Needs of 21st Century Organization


No one in his right mind wants to go back to the days of hunting and gathering. But it would be tremendously valuable if we could recapture that ability to work together with even a fraction of that efficiency to deal better with modern problem situations. Now, through contrivance and planning, we can recapture that ability and channel it to meet the needs of 21st century organization.

This is not to say that the organizational team will somehow represent a 21st century hunting group around with ballpoint pens instead of bows and arrows. Hunters’ ways of thinking were totally aligned, and their lives were totally aligned. What is required today is not total teamwork in all aspects of life; rather, it is selective, functional teamwork that can be turned on when needed, limited to those activities where it will be most productive. What is required is teamwork that can be summoned to handle organizational problems yet leave team members free to act as individuals in all other respects.

An approach is needed that can be invoked and shared when we need answers to specific questions, regardless of content that applies orderliness to complexity and confusion.

This kinds of accurate communication and common understanding is needed that prevail in the hunting bands. These must be modernized, selectively adapted to current conditions, and directed towards the critical functions of organizational activity where teamwork is most essential. All of this can be done.

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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Direct Response


You should, if at all possible, engage in direct marketing. The value to you is enormous. You get to pinpoint your prospects with amazing accuracy. You can be selective in regard to age, race, sex, occupation, buying habits, money spent on past direct mail purchases, education, special interests, family composition, religion, marital status, and geographic location. The list should naturally start with your own customers. From there you can expand it to include people who have recently moved into your area, and people who have recently been married or divorced, or become parents. You can eliminate people who have moved away.

You might engage in a simple direct mailing of postcards to customers, informing them of a sale you will have the next week. They will very much appreciate the early notification and will show their gratitude by purchasing from you. You might also engage a full scale direct mailing, consisting of an outer envelop, a direct mail letter, a brochure, an order form, a postpaid return envelop, and even more.

Whatever you do, the process begins when you decide exactly what it is you wish to offer. How will you structure that offer? Then you must select your mailing list. If you haven’t got the names already, you can purchase them from a list broker. Be sure, you buy a clean, fresh list. You must be certain that you know all  the costs involved: postage printing, writing the mailing, artwork, paper, personalization (individualizing each letter by name and address, and repeat mailing costs. Your gross sales, minus these costs and your production, handling, and shipping costs, will contribute your profits. Be sure you make financial projections and know your break-even point.

In the old days, a direct mail campaign meant a letter. Today it means a letter, two, three or five follow-up letters, perhaps a follow-up phone call or two, and finally, one more direct mail letter. Many entrepreneurs engage in weekly or monthly direct mailings.

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.

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.

Japan’s Manufacturing Techniques


Nations are built not with bricks and stones but with the capacity to create and apply knowledge. The result of knowledge creation and application in manufacturing and management practices is well demonstrated by Japan. Today we are witness to many industrialized economies that are strengthening their manufacturing activities simply by adopting these techniques.

The distinguishing characteristics associated with Japanese manufacturing techniques include an emphasis on designing and redesigning processes to optimize efficiency and a strong commitment to quality.

The manufacturing techniques that Japanese companies practice provide a competitive advantage and outstanding economic performance. The key for success is an understanding of the broad context of manufacturing culture, infrastructure and environment. These sound manufacturing and business techniques created and adopted by leading Japanese manufacturers have turned out to be the secret of their market leadership in many industries.

Following are a few of these concepts, which can help in managing any business set-up in a better way:

  • Kaizen is one such technique, which in Japanese means ‘improve.’ This is commonly recognized as practices focusing on continuous improvement in manufacturing activities, business activities in general, and even life in general, depending on interpretation and usage. By improving standardized activities and processes, Kaizen helps in eliminating waste.
  • Another management Japanese technique is the 5-S. It is a technique used to establish and maintain quality environment in an organization. It has five elements: Seiri (sorting out useful and frequently used materials and tools from unwanted and rarely used things); Seiton (keeping things in the right place systematically so that searching or movement time is minimized); Seiso (keeping everything around you clean and in a neat manner); Seiketsu (standardizing the above principles in everyday life) and Shitsuke (inculcating good habits and practicing them continuously). The 5-S practice helps everyone in the organization to live a better life.
  • Kanban and ‘Just in Time’ are two other practices in inventory management practices that were pioneered by the Japanese automobile manufacturers, such as Toyota. Quality improvement, on the other hand, is the result of lower proportion of component scrap since the components spend less time in the supply chain.
  • Poka-yoke is a process improvement focused on training of workers for mastering the increasingly complicated tasks to selectively redesign the tasks so they could be more easily and reliably mastered. It involves designing a foolproof process to eliminate the chance of errors.
  • Jidoka is a practice by means of which an individual worker runs several machines simultaneously. Japan thus designs such machines that eliminate both error and the need for constant supervision.
  • Muda is another technique that reduces wasteful activity in service processes. It ensures process efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Mura curiously combines rigidity and flexibility and thus teaches service process improvement.
  • Reducing Muri means reducing physical strain. In services process improvement, Muri applies to convoluted and unnecessary routings, physical transfer, and distances paper files may have to travel for a process to complete.
  • Genchi Gembutsu means going to the actual scene (genchi) and confirming the actual scene (gembutsu). Observation of service processes at the point where it is actually delivered may unearth a host of problems such as lack of training, unnecessary steps, or a number of other areas that would benefit from small but significant process improvement ideas.

This is a glimpse of manufacturing techniques that Japan has so intellectually created and so profoundly practiced in its manufacturing systems that even with no natural resources, it has acquired the status of one of the most industrialized nations. Can we learn from Japan?

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, Lectures, Line of Sight.

Marketing Communication


Communication is a constant activity. It is universal and essential feature of human expression and organization. Its scope is as broad as society itself, for every social act involves communication. Communication is concerned with sending and receiving knowledge, ideas, facts, figures, goals, emotions and values. It is much more than an occasional technique employed to convey a message. It is a ceaseless activity of all human beings, and therefore also of all human organizations. Communication is also a central element of the way in which people relate to and cooperate with each other, interpersonal event which is the building block of society. Individuals not only send and receive information in order to cooperate, but parallel with this individuals are constantly communicating their self-images to all around them. Whether we like it or not, whatever a person does as a social act will be observed by others, and is therefore a communication about themselves.

 Communication is more than a marketing tool. It is also an important basis of culture. It has fostered language and music, literature and philosophy, science and poetry. So in one sense, communication can be viewed as neutral and benign, a form of human interaction which helps society and the organizations within it to work well, and which can only benefit those who take part in it. This would be a reasonable approach to a definition if every communication included everything that could possibly be said on a subject, but of course this would be impossible. Communication is a selective art, as important for what it does not convey as for what it does convey.

 Communication is also a human skill, so it is concerned with the state of mind of the communicator, and with the state of mind of the person intended to receive the communication. Communications objectives are often specified as outcomes of attitude change.

 Does this mean that marketing communication is propaganda? To qualify as propaganda, business communication must be seeking to influence the emotional attitudes of others without allowing them to make an effective or rational choice. This is never the situation in business, where in every market there are competitors, and for every product or service there is an alternative or substitute. Indeed, the existence of competition is now arguably a necessary precondition for business strategy. Communication by a business is a creative form of differentiation, always competitive, always seeking to persuade customers, shareholders and employees that its own market offerings are the best choice available. That is the sales pitch of the marketplace, not the imperative of propaganda.

 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

Erosion Measures


Erosion measures refer to natural remnants of some individual’s or group’s activity that has selectively worn down certain objects. For example, if you are working in a nursing home, you might determine what the most popular activity in that home is by observing where the rugs are most worn. It might be in front of the television set or in front of the windows where people spend time looking out at the street. This could give you a possible measure for evaluating changes in the group’s activities.

 Other erosion measures might include decay and breakage. Active or aggressive physical activity can be inferred from the number of broken items (for example, windows) in a school or ward. The frequency of repair, replacement, or cleaning of certain objects in a setting may be used as an indicator of frequency of usage.

 When using erosion measures be sure that unrelated factors are not the reasons for observed changes. For example, a new junior’s zeal in cleaning may be responsible for changes in the patterns of use as detected by wear and tear on the floor. Similarly, it would help to know the amount of ordinary wear and tear on objects so that any excessive erosion or wear and tear can be related to target behaviors with more assurance.

 The second category of physical traces is accretion measures. These are objects deposited by clients in a given setting or the ordinary debris left by client interaction with or consumption of material. Thus, many of the behavior produces described earlier could be considered as accretion measures. Accretion measures also often focus on analysis of remains or even rubbish.

 Reliability and validity concerns are as important when using physical traces as they are with other measures, and these concerns are especially important when physical traces are being used to make inferences about behaviors.

 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