Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Having the Cake and Eating It Too: Sales vs Marketing

When a discussion yields a fruitful outcome, it just makes my day. Norana came to me the other day to discuss a campaign to boost sales. The idea was good; the details were flawless. I was about to give it a nod, but deep down in my heart there was still something deterring me from doing so which I couldn’t figure out at that moment. Then we drifted away discussing some other topics, and the answer suddenly hit me when our conversation arrived at the subject of how resellers place our products in their websites.

immediate result vs long term impact

Yes, that’s the difference between sales and marketing. One focuses on delivering an immediate result, another looks for a broader aspect and a longer-term impact. Sales activities are good to generate extra income in a very short period, but at FingerTec I'm always inclined to the latter.

I understand that psychologically, customers welcome sales or promotional activities such as straightforward price cuts, 10% discount, 20% discount, and so on; the more the better. We do witness some products or shopping malls starting with a monthly or festive season sales, only to eventually become all year long sales. You can't help but pity them because without any promotion, their business would be seriously affected.

As we are not selling consumer products, I perceive more value can be added, and by adding these values, resellers are building up their own strength too alongside FingerTec products. The value might not turn into instant sales, or some resellers might think of the process as “a waste of time”, but with the right ingredients and direction, it will set you apart from your rivals and make your sales and support easier.

Sales activity short-lived; the money value ends together with the activity. However, long-term marketing activity accumulates value that remains for a long time, and the value even works for you even if you're not aware of it.

One might ask, “Why not do both to boost sales and yield longer term value?” Yes, it’s good to have both, but as a Chinese saying goes, you can’t have both the fish and the bear paws at the same time. When you launch a sales activity, you’ll drive away the resellers to aggressively sell your products, they will not spend time writing their successful project story, they’ll not bother to gather customers’ email addresses and etc. So how about slowing them down in sales, speed them up in marketing? (Some people might think I’m crazy)

I always think pragmatism should be mixed with a touch of idealism; only then we can expect more surprises.

A lot of businessmen on one hand think it’s good to tap on the social media tool, but on the other hand think Facebook and Twitter can wait, but sales cannot. And they also feel a standard website with a URL printed on the name card should be good enough, and regular contents update and upgrade of the website is a waste of investment. Once, there was a “pragmatic” businessman that laughed at us for having a big team to maintain a website.

Yes, we do a lot of “unnecessary” tasks from some people's point of view, but all these “unnecessary” would eventually turn FingerTec to be a great product and a great brand in the Biometrics industry.

We urge our partners to write us stories, to send us some successful projects as a case study, to set up their own Facebook and to maintain it, to keep their website active and plug some of our sales and support modules into their website. Create more local contents in the local language. This month, we have substantial growth of Facebook members from Malaysia, because we gave away a special discount for resellers who joins us at Facebook as a member. And our records show us that partners who have their own Facebook and actively manage it also perform well in sales.

My urge is, spend some time and money on marketing, by adding little more value of your own, you would unlock all the hidden values beneath a great product.

And, we should be having very clear direction for future marketing campaigns after my fruitful discussion with Norana.

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Environmental Footprint

I always believe that the more we do for our products, software, sales and technical support system, the less our partners and customers need to do.

If the concept is applied to B2C system, it could be translated to good online retail shopping experience where customer sits back in his cozy home, a cup of coffee in hand, and a few clicks to complete his virtual purchase. The impact of this simple process is tremendous. He actually saves transportation costs, save parking fees, save unnecessary out-dining money, save himself from long queues, and eventually save a lot of time and money.

And for a B2B system like us, due to its complexity in system operation, more can be done. Why do you want to settle on just a corporate website that brags about your profile and products, your mission and vision, your awards and achievements, and your intention to foster investors relationships? Why don't you use the website to serve your partners better, or to extend the service down to the end customer level?

When we extended the usefulness of the website(s), it magically transformed us from a commonly "push" sales strategy company into a magnetic "pull" marketing-driven company. When we started to draft FingerTec Environmental Footprint after the launch of our "Going Green" campaign, it suddenly dawned on me that, our environmental efforts should be retraced from where we try to make everything easy for our resellers and customers years ago, and where our multipurpose websites tell a lot of stories.

And suddenly I got an idea to complete the environmental statement smoothly:

"Every time we burn fossil fuels such as gas, coal or oil, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. Easier to measure are the direct carbon emissions that we are responsible for. This includes the amount of gas and electricity we use in our houses, the amount of petrol or diesel we burn in our car, and the number and distance of flights we take. The Carbon Account is a tool to help us measure these direct emissions.

At FingerTec, we're constantly looking for ways to further reduce the impacts our products have on the environment.

While there are some study reports that explain online shopping is inherently more environmentally friendly than traditional retailing methods, FingerTec is constantly taking extra effort to deliver all our resources via online means to carry out business operations and ultimately achieve the same goal.

Lowering The Carbon Account
FingerTec has set forth two main objectives for our brand, first is to help our resellers market our products easier, and second, is to help them reduce their dependency on technical support.

These objectives, heavily furnished with our extra-ordinary online resources plan, have successfully and tremendously reduced unnecessary sales visits or technical traveling on the roads for our resellers around the world over the years. All the needed resources can be easily accessed on the web, including comprehensive online training materials, and technical tips, which has proved helpful to the customers and resellers in reducing transportation costs.

Besides that, our products are not only designed to have low energy consumption; we also work towards utilizing web-enabled technology to improve remote communications and achieve long distant technical support. Furthermore, the introduction of online tools such as TeamViewer for remote desktop support, has helped to further enhance these objectives.

Reducing Packaging Waste
We have worked to see that some of our FingerTec products and accessories are designed to be collapsible, to be able to reduce packaging size and also to ease transportation.

Since early 2011, FingerTec has made significant progress to reduce excess packaging in its shipments to customers and has introduced additional types of recyclable packing materials to protect items while in transit. The resizing of our packaging also plays a big role in reducing waste as well as transportation cost.

Most FingerTec orders are shipped in corrugated packaging, which on average contain 43% recovered fiber content. Once used, these containers are 100% recyclable for use in the manufacturing of other paper products.

At the start of 2011, we started a “Going Green” campaign to further reduce the use of paper in our products by putting a stop to all user manual print-outs for FingerTec‘s hardware and software, replacing them with an all new DVD which contains everything the customers’ need in one disk. All contents are professionally paginated, and designed to be easily accessible.

Continue Efforts To Go Green
At FingerTec, we will be continuing to implement environmental and energy-saving initiatives across all parts of the company. FingerTec employees at all levels dive deep into every nook and cranny of the process to identify waste and design alternative solutions that are more energy efficient."

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ