The Global Market Place of International Professional Marketing

International professional marketing is the byproduct of the global acceptance of international trade which makes the globe one huge market. Global trade continues to grow in scale due to several reasons. One of the biggest fuels of globalization is technological advancement. Improved communication and transportation has made trade more practical than ever. Access to the very best products from all around the globe now has almost no limits. The rapidly changing technology has also forged strict competition between firms as to which is fastest in developing and producing the newest in technology.

Countries in the past decades have all taken several steps to promote global trade through various trade agreements such as the General Treaty on Trade and Tariffs, and trade organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the European Union (EU) as a means of accommodating the realities of an economy gearing towards one global market.

Stages in the International Involvement of a Firm based on International Professional Marketing
A firm may go through several stages before it becomes fully able to compete across local boarders and into the international scene. A business generally starts as a purely domestic firm, focusing full attention on its home market and has no current plans of offshore expansion and does not consider any material threats from abroad. Such firm may eventually receive orders from abroad. Such orders may be seen under two different lights. First, the firm may see them as a hustle especially in the case of small orders because of the great deal of effort and expenses required in relation to the very modest related revenue. Second, the firm may see them as new opportunities, realizing that potential to expand and enter the foreign markets exists.

The firm that possesses the second view will eventually begin to export more and more. It soon fully enters the export stage where little effort is made to market the product overseas, although the number of offshore orders continues to increase.

The firm may then opt to enter more countries sequentially, with the aim of establishing a network of markets over a geographical group of countries. The firm can begin with the country from which the most overseas orders come and start developing the products popularity there. Little learning and marketing efforts are going to be shared among countries and the firm will likely have branch offices or subsidiaries focused only on the market of the country in which they are located.

The firm upon reaching the multinational stage will then engage in standardization across a certain region such as Central America, West Africa, or Northern Europe to make its activities and processes simpler and easier. Developing a standard marketing mix that will work for a certain group of countries is likely to generate more revenues through greatly decreased costs. Such marketing mix can be made possible with international professional marketing.

The firm upon multinational success will eventually reach the global stage wherein all focus centers on the entire World Market. Decisions will be made with the aim of optimizing the products position across the global market as a whole. The home country as the center of the product completely becomes a thing of the past. An example of a truly global company that makes use of international professional company is Coca Cola.

These stages demonstrate the growth from a fully local point of operations to a completely global scale. The journey is not easy and companies may fall in between these stages, get stuck in one stage or even fall back to one of the stages it has already passed. Certain parts of the firm may possess the characteristics of different stages such as the pickup truck division of an auto-manufacturer may be largely domestically focused, while the passenger car division is globally focused. A global focus is generally fitting for large companies, but such may not be the case for smaller companies as some hindrances may prove to be too big to conquer. For example, manufacturers of ice cubes may do well as domestic, or even locally centered, firms.

Accelerating Up to Speed with the Latest in the Auto Industry

Often Automotive Think Tanks will stay within their boundaries – The Auto Industry when doing there thinking. The Online Think Tank takes auto issues very seriously and yet we do not only talk about automobiles, however we are hard core when it comes to that industry and we read all their Online Newsletters, Industry Trade Journals and stay up on all the DOT issues and government regulations as well.

So, today we talked about the Auto Industry in our Online Think Tank for a good 10 hours. What were the topics? Well, we talked about many things, but below is a sample of some of the issues we discussed and are definitely of interest for those who follow the industry, because what is good for our cars, is important to our quality of life and mobility – Freedom:

1. The Bashed the US Auto Makers on Ecology and Now EU Auto Makers Speak Up.

The US Auto Industry lobbied hard against the newest fuel standards, while Toyota and Honda are already there, the US auto industry fought hard to limit the excessive fuel standards. Meanwhile the EU is trying to help their own manufacturers while getting regulations put in place against the US manufacturers, which is hard to do without hurting their own.

“The EU wants to limit CO2 to 120 grams per kilometer by 2015.”

The head of several companies said that the deadline was not possible, which is interesting as the EU is using the Global Warming issues to promote its businesses over other industrialized nations, like the US and China. Of course the Germans make many models of large cars, still the Italians and French who make smaller cars still seem to believe they cannot do it, that is to say limit the CO2 that much, but Volkswagon thinks it can, yet still joined the others in lobbying against the tightened emissions.

2. “The 100 MPG Car and the Volkswagon – Can Do Attitude!” Industry Week Reports:

Germany’s big automaker Volkswagen said it is planning to make a curiously designed car that will use just one liter (a quarter of a gallon) of fuel per 100 kilometer (62 miles).”We want to put ‘one-liter car’ on the market by 2010,” the group’s supervisory board chairman, Ferdinand Piech, told the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung at Frankfurt’s’ International Auto Show.

The vehicle is not the most pretty in the world, and its engine only has one-cylinder and is a diesel, but 100 mpg, is attainable they say. Volkswagon says it wants to sell the car for under $5,000 and I bet people in the US right about now would love to have one too. Meanwhile the Chinese are getting ready to flood the US market with new Chinese made automobiles, the first dealership opens in 2008 in New Jersey. The Chinese will have fuel efficient cars, will they sell, probably so.

3. Meanwhile the Chinese Counterfeit Tires then Try to Promote Luxury Bentley Level Car?

Here is an excerpt of an article in a popular Online AutoSpies newsletter:

It appears Chinese companies are just as happy to clone tire designs as they are cars, with Continental the latest manufacturer to suffer lost sales due to fake Chinese imports. However, unlike BMW and Mercedes-Smart, which have yet to take serious action against China’s Shuanghuan Auto and its clone-cars, Continental has shown that it’s possible to defeat counterfeiters by winning a case against several tire resellers in Germany selling the counterfeit stock. Though only affecting a couple of commercial truck brands, the counterfeiting is still of major concern because customers were buying inferior products that weren’t as safe as the originals.

4. President Bush has asked a committee panel to study the US fuel efficiency laws to make sure that the regulations for future fuel economy is actually an attainable number.

This from the White House Website:

The Bush administration will launch a new study next week to estimate what kind of technology automakers will need to raise fuel efficiency over the next 15 years, updating and expanding a 2002 report that’s been a benchmark in this summer’s energy debate. The National Academy of Sciences panel, which includes environmentalists, independent experts and automotive engineers, will spend the next year working on the report. The panel will hear testimony from federal officials and auto industry executives during its first public meeting in Washington on Monday. With Congress moving toward passing some kind of increase in fuel-economy standards and President George W. Bush ordering his administration to set its own increases by the end of next year, the updated report will act as a road map for many future decisions by federal regulators. The 2002 edition concluded … that the industry could raise the efficiency of its cars by up to 27 percent and its trucks by 42 percent over a decade — to roughly 30 miles per gallon — with no changes in weight, size or performance. U.S. cars and trucks are expected to average 26.4 m.p.g. in the 2007 model year, the highest level ever, according to federal estimates. But automakers have long objected to the 2002 report, saying it overstated the benefits of new technologies and understated the costs and engineering work needed to put them into vehicles.

5. Chrysler Ramps up Fuel Efficient Competition Car and Industry Week states;

That they have an advanced propulsion electric drive vehicle ready to launch, an advancement from their new ENVI Concept Cars from their CTC – Chrysler Technology Center. Mercedes is angry that the Smart Car is being copied by China, BMW and the Toyota Rav 4 copies are also a concern. Germany’s Chancellor, is making a complaint to the WTO on China, there are significant problems with these infringements. But spying is not only in the passenger car sector. Auto Racing Spies Get Dusted by Competition – We found this interesting piece in the UK Register:

Formula One team McLaren must pay a $100m fine and has been kicked out of the constructors’ championship for spying on rival team Ferrari. The decision by the governing body of the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile (FIA) means McLaren is out of the constructors’ championship this year but drivers Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso can continue to compete in the drivers’ competition. McLaren did not accept the verdict. In a statement Ron Dennis said: “Having been at the hearing today I do not accept that we deserved to be penalised in this way.”

6. The DOT has stated that Bike Lanes take monies away that could be used to make bridge infrastructure stronger.

Bicycles VS Cars, well we know who will win on the street in an accident, and most likely in the courtroom of public opinion, as we do not wish anymore bridges to be collapsed and yet, we need more bike lanes. Bicycle and car accidents kill way too many people each year and Americans are way too fat, they need to exercise too. The Department of Transportation – DOT stated this because they do not consider bicycles a real form of transportation, as very few people use them in that way, most of the bike riding is for recreation and staying in shape. True, but if you never put in bike lanes then no one will ever use them, so it is a self-fulfilling prophesy either way. Well those were all the automotive thoughts from today. Sincerely, Lance.

SharePoint – An Internal Communicators Guide

Microsoft SharePoint enables important documents and business processes to be stored in a central information hub. It can also be a powerful communication and collaboration tool. However, a SharePoint implementation can also have a disruptive and resource intensive impact on an organization if it is not managed effectively. During times of recession, it is all the more important to find ways to work smarter with less resource.

Follows these tips to maximize the value gained from your SharePoint implementation:

Think of SharePoint as a development platform…not a product

It is a common mistake for people to assume that SharePoint will give them what they want without customization. As a sophisticated software application, SharePoint has many different features and plug-ins which can be confusing. Deployments easily can go wrong if IT teams just turn on additional modules without considering the business case, requirements, and training needed to make them part of an ongoing business process.

The more comprehensive functionality available from SharePoint has to be built by an IT team (or a third party vendor) using SharePoint’s.NET development tools. Hence it is more appropriate to view SharePoint as a ‘development platform’ rather than an ‘out of the box’ product. Representatives from various parts of the business will need to work together with the IT team from the very start of the project. The project team needs to clarify the business requirements and all technical and functional needs of the SharePoint implementation before starting the project.

Try these tips:

Use low cost, plug and play discussion forum tools to enable project teams to share and capture ideas as they crop up prior to, and during, a SharePoint implementation. External discussion forum channels can be simple to deploy, secure, low cost and available on a short term license basis.

Utilise company wide surveys to assess what’s working and what’s not with the existing Intranet and to gather information regarding the tools and resources people would like to see included on the new SharePoint Intranet. Consider using survey tools that can be pushed directly onto employee computer screens so do not get buried in email in boxes. Built in survey reminders can help drive participation which can ensure that all views are represented in the research…including the important but often ‘silent majority’ who perhaps do not have extreme views or agendas and would ordinarily be less motivated to participate.

Target staff surveys to specific groups of employees, for example, managers and heads of departments. Such individuals can be asked questions such as “what specific business value does / could your department derive from an effective Intranet?”, “How might this be quantified?” For example, a sales manager may say it is the number of accurate proposals that sales people are able to produce. This research will provide an important perspective to help you make the SharePoint implementation effective and also help you quantify its value at a later stage.

Start simply and take an iterative approach

Companies that get the SharePoint implementation right, often start simply, with many of the features disabled. Break a SharePoint implementation up into stages and leave the ‘bells-and-whistles’ until last.

For example:

1. Start by simply replacing the existing Intranet. 2. Add document management 3. Add forms management. 4. Add business process and workflow management 5. Start sharing business intelligence dashboards and enterprise reports 6. And so on.

Keep in mind your short term and long term objectives and work with IT while they download SharePoint. Clarify what is required of SharePoint now, what possible extras might be useful and what may be required in the future.

Try these tips

One of the keys to the successful implementation a new technology is to drive user adoption and regularly gather feedback to evaluate progress.

  • Staff Polls, surveys and discussion forums provide effective ways to gather qualitative and quantitative feedback from staff. Communicating the successive stages of an iterative SharePoint implementation needs to stay interesting for staff, so adopting an engaging and innovative communications campaign is essential.
  • Promote your evolving SharePoint implementation through multiple channels and monitor readership to make sure you’re hitting the mark
  • Short ‘news’ articles in Staff E-Mags can inform readers of new information and the availability of new tools, as well as allowing readers to click directly through to specific SharePoint pages.
  • For project ‘wins’ that you want to profile with more impact, try using digital signage on screensavers. An image is worth a thousand words. For example, an image of a deck chair on the beach with relevant text and a click through link is a powerful and engaging way to notify staff that leave forms are now available via SharePoint.
  • For messages that need high cut through, consider using Desktop Alerts or Scrolling News feeds on staff computer screens

Fill gaps in functionality

By taking what comes bundled in SharePoint, companies can end up compromising on critical functions compared with best-of-breed tools. Light-weight web 2.0 tools such as wikis and blogs appear to be late addition ‘throw-ins’ with functionality that appears to be considerably less than you might expect.

SharePoint does not provide any ‘push communications’ channels. The closest it gets is ‘e-mail alerts’, that are auto generated and can be easily become buried in inboxes, and RSS feeds, that require staff to opt in. Often due to high work loads or a lack of interest, emails have low cut through and staff fail to subscribe to RSS feeds meaning that important updates may never reach them.

Push Communications channels form an important part of an internal communications strategy. This is particularly the case for urgent or important messages that need high cut through.

Try these tips

Augment SharePoint with other functionality:

  • Use plug and play’ social media channels specifically built for secure employee communications. Select channels that are low cost, easy to use and require very little IT resource to deploy, customize and implement. Some web 2.0 channels can send automated desktop alerts to moderators which will achieve significantly higher cut through (and faster response) than SharePoint’s email alerts.
  • Use RSS tools that allows administrators to push out existing RSS feed sources, via an on screen news ticker (or news aggregator), to targeted staff groups. Hence for important RSS feeds you can remove the step within SharePoint requiring users to opt in. o Snap Desktop Alert provides a means to push out urgent or important communications to targeted staff groups. This desktop alert format bypasses email and pushes content directly onto employee’s computer screens with configurable persistence and recurrence options and helpful reporting features.

Clarify Governance

It is important to clarify the roles and responsibilities for managing a SharePoint site. For example; what are the respective roles of Corporate Communications and IT? Who should ‘own’ the site? Who should be empowered to manage the site? A content management strategy should be developed by a team of representatives from key business areas and cover areas such as:

  • The metrics for content creation
  • Policies regarding when to use, and when not to use, SharePoint
  • The balance be between user generated content, and general ‘corporate’ content
  • Who will manage what content? How?
  • Levels of moderation for different parts of the site
  • How will cross-functional content be managed and monitored?
  • How much time should staff spend surfing and posting SharePoint content?

Try these tips

Use hosted discussion forums as a quick and easy way to discuss and evolve the governance of SharePoint.

Manage Content

For a successful SharePoint implementation, good site administration and content management are essential. A site administrator needs to manage content, carry out periodic evaluations and act as a facilitator in sustaining participation. An administrator will also need to decommission parts of the site that are no longer required.

SharePoint has relatively light-weight content management capability, additionally, collaboration tools within SharePoint can add user generated content to the chaos. A proliferation of ‘team spaces’ can also serve to create too many silos. The search interface of SharePoint is also considered by some to be weak.

Try these tips

Not all content needs to be delivered by SharePoint. This is particularly the case for content that may have a short ‘shelf life’ due, for example, to it being associated with a specific campaign or project. Prioritize content and think about its ‘shelf life’ and purpose. Does it really need to be on SharePoint or will it simply add to the chaos?

By eliminating non essential content or content with a short shelf life, the search results from SharePoint are more likely to return useful information.

  • Emags are an excellent way to distribute short shelf life content (e.g. news and admin updates). Chose a format that allows users cato submit their own articles
  • Desktop Alerts and News Tickers can provide message cut through for urgent business updates.

Provide good training and support

Some internal communicators describe SharePoint as ‘clunky and not intuitive’. To ensure you maximize the value derived from SharePoint, it is important to provide adequate training and support to staff. Training for the IT team and administrators can be expensive and time consuming (probably at least a one week ‘boot camp’). Selected ‘power user’ staff will also require 2 to 3 days of training. Even at the departmental level it is useful to get a few people trained in how to use web parts. Once SharePoint becomes available to the wider staff population, they will also need training on how to use the various features that have been enabled on SharePoint. Think twice about launching a site if you can’t provide this sort of effort and resource in terms of training and support.

Try these tips

Implement a discussion forum as quick and easy means for people to ask questions in an appropriate online ‘helpdesk’. If the format allows it, nominate moderators for each ‘helpdesk’ and set them up to receive desktop alert notifications when new questions are posted (note that SharePoint content alerts are email based which can have low cut through rates and associated response times). Moderators can answer questions directly or point the person to information sources where an answer can be found. Each specific question should be tagged and searchable, meaning that past questions and answers can be easily located in an evolving repository of knowledge.

Use Staff Quizzes as a means to run a SharePoint education program. Business and product focused quizzes can contain links to the Intranet allowing users to research each question before they answer.

Drive adoption and usage

Employees don’t typically seem to like using SharePoint. It’s not intuitive and not particularly exciting. SharePoint pages are often dull and boring. There are some options for making pages more exciting, but pages tend to end up looking similar regardless of customization. In addition, due to SharePoint’s sheer complexity, an implementation can seem to go on forever and users can start to believe that glitches will never be ironed out.

Effective communication is key to acceptance, adoption and effective usage of SharePoint’s features by staff. Changing how people work takes effort. Employees need to be engaged in order for them to use SharePoint effectively.

Try these tips

Liven up the perception of SharePoint by using a range of dynamic ways to promote the site and drive participation:

  • Digital sigage on screensavers can raise awareness of new information on SharePoint by turning employee screensavers into dynamic interactive bill boards. An image is worth a thousand words. For example, an image of a graduation cap with some relevant text and a click through link is a powerful and engaging way to notify staff that online, self-paced training programs are now available on the Intranet.
  • Staff E-Mags can deliver news updates in a readable and engaging format which include hyperlinks back to SharePoint content (or other information rsources)
  • Ensure any electronic communications channels contain click-through hyperlinks links and therefore act as promotional tools to stimulate interest and drive the usage and value of SharePoint. News feeds, desktop alerts, interactive staff quizzes and surveys can be engaging ways to drive traffic to SharePoint content.

Allocate sufficient budget…and watch the hidden costs

Costs can easily expand with a SharePoint implementation so beware of what you are getting into. There are three levels of SharePoint:

1. Basic version of SharePoint which comes free with Windows server, allowing organizations ‘try before they buy’ 2. Paid version (License fees vary depending on the type and size of an organization) 3. Premium version designed to deliver features such as search.

You may end up paying more than you initially anticipate due to confusion about what features reside within the different SharePoint versions and license fee bands. Additionally you may need to buy SharePoint add-ons which were not previously considered or budgeted for. Other things that can blow out overall project pricing include:

  • Implementation costs
  • Customization costs
  • Systems integration costs

Try these tips

You can augment SharePoint with inexpensive tools that do not require IT resource for them to be set up and managed. This allows you to try concepts out, test uptake and evolve the approach without the need for ‘big project’ budget, resource or timeframes.