Thursday, May 31, 2012

What do you think of this?

You know the concept of asking? Intrinsic in it means to clarify. When you ask to clarify, always listen. Do not ask and dispute when what is presented is contrary to what you want to hear.

Listen. Digest. Triangulate your own opinion.

Then put forth your points. Then ask again on the conclusions you made. Then you crystallize your own thoughts. You then form your own opinion. This time around with the new information, you can better decide EVEN if you do not use and agree with that information.

Problem is you ask to reinforce what you believe in.

Did you see ten thousand people, maybe more?

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What do you care?

Last month (April) in my mailbox is a direct mail pack for my dad. His birthday is in May. I opened it, it’s a birthday greeting sheet (it’s not a card, it’s a sheet of paper) and more. Sent a good 3 weeks before his birthday (I suppose you cannot fault someone for sending a birthday greeting too early) – see my poor illustration below.

I say “birthday greeting sheet and more” because; it is suppose to be functional as well. It has a 2012 calendar at the bottom of this birthday greeting sheet and double sided tape behind. So, I reckon the people who so believe in sharing and caring sent it because they want you to put it up.

Now, whether they want you to remember them or for you to remember that they remembered you is up for discussion.

Personally my challenge is this, one - it’s April. Why would you send a calendar? We would have bookshelves and walls of it by now. And might even have thrown away just as many. Two, why tell me about all your products on a birthday greeting sheet? Where’s the sincerity in this?

I thought to myself, even if I am an abbot living in seclusion from this secular world – I would still probably question the company’s sincerity.

I wonder, how much time did the company spend thinking this through? Intrinsic in sharing and caring is sincerity. Values the company yells in front of the envelope that wrapped the birthday greeting sheet.

Oh, my dad passed away 2 years ago. Maybe cleaning up the database is not part of the CRM plan.

What do you care about?

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What do you eat with?

We do eat with our eyes. Here’s proof.

So which senses do your consumers use when consuming your brand?  

What do you taste with?

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Monday, May 28, 2012

What’s your cost of cause marketing?

Corporate social responsibility is a big phrase. Some companies do it better than the others. Others like the usual mock check and occasional photo opportunity. Once off and they are done. A charity run there and there.

I believe consumers are getting smarter and smarter. I believe when consumers look at the news and the pictures of the mock cheque presentations, they ask – what is the cost of this cause marketing?

Increasingly, if your company or brand does not commit to the cause in money, effort and time in the long term - and that means not just commitment but consistency, then you will be seen as a fraud, using the face of social responsibility to cheat into the consumers hearts.

What’s your true cause?

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Are you consistent with courage?

It takes consistency to stick to your principles but it takes courage to learn new things and dump old principles. Sometimes formulas work and sometimes they don’t.

In marketing, we like to call a lot of things principles. Then a bunch of us follows them like a dogma not to be challenged. Not because we are very convinced that it works all the time. By and large, marketers are smart people. They just don’t know when to choose to be courageous.

Principles need to be reevaluated and how you reevaluate them is important. You have to pull yourself out of the equation and not be attached to old paradigms. Context changes all the time due to cultural shifts, rise in education levels, higher consumer maturity in the category and technological advances. For example, what was known as alternative media is now mainstream. Principles will have to change. Even if they are not, it needs to be adjusted.

And it takes courage to be the one making the adjustments, against your own deep seated convictions. Only then will you learn new things. Only then will there be better creation. Better creation of new formulas.

Are you consistent in creation?

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Do you cull?

What’s better to do? More worth the effort? Perhaps make you a hero? Let’s say your predecessor has breed a bunch of brands, variants and SKUs and if you buy into the Pareto Principle, then only 20 of these brands and sub-variants are now contributing to 80 of your bottom line. But you have a choice to clean this all up in order to drive efficiencies or you can ignore this and launch your own variants and new brands.

What would you do? I don’t really have a finger on this. After all, if I am this marketing manager, I would have to fight the internal system that created this. Yes, the previous marketing manager has left, but the people who said yes to this ‘mess’ is still there.

Maybe it is easier to just use the formula you know to breed new brands. After all, you have a perfect excuse (or is it?) these were there when you came.

For me, whatever you choose is fine. Just don’t choose because it is easy, more glamourous and because you like one better than the other. Those are emotionally laden words. And it’s not very objective driven.

Would you breed?

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Where is your sincerity showing?

If you keep showing up, helping, understanding, offering a solution sincerely you would probably earn a relationship with your consumers. They may actually call you a friend.

It doesn’t sound very difficult but most marketers like to think about the commercial side of things and thus forget the connection part of the brand. When you do that – think too much of the commercial side – you lose your sincerity, which is the currency of relationships.

What are you spending on?

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Is your brand up for bargaining?

I went for lunch with a fairly full stomach yesterday. I did not think I was going to finish a plate of fried noodles. When I walked up to the stall, a thought came to my mind. I wondered if the boss frying my noodles would make a plate smaller than the minimum size she fries everyday. I could pay less and there will be no wastage.

I chickened out. I went for the “minimum published rate” on her board. I rather not risk getting yelled on a hot weekday afternoon.

That got me thinking. I think consultants have it worse than these stall owners. At least, their clients do not negotiate (or is "bargain" a better word here?). If you add in more cockles in your plate, there is extra charge. You accept it. You want extra noodles, there is an extra charge. You accept it. While removing something like cockles or bean sprouts, there is no reduction in price. That’s that. Order, the order will be filled, you pay cash and be on your way.

As consultants, you get all sorts of bargaining (or is "negotiate" a better word here?) . And I have heard this from engineers, architects, lawyers, accountants and even doctors getting the same treatment. The clients bargain for the rates they are charged. Some industries are luckier than the rest. Some of them get to say, “My association determines the prices we charge. I am duty bound to follow those rates.”

Others aren’t so lucky. They get treatments worse than hawker stall owners.

That’s why at Roar Point, we put it up front. We don’t do cheap. We work best on a full stomach.

When do you negotiate?

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Where are you unexpected?

We told our book distributors that we much rather not sell our book in a bookstore. It’s the worst place to sell a book. Imagine trying to stand out in a million other books. But their book distribution ‘system’ does not allow them to distribute to places where our book would stand out. OK, maybe next time we will plan better.

Most time marketers like to think in numbers. Don’t get us wrong, we like numbers too. But there is a time when numbers may not work. If you are targeting tourists, the obvious place are tourist spots. But that’s where a gamut of other brands who wants a slice of this fresh meat will be. Getting their attention will be difficult.

Better yet think of unexpected places where your consumers will least expect you. Best if the places you appear are in the context of the brand beliefs you try to propagate.

Yeah, we know it’s difficult.

When are you appearing?

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Friday, May 18, 2012

What’s on your lotto ticket?

There are very very few instant hits in brand campaigns. Just like you don’t hear very much about instant rich millionaires who made their money on the gambling table.

Sustainable campaigns that are successful take time and they take effort. It also takes skills and improvisation. It takes nurturing the various Ps and the relationship with your consumers.

If you keep launching, executing and learning then you will get better and better. Your brand grows.

Just like the man who keeps saving and investing and learning about money. Eventually his wealth grows and he is able to keep it.

Trying for a hit with a brand campaign is like buying a lottery ticket. You may strike it once but it won’t be sustainable.

How sustainable is your campaign?

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

When is it time to let go?

There is a time to let go. Peacefully and with equanimity.

Like when the oncologist is no longer interested in your astronomical CEA score because you are now on your third line of defense.

Or when 95 year old grandpa who has always been healthy is warded for breathing difficulties and couldn’t speak. He wrote on a piece of paper in the hospital, “Let’s go home.” He probably knew and he was ready to let go.

And when the first car you bought when you started working costs more to upkeep than getting a new one.

Perhaps, also consider letting go that billboard close to your office you have occupied for the past 5 years because the media owner is increasing the price. You don’t know the results it has brought. There are better opportunities out there with the same amount of money. If you choose to keep it, perhaps you are hanging on to things you need to let go off.

You can measure the cost of the billboard. But that’s not the real cost to your brand.

Attachment breeds suffering.

Is your brand suffering because of you?

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How steep are you willing to climb?

The lowest hanging fruit. The natural market.

When I first got my license as an insurance agent many years ago, I was told by the manager, now you need to meet your quota as an agent by selling x number of policies worth x amount.

I didn’t know how. Selling is scary. Rejection even scarier. And rejection by someone you know is a death sentence to your self-esteem. But out I went - selling. I was given a tip. Sell to your natural market. Meaning, people you know. The veterans tell me this is the easiest.

So, it’s no wonder that when marketers launch products they are unfamiliar with, they usually think about their natural market. If they are experts in a certain field, they try to exploit their knowledge as much as possible. Sometimes, they argue economies of scale and they debate with the intimate knowledge they have about the market they know easiest. Not best. But easiest.

But easiest may be the most difficult thing the new brand being launched will have to face. Because the brand handlers have refused to invent a new way of marketing, sticking to what they know for a product category they do not know.

In order to increase the chances of success, the best solution maybe to create a new system and learn, no matter how steep the learning curve.

Natural and lowest hanging maybe the easiest but sometimes it may not be the best.

Maybe natural isn’t the best?

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What’s your culture?

Your brand needs to be built around a culture that it believes in. This culture permeates the way the brand talks and behaves. More than that it gives what your brand communicates depth and excitement. It isn’t just the ads that will show what your brand is all about. It’s the way the people who peddle your brands that adds layers to this personality, this culture.

Culture is built when a group of people have deep beliefs of what the company stands for. They are willing to risk the gory for the glory and the havoc for the fun in creating this culture.

Building a culture takes guts and commitment. It starts with a belief.

What do you believe in?

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Monday, May 14, 2012

What values do you connect with?

We have been propagating that there must be sincerity in the communications. Otherwise, it is tough to get people to believe you. Feel good about you and tell good stories about you to others.

Of course, your brand needs to deliver the most basic and more. At the right price. Available at the expected places. These your consumers expect and your competitors know how to do too.

But more difficult and immensely more fruitful is being sincere in how you treat your consumers. When you do that you turn them into fans.

Enough with just communicating the features and benefits already. I am sure they work. Otherwise you would not be continuously doing them anyway. But will that further the relationship? Eventually someone will photocopy that list of features and benefits. Then what?

Connect is more than communicating. Connecting takes heart. It shares common values. It gives insight into what your brand is and what it stands for. You need insight on the inside of the consumers.

How do you whisper to the heart?

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Friday, May 11, 2012

What’s your story with your brand?

When you launch something. No. Let me correct that, when you do something for your brand, as a marketing manager or brand manager, or whatever. What do you want to achieve? More market share? More sales? More people to benefit from the aphrodisiac your company have created?

Whatever your answer is I am really not that interested. The question I want you to think about is, what do you hope to achieve for yourself? Chances are you want to bulk up your resume, your number of successful marketing case studies. All fine and good. Just remember that when you have done that marketing plan and executed it? You no longer own it. It’s no longer your plan. It’s no longer in your control.

The marketing ecosystem of distributors and consumers and competitors now owns it. And by default writes the story for your resume.

What will they write for you?

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

What did you mould today?

Create, don’t convert.

It’s likely that it’s easier to develop a marketing plan to convert a competitive user. And probably sounds a lot sexier to your big boss who knows nothing about marketing. Dig enough information about the consumer and your competitor and make some smart guesses. Launch. Throw in the price off, have your promoters say some not so good stuff about your competitors and viola, see your sales increase. 

How about this? Seek new users. Go create. Make something. Build a new market. Uncharted territories, I know it’s scary. But if you don’t try this, you will always be dividing the small piece of pie with your competitors. And that isn’t going to make you full.

Are you hungry enough to create?

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Are you led by blur vision?

One of my pet peeves in the management world is this whole idea of a “big picture” boss. You often hear, “Oh, I am a big picture person.” Half the time when that phrased is used, you can almost bet that boss doesn’t really want to do any work. So, they hide behind this whole big picture stuff. Sure, visions are important. Big picture is important.

But equally important is that all big pictures are made up of small detailed brush strokes. The boss that can make that link grows a big and strong company. Those who can’t - walk the whole company with blur vision into darkness, even long after they have left.

Can you see the brush stroke?

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

When are you taking it out of the oven?

Eventually after all the management and marketing book you read, you still have to create. Create in your own context for your brand. Let’s face it, you cannot imitate nor try to be as close to the case you have read. You still need to take that risk and walk close to the edge.

Stop imitating. Start creating.

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Monday, May 7, 2012

What is freedom to you?

Hugh MacLeod launched his book “Freedom is blogging in your underwear” (#FreedomIsBlogging) recently. For us at Roar Point, starting a boutique brand communications consultancy is tough. Having to educate people about what we do, what we don’t do and how we are different is even tougher. It’s like evangelizing a new religion.

Thank God for blogs. It gave us our street corner where we could do our dance and sing our song for our micro audience (Hugh’s word that I stole. Thanks, Hugh). I have been writing every work day for the past year and a half or so. This blogging gives small business owners like us the freedom to know that our personality and character is demonstrated stark naked out there every day. There is no need to peep into our website. People can see who we are in our writing.

Those whom our song and dance resonates with them stay and throw some bills into our hat. They dig the art we ship and we start a relationship. Those who don’t probably doesn’t even blink and eye. We remain the nuisance at the street corner.

That’s freedom. From fear and to be.

What’s your freedom?

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Friday, May 4, 2012

What should you be telling?

Ever been to an art exhibition and wonder what the artist was thinking when the art was produced? Wouldn’t the story make you appreciate the art so much more? More than the story in the book, the story behind the book makes it a lot more interesting too. 

Here’s a thought. On your social media avenues? Be the artist that speaks for your brand. Tell those who are willing to listen about the story behind its creation. Stories make the brand immensely more interesting.  All those stuff the boss did not allow into the ad copy? Your social media is probably a right place.

Be the artist that speaks for your brand.

What happened once upon a time?

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

How would you make it work?

It has worked before. That marketing plan of yours.

That’s the easy answer and that makes your job easy. You need not think. You need not seek approval. You just have to follow the playbook. No one can blame you. It has worked before.

It has worked before allows you to disengage. It has worked before is a button for auto-pilot. It’s a safety net.

Maybe it’s time to ask how you can make it work better. Broken or not, it can be improved.

What are you adding?

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What is your locus standi?

The other day, our client wanted us to present some work to their distributors. Sort of a “for your information” session. Just so they know what is the communication campaign that is supporting the launch of the brand.

Somehow, the distributors thought we were there to get their approval. Funny. There were comments and soon criticisms of the ads that were approved by our clients, their principals. We were a little caught off guard. For a good 30 minutes, we found ourselves on the defensive. Then something came over us. We shut up and ignored the comments. That was that. We strolled out when the meeting ended.

Why did we ignore the comments? We realized two things. One, we were not there to seek approval. So, these people have no right to comment the way they did. Two, they have no expertise in branding and communication

It’s their right to say what they have to say, but it’s our wisdom to stop listening.

What expertise do you carry?

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