Disclaimer: In this guide you’ll come across affiliate and partner links. When you click and use their services or buy their products, Expat Den gets a small commission. You won’t pay anything extra for these services or products, but the small commission helps us cover the costs of running this website.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes by Patrick Limcaco and Mark (last name withheld for privacy), marketers.
The marketing industry in Thailand is in trouble.
According to the Bangkok Post, in 2016 over 85% of Thai companies lacked digital marketing personnel—a severe shortage, considering the huge reach of digital media.
According to JobsDB’s database, of more than 5,000 digital marketing positions advertised, just 700 attracted applications.
A number of senior-level marketers had expressed similar frustrations at an Asia-Pacific behavioral marketing round-table event, run by trade publication Econsultancy.
They complained that:
implementing data capturing and management systems can be a lengthy and technical process, and often this falls behind the expectations of marketers.”
However, they were quick to add that:
more collaborations are happening between tech and marketing teams now though.”
Evidently not enough to make up the deficit in Thailand.
As is becoming a recurrent theme in this book, change happens slowly in Thailand.
Its top-down, rigidly hierarchical management and antiquated education system makes it difficult for industries to adapt to change on the fly—and when changes are forced upon them, it can be difficult to find good people to adapt to them.
On the bright side, this manpower deficit has made things a lot easier for experienced, tech-savvy expats to fill the marketing void.
Two of those expats are Patrick Limcaco and Mark.
Patrick is an experienced copywriter/editor, currently working for a Board of Investment-registered small business in Bangkok.
Mark is a marketing specialist, currently working for a small-to-medium sized NGO.
Both are involved in what David Norcross, digital communications director of Lexicon Business Communications, a Bangkok-based marketing firm, describes as fusion marketing—namely the mix of copywriting, branding, digital marketing, visual design, big data, and social networking.
Patrick’s work, as his job title suggests, is heavily-weighted towards the copywriting side of things.
I write and edit custom and syndicated blogs, brochures, web ads, website, social media, and other types of content for local and international clients in various industries. A typical day at work for me is writing one to two blogs, editing fellow editors’ copy, and attending a daily stand-up meeting. I work with other editors and project managers who deal with the clients. A typical day involves a lot of writing, editing, and chatting with colleagues.”
Mark states that his primary skills are all things online marketing, so he spends most of his time in this area.
However, as an employee of a small firm, at times he has to pitch in in other areas.
My typical day varies. As a small-medium NGO, we all are required to help out as needed.”
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that this fusion marketing is where the future lies, for a number of reasons.
It’s much cheaper than traditional promotional channels, making it much more accessible for small businesses keen to keep an eye on their return on investment.
It also has a much higher potential reach.
Consider which you’ve seen more people look at today—their Facebook account or a newspaper.
Finally, there’s the interactivity element—as one blog puts it, traditional marketing talks at people, modern digital marketing talks with them.
You can’t throw questions at a billboard or a television advert.
So what skills and experience are required to work in marketing in Thailand?
Obviously a knowledge of digital media and fields like SEO are a massive advantage.
It also helps to be a skilled writer, particularly in a position like Patrick’s.
English language proficiency and solid writing and editing skills [are essential]. A degree in journalism, creative writing, or literature is not necessary for a copywriter or copyeditor position, but editorial experience is required.”
He suggests that potential copywriters be prepared when it comes to the interview process.
When applying for an editorial job in a Thailand-based company, have a portfolio ready. You would most certainly be asked to show samples of your work. You’ll also have to demonstrate your writing and editing skills during the application process.”
Due to that skills deficit we mentioned at the start of the chapter, Mark feels many employers are looking to their expat hires to already have something worth bringing to the table—which means home-country experience.
I really think it’s important that people gain experience in their own countries before moving to Thailand. It will make you a much more adaptable person. From my experience in small and medium organizations and companies in Thailand, they expect you to bring much more to the table here in terms of skills and experience.”
It’s also a great benefit to have some experience in the field that you’re planning on marketing.
After all, you’re in a much better position to sell a product or business with which you’re already familiar.
When it comes to marketing NGOs, Marks advises to:
get experience, in both profit and nonprofit sectors.
For his particular role, Mark believes that his employers were:
looking for someone with commercial marketing experience, yet knowledge and experience of the NGO sector.”
If you’ve already got the skills, qualifications and experience required, your next step is to network.
Mark cites networking as a key factor in landing his job.
JobsDB is a good listings website, but word of mouth and networking is much more important in Thailand than it is in the UK, in my opinion. And it was an advantage that I was already in the country.”
Patrick found his job in a similar fashion.
I was referred by a friend and former colleague who had already been working for the company for months. Aside from my qualifications, I think the referral from my friend really helped.”
Another key factor in landing a job in the marketing field is persistence.
Patrick recalls the process of applying for his current position.
I was contacted by the company’s managing director after they’d reviewed my resume, but I had to decline the first offer for an interview because at the time I’d already received a job offer from another company. Interestingly, the company whose job offer I accepted initially turned down my application. From what I’ve heard, there had been an issue with the applicant they’d accepted so they decided to hire me instead. When that didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped, I re-applied at my current employer. Fortunately, they entertained my application and hired me.”
He admits that during this time:
my persistence probably helped. While waiting to get the call, I made several follow-ups, re-submitted my application, and asked my friend to follow up on my application when she could.”
Although more of a long shot, there are several online resources for those who’d prefer to take the more traditional route.
In terms of salaries, positions vary a great deal, which should not come as much of a surprise by this stage in the book.
Patrick cites anywhere between 35,000 baht to 40,000 baht as a reasonable starting salary.
This range could be higher when you’re setting your sights on multinational companies. Negotiating might help in some cases.”
Mark backs up the idea that salaries are generally fairly low outside of the multinationals.
Don’t expect big money in the NGO sector, unless you are working for the UN. The charity sector globally pays less than other sectors, so generally if salary is your primary goal, you can probably earn more plying your trade in the commercial sector.”
He admits that working in Thailand usually entails a slight salary cut.
A crude indicator, you can probably earn double in the UK in the same job and probably a third more in the commercial sector than in the nonprofit sector. It greatly depends on experience, but a project manager may earn 60,000 baht at a charity in Thailand, 90,000 baht at a commercial organization in Thailand and 120,000 baht as a project manager in the UK.”
He is quick to point out that cost of living is, however, a factor.
You can have a comfortable life, but if money is your motivation, you might wish to try another sector. Thailand is cheap if you live a certain way, if however someone wants to a western style life in Thailand, it is not so cheap. This greatly impacts how far your salary goes.”
Ultimately, Patrick admits that:
Although copywriters and editors in English seem to be in great demand, you should also set realistic expectations about salary and job stability.”
We’ll give the last word on marketing to David Norcross:
Thai businesses have been slow to embrace the potential of (social media) technology, partly due to ignorance and partly because there simply aren’t enough skilled workers who understand the industry well enough. But Thailand is bound to catch up soon with the rest of the world, so if businesses here want a valuable head start over their competitors, the time to act is now.”
And there’s no better time than now for experienced expat marketers to rush in to help them.
Now, on to You
Looking for more posts on Working in Thailand? You don’t have to wait for each post to come out.