Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What visa are you giving your consumers?

You will always hear from the noisy ones - the complainers, the whiners, the attention seekers – these three in fact make it sound like there are three million of them out there. And it makes you think the issue is a lot bigger than you perceived.

That’s the easy part. These people will find you. Before social media, they will track down your designation with a phone call, write the letter, put it in an envelope, go to the post office, lick a stamp, smack it on the envelope and shove it in a post box. That is if you are lucky.

Otherwise, the letter gets sent to “Letter to The Editor” in your favourite daily. That’s as social as it gets, then.

But what about the silent ones? You know those festering to tell you something, shout in your ears. But just too darn busy, too darn lazy, too darn wise to not let you know they are starting to dislike you. They are just waiting to be seduced by your competitor and then shut their door on you.

Yeah, I know. You have a Facebook page. You have a website. Great. But the silent ones are still out there not speaking.

What you don’t know may hurt you.

What’s your passport to their hearts?

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Will hunger make you say no?

When times are tough – and from what I hear times are tough now – people tend to negotiate. They negotiate for a better deal, they try to lower your prices, and they try to squeeze more out of you. Heck, you try to squeeze more out of yourself.

Interestingly, to define yourself it takes as many ‘no’ as ‘yes’ to stay true to what you are made of.

It’s true of people, it’s true of business and it’s true for brands too.

What’s your deal?

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Is your time worth more than mine?

Time is an interesting concept. Of course, if you ask someone who is dying, the answer can be yes her time is more important that yours. After all, her time is limited.

But so is all our time.

Recently, I witnessed a teleconference being postponed not once but twice by a manager with people in three countries. The first time, she had an “important ad hoc lunch meeting” to attend. Somehow an important meeting for a specific purpose over lunch did not seem more important than a teleconference set a week ago with people in three countries. But I won’t know. To me, it just smells of disrespect of other people’s time.

Then when the date and time for the teleconference came up again, the same manager wrote an urgent email to postpone it by 30 minutes this time. Another important meet that is taking place and she cannot exonerate herself from it. So, people in three countries makes adjustments again.

Why set a meeting date and time when it keeps getting pushed? Saving her 30 minutes wasted an hour and a half of people in three different countries that parked their time aside for her.

Why would your time be more expensive?

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Friday, February 24, 2012

How about a “Loyal” button?

Almost every friend in the marketing world is obsessed with the Facebook “Like “ button. I am not such a big fan. Well, do I like to have a lot of “Like” on my company’s Facebook page, well, of course. But I am not obsessed with it.

There are many reasons to the like and I would like to know that the likes are for a good reason that my brand stands for. I suspect, my friends who are obsessed about the “Like” button on Facebook is confusing it with loyalty.

A “Like” on Facebook does not equate loyalty. Eventually, we all want to have brand loyal users. But a like is hardly that.

As marketers we need to distinguish which came first – I am loyal to you hence I like you OR I like you hence I will be loyal to you? One is a cause another is the effect. Let’s not confuse the two.

Besides, why I like you and why you MAY think I like you are also totally different.
Which renders the number of “Likes” information almost useless. Unless, you know the “why”.

Can loyalty be quantified?

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Is it breath or depth?

In the age of speed and connectivity, we are only a fingertip away from our smart phone, tablet, PC, etc. Within each proudly owned gadget we have multiple choices to communicate by voice, text or images.

Yet we are faced with countless "I can't get a response from you". And the answer to that is "I didn't receive any missed call nor SMS nor email".

What's the best solution? A dear friend suggested the unfashionable but ever reliable snail mail. It's un-intrusive, it arrives in the hands of your recipient or it will be returned to you (provided you write down your return address on the envelope).

And if you need a cheaper alternative, there's the almost extinct aerogram.

Is the latest gadget the best for you?

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Same old or same new?

Each time a new idea is presented, the question arise - cooking again? Game show again? Can we do something else?

Well, it can be. If you are not selling food product. How else do you want your consumer to use a food product differently?

What about the festive celebration? Do you ask the same – Christmas again? Same Chinese New Year? Yeah it's the same. The difference is each family builds their own rituals and each generation evolves through the years.

Are you obsessed with the same old or creating new ones?

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Who's the real consumer?

We tend to believe what our trusted friends and spouse says. And we seek approval from them all the time.

This is not wrong. After all, they are closest to us.

However, are your friends and spouse spectators to your products or are they using your products like your real consumer?

Because if they are not your consumers, why are you benchmarking your marketing against their opinion?

What answers do you really want? 

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Monday, February 20, 2012

When is better bad?

Being better is a great idea. But if you are a marketing manager, you need to caution yourself.

Thinking that you are better than your consumers would mean you will fail to connect with them.

Having a better intellect has nothing to do with trying to connect. The moment you fail to connect you have lost business, without you even knowing about it.

Oh, while you are thinking about this – no fake humility either. That, you will only know if you are a self-aware person.

When is being stupid smart?

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Does it really matter?

The guy that cuts my hair took over a hair salon a few months ago. Alex is his own boss now. Ever since then I have gone to his salon 20 minutes drive away. Paying extra for toll.

A friend asked me why am I doing this? Is Alex really that good?

Alex does more than a decent job. But more importantly, I am there to honor his courage. We usually say “give support”. My friend said, one additional head isn’t going to save him if he doesn’t cut it as a businessman.

I don’t know if Alex will cut it as a businessman. Only time will tell. But I know he took a step in doing what he wants to do. And being there for him is important.

Does it matter if we sign a petition? Is your twenty ringgit for the victims of a certain disaster that big a deal? Is your silent prayer for a friend in need much in want? Exactly.

Does it have to matter?

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

What time do you wake up?

You want to have less stress? Wake up early. Yeah, I know you are too tired. Sleep early then. Yeah, I know you have unfinished work. Start early then.

Start early tomorrow. From the people I have observed, people I work with and effective homemakers? They have tonnes to do, but they are stressless. Well, nearly stressless. Because they wake up early.

On days I can wake up early? I feel a lot better, a lot more productive. There are just too much time wasters in a day you get sucked into. Get rid of those and you will be able to sleep early.

When are you starting a virtuous cycle?

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Are you wasting your time?

If you have been in your industry for a few years, you should start seeing patterns or trends. The core motivators of your industry, what drives it and what makes it turn. And you should be able to synthesize the information after years of doing your work, or create a system. Your own system.

You are wasting your time if you have not observed anything

Start connecting the dots.

Are you listening with your eyes?

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Are you attracted to pain?

When we started our business, my business partner and I decided that we will do the opposite. We will be nice people. There is just too much nastiness in the business world we see.

So, we try to be polite and nice. We can be stern but we will be nice. But these couple of months our resolve is being tested over and over again.

It seems this world is filled with people who will only fulfill your request. Meet their responsibility or even deliver good service, when you become nasty.

We are just not sure why people take nice for granted.

Do you have an aversion for pleasure?

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Monday, February 13, 2012

How will I know?

How would your consumers know you truly love and care for them? Assuming that is what you covet from your consumers and from that you earn their loyalty. After all, love can be deceiving.

It’s not enough to just say, “I will always love you”. That love needs to be backed by action. No, not promotion. An act that tells your consumers that you care and you think of them every step of the way. Perhaps it is time to look into your SOP? Your product formulas? The way your service is delivered?

After all, if the consumers want to dance they will want to dance with somebody who loves them. And when their hearts are broken, where do they go? They don’t want to run to you. Yup, they run to your competitors. It will be too late to say, “Didn’t we almost have it all.” 

You have nothing, if you don't have them.

Who are you saving all your love for?

(This entry is dedicated to those of us who grew up in the 80s with Whitney Houston. Whitney, 一路走.)

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Friday, February 10, 2012

What does decision mean to you?

Risk? Failure? Planning? Analysis?

Or is it fear?

Go ahead, wager your ego. Have the courage to curl a cherubic smile when failure rears its face. Know how much planning is enough. And understand the analysis that you need. Stop. Then decide.

It’s time to move.

Is a full stomach holding you back?

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

How much is a billion dollars?

I have been very fascinated with this question ever since I read it in the December 2011 issue of Forbes magazine Indonesia edition. 

It is one thousand one million dollars. How do you contextualize how much that it?

This is how much it is and I am regurgitating from memory what I read. If a baby is born and is given a billion dollars, the baby can have a million dollars every year of his life. Does no work, does not reinvest the money, etc. The baby can spend about three thousand dollars a day. And assuming the baby lives till a hundred years old, when the baby dies, there will still be 900 million dollars in the bank.

What is your financial goal?

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Do you carry a sales title?

I pity my colleagues in the marketing department over at my client’s end. When some things do not sell well, they become the firing board. 

You did not support it with ads. Your advertising sucks. You did not put enough budgets in it. You bought the wrong media. On and on, the sales team will fire their tirade. 

In a very sales oriented organization where the sales people make the call, that’s what happens. But some times, I feel the sales people should know when marketing ends and when sales begin.

If everything is marketing’s fault, then where is sale’s responsibility? Sales need to pitch at the very least with the wholesalers and distributors. You need to make sure the relationship is there to push your brand. Above and beyond what advertising can do. Just taking orders and listing in doesn’t count as selling. 

Selling involves the transfer of feelings. The transfer of feelings of your brand to the wholesaler or the retailer (whatever the case maybe). The detailing of what is so miraculous about your brand to whoever is in turn sells your brand to the end-user. That’s your job.

What’s selling to you?

When was the last time you sold something?

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Is it just work?

When I used to have a lot of staff under me and I pushed them slightly harder or challenge them a little more for the elusive excellence, I get an oft used retort. It’s just work.

Well, is it?

It depends. It depends on what does work mean to you. It depends on what work delivers for you. Beyond money, bread on the table or that retirement by the beach, sipping coconut water in the late afternoons, beer before sunset and whatever else you choose to do by the beach.

If you have the same line all the time in your head, perhaps some questions will help you filter some junk you have up there.

What is your dream? How can you achieve them? Why aren’t you doing it yet? Why are you doing this? If not this, what? When aren’t you doing that?

Done? Now do it without the “ifs and buts”. Ifs and buts are nice escapes. Get out of jail free card. If you do that, you will forever be blaming people and situations.

Start taking responsibility. Stop dragging people down. Stop torturing the rest of us who feels there is a meaning to work, whether we like our work or not.

Get out. Really.

How are you justifying your position?

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

What is win-win?

This topic was brought up by a very intelligent client of mine. He was lamenting that almost every time someone cannot get anywhere to close the deal with you, they will muster a “This is a win-win situation.”

The challenge is that most times these situations aren’t win-win. Technically all win-win situations should be 50:50. Equal benefit for all. If ever someone can quantify deals - besides their monetary returns - aren’t always 50:50.

If ever you have to propose a win-win next time, see what the other party can gain from it. Ensure that you are interested in them, be generous with it. Most of all, be sincere. That’s a good platform for win-win. Otherwise, don’t corrupt that phrase.

Is your win-win a mask for Kobayashi-maru?

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

When is it science?

Whatever line you are in, I am sure you will find some science in it. In the ad industry, many gurus propagate that it’s all art. Analysis leads to paralysis, they shout. But I suspect, a lot of it is because they see research as a way of curtailing their creativity.

Does it mean that I believe advertising is all science? Absolutely not. I believe there is a place for science as in the focus groups, the quantitative analysis, the statistical data that helps solidify a position one is taking. Be it a target market or an insight.

The art - if you would like to see it that way - comes when the message is crafted. 

I take inspiration from other fields. Doctors are very scientific people. But they hone their craft as they meet patients and treat people. Engineers too, science people. But the way they approach their challenge, that’s where the craft comes in. 

I once knew a famous food stylist – all art one would argue. But she told me one reason she is so good at her work is because she has a degree in chemistry.

That’s when the art sings. 

Whatever that you do, you need to know when science plays a part and when art flows in.

What is your craft?

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