get Premium flower gifts with a Money Back Guarantee.

1) I Provided My “Friends” With a Teaser

I don’t regularly post on Facebook, I just don’t. But, I do love to share good news when I can. If you follow me on Facebook, I post news about family events, things to celebrate, and maybe causes to support at times. So, the conclusion is that I don’t post or message much on Facebook.

So, when I wrote a fairly long post, out of the blue, with some pictures, about completing a “Flower Business Course” in Korea and receiving certificates from flower mentors with 40 years of experience, and that My wife’s family and I would be starting a flower business, people who know/knew me and hadn’t heard from me for awhile, were curious. And they liked my post! Nice! I mean, who doesn’t “like” good news?

*Red Box At Top: Message I wrote by Tagging My Business Fan Page, my business partner, and sharing my feelings.

Two Red Circles: Show My partner and I receiving our certificates from our mentors.

Blue Box At Bottom: Show 70 likes

2) I Created a Facebook Fan Page

A Facebook Fanpage is essential for any business marketing on Facebook. It’s the face of your business on Facebook. You can also create a group, but I prefer a page, since I don’t have to moderate members. I actually created the fan page long before I notified my friends about starting a business, but I only put up simple images. However, all of the information on our Facebook Fanpage is complete.

The above image is just the top part of the fan page. The Fan Page includes a place to input your phone number, address, email, a summary of your business, and a lot of other features. The blue oval shows 60 likes! We got 60 real likes within a day! And it’s something that I am really happy with. You can see our business name in the blue box. As you can see, I included the word, “Money Back Guarantee Flowers in Korea” at the front of the name. This Money Back Guarantee concept is something I want to make clear to potential buyers, because I found it hard to trust online flower merchants in Korea. A lot of people in Korea believe it’s a hit or miss when you buy flowers online, but I wanted to change that. Though my flowers are not cheap, they are premium quality and we guarantee your satisfaction with the final product. I want to make sure that our customers are always satisfied with their purchase. The red oval shows a “Shop Now” button, which is your “Call to action” button. You can format the words to other options as well. And the red box is our “profile image”, which is different than the large long timeline image at the top.

3) I Announced That Our Business Was Launched & Passively Asked For Likes

I basically said that our website has now officially been launched and asked people to like our page. This actually helped us get a few likes. And the thing is, in order for people to have liked the page, they had to have clicked on the link that I included in my post. Therefore, I was shown a lot of support from friends and from people I didn’t even know that well.

In my post, I made sure to have “checked in” to my business, which is my business fan page, and let people know that our business was officially opened! And we got a lot of support right away, 58 likes! for the post. And remember, I’m not even that active on Facebook. It’s amazing how much support you can get, just by asking.

4) I Privately Asked Each of my Friends to Like Our Page

I literally went down my whole list of friends and invited everyone on the list to “Like” my business page. To be honest, some people may not agree with what I did, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Also, nobody wants to like a page that has no likes, so I asked everyone on my list. And guess what, people that I hadn’t talked to in like 5-6 years liked my business fan page! I don’t want to focus on the fact that I’m terrible at keeping in touch with my friends, but on the fact that there are a lot of people out there who are cool with liking your stuff. For the most part, if the people like you, they will most likely “like” your business or news.

So, you can see that from the image, most people didn’t actually like my fan page. The truth is, only about 5% of the people on my friends list liked my business fan page. But, at the same time, it’s hasn’t even been two full days since launching my business site.

5) I Purchased Sponsored Ads and Targeted Different Countries

I chose a daily spending limit and created a Facebook ad to further promote my Facebook fan page. The goal is to get more likes, and I mean real likes. I do know that there are ways to get fake likes, but I didn’t want to take any chances. Plus, I want to  know whether or not my products are truly likeable.

You can see my personalized message in the red box. This is what shows up in the “desktop news feed”. Different formats show up as well, “Mobile News Feed” and “Right Column”. I believe Facebook ads have helped bring awareness, but it hasn’t really brought in too many likes yet.

6) I Shared One of The First Purchases on the Fanpage and on my timeline

So, one our first customers was actually a guest on the Marketing in Korea podcast. She is the owner of Honey Hair Korea and other businesses in Korea. You can check out her podcast episode where she talks about her businesses and her journey to start them by visiting MarketinginKorea.com/026

I first uploaded the product she purchased on the “fan page”, and in the green box, you can see that I gave her a big shout out. I also included the URL to one of her businesses, shown in the red box, and then I shared this post on my personal page (purple box).

I shared this information for two reasons, to help legitimize my flower business, and to give Jessica some marketing exposure for her businesses as well.

I truly believe that recording a few episodes with Jessica and helping her sell more of her products were the reasons why she bought the flowers. And of course, she’s just a great daughter in law in general for sending the flowers to her Mother. But, it goes to show that people help people. I’m sure Jessica knows how much the first few sales mean to a new business, so my family is very grateful that she used our service.

So, these are a few ways I am currently using Facebook. It’s still pretty early to see how all of it will turn out, but it’s pretty interesting for now. If you have used Facebook in other ways to market, I would love to learn them. Also, if you have any questions about anything I shared, just comment below. I wish you all the best in your businesses, projects, and causes.

If you are looking for a service that sends flowers all over Seoul and parts of Gyeongi that you can trust, visit www.flowergiftkorea.com 

On Hold – January 2016

Hi!

This is Tony Choi, the host of Marketing in Korea.

I am here to tell you that Marketing in Korea is on hold till further notice. If you haven’t noticed, I haven’t published a podcast nor have I written a post for awhile. So, let me explain why:

  1. It is becoming more difficult to find people to interview for the podcast
  2. I have decided to invest more of my time in developing my hagwon business (The goal is to expand by 2017)
  3. I will shift my online attention to my other podcast, Hagwonstart.com since I have more experience in that area and therefore am able to provide more relevant information.
  4. I am also planning on launching my flower business this year (I hope!) 
  5. I am doing reasons 2 through 4 so that I can gain valuable experience, so that one day I could publish podcast episodes where I just share from my experiences.

I apologize to anyone who was looking forward to more episodes. But, I don’t think I could make Marketing in Korea all about interviews. Interviews are great and all, but I believe some people want to receive some advice and tips, but I’m not really ready for that yet.

I am still open to interviewing people marketing some sort of business in Korea and publishing podcast episodes, but I won’t be actively looking for people to interview.

If you want more information about being interviewed, visit our about page and contact me to set up a time for an interview.

Till we meet again, I hope that you will continue working on whatever it is you are working on and I wish you success in all that you do!

-Tony Choi

Marketing in Korea Host & Hagwon Owner

Responding to Interruptions in Your Business/Life

Recently, I have been experiencing a lot of interruptions, both in my business and in my life.

I’ve recently moved, I’ve added a large component to my curriculum, which isn’t even fully developed as of yet, and have started to attend a flower hagwon during the weekends. You can read more about the changes by reading the previous post, “Sometimes I Just Want To Give Up – An Honest Reflection“.

With these three interruptions; I need to figure out how I am going to continue to maintain my hagwon business, publish relevant content for my podcasts, and most importantly, stay healthy.

If you are a business owner in Korea, you probably have already experienced various unseen interruptions. Interruptions in your life and/or in your business.

It could be something small (or big) like having your Alien Registration Card expire before realizing it, or something big (or small) like having your landlord sell your house (which was technically yours to live in for another year and a few months), forcing you to find another place to live in. Both of these two examples happened to me. And maybe it even happened to you.

Whatever it is, it is an interruption, and you have no choice, but to adjust. For me, every little thing that throws me off of my daily routine is an interruption I want to conquer. Conquer meaning, I want to find a way to have it fit into my daily routine that I follow without much thought, or not have it ever interrupt me again, ever, so that I can spend most of my time developing and growing my businesses and my brand.

Let me think of some interruptions you may experience if you are running a business in Korea or are trying to Market some kind of product or service:

1. Prospective Customers/Clients

This is definitely an interruption, but it’s an interruption I welcome. Anytime a parent comes into my hagwon and asks questions about it, I’m more than happy to answer his or her questions, most of the time.

There are times where I have planned out every single hour of the day, but when a parent comes in and asks for a consultation, it can last anywhere from 10 minutes to even 60 minutes plus. It really depends on the parent that comes into my hagwon. And though it is great when a new prospective customer comes through the door, it isn’t even 100% sure that they will actually pay you for your service or buy your product.

So, though most of the time I am ecstatic at the visitation of a parent, there are days where it throws a monkey wrench into my plans and I would rather have them not come. But, in the end, I’m happier that they did, especially if they end up sending their child(ren) to my hagwon business.

2. New Customers/Clients

Alright! A new customer is great because they are paying you money for your service. But, the only drawback for me (as a hagwon owner) is that I have to get this new student up to speed. The students I already have are familiar with how to do the homework  and know how to get to the tests, etc. But, the new student has no idea. I pretty much have to coach the student throughout the class, just so that he or she can keep up.

Also, I have to make sure that the parents are assured that they made the right decision in sending their child(ren) to my hagwon. It’s obvious that you have to do this, but it does take more effort whenever you get a new customer. For an education based business that teaches children, the effort is pretty big. But, for a restaurant, I argue that it isn’t as big.

3. Complaints

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to make everyone happy. And that goes for your customers/clients. If you can keep 95% of your customers happy, then IMO you got a pretty good business. Also, you may also not be able to keep all of your friends and family happy either. I truly believe that your true friends and family will respect your goals and understand that you may not have as much time for them as they would want. But, at the same time, you should never neglect your family/friends and at the very least, you should be receptive to them. But, that’s all up to you.

So, complaints, get used to hearing them. And one piece of advice, you don’t have to bend backwards for every single customer that complains. Sometimes it is worth it to have that customer leave or quit your service. Because you don’t want to be using most of your energy on a few complainers, and not be able to meet the needs of the majority of your clients. Personally, I have let go of a few parents/students that I know I could have kept had I met their needs. But, for me to have met their needs meant that I would not be meeting the needs of the majority of my customers and/or not have the energy to provide a great service.

4. Updating Certificates & Licenses 

Most licenses last a few years, but the problem is that people sometimes forget that some of their licenses and certificates require renewing. If you are a business, you have to make sure that all of your licenses are up to date. Also, anytime you move, you have to change your official information at your banks, with the government, etc. So, not just only expiring licenses, but anytime you move, you have to do some paperwork. And it could take hours just to get one document renewed.

5. Recording & Paying Expenses

This is a big one. A lot of businesses hire a book keeper to keep track of the expenses and revenue. For my business, my partner (my wife) does all of this. So, it’s not something that I have to worry about. But, somebody in your business has to do it.

And the thing is, you may have a lot of unseen costs that will interrupt your budgeting for the month, which will force you to make changes, unless you got some surplus income. For example, I had to pay a 300,000won bill once and I had no way of planning for it. If you live in Korea and have driven in Korea, especially in Seoul, you will know that there is a lot of traffic and there are tiny spaces to park. So, one early morning, as I was backing out of the parking lot because I had blocked a car – because a lot of places don’t have enough parking spaces, which is why you need to make your phone number visible for others to see – I totally ruined my bumper. And I had to get it fixed. And it was very unexpected. And it pretty much ruined my whole morning and I was not as productive.

Also, you have to pay taxes!

There are things that are going to interrupt you. Sometimes you choose to have them happen and other times they just happen. Hopefully you won’t have things interrupting you everyday. And when something does interrupt you, it would be nice to have an “adjust button” that we can press and magically go on with a smooth day. But, that isn’t the case. But, we can adjust. You can make sure that you have some money saved up for emergency situations. You can also go to places early, so that you aren’t interrupted by traffic or a subway delay.

So my advice is:

1. plan your day in advance (in the morning or the night before)

2. arrive to places early (15-20 minutes)

3. have some money saved up (at least double your monthly expenses)

4. create as many routines and systems as possible.

Sometimes I Just Want To Give Up – An Honest Reflection

I don’t feel like writing a blog post, I don’t feel like emailing/messaging past guests and asking them for an update, I don’t feel like upgrading my hagwon curriculum, I don’t feel like going into my hagwon to teach, and I don’t feel like publishing podcast episodes for Marketing in Korea and Hagwonstart.com.

Every thing I just wrote is actually true, and depending on the month, I may fee like that 1% of the time or 5% of the time. And though it’s not how I usually feel, there are times where I do just want to GIVE UP. Like, is it really worth it for me to write a post that may never get read? Or spend 2-4 hours recording, publishing, and sharing a podcast episode that no one actually cares about? To be totally honest, for the most part, yes it is worth it. But, will I ever make money because of all of the effort I am putting into creating content, sharing content, upgrading my hagwon business, etc. Well, probably, but it’s not 100% guaranteed. And for a lot of people, if there is no guarantee in a benefit for them, they probably won’t do it.

But, deep down, I know that something GREAT is going to happen because of all of the work I am putting in now.

Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing and being interviewed by Dan Ryu of The Seoul Real Estate Meetup and President of E-Spirit English institute. It was great catching up with him and sharing what we have been up to. But, I never really touched upon the hardships I have gone through to get to where I am now. And honestly, I’m not in a place where I can boast about my success, but my wife and I have been able to create a happy lifestyle for us thus far.

First off, let me tell you about some of the challenges I have been recently going through:

1. My Wife and I Purchased Our Own Place

Hold on, don’t jump the gun and think, “”Wow, Tony bought a place, he must have a lot of money and is doing really well”. Well, if you consider taking out a pretty decent size loan and adding an interest payment to my monthly expenses as doing some really well, then you are right. But, for the most part, we didn’t intend on buying a place. It just so happened to be the only option for us. For those of you who don’t know, the cost of housing in Korea is at a high (I don’t know if it’s an all time high, but prices are high theses days) and the Jeonse (large deposit payment method of living in a house) way of moving into a house is almost non existent these days. So, we had to purchase a place. And, get this, the only reason we left our place was because the landlord sold it way before our contract ended, so we were forced to move. And in the process of purchasing our place, we visited various real estate agents, looked into ways of getting loans, negotiated prices (not really because my wife and I aren’t great negotiators), had to hire movers, had to hire wall paper guys, painters, and a lot of other things.

2. We Added A New Online Component To Our Hagwon

This means that I have to make a whole new set of curriculum for our online program. I already thought I systemized my hagwon, but after 4-5 months of just maintaining, we noticed that our program wasn’t really meeting the needs of some of our students. And we realized that our students weren’t really being challenged in their listening and speaking. And one parent brought it to our attention. Luckily, we were already planning on starting this online program. But, it’s going to be a mountain to climb. There’s a lot of work I have to do, making tests, making assignments, recording audio, and creating new class outlines that will hopefully serve as the basis to our new curriculum, which I hope to use when it comes time for us to expand.

3. My Wife and I Enrolled in a Flower Business Hagwon

So, basically we enrolled in a flower hagwon, where they coach us on how to run a flower business. The tuition was quite pricey, more than 1 million won each, and we will no longer have our weekends free, so no more Saturday night basketball for me, but we are investing in developing ourselves so that we can help create and run a family owned flower business in Korea. My parents already have been in the flower industry for 10+ years in Canada, so I got some good mentors. But, before I can start implementing the plans we have set out for our flower business, our English hagwon business needs to be solidified and needs to be at a place where I will only have to “maintain” and not at a place where I am trying to build and grow. Of course any business you have will continusouly require attention and development, but that can be minimized.

In the end, it’s only 3 things, and by October I will have been moved in to my new place, so it should be fine. And they are all things that I chose to do, so I’m not complaining at all, but it has been challenging to juggle everything. And I definitely put way too much on my plate, but that’s how I roll.

When I first started my hagwon business, there weren’t many times where I wanted to give up, but there were a lot of times where I questioned by own ability to build a successful hagwon, especially in my first year. But, every single new student that we got built my confidence more and more. And then, our first winter hit, and we were pretty depressed, but that lasted less than a week. You can read more about the hardest time in my hagwon business by visiting hagwonstart.com/the-hardest-time-of-the-year/

But, in general, there have always been times where I didn’t want to go into my hagwon or didn’t want to publish a podcast episode, but I know that I have to push myself even when I don’t want to. Honestly, it’s only about 1%-5% of the time where I don’t want to teach a class or don’t want to share or edit a podcast. I love what I do 95%-99% of the time and I rarely look forward to the weekend, because I’m enjoying my day to day lifestyle. I don’t know how I can get my happiness leve  to 100% of the time nor do I think it is even possible, but I am so thankful for the lifestyle I have and believe I am truly blessed. And I also wanted to be real with the readers on Marketing in Korea, and show you that there are times where I do want to quit and want to just give up, but because I have you to be accountable to, I don’t give up. And I hope you have someone that keeps you accountable to your goals, so that you can continue to develop yourself, your business and become one step closer to success.

Happy Chuseok! (Korean Thanksgiving)