Saturday, January 31, 2009

Franchisee and Brand Building

There are various doubts about the Franchisee Route to Brand Building. Certainly aggressive growth can be obtained by using this route but there are some precautions to be taken as the path is fraught with risk.

First and foremost the path is taken to increase the brand presence and visibility but it may lead to brand dilution if the Franchisee management and employees do not understand the importance of the parent brand. So make sure you have proper guidelines and incentives and disincentives to induce the right behavior patterns in the Franchisee work force.

Encourage positive behavior by being fair in profit sharing and profit remittance dates et al as these are likely to create grouse in the Franchisee management. Also make sure that the termination conditions are set in the contract level only as also the SLA's expected off the Franchisees. But keep in mind that every failure would lead to a brand dilution.

So keep your fingers crossed and go for that aggressive expansion drive.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tackling Recession With Comraderie

Every problem is a hidden opportunity. Recession is a challenge in itself. One could fume and fret over it or get into proactive action depending upon the DNA of the person heading the company or the board of advisers who flank the top management team.

Alacrity in business could lead to certain business advantage for the company. The company is equipped with skilled staff who are a potential repertoire in themselves. And the truth is evident that Human Potential has no bounds, so all the things get skimmed to the mindset of the leader. To accept defeat from the situation or take it as a challenge to hone the disaster management prowess of the company.

If you take any case study of successful business conglomerate you find one thing in common, they dont wait for disasters to happen and they continuously churn their businesses by exiting non-profitable businesses and entering sunrise sectors on the go so they diversify their risk to the effects of business recession. Similarly having geographically dispersed global business is another hedge to the ills of recession. This could be called the self renewal of the organization. GE,Kingfisher,Reliance all exhibit self renewal.

But take heart, there is no age for learning and nothing lost by being the second mover. One needs to constantly be on the learning mode while transacting business.

Use your team to your advantage, instead of firing them make them your assets in distress. Set up crack teams to access geographies and business conditions of various countries and set up a list of potential business venture sites. Set up Center of Excellence teams to do research in the identified sectors about the best practices and the key Success factors. Take the entrepreneurial risk and go for it with the zeal of a high school project intern. You are likely to succeed.

Strategy To Boost Sales in Recession

It is recession time and from Business Standard to moderately priced Economic Times are discussing about reducing sales turnover. Economy is likely to grow at 7% for 09-10 years, so what is the repercussions and what should be the company's strategies.

I didn't give a thought to FMCG sectors strategies which are relatively insulated from the effects of recession, but certainly I think that the Durables Sector can gain through taking a hit on the margins by reducing prices those with net disposable savings can go for that discretionary or opportunity buy or impulse durable buy.

I think this would also give a boost to the economy which is showing a sign of slight slump at the present times.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

HR Strategies to be Adopted during Recession

1. There may be painstaking layoffs to be done. At that time it is required that the management keeps its communication open to avoid the effect of grapevine on the morale of the employees.

2. After painful layoffs the Morale of the employees may be at historical lows, so plans should be made to keep the morale of the residual team on a high. One solution which may work here is to go in for temporary layoffs with a promise to hire as soon as the good times return.

3. Days off ( Like 4 days week ) may also help to tide the recessionary months or years.

4. Pay and perks cut and performance based variable pay may help to a large extent.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Viral Advertisements For Free

Youtube is a huge medium. You can leverage this medium to generate free advertising eyeballs for your product. Create your awesome advert and upload it on youtube.

You are sure to get some lakhs or thousands of ad views.

This is free computer air time without paying a single penny for the same. Hence it can be safely called viral marketing on the net where you can create word of mouth for your product.

Also you could give your contact details and web site address and generate valid leads and business conversion for free.

So try out this channel today. Make sure you create a unique advert. You could also test your adverts copies on the internet and the ones which pick up on the net could then be aired on the television.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Downsizing and Rightsizing

Rightsizing is an ongoing process. The maladjusted and non performing bottom 10% of the employees should be removed on a regular basis , a number of Indian companies like the Infosys follow this practice.

Also downsizing is required at the time company is going through decreased profitability or recession has hit the economy. When the question is of survival at that time tough decisions have to be made.

Some times temporary layoffs and reduced pay can do the trick.At such times it is important for the company to do communication properly with employees and also motivate the employees to perform for companies survival.

Mahindra Xylo Advert

Mahindra XYLO advertisement is truly outrageous. It speaks against the traditional wisdom that Sedans are mark of luxury.

In the advt. they show a Container and compares a sedan to a container. Some consumers may get disturbed by such advt's some others may be attracted by the advt. if instead of irrationally rubbishing sedan , they stress on the fact that cosmopolitans are congested and it may be difficult to drive a sedan on the roads.

So what do you think is Human species a rational one. Would you buy a sedan or a car?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Repositioning Conundrum

Is Repositioning Successful always?

Should repositioning be sudden or incremental?

Is repositioning costly or cheap?

These are some of the questions which haunt CEO's and Boards of large companies. WEll I thought about it and came to the following conclusion,

A Number of brands reinvented using various strategies.

1. Bata is now not a value player and you find Bata Showrooms in swank malls. Bata did it gradually without big bang ad noise.
2. Ditto with Cambridge who from mass player are now a middle level player
3. Big Bazaar is doing it incrementally in their garments business with fashion@big bazaar.
4. LG and Samsung are trying to reposition as premium brands

As the demographics and income disposition of a market segment or nation changes you need to sync your products with the public expectations and you get your strategy right or wrong you are surely going to meet a degree of success if you at least try.

Also as your org matures you may have the technology and R&D also the capital to dabble in premium products and create separate brand or subsidiary to cater the upper echelons of consumers.

Also one reason for repositioning is that the Brand Freshness is maintained, so to keep a brand alive and relevant go for kaizan repositioning where you keep refining the brand positioning so that it is nearer to the customer expectations and doesnt loose its consistency of Brand Character.

What say.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Employer Branding

Employer branding was known as early as 1996. But now it is a full fledged concept and is being utilized with zeal and enthusiasm by all and sundry organizations because of its various advantages enlisted below

So lets first see what is Employer Branding?

It is the process of Marketing the company to existing and prospective employees. It is placing the organization in a good stead with the employees.

1. Attrition can be reduced because existing Employees are more satisfied
2. Right candidates can be hired for the right jobs as there is great Job Clarity in the minds of both the Employer and the Employees
3. Stress of Employee and Employer reduces with less number of Maladjustment employees in the companies.

All employees of an organization are brand ambassadors of their organization. But some who exhibits all the values , behaviors and culture of the organization are said to be the Brand Champions and are showcased by the organization’s as successful employees of the organization.

It is important to have a Employer Brand Equity ( through Employer Branding) which leads to increased Brand Equity of the company as Customer Facing Employees show maximum satisfaction and are more adept at handling clients with empathy and compassion.

On Why PSU’s Wont Perform

This is with due respect to the Navratna’s and the other healthy PSU’s. But still things move with disgusting drudging ness even at these places. Especially when you move to the fringes of the city the offices are just like you could have expected them to be at the time of British Raj in the Eighteenth Century.

Forlorn looks and dark alleys. Old faces with people hardly visible. Rural markets are now emerging as getting the lion’s share of market share of a company in various verticals. So is this the time to overhaul the offices of PSU’s in tier II and tier III cities now.

Also what about the mindset of the officers and workers which spell doom for these companies. With assured pays these officers are at their inefficient best with all the bag , baggage and unlearnings of a Graduating College which teaches no professionalism which may be elicited even by a Distance MBA student.

So I thought about it and came up with at least two recommendations to the powers at the helm of India, to create profit center oriented culture at these non – motivated unprofessional workforce.

1. Have a performance oriented bonus and a variable pay package
2. Have regional and national performance competitions highlighting and awarding and rewarding the winners in Company website and Annual Function and Reports
3. Send the key officers to Executive MBA programs which are only one year and also available part time.
4. If point 3 is not possible then conduct seminars by industry experts so that they can gain the expertise to propel PSU’s to be able to compete with the professional private ENTERPRISES.( Indicating Entrepreneurism ).

Iconic Brands

There are great brands and there are iconic brands. What are this iconic brands and can you try to think of some iconic brands that come to your mind?

Well here is a list of what I think is a Iconic Brand.

1. A brand that lives up to the brand promise. Is the brand promise well envisioned and documented. Do all employees have a knowledge of the brand promise.
2. A brand that generates trust. Customers don’t ask about any aspect as they are sure they will be delivered what has been promised.
3. Consumer Loyalty : There is exceptional Consumer Loyalty to the extent that customer becomes a brand champion for the brand and generates goodwill through blogs and word of mouth.
4. Unparalleled Customer Engagement : Consumers give valuable info and insights on their experience with the brand.
5. Continuous Customer Delight : Customer is delighted every time and comes back more often ( Sticky ) and buys more, recommends and up scales and cross scales.
6. Mind space Invasion and Customer Talk point : Magazines, Newspapers, Journals talk about the product giving free PR and the product becomes the talk of the globe.
7. Viral : All this gives rise to viral marketing effect and associated gains.

Some Iconic Brands and lessons they teach, which come to my mind are

1. Google : How one product can create an empire
2. Microsoft: How marketing prowess and capital are more important than innovation to marketing
3. Harry potter: A story worth told is worth a Billion
4. IPCL : How a unique concept can make a brand iconic overnight. (Entertainment marries Cricket and Diversity)

Kaizen Through Attrition

Come on. Am I nuts?

No but its true. A secure job with no competition what so ever takes you to your worst state of efficiency. So if you want that all should be nimble in your organization try attrition. Yes sometimes wear and tear can lead you to the ultimate HR nirvana and what that could be?

Fire bottom 10% of non performers every 6 months. Then what would be the result. Top performers will feel the zest and be motivated to deliver. Counsel the non performers that in this job there is no career and growth for both them and the company. If possible place them in other jobs in the same company or a subsidiary.

Else counsel them to find a better job and give them 3 months or so to displace so that no bad blood is developed within the organization.

More better managers or workers hired in place of these non performers will breed success in your organization.

Differentiation and Enterprises

Is there any relationship between the type of enterprise and the execution of differentiation policy. Well I thought about it and did some research and this is what I found.

Implementing new policies like differentiation and other Change Management interventions is easier in Private Enterprises and easier said than done in PSU’s and govt. depts..

There is a tendency in PSU’s to resist differentiation between top performing and under performers. With the concept of Unions and job security in PSU’s and govt. organizations it is hardly possible to fire the bottom 10% performers before they start spreading the inefficiency syndrome and party culture in an organization.

In private organizations with hardly any concept of Life Time Employment the above problems are not encountered and differentiation can be exercised easily. Thjs also creates continuos improvement even in the best with best being recruited all the time leading to a multiplier effect and a gain of immense employee productivity and effectiveness.