Thursday, August 07, 2008

Making the most of the recent Malaysian business fiascoes

Rather than point fingers over the recent fiascoes of Hytex/Nike and Ego snack foods, I thought a post on how some of you might benefit from these two otherwise embarrassing incidents for malaysian businesses would be more helpful.

So for the enterprising among you, here are two ventures you might want to embark on:

1)Manufacture Lead-detecting devices

With the lax food hygiene enforcement in this country, who knows whether the next lollipop your child is sucking on is laced with heavy metal poison? After all, if the Americans hadn’t found out about the lead in Ego’s snacks, wouldn’t we have continued selling it happily at all our supermarkets and petronas kedai mesra???

Solution: Imagine the millions you’ll make with your new lead detecting device in a country where food safety is something the government looks at when something disastrous happens.

2)Foreign Worker Accommodation Inspector

Hytex recently made the news when Nike said it was investigating foreign worker abuse by this Malaysian garment maker. Better known for its World of Cartoons stores, Hytex was probably doing what many Malaysian companies take as the norm when it comes to the treatment of foreign workers.

Solution: Start up an agency and sell your services to the myriad foreign manufacturers to inspect and grade the facilities of their prospective contract manufacturing partners in Malaysia before they award their plump contracts to them. The fee you charge will be peanuts compared to the millions of dollars they could lose should a fiasco like this happen again.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Stupid Advertisement 2: Care to become a DODO?

The "No. 1 petroleum company in Malaysia" that came out with this gem of an acronym for it's Dealer Operated and Dealer Owned program, ought to sack its dealer team for even suggesting its business partners be called "DODOs".

Only in this country where petrol retail businesses are politically linked and tightly controlled, could such a stupid marketing gaffe be committed and people still flock to the program.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Stupid Ad: Spend RM25k to get a RM650 bag

I am usually quite impressed with HSBC offers and promos but this one has to take the cake for its stupidity.

At first glance, the offer of a free Samsonite Freeminder catches one's attention. And then you realise you have to spend RM25k before you get it. There's a penalty of RM650 for the bag if you don't spend the requisite amount.

I was thinking if anyone is rich or foolish enough to spend RM25k with this card, he or she wouldn't need or want this bag.

Now, if they had given free country club membership that would have been something more eyebrow raising....

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Let's Celebrate Mediocrity II: Malaysia better than 76% of countries

Remember how I blogged about Teras Teknologi (the UEM subsidiary responsible for Touch n'Go system development) celebrating their achievement of coming in 6th in last year's Enterprise 50 awards?

Well, now our dear PM has come out to trumpet the fact that we are better than 76% of countries in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, and by doing so, continues that grand Malaysian tradition: the Celebration of Mediocrity.

Rather than outline steps of how we can further combat corruption in this country, he chose instead to focus on the fact that we might be better off than some despotic states elsewhere in this world.

Rather than compare with the absolute best practice countries in the world like Singapore and Hong Kong, he chooses to compare Malaysia with Zimbabwe and Myanmar.

Is he saying that with an average "good and stable" score of 5 points every year for the past 5 years that we should be happy and content that greedy politicians continue to steal and siphon off the rakyat's money as long as it doesn't reach the excesses of Robert Mugabe???

Let's hope it doesn't take a 7.6 richter scale earthquake to witness the destruction corruption can wreak to a country.

Hidup Mediokriti!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Disposable Email Address anyone?

Stumbled on this great little site that will give you a temporary email address for about 15 minutes.

I can imagine the number of ways people could make use of it!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Will Tune Talk take a leaf out of Blyk’s book?

When it was announced that Tony Fernandez was going into the mobile business, my immediate thought was to link his latest venture to Virgin Mobile. After all the man appears to be modeling his entire career on Richard Branson and his business empire.

Talks of cronyism and links to the Rembau man aside, Fernandez might do better modeling Tune Talk against Blyk, a ground-breaking UK mobile MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) that was launched in last September and was also covered in this blog.

In essence, Blyk provides 43 free minutes and 217 free texts to its subscribers and get this, it’s only open to 16 – 24 year olds; a year younger or older and you’re kicked out. How the service remains free for them is that Blyk sends them no more than 6 SMS’ a day from advertisers and brands that the subscriber wants to hear from.

Very interesting win-win concept. The young user gets to interact with his/her favourite brands and the advertisers reach their target market in a way no other traditional media can.

Doubtless Tony Fernandez must have had some sort of content plan in mind when he appointed local celebrity DJ/musician Jason Lo as its CEO last year. If he models Tune Talk after Blyk, it could even have the potential to overturn staid incumbents like Maxis and especially Celcom from whom it buys talk time.

Enjoy this little introductory video from Blyk:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

5 lessons Companies can learn from the Malaysian General Election

So the ‘poor’ Malaysian Voter I referred to in my last post has finally found his voice, bringing in the dawn of a new age.

The way the BN conducted itself in these elections teaches the corporate world a few lessons, especially those that are incumbent market leaders.

1) Never assume anything.
The BN assumed the malay majority would continue supporting them while non-malays deserted them. Instead, it appears malays in Selangor, Kedah and Perak, helped the non-malay popular vote swing to the opposition.

In business, the incumbent must never assume anything. A realistic assessment of the market with its inherent risks and opportunities must always be done on a periodic basis.

2) Listen to your customers

For 50 years, the BN has expounded its own brand of divide and conquer policy and assumed that Malaysians would continue buying into the same medieval message for the sake of national stability. The reverse came true as dissastified citizens rejected their arrogant assumptions and voted instead for ideological issues like social justice and accountability.

Leading businesses always take a dipstick of their market, testing their products, listening to their consumers and keeping up with demands. If people are unhappy, find out why. Don’t assume they will always be loyal to your brand.

3) Keep up with the times
The BN pumped in millions in advertising dollars in old world media. The opposition, with a fraction of the budget, uploaded videos onto youtube, seeded bloggers and created online forums to reach younger and more internet savvy voters. It amuses me how many Malaysian businesses still think that all you need is a newspaper ad, doesn’t matter where or what size, just a print ad, and customers will start calling. It somehow is more comforting to see something on paper and say that it will attract customers rather than do some extra work, understand how your customers behave and what their motivations are before embarking on any marketing campaign. Don’t misread your consumer and spend marketing dollars unwisely. As Spencer Johnson says, know when the cheese starts to smell old.

4) Practise Integrity.
The BN campaigned under the banner of a “Promise of a Better Tomorrow” outlining progress they claim to have made in creating sustainable broad-based growth, narrowing income gaps and reducing hardcore poverty. Whether this happened or not, the very fact that many of their senior office holders, councilors and officials were caught in questionable practices reduced these achievements to shreds.

If your business promises superior services or products, make sure you can deliver. Check how your front-line staff are interacting with customers and whether your product quality meets the grade or your customers will find alternatives.

5)Don’t just promise, deliver.
Empty promises and empty rhetoric – that was what the BN brand campaign was beginning to look like to the jaded electorate. After one term of promising more integrity and better governance, the coalition had failed to deliver even when voters gave them a resounding 90% endorsement in the last elections. Much of it fell apart at the local/state office level where corrupt practises by these office holders destroyed whatever chance of success the BN’s lofty goals might have had.

Implementation excellence or the lack thereof breaks or makes a company. Ensure that your implementation plan is thought through from conception to implementation and then have a post-activity evaluation. Even a crappy product could do well at the market if its implementation is done well (ahem... most Microsoft products)

Site Meter

Clean Blue. By Suga.