Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Are your fundamentals right?

If you come from my generation, marketing is just the 4Ps. Later, when I entered the industry I hear people talk about however many Ps and what not.

There were a few seminal books on marketing and advertising. If you read those, understood them and somewhat guided by them, you turned out OK; whether in the marketing department of some MNCs or ad agencies.

Somewhere along the line I think we lost the plot. Bookshelves of marketing started to resemble the cereal aisle of a hypermarket. Each shouting a different flavor, variant and taste. Some are junk. Some grounded on the same basic ingredients labelled differently.

If you are a marketer today, you should hunt down those seminal works on marketing and advertising before foraging into the wilderness of ‘modern marketing’ (if there is even such a thing.) Get your basics right.

It’s like getting your ABCs right before reading. 123s right before counting. 

Basic kicks, punches, stances, throws, grapple, locks and blocks exists in all martial arts. They may call them differently, but without these no self defense art is worth your time.

There is no need to keep adding ‘new thoughts’, ‘new programs’ into your marketing program until you have got the fundamentals right. Be patient, put in the good fundamentals, and stay loyal to it. Let the results show before you start tinkering with it. Don’t conclude too soon that it is not working for you. Determine your fundamentals, get good at it and give it time to work.

Are you sticking to the fundamentals?

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What does quality look like?

If you are a marketer, you should have an insight into what drives the companies that makes things or provide the services. Couple with the fact that you are also a consumer; you should at least use the power and knowledge you have to shape the type of businesses you want to see happen in your world.

Use your money wisely, buy things that have quality. Support services that are impeccable. Write compliment letters when the service is great. Not just complain when service is poor. Choose great over good and good over garbage. 

Every cent you spend crafts the business world.

What are you buying today?

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Whose attention do you want?

Over the weekend, one of the leading brands of instant noodles in Malaysia won one of the best brand awards to be won in Malaysia. It’s a people’s choice award which no money can buy.

Interestingly, along with this award they also garnered a good review from an overseas instant noodles reviewer and ended being rated top ten in the world. Surely that must be something to shout about.

Even more interestingly, there are congratulatory ads from a state government, a global football team and their ad agency for their win and the rating.

All things considered, I would not have mentioned the rating by an instant noodle blogger (ok, reviewer) albeit he is foreign based and seem to be a expert in his food category. Mainly because they did not garner a top spot in the review – in fact, the bottom half of a top ten list – and a competitive brand actually got the number one spot.

The brand that got the number one spot currently has a cult following. I have heard people queue for it where it is available in the early days. They do not have big budgets for A&P. And like all brands with a cult following, word of mouth does the job for them. Plus, the word of mouth is doing a good job.

Now, with these congratulatory ads driving traffic to this instant noodles review site the brand on the number one spot will get free publicity. People who once did not know of their existence will now look for it. The best thing is that, those who make the effort to go to this site are all consumers who are interested in the category. 

I believe every brand has the right to be proud of their achievement. But in the din of celebrations, one must ask – what is the objective? What is the best way of achieving that objective? Otherwise, you may end up doing your competitor a favour.

Are awards glitters blinding you?

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Friday, April 25, 2014

How do you move forward?

Rewire yourself.

Master your mind so that it can slave your muscles into action. As motivation drops, the only thing that separates you from your goal is how your mind is wired.

You are what you think. Believe that you can rewire.

What is holding you back?

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Do you fear doing the right thing?

Sometimes when you are doing the right thing, you seem to be gripped by fear. This is insane if you think about it. 

Rewire yourself. Doing the right thing should be met with feelings of optimism, courage and strength. Not fear. Don’t listen to the lizard brain.

If it is the right thing to do, do it. Do it with fervor and conviction.

Why should you fear doing the right thing?

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What answer do you want?

Some people live their lives getting answers they want by asking as many times as possible to as many people as possible till they hear what they want to hear.

When that fails, they reframe the question. Or they ask a series of leading questions to get the answers they want.

Their questions may be answered. But I am not sure if that is the answer.

Is the answer you want the real answer?

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Who are you fighting?

The video below may be related to fitness. But you can relate it to anything that you pursue. Whatever your art is – sports or otherwise. The enemy has a name and Steven Pressfield named that enemy in his book The War of Art.

Find your greatness. Fight resistance.

Whose opinion do you listen to?

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Who should you work with?

So much have been said about working in a team or a partnership and how to make it work. Some people believe in having like-minded people on board. It seems that makes things easier. You are on the same wavelength so to speak.

Others purport that there should be diversity. Differences in the way each individual members look at things and works give you better results.

Regardless of whom you work with - harvest the richness in the differences, reap the fertility in similarities. These can only work if you compromise. And that seems to be a bad word now-a-days. As if one who compromises lacks principles. 

Compromising moves things forward. What’s not to like about furthering a cause, no matter how big or small?

What is your end goal?

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Where would you be?

If you made small marginal 1% improvements in the things you do – doesn't matter what they are, they be could habits, lifestyle, marketing, whatever – everyday, where would you be in a year’s time? In two year’s time, so on and so forth?

Dave Brailsford, General Manager and Performance Director for Team Sky (Great Britain’s professional cycling team) referred to this as the aggregation of marginal gains.” Using this ‘principle’ he helped Sir Bradley Wiggins, the first British rider to win the Tour de France medal in 2012.

There is a similar thought in the Chinese saying, “不怕慢 只怕站.” Translated to mean, “Do not be afraid of going slowly, be afraid of stopping.”

How much progress can you make?

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

What keeps you up at night?

Sure you can think about that question. But it is one that will likely lead you to things you worry about. That leads you to a sleepless night - worrying.

A better question to ask yourself is “What gets you up in the morning?”

That drives your focus. The things you can ACT on. That question probably brings better brings results.

What gets you up in the morning?

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Who’s on the other side?

Automated responses, answering machines, music on hold and such are usually an attempt by someone to engineer the process of customer service.

When your business tries to engineer the process to make it better, who are you making it for? The consumer or your business?

Engineer the experience. Not the process. When you look at the process, you are serving your business interest. When you engineer the experience, you are improving the consumer’s experience.

Who are you fixing it for?

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What’s your reward?

Sometimes there are no maps to show you how to get to your destination. Yes, there may be similar routes and similar travelers. But they are not the same. You know. Sure there are learnings you can glean from them. But they are not the same. You know.

Given this, of course, the journey will be a lot more challenging. However, it is immensely more rewarding to discover new paths. And a priceless gain of discovering yourself.

How do you get there?

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Monday, April 14, 2014

How did you reach out?

Face-to-face is preferred to phone calls.

Phone calls are preferred to emails.

Emails are preferred to SMS, Whatsapp, whatever.

Put a face to it; if that’s not possible then at least put a voice to it.

A lot are lost when you communicate without the human elements of facial expressions, voice and body language.

Did they get the message?

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Who should change?

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy.

Why should you change?

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

And what did you do with it?

You read the inspiring book. You dissected the case study.

You envy the manager that quit and became an artist by the beach.

You love what others do with their brands.

All the talk, thoughts and feelings from being inspired by whatever just leads to lies being told to yourself or disappointment further down the road if it is not followed with action.

Are you just going to sit there?

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How valuable is your time?

If it is worth doing, do it well and excel in it. Whether you like to do it, love to do it, or hate it. If it’s worth your time, do it with excellence. Otherwise you are wasting your time and everyone else’s. 

Forget about the relationship you have with what needs to be done and how well you do it. Instead, think about whether you are investing your time in it. If you are, then do it well.

Let’s face it, there are buckets of things out there that you hate to do but you still have to do them well or face the consequences.

Why do something you hate well?

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What do you want to learn?

Sometimes young executives repeat in interviews the fact that they want to learn and are willing to learn so many times that it scares me.

I have seen people who say they want to learn but when things are being taught, they do not even know it.

The adage that the teacher appears when the student is ready is true.

Don’t expect things to be taught a certain way, what you should be taught and how you should learn it. When your mind is closed, how can you be taught? Much less learn something new?

Purposeful teaching cannot happen when there is no mindful learning.

How should you be taught?

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Who are you reaching?

A captive audience does not equate a consuming market.

Sure you can talk about conversion rates, we know that. A ginormous figure for the captive audience with a small percentage of conversion is all you are looking for and that can help you achieve your objective. 

Often times, people who quote captive audience figures tend to forget relevance and insights. As if the numbers will justify everything. Throw in terms like “long tail” and they think they have a business model. 

Translating a captive audience into a consuming market takes more than numbers and gumption.

Who is buying?

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Which will make the difference?

Eventually all companies will find this junction in the yellow woods of business. And they will know they cannot travel both. Each has its share of successes and failures.

Did you look down one as far as you could?

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What fancy stuff do you want to learn?

As a student, we all want to progress to more impressive things - to do the fancy stuff. Sometimes, teachers and coaches get influenced too. They too want to teach the fancy stuff.

Why not? On the one hand the students want it and on the other the teacher gets to show off. Or at least, the class becomes interesting for both.

It takes truck loads of discipline for both to stick to the basics; knowing one will fall off and the other being accused of spending too much time on stuff that is supposedly boring.

It doesn’t matter what you are learning or teaching - golf, music, mix martial arts, reading, riding, driving or marketing – excelling in the basics is the foundation for the fancy schmancy stuff.

Did you get the basics right?

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

What else do you need?

Creativity is your asset. Sure. Great.

Now let’s see your stamina.

Why do you need other things?

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