Dr Brian's SmartaMarketing 2

Smarta Marketing Ideas for Smarta Marketers

Month: May, 2013

Why Strategic Planning (by itself) Does Not Work

Dr Brian Monger

Most managers labour under a myriad of short-term pressures. Daily schedules are full to the bursting point; crises of various magnitudes have to be handled; customers demand action; fires must be fought. In some companies, daily (even hourly) fluctuations in stock prices are monitored closely, and action taken accordingly. Not surprisingly, as much as nine-tenths of a typical organisation’s energy is devoted to managing day-to-day operations. As more than one manager has ruefully observed, “If the organisation don’t get through this month, a six month plan isn’t going to be useful”. Because of their natural tendency to focus on the short term, managers must often be forced to pay attention to the long run if it is not to be lost in the shuffle.

Strategic planning can be a shallow exercise. It is all too usual for a slick report with beautiful graphics to be produced, filed, and forgotten. This phenomenon seems to be especially common when the plan was drawn up by the strategic planning department or (even worse) when an outside consulting group has done most of the work. There are important roles for consultants and staff planning specialists in the strategic planning process. Their specialised skills can be extremely useful in structuring the process and obtaining and analysing critical data. They often serve as highly effective catalysts, in effect, forcing the organisation to expand its horizons beyond the day-to-day. But it is bad policy to have such specialists take the lead in developing the strategy or writing the plan. While many managers would be delighted to have them do so an organisation that succumbs to this temptation would almost certainly be better off without a plan.

Unless the managers who are to be responsible for implementing the plan have been deeply involved in its preparation, it is highly unlikely that the plan will have significant impact. Successful implementation of strategy requires shared understanding of the information driving the firm’s business, as well as consensus concerning the organisation’s mission, goals, key programs, and resource allocations.

Even when managers are involved in the planning process, however, the resulting plans and tactics may be inconsistent with the organisation’s measurement processes and/or incentive structures. In the newspaper industry, for example, it is common for strategic plans to call for increases in circulation and readership, but for bonuses to be paid almost solely on the basis of annual profits. Since increasing circulation generally requires marketing investment that is unlikely to pay off until subsequent years, it is not surprising that many newspaper publishers put far less emphasis on building circulation than is called for in their strategic plans.

Managers must be able and willing to carry out the actions called for in their strategic plan, or it simply will not happen. If they feel threatened by the planning process (e.g., if it requires that their organisational unit be compared with “best of breed” or if it seems likely to lead to a loss of resources), they are likely to deliberately impede it. For the strategic planning process to be effective, managers at all levels must “buy into” the plan. Operational managers (salespeople, brand managers, market research managers), middle managers (group brand managers, sales managers, advertising directors), and top managers (the senior managers responsible for marketing, R&D, and manufacturing,  and even the chief operating officer and chief executive officer or managing director) must all understand the planning process fully, feel they have had a real opportunity to contribute to the plan, and agree, at least in broad outline, with its conclusions.

Another major impediment to effective strategic planning is the lack of sufficient data. In these circumstances, it is necessary to decide whether to use those data that are available, and supplement them with managerial judgment, or to operate without strategic direction. The organisation feel it is better to identify critical information and success factors, obtain the best information available, and formulate at least a draft strategic plan. One outcome of this process is likely to be a clearer recognition of what additional data are required and, hopefully, a plan to acquire such data. Clearly, timely monitoring, control, and revision are especially important when implementing a strategy developed with less than adequate data.

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Guanxi – Learning something very useful from Chinese culture?

A word about which is probably the most known Chinese word in the business sphere,  ‘guanxi’.  Anhd how you might use the concept, not only in International Marketing, but in Western business – as a strategy.  It will fit in very well with relationship building I think

 

This word merges a lot of ‘social rules’. From the western point of view, it has been usually understood such as some kind of corruption. Of course it could be, but ‘guanxi’ not only means ‘give a favour back’ but also means some kind of mutual help. The Chinese societies, including those who are living abroad,  have been using ‘guanxi’ for starting their businesses for centuries. The Chinese people’s guanxi is related to their social relationships, and they spend a lot of time in order to improve their ‘guanxi’, and it’s not only about their professional sphere but also about their personal one.

 

Making things happen ‘step by step’ is also related to their social relationships and their personal ‘guanxi’. You know, ‘guanxi’ is a really wide concept and condensing this word just such as a kind of corruption is a miscalculation. Western cultures usually think that our lifetime is linear, Eastern cultures think that their lifetime is circular; it’s a holistic point of view. It could sounds like an ‘easy philosophy’, but it’s much more besides this, it’s a whole way of living and way of thinking, where everything is related to one each other, where you are not always allowed to do a borderline between your personal life and your professional life, where the ‘harmony’ rules everything and where the Chinese history comes into play. It also happens in our western cultures, it’s not only property of the Chinese culture, but going into this culture usually means start from scratch because our cultural bases are completely different.
Chinese culture is worth to knowing, they are borrowing many things from our western cultures and they are adapting them in order to make them match to their reserved culture. Maybe we should do this as well. Learning a different way of living can offer a totally new way of working.

Interested?  You might want to check out the new Doing Business in Asia group on LinkedIn

Why Buyers Buy – Or Not

What motivates a buyer to buy?

When you approach a prospective customer, he wonders what you have and what you want of his busy working day.  He is more interested in what you can do for him, at first, and, if this is interesting enough, your name and company assume importance because it tells him who is going to do it for him.

Selling is not a battle of wits and those who approach it as such usually are the losers.  The true salesman recognises basic fundamentals and buying motives and uses them logically to give his presentation all the power he can muster.  When selling to a retailer your appeals to buying motives must be directed through him to his customers.  A retailer wants what his customers wants plus a fair measure of profit.  Thus your approach will be aimed in a slightly different manner to show him what it will do for his business and how and why it will appeal to his customers.  Selling to retailers is on a more personal basis, as you call on the same man with some regularity and know his habits, his preferences.  But if you want to increase your share of his business, or approach a new customer, sell to him, do not just tell him, and hope for the best.  The hardest distance for your goods to travel is from his shelf to the other side of the counter.  Constantly give him help and guidance in appealing to his customers’ buying motives.

Value – Profit or Economy

To most of us these means much the same thing.  We can profit by making economies or we can improve economy through greater profits.  Depending upon your product you must decide which aspect will appeal more to your type of customer.  A retailer is more likely to be interested in profit through greater discount, or he could profit through more economical or balanced stocks.  An accountant may be more motivated by the word economy, as usually it is his task to save money.  He saves money to ensure increased profit but thinks more of saving money than making it.

Design or Appearance

The value of design or appearance is far more important than we tend to think.  People who buy houses, cars, furniture and appliances on appearance or design are buying with their eyes.  Whenever possible appeal to the eye with a visual presentation or paint the picture in your customer’s mind with words.

Comfort or Convenience

Does a furniture salesman sell just the wood, springs and covering? No!  He sells comfort.  All of us gather about us those things that make life more comfortable or convenient.  Look around your home and ask yourself how many things have to do just this for you.  Refrigerators are more convenient than ice chests, radiators more than log fires.  The list is endless.

Comfort and convenience apply to a man’s business life too.  What you offer may give him convenience by removing a process or clerical problem that recurs at regular intervals.  He has the mental comfort of dismissing the problem from his mind.  Insurance has security, such as knowing money will be available at the time of retirement.  You see many instances of comfort or convenience being the primary buying motive.  Think about what you sell and weave this aspect of buying appeal into your story.

Performance

Take two rival cars, both of similar size, finish and price.  One does twenty miles to the gallon, the other thirty.  Which would you buy under these conditions?  Performance can be the manner in which your product does its work; it can be the extra production it gives in a given time.  Where practical, stress the value of performance in easily understood and demonstrable terms.  For many products, performance is the feature above all else.

Safety or Security

Unit trusts, shares in large public companies are attractive because they offer gain and security.  The risk is minimised and this appeals to all of us.  Seat belts are sold for safety or security, so would you really be concerned with what their materials look like, if you were assured they would stand up to the stress of an accident?  When your item has a safety or security factor highlight it, whether it be physical safety or mental security.

Dependability

This is an important buying motive but its value is somewhat different.  Your name or your company name can spell dependability.  You business history with a client can give him this feeling about you or the lack of it.  You have always done all you said you would, your company has unfailingly backed its products.  So much of the value of dependability as a buying motive rests on you and your selling behaviour.

Those qualities you may feel are important in your proposition, may not necessarily be as important to the prospective customer.  Your job is to dig out what is important to him and be able to convince him that what you offer has those qualities for which he is looking.  How can you do this?  Let him tell you why he will buy.  Find out by careful questioning and listening.  He could well call it turnover, where you think of the benefit as profit.  They amount to the same things, so sell him increased turnover.  Whatever he calls it, however he states his/her buying motive, sell it to him in his terms Perhaps Mr. Brown says: “I’ve heard this system gives trouble!”  Sell him reliability, sell him service; quote other installations to verify your statements, but sell what he asked for, reliability.

No salesman achieves anything for himself or his company until a sale is made.  You influence these decisions that lead to success or failure, so always remember that people buy for six basic reasons.  This will become part of your selling strength.

Like these ideas?  Please comment

And visit our other blogs/articles http://smartamarkeketing.wordpress

Do you use social media to communicate with your staff?

Do you use social media to communicate with your staff? How do you do it?

 

New plans, announcements, organising, leading, controlling, updates, recognition, sending memos, conveying news. Communicating instantly and effectively within your organisation can make the difference between smooth sailing or chaos, between performance success or failure.

Communication is your company’s life line.  Benefits of bettering your communication:

*Better communication will play a big role in altering an individual’s attitude, because being better informed translates into a better attitude than being a less-informed individual.

*Improving communication will quicken the decision-making process as it helps identify and assess possible alternative courses of actions.

*Using today’s social media technology is also a wonderful way to inspire your workforce’s attitude about their work.  Helps you “guide” the organisational culture

*Socialising your workforce improves your organisational community and culture.

*The controlling function of the management process is improved when communication improves. Levels of hierarchy and certain principles are guidelines that your employees, your team must follow. Guidelines that can include organisational policies, job roles, work problems and grievances to superiors.

What are your thoughts and Ideas?

 

The Benefits of Socially Responsible Branding

Adding Cause to Branding

The benefits of being perceived to be socially responsible are varied and many. Understandably brands want to be perceived as socially responsible. Being associated with a good cause is a quick way for a brand to be gain the tag of being seen as ‘socially responsible’. This shows the brand to be responsible and caring and these are indeed good qualities for a brand to have. While some brands are inspired by a genuine sense of social responsibility many brands look at the image of being socially responsible as helping in building brand stature. The conscious employment of resources by a brand to aid charitable causes in order to develop image, associations and identity benefits is called cause related branding.

There are 5 main reasons why brands associate with charitable causes other than from a socially responsible perspective:

Builds brand preference: Marketing sense states and some research studies confirm, that ceteris paribus, consumers would prefer buying a brand that is associated with a good cause than from other brands.

Justifies a premium: Consumers often do not mind paying a premium for a brand that is known to be generous to a well-known charity as consumers feel that the brand deserves the premium. The knowledge that a part of the money paid to a brand is going to a good cause adds to the positive emotional component of the brand.

Reduces negative connotations associated with the brand: Liquor and tobacco brands often associate themselves with causes as a means of negating a part of the disrepute associated with their industry.

Provides the brand with desirable values: Brands that are seen to possess a very commercial and greedy image may wish to develop a softer image by showing a softer nicer side by donating to charitable organizations.

Useful for raising money: Brands that plan to approach the money market for raising money from the public often show the warm side of their personality by publicly supporting charitable causes. Investors who are not doing extensive research on the brand may invest because they believe a brand with good intentions can be trusted.

As is obvious from the advantages mentioned above, cause related branding has a lot to offer brands and therefore this route is being used by many brands. There are several successful examples cause related branding working wonders for brands it must be understood that a poorly developed cause strategy will lead to no little or no benefits for the brand. The days when a brand could merely tie up with a well-known charity and earn brownie points are over and the intricacies involved in making cause related branding work are worthy of careful consideration.

In branding, adopting a strategic perspective is critical. In cause related branding it becomes even more critical as the process of establishing an association with a cause takes significant investment of time, effort and money. Reaping the benefits of the association takes time and delinking from a cause can have strong negative repercussions for a brand and the involvement of the highest echelons of management need to be involved in decisions involving cause related branding.

There are three levels of decisions that brands need to look at and the implications of each category of decisions is to be understood before planning for any kind of cause related branding:

Deciding the category: There are a wide range of categories of causes ranging from care of deprived children to restoration of dignity of seniors. Categories are wide and can encompass a wide range of sub categories. Within the cause category of care for senior citizens there are sub categories addressing issues such as care for abandoned elders, medical treatment of senior citizens, etc. It is important to choose the right kind of category and sub category as a prelude to deciding a relevant issue to back within this category.

Deciding the specific issue: Categories of causes consist of different issues. Issues are specific such as programmes to aid restoration of dignity of senior citizens that feel deprived of dignity following their old age. Focussing on specific issues is important for brands as it helps fine tune the values that flow from the association.

Deciding the specific institutions: Unless the brand is willing to create a trust that handles the responsibilities of the cause it will have to depend on institutions to run the operational aspects involved in the execution of cause related activities. Aligning with an institution that caters to a specific cause can provide a brand with strong associations however there are times when brands need to ensure that they are not overshadowed by charities that are stronger brands than their sponsors.

These are some of the aspects that need to be studied before a brand decides to associate with a charitable cause.

What is the relevance of the cause to the brand’s consumer segment?: Association with a charitable cause does not immediately mean that consumers will immediately hold the brand in high esteem. Consumers must find the cause relevant to their value system before the brand receives any approbation. For example: Not all consumers may be equally supportive of a cause that looks at providing food and shelter to immigrants/refugees. These consumers may be more supportive of causes that benefit their countrymen.

How different is it?: Many people are inured to causes and even associations with a good cause like Cancer Care may neither draw much attention to the brand or to the cause nor would the association be very memorable. Finding a cause that is relevant and yet different would help in enhancing the memorability of the brand and cause. For example: A trust that looks after veteran entertainers suffering from terminal diseases can be seen as a worthy cause to support as it appreciates people who once entertained and gave others happiness.

Can the cause be owned?: It is normally difficult to own a cause as this would require immense investment of resources. A niche cause like the one mentioned in the above example may not require huge investments and may not see many other brands supporting this cause. The task of guarding the cause associations may not be very tough nor may the cost of running such a trust be very high.

Will it hold enduring relevance with this segment?: Some causes are contextual. These causes appear to touch a sensitive chord with consumers and then suddenly seem to lose their appeal. Often charities in India catering to cyclone victims suddenly find their support waning in the wake of a fresh new tragedy in a different part of the country. Public sympathy often veers towards the more current tragedies.

How will the relationship be positioned?: The nature of the brand’s relationship with the cause can influence consumer perceptions of the brand. A brand that extends it relationship beyond the financial support to also provide investments of time and talent would most likely stand to gain greater credibility from the relationship than would a brand that only provides money. Brands that appear to only offer financial support may be seen as ‘forced’ or ‘insincere’ and this could in some cases prove counterproductive.

Controversial issues: Brands need to be careful while handling causes associated with controversial issues. For example: A ‘euthanasia’ support foundation campaigning for change in legislation towards euthanasia may be seen by some as a worthy cause but association with this cause may lead to the brand supporting it being embroiled in controversy at some stage of its association if public opinion suffers from the occasional mood swing. While some brands court controversy through short term associations with controversial causes this could be risky as well as counter productive as the issue could turn ugly and taint the brand or it could grow far bigger than the brand.

Cause related branding works best when it is driven by the core values of the brand. Like anything else that is forced, cause related branding could prove counterproductive if it is not a ‘natural’ facet of the brand. When it is not ‘natural’ to the brand then the cause related activities are de-prioritised and lose focus often with corresponding effect on the brand.

In an increasingly cynical world, the value of genuinely sensitive acts is extremely high. There are several cries for brands to show greater responsibility and to share a small part of their wealth with the less privileged. The current economic strife created by schizophrenic brands that show dissonance between their different actions has led to lower levels of consumer belief in brands. Cause related branding performed with genuine intent can help restore consumer trust and build brand equity

Like this short article?  Please comment.  And have a look at other articles  in our sister blog http://smartamarketing.wordpress and checkout the smartamarketing posts on SlideShare. (http://www.slideshare.net/bmonger)

George Orwell’s writing rules Good thoughts for Social Media

George Orwell suggested 5 golden rules for effective writing:

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

Does the phrase “Low hanging fruit” mean something to a layman? Can’t it be better written as “non-performing employee”?Now, how many people recognize the words and the sentiments behind them?

2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.

In the entire world, XYZ is selling like hot cakes and gathering a lot of revenues for the company”… Imagine if we write this as “XYZ is the company’s universal best-seller”. Many writers adopt the beating round the bush approach to increase word count or achieve the desired keyword density. This is a strict no-no as it insults the reader’s sensibilities.

3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

Well, same as above (yea that’ a shorter one. No need for another example!)

4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

“The man who was old was bitten by a cat”. While there’s no rocket science behind the logic, still this is an oft-disregarded adage. You can always replace the longer sentence with a shorter and effective “The cat bit the old man”

5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

Keep your content easily accessible to the average Joe. Readers will simply block out the content if they come across a lot of technical jargons that they can’t comprehend

 

What Good Political Leaders Need

Most people have a poor view of “politicians”.  Many think that business people would do a better job.  I recently said to someone, that it is important to have political leaders who understand the realities of politics.  Very few business people do and would need to learn on the job.  Do we want to pay these learners big bucks while they learn?  And few will succeed.

 

Of course what we need are “good” politicians, but how do we determine the right qualities?

There are three qualities that Weber (1919) said that all politicians should have.

Passion

Politicians should have a clear commitment to a cause, for which they can sustain necessary passion. It is often based on faith, where the politician has a vision for the future and seeks to make it come true.

Politics is not straightforward and the road to change may be a very crooked path. Passion provides the energy to keep the politician moving and overcoming obstacles.

Passion is also a great persuader. If you are passionate about a cause then others may be infected with your enthusiasm. Impassion and lack of care seldom sells.

Being able to feel passion is not enough. Passion without responsibility can lead to revolutionary fervor and crime. Passion without judgment can lead to ineffective or dangerous decisions.

Judgement

Politicians make decisions that affect many lives, including their own. A poor political decision can be professional suicide.

Political judgment includes when to keep things secret and when to go public. It is also important to be able to judge the hidden self of other people.

Judgment alone is not enough. Judgment without passion gets nothing done. Judgment without responsibility does not serve the politician’s constituency.

Responsibility

Politicians serve a wider community and so should always consider others and have their best interests at heart. It thus needs an understanding and adoption of of social values.

Without responsibility, the politician becomes selfish and interested first in their own careers and goals. Vanity and narcissism tends to reduce responsibility, although it can also lead to the politician needing to appear responsible.

‘Power politics’, in which the acquisition and use of power is a distracting end in itself, is typical of a lack of responsibility. Beyond this, the ‘politics of violence’ justifies war and other acts against the body to achieve desired ends. Politics encompasses many paradoxes and dilemmas, making it easy to justify acts of power and aggression. This makes a strong sense of responsibility even more important.

Responsibility without passion does not lead the change. Responsibility without judgment leads to ineffective or dangerous decisions.

I would add:

Political knowledge and ability

Politics is about the art of the possible.  None of the above will work unless the incumbent knows how to be an effective politician and get things done

It is not enough for a leader to know the right thing.  They need to know how to make that thing work.

 

Weber, M. (1919). Political Writings, ed. P. Lassman and R. Speirs, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Locating Products in Their Life Cycles

The easiest way to locate a Product (including services) in its life cycle is to study its performance, competitive history, and current position and match this information with the characteristics of a particular stage of the life cycle.

Analysis of past performance of the product will include:

1. Examination of sales-growth progression since introduction.

2. Any design problems and technical bugs which need to be sorted out.

3. Sales and profit history of allied products (those similar in general character or function as well as those directly competitive).

4. Number of years the product has been on the market.

5. Casualty history of similar products in the past.

The review of competition will focus on:

1. Profit history

2. Ease of entry (with which other firms can get into the business)

3. Extent of initial investment needed to enter business

4. Number of competitors and their strengths

5. Number of competitors which left the industry

6. Life cycle of the industry

7. Critical success factors in the business.

Additionally, current perspectives may be reviewed to gauge whether sales are on the upswing, have leveled out for the last couple of years, or are heading down; whether any competitive products are moving up to replace the product under consideration; whether customers are becoming demanding vis-a-vis price, service, or special features; whether additional sales efforts are necessary to keep the sales going up; and whether it is harder to sign up dealers and distributors.

The above information on the product may be related to the characteristics of the different stages of the product life cycle as discussed above; the PLC stage with which the product perspectives match will indicate the position of the product in its life cycle. Needless to say, the whole process is highly qualitative in nature, and managerial intuition and judgment will bear heavily on the final placement of the product in its life cycle.

Listed below are steps which may be followed to position a product in its life cycle:

1. Develop historical trend information for a period of three to five years (longer for some products). Data included will be unit and dollar sales, profit margins, total profit contribution, return on invested capital, market share, and prices.

2. Check recent trends in the number and nature of competitors; number and market-share rankings of competing products, and their quality and performance advantages; shifts in distribution channels; and relative advantages enjoyed by products in each channel.

3. Analyse development in short-term competitive tactics such as competitors’ recent announcements of new products or plans for expanding production capacity.

4. Obtain (or update) historical information on the life cycles of similar or related products.

5. Project sales for the product over the next three to five years, based on all the information gathered, and estimate an incremental profit ratio for the product during each of these years (the ratio of total direct costs – manufacturing, advertising, product development, sales, distribution, etc. – to pretax profits).

Expressed as a ratio – e.g., 4.8 to 1 or 6.3 to 1 – this measures the number of dollars required to generate each additional dollar of profit. The ratio typically improves (becomes lower) as the product enters its growth period; begins to deteriorate (rise) as the product approaches maturity; and climbs more sharply as it reaches obsolescence.

6. Estimate the number of profitable years remaining in the product’s life cycle and – based on all the information at hand – fix the product’s position on its life-cycle curve

 

Like this short article?  Please comment.  And have a look at other articles  in our sister blog http://smartamarketing.wordpress and checkout the smartamarketing posts on SlideShare.

A brand is…?

A brand is a..

Customer or user experience represented by images and ideas, often referring to a symbol (name, logo, symbols, fonts, colours), a slogan and a design scheme. A perception of an integrated bundle of information and experiences that distinguishes a firm and/or its product offerings from the competition

Brand recognition and other reactions are created by the accumulation of experiences with the specific product (good or service), both from its use and as influenced by advertising, design and media commentary. Brand is often developed to represent implicit values, ideas and even personality. A brand is a mixture of attributes, tangible and intangible, symbolised in a trademark, which, if managed properly, creates value and influence. “Value” has different interpretations: from a marketing or consumer perspective it is “the promise and delivery of an experience”; from a business perspective it is “the security of future earnings”; from a legal perspective it is “a separable piece of intellectual property.” Brands offer customers a means to choose and enable recognition within cluttered markets. Established product name, wholly of a proprietary nature. A name, sign, symbol or design, or some combination of these, used to identify a product and to differentiate it from competitors’ products; consumers learn to associate the satisfaction’s derived from products with the name, sign, design or symbol, thereby allowing the marketer to use the brand image creatively and strategically. A brand is a mixture of attributes, tangible and intangible, symbolised in a trademark, which, if managed properly, creates value and influence. Brands may be used in different ways.

From the MAANZ MArketing Glossary http://www.marketing.org.au.

For more detail and information about this term, see MAANZ MXpress Courses and Marketing Ideas and Skills Notes

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