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No More Monkey Business

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To many businessmen, 2010 could go both ways. Marketing strategist Ricky de Vera shares some business advice without the jargon

When opportunity fails to knock, break down the door.

That’s the clear message that I got from an economic briefing given by marketing guru Ricky de Vera last December. The seminar focused on determining industrial opportunities and understanding the economy without all the jargon.

Organized by ARIVA!, the one-day seminar—Making Sense of the Business Economy in 2010: An Economic Briefing In Layman’s Terms—gave helpful insights on what strategies to adopt avoid as the global economy starts to recover. de Vera showcased his speaking prowess by elaborating on the growth potential of industries like telecommunications, real estate, retail and distribution, and banking.

More than the opportunities to be found in each industry, De Vera stresses that, in the end, the success or failure of a business depends on how well it treats its consumers.

Read Between the (Check-out) Lines
The customer is always right. We often hear this cliché pertaining to quality service among clients, but the most basic lessons are often the easiest to forget. De Vera reminds us that consumers are the life blood of every industry. He advises businessmen put themselves in the clients’ shoes before making decisions.

He adds that safety and security concerns will become prevalent as more consumers are growing vigilant on their spending decisions. More people are expected to flock to mall establishments but as a way to cut costs.

This will not necessarily mean more sales, De Vera says, as mall-goers will likely be on a tight budget.

Products with warranties and guarantees and services and goods that are eco-friendly will be strong “selling propositions” this year because of two major issues of 2009: the recession and global climate change.

Despite spending less, Filipinos will not be able to kick the habit of impulse buying de Vera says. He adds that the mushrooming of convenience stores in the country is proof that retail therapy is alive and well in the Philippines.

What will people be buying? Liquor and cigarette purchases are expected go up as people try to relieve stress.

Personal grooming products and services will also likely see increased demand, since people want the psychological boost of looking good during times of crisis.

While consumer confidence is at an all-time low, he says the inauguration of a new President in mid-2010 will help buoy hope, and therefore, spending. Until then, de Vera warns against spending on advertising since political advertisements will likely overwhelm anything else on radio and television.

Weathering The Storm
“Will we still be relevant to our target market tomorrow?,” de Vera asks businessmen attending the seminar to see if they already have a clear perspective of their enterprises. He says that managing the return on investment instead of revenue, and building employee competencies (instead of hiring and firing,) will help businesses thrive as employees become more productive. He also says businesses must have customerrelations management in order to please their most important boss: the client.

De Vera says that businesses should expect more demanding clients with higher standards coupled with the pressure to reach higher production targets.

Employees will also have to contend with the pressure from debts as well as an increase in personal and work-related pressure because of the state of the economy. Because businesses are still trying to get off their feet, he says employees should not expect many better job offers for a while.

Other Big Brother
One of the most interesting issues discussed at the seminar was China’s proposal to replace the US dollar as the main reserve currency of the world’s central banks. According to de Vera, Governor Xiaochuan of the People’s Bank of China has suggested that the US dollar be replaced as the currency used in transactions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Philippines has a gross international reserve (GIR) of some US$45.6 billion as of January this year. Meanwhile, close to 78% of the world’s GIR is in US dollars, De Vera says. Even so, the yuan has been gaining popularity as a currency of trade of late, and local banks have started offering yuan-denominated savings products to consumers. The yuan may yet become a regional—if not global—standard currency, and offers an alternative to investing in dollars or euros.

To cap the discussion on China’s growing economic might, de Vera quotes ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu as a war cry of sorts for those who would be captains of industry: Know your enemy, know yourself and your victory will not be threatened. Know the terrain, know the weather, and your victory would be complete.

Print ed: 03/10


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