Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

How to Bring a Sweet Valentine’s Day to Your Customer, Your Colleagues, or Your Sweetheart

In Advertising | PR | Creatives, Business, Inspiration, Viva-La-Vida on 2011/02/14 at 4:42 PM
Today is a day belonging to those who are in love. Yes?

Today is a day dedicating to Hallmark cards, chocolate, and bundles of roses. Yes?

Today is a day expressing your affection to those you’re in love with. Yes?


Chocolate for ValentineValentine's Day RosesWell, sort of. But not exactly.

I’d say today is a day making people around you to feel your love and appreciation, for being who they are.

And it’s never too much to say “Thank you, I love you” (or “I appreciate our relationship”) even Thanksgiving was only 3 months ago. After all, we all want to be loved.

Think about what you and I can do to make a sweet Valentine’s day (without filing a chapter 11 tomorrow morning).

  • What are the most valuable items of your recipient?
    Oftentimes we create surveys or ask questions to understand people we care about but then we miss the opportunity to take actions by showing these people “yes, we hear you and understand your needs.” I gave my boyfriend a pair of workout gloves because he once told me that he got callus by lifting weight on a regular basis. Even though I totally let off the secret by asking his hand size, I know that is something he will find it useful. And I guess we all want to deliver the same value by providing what our recipient wants the most.
  • What is your delivery method?How to deliver a Valentine's Day appreciation at workplace
    Have you every given something but did not get the expected feedback from the recipient? If so, consider how you deliver your message. For any type of appreciation, you want to make sure you find the right voice. If you’re in a B2B company and you would like to wish customers a Happy Valentine’s Day, utilize your staffs who are constantly in contact with customers. Your best delivery channel is your staff.
  • Are you creative enough?
    Let’s face it. We are all information overwhelmed. If you start typing “Valentine” on Google, you will find thousands of queries suggesting thousands of things whether it’s about dining location or gift selection. Among all the information we receive, only creative one stands out. I am often intrigued by creative messages coming from someone I’m totally not expected, and this year International Sign Association’s email message totally caught my intention. Do you have an event coming up? Do you have a new product launch? Consider utilizing Valentine’s Day to give your customer a sweet surprise!Creative email campaign - Valentine's Day
  •  What’s beyond an exclusive Valentine’s Day?
    I have seen some sites taking a step further and embracing the “pay it forward” idea by providing charity services or some very neat cause-marketing campaigns. (Read “Re-Booting Valentine’s Day for Good” from Fast Company) In a nutshell, Valentine’s Day is about love and making this world a warmer place. Yes?
What do you do to celebrate Valentine’s Day?





Insight into social media in Asia

In Business, Marketing, Social Media, Taiwan on 2011/02/03 at 2:22 PM

Have you ever wondered how people in different countries use social media? Have you ever thought the impact of social media might not be as massive in Asia as in the States?

I had the fortune to meet with the EVP of Yaffe Group, Michael Morin, to discuss how people adopt social media in countries like Taiwan or China. As we chatted along, there are several insights I would like to share:

  • Different Internet user behavior
    Chinese-Internet-Users-infographicWith increased amount of Internet users from China or any other Mandarin (or similar dialect) speaking countries, the whole world is giving more emphasis on this huge opportunity-land has yet to come. However, many companies have ignored the fact people use Internet differently than how we use it here in the States (or Europe). For most of the people in the States, AIM & MySpace is probably a high-school thing to be addicted with, but in Asian countries there are still many types of chat rooms and forums such as MSN, QQ, and even a unique terminal-based bulletin board system (BBS). Those platforms are very popular among people aging from 16 to 40 years old. They use online channels to chat, listening/downloading music, playing games, or reading news and blogs. That whole different user behavior is likely to change how companies / brands utilize Internet channels and to format their messages. (Source: 

    Chinese Internet Habits vs. the US)

  • Platforms & channels aren’t connected & integrated as much as those in the States.
    Nowadays you probably have seen Facebook or Twitter icon popping up everywhere from print materials or TV commercials. As the rise of social media, marketers who are used to traditional channels have to learn how to embrace and utilize these new channels and start conversing with customers. In Asia, however, things are seemingly different: each communication channel is still exclusive in its own purpose and content. Take one of the largest BBS in Taiwan, PTT (telnet://ptt.cc), for example: the site currently hosts 150,215 visitors, with the diverse user coverage from current students to graduated alumni. The user number might be far less than that of major social media sites likes Facebook or Twitter. But imagine 90% of the universities have their own BBSBBS-PTT-Taiwan-social-media-sites, and almost every student is active in more than one forums on BBS, the power of this channel can easily be multiplied. However, companies and brands rarely get the chance to get into this channel and I believe part of the reason is topics discussed in BBS are students-oriented (whether being tips of certain classes or information about studying abroad). Information covered can still be broad enough for individuals but too narrow to get in for advertisers or marketers. In short, I think “localization” & “exclusiveness” are still very common phenomenon in many communication channels in Asian countries. And that is why they aren’t integrated with one another.

  • Branding & engagement is still an undefined expertise.
    Many of advertisers or marketers in Taiwan or China might disagree with me on this, but in general, I do not believe local companies (whether as big as Foxconn or as small as mom-and-pop shops) understand what PR / marketing / advertisement is about. Let alone social media, branding, or engagement with customers. Yes, you might still see fancy TV commercials or shiny billboards in municipal cities like Taipei, Beijing, or Shanghai. But look more closely, the majority of brands advertised are global brands like Sony, Pepsi, or McDonald. You can get a glimpse of what I am talking about by this Top 10 Chinese New year TVCs (http://www.campaignasia.com/Article/246863,top-10-chinese-new-year-tvcs.aspx) and you can probably tell the difference of messages delivered in Asian countries (China, Taiwan, Singapore…etc) between those here. “Families and friends” are more emphasized in commercial messages (“exclusiveness”, echoing my second point above), and less focus on corporate images or brands. Creativity is another factor influencing how companies or brands portray themselves. According to Tim Broadbent, AdAgeChina, that “Ads are mainly used to convey product facts. They are more likely to show a demo of the product composition, together with multiple product messages. They are less likely to use humor or music, and, crucially, fewer appeal to the emotions.

The usage of Internet and the number of people with higher purchasing power in Asian countries might be increasing, but to engage with customers with various social media channels, companies there still have a long way to go.

Dear Google, stop acting like a spoiled American kid

In Business, Strategy, Tech & Trend on 2010/11/19 at 3:56 PM

Google earlier this week pleaded the United States, the European Union and other governments to take “concrete steps to ensure that rules in the next generation of trade agreements reflect new challenges of Internet trade.” We all know Google has been fighting with Chinese government against censorship for a year and there is no doubt Google’s act is targeted at their market share in China against another search engine company, Baidu. Even censorship and limited access to certain types of content does affect freedom of speech and information flow, Google, in my opinion, is just like a spoiled kid in this matter. (Reuters)

Don’t get me wrong, I am not supporting any governments’ interference of information nor do I want to work in a country where I have no access to Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. I simply believe there’s a better way of resolving the issue without using “free trade” excuses. And if Google can’t put itself in Chinese Internet users’ perspective to adjust its business model, Google should take its own responsibility, not urging other forces to make everything more complicated.

Is censorship the only reason causing Google’s failure in China? No. I think Google ignores the fact that Chinese searcher behavior is very different from Americans’. According to China Internet Watch, the first Internet application Chinese searcher use is online music. Unlike American use Internet to gather information, users in China go online more for music, gaming, and entertaining purposes. And when it comes to information sharing, chat rooms and forum dominate the majority of searches in China while Americans like to go to blogs and individual websites to gather information.

With such a difference in searcher behavior, I still believe Google should look at the whole situation as an opportunity to collaborate than to compete with other Chinese language search engine provider, like Baidu. I don’t appreciate Baidu’s CEO, Robin Li’s comments about Google leaving China in Web 2.0 Summit and I believe web users, whether being Chinese or Americans, should have equal opportunities to use different channels for information. My hope is that big companies like Google and Baidu will consider partnership rather than buy-out, and focus more on understanding and respecting the market difference rather than forcing the other party to change.

What is your thought on this? Do you think Google is being reasonable asking for government interference? Do you think Google still have a change in Chinese search market?



  1. Fast Company “Google calls on the west to tackle Chinese web censorship”
  2. Baidu’s market share
  3. TechCrunch 420M people in China have Internet access, 99% use Baidu for search”


The Gap Between Exclamation Marks and Period

In Business, Communication on 2010/10/28 at 11:25 AM
Dear fast & furious companies, executives, customers, and vendors, I genuinely think we over-use exclamation marks and the verbiage “as soon as possible”.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a multi-tasking maniac, to-do-list addict, prioritize expert just like many other professionals in business world, but really, an seemingly unnecessary exclamation marks (from my own perspective) in an email isn’t going to push up this specific project.

An exclamation mark, according to Wikipedia, is “a punctuation mark usually used after an interjection or exclamation to indicate strong feelings or high volume, and often marks the end of a sentence.”

So a sentence like this, “Please see so and so’s comment on darkness!” the exclamation mark seems unnecessary. Just in case the person who sends this email doesn’t know how important he/she is to me, maybe I should wear my two pair glasses and hold a magnifier to read that so and so’s comment on darkness.

In today’s business, everyone wants their projects to be prioritized and people seem to get less and less patient due to advanced technology and information overflow. But to make things more effective, in my opinion, is about better communication, not about exclamation marks or “ASAP”.

  • Start each project with detailed phase plan & action item
    Everyone can be filled with great ideas and we all can spend the entire day at conference room talking about brilliant thoughts & genius ideas. But ideas aren’t good enough, and sometimes they even consume too much time and dilute the fundamental purpose of the project. I usually break projects down in to pieces, lay out all the action items and estimate archive time based on the importance of each action item. Don’t over-think, just do it.
  • Ask “how many I help you” or “what can I get you” while discussing projects
    Some of you might disagree with me on this, but I am not much of a conversationalist when it comes to getting things done. Cutting straight to the point of getting things cleared out makes much more sense than relying on fuzzy “relationship” with the person then hoping they will expedite the project because of that.
  • Constantly review project plan with the team
    Needless to say, project scope changes from time to time and people’s expectation does as well. I tend to review few action items with the team whenever a small milestone is accomplished; that really helps each team member share his/her own perception and adjust pace.

What tactics you use to expedite your workflow?

Where’s your social gold mine? Facebook or Twitter?

In Business, Marketing, Social Media on 2010/10/15 at 2:00 AM

Nowadays there are a lot of articles discussing the value of your audience in social media sites. Even though Scott Stratten in his latest book claimed “social media isn’t for ROI, it’s for relationship & conversation,” the demand of numbers, return on investment, or even “how much we can cash out of social media” will forever and ever be an ongoing process for digital marketers or those who want to combine their business with online presence.

Forbes recently posted an article comparing social networking value between Facebook Fans versus Twitter Followers. The finding is that your Twitter followers are more likely to buy from brands (37% versus 21% Facebook friends) and recommend brands to others (33% versus 21%) than your Facebook friends. Interestingly enough, Advertising Age, around the same time, featured Eventbrite’s eCommerce result nurturing social networks to drive sales leads. According to the case study, Facebook share generates far more dollar value than the same action on Twitter (Facebook $2.52 versus Twitter $0.43).
Social Commerce
Based on Forbes article & AdAge case studies, I came to this conclusion:
When it comes to possibility of recipient action: Twitter > Facebook 
When it comes to the value per recipient action: Facebook > Twitter

Most of us agree social network has tremendous potential whether promoting brands or driving sales. (not just a bunch of geeks connecting with each other in cyberspace and give those platforms some fancy names. But if you do, you can stop reading now :P) The challenge is, it’s still new for marketers or digital strategist to develop some metrics measuring the value & the cost or each platform.

So which platform is better than the other? To answer this question, I don’t think we should merely look at individual case studies or numbers just because there are way too many variables. I suggest that you ask yourself these questions first:

  • Who is your target audience?
    If you can confidently give me an answer, then ask yourself:
  • Where are your they? Are they only use social networks to complain about bad customer service or are they avid adopters of the technology or applications?

In my opinion, Facebook and Twitter are two vary different network with very different types of users. To tackle your promotional campaign successfully, you have to at least understand who those users are. While Facebook may have dozens of games & applications to use entertaining or attracting visitors, your customers may not use Facebook for entertainment purpose or simply have no interest “liking” a brand via Facebook over a Farmville reward.

After figuring out your customer behavior & properly segmenting them, you can then look at your offer to see if that would be a relevant draw to the customers.
Personally I like to keep a list separating Facebook & Twitter and matching my strategy towards the uniqueness of each platform. You can try making one yourself.

comparison between Facebook & Twitter

Strategy-wise, I do believe whichever platform you end up using (or both), your campaign has to be connected with your brand.
If your business is about fundraising or nonprofit activities, don’t create a game and ask users to play to win some awards. If your customers don’t even know what a retweet is, don’t tweet about your weekly promotion and put a “please RT!” verbiage at the end of each tweet.
Also, utilizing visual icons or images is always a good action applicable anywhere. People in general like to be pleased in their eyes and I do believe Facebook, in this circumstances, stands a better chance than Twitter. But you can still discover various ways to make your brand “pop,” like NewTwitter’s video functionality.
To sum up, discovering your social network gold mine requires sophisticated customer segmentation and relevant campaign. Patrick Vogt, chairman and chief executive of Datran Media also a constant contributor of Forbes article said, “Perhaps a successful social media strategy is not about figuring out the monetary value of a Facebook fan vs. a Twitter follower, but instead involves understanding each social channel and the native advantages of both.”
But personally, whether you are my Facebook friends or Twitter follower, you all mean a lot to me.
Now, what’s your value assessment for your social network and how do you measure the effectiveness? 


Like a Newbie

In Business, Inspiration on 2010/08/26 at 12:16 PM

Have you ever had this experience? Whether in a client brief meeting or when you interact with someone at work, you feel like knowing exactly what they are going to say even before they open their mouth?

Well, I do.

And we’ve always heard something like this: “you have to know your client / business” or “previous experience in xyz industry is a plus.” Professionals with experience are always considered adding value/ credibility into the project. But I can’t help but to wonder: what if we walk into a situation like a newbie?

Newbie doesn’t have to be someone totally have no idea what the situation is. Newbie can be like your first day to work and you have all the aspiration and passion about what you want to do & are capable of. You walk into a situation with minimum assumption, minimum expectation, and maximum enthusiasm, and you listen, without any prejudice nor “professional package.” And I feel, correct me if I’m wrong, that is when you get the most knowledge about what the project really is and what your client really wants, when you put your mindset away and embrace the new challenge like a newbie.

I try to travel as much as I can just to reset my mind but apparently I don’t have much luxury to do so every weekend. I take walks, doodle, or simply crawl into bed and shut my eyes. But I find it hard from time to time to really open up my mind like a newbie. Or maybe there’s no such thing like this, as you and I have years of experience, we just leverage our experience to make decisions. So my question, to all of you, is: have you ever tried to be a newbie? And if so, how?

We Creative Folks. Am I? Are You?

In Advertising | PR | Creatives, Business, Marketing on 2010/07/26 at 12:28 PM

I recently had a great discussion with a friend about the difference between marketing and advertising. The takeaway I got: marketing people are like strategist, whereas advertising folks are, artists.

Marketing, from what I’ve learned and been doing for almost 4 years, consists all kinds of fundamentals / formulas: the SWOT analysis, the 4P idea, or as simple as seeing every business as a case study, identifying the underlying issue, analyzing the market & the consumer, then coming up with a solution. It involves studying product life cycle, conducting focus group, digging through all the stats finding the trends & pattern then trying to outweigh what competitors have been doing. To some extent, it’s a bridge between corporate & the market, sales and the customer / consumer. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

But I’ve always admired advertising industry. Like an opera with quartet: account team, creative team, media team, and the production team, the advertising realm is the creator of all kinds of masterpieces that makes you resonate, excited, or even open up your piggy bank and pay for whatever amount your monthly statement will shock you later on. I had the fortune to know a few professionals who works in advertising industry, and every time they share, they always blow my minds away.

But for many people, the difference between these two fields is sort of blurry. I mean, everyone can doodle. Right? But just as Microsoft Word doesn’t make all of us copywriters, the ability to doodle doesn’t make us creative. Not to the extent like advertisers, not at all.

Aside from knowing how to use photoshop or indesign doing some very basic rendering / retouching, marketers are far closer to sales. They are driven by stats or numbers. Their work or campaign has to have a track-able data supporting the so-called ROI (Return on Investment). Thus their point of view may sometimes be very different from a creative director’s perspective. Sometimes it’s a good thing; other times? Not so much. I recently read a great article called “The Creative vs. The Marketing Team: Yin & Yang; Oil & Water” by Speider Schneider. It lists out many ambivalent “love triangles” between these two parties. A very good read.

With that diverse angels, how do these two professionals coexist peacefully? Respect & open minds are the key. I’ve had the moments when people asked me to make a cutsheet and threw something like, “it shouldn’t be so hard or time-consuming for you to do this right?” and I couldn’t imagine if the same thing being said to any creative person. Remember? The ability to doodle doesn’t make a person creative. And certainly creating a cutsheet isn’t just about copy & paste an image to a blank document.

As much as I consider myself creative (or at least full of “light-bulbs” very often), I am still amazed how glamorous the creatives work in advertising industry. Only do I hope one day I can work with these people & learn to see the whole business in a different perspective.

Are you a creative person yourself? And how do you manage to work with people driven by different perspectives? Read the rest of this entry »