Cleverus Holdings (M) Sdn Bhd, a digital marketing consulting agency specialising in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has a pretty interesting story of how it came to be. Lawmence Wong, the Head of Growth, shared why and how he scaled and grow a digital marketing consultancy business after spending decades in a retail business.
Lawmence initially started as an optician, and he had his own optical chain business in Klang Valley area. The business scaled up fast, from having one outlet in Desa Pandan, they penetrated in major shopping malls such as in KLCC, Mid Valley, Aeon Cheras Selatan and Bangsar Shopping Centre.
“Maybe we expanded too fast. For that reason, we had to face the challenges in sustaining the business. Retail business is very traditional and passive. You have to wait for the customers to come over to the shop and basically, all other optical shops available in the market are selling the same products and the same brands. So it all boils down to how you play with the price.”
“The overhead cost was increasing, our sales drop dramatically, and some branches were facing dead ends. I had to find new ways to help the business,” he said.
For Lawmence, if he cannot fix the business, maybe it was a sign for him to explore new things. All the while, he has been interested in digital marketing and was eager to explore more and learn how to do it by himself.
Finding the momentum to grow Cleverus
However, as the optical business adapts a traditional business method, he thought that it was not conducive to utilise the knowledge that he has on his current business. Instead, he started to offer digital marketing as a side-business to clients.
Then, Lawmence was confident to set it as a primary business and aimed to expand the business progressively. He knew that digital marketing has a good prospect and he was ready to invest in it. Hence, he rapidly grew Cleverus in 2013. Although the business was relatively new at that time, he managed to bring in many satisfied clients.
The godfather of SEO offering top notch SEO services from KL, Malaysia to all over the world
Based in KL, Malaysia, Cleverus offers various digital marketing solutions which include SEO, Google Ads management, Web design & development, and social media marketing to clients from all around the world, such as US, UK, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and more. However, the company heavily focuses on SEO and set it as their core service.
“Of all digital marketing services available, we choose SEO because we like the fact that SEO helps bring in free traffic to the site. To bring in more traffic to your site, it is either you spend a large chunk of cash on social media and Google ads or you rank on the first page of Google for your targeted keyword. The choice is in your hand. But, we would like to stress that social media campaign or Google ads have an expiry date, but not if you manage to rank your site on the first page of Google.”
“Building SEO on website is like building an asset or property for your business. Similar to the location is the top priority whether or not a retail shop will attract customers, having ranked on top of 1st page Google search results will ensure you attract more solid customers to your website, just like setting up an automated sales machine for your business.”
He recalled that the industry was very secretive in those days. Agencies would not let clients know or understand what they were doing or even guarantee a result, but they would still demand full payment at the end of the day. That did not sit well with him, and he wanted to create something that would be transparent, open, and accessible for everyone.
Ensuring clients satisfy with Cleverus’ services and results
This has led him to set the company’s mission to offer a fairer service to the clients. He saw it as an opportunity to offer a performance-based service. Cleverus is the first digital marketing consulting agency in Malaysia to offer that kind of service.
However, Lawmence pointed out that although they cannot 100% guarantee the result as no one can read and predict the ever-changing Google algorithm, they try to set the KPI and once they achieve that KPI, then only the client will pay for the service. If they cannot achieve the KPI within the timeline, they will continue to improve the website until they do. It does make a lot of difference for them as clients trust them fully.
Over the years, Cleverus thrives and successfully provides service for many clients, including several major companies such as Dominos Malaysia and Singapore, IHG Hotels, Mah Sing, Allianz Insurance, LBS Bina, and many more. They won a few awards, and the latest award is The Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA) 2019.
Nearly four years into the business, Cleverus continues to progress rapidly and at present, they have 2 offices in KL and 1 in the Philippines. Lawmence also shared that they have a sales office in the U.S and also partners in Goldcoast, Australia and Singapore. Nothing is stopping him from expanding worldwide.
Talking about his long-term plan, Lawmence wants to create an ecosystem to help people to learn about digital marketing and also to partner with them to set up business globally. He aspires to set Malaysia as a hub for providing digital marketing services to clients all over the world.
From traditional business to online business
As someone who has spent decades in a traditional business and now shifting to online business, he has learned a few valuable lessons and all of them help him but nothing to grow even further.
“In business, you’re going to face a lot of challenges. Sometimes, you can’t overcome it and sometimes you’re facing a dead end. Instead of sitting there doing nothing or trying so hard to break down the wall, maybe you can just turn around and look at the brighter side. Of course you will face greater challenges but it’s not as difficult as you may think. You can try to do things differently, and I’m glad that I turned the business to the other side.” he concluded.