Sawadee Khrab (Hello in Thai)
Greetings from Bangkok. If you’ve never been to Bangkok before, it’s hot as shit.
100+ degrees with 70%+ humidity every day. Oh yes, quite fun.
I’ve been here for about a week now, and it’s quite an amazing place.
You can pretty much do whatever the hell you want to do.
Stop your car in the middle of the freeway because you feel like it? Sure!
Park your car diagonally because you just saw a street food vendor that you GOTTA try at even though there are cars whizzing by 20-30 MPH literally inches away from your parked car? Sure!
Get onto a bus that doesn’t stop all the way (i.e. rolling stop) and hop on hoping that you’d make it into a bus? Sure!
Get a pad thai noodles for a buck, drink beer on the street, and go partying at RCA (Royal City Avenue) with thousands people with zero police security whatsoever while people are throwing water at your face (during songkran) and hot girls are dancing all over the stage? Sure!
It’s the wild wild west here, ladies and gentleman.
If you’re libertarian or republican who believe in zero or little government, come to Thailand. Trust me, after here, you will appreciate bureaucracy and big ass governments.
As an entrepreneur and marketer, even though all this stuff is quite fascinating (since I am a tourist here), this isn’t what’s most exciting.
To me, there are three striking things about Bangkok.
1) It is definitely an up and coming city.
You’ll notice quite a lot of economic progress going on here. Lots of constructions for new buildings, bridges, freeways, and other public works. You can easily find new high rise development next to a row of old dilapidated houses built in. gawd who knows when.
Wouldn’t be surprised if in decade or so, Bangkok becomes a world class city like NYC, Tokyo, or London.
2) Entrepreneurship thrives.
Of course, a street food cart business what most of us (especially those of you reading this blog) find exciting, but for people living on couple of dollars a day and with limited skills, selling food as business is not a bad opportunity.
Most people here aren’t looking for handouts and government welfare checks. They take responsibility for their lives and start businesses, even if they are meager food carts. Even though the competition is stiff, entrepreneurship is thriving here.
Take my host family in Thailand for example.
As a graduate student in US studying English and MBA, she saw a need in US – that hiring skilled nannies cost a lot and because of the differential in the various monetary systems around the world, bringing aupairs internationally would be more cost effective.
The host family in US would literally save thousands over the course of the contract and that the aupair nanny gets to have American education, improve and hone their English skills, and of course, a job.
A win-win situation.
So she started an aupair agency and now her thriving business is expanding internationally and into different niches like study abroad programs now that she’s become a pro in international visa applications.
3) Street vendors are awesome marketers.
Let me elaborate.
If you go to Khao San road (where lots of American and European backpackers go), you’ll notice insanely stiff competition among the vendors for tourists’ dollars.
During songkran (Thai new year) and people are celebrating by chugging water in your face and splattering your face in flour, not only are the tourists out.. but the vendors are also out in droves.
Of course, this means insane competition from each other. Good for consumers, not so great for the merchants.
One striking thing I noticed was how one girl (she was no more than 4-6 years old) got to DOMINATE the ½ block radius she was on. She didn’t sell anything earth shattering: water bottles and cold drinks. But she did manage to draw a HUGE crowd of customers around here while her adult competitors were just doing mediocre.
So how she dominate?
She got on top of a table and SCREAMED her lungs out.
Sure, you can make the argument that a cute little girl trying to sell for her parents is about the cutest thing you can experience as a tourist…. Or that this isn’t really marketing, but she definitely was telling the world what she had to offer.
The sight of her showing so much passion and enthusiasm for what she was doing was mesmerizing.
One thing came to my mind: why don’t I do that?
As marketers and entrepreneurs, we spend hours, days, weeks, and even months learning about the latest marketing trends, SEO/PPC tactics, inbound marketing ideas, etc etc.
But how many of us can actually say that we have the BALLS to get up in front of people and tell them what we have to offer instead of hiding behind a computer screen and hoping that someone would buy our stuff?
Yes, not many.
Getting on top of a tree and telling the world what you have to offer – you might say it’s so primitive, but you can’t deny – it is effective.
Next time, you see a fully grown man screaming “for sale”, don’t blame him. He probably just read this post.