Company/Brands: Are you REALLY FAMOUS online?

Dear Friend,

Greetings to you!

I feel good writing to you again.  We had 2 very successful classes of Strategy of e-Marketing & Social Media Marketing happened in the last 2 months at the Mira Hotel Hong Kong with overwhelming responses of over 30 people attended each time.  We decided to re-run the training for the third time on Oct 13, 2011 at the Mira again.  Please feel free to forward to your friends who maybe interested for us.

A topic we talk a lot these days is “Are you REALLY FAMOUS online?”  You can be very famous in general and everyone may know your brand or company but yet you can still be NOBODY on the internet!!!  Let me give you a quiz to ask yourself to see how FAMOUS are you really on the internet?  Assuming you are a brand/company focusing China Market or Tourists coming from China?

  1. Can you find your company/brand names on first page of paid advertisements or natural search results of www.Baidu.com when you input them in English and/or Simplified Chinese?
  2. Can you find accounts or pages (公共主頁) of your company/brand names on www.RenRen.com when you input them in English and/or Simplified Chinese?
  3. Can you find accounts or pages (企業版) of your company/brand names on www.Weibo.com when you input them in English and/or Simplified Chinese?
  4. Can you find videos (TVC’s or Product Demos…etc) about your company/brand names on www.Youku.com when you input them in English and/or Simplified Chinese?

What I have listed here are the FOUR of the most important websites in China:

  1. Baidu is No.1 Search Engine in China (Vs. Google in rest of the world)
  2. RenRen is No.1 Social Network in China (Vs. Facebook in rest of the world)
  3. Weibo is No.1 Micro-blogging Network in China (Vs. Twitter in rest of the world)
  4. Youku is No.1 Video Broadcasting Portal in China (Vs. YouTube in rest of the world)

I personally believe, if you are REALLY FAMOUS online, you need to be found at least on these BIG FOUR categories of networks of the specific country where your target customers are located.  For example, in Hong Kong if you are targeting Chinese based customers, we are talking about Yahoo.com.hk, Facebook, Weibo and YouTube.  Obviously, it is not as simple as just appearing on these BIG FOUR websites as we are yet disregarding the collective effects of the blogs and discussion forums!  Nonetheless, it is the most simplest way to start doing a REALITY CHECK!

However, you may argue that it is only applicable for B2C business but not for B2B business!  What would you think if you repeat the same exercise with your competitor’s names and brands, then you find out the results are better than yours?  I think it is fair to consider you just need to compare with companies of your same category!

In the last couple of years Adams has helped different companies to increase their “Online Presence” and “Online Branding“.  It is really a PR activity but we are talking about the media is the internet.  Sometimes, you need to be extremely cautious about what is happening on the internet as your competitors may do very harmful actions to you without notice!!  Hence, you need some mechanism to help you to do the job!

We are happy to tell you that Adams is partnering with companies to conduct market research for our customers to evaluate the “Online Presence” or “Online Branding” of any given company or brand names by gathering the results from the major social media networks, blogs, forums and etc.

By intelligent knowledge database categorization, we are helping customers to define news and messages appearing on the internet are giving them “positive” or “negative” impact.

We are exciting to see this happen as there are no such benchmarking standards available to these dates but the increasing demand for such requirement is high!  The exciting thing is you can also measure your regional presence in Greater China.

We really hope these kind of service may help us all marketeers to have a better way to manage our brands on the internet and be more objectively measuring the success together!

I look forward to connecting with you again soon!

Best regards,

Matthew Kwan
Principal Consultant
Adams Company Limited

Giving up is a way to gain!

By Matthew Kwan - Copyright © 2011

Principal consultant of Adams Company Limited (www.adamshk.com)

Would you ever consider giving up to be a smart move? To give up sounds so negative, but it could well be the result of a very strategic thinking process. If you have watched the movie 127 Hours, you will understand what I saying. This real story is about a mountain climber who was trapped in no man’s land but who got himself rescued by his own sheer determination and courage in cutting his own arm off…

You can be experienced and skillful in certain business but this does not guarantee your work will be free of mistakes and risks. The macroeconomic environment is out of anybody’s control. We have seen a number of crises in the last 15 years including the Asian financial crisis in 1997, the burst of the dot-com bubble in 2000 and the global financial and economic crisis which started in late 2008. Few people were able to predict these events. If you have personally experienced these most terrifying moments, you can understand that blindly holding on one particular stock which is no longer valuable can cost you more than giving it up altogether!

So, how can we be smarter by giving up the right things at the right moment? The answer is to exercise a prioritization and continuous review process. Prioritization is the best way of strategic planning as well as budgeting. However, we need a continuous review process to ensure we are on the right track as well as looking out for potential risks and macro environmental changes.

There are different tools for prioritization. The following are some of my favorites:

1. Weighting table

By far, I think this is one of the simplest kinds of prioritization tool as it is so easy to adapt and expand to multiple dimensions, if you know how. The idea is first to list your options in no particular sequence. By giving a score to each option in accordance with its level of importance within an area of interest, you can instantly sort out your priorities. If there are multiple interests, then we can do the same exercise by allocating the percentage weighting to each interest area, making a total of 100 percent. There’s no limit to the number of areas of interest but the more there are, the less significant they are. I suggest that the maximum number of areas of interest should not exceed five.

weightingtable

2. Zero-based budgeting

I learnt this great tool during my good old days of working at Intel. It is particularly useful when you have to draw a clear line during your business planning due to a limited budget.Provided that you already know your priority list (which you could achieve by using taking the results from the weighting table exercise)you can then draw up a budget per item on the list. Next, you just need to draw a line on the priority list when you hit the limited budget amount. When you move the line to a bigger or smaller budgetto see the impact on the potential return-on-investment (ROI), you will be amazed to see the huge variance of ROI in certain cases.

zbb


3. Management by objectives (MBO)

Peter Drucker, father of management theory, came up with this wonderful tool in 1954. It has been adopted by countless corporations all over the world as a management and performance review process for many business matters. The simple idea is to assign a priority to the list of objectives for a given project or person. Hence, the focus for time and effort should be applied according to the relative priority. Though it sounds simple, I personally think it requires a great deal of discipline to make it work.

4. Boston matrix

This is a very nice way of segmenting your business lines or products. It shows you which really have relatively better market growth and market share potential as a bigger picture in terms of the four dimensions of the matrix: Star, Cash Cow, Dogs and Problem Child. By plotting your products quantitatively on the matrix, clear actions (both positive and corrective) can be easily identified in most cases. Of course the ideal situation is to make a bigger segment of your products into Stars!

boston_matrix


Matthew Kwan is a Principal Consultant of Adams Company Limited (www.adamshk.com) and is responsible for business consulting and enterprise training. He is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, lecturer and consultant working with enterprises and organizations in the commercial and Christian communities. He served for many years in multi-national companies including Intel, JP Morgan and Jardine, and has broad experience in sales & marketing and management in multicultural and international settings.

 

Business is all about negotiation!

Business is all about Negotiation!

Business is all about Negotiation!

By Matthew Kwan

Principal Consultant of Adams (www.adamshk.com)

Copyright © 2010.

Do you realize how much negotiation do you do everyday? You may negotiate with your customers for the most favourable prices, order quantity, delivery timeand condition. You may push your sub-ordinates and co-workers to deliver the jobs on time and with high quality that meet your expectation. You may try so hard to show your performance to your boss and managers in order to get a better pay rise or promotion in the next review cycle. All these show that doing business is all about negotiation!

Fundamentals of negotiation

The Chinese characters for business (“生意”) have a wonderful meaning of “flexibility of an intention”(i.e. 靈活生動的意向). Hence, you must view doing business as a negotiation process to reach an ultimate goal which leads to a mutually agreeable intention. I personally think that you will never reach the ultimate and sustainable results if you are not thinking win-win during any business processes! You may win once or twice but you will not get far if you are not gearing towards a mutual benefit in a business agreement. Believe it or not, giving way may actually result in gaining ground! This is exactly the platform of negotiation.

Strategy of negotiation

Understanding of the intention of the other party is the fundamental skill of negotiation. Without realizing the other party‘s underlying needs and intention is not going to help reaching any agreeable results. Another very important basis of negotiation is focusing on the big picture rather than on specific details. You may trade off something small in exchange for a bigger, more meaningful and longer term benefit. Therefore, at the end of the day, it is all about return on investment (ROI) calculation in the macro view.

Tactics of negotiation

You have to be courageous enough to explore the depth of the water. In the same sense, you have to be courageous enough to make your offer during a negotiation. Otherwise, you would never know exactly how far the other party is willing to give way. Don’t be shy to make your offer yet the offer must be “reasonable” enough to justify by itself. You could start high as it gives yourself enough room to back down. Don’t hit your baseline so early and easily. By doing this, you are likely to gain ground than hitting a dead end!

Best negotiators are those who have high Emotional Quotient (EQ) with calm and firm responses.Sometimes, sense of humor can be a very good tool to ease the tension during tough negotiation but never overdo it with sarcasm as it will create a disrespectful impression! This is definitely not easy when you are facing unfavorable situations without too much ground!Hence, before you enter into any negotiation no matter it is a customer meeting, a job interview, a performance review…etc, you should really get yourself well prepared with options of possibilities including competitive information and competitive offers from other parties in order to gain ground.However, as mentioned earlier, win-win should be the ultimate objective but we have to also accept the fact on the other hand that such status is not always possible!

Summary

In certain culture, negotiation is just part of life and people would expect to negotiate at all time.However, majority of us are not natural born negotiators.But with some very simple training, we can be a better negotiator in a relatively short time. One very practical thing to do is to remind ourselves in all circumstances that to ask if the offer made by the others, including your customers, suppliers, co-workers, managers…etc., the best they can do? You will be surprised that 80% of time you will get a discount, a better offer, a faster response or even a better career at the end without much negotiation! So, are you willing to ask?

Matthew Kwan is a Principal Consultant of Adams Company Limited (www.adamshk.com) and is responsible for business consulting and enterprise training. He is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, lecturer and consultant working with enterprises and organizations in the commercial and Christian communities. He served for many years in multi-national companies including Intel, JP Morgan and Jardine and has broad experience in sales & marketing and management in multicultural and international settings.

7 Most Important Steps for Entrepreneurship

By Matthew Kwan
Principal Consultant, Adams Company Limited http://www.adamshk.com/
© Copyright. April 10, 2009

Starting up a business is not difficult and failing it is more than easy. What are the most important steps entrepreneurs should take in order to stay above the water is the most critical question one should ask well before actually forming a company. I have summarized the our own experience as well as gathering some good practices that are available to ensure the chance of success for entrepreneurs as described below:

  1. Business Ideas
  2. Sales & Marketing Planning
  3. Cash Flow Calculation
  4. Business Registration & etc…
  5. Website Building
  6. Promotion & Advertising
  7. Execution & Continuously Review

1. Business Ideas

Whenever you think of any business idea, you need to start from the TAM (Total Available Market). Without knowing how big the demand of your products or service is, it is impossible to estimate how well you will achieve your sales goals in time. Even knowing your TAM, you should ask also how well is your potential competitors are doing in such market as they are a very good reference for you to evaluation the potential growth of this business in future.

2. Sales & Marketing Planning

I have written before about the 5C’s Business Planning idea and I would like to recap the idea here as it is too important to do this analysis to ensure you are not too far off from reality. Moreover, I think it is a very simple and effective way to plan & measure your sales & marketing effort. I have used in many customer cases and they work extremely well for them to position and re-position the overall business plan and idea. So, what are the 5C’s, they are Customers, Competitors, Complementors, Channels and Costs. Our of the 5C’s, I personally think Complementors is the most important of all. For details, please refer to The 5C’s of Business Planning in Adams’ Business Advisory Blog.

3. Cash Flow Calculation

Cash Flow is Everything! (as written in Adams’ Business Advisory Blog) If you cannot manage well you cash flow, you are dim to fail in time. A lot of companies fail not because of not having enough sales but not enough of cash flow. The most important question to ask is when can you breakeven your running expenses each month. If you cannot maintain a stable cash flow, your feeling will just like riding a roller coaster! The other important question to ask is how much initial capital you need to have to sustain throughout the period before breakeven. Obviously, the earlier you can breakeven, the less capital you need. Oppositely, if it takes too long for you to breakeven, you will very soon loose your momentum and your energy level and sometimes faith in yourself or your partners!

4. Business Registration & etc…

The process of registering a company in different countries are different but typically it is a lot easier to work with company secretary companies or certified public accountants and sometimes business centre companies to get these processes done with reasonable costs as there are too many nitty-gritty’s that you need to pay attention at for just once when you form a company. Personally, I think it is not justified at all to spend time to learn it through but not helpful for your business

5. Website Building

It is an internet age, if you are not building a website, you will never survive a chance to win in this extremely competitive world. In terms of building a business effective website, I recommended that there is a 4C strategy. (Please refer to Websites are so important to make e-Marketing campaigns successful!) The 4C’s are Customer Oriented, Contextual Contents, Call to Actions and Community. Since Converting Clicks to Sales Leads is the most important consideration, you really need to try every effort to make sure whoever visiting your site would take action to call you, email you, fill in a form or forward your information to friends. These would ensure you have a very good chance to succeed.

6. Promotion and Advertising

In order to be cost-effective, you don’t have choice but use e-Marketing as it is proven to be one of the highest ROI (Return On Investment) ways in promoting your company products and services. There are many ways to promote your products and services using e-Marketing and largely they may involve sending emails, doing search engine optimization or marketing, advertising online with banner ads or registering to directories…etc. However, if you don’t have any idea to start, you can use my proposed 6 Simple Steps to Start e-Marketing with a Success. More importantly you need to Maximize your dollars on e-Marketing in order to gain the best possible ROI.

7. Execution & Continuously Review

Doing plans and generate business ideas is very easy as it is comparatively less effort than execution. When you actually execute your plans you will soon find them difficult to realize as some of the ideas or methods would never work in the real world. With limited time, money and resources, you often end up dumping the whole idea all together. Therefore it is extremely important to do reality checks and review what is really happening with all your effort in executing your plans in a quantitative measure. I found many clients have a very ambitious start with lot of energy and so passionate about their dream in success of your business, however they fail to review the progress constantly and sidetracked by many things and challenge. So they were not able to re-focus and re-prioritize their effort early enough to regain the momentum to move forward.

Finally, I wish all the best to all entrepreneurs who have wonderful dream of success may achieve great result with their business plan and share with us the joy of Entrepreneurship!

Magical Top Three Things – Priority Setting for SME

By Matthew Kwan
Principal Consultant, Adams Company Limited
© Copyright. May 14, 2007

Managing time and priority in SMEs is extremely challenging as it is largely due to the fact that resources are limited and things have to do are so many. SMEs have no exemption from doing Sales & Marketing, keeping Accounts, managing Personnel and Office Administrations and yet at the same time keeping all Operations running smoothly.

One very simple way of priority setting I learnt during my Intel days is to always ask ourselves which are the most important Top Three Things (I call it as 3T from here on) at any given moment. Why it is so magical about 3T is once you ask this question, then you don’t have many choices in setting your priorities. Naming your top 3T does not mean you need to ignore all other important things you have to do, but rather keeping yourself stayed above the water with all the things needed to be accomplished in a timely fashion.

I understand that every opportunity is important to SMEs but if we cannot even handle 3 things at a time, we just have to simply “say no” or push out things to allow enough time and resources to deal with 3 things first.

Before I go in details, there are some rules that we may follow when we are using this 3T approach:

We only select the most important 3 things at a given moment; hence the list will change subject to the change of moment.
The given moment can be within next hour, next day, next week, next month, next year and so forth…
Before we can decide which are the most important 3 things, we should have a clear idea in mind what are things are required to complete by when across the board including Sales & Marketing, Accounting, Personnel & Admin and Operations…etc
Deadline is a good indicator for setting priorities of things but I would rather use “Impact of failure” to decide the priorities. The bigger the impact, the higher the priority it should be!

With the above rules in mind, now I want to list a few sample questions that we may ask ourselves when choosing our 3T in different aspects of our business affair. I am sure you can add other relevant questions to the list!

Sales
- Which top 3 customers or market segments that will bring majority of our revenue?
- Which are the top 3 deals in this moment can bring higher income to the company?
- Who are our top 3 competitors in the market in the specific product segments?

Marketing
- Which top 3 products/services of our company have higher growth potential?
- Which top 3 media are most cost effective to support our sales?
- Which top 3 marketing channels can help our products/services get more awareness in the market?

Finance & Accounting
- What are the top 3 accounting gaps that our company is facing most challenges?
- What are the top 3 financial issues in our company may hinder our growth most?
- What are the top 3 areas that we can improve our accounting accuracy?

Personnel & Office Administrations
- What are the top 3 requirements we want most in an opening job position?
- What are the top 3 problems that may deteriorate our working environment?
- What are the top 3 areas that can motivate our workforce?

Operations
- Which top 3 top 3 processes may need attention in order to improve efficiency?
- What are the top 3 issues that may hinder our overall productivity?
- What are the top 3 areas may need to increase resources?

Summary
The ability of identifying our 3T is not difficult to learn but whether we can master this art is a matter of discipline. It is so easy to make a plan without any desire of execution. I have experienced this fact myself and witness many other fellow SMEs failing in doing so very often! Therefore, my advice is making your 3T list as open as possible to your stakeholders including employees, business partners and to certain extends your customers. In such case, we may ask our stakeholders help and safe guard our 3T as well as to avoid false expectation or false understanding of our priorities. 3T may not solve all our priority conflicts but it should give us a good guideline when to distinguish our top 3 priorities when we are so buried in our work with confusion!