Friday, June 29, 2012

What are you here for?

How do you authenticate your existence to those around you daily? From your family, to colleagues – boss and staff, to friends and those you are in contact with?

Act your role. That’s how you authenticate your being. To act your role, you must know your character well. And we all have multiple roles we play daily. Some roles are easier than others. But ALL need an in-depth understanding. When you do not act your role, people will not only treat you as a fake, they will KNOW you are a fake.

How real can you be?

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

How big is your mouth?

Sure, everyone is entitled to their opinion. But whether the opinion carries weight depends on the expertise of the person. Which means the person have the skills and knowledge to back up that opinion. If the answer is yes, well then we commonly refer to it as an expert opinion. People pay attention to it. We give it credence.

If the person giving an opinion does not have the expertise then it’s just as good as my comments while watching America’s Cup. I can’t tell cheese from chalk when it comes to yachts. Much less watch a race about it.

Comment with wisdom. Criticize without condemning. Use grace to have your opinion heard. A wide open mouth may reveal the shallowness of your brains.

What’s your expertise?

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Is it alive?

Much has been written about how brands can connect. Experts talk as if there are some special formulas – social media, relationship marketing, event marketing, and engagement strategy. Big words and it is not wrong. You can add yours.

To get into the life of the consumer means the brands have to be alive. And to be alive means the brand has to be there. Best when you as a brand are unexpected to. Better if you are where the consumers want to find you. Good if you considered appearing where you are expected.

Are you bringing it to life?

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What’s your dream?

For those with the courage to turn fantasy into reality. For those who convert illusions into vision. And more importantly for those with a gut-anchored urge that there is more to life than the life now.

Where’s your connection?

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Did you bring home the bacon?

Each time one of us comes back to the office after meeting a prospective client, the others will ask, “Did you sell the cow?” Jokingly the other will answer “I brought back magic beans in exchange for the cow.”

And we would all laugh. Laughter is good for hungry entrepreneurs. It doesn’t make you full. But it keeps you sane.

Gradually, we learn to not to give away too many cows. The magic beans doesn’t quite grow into the heavens for us to steal the golden hen. But when made into soup, it gives us lots of wisdom.


What are your magic beans?

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Friday, June 22, 2012

What should you say?

If you are invited to a meet and you feel you have nothing better to add in the meet? Asked to be excused. People will respect that.

Refrain from going into a meet and struggle to sound smart. Pressured to say something so you do not appear as the only person not saying anything. And if you are in a meet, not adding value then you are better off outside doing real work.

The thing is, saying something can be saying nothing. Especially, when you are just parroting – you know take something someone else said and add a few lines of yours.

Or worse, use some of the management sound bites that mean nothing at the end of the sentence. But you think you sound damn smart. You know, the “We just did a SWOT analysis on this. If we go ahead we will not get a good ROI. We have to think outside the box. Create a Blue Ocean strategy. Then it becomes win-win. Net, net, we need to strategize more, go back to the drawing board and be data-driven.”

You want your presence felt? Say something that truly adds value.

When’s your next meeting?

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Are you doing well?

It’s so easy to be complacent when your market shares are way up there and sales figures are sky rocketing. It’s easy to be lost in lots of cash. Cash can buy you a lot of excuses and blankets to hide in.

If you are an entrepreneur, the reality can hit you pretty fast. When the phone stops ringing, the pipeline of prospects get shorter and when Bill keeps calling but Cash rarely do.

But what if you are the marketing manager? You are only an employee. Hey, why not ride the surf when it’s up? After all, all you want is to etch into your resume how well you did for the current company. Three to five years time you are out of there anyway.

Problem is, you don’t know how long this surf is going to last.

Better yet, I feel is to take a long term view of your career. So, you take responsibility for your brands like it is your own company. And that is taking real responsibility for your career as a marketing manager. 

What are you doing to avoid a wipe out?

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

When do you pick a fight?

How often is it that you get to have a good argument with a client and still share a beer together after that? We have not had that for a long while. Perhaps we are to be blame. Maybe it is huge client egos now-a-days.

The nice professional clients who can hold a debate, argue professionally and be intellectually stimulating are far and in-between. 

Last week, we had a good argument with a client of ours. We put forth our points and he put forward his. We did not agree to all. But we were clearer. He even offered to buy us dinner since the meeting went into the night (yeah, I know you are envious.)

Not all clarity comes from brainstorms. Gaining clarity from clutter can come from arguments, debates and fights (well, sparring maybe a better word here.)

Who’s your sparring partner?

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Who’s making a list?

There will always be opportunities to look smarter in front of your colleagues. It is fine to look smarter or position yourself to be more intelligent than others. But do not do it at the price of insulting another person. Even if that person reports to you. 

Putting someone down doesn’t add to your intelligence. There are other metrics people measure your competence at work. Being nice is one of them.

I have heard so often from the office assholes that they are paid to do the job. They aren’t paid to be nice. Funny. No one paid them to be a nice daughter. A nice student. A nice citizen. No one paid them to order their food nicely. No one told them to speak nicely to the police who have just pulled them over. But they do.

Why park your niceties at the door while at work?

Here is a better option – illuminate not humiliate. Teach don’t torture.

Who’s telling you why?

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Do you know?

All-knowing leads to not knowing.

What do you know?

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Friday, June 15, 2012

How do you know?

“How?” is the next most important question after “Why?” 

How can we improve?
How did we end up here?
How can we reach our goal?
How is our marketing campaign doing?
How can we explore this market?
How will we be perceived if we did this?
How can we convince you?
How do you know you are right?

How would you know?

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Which would you rather do?

If you have to make a bet that has a 90% probability of making RM5000 or one that has a 50% chance of making RM12500, you are likely to bet on the first option. That is the one with high probability of getting RM5000.

The reason is explained in the seminal paper called The Prospect Theory:An Analysis of Decision Under Risk by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky published in Econometrica in 1979. Download and read the original paper if you want. It went on to win a Noble prize in Economics though the scientists were psychologists. It was for their effort in bridging economics and psychology.

Marketing managers and brand/product managers should try to remember this. When you feel frustrated that your bosses does not have the foresight to approve your budget - for that big branding campaign you have in mind (no matter how well researched and backed up by data)? It’s the aversion to risk that is preventing them.

It’s human nature. Oh, yes… there is also their career prospect to think about if they bet wrongly.

What’s your prospect?

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Who do you think you are?

It’s interesting isn’t it? Ad people think they understand or should understand every ad out there. If they don’t get an ad? They disparage it. There is nothing wrong if you do not understand an ad. Just because you are in advertising doesn’t mean you need to understand it. Really it’s OK. It doesn’t reflect on your capability.

Remember how you presented an ad to your client and he said he did not understand it but you said, “It’s OK because you are not the target market. Your target market would get it. See if you don’t get it? It’s a good thing.”

Same thing with the ads that you don’t get - you are not the target.

Or maybe you are just stupid?

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Is it dead yet?

Every other day we hear declarations about mediums and media that are dead. The TV is dead, the print is dead, blogging is dead, email marketing is dead, advertising is dead (how many times have we heard that?)

Some media dies every day.

So, what’s the definition of dead? When and who has the authority to declare a medium or media dead?

Your consumer and your accountant. They are the ones with the authority to declare to you that a particular media is dead. When your consumer stops using that media? It’s dead. It may very well be a thriving media but to you it’s dead.

When your accountant says the investment no longer brings in the same or more ROI as before? It’s dead. The media company may be making a healthy profit every quarter. But to you? It’s dead.

When is it alive?

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Monday, June 11, 2012

What should you have today?

How do you choose which social media to use? It still goes back to marketing strategy. Or media strategy if you prefer. Just because it’s new to you does not have to confuse you.

Choose it based on how you would plan your marketing strategy and media strategy. Who are your consumers? Where are your consumers? Why do you want to use this medium? What is your objective? When is the best time to use it? How should you deploy it?

For heaven’s sake, we are not talking about “Influence of AMP-activated protein kinase and calcineurin on metabolic networks in skeletal muscle.”

Don’t let unfamiliarity confuse you. Some basic principles that you know still applies.

How do you want to learn?

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Is doing nothing doing something?

You want to be more creative with your marketing plans? Figure out the best way to overcome a branding challenge? Separate all the daily noise so you can see clearly?

Do nothing for a day. Well, it doesn’t have to be a weekday. Your boss will go mad.  Invest your own day. Use a weekend. (Your missus may enjoy it.)

Doing nothing has nothing to do with not doing anything. It still is doing something. That something is not to think about work. Not to stimulate your mind - that something is to keep your mind ‘motionless’.

A calm pool of water can reflect better. If you keep thinking, you are stirring the pool of water. How can it reflect? How can you get your answers to the perplexing marketing challenge?

What if you did nothing?

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

When does your competition matter?

Lately we have been working with a client whose competitor just loves to ape. The competitor photocopies every media aperture we use. They imitate every dance we do. Even down right to icons and graphics. So what do you do in such situations?

Is this a good or bad thing? Depends.

It can be good because you can predict with statistical confidence what they will do. In which case, you can even trap them. Bad because it takes immense marketing wisdom to decide if what they imitate matters. If it does not, ignore it. We are better off focusing on what matters most.

Let them play catch up.

Deciding what matters, matters.

What matters to your competition?

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

How low can you go?

If you sell at the lowest price possible, you are really commodifying whatever you are selling. Unless, of course you are selling the “perception” of lowest price possible. In which case, consumers will feel cheated.

Interestingly branded commodities be they rice, water, sugar, paper or whatever don’t sell at the lowest price possible.

If lowest price possible isn’t something people buy into solely, then why shout lowest price.

What’s value to you?

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What are your marketing assumptions?

Here, I will start…
  1. Branding is either a two or three syllable word plus logo plus colours
  2. A jingle and an ad budget will make people aware.
  3. People who are aware will buy your brand.
  4. As long as the distribution is good, the price is correct, the promoters are hitting their targets, that means the brand is strong (or replace with the marketing is solid.)
  5. Marketing, sales and branding are different words to describe the same thing.
  6. The more features the better it is because it means more benefits.
  7. Selling at the lowest price possible wins.
  8. Consumers love a relationship with your brand.
Your turn….

Are you ready to admit?

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Monday, June 4, 2012

Who’s not paying attention to you?

I love numbers. I just don’t do math exams very well. But numbers help you have some form of science to support the decisions you make.

So when you speak to marketers who are preparing to take on a new market the conventional wisdom is that you look at who consumes most of the category. The heavy users, then you decide on your marketing plan.

Perhaps we should not have so much of an obsession with heavy users? You can bet that segment is crowded already with top players and marketing muscles. Maybe you should like at non-users. Find out what are the barriers to entry. Who are the fence sitters in this non-users category? What can convince them?

Maybe it is worthwhile to invest behind some innovation that can seduce these non-consumers into your category. You would have created a new market, maybe even a new brand to market to this category.

Who are you not paying attention to?

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Friday, June 1, 2012

Are you smart enough to time the market?

We were discussing with a client the other day on how most of his competitors are comfortable to take a wait and see attitude. The prevalent trend in the industry is to wait for someone to create an innovation, launch and educate the market before they will enter the market.

Conquer versus create.

Not a bad strategy. Let someone create a comfortable marketplace for you before you go in to grab market share or spend less on educating the market. But the challenge is this, you need to time it just right. A brand that is willing to enter virgin territory is willing to risk being rejected. So, people like my client do their best and take the risks. If they fail, they accept it.

I suspect, the rest who waits at the sidelines may not have that type of appetite for risk. So, sitting and timing the right time to enter has the same risk (if not more) as well. Time it too early the risk is the same as the innovator. Time it too late, you lose the advantage of being one of the earliest brands in the market.

Is the market waiting for you?

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