Saturday, October 27, 2012

Marikina as Sports Capital, why not?

Photo Credit: Jonathan Penarejo

One of Marikina's greatest asset, aside from the shoe industry and its being a good governance model, is the Marikina Sports Park. More popularly knows as "sports center," it is located along Sumulong Highway -- bounded on the east by McDonald's Avenue and on the west by Shoe Avenue.

This is one asset which the city government can optimize and use as anchor towards a new marketing positioning for the city that will hit two birds with one stone. The new positioning as "Sports Capital" will:
  1. Complement and revitalize the ailing shoe industry; and,
  2. Will solve the land-use problem of what to do with the permanent danger zones along the river.

Is there a need for a Sports Capital?
As it is, we cannot hold a global sporting event in one place in Metro Manila where venues for the different sports are within 5-10 minutes walk of each other and the athletes village. Our stadiums and arenas are spread out in different cities of the metropolis and even the provinces. Thus, we are rated low by organizers when it comes to preference as a venue for the Olympics, Asian Games, etc.

Where will the land for new sports venues come from?
A big stretch of land along the Marikina River is considered as a danger zone because of its being susceptible to flooding as proven by Typhoon Ondoy (2009) and the recent Habagat (2012). If people presently living here are relocated to higher grounds, then the land they vacate can become higher by dumping the silt and soil taken from the river bed when it is dredged. The developers can also use the latest "adaptive architecture" designs and technology in their structures. Even without altering the natural terrain of the vacated areas, it is still safer to have sporting venues there instead of residential areas because games, concerts, etc. can easily be cancelled and reset if flooding is expected.

How will the residents be convinced to relocate elsewhere?
Normally, it would be hard to convince them because of sentimental reasons and the fact that their present land values will be substantially lower than its actual value. However, if we are able to convince property developers to a "swap arrangement" where they build new townships in higher areas of barangays Fortune, Parang, Marikina Heights, and Concepcion Dos for residents to transfer to in exchange for the land to be vacated, people might be convinced easily because they do not get to fork out a huge amount upfront for the peace of mind of living on safer grounds. Others may even end up with an upgrade of their living conditions in the new mid-rise housing flats, or detached housing units in upscale villages newly constructed by participating developers.

Why will property developers like Ayala, Megaworld, DMCI, Filinvest, etc. agree?
Aside from ensuring a good return to their investments, it will be a good opportunity for them to showcase their latest "adaptive architecture" developments. The success of waterfront developments like Eton City along SLEX and Lakeshore along NLEX is proof that there is a market among the high-end AB market.

Is the swap arrangement concept feasible?
There is actual proof of concept. According to urban planner Dr. Danielle Guillen of the Ateneo School of Government, a similar swap arrangement was done successfully in Japan years ago.

Read about a related post:

As you can see, there is a feasible alternative to staying put and endangering the lives of residents and the government spending billions each time widespread flooding occurs. The question is ... does government have the political will to solve this perennial problem?

You be the one to answer.

NOTE: The author is a business development consultant who does market studies, best use studies, property development concepts, etc. for the country's premiere property developers. He used to work with Megaworld Land, Inc. where he did market studies and best-use concepts for its commercial center developments, e.g, Eastwood City Walk, Laguna Bel Air commercial center, etc. As a consultant, he also did the market study and best-use concept for Robinsons Land's Escalades in Cubao, LK Group's Treasure Towers in Sta. Mesa, and Subic Leisureworld in Binictican, among others. Together with then Mayor Bayani Fernando, he wrote the Marikina Riverpark Concept Paper which won a Galing Pook Award from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Marketing Issue: Mall Owners should rethink "No Picture Taking" policy

TIMES BOOKSTORE AT THE PAVILION KL: Quality trade books at very low prices compared to the ones in Manila.

Going abroad, especially in the Asian region, is an opportunity to buy good quality glossy trade books at much lower prices compared to those in Manila.

For those who love to read books that keep them updated and make them learn more about their craft, one of the "must dos" in shopping abroad is a visit to the local bookstore in upscale malls.

So, when I spotted this "Marketing: An Introduction; An Asian Perspective" by marketing guru Philip Kotler together with new editions of "Principles of Marketing" and "Marketing Management" at the Times Bookstore at the 6th level of Pavilion mall along Raja Chulan in Kuala Lumpur ... I wanted to take pictures of the 3 valuable reference books side by side on the shelves.

"I'm sorry, you are not allowed to do that," a staff said politely.

I explained that I wanted to let the people back home know where to buy these trade books in KL so they would know where to go to and what store to head straight to. But, elevating it even to her superior did not work. We were also not allowed to take pics of the facade of the store. In fact, taking pictures inside the mall was prohibited.

Well, actually, our malls in the Philippines also have the same archaic policy -- and it is about time that mall owners and property developers reconsider this.

Why? Because ... with the advent of modern technology that spawned gadgets like digital cameras, smartphones with cameras, tablets with cameras, etc... there already is an existing trend to take pictures of our experiences so we could immediately share it with others over the digital platform in an instant.

That's why blogging is now so popular and many have taken it up. We all know this, right?

Even marketers and advertisers acknowledge the growing influence of blogs to push and move their products and services that even malls host blogging events to launch brands and shops.

So, why do they continue to ban shoppers, patrons, and even bloggers from taking pics? Don't they see this as an unnecessary obstacle to encouraging more features and endorsements of their locators and what they are selling?

Come on, guys. Sure, there was a time -- once upon a time -- when there were few cameras and very limited access to market info and images that we in the business development and industrial espionage business resorted to covert operations or special ops in order to spy on our competitors. 

Another reason then was for security reasons so the safety of the property and the people therein would not be compromised if terrorists or bad elements were casing your establishment.

But those two reasons are so passe! Obtaining information via a digicam or DSLR is not necessary anymore with so many images and information about them flooding social media and the internet.  So easy to download. It is now just a click away.

Besides, if we really wanted to ... you would not even notice our spy cams and listening devices even if you were just a step away.

I, therefore, appeal to mall owners to rethink this and see the light to finally allow taking pictures in their premises. They will be the first ones to benefit from it anyway.

Take it from Alliance Global Inc. -- owner of Newport City and Eastwood city Malls -- who is open to having pictures taken because they see its advantages. "We do not have that policy in our mall. When you come to Newport Mall we have a lot of people taking pictures. The idea is for them to spread it through social media," said Kingson Sian, President & COO.

Well, Kingson has always been a visionary and has always been a step ahead of the rest anyway. It is now time for other mall owners to take the cue from him and repeal this stupid policy.

*Selamat datang Zest Air and Tourism Malaysia for making this trip possible.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

What CEOs look for in hiring new employees


For fresh graduates and young employees who have job interviews or who are on the look out for job opportunities, this tip from a young and very accomplished chief executive might help you land that much coveted position. The advice comes from an economics graduate of the University of the Philippines and a former investment banker based in Hongkong before he was pirated by taipan Andrew Tan in mid 1990 to set up Megaworld Land.

When I interviewed my former boss recently at his office at Resorts World, Newport City, I was able to ask Kingson Sian, now president and chief operating officer of Alliance Global what it was he was looking for in employees or subordinates. Hopefully, these tips will be able to help our new graduates or job applicants find the right fit for themselves early on in their careers.

Kingson explains, “In AGI, we are all average people put together in a company with an environment where we can spread our wings, where we can find ourselves, where we can enjoy what we are doing, and excel in the process. You don’t have to be a genius. Most of us are just average people. But how do you transform that average person into becoming above average in terms of results and performance? It is by creating that environment so that they can experiment and are not afraid to make mistakes. An entrepreneur makes a lot of mistakes. But, hopefully, you don’t repeat your mistakes. That’s the very nature of an entrepreneur, maraming mistakes, wala namang perfect eh, di ba?

Integrity is important. The background of the person is important. I like to hire people and check their references very carefully. Preferably, may strong reference. Without integrity nagse-second guess ka na. Did he decide based on what is good for the company or because of ulterior motive? It’s hard for you to function if there is a doubt.

We look for people that are motivated and passionate. Some people just get a job because they just want to make money or earn a living. However, in order to last, you need to have more than that as a motivation. Money is one thing, but just like anything, money should be secondary. The opportunity should be the primary consideration because when you are young you still need to learn a lot of things and exposure is a great teacher. Of course you need money to help your family but you should ask yourself saan ka pinakamaraming matututunan?

The work environment is important so you can excel based on your skills. That’s why I always ask applicants … what do you want to do? It is not what I am offering, but … ano ba ang gusto mo? It is important for you to know what you want. And if you want to do this – we have opportunities for you. And if you want to do that, we also have opportunities for you.”

Very well said, boss. Thanks for sharing your valuable insights.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Marketing Tips: Product Knowledge

Source of image:

You may have spent a lot for a big event or a brand launch ... only to negate the impact with unprepared staff when customers start asking about your product or service.

Last night, my friend Sunny Ku, CEO of Masterminds Worldwide and I were in Chili's Tomas Morato discussing the "120 years of Amorsolo" project  and he ordered 12 pcs. Buffalo Wings. Our server replied that an order was only 5 pieces. Sunny asked, "Are you sure? I always order that and I know you have a serving of 12 pcs." 

The server stood her ground. A few minutes after, she came back, "Ay, sir, 12 pcs nga."

I'm sure we have all experienced situations where we ask a waiter about details in their menu and end up frustrated when they try to parry it with an unacceptable answer. This is a mortal sin for frontliners. But we also have management to blame.

In the first place, we have to make sure that we equip our staff with superior product knowledge so they won't end up flat on their faces when asked by a customer. We should teach them what our product or service is all about, e.g. its strengths and intricacies, etc. before we set them free in the selling or dining area.

Provide your employees with a well-prepared FAQ or Primer which anticipates all possible questions of a customer and answers it accordingly.

Remember, marketing is responsible for bringing customers into the selling area, but it is operations that is responsible for repeat patronage. Do you agree that it is up to the operations people to manage the customer experience while in your premises in such a way that will make them want to come back -- again and again?

Marketing may have succeeded into luring customers into your shop but if customers did not enjoy their experience while in your shop ... they will not stay long or come back. So, it is up to your operations team in your outlets to keep your customers satisfied.

Unfortunately, one of the turn-offs for customers is encountering staff who cannot answer their queries to their satisfaction. So, make sure to inculcate the critical importance of "product knowledge"among your team members and you will surely gain more customers and loyal patronage.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Marketing Tips: Observing Customer Behavior

As Vice President of Marketing of Ergonomic Systems, Inc. more than a decade ago, I brought my marketing team to the basement of SM Megamall to teach them first hand a very important lesson in understanding consumer behavior. We went to the office furniture section and observed potential buyers from a safe distance.

For marketers, it helps to know how our customers interact with our products or services. What attracted them to approach the display? Did they respond to brighter colors more than neutral colors? What was the first thing they did? Did they touch it? What was the first thing they touched? Did they smell it? What senses did they involve?

This exercise helps us in considering factors for our marketing mix, e.g. product, place, promotions, price.

Trivia: Jollibee came up with their "Langhap Sarap" positioning statement after observing that their diners smelled their food first before proceeding to eat it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

CASE STUDY: Why not use Marikina Danger Zones as Showcase for Adaptive Architecture?

If the habagat flooding is now the new normal according to the DENR, that means government will be spending millions, if not billions, every time it floods. The social cost of evacuating residents, feeding them, the clearing operations, clean up, and relief operations will drain government coffers.

As a former business development executive of Megaworld Land and as a consultant now doing market and “best-use” studies for property developers, I would like to pose this challenge to Megaworld, Ayala Land, Robinsons Land, Filinvest, etc:

Is it possible for you to build mid-rise housing buildings or detached housing units in flood-free areas of Marikina in exchange (SWAP) for land that will be vacated by residents in danger zones?

Let's make it easy for residents to say “yes.” Of course, these homes have sentimental value ... but if they will be able to transfer to a safer home or benefit from an upgrade of living conditions because of the "swap deal" with property developers ... they will grab the opportunity. It is easier for them to say yes if they don't have to fork out a huge amount because the flood has effectively devalued their properties even if they are able to sell it. So, this swapping offer is their only hope and what they will be entitled to is commensurate to the pre-flood value of the home they are swapping.

You can then level the land, start from scratch, and use these swapped properties for your "adaptive architecture" developments where you can highlight the river as a unique water feature. In effect, converting this geographical threat and weakness into an opportunity and strength.

Exclusive villages with elegant homes with boat docks and ground floor lanai/veranda (open first floor with bedrooms, living and dining rooms, etc upstairs) designed to adapt to water or potential flooding will attract the affluent much like how Eton City in SLEX and Lakeshore in NLEX with their man-made lakes did.

We just have to be creative.

Or, you can build facilities that will give you a decent ROI without endangering lives. Ex. sports facilities, arenas, stadiums, etc. that have no one sleeping in them but only athletes or artists working out, practicing, competing, or performing. Games and concerts can be easily cancelled once a flood alert is raised.

At the periphery, the development plan can include facilities and services that support these sporting cum performing arts venues like sports rehabilitation hospitals, therapy clinics, factories for sports equipment/accessories, etc.

This concept supports the existing Sports Center and Marikina's positioning as "sports hub" while solving the problem of having thousands of families living in danger zones along the river.

Think about it. We can develop this further with the help of other experts like Paulo Alcazaren, Jun Palafox, etc.

What do you think?