“What the heck is Insight & How to find it?” ebook is now live on Amazon!

My first e-book is now live on Amazon! The title says it all. This is an e-book all about INSIGHT that answers the fundamental questions: Why? What? Where? And how to discover insight?

This e-book is a result of my one-year experience as a lecturer at AIM Academy of Marketing Communication. During the time, I struggled to find the best way to teach “insight” to my students, because “insight” is an abstract and tricky topic that cannot be explained easily in words.

I figured out that it requires more than a blog post or a class, but a book to explain insight much more thoroughly. Hopefully with this attempt, many more beginners can find insight much easier to understand and can apply insight-thinking to their daily jobs immediately!

Discover my new ebook by clicking the link here, or the book photo right below:

Hope you enjoy it!

Stimulus – Response model of Stephen King

More than 50 years ago, Stephen King challenged the popular marketing thinking with the Stimulus – Response model. A simple articulation of the model is that you cannot say “I am very funny” and expect people will laugh (Response). You have to start with the Response of the audience: to laugh, and go backwards to the Stimulus, which is a joke.

However, most Marketing models focus on the Input or Key message, more than the Response from consumers.

Focusing on the Response liberates the Creative team. In fact, Creative team at JWT was the first converts. They were liberated to create anything they wanted, as long as it delivered the desired outputs. Evaluating Creative then was also easier, as they had the Response as a tangible criteria.

Creating product enthusiasm, not just product satisfaction

Great brand starts from thinking how to create product enthusiasm, not just product satisfaction. Product enthusiam is more than just product differentiation. It must be the on-steroid version of “differentiation” of Al Ries and Jack Trout.

According the Adam Morgan on “Eating the big fish”, product enthusiasm comes from product over-performance, not just product performance. It must come with an excessively strict standard that seems unnecessary.

For example, an excessively strict standard for a hotel’s customer service, would be a free chauffeur-driven limousine to take you to the check-in desk, even though it would take a 3-minute walk.

An excessively strict standard of a Land Rover is the ability to drive 4,000 miles continually off-road south of the Arctic Circle. Even though, Land Rover purchasers perhaps would never do this, but they understand the machine’s extraordinary capabilities.

An excessively strict standard of Lexus is the ability to balance three tiers of champagne glasses on one’s hood as the engine approaches 6,000 rpm.

An excessively strict standard of the Volvo trucks with Volvo Dyanamic Steering is the ability drive in reverse at a precise and stable level that Van Damme can split between the 2 trucks.

For Patagonia Clothing, Yvon Chouinard has an excessively strict standard in mind: “You should be able to wash travel clothes in a sink or cooking pot, then hang them out to dry in a hut and still look decent for the plane ride home”. I don’t know if ever have to wash my clothes in a sink or cooking pot, but I would choose Patagonia as my standard for travel clothes.

Such excessively strict standard shows that the company is obsessed with the product’s performance, which is an added value, or in other words, an added soul to the product itself.

So for the next time, when your brand ever claims a “differentiation”, try to push it to a “product enthusiasm” level. If a yoghurt brand is really healthy, would it pass the test of the the extreme health gurus or athletes? If a bank is really safe, would it pass a test of a high-level group of hackers and thieves. Or if you position yourself as an expert in your industry, what at great length would you do to show that you have an excessively strict standard?

Build the Brand from and before the Product, not around the Product

Many people think building a brand is pretty much about building the image around a product. I think otherwise. Building a great brand starts from building a great product. And I strongly believe that a great and sustainable brand is determined mostly by the product itself: its performance, design, its specific attributes. The product, or the real performance is what lasts after consumers experience it. The brand in consumers’ mind is only complete after people have experienced it, not before.

The implication is that brand thinking must better be born before the product itself. Thus the job should not be left alone for the R&Ds or the Marketing team, but the whole team to input their own POVs of how to great exceptional product that people desire for.

Durex Poppin- Case study

Durex Poppin Case study

A very smart campaign that bases on the inseparable relationship between the Gen Z and their phones to solve the embarrassment of carrying condoms in the wallets. Clear problem definition and impressive creative solution!

What did the Silicon Valley disruptors teach us about doing business in the 21st century?

Whereas the twentieth century was dominated by “closed-network” companies, the twenty-first century was disrupted and lead by “open-network” models.

In the past, corporations tried to expand by growing the biggest possible closed networks: taking over the supply chain as much as possible. Or in other words, following the monolithic, closed networks. They figured out that the transaction costs of finding vendors, negotiating contracts and making sure the work gets done right are high, and the best route to cut those costs was to bring them in-house.

However, things have changed in the 21st century, as Don Tapscott put it in Wikinomics:

the Internet has caused transaction costs to plunge so steeply that it has become much more useful to read Coase’s law, in effect, backward: Nowadays, firms should shrink until the cost of performing a transaction internally no longer exceeds the cost of performing it externally.

Don Tapscott

For the 21st century, when we mention “outsourcing”, it doesn’t just mean cutting costs, but to create significantly better products. Looking at the open-network models of well-known disruptors: Kickstarter, Uber, Airbnb, Netflix, Spotify. They are NOT growing by trying to take over the supply chain. Instead, they try to build an open-network platform, which is so great that the partners crave to enter their network.

This leads to a crucial lesson for business in the 21st century: build specialized open-network platform. There is no better time to go specialized. As Jim Collins put it in his “Good to Great” book the “Hedgehog Concept”. He found that among the firms he analyzed, the great ones were all hedgehogs, not foxes, borrowing from a Greek poet’s word “The fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one big thing”.

Google focused on one big thing: being great at search (The Google guys defined “great” as: speed, accuracy, ease of use, comprehensiveness and freshness). Uber focused on one big thing: being great at transportation (cheap, available, safe, fast). Airbnb focused on one big thing: being great at providing places to stay when traveling (cheap, variety of choices and local).