Today, we learn that Baroness Margaret Thatcher has died at the age of 87 following a stroke. As the press around the world hail the newsprint with accolades and tributes, the controversy which followed her during her influential rein in British politics still rings true today. Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 – 1990, Thatcher was the longest serving British Prime Minister in the 20th Century who, according to Time Magazine, “ended up on the wrong side of history” when it came to foreign policy. Here are some links which might bring some more insight into the life of a woman who helped shape who we are today.
- The obituary, written by BBC is quite poignant
- Independant’s story by Robert Cottrell pertains more closely to Hong Kong: How Mrs Thatcher Lost Hong Kong.
- Best in show: “Hong Kong Wrong” for writing a well researched piece which features a gallery of nostalgic pictures of Old Hong Kong.
- Biography: Have a look at Charles Moore’s authorized biography of the Iron Lady, long considered one of the most influential leaders in the postwar era.
Free? Who works for free in this town? The tough ethnic Chinese peasant inside me says: never! But the reality is that I am a big hearted person who loves to give back – same as the hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers around who donate their valuable time each time to help others out.
So how does one balance “free” and “paid” work in our 24/7 work environment?
If it’s not for charity, working for free is not something I recommend. But the question begs: When should one work for free?
Interning: In Hong Kong, the free labour is illegal after the implementation of the minimum wage law. But in saying that, working for lowly wages is nearly free and something we have all done to gain experience. This would be an instance to apply this philosophy as one has to start from somewhere.
Clients: In a business with new clients, there is a courting phase of give a take. A couple of times, even after we have won the pitch, there is still a further stage in the process. For instances like this, I have implemented a ‘taster’ which gives the client a rough sketch with fleshed out examples of what we will do for them, but not the whole picture. This is strictly free and I see it more as an investment into building a successful relationship.
Charity: Strategy, content, websites, brochures, speaking gigs…. These are things which I have done for free in the past few weeks for issues and charities I believe in. There is a time to be giving away one’s services for free but don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater! There are ways to leverage on the ‘free services’ as you give back but striving to do good comes from the heart so dig down and stay focused!
- Networking: Pro Bono work is a great way to meet new clients while also getting to know the local scene – and help grow it. This is a perfect opportunity to ‘talk shop’ and be part of the change you want to see.
- Branding: How about being positioned a ‘sponsor’ and getting your logo placed on their marketing material? Just being there, and having your name and your company’s name on their roster helps promote your brand.
- Recruiting: Being part of the community connects you together with young up and coming talent. Take this opportunity to find your next winning business development manager or account manager.
While we are all focused on the P&L for each account, we need to sometimes come out of the well to take note of the rest of the landscape around us. Being connected to our community is important, as is growing your business year on year. Find a balance between the two and remember to give back, for free!
There are no words to aptly describe this journey through the mystical northeastern province of Heilongjiang so I shall let the pictures tell the story. We were lucky to go the first week the Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival opened – so the sculptures were relatively untouched and the people, mighty hospitable.
Huge kudos to the city for hosting us and grand applause to the artists for all their hard work…. Ice, beer and dumplings galore!
Is there a secret formula for keeping a client happy? Many are seemingly adept at this so are they just naturally blessed and more importantly, how can we leverage on this blessing? In my experience, the only thing which makes a client truly happy is your ability to deliver what they want on time. Here are three points which might help you along the way.
1) Define what the Expectation is: At the very start, it is important to first listen to what the client is looking for: branding, more media coverage, better content, B2B marketing, the list goes on. The aim is to fulfill their needs and wants with the toolbox of skill set that you and your agency has. Don’t be afraid to talk about the budget as there can be wiggle room to be had to sell up. Take their aim and define (in words everyone understands!) specifically what will be done to “reset” expectations. A consensus needs to be met by both parties which will lead to harmony!
2) Be Organised: I can not stress this enough. Lists, systems, memos, briefings, emails, presentations. While others are short term reapers, the ones who retain the client over years are the ones who pay attention to the nuance and the details. To keep projects on track, to meet the KPIs and to deliver strategic prowess, be organised. By doing that, remember to keep on top of the bi-monthly updates. This is a standard system set up for many agencies and something to keep up to date. We know how things can just ‘slide’ and the book can quickly become outdated. The updates are the perfect time to check in, talk about changes to the grand plan and bounce new ideas off the client. As well, it keeps the client abreast while giving them the perfect platform to see you shine.
3) Meeting or Exceeding Expectation: Consistency is what one should strive for as slow and steady wins the race. Do not over-promise what you and or your vendors can achieve. While the goal posts may shift, this should be a gradual and controlled process where the client is informed on every step of the process on how this will affect the day to day workflow, the overall planning and the budget. Walking them through changes and or ‘surprises’ can be the difference between an all out crisis and just a ‘challenging’ day.
In summary, this is the communication business, so we can all learn how to better communicate! Start with first listening about their objective. Then set to agree on an understanding on the timing, methodology and budget behind the execution. Create systems to help organise the team as the devil is in the details! It is the goal of every client relationship to exceed expectations so be open and proactive on managing changes. This will put you in the ideal position to foster a long term relationship with your client of choice.
Christmas season is upon us and the massive numbers of parties and events have been filling my calendar with much cheer! Here are a few festive pictures to get everyone into the ‘mood’….
Or I would suggest listening to Christmas music 24/7 as I have been for the last six weeks. Waking up to Elvis crooning Christmas carols is a great way to start the day!
With the backdrop of the iconic Hong Kong harbourfront, Clockenflap hits all the right notes. In its sixth year, the outdoor music festival takes things to the next level with their improved logistics, famous headline bands and rocking atmosphere.
In the words of journalist, muso and artist, Liam Fitzpatrick, “Clockenflap is not only the best outdoor music festival in Hong Kong, but in my opinion, the best event of the year.”
Who can say no to that intro together with the headliner: Azealia Banks!