My comments on various topics on HBR Blogs2

Posted by on May 29, 2011 in EPM World, Expressions, Leadership, Marketing, Branding | 0 comments

(1)  ON – Make Your Competition Irrelevant:

Brand preference battles are bad approach in the market.

(I) the reason:

(a) Products are released without much gap between versions just incorporating small and ridiculous additions. Organizations are going impatient to release products with a tag ‘New’ or so just to remain in the competition.

(b) Innovation in real sense should add result oriented and unique feature or function which addresses the concerns of customer. This is not actually happening.

(c) Service after sales is more of a paper based statement than the real delivery. This is making the customers ogle at other brands.

(II) The result of the above:

(a) Rejection of a given brand by the customers after a certain experience

(b) Recall of products by the manufacturer owing to technical snags in the products

(c) Confusion being created in the minds of customers as to whom to trust

(d) So called brand preference battle.

(III) What should be done?

(a) Organizations should devote reasonable gap between versions

(b) Extend original and genuine service after sales

(c) Ensure fault free product delivery

(d) Deliver true innovation than a product

(e) Nurture customer relations.

(2)  ON  – avoiding Catastrophic Failures in Process Improvement

Process re-engineering in its comprehensiveness is similar to dismantling the building from its foundation level and erecting a new structure. Such a big exercise is more relevant to sick companies which are under revival. Established enterprises that are on growth path should (a) identify the areas where performance and transparency are a major concern, (b) understand the priority areas (c) thoroughly educate and enlighten the team about the prospective changes, objectives, responsibilities of team, and post deployment scenarios (d) deploy, monitor and affect minor changes (e) have matured SLAs with the vendor who could support in the achievement of envisaged results.

Most importantly, process change shouldn’t get badly impacted owing to the exit of an executive how much ever he was vital in the re-engineering effort. In such case, it can’t stand to the actual meaning of process or system.

Again the major concern is organizations go for process changes taking the ERP application as a bible. ERP application whether it is from SAP, Microsoft or Oracle needs to be customized according to the process blue print exclusive to the organization. At times the costs of customization, time constraints, expertise, integration issues, inability to take right decision, ignorance and several other factors constrain the organizations to go for off the shelf modules related to their industry sector.

Enterprises need sufficient plan than huge budgets. Right team / small team who understand the business domain, organizational strategy, analyze the related requirements and enlighten the management about the risks vs. benefits, matters a lot for healthy process deployment.

Finally we need right inputs to find right results even after successful implementation of the processes. This is possible if the team attends periodical workshops about the system.

(3)  ON Five Ways to Hold the Right Kind of Attention

The points 2 & 4 are very important indeed. When we pose questions and seek answers from the people, it amounts to entrusting a responsibility while raising their curiosity to get back to us. This obviously maintains the thread of relationship. Frankly, I am yet to learn this. I have a habit of volunteering answers during discussions, which would not leave any reason for people to come back. Thanks for pressing the right button.

It is a very natural inclination in today’s world that people value you and oblige you when your reach is scarce and when it needs long waiting to meet you.

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Judicious spending on promotion

Posted by on Jan 2, 2011 in EPM World, Marketing, Branding | 0 comments

Promotion of business offerings of an organization is a regular agenda.  However, the cost and means of promotion and advertisement becomes a definite mooting point considering the phenomenal costs especially of news paper advertisement and TV advertisement.  The question?  Should we prefer News Paper advertisement?  Who should prefer means of TV / Visual promotion?

The base criteria in deciding the means of promotion would be the targeted geographical reach or focused consumer class or both.  Other factors:

  • Density of competition: To understand competitor presence and the efforts required to push our products against such competition.  If the competitor is highly aggressive in terms of price, service or brand position, it would be very difficult for a start up and new business to spend that kind of budget and to wait for the markets to accept his product or service.  Hence, it is not prudent in the initial stages of product roll out to focus on such market geographies.
  • Market size: Business is judging the Return on Investment.  We need to understand the sales volume that could be achieved in the target geography so that you could size the promotion budget accordingly.  There could be an acceptance of your product in the area.  However, if the market size is very small, you could address this at a later stage or through dealer network.  I have seen several instances where highly reputed brands couldn’t squeeze even a small amount of sales against their big campaigns in certain geographies.  It may work for bigger companies, but for the small businesses it is never suggested to experiment their budget.
  • Dealer / affiliate network: Should consider appointing dealer or affiliate network who can push the product in to the market through their established network or proven presence.  Customers, stakeholders generally accept their recommendation.  This will alleviate the pains of reaching direct to the customer.
  • Capacity of supply chain system: Does your present supply chain system i.e. marketing personnel, means of transport, tools to coordinate and review sales and service can meet the requirement in the geography?
  • Capability to extend after sales service in the target region: This is the most important factor.  The first metric to survive in the business is after sales service.  Did you build required service network?  Can you extend prompt after sales service to the customer in the area.
  • Price competitiveness or pricing sensitivities: What is the ruling price of services or product in the area.  Is your competitor very aggressive in the region?  Do you need to compromise on the margins through discounts, free offers etc.,  Can you afford such competitiveness?

Once we have the data as required above, we should focus on the cost effective means of promotion through following channels.

  • Institutional sales
  • Direct selling
  • News paper inserts
  • Mobile hoardings
  • Cluster based campaign
  • Road shows
  • Collaborative promotion
  • Online marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Localized news paper or TV campaign
  • Consumer awareness weeks (Seminars / Workshops / Consumer participation)

There is never a one rule with respect to means and cost of promotion and advertisement of your business offerings.  It always based on market assessment and number pragmatism.

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