Hi, this blog chronicles Gabriel’s thoughts and reflections on all things branding, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Here are 3 ways to communicate effectively to the brain:
1) You want the brain to remember your marketing message for as long as possible: in the short run, and the long term. You need to repeat your messages often for that to happen. Also, activate emotions and provoke the senses in the reader’s or viewer’s brain, so that you can register the message better.
2) Use pictures to back up your words. Pictures speak a thousand words, remember? The brains remember things much better by pictures, and not through texts.
3) The brain can only focus effectively (I mean effectively, not half-heartedly) on one thing at a time. So focus your marketing message on just one key theme. ONE theme. ONE message.
Google is indeed a marketer’s best friend. Since 10 years ago, Google has consistently risen in popularity among web users. Google is a classic example of how to cater your products or services to meet consumers’ needs and wants. With ever increasing quantity of websites online, Google is a boon when it comes to understanding what we are looking for when we search the web. So marketers should really leverage Google’s expertise and dominance on web searches. Here are 3 reasons why:
1) Google has 83% market share of the global web search engines. It is dominant in almost every country, except in China and Russia, where Baidu and Yandex reign supremacy. Google also dominates web email with its Gmail. Gmail wins with its huge email space offered, where most users do not need to delete any past emails. If you have not realized by now, Gmail offers ads based on your email content. Seriously, with 83% of global market share in search engine, do you need to advertise in other search engines?
2) G00gle searches dominates as the most ‘intelligent’ so far, beating out others such as Yahoo or Bing. Google can fathom what the searcher is thinking about pretty quickly, giving them search results that are accurate. Similarly, Google is able to offer web users the most relevant ads for their searches, ensuring quality clicks for advertisers. Google is also strict about advertisers’ contents, giving favor to advertisers that best meet users’ needs. Advertisers can track their cost per click closely, giving very accurate ROI analysis.
3) The other secret weapon of Google is the ownership of Youtube. Youtube owns 44% market share of online videos watched, many times greater than the other competitors. Youtube now offers pre-video short ads, allowing advertisers to customize ads to their target demographics and most importantly, the advertisers can get assurance that their video ads will be watched by Youtubers. With the integration of Google Account among Gmail, Google+ and Youtube, advertisers can target their consumers pretty accurately.
I have talked about Pareto’s law, Parkinson’s law and coming to work slightly earlier in my first article on How to be More Productive at Work. I have an additional 2 tips that will make up this article on part 2.
1) Do not multi-task. Just like in marketing, communicating one benefit is often stronger than communicating 5 benefits at once. The strength of the five benefits will be diluted by five for each of the mentioned benefits. So you have 5 much weaker benefits compared to one very strong USP benefit. Similarly, by diluting your focus, mental and physical energy on five different tasks at the same time counters good productivity. Focus all your mental and physical energy on one task at a time, and you can burn through your task like a laser does in no time.
2) There are times when we have to work late. Hopefully this is not often nor regular, as it defeats the purpose of productivity. If you are perpetually working late, you need to 1) hire extra help, 2) re-examine your priorities and delegation, or 3) re-evaluate your productivity level. If you work late once a while, that’s ok. But if you do so, don’t work late more than a few days in a row. Your body and mind need rest, so return to normal work levels after a few days at most, or else you will burn out. A burnt out person will require a longer recovery time, just like incurring an injury during sports training that requires downtime. It’s not worth it.
Throughout my years in branding and marketing, there are a few techniques that really get more positive responses from consumers. Quite consistently. Here are four techniques:
1) Give away FREE things. You will see a stampede of consumers going after your free samples or freebies. Yes, you will also attract a significant percentage of people who are just interested in free products, and not really in your brand. However, these people will also try your products, or give them to their friends or family members. By giving away free things, you get more word of mouth and increased review buzz among consumers.
2) Up your prices. Whenever we see a category full of competitors, our first natural human instinct is to lower prices and hopefully attract more people to buy our products. This does not work well, as most competitors will think just like you. Instead, be brave and try for a higher price. A higher price denotes higher quality, or a superior product automatically, unless you deal with commodities. A recent new face wash brand priced itself at a ridiculous 10 times higher than competitors, but yet business was good for them! Go figure!
3) If you do retail, ensure that your ambience is top notch. Research has shown that restaurants with superior ambience give their customers a positive expectation the moment they walk in the door. When they eat your food, the food will somehow taste better compared to a restaurant with a lesser ambience. Consumers will also be more forgiving of mistakes in service.
4) Restrict the options that you offer consumers. With the proliferation of line extensions, product offerings have exploded in recent years. I was shopping for some stationery yesterday, and the choices available for the ordinary pencil is staggering! The category is sure more exciting today, but definitely made making choices harder and more laborious. Buck the trend and limit your product offerings to the least possible, showcasing just your very best products! Consumers will love you for enabling them to make choices easier and faster!
Productivity is related to return on investments. When you invest a certain amount of money or time and effort on something, how much positive results do you get at the end? There are days when I am bogged down by meetings after meetings, some good and some pretty useless, and that really sucked up precious time that Icould have used to do REAL work. There are days when I come in to work knowing clearly what I need to accomplish, and executed them well within my deadlines with little disruptions. That is the FLOW that we shall all aspire to.
Here are three tips on how we all can be more productive at work:
1) Have a sense of urgency when you work. When your bosses give you work, attempt to finish it well before the deadline. Parkinson’s law states that work will expand to fit the amount of time you give it. So give all tasks a shorter duration than the deadline given. This will really help to finish the tasks productively and quickly. I used to take several days to do a particular task. Due to tight deadlines recently, I had to finish such tasks in about 30% of the usual duration that I usually took. Guess what? I managed to finish them in that shorter duration. Sure, it was more of a rush compared to before, but it proved that tasks often need less duration than what we originally thought they need.
2) According to Pareto’s principle, 20% of the tasks we do contribute to 80% of the results. So search for that 20% list of important tasks, and spend 80% of your time on them. They are worth it. Shortlist 3 areas of work that are highly critical. Ensure you spend time on these 3 critical areas EVERYDAY. Delegate other tasks that are not so critical.
3) Come earlier to work, and leave later. I am not a masochist nor workaholic that loves spending more time in the office just for the sake of doing so. However, by coming a bit earlier and staying a bit later, you can get more work done. So, you can achieve more in a single day. Start with say coming in 15 minutes earlier each day, and then staying 15 minutes later than what you usually do. You will realize that you can get energized with that extra achievements daily. Do not expand work time too much, else Parkinson’s law will creep in, where you will take a more leisurely pace with your usual work, giving the same daily output despite increased work time.
My friend had a child in a year where it’s highly auspicious to have kids. So that means in that particular year, there will be far above average birth rates, and many babies. Hospitals will be packed to the brim with delivering mothers, while nannies and child care centers will be clogged with above average registration rates. Yes, it may be highly auspicious to be born that year, but it also entails overloaded facilities and schools for the kid later on. Classrooms will probably have a higher student to teacher ratio that year.
When I was doing Facebook and online marketing intensively for one of my brands, few other brands were that serious yet on social media. They thought that it was a fad, and that it will pass with time. I saw it differently, and decided to capitalize on the lack of serious competitors in the social media activity scene for the categories I were involved in. Lo and behold, we became the clear leader in social media for the categories involved, and many are playing catching up now.
When recession strikes, do you cut your advertising drastically? Guess what, so do your competitors. Most of them think alike. However, during a recession, when competitors are quiet, you should be there to dominate the share of voice. Because most of your competitors are quiet, you can stand out without a hefty investment in advertising. Just enough to be above them, and be the clear share of voice leader. When the economy picks up, your brand will be way ahead of them in recall and purchase influence.
I have managed teams for many years, and I have my fair share of highly competent subordinates and not so competent subordinates. If your subordinates are above average, you have it good. Work gets done on time, and you can safely delegate work and projects to them. However, if you have less than able subordinates, you will end up correcting errors, following up on projects you have already delegated, and ended up doing a lot of things yourself.
The best ones are those who can even exceed your intelligence, creativity and skill levels. These workers are hard to find, or highly ambitious. However, once you get them, you can exceed your business results, get things done quickly, and create a dream team that makes your company an outstanding leader in the market place. You need to train them, give them the goals and targets, and let them loose to achieve those results.
On the other hand, if you have subordinates that are less than able, don’t fire them just like that! There’s usually reasons why they did not perform to your expectations. Start with the belief that most people want to achieve, and be a good team player. Have frequent heart to heart talks with that person, and be a friend to find out if there’s a mismatch in roles, training or communication. Be patient, positive and always persevere. Be a career coach and help that person find an alignment with his passion and skills.
What are the qualities of a good marketer? Even though marketing is a ubiquitous job, it is also a high pressure job. You often have to meet goals and deadlines, which are at times challenging. If you have a great brand that is growing healthily in a low competitive environment, good for you. If you have a brand that has saturated growth, and competitors continue to nibble at your market shares, you need to tough it out. A life as a marketer has its ups and downs, and you need the right qualities to weather them all.
The first quality you need is optimism. Be happy when your business is growing healthily. But when your business decline, do you get depressed, give up or get frustrated? Yes, the environment may be tough, but a good marketer will always have the optimism to face the problem. If the marketer gets negative or depressed, the energy will demoralize the team. He will also lose energy that can be channeled towards solving the problem. Optimism will help to channel all the positive energy to continue on, and to solve the problem at hand.
The second quality is discipline. I have seen a lot of good marketers got swayed by new technologies or marketing fads. Always, always go back to the fundamentals of marketing and sales, and incorporating them to your strategy and tactics for the long and short term. Do not get desperate with unhealthy short term sales tactics that may affect the strength of your brands.
The third quality is focus. Focus on a few key things that will grow your business. Commit to doing them well. Don’t get distracted by doing many things, and then at the end realized that you did not do your best in any of them. Channel all your energy towards a few key strategies, and commit to do them well, better than all the competitors. Even if you meet defeat, your conscience is clear, as you have put in your best.
I have been a fan of marvel comics since I was a teenager. My favourite comics? The X-men series, and the line extensions such as Cable and Uncanny X-men. It helps that my room mate then was an avid comic fan, who worked part time at a comic shop, and who later opened a comic shop of his own later.
Here’s what Marvel Comics taught me about branding:
1) You need to exercise a lot of creativity and create a story around each character. This is the character’s branding. Regardless of decades of time since the birth of Iron Man, the story and branding behind the character have lasted through generations.
2) You can have parent branding for individual characters by putting them in a group. E.g. the Avengers defend planet earth from alien threats, and the members are the Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and Hawkeye.
3) Each of the characters form a stronger portfolio (group) than if they fight enemies on their own. Hulk provided his amazing strength and fury, Thor used his heavenly hammer to punish invaders, and Hawkeye uses his sharp accuracy to shoot enemies down.
4) The characters can change their personality to suit the changing times. E.g. during World War 2, Captain America was active in defending US from Axis enemies. During the 1960s, Captain America was active in Avengers defending against alien threats instead.
5) The characters each has an admirable quality that the readers can aspire to. Iron Man was aspirational in his intelligence and passion in science, while Captain America inspired with his patriotism and athleticism.
6) The characters can change their costumes (packaging) to suit changing times. Spiderman started off with a bright blue and red costume, then eventually turned into a dark blue and darker red colored costume. When he turned into venom, the costume turned black to signify the shift towards evil.
7) The characters always meet obstacles along their fight against evil, but through perseverance and willpower they managed to always defeat the enemy in the end. Likewise in branding, we may meet difficulties at times, but if we persevere, we will prevail in the end.
8) Comic characters are always full of fun, as they use their unique powers to add fun to their lives. Similarly, branding can be fun, so always see it that way.