Efficiency versus Competition


Is big business efficiency more important than preventing competition? Many big companies claim that their large size makes possible many operating economies.  Today’s complex technology, far-flung markets, complicated financial systems, and transnational competition make bigness essential for survival and efficient operation. Placing restrictions on today’s corporate growth just to preserve a competitive ideal formed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries seems to make little economic sense. On the other hand, others point out that competition stands at the heart of private enterprise ideology and that small businesses, consumers, and workers should be protected against big business expansion even though it may mean a loss of efficiency.

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.

Not-for-Profit Marketing


Non-for-Profit organizations encounter a special set of characteristics that influence their marketing activities. Like profit making firms, not-for-profit organizations may market tangible goods and/or intangible services. One important distinction exists between not-for-profit organizations and profit oriented companies. Profit-seeking businesses tend to focus their marketing on just one public—their customers. Not-for-profit organizations, however, must often market to multiple publics, which complicates decision-making regarding the correct markets to target. Many deal with at least two major publics—their clients and their sponsors—and often many other publics, as well. Political candidates, for example, target both voters and campaign contributors. A college targets prospective students as clients of its marketing program, but it also markets to current students, parents of students, alumni, faculty, staff, local businesses, and local government agencies.

A second distinguishing characteristic of not-for-profit marketing is that a customer or service user may wield less control over the organization’s destiny than would be true for customers of a profit-seeking firm. A government employee may be  far more concerned with the opinion of a member of the legislature’s appropriations committee than with that of a service user. Not-for-profit organizations also often possess some degree of monopoly power in a given geographic area.

Perhaps the most commonly noted feature of the non-profit-organization is its lack of a bottom line—business jargon referring to the overall profitability measure of performance. Profit-seeking firms measure profitability in terms of sales and revenues. While not-for-profit organizations may attempt to maximize their return from specific services, they usually substitute less exact goals, such as service-level standards, for overall evaluation criteria. As a result, it is often difficult to set marketing objectives that are aligned specifically with overall organizational goals.

A typical aspect of a non-for-profit organization is the lack of a clear organizational structure. Not-for-profit organizations often respond to constituencies that they serve, but these usually are less exact than, for example, the stockholders of a profit-oriented corporation. Not-for-profit organizations often have multiple organizational structures.

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.

Technology and New Knowledge


Technology is one of the most powerful forces affecting business and society. Improved technology includes machines of all sizes, shapes, and functions; processes that enable business to produce goods at faster speeds, with lower costs, and with less waste; and software that that incorporates new forms of learning into formats that direct machines (hardware) to perform functions that would have taken much longer, and been less reliable, if done by other means. Technology involves harnessing human imagination to create new devices and new approaches to the needs, problems, and concerns of a modern society.

Technology also involves drawing together fields of knowledge that coverage, enabling new ways to solve problems or perform tasks.

Although new technologies have the potential to benefit large portions of the population, they may also negatively affect some people. As new technologies become available, the challenges to sound decision making become even more ethically complicated.

Technology is creating what experts call the knowledge economy. This is an economy in which new knowledge, in all of its many forms, is reshaping and transforming old industries and businesses, creating new industries and businesses, and ultimately affecting individuals, families, communities, and institutions throughout the world. For these reasons, technology must be understood as one of major drivers of change in both business and society.

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.

 

Writing Useful Instructions


When you need to explain in writing how to do something, a set of step-by-step instructions is your best choice. By enumerating the steps, you make it easy for readers to perform the process in the correct sequence. Your goal is to provide a clear, self-sufficient explanation so that readers can perform the task independently.

Gather Equipment

  1. Writing materials (pen and paper, typewriter, computer)
  2. Background materials (previous memos, policy manuals, manufacturer’s booklets, etc.)
  3. When necessary, the apparatus being explained (machine, software package, or other equipment)

Prepare

  1. Perform the task yourself, or ask experts to demonstrate it or describe it to you in detail.
  2. Analyze prospective readers’ familiarity with the process so that you can write instructions at their level of understanding.

Make your Instructions Clear

  1. Include four elements: an introduction, a list of equipment and materials, a description of the steps involved in the process, and a conclusion.
  2. Explain in the opening why the process is important and how it is related to a larger purpose.
  3. Divide the process into short, simple steps presented in order of occurrence.
  4. Present the steps in a numbered list, or if presenting them in paragraph format, use words indicating time or sequence, such as first and then.
  5. If the process involves more than ten steps, divide them into groups or stages identified with headings.
  6. Phrase each step as a command (“Do this” instead of “You should do this”); use active verbs; use precise, specific terms (“three weeks” instead of “several weeks”).
  7. When appropriate, describe how to tell whether a step has been performed correctly and how one step may influence another. Warn readers of possible damage or injury from a mistake in a step, but limit the number of warnings so that readers do not underestimate their importance.
  8. Include diagrams of complicated devices, and refer to them in appropriate steps.
  9. Summarize the importance of the process and the expected results.

Test your Instructions

  1. Review the instructions to be sure they are clear and complete. Also judge whether you have provided too much detail.
  2. Ask someone else to read the instructions and tell you whether they make sense and are easy to follow.

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 Selling Process


It is difficult to manage something without a solid understanding of what it is you’re trying to manage. Unfortunately many people have a number of misconceptions about the selling process, the activities carried out by salespeople, and the personal characteristics necessary for a successful performance. To complicate matters even more, various selling roles can involve very different tasks and require different skills and abilities from the people who do them. The role of sales force should evolve from simple order taking to building long term customer relationships with retailers, for instance, the firm’s salespeople need to develop superior interpersonal skills, the ability to work effectively as members of cross-functional teams, greater knowledge of each market and competitive situation, and the technical and marketing skills necessary to collect and interpret large amounts of sales and cost data related to the product categories in each store they call upon.

Selling process begins with an examination of how organizational buyers make purchase decisions and how salespeople can facilitate and influence those decisions. It covers a variety of activities, tasks, and decisions involved in different types of selling situations.

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.

 

Corporate Disclosures


Giving stockholders more and better company information is one of the best ways to safeguard their interests. The theory behind the move for greater disclosure of company information is that a stockholder, as an investor, should be as fully informed as possible to make sound investments. By law, stockholders have a right to know about the affairs of the corporation in which they hold ownership shares. Those who attend annual meetings learn about past performance and future goals through speeches made by corporate officers and documents such as the company’s annual report. Those who do not attend meetings must depend primarily on annual reports issued by the company and the opinions of independent financial analysts.

Historically, management has tended to provide stockholders with minimum information. But companies now disclose more about their affairs, in spite of the complicated nature of some information. Stockholders therefore can learn about sales and earnings, assets, capital expenditures and depreciation by line of business, and details of foreign operations.

Corporations also are required to disclose detailed information about directors, how they are chosen, their compensation, conflicts of interest, and their reasons for resigning in policy disputes with management.

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.

 

Managing Inventory


Inventory is an area where financial managers can fine-tune the firm’s cash-flow. Inventory sitting on the shelf represents capital that is tied up without earning interest. Furthermore, the firm incurs expenses for shortage and handling, insurance, and taxes. And there is always a risk that the inventory will become obsolete before it can be converted into finished goods and sold.

The firm’s goal is to maintain enough inventory to fill orders in a timely fashion at the lowest cost. To achieve this goal, the financial manager tries to determine the economic order quantity or quantity of raw materials that, when ordered regularly, results in the lowest ordering and storage costs. The problem is complicated by the fact that minimizing ordering costs tends  to increase storage costs and vice versa. The best way to cut ordering costs is to place one big order for parts and materials once a year, while the best way to cut storage costs is to order small amounts of inventory frequently. The challenge facing the financial manager is to find a compromise that minimizes total costs.

That is why many businesses today are turning to just-in-time inventory control. Businesses—and even divisions within companies—link up through computers with their customers and suppliers, thereby automatically ordering only as much as is necessary for a given period of time.

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.

Message Content in Marketing Communications


Message content deals with what is said in a message and how it is said. There are five common content topics that have great relevance for marketing practitioners: 1) fear appeals; 2) the use of humor; 3) the role of music; 4) sex appeals; and 5) subliminal messages. Advertisers, salespersons, public relations spokespersons, and other marketing communicators use all of these message styles to varying degrees in hopes of gaining attention, achieving impact, and ultimately producing sales.

Fear Appeals: Companies sometimes use fear appeals in attempting to motivate customers to action. The underlying logic when using fear appeals is that fear will stimulate audience involvement with a message and thereby promote acceptance of message arguments. The appeals may take the form of social disapproval or physical danger aside from the basic ethical issue of whether fear should be used at all, the fundamental issue for marketing communicators is determining how intense the fear presentation should be. Numerous fear-appeal studies have been performed by psychologists and marketing researchers, but the fact remains that there still is no consensus on the “optimum” level of fear. Some Neither extremely strong nor very weak fear appeals are maximally effective. It seems that appeals at a somewhat moderate level of fear are best.

Humor: Politicians, actors and actresses, after-dinner speakers, professors, and indeed all of us at one time or another use humor to create a desired reaction. Salespeople and advertisers also turn to humor in the hopes of achieving various communication objectives. Whether humor is effective and what kinds of humor are most successful are matters of some debate among marketing communications practitioners and scholars.

Despite the frequent use of humor in advertising, relatively little is known in a definitive scientific sense about its effects on customer behavior. However there are some generalizations:

  • Humorous messages attract attention.
  • Humor can inhibit consumers’ understanding of the intended meaning of a message.
  • Because humor is a pleasant form of distraction, it can produce an increase in persuasion by effectively “disarming” receivers’ natural selective perception and reducing their tendencies toward counter arguing with persuasive selling claims.
  • Humor tends to enhance source credibility, thereby improving the persuasive impact of an ad message.
  • A humorous context may increase liking for the source and create a positive mood, thereby enhancing the persuasive effect of the message.
  • To the extent that a humorous context functions as a positive reinforce, a persuasive communication placed in such a context may be more effective.
  • The effects of humor can differ due to differences in audience characteristics. Advertisers must use humor carefully since consumers display a variety of tastes in what is humorous and what is not.

Music: celebrated musicians, as well as, non-vocal accompaniment and unknown vocalists are used extensively in promoting everything. Music performs useful communication functions such as attracting attention, putting consumers in a positive mood, and making them more respective to message arguments. Although music’s role in marketing is an increasingly understand subject, a few recent studies have begun to demonstrate the roles that music performs. Music is an unconditional stimulus in an effort to influence experimental subjects’ preference.

Sex Appeals: Sex appeals in advertising are often explicit. The use of explicit sex was unthinkable just a few years ago, it now represents part of a new trend toward more sexually explicit advertising. Sexual explicitness is prevalent and overt in some countries. Whether such advertising is effective and under what conditions it may be effective remain largely unexplored issues. Complicating the matter is the fact that sex in advertising actually takes two forms: nudity and suggestiveness. It is uncertain which form is more effective. There are several potential roles. First, sexual material in advertising acts as an initial attentional lure and also holds attention for a longer period, given that the models are attractive or the scene is pleasant. This is called the “stopping power” role of sex. A second potential role is to enhance recall. Sexual content or symbolism will enhance recall only if it is appropriate to the product category and the creative advertising execution. Sexual appeals produce significantly better recall only if the advertising execution has an appropriate relationship with the advertised product. A third role performed by sexual content in advertising is to evoke emotional response such as feelings of attraction or even lust.

Subliminal Messages: the word subliminal refers to the presentation of stimuli at a rate or level that is below the conscious threshold of awareness. Stimuli that cannot be perceived by the conscious senses may nonetheless be perceived subconsciously. This possibility has generated considerable concern from advertising critics and has fostered much speculation from researchers.

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.

Hetrogeniety


Because services are performances, frequently produced by humans, no two services will be precisely alike. The employees delivering the service frequently are the service in the customer’s eyes, and people may differ in their performance from day to day or even hour to hour. Heterogeniety also results because no two customers are precisely alike; each will have unique demands ir experience the service in a unique way. Thus, the heterogeniety connected with services is largely the result of human interaction (between  and among employees and customers) and all of the vagaries that accompany it. For example, a tax accountant may provide a different service experience to two different customers on the same day depending on their individual needs and personalities and on whether the accountant is interviewing them when he or she is fresh in the morning or tired at the end of a long day of meetings.

Because services are heterogeneous across time, organizations, and people, ensuring consistent service quality is challenging. Quality actually depends on many factors that cannot be fully controlled by the service supplier, such as the ability of the consumer to articulate his or her needs, the ability and willingness of personnel to satisfy those needs, the presence (or absence) of other customers, and the level of demand for the service. Because of these complicating factors, the service manager cannot always  know for sure that the service is being delivered in a manner consistent with what was originally planned and promoted. Sometimes services may be provided by a third party, further increasing the potential heterogeniety of the offering. For example, a consulting organization may choose to subcontract certain elements of its total offering. From the customer’s perspective, these subcontractors still represent the consulting organization, even though their actions cannot be totally predicted or controlled by the contractor.

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, Line of Sight

Life-Cycle Management


All projects have a natural life cycle from birth to death and that changes inherent in the life cycle cause shifting interfaces and broad changes over time which dramatically increase the need for the project management approach. This life-cycle property is also shared by product sales and systems development.

 The product sales life-cycle is probably the best known. Between the point of introduction and the final removal from the market (replacement by another product is more complicated) there are roughly four phases:

a)    Introduction

b)   Growth

c)    Maturity

d)   Decline

 Actually, a product must go through research and development stages before it is introduced on the market. If we add these phases to the product  we would have a larger cycle similar for products/projects/processes.

 Full Products/Projects/Processs Life Cycle:

  1. Pre-design phase—The product/project idea is born and given early evaluation. Early forecasts of performance, cost, and time aspects are made, as well as of organization and resource requirements. There is a high mortality rate in this phase.
  2. Design phase—A much more detailed design of the project/product is developed and its feasibility and desirability are determined.
  3. Pilot testing phase—An actual prototype of the product, system, or difficult prices of the project are made, tested, and redesigned as necessary.
  4. Startup/Introduction phase—The product is introduced or the main project is started up.
  5. Rampup/Growth phase—Product sales grow, and the product is expanded to its full volume.
  6. Mature phase—Sales are full, as is the project effort size.
  7. Rampdown/decline phase—Sales decline, phasing the project out.
  8. Termination/divestment—The product is removed, the project is stopped, and the system is sold.

 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, Line of Sight