People and Jigsaw Puzzles


People are like jigsaw puzzles. Just as a puzzle is a picture assembled by putting various pieces together in a certain way, a person is composed of various attributes fitted together in a particular manner. And just as puzzles have pieces that fit together to form a whole, each of us has a unique set of attributes, or characteristics, that together represent the essence of who we are. Furthermore, although a person may resemble some people more than others, no two persons are exactly alike.

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 Concept Lifecycle


The new products process essentially turns an opportunity (the real start) into a profit flow (the real finish). It begins with something that is not a product (the profit). The product comes from a situation and turns into an end.

What we have, then, is an evolving product, or better, an evolving concept that, at the end, may become a product. There are stages, like individual frames in a movie film:

  • Opportunity concept-a company skill or resource, or customer problem.
  • Idea concept-the first appearance of an idea.
  • Stated concept-a home or technology, plus a clear statement of benefit.
  • Tested concept-it has passed an end user concept test; need is confirmed.
  • Full screened concept-it passes the test of fit with company situation.
  • Protocol concepts-a statement (product definition) of the intended market user.
  • Prototype concept-a tentative physical product or system procedure, including features and benefits.
  • Batch concept-first full test of fit with manufacturing; it can be made. Specifications are written, exactly what the product is to be, including features, characteristics, and standards.
  • Process concept-the full manufacturing process is complete.
  • Pilot concept-a supply of the new product, produced in quantity from a pilot production line, enough for field testing with end users.
  • Marketed concept-output of the scale-up process either for a market test or full scale launch.
  • Successful concept (new product)-it meets the goals set for it at the start of the project.

Some firms have as many as three production models or prototypes. So, the idea that a new product suddenly “emerges” from R&D-like a chicken from an egg-is simply incorrect.

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.

A Sign of Bad Management


In the business world, there are many people who think that holding or attending a continuous string of meetings is a sign of their power and importance. The exact opposite is true. If meetings are merely routine or unnecessary, they are a sure sign of bad 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.

Checklist for Evaluating a Franchise


The Franchise

  • Did your lawyer approve the franchise contract you are considering after he or she studied it paragraph by paragraph?
  • Does the franchise give you an exclusive territory for the length of the franchise?
  • Under what circumstances can you terminate the franchise contract and at what cost to you?
  • If you sell your franchise, will you be compensated for your goodwill (the value of your business’s reputation and other intangibles)?
  • If the franchisor sells the company, will your investment be protected?

The Franchisor

  • How many years has the firm offering you a franchise been in operation?
  • Has it a reputation for honesty and fair dealing among the local firms holding its franchise?
  • Has the franchisor shown you any certified figures indicating exact net profits of one or more going firms which you personally checked yourself with the franchisee? Ask for the company’s disclosure statement.
  • Will the firm assist you with:

A management training program?

An employee training program?

A public relations program?

Capital?

Credit?

Merchandising ideas?

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.

Foreign Exchange


An international marketer needs to transact financial transfers across nation lines in order to close deals. The financial transfers from one country to another are made through the medium of foreign exchange.

Foreign exchange is the monetary mechanism by which transactions involving two or more currencies take place. Transacting foreign exchange deals presents two problems. First, each country has its own methods and procedures for effecting foreign exchanges—usually developed by its central bank. The transactions themselves take place through the banking system. Thus, both the methods and procedures of the central bank and commercial banking constraints must be thoroughly understood and followed to compete a foreign exchange transaction.

The second problem involves the fluctuation of  the rates of exchange. Fluctuations in exchange rates are based on the supply and demand of different currencies. The rate of exchange between two countries can fluctuate from day to day. This produces a great deal of uncertainty since a business person cannot know the exact value of foreign obligations and claims.

To appreciate fully the complexities of foreign exchange, a few terms must be understood. Their understanding also will provide a historical perspective on the making of payments across national boundaries. The terms are gold standard, gold exchange standard, gold bullion standard, inconvertible currencies, and hard and soft currencies.

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.

Post-sale Customer Loyalty


Maintaining the loyalty of major current customers can be crucial for improving a business’s profitability as its markets mature. Loyal customers become more profitable over time. The firm not only avoids the high costs associated with acquiring a new customer, but it typically  benefits because loyal customers a) tend to concentrate their purchases, thus leading to larger volumes and lower selling  and distribution costs, b) provide positive word-of-mouth and customer referrals, and c) may be willing to pay premium prices for the value they receive.

Periodic measurement of customer satisfaction is important, then, because a dissatisfied customer is unlikely to remain loyal to a company over time. Unfortunately, however, the corollary is not always true. Customers who describe themselves as satisfied are not necessarily loyal. Indeed, 60 to 80 percent of customer defectors in most businesses are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” before their defection. In the interim, perhaps, competitors improved their offerings, the customers requirements changed, or other environmental factors shifted. Businesses that measure customer satisfaction should be commended, but urged not to stop there. Satisfaction measures need to be supplemented with examinations of customer behavior, such as measures of the annual retention rate, frequency for purchases, and the percentage of a customer’s total purchases captured by the firm.

Defecting customers should be studied in detail to discover why the firm failed to provide sufficient value to retain their loyalty. Such failures often provide more valuable information than satisfaction measures because they stand out as a clear, understandable message  telling the organization exactly where improvements are needed..

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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