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The Accidental Marketer

by Webmaster Masala

Marketing Manager Keeratika (Kirat) Lertnamwongwan shares her views on Bangkok’s everevolving dining scene.

By Christy Lau

Marketing was never Keeratika (Kirat) Lertnamwongwan’s first choice as a career. The outgoing and affable marketing professional first started off wanting to pursue a profession in journalism. She even wrote articles for the UN when she was still in university. However, after realising she was more suited for the marketing industry, Kirat discovered an opportunity with Soho Hospitality, which led her to work with some of the top restaurants in the city.

With a keen understanding of the ins and outs of F&B advertising, Kirat was then introduced to Chope, an up-and-coming app that aimed to be an essential part of the dining experience for restaurants and diners alike by giving people more opportunities to eat, more often.

From marketing for a restaurant, she made the jump to the other side of the spectrum, working to promote an innovative service provider for dining establishments. Despite it never being in her plans, she took what was in front of her and knocked it out of the park. As one of the biggest trending apps available, Chope has had a meteoric rise to success, and that is thanks in part to Kirat’s hard work and dedication.

In an exclusive feature with Masala, she shares her story and gives her take on the constantly evolving world of advertising.

Were you always interested in marketing?

No I wasn’t! I always thought I was going to be a journalist, until I realised that creating stories was something I liked more than chasing them. I started off as a Communications Officer for Soho Hospitality, which has many amazing venues under their belt. These include Above Eleven, Charcoal Tandoor Grill & Mixology and Havana Social. Soho Hospitality opened doors for me in the F&B industry and that was when I was introduced to Chope, as they were partnering with Soho Hospitality restaurants.

Why did you decide to work for Chope?

At the time, Chope was an up-and-coming platform; everybody in the industry was talking about them and they were gaining popularity among diners, including myself. I thought it would be interesting to be part of such a disruptive platform that combines technological innovation with my one true love — food. So I applied and the rest, as they say, was history.

What career achievement are you most proud of?

When I started working at Chope, I had to put on many hats, diving in and juggling a variety of tasks and expectations, despite being relatively new. In all honesty, I had my doubts that I’d be able to survive that phase, but not only did I survive, I thrived. 2018 was Chope Thailand’s best year since its incorporation and we managed to break all reservation records. When I saw the numbers, I couldn’t help but tear up. It had been a daunting target, and knowing  that I was part of an amazing team that had played a key role in achieving something that great despite all the struggles, built an unshakable faith that I could achieve anything I set my heart on.

Why do you think Bangkok needs an app like Chope?

Most restaurant owners will agree that it is much easier to sell to existing customers than attracting new ones. To get them, it is important to know their preferences and cater to them accordingly. That’s where we come in. Chope provides a platform to build a diner database, which records every diner’s information so that staff at the restaurant will be able to provide a customised experience — something that’s increasingly important to consumers today.

Recently the number of Chope users has been growing rapidly in Bangkok. What do you think contributes to a successful marketing campaign?

We’re listening. When we make marketing plans, we like to demonstrate to both our B2B and B2C audiences about how Chope’s features can solve particular issues they have. It makes our campaigns successful because it shows we’re not just in the business of blindly selling something we made. We’re focused on providing solutions that solve problems and work to the advantage of our audiences.

What kind of qualities do you think someone needs to possess in order to be a successful marketing manager?

You can’t be a successful marketer if you’re not a good consumer. It is so important for everyone in the marketing industry to constantly tap into their own instincts as a consumer when they’re marketing. Always think, “Would you buy this product or service?” If the campaign does not resonate with you as a consumer, don’t blindly launch it for the sake of it. As with life, never do anything you don’t believe in.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges facing the marketing industry today?

Today’s consumers move at lightning speed and that sometimes makes our job as marketers tougher, since we’re essentially all about trying to catch the consumer. We’ve got to be on our toes constantly, ready to learn and able to embrace new marketing trends and platforms at a moment’s notice. We want to make sure we stay relevant, seen and heard by the people we want to reach.

So what motivates you to pursue such a demanding career path?

My motivation in life is my mum. As a single mother, my mum went through an incredibly messy divorce where she fought to keep her two kids despite not knowing how she was going to raise us alone. She did it all, from taking part-time jobs at a nail salon, to building a career for herself as a teacher while raising two girls alone. It was far from easy and today she is an executive principal of five campuses of an international school. I have big shoes to fill and even though I know I may never do so, what drives me is to become even a fraction of the person, the career woman and the mother that she is.

What are your long-term career goals?

Honestly, I don’t know. I used to be a big planner; I had everything figured out and not one thing has happened according to plan, but I’m so happy with where I am. It has been an unexpected journey, but one that’s been worth it, so I’ve decided to take it a day at a time and focus on the now.

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