Sunday, June 29, 2008

Off to Nay Pyi Taw

Photo of new residential complexes at Nay Pyi Taw (Courtesy of ISN Security Watch)

I am going to fly to Myanmar's reclusive capital Nay Pyi Taw tomorrow afternoon, as part of an official cultural delegation attending an ASEAN level meeting. Its going to be interesting to survive 4 days without any mobile connection, internet, WiFi, and credit card access (all payments must be in crisp, unfolded and new US Dollars). From my experience in Myanmar though, I am sure that the people will be very friendly and hospitable there.

Hopefully I can take some photographs. I heard that everything is larger than life in Nay Pyi Taw, and that the city was carved out of a malarial-ridden jungle. Huge six-lane highways, sprawling government buildings and picturesque water fountains fill the landscape.

Certainly looking forward to it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Scarcest Resource is Still Time

First I have to apologise for the tardy updates on my blog. It has been almost two weeks since my last post, and I do have tonnes of topics that I wanted to talk about.

However, time wasn't on my side. Creating that half an hour or more each day to blog will mean doing less of something else. Other than working (which gobbles up huge amounts of energy, brain juices, and time), I have been exercising a lot harder and more regularly than before. It does help to take away stress for sure.

In the age of social media, I don't think being able to communicate with a thousand different folks simultaneously on multiple channels is going to be the Piece De Resistance of what its all about. Sure, you can twitter somebody here, SMS a buddy there, chat on MSN, email an associate, put up a blogpost, give somebody a tequila on facebook and so on. It is fun to be connected, to be the nexus of attention amongst hundreds of Friendsters. To be seen as part of the scene, the cool crowd, the hip and happening uber geeks flashing their iPhones.

Unfortunately, while engaging in these activities, I may have missed out on the important moments in my life that I may regret later. For example, seeing my four and a half year old boy grow up incredibly fast, chatting with the love of my life (my wife), breaking personal records in physical endeavours, and reading a great book. Enjoying a walk in the park, smelling the flowers, exploring new places to go to.

Of course, I can blog about all this. And I do intend to, moving ahead. However, for now, what I need to do is to catch my breath first. And slowly, breathe in, breathe out, and celebrate life.

Oh well. Just decided to rant for a bit. Do you ever experience such a phenomenon? Have you ever wanted to just be unplugged from the greater world, to recoil into your little sanctuary of solitude?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

14 Trends of New Marketing by Seth Godin

New age marketing maven Seth Godin in action (courtesy of ashbuckles)

I have just finished reading the book "Meatball Sundae" by Seth Godin, my favourite marketing guru who was also called "the Ultimate Entrepreneur for the Information Age" by Business Week magazine.

The main premise behind Seth's ideas is that the old advertising-led, "holler and they will come" world of mass marketing is dead. However, you can't just plonk new media channels like Youtube, Facebook, MySpace and blogs over a traditionally mass produced product. Instead, you need to revamp your entire organisation - culture, manufacturing, logistics, service - to fit the new world of making products and services that people desire.

So what are the 14 trends?

1) Direct Communication and Commerce between Producers and Consumers - People are increasingly buying direct from the makers, hence eliminating the intermediaries. Similarly, they want to be able to speak directly to the guy in charge.

2) Amplification of the Voice of the Consumer and Independent Authorities - This is what was termed the "Echo Chamber Effect" in Naked Conversations (Scoble and Israel), which magnifies and prolongs both positive and more often, negative feedback. Beware of what you do or say because there are no longer walls in the digital domain.

3) Need for an Authentic Story as the Number of Sources Increases - A cardinal rule in PR is to be sure that you have your facts right from the onset. Don't fudge the truth because it will eventually come out. More importantly, lead rather than be led (especially by your detractors).

4) Extremely Short Attention Spans due to Clutter - Nobody is going to read through huge tomes anymore, and people want things in small bite-sized pieces. I guess this is also why Godin's easy-to-read books are growing in popularity!

5) The Long Tail - This seminal idea by Chris Anderson dictates that single product domination is fading in most markets. Customers are rewarding companies that can provide diverse choices and cater to increasing tiny micro-niches.

6) Outsourcing - Probably nothing new to most of us. However, do beware of the issue of ethics and also hopping onto the bandwagon. You can't outsource (at least for now) a unique and enduring service experience.

7) Google and the Dicing of Everything - The phenomenon of Google has changed the game in the consumer marketplace. People are not buying stuff in bundles or packages anymore. Instead, you need to take your products apart and sell widget by widget.

8) Infinite Channels of Communication - The chaos of conversations will get louder and louder, with the proliferation of multiple channels online and offline. To leverage on this, you will need to make your product worth talking about in the first place, as opposed to shouting out loud about a merely mediocre product.

9) Direct Communication and Commerce between Consumers and Consumers - Most of us would know the e-Bay effect (or Yahoo Auctions), where folks are increasingly buying from and sharing with each other.

10) The Shifts in Scarcity and Abundance - What used to be scarce like hard-drive storage, manual labour, long-distance phone service, and shelf-space, has now become abundant through globalisation and technology. Companies that get it will leverage the new scarcity - spare time (believe me this is totally true!), attention, trust, and sufficiently trained workers.

11) The Triumph of Big Ideas - Forget about Kaizen and continuous improvement. Instead look towards creating something - a product, service or experience - that will spark off the imagination.

12) The Shift From "How Many" to "Who" - This is related to the shift away from eyeballs, share of voice and GRPs to the key segment that you are reaching to. Speaking to the right audiences are far more important than speaking to a massive one.

13) The Wealthy Are Like Us - A phenomenon known as the "democratisation of wealth", this trend looks at how people are no longer going for the middle ground. It is either something very cheap and affordable for "commodities" or an exclusive and premium experience. The bell-curve has shifted.

14) New Gatekeepers, No Gatekeepers - With the porosity of multiple media channels helmed by multiple messengers, one's organisation must be flexible and adept enough to engage them. Nobody holds the golden key anymore, and success only comes if you learn to work not only with the traditional media channels, but new ones as well.

While I tend to agree with the general direction that Godin is pointing at, I am a little sceptical about some of his points like the fact that people no longer buy stuff in packages. Perhaps these points may be true in the US, but in Singapore (and maybe even Asia), bundling is still a pretty important strategy. Moreover, we still need a critical mass in the numbers reached, even if we are talking to the right audience. A market of one isn't a market that can sustain an enterprise for whatever period.

What are your views on the New Marketing? Will it work in Singapore?