Monday, December 25, 2006

Management Lite & Ezy 20 – The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship

You have heard of the success story of Bill Gates, Sir Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Google's co-founders. You admire them. You want to be an entrepreneur, too.

Remember Milton Friedman’s words? There is no such thing as a free lunch. Entrepreneurs pay a high price for their ventures. Here we will examine the dark side of entrepreneurship.


They are a numbers of risks entrepreneurs must confront, such as:

  • Financial risk - not all ventures are successful
  • Career risk – loss of employment security
  • Family and social risk – competing commitments of work and family
  • Psychic risk – psychological impact of failure on the well-being of entrepreneurs


When entrepreneurs’ work demands and expectations exceed their ability to perform as venture initiators, they are likely to experience stress. Stress can also result from a basic personality known as “type A” behavior. People with “type A” personality exhibit following characteristics:

  • Chronic and severe sense of time urgency.
  • Constant involvement in multiple projects subject to deadlines.
  • Neglect of all aspects of life except work.
  • A tendency to take on excessive responsibility, combined with the feeling that “only I am capable of taking care of this matter.”
  • Explosiveness of speech and a tendency to speak faster than most people.


Entrepreneurs may have inflated ego. Here are four characteristics that may hold destructive implications:

  • Overbearing need for control
  • Sense of distrust
  • Overriding desire for success
  • Unrealistic optimism

For those who are ambitious to become entrepreneurs, make sure you don’t become the Darth Vader of entrepreneur world.

Reference: Kuratko & Hodgetts, Entrepreneurship – Theory, Process, Practice, 7th edition

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Management Lite & Ezy 19 – The Entrepreneur Mind-set

Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?

For decades, scholars have been debating about factors behind the success stories of entrepreneurs. Kuratko and Hodgetts, for example, suggested that there are some common characteristics associated with entrepreneurs. These characteristics are given below:

  • Commitment, determination & perseverance
  • Drive to achieve
  • Opportunity orientation – Entrepreneurs focus on opportunities rather than on resources, structure, or strategy, as in the case of most managers.
  • Initiative & responsibility – Entrepreneurs actively seek and take initiative, and put themselves in situations where they are personally responsible for the success or failure of the operation.
  • Persistent problem solving – Entrepreneurs are not intimidated by difficult situations.
  • Seeking feedback
  • Internal locus of control – Successful entrepreneurs believe in themselves. They do not believe the success or failure of their venture will be governed by fate, luck, or similar forces.
  • Tolerance for ambiguity
  • Calculated risk taking – They are not gamblers, though.
  • Integrity and reliability
  • Tolerance for failure – Entrepreneurs use failure as a learning experience.
  • High energy level
  • Creativity & innovativeness
  • Vision – Entrepreneurs know where they want to go.
  • Self-confidence & optimism
  • Independence
  • Team building – Most successful entrepreneurs have highly qualified, well-motivated teams that help handle the venture’s growth and development.

Reference: Kuratko & Hodgetts, Entrepreneurship – Theory, Process, Practice, 7th edition

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sexual Violence in Malaysia – A Simple Analysis

A Muslim clergy in Australia, Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, caused outrage recently when he compared female rape victims who did not wear Islamic clothing to uncovered meat: “If you take uncovered meat and place it outside on the street… and the cats come and eat it… whose fault is it – the cat or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem.”

As a person living in an Islamic state, I was not a little bit shocked when I learned of this story. After all, clergies and politicians in my own country often make sexist remarks. Just recently, a city council in Malaysia imposed a dress code ruling which it claimed would protect the women. Are women to be blamed for sexual misconduct of men? I have done a simple analysis to find out.

Before I proceed, it is good to explain the ethnic composition of Malaysians, just in case some readers are not clear. The majority ethnic of Malaysia are the Malays, who make up nearly 60% of the population. Chinese and Indians are the second and third largest ethnic groups. The rest include non-Malay natives and some European descendents. The ethnic groups and their religions are given below:

· Malays – 100% Muslims as dictated in the constitution.

· Chinese – Buddhists, Taoists, Christians. Very few are Muslims.

· Indians – Mostly Hindus. Some are Muslims, Sikhs and Christians.

· Others – Mostly Muslims and Christians.

My analysis is based on a report from World Health Organization (WHO). WHO got its data from the Royal Police of Malaysia. I re-produce three figures from this report here.

All Malays are Muslims. Nowadays Malay women dress very modestly. Most of them don headscarves. One would expect that they are less likely to fall prey to sex predators. WHO’s report shows the contrary. Malays made up nearly 70% of the rape victims, higher than their proportion in the population.

Next, we observe that large numbers of the rape victims were under 16 years of age, and 69% of the cases in 2004 took place at home or in a building. Some of you already can make a smart guess… Yes, incest is a serious problem in Malaysia.

Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali of Australia said, “If [the rape victim] was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred.” It turns out that, in Malaysia, home is the most dangerous place!

Furthermore, rape cases are on the rise even though Malays have become more conservative.

It should be clear that holding women to be responsible for sexual violence won't solve the problem. Instead, men must learn to control their urge.


WHO Kobe Centre, National Report on Violence and Health – Malaysia, 2006

Monday, December 11, 2006

Management Lite & Ezy 18 – Application Portfolio

Can't decide whether to make a purchase for your company? Not sure if introduction of a new process to the company is worth the cost and time? Application Portfolio can help you to make decision.

Proposed by John Ward and Joe Peppard, Application Portfolio was originally conceived as a planning tool for information Systems. It categorizes information systems based on their business contribution. The four categories are:

Strategic. Applications that are critical to future business success. They create or support change in how the organization conducts its business, with the aim of providing competitive advantage. Note that whether the technology used is 'leading edge' does not indicate that the application is strategic – assessment must be based on business contribution.

Key Operational. Applications that sustain the existing business operations, helping to avoid any disadvantage. It can be argued that, in many industries, substantial numbers of applications – e.g. EPOS (electronic point of sale), ATM (automated teller machines) – have become so pervasive that they have become 'mandatory' for survival.

Support. Applications which improve business efficiency and management effectiveness but, in themselves, do not sustain the business or provide any competitive advantage.

High Potential. Innovative applications which may create opportunities to gain a future advantage, but are as yet unproven.

The four quadrants below illustrate the four categories of the Application Portfolio. (For some unknown reasons, management gurus like to use 2x2 matrices to explain their points.)

Ward, J., Peppard, J. (2002). Strategic Planning for Information System Harvard, 41-43.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Lee Kuan Yew, former Prime Minister of Singapore, was a proponent of Confucianism. He attributed the success of The Four Tigers – Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea – to this ancient philosophy expounded by Confucius (Kung Fuzi).

The Four Tigers, as we know, were most enviable in 1980s and early 1990s. In 1997, however, they were hit hard by Asian economic crisis. Until today, Singapore still has not fully recovered. Singaporean journalist Seah Chiang Nee summed up the problems faced by the island republic well: In the new millennium, we compete on ideas rather than on hard work. Singaporeans, brought up in a nanny state, just aren’t creative enough to produce ideas. Even if they do have ideas, they may be reluctant to speak out for fear of being ridiculed or even admonished.

Confucianism has contributed to the success of Singapore in the past, but it may become a burden in future!

Lee Kuan Yew is a Singaporean of Chinese origin. I am a Malaysian of Chinese origin. Unlike Lee, however, I am no fan of Confucius. While I like his call for filial piety, I also find many flaws in his teaching.

For example, Confucius dismissed rule of law. Instead, he advocated ‘Rule of People’. As a result of his teaching, Chinese have misplaced their trust on a long list of tyrants, such as The Great Helmsman. Rule of People is also an obstacle to democracy since average citizens don’t question their leaders.

Another weakness of Confucius’ philosophy is the emphasis of relationship, or “connections”. In modern day, this has led to nepotism or cronyism. Anyone who has started business in China would tell you that if you do not have connection, you can’t get the thing done. It is "know-who", rather than know-how, that matters.

If we look through her 5000 year-history, China was probably at her peak during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD). This was a period when Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism formed the three pillars of the Chinese society. Second emperor of Tang Dynasty sent a Buddhist monk, Xuan Zhuang, to study scriptures in India. By Sung Dynasty (960 – 1279 AD) however, Confucianism became the main guiding philosophy of the court. Sung Dynasty also marked the beginning of the long decline of the Middle Kingdom, which lasted for a millennium. China did experience brief revival in the early years of Yuan Dynasty and Qing Dynasty, when the country was ruled by Mongolians and Manchurians respectively. In the later part of Qing Dynasty, even the Manchurian Court had embraced Chinese values. Enter the Brits, and the myth of China as the power of the Far East was completely shattered. Today China is again reviving, but this probably is because Confucian values had been seriously eroded during the Cultural Revolution.

China’s neighbor, Korea, is another Confucian society. Thanks to the nationalism instilled by Confucianism, South Koreans are the angriest people in the world. South Koreans demonstrators have been reported to burn themselves or chop off their own fingers to protest against Japan, the former colonizer, and the United States, which was “responsible” for the division of Korean Peninsula.

South Koreans are also reluctant to buy imported goods. Prior to 1997 Asian economic crisis, foreign auto makers only sold a few hundred cars each year in South Korea. GM purchased Korean car maker Daewoo when the latter was in trouble during the economic crisis in order to penetrate the market. The irony is, even Confucianism was imported.

In the past few years Korean dramas have been very popular in East Asia. Anyone who is familiar with Korean dramas will tell you that most of them are sad stories. One common theme is that a girl fell in love with a guy from rich family, but the guy’s parents wanted him to marry another woman of “equal status”. The story often ends with the girl (lead female character) died of terminal illness.

If Korean dramas reflect actual Korean society, one can immediately draw these conclusions:

(i) Korean society is hierarchical, and the wealthy people look down on their poor fellows.

(ii) Arranged marriage without the consent of the parties involved is still common.

(iii) Koreans cry a lot but seldom smile.

And surely Confucianism is to be blamed.

Lee Kuan Yew has been more visible recently. Some say he is trying to assist his son, current prime minister Lee Hsien Loong. The senior Lee recently declared “the Singapore that we had – very orderly, very wholesome, very clean – is not good enough.” While he is not ready to admit it, the elderly statesmen should have realized by now that Confucian values are no panacea for the island republic’s woes.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Management Lite & Ezy 17 – Competitive Strategies for Market Followers and Nichers

Market Followers’ Strategies

  • Counterfeiter – The counterfeiter duplicates the leader’s product and package and sells it on the black market or through disreputable dealers.

  • Cloner – The cloner emulates the leader’s products, name, and packaging, with slight variations.

  • Imitator – The imitator copies some things from the leader but maintains differentiation in terms of packaging, advertising, pricing, or location.

  • Adapter – The adapter takes the leader’s products and adapts or improves them. The adapter may choose to sell to different markets, but often the adapter grows into the future challenger.

Market Nichers’ Strategies

The key idea to be successful in a niche market is specialization. For example, some firms sell extra large clothes or shoes to customers who are neglected by the majors.

Reference: Kotler & Keller, “Marketing Management”, 12th edition

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Xtreme Nights Girls

Last week I posted photos of modified cars. Now I am posting photos of the 'car show models'. (Click for larger images.)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Management Lite & Ezy 16 – Competitive Strategies for Market Challenger

Strategic Objectives

  • attack the market leader

  • attack firms of its own size that are not doing the job and are underfinanced

  • attack smaller local and regional firms

General Attack Strategies

  • Frontal Attack. The attacker matches its opponent's product, advertising, price and distribution.

  • Flank Attack. Target the enemy's weak spots.

  • Encirclement Attack. It involves launching a grand offensive on several fronts.

  • Bypass Attack. bypass the enemy and attack easier markets to broaden one's resource base. This strategy offers three lines of approach: diversifying into unrelated products, diversifying into new geographical markets, leapfrogging into new technologies to supplant existing products.

  • Guerrilla Warfare. It consists of waging small, intermittent attacks to harass and demoralize the opponent and eventually secure permanent footholds.

Specific Attack Strategies

  • price discount

  • lower price goods

  • value-priced goods and services

  • prestige goods

  • product proliferation

  • product innovation

  • improved services

  • distribution innovation

  • manufacturing-cost reduction

  • intensive advertising promotion

Reference: Kotler & Keller, “Marketing Management”, 12th edition

Saturday, November 25, 2006

More Choice Can Be Daunting

More isn’t always better. Too many choices are often too confusing, and too much selection can become a burden, not benefit. Whatever industry you’re in, if you can find a way to prevent prospects from becoming overwhelmed, you may just turn them into customers. And simplify your own life as well.

Another article from BusinessWeek… When Fewer Choices Mean Bigger Returns.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Xtreme Nights

Photos taken in a modified car expo. Click for larger images...

Hey, any car show is incomplete without those 'race queens'. Stay tuned for the photos of these hot girls...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Management Lite & Ezy 15 – Competitive Strategies for Market Leaders

In Management Lite & Ezy 14, we discussed the roles played by firms in a market – leader, challenger(s), follower(s) and nicher(s). Now we will discuss how a market leader deals with competition. In general, there are three strategies that can be taken by a market leader.

Expanding the Total Market

The dominant firm normally gains the most when the total market expands. The market leader should look for new customers or more usage from existing customers.

New users can be searched among 3 groups: those who might use it but do not (market-penetration strategy), those who have never used it (new-market segment strategy), or those who live elsewhere (geographical-expansion strategy).

Usage can be increased by increasing the quantity of consumption or increasing the frequency of consumption.

Defending Market Share

How can the market leader do to defend its terrain? It can be responsive – finds a stated need of customers and fills it. It can also be anticipative – looks ahead into what needs customers may have in the near future. Finally, a firm can be creative – discovers and produces solutions customers do not ask for but to which they enthusiastically respond.

Expanding Market Share

A market leader can improve its profitability by increasing its market share. However, there are some pitfalls:

  • The cost of gaining further market share might exceed the value.

  • Too many customers can put a strain on the firm’s resources.

  • If “exclusivity” is a key brand benefit, existing customers may resent additional new customers.

  • The possibility of provoking antitrust action.

Reference: Kotler & Keller, “Marketing Management”, 12th edition

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Management Lite & Ezy 14 – Market Leader, Challenger, Follower and Nicher

We can classify firms by the roles they play in a particular market. We will use an example from the book of Kotler and Keller to explain this:

In this hypothetical market, 40% of the market share is held by a market leader; another 30% is held by a market challenger; another 20% is in held by a market follower, a firm that is willing to maintain its market share and not rock the boat. The remaining 10% is in the hands of market nichers, firms that serve small market segments not being served by larger firms.

Let's look at some real world markets...

Mobile phone – Nokia (leader), Samsung & Motorola (challengers)

Microprocessor – Intel (leader), AMD (challenger)

Operating system – Microsoft (leader), Linux movement (challenger)

Fast food – McDonald’s (leader), Burger King (challenger)

Credit card – Visa (leader)

Commercial airliner – Boeing (leader), Airbus (challenger)

However, identifying a firm's role based on its market share can be erroneous. In the market of digital SLR – a kind of high-end camera preferred by professionals – top three spots are held by Canon, Nikon and Olympus respectively. Sony entered the market by acquiring the business of Konica-Minolta. Despite being a new entrant, this consumer electronics giant has assumed the role of a challenger. Leveraging its strong brand and extensive distribution channel, Sony aims to capture 20-25% of the market.

Olympus, on the other hand, makes smaller digital SLR with features appealing to casual users. It turns out that Olympus is the real nichers.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

An article from BusinessWeek

Walt Disney was at a local carnival with his grandkids when he was inspired to create Disneyland. A cold winter day of skating in Farmington, Me., got Chester Greenwood thinking up earmuffs. And Bill Bowerman saw in his morning waffles the design for the Nike Waffle running shoe...

Read on... The B!g Idea.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Silky Water

Look at the three images shown above. They are taken at different shutter speeds – 1/60 sec, 1/15 sec and ½ sec respectively. [Refer to my previous post for a brief explanation of shutter speed.]

Photographers like to take pictures of water flow at slow shutter speed. At a setting of say, ½ sec or longer, the water looks ‘silky’. This can be seen in the third picture above.

Taking picture at such a slow shutter speed presents a challenge, though. Firstly, if your hands shake, the image will be blurry. To avoid blurry picture, I stabilized my camera with a tripod.

Secondly, the image can easily overexpose (too bright), particularly if taken under sunlight. To cut down the light intensity, I used Neutral Density (ND) filter, which resembles your sunglasses.

Steps for taking silky water shots are summarized below:

  1. Stabilize the camera with a tripod.

  2. Place one or more ND filters in front of the camera lens. If you do not have ND filter, try sunglasses.

  3. Select slow shutter speed of ½ second or longer. If your camera does not have function for setting shutter speed directly, try Landscape Mode. Alternatively, take the picture at night.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Management Lite & Ezy 13 – Porter's Five Forces

Michael Porter is one of the most famous management gurus. He coined the term 'value chain' which has been overused today. However, I find his articles extremely dry and difficult to read.

Anyway, I will discuss his analysis of Five Forces here. According to Porter, there are five forces which determine the attractiveness of a market. They are:

The bargaining power of customers

The bargaining power of suppliers

The threat of new entrants

The threat of substitute products

The intensity of competitive rivalry

Let's look at an example – the PC industry.

Bargaining power of customers

The PC has become a commodity. There is no brand loyalty among PC users. The use of industry standard hardware and software means a user can easily switch from one brand to another.

Bargaining power of suppliers

Intel and Microsoft have tremendous bargaining power against the PC makers (even though they are challenged by AMD and Linux lately.)

New entrants

Virtually every components parts of a PC – motherboard, hard disk, DVD drive, monitor, battery (for notebook) etc – can be sourced from outside. Operating system can be licensed from Microsoft or Linux vendors. This means new competitors can enter the market fairly easily.

In fact, even desktop casing can be bought off-the-shelf. All a PC maker needs to do is to stick its own logo.

Substitute products

I don't see substitutes for PC coming to the market anytime soon. However, gamers may prefer PlayStation, Xbox or Nintendo.

Intensity of industry rivalry

Dell, HP, Lenova, Acer, Toshiba, NEC, Fujitsu, Gateway, Asus... you name it. These are the better known players in the PC industry. And then there are plenty of lesser known manufacturers. The rivalry is intense.

Based on the above assessment, we can conclude that PC market isn't very attractive. This probably explains why IBM sold its PC business to Lenova.

Kotler & Keller, "Marketing Management", 12th edition

Saturday, November 04, 2006

What we can learn from Google

What are the success formulae of Google?

Here are a few policies and facts of Google which I copied from the company's website. Hopefully these could shed light on their secrets.

  • Google's hiring policy is aggressively non-discriminatory and favors ability over experience.

  • Googlers have been Olympic athletes and Jeopardy champions; professional chef and independent film makers.

  • The chief operations engineer is also a licensed neurosurgeon.

  • Any Googler might have our next great idea, so we make sure every idea is heard.

  • Googler engineers all have “20 percent time” in which they're free to pursue projects they're passionate about. This freedom has already produced Google News, Google Suggest, AdSense for Content, and Orkut – products which might otherwise have taken an entire start-up to launch.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Management Lite & Ezy 12 – Helping Stores to Sell

Paco Underhill, managing director of the retail consultant Envirosell Inc., offers the following advice for fine-tuning retail spaces in order to keep shoppers spending:

Attract shoppers and keep them in store.

The amount of time shoppers spend in a store is perhaps the single most important factor in determining how much they will buy.

Honor the “transition zone”.

On entering a store, people need to slow down and sort out the stimuli, which means that shoppers will likely be moving too fast to respond positively to signs, merchandise, or sales clerks in the zone they cross before making the transition. Make sure there are clear sight lines.

Don't make them hunt.

Put the most popular products up front to reward busy shoppers and encourage leisurely shoppers to look more. At Staples, ink cartridges are one of the first products shoppers encounter after entering.

Make merchandise available to the reach and touch.

It is hard to overemphasize the importance of customers' hands. A store can offer the finest, cheapest, sexiest goods, but if the shopper cannot reach or pick them up, much of their appeal can be lost.

Men do not ask questions.

Men always move faster than women do through a store's aisles. In many settings, it is hard to get them to look at anything they had not intended to buy. Men also do not like asking where things are. If a man cannot find the section he is looking for, he will wheel about once or twice, then leave the store without ever asking for help.

Women need space.

A shopper, especially a woman, is far less likely to buy an item if her derriere is brushed, even lightly, by another customer when she is looking at a display. Keeping aisles wide and clear is crucial.

Make checkout easy.

Be sure to have the right high-margin goods near cash registers to satisfy impulse shoppers. And people love to buy candy when they check out – so satisfy their sweet tooth.

Reference: Kotler & Keller, “Marketing Management”, 12th edition

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Monday, October 23, 2006

Management Lite & Ezy 11 – Supply Chain and Products

In Management Lite & Ezy 10, we learned that a supply chain can be either physically efficient or market responsive. Which type should we have for our firm? According to Fisher (1997), this depends on whether we market functional products or innovative products. The table below explains the characteristics of these types of products. (Click for larger image.)

Now, it should be clear that if we market functional products, we need an efficient supply chain. Conversely, the supply chain has to be responsive for innovative products.

Functional products <-> Physically efficient supply chain

Innovative products <-> Market responsive supply chain

Fisher, M. (1997). What is the Right Supply Chain for Your Product? Harvard Business Review, March-April 1997, 105-116.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Slogans and Ad Taglines

Adidas – Impossible is Nothing

Avis Rent-A-Car – We try harder

Burger King - Have it your way

California Milk Processor Board – Got Milk?

Canon – You can Canon

Deere – Nothing runs like a Deere

DHL – We move the world

FedEx – We live to deliver

HSBC – The world’s local bank

Indian Tourism – Incredible !ndia

KFC – Finger lickin’ good

LG – Life’s Good

McDonald’s – i’m lovin’ it

Nike – Just Do It

Nokia – Connecting People

Thai Airline – Smooth as Silk

Thai Tourism – Amazing Thailand

Volkswagon – Drivers Wanted

Wal Mart – Everyday Low Prices / Always Low Prices

YouTube – Broadcast Yourself

Monday, October 16, 2006

Management Lite & Ezy 10 – Supply Chain

A few definitions of supply chain:

“A supply chain consists of all stages involved, directly or indirectly, in fulfilling a customer request. The supply chain not only includes the manufacturer and suppliers, but also transporter, warehouses, retailers, and customers themselves.”
- Chopra Sunil, Peter Meindl, 2001, Supply Chain Management: Strategy, Planning and Operations

“A supply chain is a network of facilities and distribution options that perform the functions of procurement of materials, transformation of these materials into intermediate and finished products, and the distribution of these finished products to customers.”
- Ganeshan, Ram and Terry P. Harrison, 1995, An Introduction to Supply Chain Management

A supply chain can be either physically efficient or market-responsive, or a mix of them. The table below compares the differences of these two types of supply chain. (Click for larger image.)


Fisher, M. (1997). What is the Right Supply Chain for Your Product? Harvard Business Review, March-April 1997, 105-116.

Hugos, M. (2003) Essentials of Supply Chain Management

Friday, October 13, 2006

Personnel Differentiation – Flight Attendants

In my previous post, Management Lite & Ezy 9, I described personnel differentiation strategy. Marketing gurus Philip Kotler and Kevin Keller pointed out in their book that flight attendants of Singapore Airlines (SIA) provide excellent service.

When a passenger aircraft takes off or touch down, everyone is required to be seated and fasten seat-belt. Cabin crews are no exception. Steward and stewardesses of Malaysian Airlines (MAS) usually retreat to the rear compartment during take off and landing.

However, I observe that flight attendants of SIA will simply occupy any empty passenger seats. This conveys a message that they are always with the passengers and always ready to serve. Well done, SIA.

I don’t have a very good memory with American Airlines (AA). I once flew from Los Angeles to Dallas. AA cancelled my flight and put me in a later one.

Then I noticed stewardesses of AA chewed gum. In Godzilla the movie, character played by Jean Reno chews gum in order to “look American”. I gather that gum chewing must be very common among Americans.

Unfortunately, stewardesses who chewed gum gave me an impression that they were not professional enough. I am not against gum-chewing. A police officer who chews gum is less intimidating. But a flight attendant who chews gum does not look serious.

Another point deducted from AA’s scorecard.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Management Lite & Ezy 9 – Market Positioning

Positioning, in the context of marketing, refers to the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the prospective target market.

The result of positioning is the successful creation of customer-focused value proposition. Here are a few examples:

Perdue (chicken) – More tender golden chicken at a moderate premium price.

Volvo (station wagon) – The safest, most durable wagon in which your family can ride.

Domino’s (pizza) – A good hot pizza, delivered to your door within 30 minutes of ordering, at a moderate price.

Companies often employ differentiation strategies to position their offerings or images. These include:

Product differentiation – in terms of form, features, performance, durability, reliability, style, design etc. as well as service dimensions (ordering ease, installation, maintenance, training etc)

Personnel differentiation – competence, courtesy, credibility, reliability, responsiveness, communication. E.g. stewardesses of Singapore Airline are courteous, responsive, speak many languages and wear traditional costume.

Channel differentiation – coverage, expertise, performance etc. Dell, for example, in known for selling PCs over the Internet.

Image differentiation – e.g. Marlboro with its “macho cowboy”

Reference: Kotler & Keller, “Marketing Management”, 12th edition

Friday, October 06, 2006

Sales Tips

Sales guru Tom Hopkins offers some tips to help close a deal:

  1. Ask questions that don’t leave room for no. “I could visit you today at 3, or would tomorrow at 9 be better?”
  2. Never use the word “price” or “cost”. Say investment.
  3. Never ask for “an appointment”. It suggests a serious time commitment. Say “I’ll be in the area, and I was hoping I could just pop by and visit.”
  4. Don’t ask, “May I help you?” They’ll reply, “We’re just looking.” Ask instead what brought them into the store today.
  5. Isolate areas of agreement. You need a lot of “little yeses” on the way to getting a “big yes”.

Reference: Kotler & Keller, “Marketing Management”, 12th edition

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Let there be Light

Look at the above two images. How do you find them? Note that first image was taken with flash ON while the second one was taken with flash OFF.

I'm sure some of you are confused. If first image was taken with flash on, why is it darker than the second one???

The reason is simple. The little flash wasn't powerful enough to illuminate the skyscraper.

But why is the second image brighter? To answer this question, we need to understand the concept of exposure. When we press the shutter button, the lens is 'opened' for certain length of time, allowing light to enter the camera and expose the image sensor (or film). The longer the exposure time, the brighter the final image will be, and vice versa. (Assuming that other factors are held constant.) In a camera, exposure time is determined by shutter speed.

I switched off the flash when I took the second image. The camera automatically selected a slow shutter speed of 1/6 sec, which means the exposure time was 1/6 sec. In contrast, the first image was shot with a shutter speed of 1/60 seconds.


When taking a night landscape picture, turning off the flash will 'normally' force the camera to select a slow shutter speed, and you get a better photo. (There are exceptions, but we will not discuss them here.)

Alternatively, use Landscape Mode or Night Landscape Mode, if your camera has one.


When you are shooting with slow shutter speed, the camera should be stabilized using tripod.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Management Lite & Ezy 8 – Market Targeting

In Management Lite & Ezy 7, I described segmenting consumer market. The next step a company does is to select one or more segments to enter. The targeted market segments should be substantial (large and profitable enough to server) and accessible (the segments can be effectively reached and served).

Derek F. Abell identified five patterns of target market selection:

Single Segment Concentration e.g. Porsche (sports car only, targeted at the rich and famous)

Selective Specialization e.g. Procter & Gamble personal care products (different products for different markets)

Product Specialization e.g. microscope (sold to different markets such as universities, government and commercial laboratories)

Market Specialization e.g. firms that sell assortment of products only to university laboratories

Full Market Coverage e.g. Coca-Cola

The diagrams illustrate these five patterns.

Note: P = Product, M = Market