Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Have you done your strategy?

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory; tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” – Sun Tzu.

What are your tactics based on?

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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Do you have both?

Developing a good strategy takes great wisdom.

Executing good tactics take great courage.

You need to have both to win a war. I think it works for marketing plans too.

Can you see it through?

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Monday, August 2, 2021

What are you creating?

Whether you are a founder, an entrepreneur, a marketing manager or any other employee, your number one role is to create value.

When you don’t know what value is in your context and what value you are creating; you eventually become of no value to the people you serve.

What value do you create?

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Friday, July 30, 2021

Are you stuck in the middle?

Most entrepreneurs like to price their products right in the middle. The idea that once you take the middle you can’t go wrong. But they fail to see that the middle ground is a dangerous area. It makes quality conscious consumers think it is too cheap, bargain hunters in turn think it is too expensive.

This is not to say it is entirely wrong; it is to say simple solutions may not always be so simple. Do your homework, if it indicates that’s the best price range - sure, go for it!

What are the other choices?

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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Are you saying the right thing?

If you understand how much value your product delivers but complain that the consumers are not willing to pay that price; then perhaps your challenge is in communicating that value to the consumers. You aren’t telling a compelling story that makes their willingness to pay increase. Or your product price is signaling the wrong message. Calibrate both of these and see how your profit increases.

Are you charging the right price?

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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

How did you determine your price?

If all you do is ask, "What are my costs? What returns do I want? What are my competitors doing? What is the market willing to bear?" Then you are missing the bigger picture in your pricing strategy.

The bigger picture involves you understanding your product’s (or service’s) worth to the market and being able to communicate that. That’s where the other P (i.e., promotion) of marketing comes in to secure the positioning of its worth in the consumer’s mind.

Are you leaving money on the table?

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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Do you want to increase profitability?

There are four gears you can pull in order to increase profitability. Sales, price, fixed cost and variable cost. You can increase the first two and you can decrease the last two. These will increase your profitability. Arguably, the easiest to do is increasing price but it is the one that most companies are most afraid to do.

Ever spent more time on your pricing strategy?

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Monday, July 26, 2021

Do you think you can make it up?

“I will make it back with volume.”

If you are losing 2 cents on every good sold, there is no way you can make it back by selling more. Don’t confuse “loss leaders” with making a loss. Even then I would argue that you should never make a loss on what you sell. Bare minimum, sell it at cost price if you are playing the loss leader game.

Can you lead if you are losing?

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Friday, July 23, 2021

Are you making money?

The percentage of your mark-up from the cost of your product is not your profit margin. Some of you may know that. But you will be surprised at how many so-called marketers out there do not understand this simple concept.

Most marketers tend to leave this to the finance or accounting department; when pricing is the sole determinant in the marketing mix that truly delivers profit to the business.

Just for good measure, here are some profit margin formulas you may want to get intimate with.

Take back the one responsibility that can seal your ultimate value as a marketer to the company.

What value do you deliver?

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Thursday, July 22, 2021

Can you conquer your niche?

Start with your niche. Be the big shark in that small pond. Aim to be the monopoly in the niche. If you can do that, you would have learned key lessons about your strengths to fight in a bigger pond without being eaten alive too early, or worse; drown yourself too early.

Start small and grow. There is nothing wrong with it. Nature has been doing it for millennia.

Do you want to be a monopoly?

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

How do you grow future fruits?

If you keep relying on performance marketing, the bottom of the funnel; all you are doing is harvesting the current demand.

To nurture future demand so that you have continuous fruits to harvest, spend time on the top of the funnel. The brand stuff, the omnichannel stuff. That gets you the brand fame and brand saliency. What we know, we trust better. That helps consumers click on that performance marketing ad easier when it appears.

Are you nurturing your tree?

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Monday, July 19, 2021

What is your last lap?

In a previous post we talked about price being the key determinant of your profit. So don’t be too focused on only one P in your marketing mix. Distribution is the last leg connecting your product and service to the consumer. Don’t neglect it. No, it is not true that if something is good, they will come. It’s more like, if they can’t find you, you will die.

Find multiple sources of distribution. Especially find at least one that you can be pretty good at and solidify from there. Make it strong then build others. Oh, never ever rely on one. Even if you are selling on the interweb, the rule of physical availability still rules.

Do you have the stamina for the full race?

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Friday, July 16, 2021

Are you afraid of selling?

The person who makes sales look easy took years of hard work to get there. She learned the art of persuasion, listening, empathizing. Making the buyer feel like he made the decision himself. She made it look like she didn’t sell him anything, but feel like he bought it himself.

Your marketing and advertising are mere bombers in the air. They serve a function. But at the end of the day, the infantry needs to get in and secure the land.

If you don’t see any infantry in your organization, you are the infantry.

Do you ever persuade?

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Thursday, July 15, 2021

What will blind you?

When you think you know a lot. When you feel all you know is true and correct. When you fail to realize what you don’t know and don’t bother to find out more.

You will read all these and feel that it is not you. But spend a week observing yourself talk to your family, you colleagues, your clients and your suppliers. See how many times you argue and poo-poo what they say. Fighting to be right rather than to learn.

What will enlighten you?

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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Where is your profit coming from?

Most marketers when speaking about marketing are almost always referring to marketing communications or what is called advertising generally. Sometimes, sales.

Amongst the four marketing tactical levers that a marketer can use, the ‘pricing’ P is the one that can deliver and most directly affects profitability. However, you don’t see marketing people discussing this as often as they should or be as territorial as they should over who has a strategic stake in determining the product’s price.

Shouldn’t you be looking into pricing?

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Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Who aren't you selling to?

Defining who aren’t you selling to can help you define your target, sharpen your product and get your marketing objectives correct.

Think music genres. Musicians and their marketers are excellent examples for this. They purposefully exclude groups of people from their music because they know who their music is for and who it is NOT for.

Who is it for?

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Monday, July 12, 2021

How much is it?

Of the 4Ps in your market, the price "P" is the one that can determine the profit of your company the most. If you know this, how much time have you spent on your pricing strategy?

Learn other ways besides cost plus as a way to determine your selling price. Don’t leave money on the table.

What’s your profit?

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Friday, July 9, 2021

Who's doing it?

If everyone is doing it, then it is too safe. Do something different. Yes, it is risky. But it is the safest thing to do for your business. When you do what everyone else is doing, there is no differentiation. What is not distinctive doesn’t stand out. But you already know that.

What’s making you stand out?

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Thursday, July 8, 2021

Who’s helping?


If you assume no one is coming to help you. It will force you to be creative in the solutions to your business. Now that you are limited by what you can do, what would you do?

Don’t you think you will have an answer?

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Wednesday, July 7, 2021

You found your silver bullet?


When you understand the power of complementarity in media, you will not think one medium or one type of media is the end all be all to your marketing communications objectives. Some media builds reach, others build frequency well, yet some are good conversation starters and there are those that create impact.

They all complement one another. Finding that sweet spot is your job.

Who’s on your team?

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Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Will it harm you?

New prescriptions on media or marketing can have toxic effects on your business, especially when not built on sound principles. The need for classic principles of marketing and media is ever more important in a world where noise replaces sound strategies.

Is it toxic?

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Monday, July 5, 2021

What did you pay attention to?

You can focus on all the ads that you buy, how much sales you are getting and so on and so forth. I will still tell you, you are focusing on the wrong things. If you focused on your segmentation, made a tough decision on your target and then your position, you are halfway there in getting it right. The next step would be on your marketing objectives. There is another half. But that is for another time.

Most managers and business owners tend to forget the most crucial thing on their marketing plan.

Did you see correctly?

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Friday, July 2, 2021

How do you want to be treated?

Perhaps you will never forget how people treat you now. Not even after you are dead. But how people treat you now may be how you treated them before. Instead of being angry at how you are being treated, maybe it’s better to reflect and ask, “What could I have done better?”

The treatment you have now could be people unleashing their grudges against you. Just as you are holding a grudge against them now.

Be humble when you are high and mighty. You probably forgot how you behaved when you were down and lowly. 

It’s easy to be angry but tough to admit we could have done better before.

How did you treat them?

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Thursday, July 1, 2021

Who needs to be in you?

If you are going to start a business, can I suggest this? You need these 3 parts in you. An artist, a technician and a manager.

You need the mind of an artist that strives for all the idealism without a care for budget, and can see that big hairy audacious goal you are striving for.

You need the technician to be able to handle the expertise side of things. To be really good at delivering whatever that you say you will deliver. In short, giving the best to your customers every single time.

You need the manager to be the practical person to manage the business. The finance, the accounting, the numbers, the legal, operations and a million other small details. Basically, to organize everything in order.

If you don’t have all these three parts in you, either employ or find a business partner that can make the sum of the parts work.

Where can you find them?

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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

What comes first?

Put first things first. You've probably read this in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

What comes first in your marketing planning? Think through this. Otherwise, you get seduced by the sexy, silky advertising and marketing communications bit without looking at what should be first.

Most people confuse advertising, marketing, branding and marketing communications. Just because they overlap each other doesn’t mean they are one and the same.

First things first.

Where did you start?

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Tuesday, June 29, 2021

What happens in the long term?

Don’t be too focused on one thing, whether it is media or distribution channels.

Eventually when you want to expand your reach and sustain your momentum, you will need to be open to other means of communication. For example, if you are too focused on social media to get your brand awareness up, eventually you will need other media.

Even if you are a direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand; which is the sexy bit now and I suspect for a while to come, eventually you will need more “traditional” forms of distribution when you want to expand your reach and sustain your momentum.

Eventually, what is in your arsenal?

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Monday, June 28, 2021

Why are you struggling?

Somewhere along the line you didn’t do well. Perhaps some basic foundations that needed to be set in place weren’t. So now you are paying the price of those mis-steps. All you can afford to do now are tactical executions to bring in the sales. You can never find time nor the money to do the bigger more strategic bits that can solve your problem. Survival is an issue. Someone once told me “strategy is the advantage of the rich.” Possibly true. But possibly they had the wisdom to focus on strategy early on too.

You have every opportunity to look into strategy early on and at every step of your business growth. If you don’t know how to do a strategy, learn how. (By the way, most people who talk strategy can’t even begin to explain to you what strategy is, so be aware of that.) Then apply the tactics.

Are you surviving?

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Friday, June 25, 2021

Did you put in the salt?

I fear people who say they are the “big picture” person. Almost always, almost; not always people who say that are trying to get away with attending to the details. Every master knows the big picture of their art and the minute details to get the execution to perfection. Be the big picture person that you say you are, but that should not give you permission to miss out on the little details.

What did you master?

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Thursday, June 24, 2021

What are you looking for?

Once you are on a journey to your destination, you absorb every risk and every reward that comes with it. Some rewards come at the end; others come along the way. What constitute rewards and risks, only you can answer them. No one can lead the life for you, no one knows under what context do you measure success. All journeys worth taking will demand your youth, your blood, your sweat, your tears. That’s what makes it a worthwhile journey. Otherwise, when you look back there isn’t much sacrifice to show for and hence the rewards are nothing to be proud of. All journeys worth taking swallows your youth, then spits it out in your later years. You pick those up and you talk about them because they are what people call battle scars.

Did you sacrifice your youth?

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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Who’s circling up there?

Speedy results for a long-term problem cannot happen. When you fall into a negative spiral, there are no super sonic saviours for you. Those that circle above your soon to be corporate carcass are the charlatan vultures aiming for what little flesh you have on your corporate body as your grasp for salvation. They will offer you all sorts of short-term solutions that works for a while then it will stop working. They will take what little money you have left and you will be left with grasping for other saviours.

Why are they crowding around you?

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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Is money blocking your view?

In our experience of observing clients, willful blindness can come from being too cash rich or financially strong. Money can blind management to the issues that arise. The common excuse is to explain away all the bad news, the negative signals and the internal wrong decisions. After all, the profit is there. The company is strong financially. What can be so wrong about what is being done?

This lack of self-reflection and purposeful denial lessens and discourages disciplined action, strong thinking and radical candour. Whoever that dares to bring up negativity when the numbers are good is obviously a contrarian. Whether an internal staff or an external consultant like us is seen as a negative thinker. A party pooper. Precisely the kind of news and information management needs is now silenced.

Is cash blocking your ears?

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Monday, June 21, 2021

Should you have less?

After some success, it’s common for companies to want more. After all growth means more, right? More products, more product ranges, more SKUs, more distribution, more everything and more. But growth can come from culling too. Growth can come from doing less because strategy isn’t just about where you want to do business. It’s also where you choose NOT to do business.

Learn from both the evergreen and deciduous trees. They shed their leaves so they can grow bigger and better. Some totally according to the season, some gradually in the case of the evergreen. But they grow by shedding their leaves and in accordance to what the tree can sustain and grow. Imagine the tree growing more and more leaves every year without shedding any leaves.

Do you want more?

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Friday, June 18, 2021

Is your success making you fail?

The success that you enjoy now can blind you to the seeds of failure. It usually begins when you attribute the success to the way you do things. That you know and can pinpoint the patterns rather than the understanding of why you did them. When you understand the why of you doing them, it also allows you to understand why and when they won’t work.

Are the seeds sprouting yet?

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Thursday, June 17, 2021

How do you move forward sometimes?

In life as in business, we must balance positive actions and pessimistic thoughts. One leads us to hubris, the other leads us to a mental hell. Somewhere in between what Jim Collins would call Positive Paranoia allows us to be mindful of what can knock us off-track and knowing that; put in place positive actions. He called it Disciplined Action. While his research is in companies, the thinking doesn’t differ when we manage our life as well.

What can hold you back?

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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

How is your spine?

The backbone of your strategy is your segmentation, your target and your positioning. Know who are the segments in your market, decide who you want to target and know how you will occupy their mind with the story about your brand that you want to tell versus your competitors.

Then put these together to form your marketing objectives. Now ask, what tactics can I implement to deliver on these objectives. Those tactics are your 4Ps. Do you create a new product? Do you need to revise your pricing? Perhaps your distribution needs improvement? What about your integrated marketing communications? These are the tactics.

Don’t use tactics to fix your strategy. Your tactical gears are there to help speed you to your objectives. If you keep playing with your gears without having a map and a destination you want to go, you are just wasting fuel and creating a gearbox problem for the future.

Are you getting there yet?

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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

How much paracetamol have you taken?

When your business is in dire straits, it is difficult to get you to look into your strategy. You are looking for symptomatic relief. No one can blame you. But you need to have the wisdom and awareness to know when these symptomatic relief tactics need to stop.

Sure, that sales funnel strategist (I want to say “tactician” but they like to be known as “strategist”, so “strategist” it is) can bring you the sales for a while. It will create the hubris for a while and you will think all is fine. Then the sales dwindle again. Then the email marketing strategist (yes, they too want to be known as “strategist”) will come and your sales will be boosted again. Then slide again.

Your fundamental issue is a strategy issue. Not a tactical one. Going on to fix your tactical issues isn’t going to fix your problem. Contrary to what you think, it isn’t buying you time. It is wasting your time.

You are better off biting the bullet. Face the pain and fix the real problem. Diagnose with certainty. Strategize with clarity. Then implement with conviction.

Are you looking for symptomatic relief?

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Monday, June 14, 2021

Where should you retreat?

Whenever you find that your plans are not working, go back to your strategy. It’s usually not the tactical parts that are at fault. Something is wrong with the strategy somewhere. Always diagnosis first, strategy second and tactics last. So don’t go fixing your product or pricing or ads when you haven’t diagnosed it.

Where did your problem arise? How did it arise? Why so? Then do some research about it. Now look at the consumer segments and the target and your position. Are all these aligned? Only when you know all these should you ‘fix’ the tactical parts of your 4Ps.

Retreat to your strategy. See the bigger picture then execute.

How far ahead can you go?

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Friday, June 11, 2021

What will be next?

Chase your dreams but face the facts.

In the face of a crisis, be bold enough to face the brutal facts. It may mean you have to let some people go, shrink the business, cut some product lines and even more painful decisions. Facts allow you to make sound decisions. Without facts, your reality may be blurred.

Chase the dream still. Dreams give you hope.

Take the facts, make some decisions, chase that dream. Then stick to the path and believe in your plan.

How will you take the next step?

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Thursday, June 10, 2021

What should you work on?

I would suggest since you are reading this blog, to master marketing. I mean truly understand marketing. Know the difference between, marketing, advertising, communications and branding. Dive into the art and science of marketing. I find it crazy that people talk about a subset of marketing communications like social media as if it is marketing. Well, it is a subset of a bigger picture but it is not marketing. Unless you understand the bigger picture, you will always be playing in a very small field and thinking that the little skills you have in a small promotion “P” is marketing. Philip Kotler calls people like you “the one P marketer.”

What do you know?

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Wednesday, June 9, 2021

What should you stop?

The slowdown in business now allows you to take time off to rethink and get strategic clarity on your next steps. You probably already know this; but worth reminding. You don’t need to wait till the end of your financial year to start thinking. Any time is a good time to start.

Think through, what about your marketing plan do you need to revise? I would start with some form of market orientation as this takes time. Do some research on your market, your consumers, revisit your consumer segmentation. Do this if you have not done consumer segmentation for the longest time. Now as yourself, are there new and interesting targets within this segment that presents new opportunities? Are there targets that you should drop? Perhaps a better target has emerged that gives you opportunities for growth?

Looking into new market data, revisit my consumer segmentation and re-evaluating my target choices would be things I would start with during this lull.

What should you start?

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Tuesday, June 8, 2021

How affected are you?

You are only disrupted when you aren’t prepared. To be prepared, you can learn from past lessons. You can build reserves. Reserves in financial form, in human resource, in time and in energy. Reserves that can help you buffer for any form of disruption. Asking “what if?” in good times helps prepare you for disruptions. Having a siege mentality helps. Be a little paranoid but do not be paralyzed by it. Turn that fear into action and disruption can be mitigated.

How stable can you be?

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Friday, June 4, 2021

Where do you start?

Diagnosis before strategy. Strategy before tactics. Everything builds itself on a foundation. The foundation of your tactics goes right back to the diagnosis.

A lawyer can’t fight your case without understanding the background and everything about the case you brought to her. A doctor can’t prescribe the best treatment for you without first diagnosing your illness and your well-being.

Understand the game. Then decide how you will play the game. Then execute the game plan.

What will the result be?

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Thursday, June 3, 2021

Where is the bottleneck?

Chances are either not enough number of people know about your brand or not enough people can get to your product.

Why aren’t your sales growing?

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Wednesday, June 2, 2021

How will you be threatened?

Simple. Get some of your best people into a room. Tell them they now will get to start a start-up that will do exactly what your company is doing and beat you at it. What will they do? Perhaps you need a few days of away day weekend to do this. This exercise will not only reveal your vulnerabilities but also projects you could be pursuing.

Where are you most vulnerable?

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Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Do you have a work from home culture?

Funny, people don’t talk much about company culture now that most people tend to want to work from home. To me a team that doesn’t work physically together for a sustained period of time will create misalignment. The turnaround to check an idea that you have, ask for a fact, an opinion. Grabbing lunch together, a beer or a teh-tarik; these are the things that forge a company culture.

Face to face meets allow for reading gestures and intention. It helps us release oxytocin; yes, the same hormones released when you cuddle your love ones. It helps build trust. The hormone your company needs to build a strong company culture.

Do you have a family culture?

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