Monday, December 22, 2008

Problogger Wannabes: 4 Things to Expect During your Early Months of Blogging (Part 4)

This is PART 4 in a mini-series of posts on Problogger Wannabes: 4 Things to Expect during your Early Months of Blogging. The full series is PART 1 (Few people will read your blog), PART 2 (Expect little to no traffic at all), PART 3 (Patience will wear thin. Enthusiasm will run dry), PART 4 (You won’t earn thousands right away).

4. You won’t earn thousands right away. Most bloggers blog for money, the reason why many people start blogging. Although, yes, it’s true, you can make an adequate income through blogs (and if you’re lucky, make a full-time living from it), you can’t expect to make thousands right away. Let me tell you my story.

Two years ago, I was one of those people thinking that once you get accepted into the Google Adsense program, you’ll start earning right away. I was one of those “dead-wrong” people thinking that, just as long as I have ads on my page, every visitor will click on them. But I was wrong.

Ten months into blogging, I was not making any money from Adsense, the reason why I eventually lost interest in the program, and told myself to never bother with it anymore. (There were of course so many reasons why I wasn’t earning: for one, my blog was personal in nature, I didn’t have a niche, I didn’t know SEO, etc.)

Last month, I came across an article in an entrepreneur magazine featuring 3 local probloggers making money from their blogs. The article somehow ignited my passion for blogging once again, this time more determined to make a little money. And so I started this little blog about business, entrepreneurship and problogging - Negosyo360 (Negosyo is the Filipino word for “business.” Negosyo360 is Business360 in English).

Beginners need to understand that money-making isn’t easy, even for some established blogs. Read Darren Rowse’s post on the 10 Reasons Why Many Blogs Don’t Make Much Money.

So that’s it, let’s all be realistic, making money online is not as simple as it sounds. Although there are so many ways people can make money with their blogs now compared with 2 years ago, you still have to do your part as a publisher – and that’s to publish great content.

Again, here’s the full series: PART 1 (Few people will read your blog), PART 2 (Expect little to no traffic at all), PART 3 (Patience will wear thin. Enthusiasm will run dry), PART 4 (You won’t earn thousands right away).

Problogger Wannabes: 4 Things to Expect During your Early Months of Blogging (Part 3)

This is PART 3 in a mini-series of posts on Problogger Wannabes: 4 Things to Expect during your Early Months of Blogging. The full series is PART 1 (Few people will read your blog), PART 2 (Expect little to no traffic at all), PART 3 (Patience will wear thin. Enthusiasm will run dry), PART 4 (You won’t earn thousands right away).

3. Your patience will wear thin; your enthusiasm will run dry. True, especially if you’re blogging solely for money.

Money was my main driving force when I started blogging back in 2006. But I soon realized that money will never become an effective motivator (Read a bit of my Adsense story in PART 4), at least, for me. Feelings are, well, feelings. They are just passing emotions, and you really can’t rely on pure emotions.

Feelings often change, no, feelings ALWAYS change. Do you still love your wife as much as you love her back when you were still dating? Why do so many marriages end up in divorce? Even Romeo and Juliet, given 20 years of marriage, might have ended up in divorce.

Feelings can never give a strong foundation if you want to build an empire. Ok, so you don’t want to build an empire, you just want to blog and have a couple of people read your work. Ok, while there’s no problem with that, what I’m just trying to say is, you can’t build something great on something that’s so volatile.

You have to be aware, that as a blogger, like Web servers, you’ll have your uptimes and your downtimes. Your enthusiasm will run dry, your patience will wear thin. Yes it’s true, but it’s normal.

So what should we do? Well, I believe that what every blogger needs is a strong self-discipline, something I’m also having some issues with. Yes, it’s hard, but bloggers blog, it’s what we do.

We’ve all come from different places and from different backgrounds, but if there’s one thing that makes us common, it’s our desire to build a better world by building a better blogosphere. So don’t let your “downtimes” keep you from blogging, just be aware that it’s common, and that every blogger experiences the same “downtime” feelings like you. “Learn to use your emotions to think, not think with your emotions,” says Robert Kiyosaki.

Again, here’s the full series: PART 1 (Few people will read your blog), PART 2 (Expect little to no traffic at all), PART 3 (Patience will wear thin. Enthusiasm will run dry), PART 4 (You won’t earn thousands right away).

Problogger Wannabes: 4 Things to Expect During your Early Months of Blogging (Part 2)

This is PART 2 in a mini-series of posts on Problogger Wannabes: 4 Things to Expect during your Early Months of Blogging. The full series is PART 1 (Few people will read your blog), PART 2 (Expect little to no traffic at all), PART 3 (Patience will wear thin. Enthusiasm will run dry), PART 4 (You won’t earn thousands right away).

2. Expect little to no traffic at all (unless you’re famous). It can be very frustrating every time you check your stats and see that you had 0 visits in the past couple of weeks, or if there were any visitors, they took off as quickly as they landed on your page, as indicated by the 0:00:00 time spent on your blog, or the 100% bounce rate (which is the measure of “’how many people arrive at your site and then leave again without viewing any extra pages’ – Problogger.net.”) You’ll soon feel like all your efforts in writing those wonderful posts (subjective :-)) go unappreciated. This usually leads to topic #3: your patience will wear thin, and your enthusiasm will run dry.

But don’t loose hope or patience just yet; there are various reasons for this. The most obvious reason of which is that, you don’t yet have a long tail of content; another reason would be, people haven’t discovered your blog yet; search engines and blog indexers haven’t crawled on your content yet; you have limited knowledge in promoting your blog, etc.

There are ways to go around this:

• Just continue writing – visitors will eventually come. Just continue writing interesting posts and soon enough, your “first-time visitors” will become “repeat visitors,” who will then become your “loyal readers,” who will then form a great big community of “followers.” Although, to be realistic, not all blogs will ever have that chance to have a great following, it’s still an ego-booster for any blogger to have repeat visitors. Aim for repeat visitors!

• Submit some of your posts to social sites like Digg – they’re one of the most trafficked sites on the Web. You can tap into thousands of potential readers. (I have also touched on this topic in my Top 4 Things I Do after Hitting “Publish” post.)

• Ping various sites through ping sites like Pingomatic.com - let those blog index and directory sites know that you’ve updated. Ping them and they’ll send their crawlers to check your new content. (I have also touched on this topic in my Top 4 Things I Do after Hitting “Publish” post.)

• Network with other bloggers in your niche – contribute something useful; tell other bloggers things worth sharing; comment on their blogs, link to their blogs if you think it will help your readers, because you’ll never know, you might end up getting new readers yourself in return.

In my very first post about problogging (5 Simple Ways to Make Your Blog Human Friendly), I’ve advised not to link to other blogs. But I guess that reading other blogs can sometimes make you change your mind. Darren Rowse (Problogger.net) mentioned in one of his posts to be generous with your links. I know he’s right. But I still need to practice “responsible linking” though. Only link to those sites you think can help your readers.

I would like to think that bad competition doesn’t exist in the blogosphere. Bloggers help other bloggers blog. It makes me smile to know that dailyblogtips.com recommends its readers to read Problogger.net, or a particular post on Problogger.net has a link to doshdosh.com. :-)

Again, here’s the full series: PART 1 (Few people will read your blog), PART 2 (Expect little to no traffic at all), PART 3 (Patience will wear thin. Enthusiasm will run dry), PART 4 (You won’t earn thousands right away).

Problogger Wannabes: 4 Things to Expect During your Early Months of Blogging (Part 1)

This is PART 1 in a mini-series of posts on Problogger Wannabes: 4 Things to Expect during your Early Months of Blogging. The full series is PART 1 (Few people will read your blog), PART 2 (Expect little to no traffic at all), PART 3 (Patience will wear thin. Enthusiasm will run dry), PART 4 (You won’t earn thousands right away).

1. Few people will read your blog (unless you’re famous). Who would care to read a 5-post “unknown” blog by an “unknown” blogger? The most common answer would be “no one,” unless of course (1) you are a talented writer (that you get to capture your visitors right away the first time they read your posts), (2) you’re famous in the real world (you’re a celebrity who decided to make a go of blogging to “lure” more fans), or (3) you have told all your friends and family that you have a blog and that they should check it out. :-)

Yes, of course, there are other factors (aside from the ‘newness” of your blog) that contribute to having few readers. One is, the type of your blog (example: personal); another would be your niche, or your usual topic (example: you’re writing about ducks, or about spoons, etc.). Here’s a post that you can read, it’s about How to Choose a Niche Topic for Your Blog by Darren Rowse, the Problogger.net guy.

But let this not discourage you. It’s normal. Darren Rowse said that the “most successful blogs don’t hit their strides ‘til they are at least 12 months old.” Keywords you need to take note here are most, successful, and at least. Sure you can easily start a blog, but if you want to have a successful blog with a staying power, it’ll take time.

Here’s another post that you can read: When It Feels Like Nobody is Reading Your Blog, again by Darren.

Again, here’s the full series: PART 1 (Few people will read your blog), PART 2 (Expect little to no traffic at all), PART 3 (Patience will wear thin. Enthusiasm will run dry),
PART 4 (You won’t earn thousands right away).

Problogger Wannabes: 4 Things to Expect During your Early Months of Blogging

If you will check my very first post here, you’ll find out that I have started this little blog only over a month ago. Yes, true, this blog is still in its infancy; however, I’m a little proud to say that, while this blog is still a “baby,” the blogger’s already a “toddler.” :-)

Why? Well, although it may not be very obvious to you (perhaps due to the plainness of my English), but I have been a blogger for over 2 years now. Aside from this blog, I also have this “other” blog, a personal one, which has been the focus of my “writer-wannabe” energy all throughout these years.

Blogging (for negosyo360 and for the “other” blog) has made me realize that almost every blogger – big or small, with self-hosted blogs or not, pro or a newbie – first underwent the same stages of blog development, or blog maturity. If you have been blogging for 6 months or less, here are some of the things, in my opinion, every newbie (that includes me) has to expect:

a. Few people will read your blog (unless you’re famous).

b. Expect little to no traffic at all (unless you’re famous).

c. Patience will wear thin. Enthusiasm will run dry.
d. You won’t earn thousands right away.

This is a mini-series of posts on Problogger Wannabes: 4 Things to Expect during your Early Months of Blogging. The full series is PART 1 (Few people will read your blog), PART 2 (Expect little to no traffic at all), PART 3 (Patience will wear thin. Enthusiasm will run dry), PART 4 (You won’t earn thousands right away).

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Top 4 Things I Do after Hitting “Publish”

What do you usually do after hitting the “publish” button? Do you just sit and wait, hope that someone will find and read your post, and perhaps, if you’re lucky, that someone will comment on how great a read your post was?

Here are some of the things I do after I click the “publish” button:

1. Proof read some more. It helps to proof read some more, because you’ll never know if you have missed some typos. Some probloggers advise that it helps to have a “proof reading buddy,” someone who can review your post for/with you and check it for any errors.

2. Check if the codes are working fine. I usually check if my post template codes are working, like the “Read more…” link that you find on this blog, or the Feedburner footer links that you can find at the end of each post.

3. Ping various sites through Pingomatic.com. I regularly use Pingomatic.com’s ping service. Pingomatic.com helps you ping various sites (like blog directories or indexers) to let them know that you’ve updated your blog so they can send out their crawlers to check your site. This helps increase your traffic – somewhat.

4. Promote the post (sometimes). Sometimes I shamelessly promote some of my posts by submitting them to social media sites like Digg or del.icio.us. :-) It helps sometimes especially when somebody finds and reads them, finds them interesting and then later “diggs” or “bookmarks” them. Other times I comment on other blogs (related to my topic), leave a link to some of my posts, and hope that someone checks on them. :-)

How about you? What are some of the things that you do after hitting the “publish” button?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Why Filipino Problogger-Wannabes Need to Start Blogging Now?

Here are some reasons why you should consider blogging as early as now:
1. The internet has not yet penetrated a large percentage of the country’s households. Yes, the internet is still in its “toddlerhood” here in the Philippines, and if you’re a problogger-wannabe (like me), we can take advantage of this.

If you want to become an authority in your particular niche, then you have to start blogging right now. Think about it, in 2 years (or more) time, you could have the most authoritative blog in your niche or industry.

2. Success takes time. Blogheads like you and me know that, in blogging, our greatest investment is our time and our effort (and some money). I realized that we have to remember the following things:
• It takes time to grow from being a novice to being a pro. Like what Patricia Benner (some old psychology lady) found out in her study, before a novice becomes an expert, he first has to go through 5 stages of expertise, and they are – novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient and expert.

You can’t have all the habits, knowledge and experience of a problogger right away after blogging for just a few months (but you can try learning from their experiences, like what I’m trying to do). Real growth is gradual, says an old book.

• It takes time to build great content. If you are going to check out Problogger.net, you will find that it has a deep archive of great content. No wonder it’s one of the most authoritative blogs about blogging.

Remember, it takes time to build great content (unless of course you’re the kind of user who steals content from others to make a quick buck from ads, which is wrong).

• It takes time to build traffic. When I first started this little blog, I asked local probloggers Noel Bautista (noelbautista.com) and Anton Diaz (ourawesomeplanet.com) about the average length of time it takes for one blog to build traffic. Noel Bautista said: Steady traffic depends sa activity mo at kung gaano mo kadalas i-promote. It may take 2 months or it may take 5 years.” (Steady traffic depends on your activities and how often you promote it. It may take 2 months or it may take 5 years.) Anton Diaz said: It would take 6-10 months before may traffic ‘yung site.” (It would take 6-10 months before the site had traffic)

The obvious reason for this is because, like what I’ve said, it takes time to build great content. According to Darren Rowse (Problogger.net), the richer your archive is, the greater the number of “entry points” people will have to access your blog. More “entry points,” more visitors, more traffic.

(Note: Celebrity bloggers can get loads of traffic instantly, but they’re a different story, because they can always take advantage of their fame)

• It takes time to build a reputation. In the blogosphere, there will be no other people who can better judge how good a blogger you are, other than your fellow bloggers.

In general, by building great content over time, you can gain your fellow bloggers’ respect. There are exceptions though, like people who, before becoming bloggers, were already famous for being experts in their respective fields. Just imagine a Nobel laureate starting a blog about his field of expertise. :-)

• It takes time to learn, really learn. I believe that blogging is a journey. And we learn valuable lessons along the way. Sometimes it takes several mistakes to make the lesson really sink in. That’s why there’s no other better teacher than experience.

Convinced now? Start blogging today. :-)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Blog Title Tips: 9 (or more) Words That May Add More Interest to Your Blog Titles

I was trying to come up with a good title for a “future post” I was trying to write when something occurred to me that made me ask, “Whenever I do Google searches, what are the most common words do I find in the titles of articles or blog posts that interest me?”

So I did a little brainstorming for about 20 minutes and finally came up with a list of those words below (with examples from Problogger.net, dailyblogtips.com and Forbes.com).

1. Free. We really can’t deny that many of us are crazy over free stuff on the Web. The good news for most of us is that, there are so many of these “free” stuff – from free software to free music to free web hosting to free tutorials to free eBooks - on the Web. Nothing attracts me more than something that’s free. :-) Example: Free Blogger Templates (Problogger.net)

2. How-to / Tutorial. Do you believe in the power of How-to articles or Tutorials? I do. Much has been written about How-to articles and how effective they are at driving traffic to your site or blog. Probloggers like Darren Rowse (Problogger.net) and Daniel Scocco (dailyblogtips.com) have stressed the importance of an effective title, and there’s no doubt that having useful How-to articles or Tutorials can really help boost your traffic. Example: How to Make Money from Blogging (Problogger.net)

3. Top. Whenever I hear the word “top,” what usually comes to mind is Forbes.com. If you haven’t been to Forbes.com to check out their latest list of top whatever, then you’re missing a big piece of your online life. :-) I think that people are naturally curious about knowing who got the top spot, who came in second, what gets to be number 1, etc. (Maybe this also explains why so many people are obsessed with PageRank.) Example: Top 25 Blogs About Blogging (dailyblogtips.com) or The World's Top Earning Models (Forbes.com)

4. Beginner’s or Beginners. I believe that there are more novice Web users on the Web than there are pros. This is probably the reason why “beginner” articles are so popular. It’s because people, before they become experts, they first have to learn the basics; they first have to start as beginners. Getting “attacked” by weird-sounding technical words/terms can be very intimidating.

I can still remember the first time I ever went online. I would often go on “silent-panic” whenever I go inside internet cafés and find no icon of Netscape on the desktop. :-) At that time, I didn’t know any other Web browsers (I didn’t even know what “browsers” were) aside from Netscape. RIP: Netscape. :-) (Note: I’m not old) Example: Blogging Tips for Beginners (Problogger.net)

5. Guide / Step by step. People don’t want to get lost in the vast ocean of information found on the Web. Like search engines that guide us in finding the most relevant and useful information that we need, people also want articles that will be able to guide them perform a particular task correctly. Example: How to Find Advertisers for Your Website: The Ultimate Guide (dailyblogtips.com)

6. Secret. Humans are, by nature, curious creatures. This is probably the reason why “secret” is so powerful in drawing our attention. Example: A Secret to Finding New Subscribers for Your Blog (Problogger.net)

7. Simple / Basic or Basics. (This is somewhat similar to #4 – Beginners) Everyday, Web users get bombarded with tons of information on the Web. This causes the Law of Diminishing Returns to take place. Yes, things can get so complicated that sometimes we just wish for something simple, something comprehensible, something that won’t overload us with complex/technical stuff which our already info-overloaded heads can no longer process. Example: 50 Simple Ways to Get RSS Subscribers (dailyblogtips.com)

8. Tips. I’m not sure why “tip” articles get so much attention. But let me just give my 2 cents. Perhaps it’s because people want to know the “what’s in it for me?” of articles on the Web. We just want something that we can apply into our daily lives. Example: 10 Tips to Write Your Most Popular Post Ever (dailyblogtips.com)

9. List. Of course, list! Yes, we’ve all heard about Web users being “lazy readers,” and this is probably the reason why “lists” are so popular. Darren Rowse of Problogger.net has written a post about “lists” and why is it good for getting traffic to your blog. He wrote that lists are scannable, that they look neat, that they’re easy to link to, etc. Example: List of Ping Services (dailyblogtips.com)


So what’s in it for you and me?

Well, I guess, we can incorporate these words in the titles of our articles, or blog posts. :-) We can even put 2 or more of these words in one title. :-) Example: 7 Tips on Successful Blogging for Beginners.

Note: This post was primarily written for beginners (like me).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Blog Goals for 2009

Here are some of the goals I have set for this little blog this 2009:

• Improve the quality of this blog’s content. As they all say in the blogosphere, “Content is king.” I will strive to create high quality content that people and search engines alike will love. :-)

• Get ranked well by search engines. Note that I didn’t say “ranked high” just “ranked well.” This, of course, results from having great content. I would like to make this a PR4 blog.

• Make this blog more useful. I will strive to make each and every post useful to both entrepreneur and entrepreneur-wannabe (like me) out there.

• Improve my English. As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, I didn’t grow up with “dollar-spokening” parents. English is only a second language, and even though I know the basic rules of English grammar, I still want to improve, especially my vocabulary. As long as we live, we never stop learning. :-)

• Write an average of 3 posts every week. I’ll try to post at least 3 entries per week.

• Increase my RSS subscribers from 2 to 200 (or more). I know that the internet will penetrate more and more Filipino houses in the coming years. I want to increase the number of my readers from 2 (I have 2 readers now) to 200 (or even more) this 2009.

• Earn as much as $3 to 5 USD everyday. Right now, I can’t tell if this goal is too much, but I guess that only time will tell.

How about you, what are your goals for your blog this 2009? :-)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Can Make Use of Cellphones to Strengthen Customer Relationship

Cellphones. Every Pinoy has them. From little “industry vs. inferiority-troubled” schoolchildren, to confused adolescents, up to the “20%-discount demanding” seniors, cellphones have become part of every Filipino’s life.

But SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) owners can make use of cellphones to strengthen their relationship with their customers.

The advantages…

• It gives the entrepreneur–customer relationship a personal touch. This can, in turn, turn your ordinary customers into loyal customers.

• It’s cheap. It doesn’t cost much. With services such as Sun’s Unlicall/txt, or Smart’s Unlimited Text, or Globe’s Unlitext, it’s never impossible to send them text alerts anytime, anywhere.

• It can increase your sales by letting your customers know updates from your business. Send your customers text alerts to let them know when you’re going to hold a sale, if you have any promos or “pa-raffle” going on, etc. Send them text alerts and you’ll be sending them to your store.

• It gives impression that your business is customer-friendly, and that you are trustworthy. Text messages can give a personal touch to your business/service.

[I’ve worked in an internet café before (for only more than 1 month) and there were instances when customers requested to be “texted” when their documents were already done.]

This extends your service to them. It gives them an impression that your business is customer-friendly, and when you “only” send business-related slash legitimate text messages, it gives credibility slash trustworthiness to your business.


Things to take note…

1. Do protect the privacy of your customers. Don’t give their numbers away.
2. Don’t send them “text spam.” Never abuse the trust your customers gave you.
3. Respect their decision if they tell you that they don’t want to receive text alerts anymore. Text alerts, like in Web browsers, are only “add-ons” to your business. “Uninstall” them from your customers if they no longer want it.

Inspiration for this post: An ukay-ukay store in our town. :-)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Startup Tips Series: Fundamentals of Franchising by Armando Bartolome (Part 6)

Subtitle: One thing to look for in a brand – its potential for growth

Note: This is PART 6 in a series of posts on Start Up Tips: Fundamentals of Franchising by Armando “Butz” Bartolome. The full series is PART 1, PART 2, PART 3, PART 4, PART 5 and PART 6.

PART 6, Mr. Bartolome talked about looking first at one brand’s potential before getting a franchise. Here’s PART 6 of Bam Aquino’s interview with Mr. Armando Bartolome:

(START OF INTERVIEW – PART 6)

BAM: Would you always go for the name brands first, I mean, would you go for the Jollibees, and you know, all these big names first before the smaller stalls, or really depends on the franchise also?

BUTZ: You know, you just have to look at the potential of the brand. I’ve seen a brand, like from Iloilo that was nowhere, it was not even known, and now is really in Metro Manila and the provinces, and it’s reaching a hundred stores.

BAM: So there’s that investment component talaga, no. you have to look at the potential of this franchise because you’re getting in cheap, basically, if it has a large potential.

BUTZ: Because in franchising, when you get it (at) this amount, that amount will appreciate, e. it’s more than a stock market, because as the franchisor and the franchisee work together, and I call it synergy, the brand appreciates. So (you) may get it at this amount but the newcomers will get it at that amount. So if you’re this original franchisee, you see the appreciation.

BAM: Can you sell, can you sell your franchise to another person? Is that possible?

BUTZ: Well, the first thing, the first option is, if you want to quit, and that’s written in the franchise agreement, the first thing is, the franchisor has the right, you know, you can offer it, you have to offer it, the right of (first?) refusal. But if the franchisor says, “No, I don’t have the time or the money,” um, then you can opt to get another applicant based on the qualification of the franchise.

BAM: And sell your franchise.

BUTZ: Yes.

BAM: So in that case, it’s really is, an investment.

BUTZ: You can, you can still bailout, you can bailout. Well the common word “bailout”. (laughs)

Check the franchise agreement for the rules of termination. (Source: Start Up)

(END OF INTERVIEW – PART 6)

Things to remember…

1. Look at the potential of the brand, not how big the name is. Yes, I know, big brands can be pretty tempting, especially if you have the money. But it’s not always about how big a brand is. Entrepreneurs can see the potential of everything, they are visionaries, you see. Don’t consider only the big brands. Everything has potential when seen through the eyes of an entrepreneur. :-)

2. The value of one brand appreciates over time. Important keywords here are patience, self-discipline and hardwork. Stick to your goals. You and your brand will get there, eventually.

3. Check the franchise agreement for the rules of termination. When I was still in college, our instructors would usually tell us: “When in doubt, ask.”

In business, particularly in franchising, when you’re in doubt, you can always do two (or more) things – ask or read the franchise agreement. You’ll get in trouble if you think that the “Real men don’t read the manual” mantra also applies in business. :-)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Startup Tips Series: Fundamentals of Franchising by Armando Bartolome (Part 5)

Subtitle: What are the top 3 characteristics of a good franchisor?

Note: This is PART 5 in a series of posts on Start Up Tips: Fundamentals of Franchising by Armando “Butz” Bartolome. The full series is PART 1, PART 2, PART 3, PART 4, PART 5 and PART 6.

In PART 5, Mr. Bartolome cited 3 characteristics of a good franchisor. Here’s PART 5 of Bam’s interview with Mr. Armando Bartolome:

(START OF INTERVIEW – PART 5)

BAM: Ok, how do you, how do you choose, what will the characteristics of a good franchisor? When you’re choosing, what are, like, the top 3 things to look for, and you’ll know that it’s a good franchisor?

BUTZ: Well, first, the franchisor is involved. Franchisor has the experience, (one) that’s passionate, and really can talk out of, you know, can talk, just even waking up, about the business.

Check the market’s acceptance of the brand and its products. (Source: Start Up)

A, second is, the acceptance of the market, the brand, the product and the research, you know, like, how often do they continuously come up with products and promotion, not just advertising, but more on the involvement.

The third is actually being passionate in helping the franchises. This I often call responsible franchising. Because franchising is just franchising. You have this pseudo-franchisors, you have this mediocre, you have this (what?) franchisors, but I always tell, choose the responsible franchisor.

Choose a responsible franchisor. (Source: Start Up)

(END OF INTERVIEW – PART 5)

Top 3 characteristics of a good franchisor

1. A good franchisor is involved. A good franchisor is hands-on.
2. Choose a franchisor whose brand and products are accepted by the market.
3. A good franchisor is passionate in helping his/her franchisees. Choose a responsible franchisor.

Startup Tips Series: Fundamentals of Franchising by Armando Bartolome (Part 4)

Subtitle: Why is “hands-on management” better than “remote controlled management?” Why, in franchising, it’s still 80% work (on your part) and 20% brand?

Note: This is PART 4 in a series of posts on Start Up Tips: Fundamentals of Franchising by Armando “Butz” Bartolome. The full series is PART 1, PART 2, PART 3, PART 4, PART 5 and PART 6.

PART 4, Mr. Bartolome talked about why it’s a deadly mistake to manage your business from a distance. Here’s PART 4 of Bam Aquino’s interview with Mr. Armando Bartolome:

(START OF INTERVIEW – PART 4)

BUTZ: So, a, but you have to manage the business your own. Don’t rely and say, “A, I know, customers will come, because I have (the) brand – no, you have to be hands-on.

The sec, the technique here, the secret is, how well you spend the time in managing the business?

BAM: So even if it’s another person’s, for example, another company or another person’s original idea or business, you have to treat that really like your own.

BUTZ: Of course.

BAM: So you can’t just invest the money, hire a general manager and then leave it.

BUTZ: Or even do remote, remote, remote control. Don’t do that.

BAM: A lot of franchisees do that, parang they have different franchises that they just, once in a while, go to the franchise. That’s a bad idea?

BUTZ: That’s a deadly mistake. Suicide. Because I’ve seen a lot of successful franchisees, um, even if they have 3 or 4 franchises or branches, they are there; they’re on top of the game. They know and they really are people-oriented. They have good teamwork.

Don’t do remote control or all this technology that you can do by remote, -- camera, webcam…

Be an involved entrepreneur. Don’t manage your franchise from distance. (Source: Start Up)

BAM: May webcam ka nalang everywhere…

BUTZ: Can’t, can’t. You have to be in touch, like talking to your customers. Do you really know how your store behaves, you know, like the customers in the area; do you really know what they’re asking for?

BAM: And no matter how well-known your franchise is, you still have to do that, right?

BUTZ: Of course. I always say, you get a franchise, the 80% is still your work, the 20% is the brand.

BAM: Just 20?! Wouldn’t people think that 80% is done already and 20% nalang ang (kailangan nila?).

BUTZ: Because you’re still managing the store. Ok, you’re doing the inventory, the cost control, you’re managing people, you’re talking to customers, you’re doing marketing, etc. But the franchisor’s there to help you out.

BAM: I guess that’s the key, no. The franchisor’s there just to help you out. They won’t run you’re business for you.

BUTZ: No. A lot, it’s a common mistake that people, when you get a franchise daw, a, the franchisor will work for you. No, it’s working WITH the franchisor.

And you have a system, and in fact, I tell people, you know, what they call it the acronym of SYSTEM is, is that Save Your Self Time, Effort and Money, which is true. Um, because the franchisor gives you the system, but you have to work with it, not against it.

(END OF INTERVIEW – PART 4)


Take note, take note, take note… :-)

1. You have to be hands-on. Don’t manage your business from a distance. Let me tell you this, even if you’re Bette Midler’s “OMG!-I’m-so-like-your-super-number-one-fan” fan, when it comes to business, it’s simply not a good idea to manage your business “from a distance”. Well, that’s what Mr. Bartolome said. But the truth is, I have “mixed opinions” regarding this one. I guess, this only applies to small or medium enterprises? (Can someone help me out? :-))

I’m a big believer of “customer-centricity” when it comes to business. You have to take care of your customers, because if you don’t, somebody else will. Mr. Bartolome said: “You have to be in touch, like talking to your customers.” Get to know them. Get to know what they need from your business.

Of course, with all the technology and whatnot that we have right now, it’s so easy to become slaves of technology slash materialism slash consumerism – webcam, cellphones, computers, the Internet, email, etc. But I know that these kinds of technology are here to stay. We just have to learn to “live” with them and use them to our advantage (particular services that come to mind are Smart Communication's Mobile Eye, and Globe’s Inventory Ordering System).

2. When you get a franchise, it’s still 80% work (on your part) and 20% brand. I agree. But the brand can really get you off the ground and running, fast. But in the long run, I believe that your success will depend on how you manage your business. The franchisor’s there to help you out, but he will not run the business for you.

3. The franchisor will not run the business for you. You will have to run it WITH the franchisor. Managing your business would mean doing the inventory, cost control, managing people, marketing, etc. Yes, it does sound like a lot of work (because it is), but you need not to worry because you wouldn’t be a “franchisee” without a “franchisor”. Ask help. Learn from him/her. :-)

4. Work with the franchisor’s system, not against it. Mr. Bartolome said, “one thing with franchising, you get into business that’s proven with a proven success. There’s a model, e.” So work with the franchisor’s “proven system,” not against it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Startup Tips Series: Fundamentals of Franchising by Armando Bartolome (Part 3)

Subtitle: Let’s talk about ROI (return of investment)

Note: This is PART 3 in a series of posts on Start Up Tips: Fundamentals of Franchising by Armando “Butz” Bartolome. The full series is PART 1, PART 2, PART 3, PART 4, PART 5 and PART 6.

PART 3, Mr. Bartolome talked about ROIs or return of investments. Here’s PART 3 of Bam’s interview with Mr. Armando Bartolome:

(START OF INTERVIEW – PART 3)

BAM: There’s always an ROI in these franchise packages, like a suggested ROI of your money, return of investment of your money. How accurate are these ROIs? When they say your money will be back in 2 years, will it really be 2 years?

BUTZ: First, a, Bam, I always tell people, make your own market study, ok. Don’t believe on what the franchisor says.

Make you own market study instead of believing in what the franchisors say. (Source: Start Up)

Don’t believe in what they do, hard sell, it’s a hard sell. You have to, let’s say, you want to get into allocation, ok, make a financial study, make a market study and then compare notes with the franchisor.

Now, talking about the payback, the payback is usually about a year and a half to two years, out of 5 years.

The usual ROI (return of investment) for franchises is 1.5 – 2 years. (Source: Start Up)

So imagine if you put your money in a bank, as compared to a franchise, it’s much better (at large?)

(END OF INTERVIEW – PART 3)

Let’s first define ROI (return of investment)…

According to the most-lovable encyclopedia in the whole wide Web, Wikipedia, ROI is: "the ratio of money gained or lost (realized or unrealized) on an investment relative to the amount of money invested."

According to forecloserlistings.com, ROI is: A regain of money invested from a sale or depreciation.

Some points to remember…

• Don’t always believe in what franchisors say about their ROIs. Make your own market study. I guess, by this, Mr. Bartolome wants us to do some research first. Research, research, research. But how? I’m not at all an expert but I believe it would help if you’ll ask other franchisees about their ROIs (it won’t hurt). :-)

• The usual return of investment (ROI) is usually 1.5 or 2 years. That’s a lot of hard work if you ask me. That’s why Mr. Bartolome said that if you’re into franchising only for the investment, you’re not likely to succeed.

Remember also, that one of the things to consider before getting a franchise is to “look at a company’s product and the service to see if your interests fit into the business.” (Source: Start Up) (found in PART 1)

Again, if you’re into franchising solely for the investment, and not really for the reason that you like or believe in the product, you’re not likely to become “truly” successful.

Keywords here to succeed are interest, passion, desire, drive, motivation, etc. (note: etcetera is not one of the keywords :-)) and not just the money.

Startup Tips Series: Fundamentals of Franchising by Armando Bartolome (Part 2)

Subtitle: What are some things to consider before getting a franchise (aside from the money :-))

Note: This is PART 2 in a series of posts on Start Up Tips: Fundamentals of Franchising by Armando “Butz” Bartolome. The full series is PART 1, PART 2, PART 3, PART 4, PART 5 and PART 6.

PART 2, Mr. Bartolome talked about some of the things to consider before getting a franchise. Just how do you choose a good franchisor? Is it always a good idea to get big name brands?

Here’s PART 2 of Bam’s interview with Mr. Armando Bartolome:

(START OF INTERVIEW – PART 2)

BAM: Ok, how do I choose a good franchisor? Do I just choose the big brands? Usually the big brands have very big price tags connected to them, and then you have a slue of other smaller brands which, you know, aren’t really known but are offering franchises to people. How do I choose?

BUTZ: Well, I always tell people, “Don’t look at the price. Look at the belief in the product or service.” Go to there store. Check it out. Find out whether you will fit into that, into that picture of managing that business.

Fundamentals of Franchising: When looking into franchise options, look at a company’s product and the service to see if your interests fit into the business. (Source: Start Up)

You have to have a belief. You have to have that strong (confidence?), because if you’re not, and you’re just there for the investment, forget it. Ok. So that’s one.

The second is, look at the franchisor. Is he really that active? Is he really supporting his franchisees? And the management of the franchise, a, talk to the franchisees, and this is common, no, and, I always tell fran, people looking for a franchise, don’t look at just what people say, ok, go to the franchisees themselves, talk to them, find out, are they happy? Will they get another franchise? If ever given another chance, will they go to that business? Ok.

Fundamentals of Franchising: Talk to the franchisees and ask about their experiences. (Source: Start Up)

And the investment, you know, there’s so much, so many banks right now offering for, a, people, a loan package to get a franchise.

Banks now offer loan packages for franchises. (Source: Start Up)

And that’s the beauty of it right now, the new, the new, the good news that we have right now.

(END OF INTERVIEW – PART 2)


Things we can learn from the interview…

Mr. Bartolome’s things-to-consider-before-getting-a-franchise

• Don’t look at the price in choosing a franchise, instead, look at the belief in the product or service.

• Do some research before getting into franchising. If interested in a particular franchise, Mr. Bartolome advised: “Go to there store. Check it out. Find out whether you will fit into that picture of managing that business.”

• Don’t get into franchising just for the investment.

• Look at the franchisor. Make sure that the franchisor is active and is supportive of his franchisees.

• Talk to the franchisees and ask about their experiences. Ask them what they think of the franchise. Are they happy with the product? Will they get another franchise if given another chance?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Startup Tips Series: Fundamentals of Franchising by Armando Bartolome (Part 1)

Note: This is PART 1 in a series of posts on Start Up Tips: Fundamentals of Franchising by Armando “Butz” Bartolome. The full series is PART 1, PART 2, PART 3, PART 4, PART 5 and PART 6.

Last November 27, 2008, Thursday, Armando “Butz” Bartolome, the President of GMB Franchise Developers and Consultancy Firm, appeared on Bam Aquino’s Start Up show to talk about what he knows best -- “franchising”.

If you want to find out more about franchising here in the Philippines, and get great tips from the Franchi-king himself, Mr. Armando “Butz” Bartolome, you can start reading this post #1.

(START OF INTERVIEW – PART 1)

BAM: Franchising, it’s a, for people who want to be entrepreneurs, usually the first crossroad is, “Do I put up my own business or do I do a franchise?” What would be your tips probably for that crossroad in an entrepreneurs’ life?

BUTZ: Oftentimes it’s normal, when you are really at the crossroads, you really, you know, you want to find out, how do I find out, where do I, where do I start a business? I have this money, where do I go?

I often tell them, “Get the experience by getting a franchise. Because if you really define “franchising,” the real franchising is “Getting into business for yourself but not by yourself.”

Fundamentals of Franchising: Franchising is getting into business for yourself but not by yourself. (Source: Start Up)

You have somebody, like a big brother guiding you. And with all the support and the techniques and the product, that’s the brand. Because one thing with franchising, you get into business that’s proven with a proven success. There’s a model, e.

A, the product is acceptable, the fran, the brand is there, the franchisors actively support the franchisees, and advertising, all the works. So you really plug and play, no. So you minimize the trial and error.

Fundamentals of Franchising: Franchising minimizes the trial and error aspect of a business. (Source: Start Up)

Unlike if you start a business, you have a little bit of capital, but there’s so much trial and error, and with all the competition around, you can’t afford it, even advertising can’t afford it.

So I always say, you want to start, you want to get into business, get into franchising, learn the ropes. Teach and the franchisor will teach you – in terms of management, in terms of marketing your own brand, the product and that will, that will give you the success.

BAM: Ok, then, once you’ve learned the ropes already then you can venture into your own business probably.

BUTZ: Then you can probably venture into another business because you have learned the ropes, ok. You don’t need a PhD for this, ok. And really, a, a lot of people may have this limited money, but really, you want to be on business for yourself, get into franchising.

(END OF INTERVIEW – PART 1)


What we can learn from the interview (part 1):

1. Franchising is getting into business for yourself but not by yourself. This was how Mr. Bartolome defined “real” franchising. True.

It’s like college community work – our instructors have always stressed to us that we (students) should never work for the community; we should work with the community.

Mr. Butz said that you have someone like a “big brother”, (the franchisor) who will guide you in running your franchise, but, take note, they will not run the business for you.

2. Franchising is not really “plug and play”. I think it’s “plug, work and play”. I think that franchising is really not “plug and play” because even if you “plug” (take action, meaning, get a franchise), everything will not be taken cared of for you, it’s not “automatic”. You still have to work to get your franchise off the ground.

Mr. Bartolome will mention, in the later part of the interview, that in franchising: “you get a franchise, the 80% is still your work, the 20% is the brand.” (to which Bam Aquino somewhat disagreed) :-)

3. Franchising minimizes the trial and error aspect of a business.
Running a business can be costly. Starting a business can be “costly-er”.

Mr. Bartolome explained why starting a business (by getting a franchise) can minimize your costs compared to putting up your “very own” business: “one thing with franchising, you get into business that’s proven with a proven success. There’s a model, e.”

He further explained: “Unlike if you start a business, you have a little bit of capital, but there’s so much trial and error, and with all the competition around, you can’t afford it, even advertising can’t afford it.”

Monday, December 8, 2008

MBA: Do You Really Need It to Start and Succeed in Business?

Of course, the obvious answer is a very big NO. Care to know what Prof. Danny Antonio has to say about MBAs and your chances of succeeding in business? Read on.

Danny Antonio, a professor at the Asian Center for Entrepreneurship was on Start Up last time (November 20, 2008) to answer some “startup” questions sent by viewers. He was asked by the following question:

Do I need to have an MBA or a business to become a good entrepreneur? I don’t have a business background but I have a lot of business ideas and I have money for capital. – Eugene

(START OF THE INTERVIEW)

DANNY: Not really. MBA, having some business background would help but it’s not essential at all. A lot of the biggest and most successful entrepreneurs, they don’t have a business degree. But what they have is, number one, commitment to really achieve something and the drive to do, and maybe some idea of the type of product that they wanna enter into.

So if they, if this particular person has some ideas, what he needs to do is maybe, get some help from friends, relatives, who are into business, just to bounce the idea around. If he has good idea, ok.

There are also a lot of institutions already, giving advice and consulting help for startup business like this. For instance, the Asian Center of Entrepreneurship, we have that particular program for people who want to get started correctly. We don’t want them to waste their money.

BAM: So (you) won’t have to take up an MBA sa ACE, or can actually ask for help and you can help them out?

DANNY: No. We have short programs that will, you know, in other words, they enter with their idea and we sort of advice them what else they have to look at, what kind of market study they still have to do, is there a market for the product they’re thinking about, can it be produced at a profitable rate? So we help them through tinkering with the various items necessary for the business to succeed.

BAM: So (you) don’t need to have the MBA to start, but I guess you would need it eventually or the skills eventually to grow your business.

DANNY: At a certain size you might need help with the people who have that background already but if you’re starting, it’s not really essential at all. What’s needed here is hard work, commitment, drive to succeed and (an) open-mind to accept advice, criticism and everything. Do not take things personally because this is just business. just open you mind, ok na ‘yan.

(END OF THE INTERVIEW)

What I learned from the interview…

1. Having an MBA or business background would help but not essential.
True. An MBA is not a requirement, what one needs in order to succeed are, like what Prof. Danny said: “number one, commitment to really achieve something and the drive to do, and maybe some idea of the type of product that they wanna enter into…hard work, commitment, drive to succeed and (an) open-mind to accept advice, criticism and everything.”

For me, you will also need a certain amount of self-confidence, a certain level of maturity, self-discipline, emotional stability (“above average” EQ?), financial intelligence, and of course, that little magic word everyone wants to have – luck.

2. Consider asking help from friends and relatives to test your business idea(s).
Your friends and family can help you start. When you’re just starting out and you still can’t afford to hire people, you can ask your “significant others” to help out. Prof. Danny said: “get some help from friends, relatives, who are into business, just to bounce the idea around.”

I was able to read one article on the Web that said something like: entrepreneurship can be a lonely path, and your “significant others” may not always understand what you’re trying to get into. Yes, sad but true, but fortunately, here in the Philippines (in general) we still value our pamilya.

3. Ask help also from established entrepreneurs, or enroll in special programs that can help you get started in business.
Yes. Filipinos need heroes; we need people to guide us. In fact, I got interested in business/money because of a former workmate who’s a management graduate. If you don’t know anyone, you can get business info from books, magazines, television shows, the web, etc. But it’s never a good idea to learn in a vacuum.

Prof. Danny said: “there are also a lot of institutions already, giving advice and consulting help for startup business…for instance, the Asian Center of Entrepreneurship, we have that particular program for people who want to get started correctly…we have short programs that will, you know, in other words, they enter with their idea and we sort of advice them…so we help them through tinkering with the various items necessary for the business to succeed.”

4. You may eventually need to hire (or buy?) the skills and experiences of some individuals when your business gets too large for you to handle.
As your business grows, it will eventually get more and more complicated. You will eventually need to hire individuals who have the skills and experience to help you run your business. :-)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Startup Stuff: Branding Tips for Beginners

Hi there kabayan, here’s another post from your resident bloggerista and this time we’ll be talking about brands and branding (no, I’m not talking about brandy-gulping “badings”).

Last November 20, Thursday, four-eyed guy Bam Aquino interviewed Brandlab guy Jos Ortega (Chairman and CEO of Brandlab), and the two talked about brands and branding. Four-eyed Bam asked, Brandlab Jos answered. Brandlab Jos talked, four-eyed Bam listened.

If you’re one tip-thirsty “moneyminder” who wants to know more about brands and branding, then this post is for you. You can either read through the whole Great-Wall-of-China-long interview below, or you can go directly to my “Start Up Tips to Remember” section found at the bottom of this post (highly recommended if you want to save time, but then again, you can always bookmark this post :-)).

(START)

BAM: If you look at, a, your product, your particular business, you start off with that, in choosing a good name. A, but it’s more than just a name, right?

JOS: Oh definitely, definitely. You obviously have to start with what your product or service is. That still is the core of it all, no. I mean the names’ just going to provide that, embellish that, but (the idea of?) the whole thing is making sure you have (a) product or service that is, a, shall we say, closest to pain. Because if it’s closest to pain then you know that there is a need for your product or service. Somebody out there is going to have to go for it.

BAM: And there are many cases na, na the products are really good products, where they can compete with other products in the world, but, a, their branding is as really bad, right, and if your branding is bad, your product won’t sell, no matter how good it is.

JOS: Well, it’s combination. I think it’s a, right now you have the rational and emotional benefits that are always into play. In fact today, it’s even going beyond now, sometimes it’s about the experiential side of it already, so it’s moving forward, the relationship is moving forward.

Good branding offers rational, emotional and experiential benefits. (Source: Start Up)

BAM: Can, can you give us examples Jos of some companies that you’ve helped with their branding?

JOS: Ok, well, if you wanna go with the bigger scale and (or?) the smaller scale, let’s go with the bigger scale. I think one of the most recent ones that we’ve done is, um, brand like Trinoma. That’s the one up in Quezon City, and there’s a story behind that. I think what’s interesting in the way we, we do this, create these brands is, is that these brands normally would have a story to tell. As we say it’s a story that we want people to hear and want to share with others.

A strong brand tells a story. (Source: Start Up)

So in itself nai-kwento na, and they want to spread the word around. So in Trinoma there is a story behind it. It is actually located in an area that is in a triangular area. And, you know, this was supposed to be the new business center or new retail center north of, as we know, Makati. So if you look at it, Trinoma is actually an acronym of Trinoma no, Trinoma is actually an acronym of Triangle North of Makati. So there’s a story around that already.

BAM: So pangalan pa lang may kwento na. and that story is important, right? I mean, when people buy products, does that story really matter to them?

JOS: Well, it start the conversation going and it also puts a premise na, “Hey you know what, this is as good as, the Ayala Center in Makati.” So that, that establishes credentials already, by telling that story.

BAM: And by choosing a name like Trinoma, it affects the people that you want to go to Trinoma, the shops that will be seen there. That’s right no, I mean, it affects everything, right?

JOS: It affects everything. It’s the start of a conversation.

BAM: How ‘bout for the smaller scale projects or products, for example, is that story, a, which is a main of branding, is that really important to have?

JOS: it’s a major part because it, as a self, it’s the beginning of the story telling. Great brands have the best stories.

Great brands have the best stories. (Source: Start Up)

One of the more recent ones, about 2 or 3 years ago, that we’ve started, we’ve helped this, a, little foundation in Palawan, and what they do over there is they’ve been helping the fishermen’s wives with, and taught them how to weave, but they’ve brought in a new idea, a new technology where they weave piña with silk, so it’s basically piña-seda.

But you know, to make it more, but to make the whole thing sustainable, we have to be able to sell the products. So it is, when we helped this group, we created a brand for them and we called it Tipiña. So today, this little enterprise, not necessarily, it’s just, you know, a little foundation, socio-civic foundation, has now been promoted with Bergamo, for the barongs and anything.

BAM: So they use the…

JOS: Filipinian-quality weaves and it’s a piña-seda, and you now have a French lady called Elo, Eloise who’s actually, is a French designer, who’s actually using this product in her designs.

BAM: Wow, in France?

JOS: in France, and she actually has a little, she has her own set of people that’s working for her designs exclusively, and then you have, you know, and then on the other side you have already the more popular designers who are now bringing it into their wedding entourage. Now you have like Patrice Diaz, and even Rajo Laurel carries them already right now, so it gets the conversation started.

BAM: That’s right no, it starts the ball rolling. When it comes to, a, looking for opportunities, a, when it comes to people buying products, um, does that story also, is that important also, that branding story, ganun pa rin ba ka-importante ‘yun?

JOS: It’s always anu, to me, as I always say, it has to be a story that people would love to hear and want to share with others. It goes back to that. Because kung wala siyang kwento then, you know, “so what?”

BAM: “So what?” It’s like everything else.

JOS: It’s just any other, any other brand. In today’s world, especially in like, you know, the more, the more technological area, the products can be copied in 3 to 6 months.

BAM: Yeah, they’re all the same.

JOS: In fact, by the time this product in an IT company, by the time your product’s launched, another one’s already probably come up with a better one the next day. So they’re all the same; the branding, and in the reputation of the brand, the experiences you expect from the brand is going to make a difference between them going left or right.

The name and reputation of the brand help consumers make buying decisions. (Source: Start Up)

BAM: I guess no, talking about technology, there are so many MP3 players, but there is only one iPod. Parang ganun ‘yun ‘di ba? So what’s the case then for, say, having a product where the branding is really built-in, a story’s (?), versus going, say, (a) generic products. Um, would you go one or the other, is there a rule there?

JOS: Um. Well, you know what, generic products are, as they are, (?), if you ask my wife, she’s gonna buy the one being made by the Doña Maria.

BAM: Ok, so kung baga, parang, if you’re, kung lalaban ka sa presyo, you go generic, but kung lala, if you want to go to a higher price point, you have to have that branding there.

JOS: You know what, even if, a, even when you go into the supermarket, you go to the barretas, there are the low-priced barretas and there are the higher-priced barretas.

BAM: The higher-priced detergent bars…

JOS: Um, if you look (at) a brand like Surf, it is, very inexpensive. It’s in the lower end of the price spectrum. However, it’s differentiated itself from all the others, wherein in fact, it has created a wonderful story that it’s actually giving Tide a great run for its money.

BAM: Yeah, so, so you have the whole wais thing and the family and all that…

JOS: Exactly. So it’s not just about cheap products, but it’s actually making the people feel, the customers feel na, “Hey, you know what, I am a smart woman for buying this.” So she’s even rewarded for buying it.

BAM: And that’s the branding?

JOS: And that’s all about the brand and the brand idea behind it.

BAM: Ok, we were discussing earlier about living the brand, kung baga, these days, it’s not enough (to have) a brand, a good brand name, it’s not enough to have a good story behind the brand name, but then now, the proprietor have to live the brand. What does that mean exactly?

JOS: It’s about, the, it’s about living the story. What we do is re-create the story, you tell the story and most importantly, you live the story.

Branding 101: Create, tell and live the story. (Source: Start Up)

Um, establishing a relationship is one thing, but keeping the relationship is the harder thing to do. As they say in Starbucks, it’s always about one cup of coffee at a time, one customer at a time. Because you’re only as good as your last brand experience with a customer and all it takes is just one bad experience and you’re gone forever from their life.

BAM: Ok, for people who ant to startup their businesses, um, what is “living the brand” mean? Does that mean they have to use it all the time? Dapat ba they always bring it around with them, they always pitch it, what do you think?

JOS: I think, more than just living, bringing the product, that’s I guess, given, no. if you don’ believe in your product, you have no right to sell it. But I think more importantly, it’s about living the essence of what your brand represents.

Living the brand: Showing the market the essence of the brand, what it stands for and represents. (Source: Start Up)

Because great brands always stand for something, and if you look at the entrepreneurs, the best entrepreneurs, the most successful entrepreneurs are those that have a philosophy of knowing what they stand for beyond making money.

So it’s not just all about the money. A lot of the most successful entrepreneurs, it’s about passion. (I missed this part here because my sister accidentally (?) pulled the TV cord from the socket) Yes, that’s where it starts, as they say nga, it’s a story that people want to hear, want to share with others.

BAM: And actually, with many entrepreneurs, that story evolves. And as their brand story evolves and they live the brand, next thing you know, lumalago na ang negosyo nila, right? How important is building your brand, for maintaining your business, your pesos and centavos kung baga, is that directly related to how well your brand is received by the people?

JOS: Well right now, there are many techniques. (We’re in a) growing world, it’s beyond advertising na, it’s beyond the (30 seconds?) as we call it. So there are many techniques on how to connect and create relationships (now), whereas before, it’s about a one-way communication, the brand just talks to the customers, now, it’s a two-way communication na, in fact, right now, the more aggressive brands are those that are actually getting inputs from their customers, in terms of their product development, in terms of the experiences, so it’s a two-way street already.

The most aggressive brands are those that get inputs from customers. In fact, in the most advanced situations, the brand is not yours anymore, but it is already the customers.

BAM: Wow. So that’s like the next evolution of branding.

JOS: I mean, go to Google, go to, I mean, most of the technological brands now, Google, Facebook, it’s not theirs anymore, it’s, you know, you pull (it) out, (and) people are gonna be, up-in-arms, “that’s my brand, don’t take it out.”

BAM: And that’s really the power of the brand.

JOS: That’s the power of the brand, and the brand experiences power.

BAM: Ok, Jos, many of our viewers are actually starting their own businesses, could you give, say, 3 to 5 tips for those who want to, you know, start up on the right foot with the right brand.

JOS: I guess first thing I always say is, go with your passion. If you’re gonna be an entrepreneur, go with your passion. Go with something that you’re gonna live and die for. (So when) the going gets tough, you know what, that’s what you’re gonna go, that’s what will keep you alive. You’re gonna (go) for that vision and for your passion.

Two, be authentic. Authenticity is very key, because today it’s about relationships and if the relationship is not authentic, people will see through it.

Um, then, once you have that product, and once you have the passionate idea behind it, make sure you have a story, because if it’s not a story that people will want to share with others, it’s just gonna stay there, flat, it’s gonna sit there in the supermarket shelf and just gathering dust.

Um, but I think the most importantly (or important thing?) eventually is how do you maintain a relationship. You must have constant communication with your customers. It’s very hard for us, especially that we’re used to just going one-way all the time, but you know what, in the most advanced cases, it’s not your brand anymore, and that’s about the best thing that can actually happen because you have evangelists out there for your brand. People will fight for you.

BAM: Exactly. Pushing your brand, no? Sometimes (it’s) even more powerful than the best commercial out there.

JOS: Exactly. That’s why you have the popularity of Youtube. A lot of brands have been affected positively and negatively because of Youtube.

BAM: Jos, what an interesting conversation, thank you very much for joining us. Maraming-maraming salamat.

(END)

Start Up Tips to Remember...

Brandlab guy Jos Ortega and Start Up came up with the following tips on branding: (as always, I added some comments after each tip. :-))

1. Building a strong brand is like creating a strong friendship. Give your business a brand and your business will have a face. Give your business a face and people will recognize you. Give your business a friendly face and people will not only recognize you, they will also patronize you. I believe this is how brands work; they give businesses a face that people will instantly recognize and associate with something like beauty, quality, etc.

2. You need to understand your consumer and be attuned to his needs.
This one’s self-explanatory. Businesses will cease to exist without customers. That’s why businesses need to understand their customers’ needs. Do some research, polls, surveys, etc.

3. You must communicate with your consumer because in business, it’s always a 2-way engagement. The way business transactions is done is changing, it’s constantly evolving. In order for businesses today to thrive and grow, they need to constantly communicate with their customers. I believe this is the reason why blogs are so popular nowadays. Businesses on the Web are putting up blogs in order to build/create interaction between them and their customers.

4. And keeping that relationship alive and well requires commitment to keep in touch, and see each other often. Businesses need to value their relationship with their customers. Nowadays, it’s all about relationships. Even if you’re one-hardcore “moneyminder,” remember, it’s not all about the money.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Business Tips: Starting a Business that Needs a Little Branding

Hi there kabayan, another post here from your resident blogger, and this time we’ll be featuring some tips on how to get started in an ice cream business, um, well, basically, how to get started in just about any business that needs a little good branding.

So if you’re ready, I’m ready, let’s get started.

QUESTION: We want to go into an ice cream business full time because we have amazing family ice cream recipes that all our friends love. What’s the best way to go into this business that is dominated by big name brands? Do we even have a fighting chance? – Charina of Davao

(This was taken from Bam Aquino’s Start Up show’s QA segment, aired last November 20, 2008. Bam-Ninoy-look-alike Aquino interviewed Professor Danny Antonio of Asian Center for Entrepreneurship, AIM)

ANSWER:

DANNY: Well, definitely you have a very big fighting chance. So the most important thing to get started in business is a good product, and apparently the product looks good already, ‘cause it’s already popular among friends and relatives, no, so how to get started?

TIP: Start small. Sell to relatives and friends. (Source: Start Up show)

My suggestion is start small, maybe start delivering to friends, coming up with a small booth somewhere there and basically selling local. The most important thing is come up with a brand. You have to be known for something, ‘cause ice cream is very generic, so the best way to get known by the market is by having a brand, easily accepted by people near your locality. That’s where, so is this Davao City?

TIP: Build your brand in its home base. (Source: Start Up show)

So if it’s in Davao, get started there, somewhere there, get a small space, a small booth and start selling. And then you graduate towards becoming bigger over time. So most probably, when you get better known, you could graduate to maybe coming up with a small booth inside a better known shopping center, and take from there.

BAM: Then eventually go to the supermarkets…and everything.

DANNY: Yes, yes, there are various ways but the important thing is getting started correctly by not being too ambitious. But develop a plan, because this is ice cream, plenty of competitors, the best way to match against the big ones is to be known for something, and build from there. That is the most important thing to do.

BAM: And I guess she has to differentiate her product right away. Dapat siya ang pinakamasarap o pinakamatamis, (laughs) hindi ko alam (laughs), but that’s to be something.

DANNY: Find out from his, from their friends what makes their particular product, you know, given appreciated by them, what is it, is it the, you know, is it the taste, is it the sweetness, or whatever, so capitalize on that.

Some points to remember:

Ok. So you didn’t read the whole interview because you thought it was long, eh? (Most of my posts are long :-)) Well, you’re right; it’s long, that’s why I came up with a bulleted list below.

• The most important thing to get started in business is a good product. Why? Because whatever your product is, you will have competitors, and for you to win against the big ones, you have (like what Prof. Danny said) “to be known for something, and build from there.”

• Start small first. Cater first to friends. I agree. The “go small time first” way is the best, not to mention, the safest way to go. Prof. Danny said: “the important thing is getting started correctly by not being too ambitious.”

Cater first to friends, but make sure to politely tell them “no utang.” Business is business, you know. Yes, I know it’s hard, but if they love you and don’t want your business to fail, they will understand.

In my opinion, “utangs” are murderers of the sari-sari store business. If you have a sari-sari store and people always make “utang” but always fail to pay, you can go to their houses and tell them, “Anu ba? Hindi ba kayo magbabayad? Utang ng ina n’yo naman, o, magbayad na kayo!” :-)

Hey, Bam, if you ever get to read this, I know you “co-started” Hapinoy, right, what can you advice sari-sari store owners about “utang?” :-)

• Go local first. Get started locally. This won’t hurt your budget, and who knows, when you get big, UNESCO will declare your town a world heritage! :-) Prof. Danny said: “the best way to get known by the market is by having a brand, easily accepted by people near your locality.” So go local muna.

• Build a good brand. In my opinion, this is really important. Even Mr. J. Gokongwei, Jr. realized the power of brands when he said: “I saw that all they (big multinational companies) did to capture the market was to brand their products…give their coffee and toothpaste a name, a face, and an image that customers would instantly recognize and identify with quality.”

I have this habit of looking at products’ packages to find out its manufacturers, and most of the time, I always get surprised like, “Ha? Gawa din pala ito ng Universal Robina (Mr. J. Gokongwei’s)?” or “What? Kapamilya rin pala ng Coca-cola ‘to?”

• Aim to grow your business over time. Prof. Danny said: “get a small space, a small booth and start selling… when you get better known, you could graduate to maybe coming up with a small booth inside a better known shopping center, and take from there.”

So that’s it for now. If you find this post useful, please tell others, ok. Until next post uli, I haven’t had lunch pa, e, kain muna ako. :-)