02 | May 2009 issue
p. 3 Brand environment:
More than just a pretty place.
The brand space should be more
than just branded space. How to
get your consumers to seek out
and live your brand.
p. 7 In trying times. (Part 2 of 2)
Where should companies be
focusing their marketing
resources in this trying time, plus
the tools to help them do it.
Land of the freebies.
p. 12 Influencing Influencers.
The influencer can be the brand
ambassador or the anti-brand.
Make value more valuable.
This important touchpoint
requires more than facts and
p. 18 The term de jour
peek inside the next issue
Simple by design.
Beauty is sought, but it needn’t be
out of reach. On the contrary.;
Beauty should surround us. We
couldn’t agree more.
Pick a colour. Any colour.
Or maybe not. Different colours
affect our personalities in
contrasting manners. We explore
what makes you hungry, and what
puts you to sleep.
A look into step 1 of our 6 step
program on how to get these
people on your side.
The term de jour
The secret to success
is hidden within
t h o u s a n d s o f
textbooks, millions of
pages on the web,
countless lectures and
o n e c i r c u l a r l e t t e r.
With two dots on top.
space. Whether a bar, restaurant, hospital
lobby or retail store, the brand
space is more than just branded
space; It is about how you feel at a
time you’re most open to influence.
More than just a pretty space.
Jedoudna kiosk | Dubai Comedy Convention
Like it or not, you’re being lured. It could probably be happening as you read this article. It could
have happened this afternoon. It has definitely happened over the past few days. And, like it or not,
you’ll continue to be lured after knowing all you need to know about the art of luring.
The warm, hunger-inducing aroma of freshly baked bread; in a supermarket. The soft sun-filled
atrium that beckons a contemplative read with freshly brewed coffee; in the hospital. The ambient
trend-setting music of the must-buy compilation; heard in the restroom. Everything says something
about your brand and nowhere is this more evident than in the multi-dimensional confine of the
brand’s home; The head office, the retail space or any space or touchpoint where the brand is
communicating. The ‘brand environment’ says more than buy me/recommend me. It allows you to
experience the brand, thereby accomplishing more than any individual marketing ploy could ever
The brand environment relinquishes control of the brand values to its true custodians; the
consumers and customers. The environment facilitates the user experience, yet while it can try to
mould a perfect outcome by checking off all expectations on its due-diligence checklist, the fact
remains that if not based on any concrete data, it will fail. The process is a bit like a restaurant
unknowingly serving the star food critic. One bad review and it could be all over, no matter the
circumstances. The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to make sure that you consistently
stay true to your values across all aspects as if your survival depended on each and every
To begin with, ask the three basic questions:
3 Is the
Are these environment
1 What does values the same propelling the brand
the space say as those of the towards success or is
about the brand? brand? If not, then it holding it back?
there is a disconnect
that must be
Silks Members Club | Dubai Racing Club
Once you have answered these to your satisfaction, then understand a very clear principle that
many marketers and organisations continuously forget; you are talking to another human being
with real wants, real needs, real requirements. You are not communicating with Generation X male,
Socio-economic group B1, married with 2.2 children, 1.3 dogs and 1.6 cars. You are communicating
02 | with Omar, your next door neighbour.
More than just a pretty space.
Once you really know your audience, then you can figure out what makes him tick. Here we can
use an abridged AGORA 6-senses brand environment tool.
What does the space smell like? With smell comes taste. You can’t taste something if you
don’t smell it.
Throughout the ages, we have adorned ourselves with What are you serving your customers and is it
exotic scents to express our individuality and appeal to aligned with your brand image? Are you an
our olfactory senses. Perfumes are interesting enough upmarket high-end clinic serving cheap coffee?
refereed to in musical metaphors, as notes; High People don’t want what they can easily get. Go the
notes, middle notes and base notes. We remember extra mile. If you show the effort in something as
smells and some of the most successful brands use it simple as a biscuit, it could just show your attitude
to make you love them. And love comes cheap. and creativity in what your brand is really made of.
What does the space actually look like? What does the space sound like? Is it heavy metal or chill-
out lounge? Is it quiet or loud? Informative or sleep
What art is hanging on the wall? What do your When customers call you, how are they being
customers first see when they walk into your brand answered? Who is answering them and what does that
space? Has the flow been thought through? Are there say about your brand? Is there background music, or a
coves for private contemplation? Is it visually message being heard? Are the sounds reflective of what
stimulating? Is there a line of sight, or is it a maze? If so, the brand says it is? If it sounds like Uncle William yet is
they won’t wait to get lost before tell you to. actually Aunt Melissa, you may just have a problem.
Is there texture? Is it multi-dimensional? Does it make it What does your intuition say about the place?
you want to check it out?
What materials are you using? What textures are being What is that very first reaction? Don’t over-analyse or it
used and what is the meaning behind them? Is it avant- will will dilute the response. Instead, just feel it. First
garde or an unintentional throw-back to the ‘70s? Fake reactions are what most customers or consumers will
leather sofas in the reception? Oh my. judge you on. Sometimes, there are no second chances
to make amends.
More than just a pretty space.
Silks Members Club | Dubai Racing Club Jedoudna kiosk | Dubai Comedy Convention AGORA | Head Office
Catering to the 6 senses will ensure each experience will be as close to being positive as you
envisioned. Even if you miss on one area, the experience can still be salvaged by over-delivering
on the other 5 senses. It may give you time to tweak, but ensure that you always update in line
with your customer’s expectations.
People get bored.
Easily, mind you. While
you won’t necessarily
keep changing the
building in which your
brand is housed, you
can update elements
catering to the 6 senses
relatively easily and
evolve, and brand
personalities are no
DeliD Delicatessen | Jumeirah Beach Residence
The brand space is not just the
retail environment, the office
space, car showroom, hospital
atrium, the restaurant or airport
kiosk. The brand space is
precisely where many decisions
are made based on the
influences at play at the crucial
moment of truth. The botox-
factor may fool some people
some of the time but, over time,
the true personality will show.
2009 Sensations Natural Soap | Dubai Duty Free 6
times. (part 2)
Marketing efficiency can determine whether businesses
survive, succeed or fail during this economic downturn.
Understanding whether your organisation is an effective
marketer is not so difficult, if you know what to look for.
Access our marketing audit guidelines
The speed with which the current economic crisis has impacted many businesses has jolted many
managers into survival mode while placing any strategic forward-planning initiatives on hold.
Across various industries, many organisations had barely any time to lick their wounds as the
magnitude of their weaknesses became evident virtually overnight. While many marketing
In trying times.
consultants would have relished the opportunity to gloat, saying ‘I told you so’ accompanied with a
hefty retainer proposal, the fact of the matter remains that they too were reeling from their
immense weaknesses. One of the basic principles of effective marketing was overlooked in the race
to pile up unsustainable profit margins; Gather data, plan, implement, and review. The review
function in addition to the data gathering deficit is evident by the broadside kneejerk reactions of
many corporations not understanding their market (and hence, their customer/consumer) dynamics
The marketing audit has become one of the most important tools any manager can utilise to guage
their organisation’s marketing weaknesses, thereby allowing them to take corrective actions based
on fact, in a prioritised and efficient manner. The marketing audit, by its very nature is based on four
Principle #1 A Comprehensive Approach
Covering all major marketing activities, not just the ‘perceived’ problem areas. The comprehensive nature of
the marketing audit will take a bird’s eye view of all marketing functions.
Principle #2 Systematic Procedures
Once all functions have been reviewed, a systematic approach to each element identifies the weak areas,
which are then tackled in a corrective action plan.
Principle #3 Independent, Non-biased Analysis
By being independent of the organisation, the marketing audit can be objective while being carried out by
Principle # 4 Periodic Reviews
In times of trouble, it is important to understand where the solutions lie. Yet, if the marketing audit is a part of
the brand plans, it allows to a periodic review of brand performance vs. the market, and allows for fast
informed decision making when market conditions change.
These ground rules ensure that the marketing audit is not just a piece of paper nor is it a witch hunt.
The audit allows managers to look at their organisation from a non-biased angle, helping them to
understand what the actual problems are and, just as importantly, how to remedy the situation.
* A marketing audit can be a reactive tool or ideally it can be ingrained in your organisational culture.
* Information is best obtained from all stakeholders, not just management.
Access our marketing audit guidelines
Today managers are facing challenges that are fundamentally different to any they’ve been
exposed to. In their haste to react, decision making becomes based on immediate circumstance
rather than strategic opportunity. Yet it is precisely those opportunities that are giving rise to the
agile and driven entrepreneurs that are in command of their value chains.
In trying times.
In order to make informed decisions, one must understand the consequences of those very
decisions. With sound information based on facts, not opinions, management can ensure that
their marketing is proactive and efficient rather than reactive and wasteful.
The marketing audit comprehensively covers 6 major marketing components (diagram 2a) of the
organisation, then systematically examines them, giving independent feedback and solutions.
1 Marketing Environment
A wide overview of the Macro and task environments. Understanding what are the trends,
developments, outlook, changes. Who are the competitors, customers, suppliers, facilitators.
2 Marketing Strategy
Analysis of the missions, objectives, goals and strategy to achieve them.
3 Marketing Organisation
Examination of the formal structure while understanding what is the efficiency of the
functions and their interfaces.
4 Marketing Systems
Review of the various systems, from the marketing information and planning to control and
5 Marketing Productivity
Analysis of profitability and cost-effectiveness.
6 Marketing Function
Inspection of the front-lines, namely the products, services, pricing, distribution, advertising,
p.r. and sales force.
Andreas Henksoff, CEO of AI Financials exemplified the current situation. ‘Prior to
commissioning the audit, we believed that the the efficiency of our marketing programs could
have been improved by refining the creativity and message of our communications. What we
ended up finding out was that was only a symptom of a much wider institutional nonalignment
amongst the various functions.’ Having understood early on in the current climate that it wasn’t
prudent to just react, Andreas realised that in order to capitalise on the numerous opportunities
that were going to appear as a result of the economic correction, his entire organisation needed
02 | to act as as one team, based on solid constantly updated information.
* It is a comprehensive and systematic approach to have an efficient marketing culture.
* Period reviews of the marketing functions will ensure that the organisation remains a fast, informed marketing culture.
* The marketing audit is not just a fault finder; it is a solutions provider that is based on factual information.
* All functions of marketing should be accountable.
Access our marketing audit guidelines
To understand it in plain language, one need look no further than the following allegory
organisational behaviour. It has become a must-read for managers at some of the world’s most
‘Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set
In trying times.
of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As
soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water. After a a while, another
monkey will make an attempt with the same result...all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water.
Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.
Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace with a new one. The
new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise, and horror, all of the other
monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he
will be assaulted.
Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes
to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in punishment with enthusiasm!
Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then a fifth. Every time the
newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked.
Now, none of the monkeys that are beating him have any idea why they are not permitted to climb the
stairs, nor why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.
After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with
cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try or the banana.
Because, as far as they know, ‘that’s the way it has always been done around here”.’
To maintain the status quo by consistently working on the same systems and procedures based
on the same information leaves an abundance of unfulfilled opportunity unrealised. To
understand what works and why must begin with the realisation that by understanding
weakness is a form of strength. Asking the questions is a step forward towards finding the
Give a man a zucchini,
he’ll eat but a meal.
Give a man an
fertiliser, an irrigation
system and a staff count
of 20, he’ll issue an IPO.
The influencer can be
the brand ambassador
or the anti-brand. This
demands more than
just facts and figures.
Introducing a 6-step
program to getting it right.
The role of the influencer is an often misunderstood science. Many marketers
tend to see them in a generic sense, believing that branded pens or fridge
magnets in the shape of a fibulas will result in undying loyalty.
Other marketers tend to create them in their image, by casting ‘doctors’ to
appear on TV, endorsing pills or even dandruff medication. It is also true of
‘veterinarians’ vouching for the wholesome goodness of dog food while
‘paediatricians’ carry the baby food banner. 9 out of 10 dentists endorse one
toothpaste against all others while 9/10 of their colleagues counter-endorse the
competitor. The math of this latter example demonstrates the conundrum.
Influencers are not just those men and women that have
completed grad school. An influencer, by its very
definition, is no more than another human being, of any
age, that plays a role in influencing a perception,
behaviour, purchase or boycott. While the GP may
influence based on his or her professional standing, the
toddler too will have a (one might say stronger)
influence based on his or her emotional collateral.
‘Mommy I want this one. Please. Please.’ is one of the
more potent tools these little influencers utilise while
browsing the shopping aisle.
Understanding this very premise is the very first step in understanding how this
important touchpoint is approached. Not all influencers are created equal, nor
should they be categorised as so.
Influencers have traditionally been classified according to their grouping. These
normally consist of the following categories:
Professionals Advisers, Prescribers
Professional + Educational Bodies Opinion leaders, trainers, think tanks
Industry [special interest) Bodies Special interest, industry-specific organisations
Legislative Civil servants, politicians, lobbyists
Media Journalists, publications, programs
Informal Influencers Family, friends, chat rooms, groups
Understanding the role and type of influencer is a first step in ensuring an
efficient, targeted program. Varying categories have different dynamics,
whereby the influencers becomes just as diverse. Understanding the dynamics
will give you a clear indication of how much influence each party has.
Some brands are consumer-driven. Others rely equally between the consumer
and any or all of the influencer categories. Still others rely heavily, but not
solely, on professionals. These can be attributed not only to the medical field,
but can include brokers of investment products and consultants (including
Influencers have a massive impact on consumer perception, with the potential
to positively and negatively influence. They impact the manner in which a brand
is not only viewed and used but approached. Brands today no longer are the
domain of the trademark holders. Brands are now shaped by consumers,
customers and influencers alike.
Respecting the role of the influencer not only can result in securing positive
support, but it also helps smoothen some aspects of the environment in which
With all this in mind, it is easy to
agree that the influence yielded by
these individuals is considerable. Yet
Yet, who are they? the questions remain: Who are they?
What are their motivators? Do they
even know they are influencers, and
what shapes their perceptions? How
much power do they actually wield?
Are they receptive to new
information? How did we get to
where we are and, as importantly,
how do we move forward?
* Influencers can quietly make or break a brand
* There are 6 key categories of influencer, that can themselves be further segmented
* Not all influencers are created equal nor do they consider themselves influencers
* There are 6 important steps that are necessary for an efficient influencer communications program
* Identifying who they are and how to talk to them is integral to a brand’s survival
Answering these questions correctly will determine the level of success or
failure any communications program would face. There are 6 main topics that
must be addressed prior to communicating with influencers:
Who are the key influencers? 1
What is their role with regards to the market & the brand? 2
Who is the brand’s key driver? The influencer or the consumer/customer? 3
Who can and should be communicated with? 4
What are their motivations, perceptions? 5
When are moments of truth that our message will be positively received? 6
Why a toddler prefers one cereal box to another is just as fascinating as what
makes one personal trainer recommend one protein shake over another. Getting
these right will place a brand on solid footing, if all the touchpoints are aligned
with the brand vision. Without alignment, it is precarious ground indeed.
In the next issue of YEN, we explore Step 1 in-depth as part of
our 6 step program on how to communicate with influencers.
Live like a cult leader
the AGORA referral program
You don’t need us to imagine the lifestyle a cult leader would live in the weeks before being raided by the FBI. But if you like
the idea of living out your life in abundance, then perhaps we can help.
Abundant thoughts translate into abundant pockets. Thanks to AGORA, you can get a monthly income just for referring a
The good life couldn’t be any easier. Just send us a referral and we’ll do all the work. If they become a client, you become
the recipient of a monthly dividend. Freeing up your time to fulfil your wishes, and of those around you.
Send over a few referrals our way. Then pick out a great location for a ranch, start gathering ‘friends’, and think abundant
thoughts. If they’re legal, we’ll ensure they materialise.
A recession needn’t be depressing.
best way to help
someone out is to
help yourself in
My friend, my banker.
The DIVIDEND Business Referral Program provides you the opportunity to earn
substantial monthly dividends for referring new customers to AGORA. Our
Referral Partners have no monthly commitments and do not need to assist
with the sale. Simply provide us with a business referral, and we will take it from
there. We’ll arrange the meetings, present our credentials, and let things take
their natural course. Your only responsibility is the referral: No support, No
obligation. No conundrum.
the AGORA referral program
How it Works.
The way it works is quite simple. Refer a prospect to us, then sit back and share
in the profits while we do all the work.
DIVIDEND is the AGORA business referral program that makes sense. The
program works by giving you a percentage of the revenue received on a monthly
basis for any new referral that becomes an AGORA customer. This referral fee
starts after a customer has been with AGORA for 30 days and is payable monthly
for as long as they are clients. Judging by our track record, chances are they’ll be
with us for a long while. Lucky you.
Well, let’s see. Banks aren’t giving loans. Bummer. Companies are laying people
off. Ouch. Expenses are still pretty high. Whoa. Your stock portfolio is worth
about half of what you paid for it. Damn. AGORA wants to share in its success by
giving away money so that we can all have a great recession. Cool.
just words? parole श"द$
Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Also referred to as Product Proposition, this quite simply refers to the
distinctive and single-minded promise that we want consumers to
believe a specific product variant delivers.
Term de jour
A USP can be written after meticulous data gathering that confirms that:
* What you have is truly distinctive in a manner that is relevant to
* What you have is truly distinctive vs. the competition.
* This distinction is sustainable. If investment is made to communicate
the differentiation, will it allow you leverage within the overall strategic
A USP doesn’t stop at the product or service level. It is something that
must be a part of the entire organisation, at all levels.
Antonyms of USP can include:
It’s not the size
of the word that - Me too. Me too.
counts, but how - Who am I? What do I do? What am I?
you use it. - I wish I were someone/something else.
- Don’t buy me. I’m so ordinary.
- Please buy me. I’m so ordinary and in need of attention.
2009 If you like words, you’ll like our glossary of marketing terms. Perfect for breaking the ice during those uncomfortable quiet moments.
Inspiration shadows you, waiting for that magical moment that it will be accepted. That moment that it will be
respected. It sometimes knocks, waiting for you to let it in, share a coffee, nurture it, then call it back in the morning.
Other times, it kicks the door down, throws you against the desk and ravishes your genius bits into working their magic.
Inspiration doesn’t need exertion, just a yen for progress. Your shadow hides the what you know not yet. Just add light.
let it in