Iim Fahima Jachja: Bridging offline and online communications

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AT the age of 27 when others of her age were still looking for their niche in the job market, Iim Fahima Jachja and her husband, Adhitia Sofyan, confidently left their jobs at a leading advertising agency and turned a new leaf in their lives by becoming entrepreneurs in online marketing communications in the form of Virus Communications.

Why online? Undeniably, Internet users in Indonesia have grown fast and there are currently more than 32 million users, the largest number in Southeast Asia. “In Indonesia, Internet users consist of many people with high purchasing power. Half of them earn more than Rp 3 million per month, while about 11 percent have an income that exceeds Rp 11 million per month,” said Iim.

Habit changes in media consumption and the economic crisis have spurred marketers to consider the Internet more seriously as a marketing and advertising tool. However, there are no communications or marketing consultants in Indonesia who really understand the online world and can become an effective bridge between offline and online communications.

This is one of the reasons why Iim Fahima Jachja, founder, director and online strategist, established Virus Communications three years ago. “Each year, online advertising expenditure increases. In 2008, percentage wise it exceeded advertising expenditure in print media and radio. The future is now and we have to prepare ammunition that is more than ready,” said Iim.

More than 200 people attended a seminar called “Making Your Online Advertising Work” held by Virtual Consulting recently in Jakarta. The attendees were brand owners or marketers of various famous brands as well as managers, directors and CEOs of leading advertising agencies.

“They clearly saw the huge potential of online marketing and advertising and this is very good. Using online communications is a smart move in today’s financial or budget situation where budgets are getting tighter, but strategic steps are still required. This means we should not `dive into the online ocean with an offline insight’, because each is a different world. One wrong step can mean throwing salt into the sea, so there will be no impact and it will be a pure waste of money.”

She went on to further explain the difference between advertising on television and online media. On television we can view only one advertisement at a time, she said, while on websites, such as detik.com, kompas.com, yahoo.com and the rest, we can see numerous ads at one time on one screen. If a communications planner does not understand online advertising in each media then the ads will not work effectively.

“That is just one of the points to consider before making a decision. Another complex point is deciding in which media to place an ad. Before a plan and a decision is made, one has to understand online behavior, digital experience and the online brand building process, all in a combination that makes the ad effective. And, I think, such points are only understood by those who live in the online world and comprehend marketing communications for both online as well as offline,” added Iim.

What strategy does Iim have that has made Virus develop so fast? The finalist for the International Young Creative Entrepreneur Award 2008, held by the British Council, said changing careers at her tender age was not an easy decision. What was required were mental strength, a positive attitude, a good financial plan and most importantly, knowledge, experience and a good business plan. “Riding somebody else’s horse is a smart business principle,” said Iim, who has been working since the age of 21.

Usually, when one opens up a new business one likes to monitor and be actively involved in the day-to-day details. As a result, she said, they get overwhelmed by things that can be delegated to others and forget to save time for developing the strategic side of the business. “And by the time we wake up, we are shocked because the market has changed drastically, the competitors have moved on and it is too late to anticipate,” said Iim, who was initially a copywriter.

Iim often listens to suggestions from friends, makes time to do nothing and just think in silence, forget about routine and be creative. Ipod is the fruit of Steve Jobs’ thinking in silence. “It does not decrease one’s creativity. On the other hand, it keeps us alert to changes around us and helps us stay ahead and produce creative ideas to develop our business further,” said the mother of one daughter.

Iim and her husband chose online advertising as their line of business because they have a solid background in conventional media advertising, such as TV, print and radio. Using the principle “riding somebody else’s horse”, Virus formed an alliance with Virtual Consulting. They now have a number of major clients, such as Toyota, XL, Telkom, Lippo Group, Auto 2000 and Hewlett Packard. In the case of Hewlett Packard, Virus handles all its products and works directly with Hewlett Packard Regional. (Burhan Abe)

The Jakarta Post, January 14, 2009

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