Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What are you preaching today?

“We can educate them. This is how great my product is, it will do good for their (health - or whatever, insert at will here).” We are all pretty sure your brand and product needs to be bought by everyone. Just so long as they know how good it is they will buy. 

But it doesn’t work like that.

To sell to someone, sometimes it is not about educating. You can change the word “sell” to convince, persuade, convert, whatever. If you want someone to act upon the information you gave, it is easier if what you say agrees with their worldview - meaning, what they already know and believe in. That way, it’s easier to convince them because they are less resistant to your idea. It’s in ‘agreement’ with what they already believe so it doesn’t seem like a big change that you want them to do.

What’s your mission?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Which wall would you choose?

I don’t think you can extricate “trying new things” out from the term “creativity”. That being the case, why is it that you find it so challenging when confronted with a problem that needs some creativity?

Try new things.

Creativity shouldn’t scare you. It’s always inviting you. Just like a box of crayons and the walls in the TV room invites your four year old to express herself.

Go ahead, try new things with your brand. It’s scary only because you have forgotten what it means to scribble and doodle with nary a care for the world.

What are you trying today?

Friday, July 27, 2012

What can a brand share?

I reckon if you want to make your brand personable, you can make your brand share with the world lots of things.

Share fear, share tear, share a meal, share blood, share sweat, share vision, share skills, share knowledge, share money, share thoughts, share pain, share gains, share strength, share good intentions, share kind words.

Your turn.

What would your brand share?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Which title do you seek?

You are first a son, daughter, mother, father, husband, wife, sister, brother, friend. Everything else you do help fulfill these most important titles in your life. 

Are you chasing the right title? Precisely.

When is your evaluation?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What difference does it make?

If you want your brand to make a difference, then make it a difference the consumers can feel. Otherwise, it is not considered a difference or a unique selling point. Or whatever terms you use.

Worst of all is a difference you are doing just so your competitors will feel the difference. You know if you make biscuits and you load it with 13 vitamins and 11 minerals just so you have one vitamin and one mineral more than your competitor? And you think your consumers will know the difference and you spend a huge wad of cash educating your consumers.

To differentiate means to make a difference to the consumers. When you make your brand the most relevant to the consumer, you make your competitors irrelevant.

Who are you relevant to?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How should you say it?

When it comes to pronouncing brand names the correct way, there is somewhat of a snobbishness in it all. Especially in Malaysia, I think.

If you pronounced “Louis Vuitton” with an audible "s" I am sure you will be corrected by a friend. Or "Hermes" with the "s" sound as well.

The other day, I heard on the radio a DJ corrected another when his colleague pronounced “Preve”, “pre” as in “pre-match” and “ve” as in “v”. The DJ said the correct pronunciation is “Pray” and “vay” and not "Pre-ve".

Got me thinking. Did you realize that in Malaysia, there is peer pressure to succumb you to pronounce every western brand names - and it ONLY happens to western brand names, mind you - the way it is done in its original language? You know the often used brand names like “Peugeot”. Say it like “Pew-geot” with a very clear “t” sound and watch how many will jump in to correct you.

This phenomenon stretches to names of sports stars and cities. Why the hell do we try so hard to get names like Caroline Wozniacki, Vera Zvonareva, Victoria Azarenka, but when it is Lin Dan we pronounce it like a foreigner?

If we try to pronounce every brand in its native language then we should try just as hard to say brands like “Haier” and “Mitsubishi” properly too. And correct people just as much when they say “Mit-su-bi-shi” when it should be “Mi-tze-bi-shi”. Or "Suzuki" when it should be "Sze-tze-ki". Or do you really know the correct pronunciation for "Hyundai" or "Daewoo" or "Samsung" or "Baidu"?

If we say Paris with the silent “s”, then Beijing should be “Pei-Jing” and Hong Kong as “Hiong Kong”.

Have a standard and hold to that standard fairly. 

Are you a snob even when it comes to pronunciation?

Monday, July 23, 2012

What do you need?

I am stressed. I have too much on my plate. I have too little time. I have too much work. I have no time for myself.

Turn off all your gadgets. Yup. ALL. See how tranquility sets in. You may have over estimated how much people need you. Or how much you need others.

When are you turning off?

Friday, July 20, 2012

How’s your day so far?

Things are always at a constant change. And in this change, you are always attaching yourself to what you think is positive and you want that to continue for as long as possible. But that positive whatever that you cling to will change. That is why there is so much dissatisfaction. I didn’t say this. A famous teacher said this more than 2500 years ago.

So today if you have absolutely no idea how your day will turn out or if your day sucks at this point in time? Accept the fact that you need not cling on to it – good or bad. In the next few seconds, it will change. Accept the fact that you have absolutely no idea how things will turn out no matter how positively you think. You will be OK. No need for the drama.

Just in case you are thinking I am against positive thinking, I am not. More than positive thinking, you need acceptance thinking.

How’s it going?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What would you do with the freedom?

The truth will set you free. What is the truth? That cycle? It’s called existence.

Where would you be?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How many should we have?

I did an entry on meetings recently. Thought I would add this too. Limit the number of people in meetings. Don’t have the whole gang there. It’s not going to add to the quality of the decisions made. It’s not going to add to the amount of decisions made.

Time is precious. But you already know that. So don’t use meetings to offload your insecurities, to deflect your responsibilities or manage egos. Don’t hide under ‘teamwork’, ‘pick your brains’, ‘two minds are better than one.’

The ultimate decision before the decisions in the meeting room is made - who to invite for the meeting? The less the merrier.

How long would it take?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Are you a rarity?

You will be surprised with the number of people who thinks they are both. Dictionary.com defines effective as “adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result.” Efficient is defined as “performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort.”

When you produce the intended result in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort, then you are both effective and efficient.

It’s not impossible to be both. But rare.

How common are you?

Monday, July 16, 2012

How much do you know?

It’s important to know this. "We only see what we know” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. 

Knowing this hopefully will make you want to know more, read more, see more, listen more, experience more. It will make you a better marketer. Oh, and open your mind more.

How do you know?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Why can’t you say their names?

A friend commented on his Facebook recently that so many companies refuse to say the name of a competitive brand as if it’s a taboo (not in ads but in meetings, discussions and such). Usually these companies claim that they are proud of their own product.

It’s true what he said. We have met a lot of companies like that. I am not sure what is the rationale. Why wouldn’t a company use this opportunity to demonstrate candour? A trait much needed to earn trust and build relationships?

I mean, not saying doesn't mean competitors do not exist. Not saying doesn't mean customers don’t know.

Heck in this day and age...it's just a google away.

I reckon, if you are proud then you must be good, to know you are good you must be compared to someone/something. It stands to reason you MUST have competitors direct or indirect. If you don't know, that means you have not compared. If you have not compared then how do you know you are good?

So what's it gonna be? You are good hence you know your competitors. Or you are just guessing you are good. Or you are afraid that we will find out about your competitor and reveal that you have lied?

Have you been actin’ kinda shady?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What’s the guarantee?

I don’t have an answer for this. Yeah, I know it sucks.

Even if we put the best team together, planned the best plan, took care of the potential risks, learned from previous lessons, applied what we know, thoughtful in our implementation – there is still no guarantee that it will be a success.

We like to think it will increase the chances of our success. But somewhere in there, is some form of assumption. We all make assumptions as we won’t have perfect data, complete experience. Those assumptions, those extraneous variables and the unknown (because we only see what we know, and your plans are only as good as your assumptions), that makes it risky. It makes it fun.

So long as you know, you can check off all the boxes of criteria but that doesn’t make it a guarantee card.

What’s the fun?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Are you lying to yourself?

If you are a marketer chances are you lie to yourself all the time. You say you understand building an emotional connection with the consumers is important. That you understand selling benefits is more important.

But look at your communication materials? The features are always there as main points. And it is there because deep inside, whether your consumers do it or not, you are hoping they will compare you to your competitors. And you hope that by comparing, they will know the truth that your brand is better.

What do you think they will read?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Are you a branding idealist?

I don’t think it is that bad an idea to be a branding idealist. What’s that? In my definition, a branding idealist is one that seeks to change the world with their brands. Yeah, change the world like Noble Prize winners do. That type of change.

So instead of chasing numbers, increasing market share, being top-of-mind, opening more stores, you seek to define how your brand’s purpose can cure selfishness, increase longevity, diminish loneliness, eradicate hunger.

A brand idealist makes mission statements more a mission than a statement. They write positioning statements that takes a position, not just make a statement.

Is yours the ideal brand?

Monday, July 9, 2012

What don’t you have?

I think this works for brands as well as for people.

If you don’t have enough experience, bring energy.
If you don’t have enough competence, bring curiosity.
If you don’t have connections, bring courage.
If you don’t have ideas, bring insights.
If you don’t have talent, bring tenacity.
If you don’t have money, bring audacity.

You won't always have most of the things. But you will always have something. And that is everything.

What can you bring?

Friday, July 6, 2012

How do you get there?

Embrace questions, debates, arguments. Those are the paces that take us to the edge. You don’t see it. You think it is inconvenience. But it’s a necessary journey to take us to the perimeter so you can look off the edge. If you like the view, then you have something new. If you do not like the view, then walk back. At least you have seen that view. You can decide whether you like it or not later.

So swallow that inconvenience. A bruised ego won’t kill you. It’s good for your plans. It’s a necessary journey. Even though sometimes it means walking back to where you started.

What are your options?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

So what if it is not broken?

Don’t fix it if it is not broken.

"I have a set of formula I use when I launch a product. There is a certain way I do things; I stick to it because it works." You can call it a ‘formula’, you can call it a ‘principle’ or you can call it a ‘way’.

There is nothing wrong in doing things the way you have been doing. After all, they have served you well. Heck, I have a few myself, too.

But if you seek improvements, surely those dogmas need to be challenged. Sometimes formulas work, sometimes they don’t. That’s how new formulas are created. That’s how you improve.

What should you fix?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Why just us?

An age old debate and discussion in the industry. One for which I have never gotten a good answer. Conflict of interest. You cannot handle accounts from competing companies. But why does it only affect the ad agencies? Why not the research agencies? Why not the production houses? The printer? The media like TV stations, press, radio?

Because we handle confidential information? Well, isn’t the information research agencies have also confidential? Your new campaign that is not out yet, that’s confidential but production houses that shoots your TVC knows. Even if it is out, your next campaign burst budget is known by the media you booked into, no? The printer surely has a copy of your new packaging designs. The post production house edits your TV commercial. The tapes are with the stations.

How come they are not subjected to stringent ‘conflict of interest’ ethics?

Just saying.

Why not them too?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How do you inject inspiration?

Day-in day-out you get rejection, you get anxious about what you are about to present. Doesn’t matter which side you are on. Someone always presents to someone else. When you stand up there and present or sell – as the case maybe, someone is going to buy and someone is going to reject. That’s just a cycle in your daily grind.
So how do you keep going? Inject inspiration. That’s how.

How do you inject inspiration?

Understand your subject matter. Understand your role. Understand your objective. Deep dive into the topic – you may end up loving it. See a different angle. Learn to be the best. Be wise – rejection is part of acceptance. Be brave – do things differently, adrenaline can be inspiring.

Add yours.

What’s your solution?

Monday, July 2, 2012

What is creativity?

This is a very complex question. If you google it up, Wikipedia has a very interesting entry on creativity.

Related to that is when clients say, “this is not creative.” Which begs the question, “What is creative?” If you cannot define what is creative, then how do you know this is NOT creative?

Those who have been in the industry long enough will know the typical answer you get from a client is, “Well, that’s the creative challenge.” or “Well then, it’s the agency’s challenge isn’t it?” or the greatest cop out, “It’s the agency’s job.” Or any variations of that. As varied as a Ruy Lopez openings.

Suppose the CEO tells the marketing manager that his team is not very good at looking for smarter marketing opportunities. What is a smart marketing manager to do next? Perhaps, clarify what is deemed as “smart marketing opportunities”? Or at least what is deemed as “not so smart”? Without knowing what is deemed as “smart marketing opportunities” by the CEO can the marketing manager meet the expectations of his boss?

I suppose it is the marketing manager's job and challenge to figure out what is “smart”? 

Now do you see? Your turn.

What is creative?