Compliance and Integrity


In the earliest stages, organizational ethics centered on the narrow perspective of ethics—the notion of compliance. Are we following the laws? Are we at risk from litigation? If so, how do we minimize that risk?

Ethics programs matured and ethics officers, most of whom are selected from the managerial ranks with little, if any, special preparation, developed increased sophistication regarding the challenges facing their organizations. Both the ethics officers and their organizations began to embrace personal and corporate values in decision making (value-based decision making) as the logical expansion of the definition of what it means to be ethical. What has emerged is what many ethics officers today characterize as the “best practices” model of the ethics office and of a values-based corporation.

But change continues. What is emerging today is a more holistic definition of what it means to be a “good” corporation. This new, global view will again help to reshape the responsibilities and focus of the ethics officer.

The shift to a global perspective means another broadening of the definition of ethics. “Global Integrity” is the latest descriptor, and it embraces both compliance and ethics. It also adds concern for rule of law, human rights, good governance, labor/child labor concerns, anti-corruption/anti-bribery, concern for the environment, safety, social responsibility, good corporate citizenship, and respect for the whole diverse array of local cultures to the definition. This increases the organization’s obligation to reach beyond traditional company boundaries to consider how decisions would affect the surrounding community. One consequence of this new global definition of the organizational ethics is increased scrutiny by stakeholders, especially advocacy groups and the media.

Corporate ethics officers, especially those in multinational corporations and/or corporations with global suppliers/markets, are being challenged with fundamental questions in this expanded integrity area. Perhaps the most common, and most challenging, is how the corporation will balance the desire for global standards (consistency) against the need for local application of standards.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Pressure Groups


Big businesses, big labor, and big government are giants on the economic scene. As a pressure group or interest group, each tries to achieve its own objectives. And of course the major objective of a business is to earn profits. Some are more successful than others. To become and stay successful, big businesses employ full time representatives to fight for and protect their interests with government and consumers alike.

Labor is big too. The pressuring power of unions  is evidenced by such accomplishments as minimum wage laws and 40-hour work weeks. Big government now employs large share of all workers in its agencies, departments, and programs. Pressure from government is felt through such actions as taxes, environmental protection laws, and anti-trust legislation.

There is a wide variety of other types of pressure groups such as the media, professional organizations, neighborhood organizations, and dissident stockholder groups. Large and small pressure groups work vigorously to influence business, labor, and government in directions favorable to their own interests.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Business Cards


Business cards can be plain and straightforward for big company executives. The executive’s name, company name, address, and phone number are enough. Perhaps a title is also necessary. But for a smart practitioner of individual enterprise, that business card ought to contain a lot more information.

A business card can double as a brochure, a circular, a walletized advertisement. The cost to produce such a card is not much more than one pays for a standard card. But the need is different. Lacking a large stockpile of hard currency, the small businessperson must make use of all the advertising media available. A business card can be more than a mere listing of one’s name, address, and phone number, it can be an advertising medium.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Great Advertising Precedes Great Research


It’s not difficult to turn up a marketing pro who will tell you that the three most important things to do to market anything successfully are to test, test, and test. That is a pretty good advice. But it is unrealistic for those with resource poverty, who cannot shell out big bucks for sophisticated research.

The big secret is that you need not shell out any money to learn about your market. If you know what to look for and where to find it, you can obtain critical information for nary a cent. Here below are some of the things you might want to find out:

  • What should you market – your goods, your services, or both?
  • Should your marketing feature some sort of price advantage?
  • Should you emphasize yourself, your quality offerings, your selection, your service, or merely the existence of your business?
  • Should you take on your competition or ignore all competitors?
  • Exactly who are your competitors?
  • Who are your best prospects?
  • What income groups do they represent?
  • What motivates them to buy?
  • Where do the live?
  • What do they read or watch or listen to in the way of media?

The right answers to these questions can prove invaluable to a marketing effort. The wrong answers, or no answers, can prove disastrous. Do what you must to get the right answers. In most cases, great advertising is preceded by great research.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

Information: The Corporate Power


The explosion of the general public’s use of the Internet or World Wide Web was mirrored by business. In the 1990s, business connections to the Internet increased from 1,000 firms to an estimated 21,000 or more by 1996. Experts predict this growth to increase rapidly into the year 2000.

The Internet can provide firms with many advantages. For example, developing a marketing strategy that relies on the Internet can benefit firms by replacing electronic mail systems, providing a global reach to customers, selling products and services in cyber space, and creating on-line databases, media lists, and other marketing tools. Firms discovered that customer service was enhanced with the Internet.

Use of the Internet became one of the hottest new strategies in the securities trading industry. Brokers had more information available to them to assist their clients since resources were available electronically. In addition, Internet-based brokers can be reached anytime from any computer with a secure Web browser, making them more accessible to their clients.

Paperless libraries dramatically changed the way information was stored and significantly reduced costs to businesses. Rather than printing information on paper, firms documented information on CD-ROMs, videodiscs, and the Internet, where it was stored and retrieved at less cost.

Supplementing the Internet as a communication tool are intranets, private or limited information network systems cordoned off from public access by software programs called firewalls. The corporate use of intranets exploded as companies found that these information communication systems were very expensive.

Satellite imaging was another technological advancement that showed promise for integrating technology into business. For decades, governments used satellite imaging to spy on their enemies. In the 1990s, companies were finding other uses for this technology.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

The Promotion Management Process


The Promotion management component of the total marketing communications mix consists of six major tools: personal selling, mass-media advertising, direct mail advertising, sales promotion, point-of-purchase communications, and public relations/publicity. These tools operate in concert with one another to help accomplish various marketing objectives.

The overall promotion management process consists of a logical sequence of decisions that must be made in order to implement effective promotional programs and achieve marketing objectives: situation analysis, marketing objectives, promotion budget, integration and coordination, promotion management program, and evaluation and control.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

Consumer Affairs Department


Many large corporations operate consumer affairs departments, often placing a vice president in charge. These centralized departments normally handle consumer inquiries and complaints about a company’s products and services, particularly in cases where a customer has not been able to resolve differences with local retailers. Some companies have installed consumer hot lines for dissatisfied customers to place telephone calls directly to the manufacturer.

Many companies now communicate with their customers and other interested persons through Websites on the Internet. Some sites are interactive, allowing customers to post comments or questions that are answered via e-mail by customer relations staff.

Experienced companies are aware that consumer complaints and concerns can be handled more quickly, at lower cost, and with less risk of losing goodwill by a consumer affairs department than if customers take a legal route or if their complaints receive wide-spread media publicity.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

Public Relations (PR)


Public Relations is the management function that evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organization with the public interest, and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance. In other words a good public relations program has three steps:

  1. Listen to the public: Public relations starts with good marketing research (evaluates public attitudes).
  2. Develops policies and procedures that are in the public interest: One does not earn understanding by bombarding the public with propaganda; one earns understanding by having programs and practices in the public interest.
  3. Inform people of the fact that you are being responsive to their needs: It is not enough to simply have programs that are in the public interest. You have to tell the public about those programs so that they know you are being responsive.

Publicity is one of the major functions of the public relations department. Publicity is any information about an individual, a product, or an organization that is distributed to the public through the media and that is not paid for, or controlled by, the sponsor.

Other activities include:

  • Establishing contact with civic groups, consumer organizations, and other concerned citizens to learn their views of the organization, to answer their questions, and to provide information (or education).
  • Opening lines of communication with customers, suppliers, distributors, retailers, stockholders, government agencies, educators, and community leaders.
  • Conducting studies to find the economic, environmental, and social consequences of organizational practices and to learn how to make a more positive contribution to customers, stakeholders, and society.
  • Providing any assistance needed to adjust the goals, policies, practices, personnel policies, products, and programs of the organization to meet the needs of changing markets.
  • Assisting all members of the firm in developing effective programs of consumer information and education.
  • Sending speakers to schools, clubs, and other such groups to maintain an open dialogue with students and other socially active members of society.
  • Creating incentives for employees to participate in public-affairs activities such as raising funds for charitable groups.
  • Answering consumer and other complaints promptly and correcting whatever it was that caused the complint.
  • Training employees or volunteers to provide prompt, friendly, courteous, and helpful service to anyone who contacts the organization in person, by phone, or written correspondence.
  • Demonstrating to society the organization is listening, reacting, adjusting, and progressing in its attempt to satisfy its diverse publics.
  • Opening two-way communications with employees to generate favorable employee opinion and to motivate employees to speak well of the organization to others.

This is an incomplete description of all the activities and responsibilities of the PR people, but it at least gives some feeling for what they do.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

A Socially Responsive Company


Executive leaders of largest corporations have been confronted with an unprecedented increase in the social issues impinging upon their business policies and practices. Not only have a variety of social regulations have been developed that apply universally to all industries, but each industry has also experienced to varying degrees a proliferation of industry-specific challenges for the corporate social environment.

In response to the pressures, businesses have increased their efforts to manage for corporate social environment. The social environment encompasses business activities influenced by various community and government groups. Many chief executives spend more time on the external affairs of the business than any other activity. Most executives allocate significant personnel, time, and budget to the creation of elaborate staff groups to help them understand and manage this environment and its challenges.

Some firms may be more vulnerable to social group pressure and social regulation than others. A number of factors have been identified as contributing to this vulnerability. A firm may be more vulnerable to social forces if the firm is:

  • A large-sized or well-known company thus presenting a big target.
  • Located in an urban area and under increased scrutiny by the media and social groups.
  • Producing a consumer-oriented product viewed as a necessity by the public.
  • Providing a product or service that may cause harm or injury to the user.
  • Part of a heavily regulated industry that is expected to meet high public expectations.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

Translating Information into Action


Information must be actionable, if it is to be of value to you. That means it must include a customer profile (most often consisting of demographics and buying behavior—psycho-graphics—that enables you to assign all of your customers to one or another of your defined segments. Unless you’re both ready and able to use the results of all this effort to alter your marketing strategy, your money is probably better spent elsewhere. Segmentation only pays off if you use it to fine tune your marketing program.

If you have computed the lifetime value for each segment, you can now make a very scientific assignment of resources to customer groups. You can be selective in this process. If you choose, focusing on just a few segments—or even one. In fact, that may be a good way to validate your ideas before you institute any large-scale changes in your marketing strategy. The important thing is that you use the information to adapt marketing into a more customer-focused and less product-centered approach.

Often you can finance new marketing initiatives by re-deploying the budgets previously spent in pursuit of unprofitable business, because you can now recognize it for what it is. Screening out can be as important as targeting.

You can then assign an appropriate percentage of your marketing budget to each segment which merits pursuit, echoing the percentage of profits that segment has the potential to generate. Consider members with lower grades within a well-defined, profitable segment as areas of opportunity. You know that companies with a given cluster of needs and buying behaviors can be profitably attracted to your offerings and way of doing business. All that remains is to focus on expanding penetration there.

Put your marketing imagination to work. Because you now understand the priorities of each segment so well, you’ll also know how to determine the most potent messages for each, and the media mix that can best deliver it. In addition, because the economics of each segment are clear, you can develop a plan that matches communications alternatives to allotted budget on a cost-per-contract basis.

As a result, most of your money will be invested where the profit potential for developing loyal customers is the greatest. Whilst this strategy appears to be self-evident, it too seldom happens in real life decision-making, since quantification of potential profitability by market segment is sadly lacking.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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