Early this month, while vacationing in the US, my family and I watched Absinthe at Caesars Palace Hotel and O at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. It does seem like an odd choice of combination of shows but it was interesting for the comparisons and contrast of themes we experienced.  We watched Absinthe because it was recommended by people online and we watched O because my wife Chiqui and I wanted our children to see what we consider the best Cirque du Soleil show, having watched it the first time some ten years ago. 

O is a production of Cirque du Soleil, the group of street performers who banded together with the vision of seeing the world and became Canada’s best known talent group. 

A look into their business model would show how Cirque differentiated and created a new market space.  Before Cirque du Soleil, circuses used animals like elephants, tigers and monkeys to attract audiences. They ignored the cry of animal lovers whom they branded as whiners and troublemakers for holding placards and mini rallies, instead of trying to remedy their (non-customer) pain points.

Without animals, a significant sixty percent of total cost of a circus can be removed because there is no need for tons of food, insurance, trainers and real estate space for instance.  Cirque du Soleil took advantage of this by creating a new idea — a circus with acrobats but without animals, where the novelty of having animals in the show was replaced by lights, sound, script and choreography. 

“O” was a special show of Cirque du Soleil as it created a production number one notch higher than their usual shows via creating a pool at the center of the stage of Bellagio Hotel.  This meant that the competency needed was not just of acrobats but acrobatic swimmers. The price charged by Cirque du Soleil is many times what regular circuses would charge and it is almost always full house. Read more

Many thanks to those who bought The WE Entrepreneur book(co-authored with Mansmith CEO,Chiqui Escareal-Go).  For several months now, it is the no. 1 book on entrepreneurship at National Book Store as readers appreciate the 10 building blocks to entrepreneurial authenticity. 

Reinforcing the market acceptance of The WE Entrepreneur and in celebration of both Mansmith and Fielders,Inc.’s 20th anniversary as well as my 25th anniversary as an entrepreneur, a social enterprise was launched last October 8, 2010, focusing on the educational and developmental needs of small and medium scale (SME) entrepreneurs, with unwavering support from Inquirer, BusinessWorld, Entrepreneur magazine, Go Negosyo, Malayan Insurance and the Abenson and Waltermart group, with many more institutional supports expected to come in as of press time.

A quick and practical four-question research gave us interesting insights about entrepreneurial education.  Some of the responses we gathered ranged from existing entrepreneurial courses to be too long, too technical and too expensive, to being too academic.  This led us to the formulation of a new training company for SME entrepreneurs called “Day 8 Business Academy, Inc.,”  and with this came a game changing four-point manifesto with the acronym 4Fs representing Freedom, Face, Frugality and Facilitation. The name Day 8 came from a biblical inspiration of new beginnings while the number 8 symbolizes prosperity for many businessmen. Read more

Questions on the future of the print industry and how it can withstand the onslaught of the digital revolution abound during these times. How does one reach the twitter or instagram generation who are highly visual and have short attention spans? How does one rise above the clutter of the media out there trying to sell you something, whether these are billboards along EDSA or TV ads during your favorite game show?

There seems to be a bit of a “skirmish” when it comes to online versus print journalism where online is described as lazy, or even sometimes irresponsible journalism while print might be called the “real deal” but not fast enough, too bulky or even Jurassic. During these times when information is so easily accessible (and free), both the print and online efforts must have a very clear value proposition for a very clear target market.

And lest one still believes that the print and online industries have different markets, here is one case that actually bridged both – recently, Tricia Gosingtian, known as a photographer/blogger together with Summit Media, collaborated to produce a book entitled “Tricia Gosingtian’s 150 Style Essentials for Every Girl” and according to National Bookstore, this book broke sales records of launch day sales by a local author despite the weekday launch schedule. Followers, fans, friends, and family came to support this effort which brought together the online and print worlds into one book. (Full disclosure: Tricia is my daughter.)

A pioneer in blogging while still studying in college, first about photography then on fashion and then on travel, Tricia’s blog (http://blog.triciagosingtian.com)has continuously evolved to express her various interests and talents. Since she is the brand, and her blog is her vehicle for self-expression, this evolution is natural, organic and can even be described as “painless”. I feel it is this core that has sustained her in her field. Read more

Could service in an airlines’ economy class be far better than those in business class of other airlines—where pilots and flight personnel are so caring they operate as one solid team with the management, each team respecting each other’s differences?   Could this be a standard that will trigger a new meaning in the dictionary associating the people of that airlines’ host country to extraordinary caring people?  Could that be our very own airlines?

But first let me cite how learning from other industries can benefit a company or even a country. Apple’s legendary founder, Steve Jobs, included different font designs in the first Mac programs based on the calligraphy class he took in 1972 when he was at Reed College.  Rob McEwan, CEO of Goldcorp Canada, got the idea of publicly posting information about his mine site from the Linus open source operating system while he was taking a course at MIT.  This innovative procurement method led to billions of new gold discovery with help from over a thousand international geologists and scientists who were not even known to them prior to the public post.  The late Dr. G. Ventakaswamy, founder of Aravind Eye Hospital of India,studied McDonald’s in order to implement their assembly line concept which allowed one doctor to operate on 50 patients a day with only two assistants, part of his vision of preventing unnecessary blindness in a country with over 12 million blind people. 

There is wisdom in studying other industries and finding the next practices instead of falling in love with best practices within your industry, which could result in core rigidity when one becomes obsessed with being the best and most modern player in the world of status quo.  Consider the pharmaceutical industry which only created a negative 0.3 value between 2000 to 2007 (source: BCG).  Using the same pharmaceutical marketing mix that pharmaceutical executives are used to, a reflection is needed whether long experience in pharmaceutical industry is actually a plus or has become a hindrance to radical new thinking called business model innovation.
But how does one innovate by learning from other industries? Let us cite some possibilities. Read more

Business model is a concept that has attracted attention of late. A business model is composed of an offering model (target market, value proposition, channel, customer bonding strategy and revenue model) and an operating model (value chain, resources and processes, complementors, configuration and cost).

Today it is no longer adequate for a functional manager to be a specialist. He/she must understand the bigger picture: both the offering and the operating model of the business model concept. The offering model is where revenues can be sourced while the operating model is where activities and infrastructures will result in cost. An organization simply needs to view these framework via these two lenses when they want to increase profit and growth for their firm.

In 2004, former Johnson & Johnson ASEAN president Ding Salvador and myself launched the Markprof Foundation Inc. We wanted to do our share in training future marketing leaders of the Philippines. We wanted to introduce our own methodologies and systems borne out of our personal experiences and form an exclusive networking club in marketing with like-minded individuals. We also wanted to give equal chance to outstanding student leaders whose parents did not have the means to enroll them in expensive upscale schools, with Markprof acting as a resume equalizer. Read more

A step to creating customer bonding strategy is to ensure your target market knows you (brand awareness) and recognizes you for the right reason (brand association).  Without awareness, trial and repeat purchase which are the two types of sales, won’t happen.

The Philippines was hit by Yolanda, the world’s biggest typhoon to date, on November 8, 2013. No less than 6,000 people have died with many still unaccounted for or still can’t be identified. Billionaire taipans like Henry Sy (SM group) and Lucio Tan (Asia Brewery Group) committed P100 million each to help victims.  Different groups and individuals raised funds, distributed relief goods and provided medical care.  Definitely, their help will make a difference in how people perceive them and their companies. Read more

Our brand created a Facebook page and after one year, was able to hit 100,000 fans. Our Twitter on the other hand, is not as well managed as we have less than 5,000 followers after one year. Now that I have heard Instagram is the in-thing, we are thinking of setting up our IG page for our brand. However, it has been getting to be quite unwieldy for us as it is demanding a lot of our time and our agency’s to create content for so many social sites. Do we really have to be in all sites to ensure we are where our clients are if they look for us? – anonymous

The quick answer to your question is No. You do not have to be present in all social platforms. It is like saying that you may have a potential customer in a far flung area in Mindanao so you want to set up a physical store there. You will end up having presence everywhere, but not where it makes sense. Note that what is most important is to know first where your target audiences converge, before determining where to have brand presence. If you feel confident or you have data to tell you that your target audience is very much on social media, then that is the time you look at the various social websites, and decide on where you would want to have brand presence.

The most important thing to determine however, is the role you want each social media platform to play for your brand. I have seen too many brands copy and pasting the content they have on Facebook to their Twitter and Instagram accounts. This tells me that they are just doing social media marketing for the sake of doing it, without any clear purpose or direction in mind. However, that is why most branded social platforms do not get traction, because there is no real reason for people to follow a branded social media page. Think about it: have you really followed a brand on social media because you wanted to be marketed to, or are you expecting something from them? Read more

It started when I decided to work from home one weekday in 2013. Before the end of the day, I posted a Facebook message that I looked forward to have some quiet time once a week to read, exchange ideas, have coffee with friends and maybe meet new ones from different fields.   Jeffrey Manhilot of Reckitt was the first to sign up for coffee, followed then by nearly a hundred of my Facebook friends who volunteered in succession.  I was both flattered and overwhelmed.  I didn’t know how to prioritize the sequence. I reflected for months with my wife Chiqui.

Then an idea was born.  We figured each of those who signed up might have similar needs such as mine. What if instead of having coffee one-on-one, we invite them to a larger “coffee-time” set-up, or a dinner no less? What if instead of just us meeting, they get together with other people as well, a networking gathering of people from different industries, different backgrounds?  What if instead of just two people exchanging ideas, we collectively brainstorm using the power of diversity to solve and share solutions? Eureka, the result was White Space Club.

With help from our friends such as Cherry Caluya and Jonathan Joson, we tested the concept on November 14, 2013. Islands Souvenirs Founder Jay Aldeguer put up with our experiment as speaker on his intended Islands Taxi.  We have since then adjusted the format, and became ready to roll it out with a “fixed” format in January 2014. Before the end of our first year, we launched two venues – Makati on Oct. 2 and the original Ortigas on Oct. 9, 2014 as more and more people became curious and attended.

White Space Club is different in many aspects Read more

Article re-posted from mansmith.net / December 22, 2014

At the height of typhoon Yolanda a year ago (2013), I was sick and immobilized at home but I felt I had to do something to help those affected by the storm. Having initiated fund raising campaigns in the past for Zamboanga Fund for Little Kids (original name was Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation) and the Godparents Program of Markprof Marketing Leadership Bootcamp via Facebook, I started a one-week Facebook campaign for donation from my sick bed, reinforced with some text messages to those without Facebook (or not regularly visiting Facebook). Some P3.6 million was raised from some 68 business leaders and professionals with afew pending receivables.

I wondered aloud if people would be willing to invest in a social enterprise where 100% of the profit will go to future disaster victims and asked if my friends were willing to donate at least P50,000 each (then about US$1,200) without expecting any return of capital and dividend. The first two who committed totally surprised me – Darlyn Ty, founder of Belle de Jour Planner, graduated from college less than a decade ago, and who just got a loan for her business expansion, and Atty. Fred Mison, the Commissioner of Immigration, living with the meager salary of a public servant. I knew then that there was something special that was going to happen.  I had not expected young people in their 20’s and early 30’s to be so generous — people like Lester Estrada of P&G Japan, Atty. Gillaine Sytingco-Lorenzo of E&Y Australia, Gladys Co-Chan of TV5, Nikko Lim from Mariposa Rice Mills Tarlac, teacher Audrey Lim Tan who rallied the school staff to donate their entire Christmas gift and party budget, as well as style/travel blogger Tricia Gosingtian, where the latter two donated another P100,000.00 each on top of their P50,000. Read more

Last Holy Week, our graduate class in Anthropology embarked on a field methods project to learn how to use some ethnographic tools that were only previously discussed inside the classroom.  As the only member of the research team with no social science background, I knew I needed this course so I can start earning my stripes as a novice anthropologist.  Ethnographic research, after all, is the core of the anthropological discipline and in any research endeavor; methods used can make or break the entire study. 
Nevertheless, I brought in my own influences into the field – where my marketing training has honed my sense making in terms of identifying insights– based on consumer behavior (proxemics or participant observation) as well as language and expressions used by customers (content analysis) while my business experience has trained me to recognize opportunities (synthesis) that could leapfrog initiatives while considering the best way to execute for customer acceptance.  My entrepreneurial spirit, of course, has shaped my predominantly positive outlook in life where everything is an adventure that can be overcome by determination and hard work.  In many ways, I knew I was ready for that field experience in Banton, Romblon during Holy Week despite the challenge to my middle-aged bones trying to keep up with death-defying treks and motorcycle (habal-habal) rides.
And then just a few days ago, I checked out a webinar from the MIT Sloan website on the topic Exploring the Innovator’s DNA by Hal Gregersen who spoke on the five skills of disruptive innovators which were put together from an eight-year research study that looked into, how the most innovative leaders are able to arrive at “value-generating ideas”.  These skills are as follows (from http://executive.mit.edu/): Read more

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