Thursday, March 31, 2011

How can you fight project burnout?

You work on the brand day-in day-out -- whether you are on the agency side or the client side. Sure, there will be days when you feel burned out. How do you overcome project burnout?

Be practical. There is only so much you can do in a day. There is no need to put too much into a day. Your craft needs artistic juice. Those juice needs space and time and energy. So, be practical with what you can do.

Inspiration from perspiration. This sounds like it is contradicting from the earlier advice. It is not. Sometimes you will get so bogged down that you freeze. You do nothing. In such cases, start doing. As you act upon a project it starts to gain momentum and therein lays inspiration. It’s like when you are lazy to exercise. Once you start moving, the laziness dies.

Love the sales people. They put a new perspective into things. After all, your marketing strategies rely on them. They are the foot soldiers in your grand plans. There is a lot to learn from them and their opinions. No matter how stupid and short term thinking you think they are.

One-step from now. Do just ONE thing. One next step. What is the ONE next step that takes you closer to you completing your project. Do that first. In the exercise example, if you feel lazy or listless, what is the one next thing that will bring you closer to exercising? Get out the door. Then what is the one next thing? Put on your running shoes. So on and so forth. That’s how you focus on ONE next thing.

What's your immediate next step? 

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How stupid are you?

Here are five quick reasons why some ad people are stupid.

You call clients stupid and think they do not know.

If it has to do with science and intelligence, inevitably you will find this formula in the headline or copy. E=MC2. The very people writing it, in all likelihood don’t know what it means.

You think advertising is everything. It drives sales and it makes people buy. So clients depend on you.

You pretend to understand the marketing mix and fail to understand that advertising is only a sub-sub part of marketing.

To you branding=marketing=advertising. When asked to tell the difference, your statement is full of management sound bites.

When will you show clients some intelligence?

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Would you still insist on the headline?

If your salary depended on it? If your cash flow depended on it? It is so easy to hide behind the pillar of a paycheck and push it to the account management (or servicing people). And say, “You idiots, you can’t sell for nuts.”

Today. Today if you became a freelancer. Or started your own company, would you still say this is the best damn headline for the brand?

The lesson for everyone is this:
There is a value attached for every belief you champion. It has to be backed by action, passion and whatever you throw behind it. That belief becomes more believable to the rest of us if you have a lot to lose. Much more than what you stand to gain if you got your way. 

You want people to believe you? Show them that you have a lot to lose and nothing to gain when they follow your way.

What’s backing your recommendation today?

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Are you just relying on data?

Are you just relying on data and market research? I am not against market research and sometimes I can be quite a fan of it. I will not go into the quotes of famous advertising gurus and their views about market research and data. Inevitably, you will find those who are very against it. 

Data is important. Done right and with the right analysis, you can get rich insights and you can mine gold there.

But it should not be the end all be all. You need to balance your role as a marketer to be part scientist, part artist and part craftsmen.

Data + Gut Feel x Experience = Magic

Isaac Asimov is probably one of the most prolific writers of all time due to his background in science and a varied interests in arts based subjects like history and literature.

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the new discoveries, is not “Eureka!” but “That’s funny…” – Isaac Asimov

What are you guessing and testing today?

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Friday, March 25, 2011

How are you building affinity today?

Conversations are essential in relationship. Whether you are selling or buying. Be it personal or professional.

There is way too much one-upmanship in the business world. Watch how this creeps into the way you talk to your consumers. Be mindful how this seeps into the way you talk to your business partners. Create dialogue with them. Build a two way street. There is no need to win every time.

How do you create conversations? 

For some of us, it means to stop talking and to start listening.

Yet others need to be comfortable with the silence between words.

Considerate questions build bridges; ask to clarify and to express the genuine curiosity in the person.

Be mindful of endless possibilities when people start talking to you or your brand.

This is the last of Roar Point's ten business philosophies.  

Can we be friends today?

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

What questions have you asked today?

The right answers come when you have the correct premise. Correct premises can come from sound questions. Sometimes you do not have the right answers because you ask the wrong questions.

Asking questions is a manifestation of curiosity. That curiosity propels you to have depth in your answers and lead you in the right path.

You don’t need more answers. You need better questions.

Naguib Mahfouz, Egyptian writer that won the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature said, “You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.”
How many questions do you have?

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What is your reason for being?

Know your raison d’ĂȘtre. You build better relationship when you know why you are you. It gives you purpose and it focuses you. You learn to be authentic and you begin to be real. No one confuses who you are because you are clear on why you are.

People buy into your being. Why you are you. Which is why the meaning behind a brand is important. The vision of the brand is critical. One that is unique and distinguished. Not the banal same old same old.

Which leads us to your brand’s philosophy. A system and values that your brand believes and lives by.

This is eighth of Roar Point's ten business philosophies. 

What is your brand’s purposeful life?

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What story are you sharing today?

Everything has a story that needs to be told.

Stories humanize you. It makes people relate to you better. It has been a tool used for communications since cultures began. Every origin is a story. Every event and being is a story. 

Stories needs to be told. Stories give meaning. It builds meaning.

It helps people remember. It evokes emotions. Makes us cry. Makes us guffaw. Rile us up. Pulls us down. Tears roll down, smiles creeps up.

This is seventh of Roar Point's ten business philosophies.

Have you weaved your story for us to wear today?

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Are you lighting a bonfire?

Impact not activity.

Leave an impression in everything you do. Time is finite. Resources are finite. There is only so much you can do in a day. You need to weigh the opportunity costs. If that’s the case, evaluate it based on what single biggest impact you can create with what you do. It applies to you personally and the brand you handle.

Confusing activities with buzz will only take you down the wrong road. 1000 lighted match sticks isn’t a bonfire. How do you start this bonfire?

Try doing this:
There is only one you. Are you depriving us of you?
Remember the Cause. What gives you meaning?
Focus on NOW. What future will you build?
Risk Failing. How else can you learn?
Just Do. Why haven’t you started?

This is sixth of Roar Point's ten business philosophies.

What impression are you making today?

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Friday, March 18, 2011

How much time do you need?

With decisions comes risk. With decisions comes power. You need to decide what are you more afraid - the risk or the power that comes with decisions?

The anxiety of decisions can make you deliberate more. If you understand - even if you lose what do you lose? And what’s wrong in being wrong? This awareness can unchain your courage. It will free you to decide.

The anxiety of decisions is an alert for you. An alarm that rings when you are too comfortable with your deliberations.

Know when it is enough and it is time to decide. Don’t be frightened by the maybes, perhaps, and uncertainties.

Those who are wise have never been afraid to risk being a fool.
What are you afraid of now?

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

How real are you?

If you want someone to believe you, you have to be real. Real in the way you conduct yourself. Staying true to your being.

Being authentic means not trying to please everyone. Express yourself in the way you feel most comfortable even when it carries the risk of looking uncool.

When you are uncool in your own way, you are cool.

It is mindful reflection of knowing why you are and letting the world know.

It is quiet contemplation of what you will do and what you won’t do and have the world understand.

It is the patient cultivation of take as you will give and have the world know you will be fair in your undertaking.
Can people rely on you?

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What did you just say?

Seems so simple. It’s easy to forget.

That’s why it needs to be written. Spoken. Given more credit. Propagated. Evangelized. No matter what is your position of influence. You have a responsibility to the world. Moral obligation, I think it’s called. 

It’s what you have been taught. But no matter how much you get reminded there is a tendency to get sidetracked. You may fall into a “I am OK” syndrome. Which means you rationalize why what you do is acceptable by suffocating your little voice that says, "think again." And what you sprinkle into your marketing campaign as “OK.” 

Perhaps, "Primum non nocere" should apply to us in marketing, branding and advertising as well.

But you must and you can. In small inches. In long miles.

The trust is innate in your hands, heart and head. 

This is third of Roar Point's ten business philosophies. 

How is trust built?

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What have you learned today?

If you cultivate a habit to plow, pick and pluck; you are learning. Season after season you become better and better.

What better way to learn but to dig, shove and plant. So, the secret is in not being afraid to walk out to the field. No ifs and buts. Only how. Brave the sun and the elements. Eventually, the fruits become juicier and juicier. The vegetables are in big bold green.

You will be the best farmer around.

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

This is the second of Roar Points's ten business philosophies.

What can you harvest today?

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Monday, March 14, 2011

How is your plan working out?

Plans do not work. People DO.

This doesn’t mean planning is not important. It is. You must plan the work. More importantly, work the plan.  What have been planned must be done.

Productivity comes from doing. Results come from doing. When sweat hits the ground, plans start working out. 

This is the first of the Roar Point's ten business philosophies.

What have you done today?

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

What is your philosophy?

Be it a personal philosophy, business philosophy or a brand philosophy. Ponder on that question. Because people want to do business with other people who have their own philosophy. I didn’t say this. Scott Ginsberg, The Nametag Guy said this. (Thank you, Scott Ginsberg.) It is your take of the world. It is your own uniqueness.

Scott would have called this “strategic serendipity.” Exactly 4 years ago today he entered in his blog “Behold! The Almighty Philosophy Card.”

Today, Roar Point officially launch our philosophy card. Here’s our Business Philosophy:

Philosophy keeps you grounded. It provides a compass. It becomes the principles of which you conduct yourself. In a world where we are overwhelmed by information, it allows you to reflect and gain wisdom. You take responsibility for your actions and you add depth into your work. It gives the work you do meaning. And it helps people relate to you and you to the world.

Have you written your brand philosophy yet?

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Friday, March 11, 2011

What is the quality of your offering?

You can add some style into what you do. People like beautiful things. But when you assume your consumers do not understand, you underestimate them. Insult them even.

Just because they do not have taste in your Klang Valley sort of manner doesn’t mean they do not think that an iPhone is cool. They still do. This leads you to a question. What is style to these people?

Sure there are rules in what we do be it retail advertising or a brand ad or an advertorial. But the moment we stop to challenge it and ask how can we add style, soon some day someone will come and add style to it and you would have lost the competitive advantage.

Just as much as making it lasts – aka quality, it’s about making a real effort to make it look good too.

Where can you add some style today?

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

What is the one thing?

What is the one thing you can forward and take action on today? 

Do you have too many projects that are just stuck in the midst of nowhere and too much talk? Choose that one thing and advance it. Not by big steps but looking at the immediate next step. THE ONE thing that will take your project off the runway. Very often it isn’t some big challenge or problem that is holding it back.

Very often the problem is you. You refuse to look. You ignore the challenge. You blame. You negotiate with your to-do list (in which case it is not a to-do list.) You fail in fighting resistance. 

Put 2, 3, 4, 5 of you on a project, no wonder a project takes 2 years before it takes off.

What can you DO today?

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What’s wrong with you handling the brand?

There is nothing wrong for so long as you know you have to be loyal to the brand. By that it means you need to think about the people who are having a real relationship with the brand. Often times, you call these your consumers. Some times to make the terms sexy you may call them fans, or advocates.

The challenge for you is to keep your personal interests, hobbies, fears, love and whatever else you as a brand manager or a product manager or a marketing manager out of the equation. 

Tough. We know. We have the same challenge. But collectively we have to stay out.

Otherwise, we end up doing communications for us. You end up with a marketing plan selling to yourself.

You are here to forge the relationship between your brand and your consumers. To be the best matchmaker ever, you have to try to understand both parties.

What clarity have you gained today?

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Is absolutism written in your brand guidelines?

Some brand guidelines are like fine china. A little crack it loses its value. Mom goes yelling and all hell breaks loose. No one makes a noise. If Mom can sue she will sue us. Gosh, that means no more requests for anything else that week, if we are lucky. Mom may decide to tell Dad. Then, more hell. You wonder if it will all end. You may decide to run away from home.

Others are like an engine. It takes in air, fuel, and spark. It combusts, it takes the pressure created. But at the right time it releases energy. It lets go. That letting go powers the car. The car accelerates forward.

Is your brand guideline fine china or a big ugly engine block?

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Monday, March 7, 2011

How simple are your promotion mechanics?

The whole idea behind a promotion is to increase sales and put in some excitement into your brand. But sometimes people who come up with promotion mechanics get carried away. Either they have not been a consumer for so long or they hide in their marketing and advertising tower smoking whatever they smoke and drinking whatever they drink, they forget, they forget consumers want it to be simple. As. Simple. As. Possible.

There are too many things in their lives. Besides, the attention you want from them? Two dozen other brands want it too. So, uncomplicate it for people who buy you.

Don’t make them jump through hoops, run through a fire, chant some tribal song and yell your brand name out loud.

When you do that it is tough to communicate it. There are only so many ways your agency can say jump through hoops, run through the fire, you get the idea.

Keep it to single tier will you? Keep the prizes simple will you? Not for your agency’s sake. For your consumer’s sake.

What are you revising today?

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Does your brand suffer from multiple personality disorder?

Ever so often you need to be a little careful with your brand’s personality.

You know those of us in advertising and marketing so like to define our brand’s personality as if it were human. Nothing wrong with it. Do not disagree with it. In fact, I am quite fond of it too.

A well defined brand personality, tone and manner help humanize the brand. Gives the communication some form of parameters to move. Ensures the consumers know how to relate to it. Even helps attracts the type of consumers we are coveting.

Only challenge is for those who have a hand in defining the brand’s personality, and also tone and manner, to every now and then remind yourself to have some fun. Dig a little deeper, see a little clearer.

See if you have succinctly defined your brand’s personality. Or even in its tone and manner.

A brand’s personality written like a laundry list like this - credible, fun, creative, honest, trustworthy, innovative, trendy, modern, down-to-earth, classic, authoritative, serious…” and the list goes on (Thanks, Yee Thong)  - is probably done by a committee too afraid to offend each other. Or someone who is too chicken to commit. That being the case, your brand may need psychiatric help. 

Because some of these words do not reside in the same orbit. If they do, they clash. When they clash, your brand becomes psychotic. 

What can you diagnose today?

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

What if there is no “what if”?

What can you achieve for your brand then? What if you challenge yourself to do something you have always wanted to do for your brand in record time? Ship it. Get it done. No ifs, no buts.

Feel the fear and do it anyway. Be vulnerable as a brand manager. Feel the vulnerability and aim for invincibility.  Do it because anything worth its reward is worth risking your reputation.

Fight your natural inclination to ask “what if?”, “but”, “it’s different”.  Only ask “how?”

They built a 15 storey hotel in 6 days 

I am sure there were a lot of “what ifs”, “buts” and “it’s different”. Eventually they went with the “how?”

When’s your “how?”

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Is apoptosis in your marketing plan?

Apoptosis is programmed cell death. Too much of it causes atrophy to our body. Too little of it causes uncontrolled cell growth like cancer.

Apoptosis works on a complex chain of signals.

To hone a great marketing programme, you need to know when to kill certain elements.

Who are you relying to give you the signals?

What signals are you picking up today?

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Is your brand’s love transactional or relational?

Because business is very real. It’s all about the money. Money makes the world goes round. Some say love makes the world goes round. Some say, when consumers love you enough they buy you, money changes hands. Hence, the world goes round.

For consumers to love you, fall in love with you; you need to start courting them. How have you planned that courtship? Is that courtship plan too transactional? In that case it won’t work. He would be marrying you for the money. Not love.

So, don’t make your potential lover feel you want money from him but you want him to love you too. Doesn’t work that way.

What love have you sent out there today?

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