Pricing


Whether or not it is so recognized, pricing is one of the most crucial decision functions of a marketing manager. Pricing is an art, a game played for high stakes; for marketing strategists, it is the moment of truth. All of marketing comes to focus in the pricing decision. To a large extent, pricing decisions determine the types of customers and competitors an organization will attract. Likewise, a single pricing error can effectively nullify all other marketing-mix activities. Despite its importance, price rarely serves as the focus of marketing strategy, in part because it is the easiest marketing-mix activity for the competition to imitate.

It can be easily demonstrated that price is a direct determinant of profit (or loss). This fact is apparent from the fundamental relationship.

Profit = total revenue – total cost

Revenue is a direct result of unit price times quantity sold, and costs are indirectly influenced by quantity sold, which in turn is partially dependent on unit price. Hence, price simultaneously influences both revenues and costs.

Despite its importance, pricing remains on of the least understood marketing-mix activities.

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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Goodbye Industrial Economy, Hello Global Knowledge Economy


Goodbye the state running things, hello Global Joe Citizen empowered by the technology-driven changes in the first decade of the 21st Century and with a mobility beyond the wildest dreams of those who brought us into this world. Yes, I do mean us, fellow global citizens.

The 20th Century was all about us having to rely on governments to deal with those issues beyond our personal capacity to influence, regardless of how much concern and anxiety were personally invested. Simply put, this has all changed.

Just as the world landscape is now determined by a new order of collaborative arrangements, so the time has come for us all to seize control of our choices and pursue new personal value-led collaborations.

Together you and I must make it work for all our fellow global citizens, not least the 800 million who will go to bed hungry tonight. If the values, beliefs, ideals, and ethics that we take with us to work each day do not result in our business environment adding rather than detracting from the sum of global cooperation, our long-term personal and corporate business goals are doomed to failure.

But what we do have is a business environment pregnant with possibility and unfettered by past constraints of geography and technology. It is up to us as individuals to nurture an atmosphere where value-led decision making thrives.

Corporate culture looking beyond traditional business horizons is the agenda item of the moment. The public scrutiny and disapprobation flowing from corporate scandals on a global scale request and require a re-evaluation of compliance with ethical, environmental and social imperatives. A new collective, caring culture is no longer just an attitude of mind rather than depth of pocket; it makes good business sense.

Therein is your desirable future: you are the engine that drives new connection between global business and your community. Integrity is the fuel that drives both the engine and the process. Take control of your choices and root them in the eternal triangle of truth, trust and peace. Without truth there can be no trust and without trust there can be no peace. Adopt this landscape for mapping your relationships. Until people trust you, they will not change with you. So many of today’s leaders now fail to fulfill their ambitions for this very reason. Never underestimate the power of good intent. When you change, the world changes with you.

The more your ambitions are aligned to the benefit of humanity as well as your business, the more relevant the product of your labor will be. In turn, the more valuable you become in the market place, the greater your capacity to take control of your choices and your future. A values-led approach and entrepreneurial spirit advancing an enterprise culture are not mutually exclusive.

On the distant future day you finally retire from your business world, your peers, looking back, will judge you on your actions and achievements not just on your beliefs.

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.

 

Company Self-Concept


A major determinant of a firm’s success is the extent to which the firm can relate functionally to its external environment. To achieve its proper place in a competitive situation, the firm realistically must evaluate its competitive strengths and weaknesses. This idea—that the firm must know itself—is the essence of the company self-concept. The idea is not commonly integrated into theories of strategic management; its importance for individuals has been recognized since ancient times.

Both individuals and firms have a crucial need to know themselves. The ability of either to survive in a dynamic and highly competitive environment would be severely limited if they did not understand their impact on others on them.

In some senses, then, firms take on personalities of their own. Much behavior in firms is organizationally based; that is, a firm acts on its members in other ways than their individual interactions. Thus, firms are entities whose personality transcends the personalities of their members. As such, they can set decision making parameters based on aims different and distinct from the aims of their members. These organizational considerations have pervasive effects.

Ordinarily, descriptions of the company self-concept per se do not appear in mission statements. Yet such statements often provide strong impressions of the company self-concept. The following excerpts from the Intel Corporation mission statement describe the corporate persona that its top management seeks to foster:

The management is self-critical. The leaders must be capable of recognizing and accepting their mistakes and learning from them.

Open (constructive) confrontation is encouraged at all levels of the corporation and is viewed as a method of problem solving and conflict resolution.

Decision by consensus is the rule. Decisions once made are supported. Position in the organization is not the basis for quality of ideas.

A highly communicative, open management is part of the style.

Management must be ethical. Managing by telling the truth and treating all employees equitably has established credibility that is ethical.

We strive to provide an opportunity for rapid development.

Intel is a results-oriented company. The focus is on substance versus form, quality versus quantity.

We believe in the principle that hard work, high productivity is something to be proud of.

The concept of assumed responsibility is accepted. (if a task needs to be done, assume you have the responsibility to get it done).

Commitments are long term. If career problems occur at some point, reassignment is a better alternative than termination.

We desire to have all employees involved and participative in their relationship with Intel.

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.

 

Truth Map


Truth map is an audit process designed to get to the bottom of an organization’s challenges, opportunities and concerns. It requires the involvement of a cross-section of individuals from right across the whole organization, as well as other relevant parties such as customers and suppliers. At the most simple level, it involves asking a lot of people a lot of questions—but that is only the beginning.

It is not what truth map is that makes it special but the reasons why it is being undertaken and the spirit in which it is carried out that are important.

You may use truth map in two different situations, firstly as part of truth and reconciliation in business, and secondly as the first stage of a standard message mapping exercise.

A truth map covers the same ground in either situation but covers it in different ways and for slightly different reasons.

  • Use as part of a standard message mapping exercise (e.g., to assist a group of committed, enthusiastic individuals), the emphasis is on getting to the truth about future opportunities and challenges.
  • Use as part of truth and reconciliation in business, the emphasis is on getting to the truth of past conflicts, reconciling differences and healing resentments before an organization is even able to move on and address the future. In this type of situation, significant effort must be applied to bring the different parties to the table before dialogue and debate can even start to take place.

In both these situations the actual mechanics are much the same. Both situations require methodical, systematic but sympathetic questioning.

In the interests of objectivity, the presence of an independent adjudicator can be highly beneficial or even essential.

Truth map allows everyone to be heard, it airs people’s grievances and, when done well, even the most hardened objectors can move from being on the outside peeing in, to being on the inside peeing out.

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.

 

Problem-solving at the Upper Management Level


Full step-by-step application of the process, documented on chartpad or notepad, is required most often for concrete problems whose identity can be directly observed or easily visualized. These largely are mechanical, tangible situations.

At the upper management level, however, application of the process often consists of use of the ideas of the process. This includes discussion of a situation in al l its dimensions rather than formulation of hypotheses based on experience; attention to distinctions of identity, location, timing and magnitude rather than informed speculation alone; and testing of possible causes against the facts surrounding a situation rather than immediate action directed at the cause suggested by informed speculation. Data may be recorded and notes taken, but use of the process at upper levels of management is usually observable in the character of the questioning and the nature of the investigation. We observe people using the common language of Problem Analysis to organize their information, communicate it, and put it in perspective. They are sharing information through the channels of a systematic process. They are using words that will clarify each individual’s contributions.

Busy managers are not avoiding responsibility when they tell subordinates, “I want you to solve your own problems.” They have neither the time nor the specific skills to personally guide their subordinates’ problem-solving efforts. The truth of the matter is that managers who become directly involved in problem solving are subject to criticism for failing to set priorities on their own time or to delegate appropriately—in short, for failing to manage their operations. Managers need not have all the right answers. What is required of them are the ability and willingness to ask the right questions. The kind of questioning we use in specifying, in identifying distinctions and change, and in testing possible causes lends itself well to the process of assessing the logic and the work that other people have contributed to resolving a problem.

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.

Improving Quality


Improving quality is a lot like taking vitamins, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly. Although the results may not be immediate, long-term benefits are significant. Quality is neither a quick fix nor the program of the month, but rather a way of life for companies who are serious about improvements.

Quality is a fundamental to creating value, yet it is a moving target and must meet the customers’ current definition of quality. Thus, we offer the following recommendations for improving service quality and ultimately delivering superior customer value:

  • Design services in cooperation with customers. Learn what customers truly value by incorporating the voice of the customer earlier in the service development process. Also, it is important to determine not only the customers’ preferred service attributes but their relative importance, as well.
  • Focus your improvement programs outward, on market break points. Only by defining those episodes, when the customer comes in contact with the organization, and by focusing on the ones most critical can you see things as the customer sees them. Also, visualize the complete sequence of the moments of truth a customer experiences in having some need met. Remember, the customer sees service in terms of a total experience, not an isolated set of activities. Mapping the service cycle helps companies see these activities as the customer sees them.
  • Create a triangle representation of service quality. Hotels and restaurants often advertise and display on their properties ratings by one of the major motor clubs, such as AAA or Mobil Oil, Hertz #1 Gold Club service communicates a premium, value-added bundle of services to business travelers seeking a hassle-free car rental experience.
  • Use teamwork to promote service excellence—service workers who support one another and achieve together can avoid service burnout.
  • Create a service bias based on each of the following service quality determinants: professionalism, attitudes and behaviors, accessibility and flexibility, reliability and trustworthiness, service recovery, and reputation and credibility. These criteria can be used as guidelines for influencing positive service quality perceptions.
  • Develop proper measurements. Use metrics that are specific on nature, such as 95% on-time-delivery, customer wait time, or order processing time. Benchmark the best practices for each service are being measured, such as wait time or order delivery.
  • Employee selection, job design, and training are absolutely crucial to building customer satisfaction and service quality. Structure the job of service workers to maximize their ability to respond quickly and competently to customer needs. Also, train service personnel in areas of service delivery and attitude. Role play different service scenarios, showing various service recovery strategies. Provide service workers with some basic tools to help control service quality variation and uncover service problems.
  • Reward total quality efforts in marketing. Look for opportunities to reinforce quality behaviors when they occur. Employees should be rewarded ob the basis of these behaviors (commitment, effort) rather than strictly on outcomes, such as sales quotas. Rewarding a salesperson for meeting or exceeding quota with a bonus while giving a nominal award such as a pin or plaque to the person who fixes the product or process sends a clear message about the importance of quality.
  • Think of service as a process, not a series of functions. Service quality occurs when the entire service experience is managed and the organization is aligned to respond accordingly.

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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