Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Are gadgets ruling you?

Tools are there to help you with tasks. Make it easier for you. Not rule you.

Your mobile phone, cell phone or hand phone or whatever you choose to call it – is a tool. Do not let it rule you

You can apply this to any tool, technology or software or propriety process you use. You are there for a reason. Provide for the human touch, experience and wisdom. Stuff things cannot do.

Be human. Be a manager. 

Don’t let an inanimate object run your life. Or make decisions for you.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How do you cut the drama from your life?

By telling yourself that maybe not everything that happens to us is such a big deal. Things like the screw-up of a colleague, the delay in an answer, unexpected morning traffic, coffee that is too acidic for your liking. Small things need not sour everything.

That’s one way to cut the drama.

Monday, December 29, 2014

When is it good enough?

Good enough is good enough. There is no need to be great in a single leap. A lot of greatness comes from sustainable efforts of good enough.

Good enough is a series of ascending stepping stones to greatness. So long as you remember that, then good enough is good enough. Go make another good enough that is better than the previous good enough.

Is your greatness sustainable?

Friday, December 26, 2014

How can you improve?

Don’t just obsess with the competition. Be obsessed with what you can do to improve yourself - whether “you” are a company or a person.

If you can squeeze in a personal best every year, the compounded improvement across the years can be very significant.

Where can you improve?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Can you be nicer?

We all expect customer service people to be nice. I think that is a fair expectation. However, as customers we can always spare a thought for the person behind the counter, the line or behind the computer. Especially during busy times like Christmas season. A short phrase of appreciation like, “I am sure it must be tough for you guys near the holiday season, I really appreciate what you are doing for me” can help melt away all the frustrations they feel. 

My friend Derek Sivers has this video that brings the message home.

How do you spread some cheer?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Where are you flying?

If your marketing plans aren’t flying after you put financial and human resources behind it, then maybe it is time to rethink.

Is this a case of lots of petrol but no pilot? Someone has to drive the plans. Deploy the resources. Maybe you lack that person. Especially if you are the boss and you are doing it yourself. You are better off paying someone with the passion and skills to drive the plans.

How long can you hold on?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Are you a guru?

There are so many gurus now-a-days for the myriad of fields you can conjure.

Many of these gurus call themselves guru for whatever is their reason.

Real gurus do not call themselves guru. It’s a title they earned from their crowd. By teaching them something of value that not many others are able to do.

If you have to call yourself guru, it is likely you are not one.

Where do you find gurus?

Friday, December 19, 2014

How do you know you are committed?

When you do not give yourself excuses attaining your objective.

When nothing holds you back, there is only a single minded pursuit of what you want.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

How good are the coaches?

Do coaches have to be better than their players at playing the game? Whatever game. No. Then why would you expect your manager to be better than you in EVERY skill?

When you start to question every skill your manager has and compare them to yours, you may be missing on what is your true role.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What is the right thing to do?

Increasingly I believe that when  people with experience delay a decision it is not because they do not know what to do, or do not have the data. They lack guts. 

When courage is short in supply, decisions get delayed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Are they in the right positions?

Just because someone can dribble the ball around and shoot it decently doesn't mean he is a good soccer striker.

The people who end up in your marketing department by design or default may not be the best marketing candidates for their marketing positions.

They need to have good marketing skills to fulfill their role professionally.

If your marketing department aren't scoring goals and top of the league table, perhaps it’s time to think about who is playing what positions?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Did you hire wrongly?

We all make mistakes including hiring the wrong candidate. What’s important is to realize the mistake early and not make a second one by keeping that candidate.

More embarrassing than hiring the wrong candidate is keeping the wrong one.

Can you fire too early?

Friday, December 12, 2014

What are you arguing?

If you say you have a deep understanding of a subject – say marketing or branding – I would submit to you that you need to have substantial experience, being well-read and researched on the subject. Otherwise, you cannot claim that.

And if you want to argue your points, then debate it intelligently like good scientists do.

Debating intelligently is a critical skill regardless of your field. If you have any respect at all for your profession, you need to up the knowledge in your subject matter, gain experience and synthesize them for your own informed point of view.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What will give you power?

Food for thought (and power) - when you swallow your own pride, it gives you limitless power.

The secret to unlocking that power is only reserved for those who know how to digest it.

How full of yourself are you?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

What’s the plan?

There are no two ways about it. You want to grow your brand, you need to have a plan, invest your money in advertising (yes, spend some money), review your plan (yes, measure your executions), and be consistent (yes, keep doing).

Sure, some people will want you to believe that you can do branding for cheap. Free, even. Sure there is a place for that as long as you measure it against your objective.

If your branding efforts are cheap and free, you need to ask yourself – what can I achieve with it realistically? What is the time frame? What is the effort involved? If you are willing to pay the price – yes, everything has a price even when it is free – sure congratulations. 

But still, you have to have a plan, invest your time and effort (which means opportunity costs), review your plan and be consistent.

Monday, December 8, 2014

What did they do?

If you ever catch yourself thinking “all of a sudden” followed by some kind of success someone enjoys, then please follow up that thought with “what hard work must have gone behind it.

All of a sudden that brand is so big.
All of a sudden he is so rich.
All of a sudden the Berlin Wall fell.
All of a sudden she is so famous.

What are you willing to do?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Why do you fear missing out?

FOMO – Fear of Missing Out.

Why do you fear that when at any point in time you can only attend to one thing? If you are in constant fear of missing out, you miss out on living in the moment. Now, that is fearful.

What do you have now?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

How rational are your consumers?

Most marketers know consumers aren't as rational as you like them to be. If they are, you would list all the benefits and features (or as an ex-client of mine says “benefeatures”) and you would sell truck loads of whatever you are selling.

The product with the most features would be the best seller. 

Yet, knowing this some marketers still insist on fighting the “most features on my product game.”

That in itself is not a very rational decision.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What is your expertise?

There are clients who like to do everything in-house. Cheaper they say.

Doing things in-house that is not in your area of expertise is an expensive exercise.

Focus your time on being the best expert in your field. Use finite time wisely. 

Go be the best cook. Let the designers help you with the menu design.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Why should I listen to you?

No you shouldn't. You should listen to yourself.

What you know, what you don’t know, what you think you know. These you already know. Some you may not know

My narrative merely pokes you to ask questions so you would listen to yourself. Don't worry too much about what I tell you. Worry whether you can hear yourself. When you are deaf to your own voice, that's when you become blind.

Can you hear yourself?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Do they trust you?

I have a client who made this remark to me - in rebuttal to a case I presented to support our proposal to him, “Oh, that brand is driven by promotion.”

Of course, he doesn't know much about THAT brand I mentioned. It was through casual observation that he caught the promotions that were running. That rebuttal was just to shut the consultants up so that the plan he conceived can go ahead instead of ours.

Like a wise Zen master, we shut up.

THAT brand, your brand, your competitor’s brand is driven by TRUST. If the consumers do not trust your brand, you can have it at any price, any discounts, and any amount of bells and whistles and it still wouldn't sell. 

How much trust have you built?

Friday, November 28, 2014

How to avoid office politics?

Especially when it becomes too thick. Leave.
Same for when you work for a toxic boss. Leave.
Yes, you have a choice. Just make the decision to leave. 

Yes, you have a choice. Stop arguing.
Get some balls. Yes, you have a choice.

How do you deal with the asshole?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Where is the applause?

Marketing veterans or virgins often behave like authors after a book is launched. They wait for the accolades, the recognition and the reviews. But more often than not, there is silence. No one cares except for you. 

So what do you do? Well, do what you do best. Start on the next campaign. Because starting the next campaign makes you get better at your art – marketing. Some campaigns do well, others don’t. Not every book is a best seller. Heck, many authors go through life without a best seller. That doesn't make them lousy authors

As Steven Pressfield advises all authors, “Start the next one tomorrow.”

When are you starting the next one?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What is important to you?

If it is important, attend to it. Put urgency into things of importance. But don’t confuse urgency with importance.

Things screaming of urgency may not be important. Learn to know the difference.

What’s sapping your energy?

Monday, November 24, 2014

What do you focus on?

Business people, managers, entrepreneurs have a million small things yelling for their attention. Of course, everything is important and you only have so much time and energy to focus your time and effort.

Hence, choose wisely. What you put your effort into and invest time and money will bring results.

If branding is important, park time aside for it, put the right people to assist you, invest money. 

You, of course, already know that.

What is important to you?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Are you doing what you do best?

The challenge for managers with good experience and success is to waddle beyond the known. If you keep sticking to what you know will bring results based on previous experience, you are likely to get good results. Because that is what experience teaches you

Getting great results and better experience then depends on you getting into the unknown. Embracing the fear factor. Risking failure. Building on what you know to add new experience and better success.

What new things can you teach yourself?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Are you thinking outside the box?

First you must know where is the box, how big is the box and what in fact it actually boxes in.

Otherwise, how would you know how to think outside the box?

How about thinking inside the box?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What matters?

The ignorant wants to do everything. Only the wise know what to ignore. Knowing what doesn’t matter gives you time and energy to truly focus.

What doesn’t really matter?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

When do you leap?

Sure small steps get you there. But sometimes in life as well as in business, a small step just doesn’t work. What may be needed is one big leap.

How far can you jump?

Monday, November 10, 2014

How much do you think you know?

“The less people know, the more stubbornly they know it.”  - Osho

How much do you truly know?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How about a competition of ideas?

When a discussion and debate about how to make your plans or brand better, welcome it sincerely. Because it is only through this that a better idea will be distilled out of the supposed chaos.

The sad thing is that most people do not like debates and discussions. They think they are having a debate or a discussion but what they are really doing is talking to themselves as they rubbish off everything that the other party is saying.

Learn to allow the perspective other than your own. If you truly believe in the merits of your idea or what you believe, then let it stand against an opposing idea.

Don’t bulldoze your way or mask the discussion as seeking the other party to ‘validate’ your ideas and beliefs. Aim to have an honest conversation of opposing ideas and not one of brute discussion of one sided view. 

Clients especially have to be very careful of this. You have the power to decide. Use that power to make things better, not just to decide what you want.

Have you heard yourself lately?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Friday, October 31, 2014

What do you make time for?

We meet with a fair bit of prospects wanting to pursue the tedious process of branding. They know a strong brand brings lots of benefits to their business. One key challenge for these people is that they do not invest time into the process. Just as you invest time into operations and logistics and finance and everything of a business concern, you need to allocate time for branding. When branding is a by the way activity, you get a stunted brand. 

Park time aside for branding just like you park time aside for other aspects of your business.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What are the assumptions you make that are no longer true?

You must have some. Come up with a list.

That should guide your decision making and make some crucial turning points.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why don’t you strip?

Because too much too early leaves the Agency hungry.

Sorry, we don’t give things away for free.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Did you say “thank you”?

Say “thank you”. It’s the easiest way to show gratitude. Say it sincerely every time someone makes it convenient for you to accomplish your task. No matter how small the task is.

Even if you paid them to do something, say thank you when they did a good job. Because you know money isn’t everything.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Can you corner the market?

Of course you can. But first, make sure there is a market for the better mouse trap that you have. You can create the ONLY product in its category and you may think, this is going to corner the market, but it doesn't happen like that. That’s why many people who have launched wonderful gadgets fail. 

To corner the market, first make sure there is a market for your mouse trap.

Creating something that the market doesn't want leaves you in a corner.

What do you have in your head?

Friday, October 24, 2014

What did you do for the rest of the day?

If you engaged a personal trainer at the gym with the objective of helping you lose weight and at the end of the program you have not lost any weight, what do you do? Most people would blame the trainer or the program.

Perhaps, the few almost extinct objective humans would sit back and say, “I workout 2 days a week for 1 hour with the trainer but for the rest of the 23 hours I eat crap, sleep late, down fermented hops drink that are laden with empty calories, surely it is not the program or the trainer’s fault.”

So, now you got yourself a brand consultant. You have bought a few hours of their time. They gave you a program; they taught you how to do it. But for the rest of the 23 hours, you did not sort out your price, your distribution, you crappy sales team, your uncooperative operations director and your ill-educated marketing team.

How much weight do you want to lose?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Is traditional media or social media better?

The right tool for the right job is the answer. The right tool is the one that will complete the task in the most effective and most efficient manner. 

Look at the campaign you are running, the objective you want to achieve, the budget you have, then consider the human resources that you can dispense. 

Even before all these, as a manager your question should be are you good with the fundamentals of these media? Unless you know what tool is best for which job, you will never know which tool is better. 

Because answering which tool is better depends on what job needs to be done and who is doing the job.

Who’s the one doing the job?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How many choices do you have?

The more variety you have, the more you should focus. Variety is seductive. It takes your eyes off the basic stuff that works. Too many varieties can mean losing focus.

Focus on the fundamentals. They bring results. That’s why they are called fundamentals.

What are the fundamentals?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Who screwed up?

We all did. All of us, one time or another. There is no need to be too upset. Some learn best by screwing up. Others need multiple screw-ups to learn.

Just remind yourself, screw-ups are lessons. For you, for them, for everyone.

It’s OK to make mistakes. Just make it a valuable lesson.

Who learned something?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Do you have a marketing team?

A non-exhaustive list but you can start with these. A good marketing team should at the very least understand and apply these concepts:
  • The brand, the process of branding, the business the company is in, the role a brand plays.
  • The marketing 4Ps. Just four. I know there are a gazillion other Ps others will convince you is important. Let’s start with four; the rest will fall in place. We can add the QRSTUV...later.
  • The category and what makes it tick. Key sales divers, key motivators of the consumers.
  • The consumers and their various segments. What makes them buy this category of products you sell?
  • The principles of communication.
  • The role of the various mediums, what it can do, what it can’t and when to use what?
If they don’t know all these, replace them. Yes, fire them. Or get someone who at least knows these things. Otherwise you are wasting your money.

Is branding for you?