Category Archives: Management Issues

Creating a Brand

The vision you define and create for your business, brand or product is one of the most powerful drivers of growth.

Brand

Everyone with responsibilities for delivering the vision needs to understand and buy into it. The entire team of managers, assistants, staff and freelancers needs to have a passionate appreciation of what you are trying to achieve and how you are trying to achieve it.

The vision should be simple and powerful, and easily understood .The team has to make it resonate with their audience.

The message to the client should paint the future for your customers, enabling them to imagine what life be will be like once they have bought the product.

The brand manager or owner should convey the passion. Steve Jobs and Apple’s vision was “to make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance mankind”

The brand team need to be inspired by the vision and understand its relevance and engage with it. They should be encouraged to contribute to the vision and its transfer to customers.

The compelling brand vision develops a momentum and becomes a growth driver for the business

Let’s look at How to Market and Brand a Product and Business.

Marketing Is the Ultimate Driver In a growing business, and an effective new marketing campaign can generate high returns very quickly.

But it is notoriously difficult to accurately predict the response to a marketing campaign. Sometimes huge amounts of money can be spent to no avail, other times campaigns go viral without much investment, and an apparently small change can bring amazing results, causing sales to increase rapidly.

Sometimes you don’t have to increase your budget, you can spend the same amount of money, but just by changing a headline or strapline, bundling a new offer, or changing a design detail, you can alter public reaction to the product.

To take advantage of this very powerful area of leverage, and use it to grow your business and make more profit, you need to understand what marketing is, how it works, and how to do it.

Marketing is about effective communication. And if you get your communication right, then your customers make new connections, and their behaviour will become buying behaviour.

Successful branding that leads to business growth and high long-term profit requires effort, expertise and commitment.

Watch the response your customers give you. You need to interpret the response to your marketing and branding, and see what the message means to your customers

In marketing it is vital to test and measure, test and measure. Every time you change a variable you need to evaluate the result, and discard what does not work, and build on what does work.

Marketing and branding is a type of communication that’s designed to get very specific results.ie to create demand .Then customers will associate your brand with the solution they wanted unconsciously, and think of your brand when they see similar situations in the future. And this is the beginning of effective branding.

Branding

What Is Branding?

There are lots of different ideas about what branding is, and why we should do it.

There are several types of branding strategy, the first type of branding strategy is “defensive branding” the other is called “direct branding.”

Defensive branding is about preventing loss of market share. We see ads from multinationals like Apple, Lexus, McDonalds, Marks and Spencer and others – who run multi-million dollar “conceptual” ads, they take pages in newspapers, magazines, and TV.

They have achieved massive success with their products and services, and their branding strategy is to make sure that no one forgets them. These companies are at the “top of the food chain” in their sector and this is literally a strategy designed to protect their position and prevent loss of market share.

“Direct branding.” Is a strategy that combines direct marketing with intentional branding strategy, to promote growth and win market share

Consider FedEx. They used to be called “Federal Express.” When they first started, they had a tight, focused marketing campaign, based on a powerful “unique selling proposition.” You might remember it:

“When it Absolutely, Positively has to be there overnight.”

This was a key part of the marketing strategy that helped them grow to a billion dollar company. It’s a straightforward, powerful marketing message that makes permanent associations in the mind of the customer for the long-term. It’s direct branding.

Then when they had a huge empire to defend they switched to a “defensive branding” strategy. They shortened their name to FedEx. And they changed their unique selling proposition, and evolved it into a more general tagline. Now their motto is: “The world on time.”

People are not likely to remember “the world on time” when they need to send a package. But it does make a statement that consumers know who the company is and what it can do, it doesn’t need to be spelt out any more.

Using an image-based, defensive branding strategy costs a lot of money, and it’s not the right strategy for a growing company with a tight budget.

There have been some high profile incidents of companies that have had massively successful and unsuccessful marketing campaigns.

Taco Creating a BrandCreated in 1997, the Taco Bell Chihuahua was the fast-food chain’s big attempt to establish a mascot for their brand, and showed the dog enjoying the beef product. The ad was extremely popular but unfortunately the result was a 6% drop in sales and the resignation of their President .It is thought that the public felt that the ad might have inferred that the beef product may not be graded for human consumption!

The Duracell bunny advertisement was created in 1973 to showcase their batteries’ ability to hold a charge significantly longer than other, inferior battery brands. This was demonstrated by a group of pink toy bunnies all playing the drums simultaneously until their battery ran out. The Duracell bunny lasted longest.

In 1989, Energizer, a competitor, released an ad parodying the famous Duracell campaign. It started with the familiar scene, but then after the Duracell bunny was left alone, Energizer’s cooler bunny, pink with sunglasses came on stage and outlasted Duracell. Again the ad was extremely popular and the Energizer bunny, became a pop-culture icon. Over the next 20 years, 115 Energizer bunny ads were created and a fortune spent on the campaign.

So what went wrong? Well in sales terms, Duracell extended its lead over Energizer and held the lead into the late 90’s. Why?

Because even after seeing the ads thousands of times, consumers had no idea which brand was which. In 1990, near the peak of the Energizer bunny’s popularity, Duracell claimed that 40% of its customers thought the campaign was promoting Duracell, not Energizer.

The products are difficult to distinguish from one another .It is difficult to accurately remember what batteries you are using or how they have performed unless you keep a diary of when you change them. Duracell had already established first that theirs was the bunny that played a drum. The Energizer bunny was apparently a confusion for the customer. Doesn’t pay to be too clever!

Duracell had established first that theirs was the one with the bunny that played a drum. The Energizer bunny was apparently a confusion for the customer. Doesn’t pay to be too clever!

Some companies have famously used the setting of a world record in the Guinness Book of records to spearhead a campaign. For example in 2011, The Estée Lauder Companies sought a high-profile event which would engage key global markets and generate worldwide media interest in the 11th anniversary of its Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign. Guinness World Records established a new record category for the most landmarks illuminated in 24 hours.

The international record attempt engaged local audiences with landmark illuminations, which included iconic structures Dubai’s Burj Al Arab and the Taj Mahal Hotel, India. Media outlets followed the record attempt as the illuminations went around the globe. After 24 hours,events culminated in New York at the Empire State Building where the final illumination took place,and Elizabeth Hurley, ambassador of the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, accepted the Guinness World Records certificate in front of the world’s media.

As a result of 38 landmarks illuminated , and 24 Countries reporting the record, the media reach was estimated at more than 6 million

When you are designing a branding strategy, you need to find the trigger feature that motivates your customers.

If you were a weight-loss expert, you could approach the marketing of your service as a health expert or you could focus on marketing yourself as a weight-loss expert.

Or you could market yourself as a ‘fat-loss guru’, or a ‘post- baby- fat-loss guru’.

As we go through the example above, we have narrowed the product, and therefore the target customer that might be attracted. But the appeal grows dramatically.

If I have just had a baby I don’t want someone used to training fit men, I don’t want a health expert, I want someone who can help me get rid of 20 pounds of post baby fat, fast and sympathetically.

We tend to want things that are specific and narrow. But when we go to market our products and services, the intuition tells us to try to capture more customers by marketing our product as a more broad solution. This, of course, is a mistake. People tend to buy specific solutions to specific desires, not general solutions.

When the iPhone came out, it looked like just another phone, but it has functionality like no other phone. For example, when you scroll down, just a flick of the finger will stop the scrolling page. It can merge two calls .Many people bought it, and buy other gadgets, not because they need and use the functionality, but because they just have to have the latest and best gadget. They will pay a premium price to get it, even though they know it will be cheaper later. Just the fact that it is the hottest gadget triggers their buying behaviour.

What is the aspect of your product or service that really motivates your customers and triggers their “buying behaviour”. Try to find it and use it as the major theme of all your branding.

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WHY DO BUSINESSES FAIL?

Business failing

Likely causes of failure include:

  • Owner may have gone into business for egotistical personal reasons rather than in pursuit of a clear opportunity.
  • No formal business plan, with the business simply reacting to events as and when they occur. Proper planning should lead to effective resource allocation, the definition of clear and realistic targets and appropriate prioritisation.
  • Expectations may be unrealistic
  • The error may be a focus on short-term profits at the expense of creating sustainable value for the long term.
  • Risking under-investment in marketing and promotion.
  • Company may become over-generalised, trying to compete in too many markets rather than focusing on one or two as the category leader.
  • It may be that company simply cannot grasp what is needed to aspire to sustainable competitive advantage in the longer term.
  • Failure to understand and react to change: customer behaviour, competitors’ innovations and unforeseen initiatives, macro-environment.
  • Failure to manage cash flow:
  1. Spend cash before it is flowing positively
  2. Having a capital structure carrying too much debt
  3. Inadequate cash reserves
  4. Poor credit arrangements
  5. Managing debtors ineffectively
  6. Managers lack of financial awareness and responsibility
  7. Irresponsible personal use of business funds
  • Poor inventory management, with working capital tied up unnecessarily in fixed assets.
  • Poor forecasting may lead to unsatisfied demand.
  • Controllable costs may be allowed to increase without challenge.
  • Unnecessary over-investment in fixed costs
  • Failure to prepare contingency plans to address volatility in company’s uncontrollable costs.
  • Poor performance monitoring and defective budgetary control systems.
  • Maybe the owner is just a jerk whom staff, suppliers and customers will not wish to support wholeheartedly.
  • Poor management at the top of the organisation will bring down the company. “Entrepreneurs who treat the company as their own personal piggy-bank without paying proper heed to sound financial governance are often behind their business’ demise” (Wickham and Wilcock 2013). For instance,
  1. Owner-managers can fail to delegate, and try to go it alone without seeking professional external advice- or worse, they may seek uninformed help or financial support from friends and family.
  2. Owner-managers may tolerate inadequate, inexperienced or downright poor management because it is cheap and compliant.
  3. Owner-managers may be unable to attract and retain the right talent.
  4. Owner-manager’s overconfident decisions and failure to recognise his strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Business owner may experience ‘burn-out’ due to loads of tasks or be subjected to family pressures and other life distractions.

Business picking up

Chances of success will be improved if companies pay heed to the following:

  1. Develop a business plan
  2. Obtain accurate financial information about the business in a timely manner.
  3. Profile the target customer.
  4. Profile the competition.
  5. Go into business for the right reasons.
  6. Do not borrow family money and do not ask the family for uninformed advice.
  7. Network with other business owners in similar industries.
  8. Remember someone else will always have a lower price.
  9. Realise that consumer tastes and preferences change.
  10. Become better informed of the resources that are available.

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Developing a winning business plan

Please click to download for free the slides presented at the event Developing a winning business plan. Questions and comments are welcomed on this platform.

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Why Leadership Management Is Important

In every company there are different employees with different designations and different responsibilities. And in some industries, whenever a company starts a new project, the responsibilities of employees change. To perform these responsibilities the employees may already have the required skills or they may not have these skills. That is why whenever a new project starts employees involved in the project are given special training in which they learn the skills which they will need to perform their future duties. These training sessions are given to the employees by keeping the long term goals of the company in mind and the soft skills which the employees will need in the future to perform the responsibilities which are allotted to them because of the new project. All these courses are part of the leadership management process of the company which is to ensure that the company achieves the set goals and targets.

Leadership management process of a company does not only ensure that the set targets are achieved in a better way but it also ensures that the future leaders of the company come from within the company. To develop those leaders, mentorship plays an important part and the employees of the company are mentored either through their seniors or through the leadership management program for the organisation. Such a program is designed in a way that the course contents are quite relevant to the business which the company runs. The courses should not be boring but instead be quite enjoying and the participants are made to learn different soft skills through interesting activities. Moreover, they should be for the personal development of the participants. The participants themselves come to know about their weaknesses and strengths and they also learn how they can overcome their weaknesses and take maximum advantage of their strengths.

Companies put in place leadership management processes not just to create leaders for the company’s future but also to facilitate efficiency improvement and cost optimisation. When it comes to business, organisations management wants to measure the return on investment in terms of revenue on a monthly basis but here in this case the return on the investment can be measured after 6 months or a year by comparing the output or performance of an employee before and after attending the program. There is always a visible improvement in the performance of employees. A cost and benefit analysis could be made by comparing the increased profit gained by the company due to better employee performance with the amount of money invested on the program. Company should be able to ascertain that the increase in profit is much more than the money which was invested on the program. Research has shown that such programs not only give extra soft skills to the employees but they are also cost effective for the company and the return on investment is much higher than the money invested. That is why market leaders and cost leaders encourage their employees to attend such programs.

In addition, changes are made to the course contents of the programs with the change in the nature of the business or in the trends of the new skills required within the industry the business operates in and/or with the commencement of new project. All these are to ensure that all the employees have the right skills set and are mentored properly. Companies that put leadership management processes in place are never short of good leaders and rarely recruit outside the organisation for top management positions. Hence reducing the recruitment cost as well.

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THE MANAGER AS A DECISION MAKER Part 3

As the Part 2 of this series examines the role of information in decision-making, THE MANAGER AS A DECISION MAKER Part 3 goes further to analyse the nature of managerial decision-making by first differentiating between programmed and non-programmed decisions, and explains why non-programmed decision-making is a complex, uncertain process.

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THE MANAGER AS A DECISION MAKER Part 2

THE MANAGER AS A DECISION MAKER Part 2 is a continuation of the series that discuss how people make decisions and how organisational factors can affect the quality of the decisions they make and ultimately determine organisational performance.

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THE MANAGER AS A DECISION MAKER Part 1

THE MANAGER AS A DECISION MAKER Part 1 introduces you to the manager’s challenge in relation to effective decision making and how the quality of the decisions ultimately determine organisational performance.

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Application of management theories

Application of management theories.

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Business Support Services Map

Business support services map

This is an invaluable resource to businesses in the United Kingdom and especially to those based in Barnet borough. It is the output of a comprehensive research carried out with my research colleague Moneeb Rana and supervised by a scholar Dr.LakshmiNarasimhan Chari of Middlesex University Business School on behalf of the London Borough of Barnet.

Download the Key Findings to this project. Contact Mayowa via m.odunnaike@yahoo.co.uk for the detailed report.

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Application of management theories

This is about the use of management concepts, theories and analytical techniques to provide advice and practical information that will aid managerial planning and decision-making tasks. As decision-making is an everyday activity of the human life, so also it is for any enterprise. Quality decisions which are informed by systematic analysis of relevant information are sine qua non to business growth continuity. Decisions are not to be made arbitrarily like the manner of some business owners are. Moreover, decision-making is not an activity exclusive to top management but should be something every member of staff is allowed to take part in doing. All employees must be thought on how to make a well constructive analysis of available information to make quality decisions. This means organisational learning is important for all members of staff. Different theories should be considered from the academic view-point in the process of decision-making without any biases. These theories are then to be correctly applied to improve business processes at various business areas. Hence, to drive organisational learning, tangible effort should be made to train staff on how to use a number of management tools. For example, knowledge mapping could be used where application of these theories have previously been documented. Image

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