Thursday, October 31, 2013

What if you fail?

Well, if you fail, you fail. 

People who wanted you to fail get to laugh at you, mock you.

If winning requires taking risk, if winning requires experimentation, if being better requires failing, so get all the fails that get you better. 

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
-  Samuel Beckett 

When you are laughed at enough and mocked enough, you will grow so used to it, it won’t matter anymore. But you would be way ahead of these people.

Will they still be laughing?

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How do you get more ideas?

One way is to do this often. 

What’s stopping you?

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How do you connect?

Eventually your job as a marketer is to connect with the consumer. You build trust with great products and services you sell. And you gain their loyalty. You stay true to the values your consumers buy into. It’s a relationship you build; no different from the one you build with your friends and relatives.

So it stands to reason that how you market your products and all the sales promotions and discounts you give will have to be genuine. And sincere. And real. Not something with deception and tricks built into it, hoping that the consumers do not notice.

Why is it so difficult to be genuine in your offerings as marketers? Because as a marketer, the opposite of genuine isn’t dubious or insincere. It is greed.

What should you be cautious of?

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Do you truly understand?

“Many fail to grasp what they have seen,
and cannot judge what they have learned,
although they tell themselves they know.”

                                                - Heraclitus

What do you truly know?

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Friday, October 25, 2013

How did you kill the golden goose?

In a world where initiatives are rare, people with initiatives can be considered golden geese.

In a world where good ideas are rare, people with ideas can be considered golden geese.

In a world where good ideas, initiatives and the boldness to execute is rare; people with ideas, initiatives and the boldness to execute can be considered golden geese.

They lay the figurative golden egg.

Sometimes you don’t find many golden eggs in your company not because you do not have any golden geese.

Sometimes it is because you put butchers with sharp words as their saber in position of power. They go on a daily rampage and massacre Every. Damn. Golden. Goose. you have.

When their saber drips dry of the blood of these geese, you will have no golden eggs left.

Who is your butcher?

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Who are we individually?

I often hear from people in the industry that the good old days of agency-client relationships are gone. Where they can tear into each other’s argument for the sake of the brand and still enjoy a cold one together later.

I like to think it’s not gone. That sort of relationship takes time to build. If we collectively invest enough time to build trust, take risks together and forget who we are (i.e., you are client, I am agency) – we can fight, do good work and still have a good time together. 

Build trust then forget who you are. When we work as a team, we can conquer the market.

Who can we be collectively?

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How much have you got?

Advertising is serious business. It’s in the business of getting someone to DO something which results in the increase of market share or volume for your brand.

I get a sense that some marketers do not treat advertising as a very serious activity that they are involved in. They fail to plan. There is no strategy. They don’t fight for a budget and they don’t think through who and what their competitors will do. I can go on. But you get the idea.

They do a small activity and tout it as a campaign. Expecting good results.

If they are going to do it, they should do it seriously. Otherwise, they are failing their employers and they are betraying their professional pride (that’s assuming they are even proud to be in this line.) 

How much are you willing to give?

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Who did you do it with?

We were talking to a prospect recently about a particular challenge their brand was facing. In the discussion, we suggested a certain way of doing it and using a certain medium. 

They resisted by saying that they have tried it. The only similarity we see between what they have done and our suggestion is the medium.

The context and content of what you have tried, not to mention the expertise behind it - can make a huge difference in the results. 

Will you try it again?

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Monday, October 21, 2013

How’s your diet?

There are things you do and habits you have that will have long term effects on your health. Things like dietary habits, sleep patterns, rest periods, exercise plans. The effects accumulate over the long term and short term effects are difficult to see.

There are also things you do in your company where the long term effects accumulate and the short term gains aren’t that clear, yet. Things like research and development (R&D), training, talent recruitment and branding.

Failure to invest in good long term habits like a good diet, proper sleep and rest and a consistent exercise plan can derail your health in the long term. You may seem healthy now, but 10 years from now? How healthy would you be? Or better yet, how fit would you be?

I am sure some retort will be “I know of this and this and this company that does no R&D, gives no training to their staff and does not invest in branding and they make money and they are strong.” Just like smokers quoting people who are chain smokers and lived up to ripe old age. And to stress their point even more, mentions people who have lung cancer even though they are non-smokers. 

What’s your fitness plan?

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Have they shut up?

In the late Dr. Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture, he told of a story when he got it really bad from his football coach in a practice when he was nine. The story went like this:

“You are doing this wrong, you are doing this wrong, go back and do this again, you owe me, you are doing push-ups after practice. And when it was all over, one of the other assistant coaches came over and said, yeah, Coach Graham rode you pretty hard, didn’t he? I said yeah. He said, that’s a good thing. He said, when you are screwing up and nobody’s saying anything to you anymore, that means they gave up. And that’s a lesson that stuck with me my whole life. Is that when you see yourself doing something badly, and nobody’s bothering to tell you anymore, that’s a very bad place to be. Your critics are your ones telling you, they still love you and care.”

They, of course, can be your aunt, best buddy, consultant or dad or…

Do you want them to say something?

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

What is your fitness level?

If we have a fitness test for our competency as communicators and marketers, what would be on it?

I think we should have one.

All professionals have competency tests and some even require that they do it annually. The number of people in the industry will likely drop and maybe that is a good thing.

Soldiers have their annual physical fitness test to ensure that they are combat ready. Why do we assume that we are combat ready for our industry?

Will you pass?

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What is the objective of the feedback?

Many marketers like to ask for feedback for their communication pieces - for example an ad - internally. This is done either amongst their marketing colleagues or colleagues from other departments.

It’s a dangerous exercise even though the intention is to be safe.

“I asked around before this was signed off.” “The consensus was this.”

The people you asked? They want the safe, the tried and the tested. They don’t want to stand out. They want to be the masses. Why? They don’t want to be blamed. Neither will they get the credit if it worked.

It’s dangerous because, you do not have time to tell your colleagues the context, the objective and the strategy behind why you briefed your agency to do what they showed you, which you are now asking for feedback. You shove a piece of paper in front of them, give them a 30 seconds explanation and you expect valuable feedback. Or worse, you emailed it and said, “Tell me what you think?”

It’s dangerous because they are not the people whom it is created for.

It’s dangerous because you don’t understand why you are doing this and the repercussions of doing it. You were employed to do your job, which is to make a decision. You as the marketer in charge, take a stand, have an opinion and make a decision.

When you ask for feedback the way you do, what you are doing is shifting responsibility. Because if it fails, everybody said it would work.

If you keep asking for feedback and did what you would do anyway, then why ask? If you do not heed the feedback, eventually people will tell you what they think you want to hear. Then why ask?

“I like this, but let me ask around.” “I am not sure, but let me ask around.”

When are you going to come around?

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Are you paying attention?

You want people to pay attention. But what do you pay to get their attention?

Sometimes, it is not just about relevance. It is also about attention. Attention is time. Time is finite and priceless. When you want their attention, sometimes it is going beyond their imagination. 

How good is your imagination?

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Friday, October 11, 2013

What are you going to do?

There will always be incompetent people. There will always be decisions against what you feel should be the right decisions.

You can complain, whine and get angry. In fact, that’s what most people usually do.

If it is going to affect the output of your work, doing any of that will not help further your cause.

You cannot be responsible for incompetent people; neither can you be responsible for decisions where you have spoken your mind. 

But you can take responsibility for yourself.  You can make yourself better, better prepared, more educated for the same situation in the future.

Far too easy to get angry, complain and whine. Immensely harder to make yourself better. But far more productive in the long run.

Who is responsible?

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

How do you look?

Appreciate the mirrors in front of you.

Mirrors can come in the form of friends. Sometimes these friends can be your consultants. 

They tell you how you look - whether you like your look or not. They become your tool of reflection. But reflection can only happen when you reflect upon what you say, your opinions and decisions. And only if you see with your mind. 

You may not like them, but they are good for you. 

If you keep breaking the mirrors then one day you won’t know how you look like. 

What do you see?

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Who did you judge this for?

I didn’t do this for you. I did it for the people you are reaching out to.

You shouldn’t do this for you. You should do this for the people you are trying to convince. To follow you. To buy your product.

That is why, when you judge a piece of artwork, a visual, you say “Will my tribe like this?” If that is so, build an internal siren that goes off when your inner chatter says, “Hmmm, I don’t like this.” Or “I like this.” Because it is not about you. It’s about your tribe. 

For those of you who are already doing this, don’t be too proud. Because the risk you are doing is feeding your tribe with what they are already comfortable with. With what they already know. All this means you are not standing out.

There is a time when you can say, “I can be the one to introduce to them this, and they will like it.” Your assumptions about your tribe maybe wrong.

What will stand out?

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What is your stance?

The challenge with most people is that once they have decided they will take a certain stance, they tend to get so fearful of the repercussions that they compromise. 

Compromising takes you away from the stance you have taken. Now you have a new stance.

One that is neither your choice nor that of the people you want to please. You end up standing for nothing and you wonder why you aren’t that convincing.

We are only convinced by people who are convicted by what they believe. Not someone who has compromised. 

Where do you stand?

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Monday, October 7, 2013

How does your brand talk?

It’s always a good idea – important even - to cross check your brand’s personality and the tone and manner in which the language in your communications uses – be it an ad or wobblers.

Hugh MacLeod drew a piece with this quote back in 2006, “If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they’d punch you in the face.”  

In my opinion, it is still a very relevant quote to a lot of marketers.  

Are you offending people?

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Friday, October 4, 2013

What do you want to solve?

Without changing our patterns of thought, we will not be able to solve the problems that we created with our current patterns of thought.”  - Albert Einstein

You will agree. But you will continue to think in your current pattern of thought. 

What is the problem?

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Is it easy?

For heaven’s sake it is not rocket science.

Yeah, sure. A lot of things aren't rocket science. But that does not mean it is easy.

Frying a perfect sunny side up egg isn’t rocket science but that does not mean you don’t need expertise.

Whether it is rocket science or not depends on who is doing it.

How difficult can it be?

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Why can’t you make it?

Do you have a friend that always makes an appointment and later on cancels that appointment because something else came up? Some of us have friends like that. There is never time to meet because something just happened.

In fact, I am sure you have clients and colleagues like these too in your work life.

The reason people – and this might be you – can’t make an appointment or a meet or to be present at a dinner or attend church is because these things aren’t their priority.

People MAKE TIME for things that takes priority. When they override your appointment it means something else has taken priority.

It’s all alright if you make time for the right priorities. When you make time for what are not true priorities, that’s when your life messes up.

If it is important, MAKE TIME for it. Yes, make time. That means put that slot aside and regardless of what happens, you do that thing. 

What takes priority?

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Why would I want to listen?

I was walking pass one of these booth manned by people raising funds for a charity - the sort that gets you to pledge a certain amount each month for a year. I breezed through them trying to avoid eye contact. I was after all in a rush.

The lady, obviously well trained asked for a minute of my time. I declined with a polite, “No, I am in a rush.” She must have heard that as an excuse a million times. Except mine wasn’t an excuse. I was rushing.

On my way back, I passed by the booth again. She recognized me and did a polite, “Glad to see you again, Sir. Can I have a minute of your time?” Again I said, “No, I am in a rush.” The reply from her was “Don’t worry Sir, I am not trying to sell you anything.”

I wonder why she would think that the last line would make me stop to listen? Because she assumed most people do not stop as they thought she was selling something? And because she says it sincerely that she is not selling something, people would actually stop?

But the signs are there. There were three of them, a booth, brochures, they were stopping people. All signs points to “You are selling something.”

You won’t want to speak to me if you aren’t selling me something. 

How do you make me stop? 

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