July 17, 2012

Are you a rarity?

Effective and Efficient. 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?
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?
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 […]
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 […]
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?
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 […]
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?
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 […]
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. […]
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 […]
July 3, 2012

How do you inject inspiration?

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 […]
June 29, 2012

What are you here for?

How do you authenticate your existence to those around you daily? From your family, to colleagues – boss and staff, to friends and those you are in contact with? Act your role. That’s how you authenticate your being. To act your role, you must know your character well. And we all have multiple roles we play daily. Some roles are easier than others. But ALL need an in-depth understanding. When you do not act your role, people will not only treat you as a fake, they will KNOW you are a fake. How real can you be?
June 28, 2012

How big is your mouth?

Sure, everyone is entitled to their opinion. But whether the opinion carries weight depends on the expertise of the person. Which means the person have the skills and knowledge to back up that opinion. If the answer is yes, well then we commonly refer to it as an expert opinion. People pay attention to it. We give it credence. If the person giving an opinion does not have the expertise then it’s just as good as my comments while watching America’s Cup. I can’t tell cheese from chalk when it comes to yachts. Much less watch a race about it. […]
June 27, 2012

Is it alive?

Much has been written about how brands can connect. Experts talk as if there are some special formulas – social media, relationship marketing, event marketing, and engagement strategy. Big words and it is not wrong. You can add yours. To get into the life of the consumer means the brands have to be alive. And to be alive means the brand has to be there. Best when you as a brand are unexpected to. Better if you are where the consumers want to find you. Good if you considered appearing where you are expected. Are you bringing it to life?
June 26, 2012

What’s your dream?

June 25, 2012

Did you bring home the bacon?

June 22, 2012

What should you say?

If you are invited to a meet and you feel you have nothing better to add in the meet? Asked to be excused. People will respect that. Refrain from going into a meet and struggle to sound smart. Pressured to say something so you do not appear as the only person not saying anything. And if you are in a meet, not adding value then you are better off outside doing real work. The thing is, saying something can be saying nothing. Especially, when you are just parroting – you know take something someone else said and add a few […]
June 21, 2012

Are you doing well?

It’s so easy to be complacent when your market shares are way up there and sales figures are sky rocketing. It’s easy to be lost in lots of cash. Cash can buy you a lot of excuses and blankets to hide in. If you are an entrepreneur, the reality can hit you pretty fast. When the phone stops ringing, the pipeline of prospects get shorter and when Bill keeps calling but Cash rarely do. But what if you are the marketing manager? You are only an employee. Hey, why not ride the surf when it’s up? After all, all you […]
June 20, 2012

When do you pick a fight?

How often is it that you get to have a good argument with a client and still share a beer together after that? We have not had that for a long while. Perhaps we are to be blame. Maybe it is huge client egos now-a-days. The nice professional clients who can hold a debate, argue professionally and be intellectually stimulating are far and in-between. Last week, we had a good argument with a client of ours. We put forth our points and he put forward his. We did not agree to all. But we were clearer. He even offered to […]
June 19, 2012

Who’s making a list?

There will always be opportunities to look smarter in front of your colleagues. It is fine to look smarter or position yourself to be more intelligent than others. But do not do it at the price of insulting another person. Even if that person reports to you. Putting someone down doesn’t add to your intelligence. There are other metrics people measure your competence at work. Being nice is one of them. I have heard so often from the office assholes that they are paid to do the job. They aren’t paid to be nice. Funny. No one paid them to […]
June 18, 2012

Do you know?

All-knowing leads to not knowing. What do you know?
June 15, 2012

How do you know?

“How?” is the next most important question after “Why?” How can we improve? How did we end up here? How can we reach our goal? How is our marketing campaign doing? How can we explore this market? How will we be perceived if we did this? How can we convince you? How do you know you are right? How would you know?
June 14, 2012

Which would you rather do?

If you have to make a bet that has a 90% probability of making RM5000 or one that has a 50% chance of making RM12500, you are likely to bet on the first option. That is the one with high probability of getting RM5000. The reason is explained in the seminal paper called The Prospect Theory:An Analysis of Decision Under Risk by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky published in Econometrica in 1979. Download and read the original paper if you want. It went on to win a Noble prize in Economics though the scientists were psychologists. It was for their […]
June 13, 2012

Who do you think you are?

It’s interesting isn’t it? Ad people think they understand or should understand every ad out there. If they don’t get an ad? They disparage it. There is nothing wrong if you do not understand an ad. Just because you are in advertising doesn’t mean you need to understand it. Really it’s OK. It doesn’t reflect on your capability. Remember how you presented an ad to your client and he said he did not understand it but you said, “It’s OK because you are not the target market. Your target market would get it. See if you don’t get it? It’s […]
June 12, 2012

Is it dead yet?

Every other day we hear declarations about mediums and media that are dead. The TV is dead, the print is dead, blogging is dead, email marketing is dead, advertising is dead (how many times have we heard that?) Some media dies every day. So, what’s the definition of dead? When and who has the authority to declare a medium or media dead? Your consumer and your accountant. They are the ones with the authority to declare to you that a particular media is dead. When your consumer stops using that media? It’s dead. It may very well be a thriving […]
June 11, 2012

What should you have today?

How do you choose which social media to use? It still goes back to marketing strategy. Or media strategy if you prefer. Just because it’s new to you does not have to confuse you. Choose it based on how you would plan your marketing strategy and media strategy. Who are your consumers? Where are your consumers? Why do you want to use this medium? What is your objective? When is the best time to use it? How should you deploy it? For heaven’s sake, we are not talking about “Influence of AMP-activated protein kinase and calcineurin on metabolic networks in […]
June 8, 2012

Is doing nothing doing something?

You want to be more creative with your marketing plans? Figure out the best way to overcome a branding challenge? Separate all the daily noise so you can see clearly? Do nothing for a day. Well, it doesn’t have to be a weekday. Your boss will go mad.  Invest your own day. Use a weekend. (Your missus may enjoy it.) Doing nothing has nothing to do with not doing anything. It still is doing something. That something is not to think about work. Not to stimulate your mind – that something is to keep your mind ‘motionless’. A calm pool […]
June 7, 2012

When does your competition matter?

Lately we have been working with a client whose competitor just loves to ape. The competitor photocopies every media aperture we use. They imitate every dance we do. Even down right to icons and graphics. So what do you do in such situations? Is this a good or bad thing? Depends. It can be good because you can predict with statistical confidence what they will do. In which case, you can even trap them. Bad because it takes immense marketing wisdom to decide if what they imitate matters. If it does not, ignore it. We are better off focusing on […]
June 5, 2012

What are your marketing assumptions?

Here, I will start… Branding is either a two or three syllable word plus logo plus colours A jingle and an ad budget will make people aware. People who are aware will buy your brand. As long as the distribution is good, the price is correct, the promoters are hitting their targets, that means the brand is strong (or replace with the marketing is solid.) Marketing, sales and branding are different words to describe the same thing. The more features the better it is because it means more benefits. Selling at the lowest price possible wins. Consumers love a relationship […]
June 4, 2012

Who’s not paying attention to you?

I love numbers. I just don’t do math exams very well. But numbers help you have some form of science to support the decisions you make. So when you speak to marketers who are preparing to take on a new market the conventional wisdom is that you look at who consumes most of the category. The heavy users, then you decide on your marketing plan. Perhaps we should not have so much of an obsession with heavy users? You can bet that segment is crowded already with top players and marketing muscles. Maybe you should like at non-users. Find out […]
June 1, 2012

Are you smart enough to time the market?

We were discussing with a client the other day on how most of his competitors are comfortable to take a wait and see attitude. The prevalent trend in the industry is to wait for someone to create an innovation, launch and educate the market before they will enter the market. Conquer versus create. Not a bad strategy. Let someone create a comfortable marketplace for you before you go in to grab market share or spend less on educating the market. But the challenge is this, you need to time it just right. A brand that is willing to enter virgin […]
May 31, 2012

What do you think of this?

You know the concept of asking? Intrinsic in it means to clarify. When you ask to clarify, always listen. Do not ask and dispute when what is presented is contrary to what you want to hear. Listen. Digest. Triangulate your own opinion. Then put forth your points. Then ask again on the conclusions you made. Then you crystallize your own thoughts. You then form your own opinion. This time around with the new information, you can better decide EVEN if you do not use and agree with that information. Problem is you ask to reinforce what you believe in. Did […]
May 30, 2012

What do you care?

May 29, 2012

What do you eat with?

We do eat with our eyes. Here’s proof. So which senses do your consumers use when consuming your brand? What do you taste with?
May 28, 2012

What’s your cost of cause marketing?

Corporate social responsibility is a big phrase. Some companies do it better than the others. Others like the usual mock check and occasional photo opportunity. Once off and they are done. A charity run there and there. I believe consumers are getting smarter and smarter. I believe when consumers look at the news and the pictures of the mock cheque presentations, they ask – what is the cost of this cause marketing? Increasingly, if your company or brand does not commit to the cause in money, effort and time in the long term – and that means not just commitment […]
May 25, 2012

Are you consistent with courage?

It takes consistency to stick to your principles but it takes courage to learn new things and dump old principles. Sometimes formulas work and sometimes they don’t. In marketing, we like to call a lot of things principles. Then a bunch of us follows them like a dogma not to be challenged. Not because we are very convinced that it works all the time. By and large, marketers are smart people. They just don’t know when to choose to be courageous. Principles need to be reevaluated and how you reevaluate them is important. You have to pull yourself out of […]
May 24, 2012

Do you cull?

What’s better to do? More worth the effort? Perhaps make you a hero? Let’s say your predecessor has breed a bunch of brands, variants and SKUs and if you buy into the Pareto Principle, then only 20 of these brands and sub-variants are now contributing to 80 of your bottom line. But you have a choice to clean this all up in order to drive efficiencies or you can ignore this and launch your own variants and new brands. What would you do? I don’t really have a finger on this. After all, if I am this marketing manager, I […]
May 23, 2012

Where is your sincerity showing?

If you keep showing up, helping, understanding, offering a solution sincerely you would probably earn a relationship with your consumers. They may actually call you a friend. It doesn’t sound very difficult but most marketers like to think about the commercial side of things and thus forget the connection part of the brand. When you do that – think too much of the commercial side – you lose your sincerity, which is the currency of relationships. What are you spending on?
May 22, 2012

Is your brand up for bargaining?

I went for lunch with a fairly full stomach yesterday. I did not think I was going to finish a plate of fried noodles. When I walked up to the stall, a thought came to my mind. I wondered if the boss frying my noodles would make a plate smaller than the minimum size she fries everyday. I could pay less and there will be no wastage. I chickened out. I went for the “minimum published rate” on her board. I rather not risk getting yelled on a hot weekday afternoon. That got me thinking. I think consultants have it […]
May 21, 2012

Where are you unexpected?

We told our book distributors that we much rather not sell our book in a bookstore. It’s the worst place to sell a book. Imagine trying to stand out in a million other books. But their book distribution ‘system’ does not allow them to distribute to places where our book would stand out. OK, maybe next time we will plan better. Most time marketers like to think in numbers. Don’t get us wrong, we like numbers too. But there is a time when numbers may not work. If you are targeting tourists, the obvious place are tourist spots. But that’s […]
May 18, 2012

What’s on your lotto ticket?

There are very very few instant hits in brand campaigns. Just like you don’t hear very much about instant rich millionaires who made their money on the gambling table. Sustainable campaigns that are successful take time and they take effort. It also takes skills and improvisation. It takes nurturing the various Ps and the relationship with your consumers. If you keep launching, executing and learning then you will get better and better. Your brand grows. Just like the man who keeps saving and investing and learning about money. Eventually his wealth grows and he is able to keep it. Trying […]
May 17, 2012

When is it time to let go?

There is a time to let go. Peacefully and with equanimity. Like when the oncologist is no longer interested in your astronomical CEA score because you are now on your third line of defense. Or when 95 year old grandpa who has always been healthy is warded for breathing difficulties and couldn’t speak. He wrote on a piece of paper in the hospital, “Let’s go home.” He probably knew and he was ready to let go. And when the first car you bought when you started working costs more to upkeep than getting a new one. Perhaps, also consider letting […]
May 16, 2012

How steep are you willing to climb?

The lowest hanging fruit. The natural market. When I first got my license as an insurance agent many years ago, I was told by the manager, now you need to meet your quota as an agent by selling x number of policies worth x amount. I didn’t know how. Selling is scary. Rejection even scarier. And rejection by someone you know is a death sentence to your self-esteem. But out I went – selling. I was given a tip. Sell to your natural market. Meaning, people you know. The veterans tell me this is the easiest. So, it’s no wonder […]
May 15, 2012

What’s your culture?

Your brand needs to be built around a culture that it believes in. This culture permeates the way the brand talks and behaves. More than that it gives what your brand communicates depth and excitement. It isn’t just the ads that will show what your brand is all about. It’s the way the people who peddle your brands that adds layers to this personality, this culture. Culture is built when a group of people have deep beliefs of what the company stands for. They are willing to risk the gory for the glory and the havoc for the fun in […]
May 14, 2012

What values do you connect with?

We have been propagating that there must be sincerity in the communications. Otherwise, it is tough to get people to believe you. Feel good about you and tell good stories about you to others. Of course, your brand needs to deliver the most basic and more. At the right price. Available at the expected places. These your consumers expect and your competitors know how to do too. But more difficult and immensely more fruitful is being sincere in how you treat your consumers. When you do that you turn them into fans. Enough with just communicating the features and benefits […]
May 11, 2012

What’s your story with your brand?

When you launch something. No. Let me correct that, when you do something for your brand, as a marketing manager or brand manager, or whatever. What do you want to achieve? More market share? More sales? More people to benefit from the aphrodisiac your company have created? Whatever your answer is I am really not that interested. The question I want you to think about is, what do you hope to achieve for yourself? Chances are you want to bulk up your resume, your number of successful marketing case studies. All fine and good. Just remember that when you have […]
May 10, 2012

What did you mould today?

Create, don’t convert. It’s likely that it’s easier to develop a marketing plan to convert a competitive user. And probably sounds a lot sexier to your big boss who knows nothing about marketing. Dig enough information about the consumer and your competitor and make some smart guesses. Launch. Throw in the price off, have your promoters say some not so good stuff about your competitors and viola, see your sales increase. How about this? Seek new users. Go create. Make something. Build a new market. Uncharted territories, I know it’s scary. But if you don’t try this, you will always […]
May 9, 2012

Are you led by blur vision?

One of my pet peeves in the management world is this whole idea of a “big picture” boss. You often hear, “Oh, I am a big picture person.” Half the time when that phrased is used, you can almost bet that boss doesn’t really want to do any work. So, they hide behind this whole big picture stuff. Sure, visions are important. Big picture is important. But equally important is that all big pictures are made up of small detailed brush strokes. The boss that can make that link grows a big and strong company. Those who can’t – walk […]
May 8, 2012

When are you taking it out of the oven?

Eventually after all the management and marketing book you read, you still have to create. Create in your own context for your brand. Let’s face it, you cannot imitate nor try to be as close to the case you have read. You still need to take that risk and walk close to the edge. Stop imitating. Start creating. Writing your own story yet?
May 7, 2012

What is freedom to you?

Hugh MacLeod launched his book “Freedom is blogging in your underwear” (#FreedomIsBlogging) recently. For us at Roar Point, starting a boutique brand communications consultancy is tough. Having to educate people about what we do, what we don’t do and how we are different is even tougher. It’s like evangelizing a new religion. Thank God for blogs. It gave us our street corner where we could do our dance and sing our song for our micro audience (Hugh’s word that I stole. Thanks, Hugh). I have been writing every work day for the past year and a half or so. This […]
May 6, 2012

How low can you go?

If you sell at the lowest price possible, you are really commodifying whatever you are selling. Unless, of course you are selling the “perception” of lowest price possible. In which case, consumers will feel cheated. Interestingly branded commodities be they rice, water, sugar, paper or whatever don’t sell at the lowest price possible. If lowest price possible isn’t something people buy into solely, then why shout lowest price. What’s value to you?
May 4, 2012

What should you be telling?

Ever been to an art exhibition and wonder what the artist was thinking when the art was produced? Wouldn’t the story make you appreciate the art so much more? More than the story in the book, the story behind the book makes it a lot more interesting too. Here’s a thought. On your social media avenues? Be the artist that speaks for your brand. Tell those who are willing to listen about the story behind its creation. Stories make the brand immensely more interesting.  All those stuff the boss did not allow into the ad copy? Your social media is […]
May 3, 2012

How would you make it work?

It has worked before. That marketing plan of yours. That’s the easy answer and that makes your job easy. You need not think. You need not seek approval. You just have to follow the playbook. No one can blame you. It has worked before. It has worked before allows you to disengage. It has worked before is a button for auto-pilot. It’s a safety net. Maybe it’s time to ask how you can make it work better. Broken or not, it can be improved. What are you adding?
May 2, 2012

What is your locus standi?

The other day, our client wanted us to present some work to their distributors. Sort of a “for your information” session. Just so they know what is the communication campaign that is supporting the launch of the brand. Somehow, the distributors thought we were there to get their approval. Funny. There were comments and soon criticisms of the ads that were approved by our clients, their principals. We were a little caught off guard. For a good 30 minutes, we found ourselves on the defensive. Then something came over us. We shut up and ignored the comments. That was that. […]
April 30, 2012

What do they care?

When you want your fans (consumers) to advocate you, do you really think they care how big you are? The most ardent fans are those who are with the band when they did pub gigs. The most loyal fans are those who supported the team when the team was playing in division two or on the verge of relegation. Fans don’t care how big you are. They care how you connect with them. How big are you in their heart?
April 27, 2012

When will they ignore you?

Sticking to your success formula in any of your campaigns can actually be a formula for failure. Why? For one thing, competitors start copying you. You lose the element of surprise – to your consumers and to your competitors. Why is an element of surprise to your consumers important? It makes you stand out. Why is an element of surprise to your competitors important? It strikes them when they least expect it. When you stick to a particular formula for an amount of time, your way of communicating becomes a blind spot. When people don’t see, read and listen to […]
April 26, 2012

How extraordinary does your brand want to be?

Doing ordinary things to achieve a great brand, is there really such a thing? Every other prospect we meet seems to want us to develop that one killer marketing idea for them. So that their brand can become the next great brand. But great brands do not all become great by doing extraordinary things all the time. In fact, they do ordinary things extraordinarily well. Really, look at your marketing plans now. If you are launching a product do you have everything buttoned down? Your distribution strategy is in line with your goals and target consumers. Bare basics, you would […]
April 25, 2012

It’s not called commercial media is it?

When your consumers get on social media they want to – yes, socialize. They likely want to get to know your brand better. Perhaps, they expect some form of customer service from your favourite social media channel. Even if you did not set it up to make it a customer service platform. Your consumers who likes you on your brand’s Facebook wants to connect. They do not want to be shoved promotions and they sure do not want to be asked to participate in the multitudes of contest you have for them. That’s not to say you should not do […]
April 24, 2012

Is your brain working alone?

There must always be a solid next step. A next course of action that is in essence implementing the plan. Especially, after a meeting. Particularly, after a brainstorm. Some people are in love with brainstorms. And why not? Brainstorms give a semblance of work. After all, it happens during work time. So it’s got to be work. It’s also the perfect escape from the real work that is waiting for you. It allows you to feel smart, vomit some management sound bites and regurgitate some marketing gibberish. Plus after the havoc from the brainstorm, no one is clear what needs […]
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