posted 13 minutes ago by Edwin Marchan
"Diversification is a protection against ignorance. It makes little sense for those who know what they're doing."
Well Warren your right on the money, but when you say "diversification" do you mean portfolio, industry or geography?
In past weeks I've learned you can juggle your way through recessions and the upswings of the market, but it's really offshore investment what it's all about. During the last market crash I had banked all my trust in good old Wall Street...yep me a couple other suckers...when the DJIA hit the 8000's I was cashing out everything. Yes you, me and many others like us lost a lot of money...
This made me reflect upon the next crisis and I stumbled upon a brand called CitiTrust International which provides a great strategy, they provide financial services in the emergent and sunny Belize since 1994. Today they can proudly boast the are the #1 provider of international financial services in Belize and other jurisdictions, specialized in incorporating international business companies under the flexible International Business Companies Act of Belize and other jurisdictions and the formation of Trusts under the Belize Trust Act that is unlike any other trust legislation in the world.
On May 1886, exactly 125 years after Dr. John Pemberton from Atlanta, GA delivered via a mix of water and other mysterious ingredients in a brass kettle the one and only secret Coca-Cola formula. But that was just the product, it was actually his bookkeeper to whom we owe the name and the original hand written logo. From nine servings sold per day to a staggering 1.7 billion servings per day - talk about growth factors!
I guess we've all had our story with Coke, it's a brand with a specially emotional connection. Mine starts back when I was a kid all I wanted was to drink it all day long, but it was for special occasions only. Remember my mother gave me a can, I drank half of it, filled up with water so it would multiply...what a waste.
On another occasion went on a school picnic and some kid opened my can inside the bus, sprayed everyone...all that was left was a mushed sandwich inside my Harrods plastic bag (no lunch boxes in UK back then) think I was five...cried like a baby and had two older girls feed me for the rest of the outing. Later on when I lived in Ecuador I recall my best friend and I would climb over the wall into his grand father's house and get Mr. Martinez to open his bar and grant us with a pop of the forbidden elixir while he told us stories of when he was a real cowboy. The bottles were smaller back then but grandpa's tales are unforgettable. One day the Coca-Cola truck came by the house and my mom actually brought an entire case, it was like a dream come true, 24 bottles of Coke in the fridge! As time passed the bottles got bigger, plastic took over glass. There's that amazing story of the Cola Wars when Pepsi and Coke bottlers would buy each other's bottles and break them in order to gain market share....
Then when I had my own income to drink it on a daily basis we discovered it had too much sugar. So then they launched the Diet/Low Cal version which resulted dangerous for your health....well I have to admit, I love a drink of Coke, specially Zero in the black can, ice cold...aaaaaahhhhhhhh. Then there's the mixes with beverages: in Chile we'll drink Piscola: Pisco plus Coke, then there's the famous Cuba Libre: Rhum and Coke or Jack & Coke. I'm sure every nation has it's own mix. Bet you want one now, thats exactly the strategy, to be on your top of mind "recency" and awaken thirst.
The master of advertising as we know it, 125 years doing the same drink but always keeping it fresh. And the caffeine rush of course...anyone remember the "New Coke"? the ultimate marketing belly flop? Later on in I had the opportunity to handle the Coca-Cola account at McCann-Erickson, one of the all time highs in my career. Never experienced a brand that cares so much about it's customer base and appreciates input. Everything was tested with the target audiences again and again: ad campaigns, messaging, story boards, promos, quality standards, flavor, etc.... I recall the European Union aluminium can crisis - millions of cans were taken off the market due cases of intoxication. As a result Coke was banned in Europe and the globe. A major PR and Policy mishap we should all learn from.
Another encounter I had with the brand was in Galapagos where a ship had capsized during a storm close to the beach. I went snorkeling one morning to the see the wreck and in a most surreal panorama saw the entire ocean covered with Coke bottles. On the bright side, the brand is well known all around the world, crossing cultural barriers. The unforgettable Christmas campaigns with Santa Claus, the Polar Bears...This is one brand that will probably outlive us all. Please let me close with a - cheers - and the celebration ad produced by my ex-colleagues at McCann http://bcove.me/sidg527p
My last story, don;t want to bore you anymore...my kids went to the Coke Museum in Atlanta, where you can try Cokes from all around the world and as a souvenir they brought back an aluminum bottle, mus of been in the fridge for more than a year, have to confess one night I drank it...it;s still there (filled with water...)
Blessings & have a great week!
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Google: Social Search Finally Launches
It was only a matter of time till Google went social on a larger scale with +1 (similar to the "like" button on Facebook) and timing has a lot to do. Ex-#1: Eric Schmidt is replaced today by Larry Page who takes on the role of "The New" #1/CEO/Emperor of the Search/Media/Advertising/Communications Conglomerate. Now what is #1: think of it as a digital "word-of-mouth" - people like something, they click #1 and boom, via diverse Google channels and sites across the Web you'll see your friends recommendations.
What does it cost? well as in all things "Googly": you need to create a "Google Profile" which puts the privacy issue on the table. You can keep it private if you choose. If you desire to be among the #1s in experiencing this feature you can join at Google Labs.
Have an awesome weekend and don't forget to Marchan-dise it!
A Brand Called “Survey Salsa”
How do you know what your customers think about your brand? Do you have a system and process to retrieve feedback after every interaction? I’ve seen this hundreds of times, companies pitching “state-of-the-art” technological solutions, passing out a survey on paper. Then the data needs to be processed manually, input on a spreadsheet and later on displayed in graphic form, when the business dynamics require we do business @ the speed of thought.
Recently I teamed up with an old colleague of mine: Miguel Munoz, I was "flabbergasted" by his new cloud based software: SurveySalsa.com: “online surveys with spice” a one stop solution for surveys, forms and questionnaires. Bottom-line its data that can help you evaluate & understand the customers’ experience. Information that empowers business to make fast corrective actions.
On the flip side if you are looking on hot to innovate on social media I suggest you test this as a tool to evaluate perception among your network. Ask friends and family what they think about a particular contact in a fun way. For example ask if John was an animal which one would he be? What has being his funniest story? If he was a car, which one would he be? Just to name a few. You would be surprised to see how creative people are and the different perceptions they have of the same person. Make a quick survey and post it on Facebook! But before showing the results in front of everyone, make sure your friend responds to the survey. You will give the gift of insight and hopefully some laughs!
What I love about Survey Salsa is the ease of use, lets you order “a la carte” and export data directly into excel, creating the reports you need, in English and Spanish, so try it while it's free;)
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A Brand Called "Seth Godin"
with the sole objective of making books or information more available to readers vs. scarcity
and high prices - kind of utopian but doesn't it make sense to make knowledge more
accessible to everyone? I mean greater offer would reduce prices. In his latest book the central
theme in "The Death of the Industrial Age" is what "Poke the Box" is all about, leadership,
failure and even a very interesting concept:
End of day, it's OK to fail as long as you get up and endure one more day;)
Marchandising is the way to go!
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A Brand called "Marchandising"
In a nutshell “Marchandising” is: the use of social media as a means to advertise a brand and ultimately generate conversion. As opposed to traditional forms of advertising, where only “deep pockets” are capable of getting a message across to the target audience, “awakening needs” and persuading purchase intent. With a smart Social Media strategy you can target, persuade and influence at the lowest cost per sales lead possible. This is exactly what every business is after: ROI (return on investment).
Marchandising has a holistic approach towards branding, therefore entailing different stages that initiate with a thorough brand assessment which should derive in a traditional SWOT Analysis: Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats. It may seem simple but clearly identifying the brands “core strength” and defining the unique sales proposition are a longtime challenge for marketers. Once the brands marketable asset is defined, all energies should be focused towards this purpose.
The next step is weaving the “digital spider web” by using a series of techniques to develop content on the diverse social media outlets. The more content created on the internet, the easier it becomes for your brand to be found and attain optimum search rank. Three steps need to be taken in order to achieve “Brand Equity” which is equal to the Customer Value (what a customer is willing to spend on a particular brand) minus the Product Cost (what it really costs to make it): BE = CV - PC
· 1: Brand awareness: increase traffic on your webpage
· 2: Brand Recognition: increase search ranking
· 3: Brand Preference: convert into lead generation; qualified leads
The road is not easy, but the destiny that lies ahead is one where customers willingly end up paying a “premium” for the pleasure of proudly displaying your brand. Great examples of developing brand loyalty are:
· Ralph Lauren: made in the far east polo shirt can go for $270
· Gucci: a bag is a bag is a bag....but put the logo on it and its suddenly expensive.
Blessings & have a great weekend!
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A Brand called "Nokia" by Stephen Elop
For years the Citrix brand has specialized in one particular niche: "Virtualization" and has become a synonym of this term. But what does “Virtualization” really mean? What miracle can it perform for average Information Worker’s desktop? Especially when the average IW takes his or hers laptop out on vacation! A recent USA Today poll headline read: “One in Five Brings Laptops on Vacation”. Are you one of them? (I know I’m in one of these freakish four). Why do we do this? Well, our hard drives contain years of work & play, the idea of losing a gigabyte brings along emotions of nightmarish proportions. Take a moment and think about the last time you had to access data from your computer and didn't have it with you. Not a good feeling right? “Information Workers” drag along theirlaptops around the globe challenging the old adage: “the lighter you travel, the farther you go…” Computers also contain our music, photos, videos, games and the never ending desire to connect to the web. But for some, been connected to the “business” is mission critical.
So what if I told you that the data on your desktop can be accessed from any device? Well that is exactly what Citrix can “virtually” do for you. It empowers people to take full advantage of the connected world; this means data following humans wherever they are. Imagine empowering mobile IWs to reach their data and resources anytime on Smartphones, IPads or other tablet devices. Enabling a workforce fast access to answers and solutions means more satisfied customers & partners. The IPad App receiver for example lets you access your Windows PC, so you are using Office Applications thru anIPad.
Bottom-line: flexibility to reach applications, software and processes on any device, anytime, at any location, also means increased productivity for IWs. IT benefits from the ease of deployment and reduced downtime providing organizations significant cost reduction. In addition, when the hardware is lost, the data is secure and easily accessible from any device (bet you love that one). In today’s 24x7 business, lowering expenses and increasing speed of reaction creates a positive impact on P&Ls.
So on your next vacations consider leaving the laptop on the office desk and carrying anew generation mobile device. In the future we can only expect to see more consumer devices able to tap into the corporate IT infrastructure, we may even manage to mix "work & play":D and I'm sure Citrix software will be there as a facilitator.
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Some large corporations are starting to recognize the power of social media not only as a means of communications with customers but also as a powerful feedback tool. Those who understand that this is not a trend but only the beginning are ahead of the game and will benefit from an early start. Ford as a good example has a coherent strategy tied directly to customer service. In minutes after tweeting via @emarchan10 in regard to my father in-laws' F150 truck that "melted" due to a short circuit, customer service took control. Swiftly the issue was taken offline.
On the flip side, in December 2010 I had an issue with the convertible top on my Chrysler Sebring, spent hours and countless days on the phone with the dealer and Chrysler Corp., with no resolution. Finally found how to fix-it myself without the dealership nor the manufacturer's support. Despite my best efforts to provide feedback on the issue itself and the resolution, no one from Chrysler ever contacted me. On the sideline I'm followed by 4 or 5 individual Twitter groups from Chrysler.
The learning is having a coherent strategy with clear a process and protocol on how to address customers concerns. Customers tend to base purchasing decisions upon the latest interaction they had with a brand. This is why it's so important to make every communication count in favor of the customer's best interest. Repeated purchases happen when customers are satisfied. Probably Amazon is a good example where you have tools to make your transaction in absolute transparency. Pricing is clear, product alternatives, a community that comments & rates, etc...in a nutshell you feel empowered to make the right decision. To add the "Price Check" app for Iphone lets you scan bar codes and connect to the Amazon site to compare prices.
A brand, as well as a products or service require planning that ensures strategic integrity, this is why Marchandising provides a free assessment before anything. This gives you a very objective analysis of the brands current status and how to benefits from the core strengths.
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There is a pertinent story about a man who was working on an oil platform in the North Sea. He woke up one night from a loud explosion, which suddenly set his entire oil platform on fire. In mere moments, he was surrounded by flames. Through the smoke and heat, he barely made his way out of the chaos to the platform's edge. When he looked down over the edge, all he could see were the dark, cold, foreboding Atlantic waters.
As the fire approached him, the man had mere seconds to react. He could stand on the platform, and inevitably be consumed by the burning flames. Or, he could plunge 30 meters in to the freezing waters. The man was standing upon a "burning platform," and he needed to make a choice.
He decided to jump. It was unexpected. In ordinary circumstances, the man would never consider plunging into icy waters. But these were not ordinary times - his platform was on fire. The man survived the fall and the waters. After he was rescued, he noted that a "burning platform" caused a radical change in his behaviour.
We too, are standing on a "burning platform," and we must decide how we are going to change our behaviour.
Over the past few months, I've shared with you what I've heard from our shareholders, operators, developers, suppliers and from you. Today, I'm going to share what I've learned and what I have come to believe.
I have learned that we are standing on a burning platform.
And, we have more than one explosion - we have multiple points of scorching heat that are fuelling a blazing fire around us.
For example, there is intense heat coming from our competitors, more rapidly than we ever expected. Apple disrupted the market by redefining the smartphone and attracting developers to a closed, but very powerful ecosystem.
In 2008, Apple's market share in the $300+ price range was 25 percent; by 2010 it escalated to 61 percent. They are enjoying a tremendous growth trajectory with a 78 percent earnings growth year over year in Q4 2010. Apple demonstrated that if designed well, consumers would buy a high-priced phone with a great experience and developers would build applications. They changed the game, and today, Apple owns the high-end range.
And then, there is Android. In about two years, Android created a platform that attracts application developers, service providers and hardware manufacturers. Android came in at the high-end, they are now winning the mid-range, and quickly they are going downstream to phones under €100. Google has become a gravitational force, drawing much of the industry's innovation to its core.
Let's not forget about the low-end price range. In 2008, MediaTek supplied complete reference designs for phone chipsets, which enabled manufacturers in the Shenzhen region of China to produce phones at an unbelievable pace. By some accounts, this ecosystem now produces more than one third of the phones sold globally - taking share from us in emerging markets.
While competitors poured flames on our market share, what happened at Nokia? We fell behind, we missed big trends, and we lost time. At that time, we thought we were making the right decisions; but, with the benefit of hindsight, we now find ourselves years behind.
The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don't have a product that is close to their experience. Android came on the scene just over 2 years ago, and this week they took our leadership position in smartphone volumes. Unbelievable.
We have some brilliant sources of innovation inside Nokia, but we are not bringing it to market fast enough. We thought MeeGo would be a platform for winning high-end smartphones. However, at this rate, by the end of 2011, we might have only one MeeGo product in the market.
At the midrange, we have Symbian. It has proven to be non-competitive in leading markets like North America. Additionally, Symbian is proving to be an increasingly difficult environment in which to develop to meet the continuously expanding consumer requirements, leading to slowness in product development and also creating a disadvantage when we seek to take advantage of new hardware platforms. As a result, if we continue like before, we will get further and further behind, while our competitors advance further and further ahead.
At the lower-end price range, Chinese OEMs are cranking out a device much faster than, as one Nokia employee said only partially in jest, "the time that it takes us to polish a PowerPoint presentation." They are fast, they are cheap, and they are challenging us.
And the truly perplexing aspect is that we're not even fighting with the right weapons. We are still too often trying to approach each price range on a device-to-device basis.
The battle of devices has now become a war of ecosystems, where ecosystems include not only the hardware and software of the device, but developers, applications, ecommerce, advertising, search, social applications, location-based services, unified communications and many other things. Our competitors aren't taking our market share with devices; they are taking our market share with an entire ecosystem. This means we're going to have to decide how we either build, catalyse or join an ecosystem.
This is one of the decisions we need to make. In the meantime, we've lost market share, we've lost mind share and we've lost time.
On Tuesday, Standard & Poor's informed that they will put our A long term and A-1 short term ratings on negative credit watch. This is a similar rating action to the one that Moody's took last week. Basically it means that during the next few weeks they will make an analysis of Nokia, and decide on a possible credit rating downgrade. Why are these credit agencies contemplating these changes? Because they are concerned about our competitiveness.
Consumer preference for Nokia declined worldwide. In the UK, our brand preference has slipped to 20 percent, which is 8 percent lower than last year. That means only 1 out of 5 people in the UK prefer Nokia to other brands. It's also down in the other markets, which are traditionally our strongholds: Russia, Germany, Indonesia, UAE, and on and on and on.
How did we get to this point? Why did we fall behind when the world around us evolved?
This is what I have been trying to understand. I believe at least some of it has been due to our attitude inside Nokia. We poured gasoline on our own burning platform. I believe we have lacked accountability and leadership to align and direct the company through these disruptive times. We had a series of misses. We haven't been delivering innovation fast enough. We're not collaborating internally.
Nokia, our platform is burning.
We are working on a path forward -- a path to rebuild our market leadership. When we share the new strategy on February 11, it will be a huge effort to transform our company. But, I believe that together, we can face the challenges ahead of us. Together, we can choose to define our future.
The burning platform, upon which the man found himself, caused the man to shift his behaviour, and take a bold and brave step into an uncertain future. He was able to tell his story. Now, we have a great opportunity to do the same.