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Friday, August 31, 2007

Good things should come in small(er) packages

One of the great flaws of marketing is its tendency to stereotype. In the name of mass marketing, we create and indulge in the assumption that a huge group of people basically think and react to same stimuli alike. But if one has some practical knowledge about direct selling and research, then he can point it out that its hardly the case.

Take for example, the notion of having a family package. For the typical FMCG company the family package will cater to a family of at least 3 (Male, female, child). For the typical real estate developer, the target family comprises of at least 4 ( Hence we have the 3 bedroom flats in abundance). Any middle income newly wed couple will second my idea about how difficult it is to rent a flat within their limited means. Reason? We still think about the extended family of the 80s when our parents used to believe that “cheley hok, meye hok, duty sontan e jotheshto”. But the more relevant question might be is that what this generation believe?

But how about the family of 2? Why cant there be products or packaging options that will cater to the need of two - be it the newly weds or comprising of 1 career woman + 1 supportive husband? Why cant there be 1 bedroom appartments focusing on this target group only? Why cant there be mini-family packages of noodles rather than having one BIG one for the extended family?

Why cant we think niche or think outside the conventional?

The questions linger. And for now, it is safe to assume that the marketer who is obsessed with the stereotypical definitions of “family packs”, will miss the bus. The definition of family has changed from the grandparents era to the mom-pop era. And another shift is only a matter of time.
Shahriar Amin is a full time brand enthusiast who is the creator of the first brand blog in Bangladesh ( where he disburses brand related knowledge for Bangladeshi students and businesses

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Think before you say Thank You

August 30th, Thursday, 9:55 PM, Dhaba Restaurant, Banani-11, Dhaka.

After having a sumptuous dinner at Dhaba...'the roadside cafe', before paying the bill, I asked the person at the counter regarding the Thank You Discount. As I am a 'valued' customer of GrameenPhone and I have been allured by their Thank You campaign lately, I thought to make use of the privilege offered to me by the telecom giant. The gentleman appeared disturbed having found a customer who actually asked for the Thank You discount...he said that the offer was not in place anymore and it has been scrapped. I retorted that GrameenPhone has been promoting many of its partners under this Thank You campaign and your restaurant was one of them...since I saw your name in the list, you are bound to give me a discount. Otherwise I said I would complain to GrameenPhone. After witnessing this unusual demand and conviction from a weird looking customer (me)...he tried to appease me by saying that 'this time I am giving you 10% discount, but let me tell you...GrameenPhone is not keeping their promises, they are not giving us what they were supposed to'. Sensing a victory here, I replied 'why don't you settle your scores with GrameenPhone yourself, why should the customers suffer in between your mudthrowing?' The person printed the bill and gave me 10% discount, with a serious face. I walked away. End of story.

Another day in the life of a Bangladeshi consumer I suppose. Its very much like a rock and a hard place. Look at the syndicate of the CNG drivers. Even though the government has set fixed fares for fixed distances and they are bound to go where the commuters want them to go...they don't go and they go only to where they want to go. You and me...what best can we do? We know the rules, we know the prices, but we are held captive. Similarly look at the offer by GrameenPhone and look at the service delivery by one of its partners. Its evident that the Telenor cashcow has been spending well in advertising and promoting its Thank You campaign, but I hope its expansion mode will not make it lose sight of its partners, who also share some stake to make or break the GP brand name. I hope the GP Thank You team would sort out the differences with their channel partners, so that people like me....who use a GP connection and also eat at Dhaba from time to time, don't fall victim to 'your' problems...after all..I am your customer....and I thought I was supposed to be the king wasn't I? So please don't make me beg for a mere 10% discount at your partner outlets, being discounted by sad-faced partners infact.

So I don't know why GrameenPhone is thanking its subscribers....for using its services or for being refused the Thank You Discount and walking away patiently and amicably?I think the customer are becoming mature and knowledgeable by the day, so think again before you say ...thank you.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

After BPO, KPO, how about PPO?

One of the publishing principles of this blog is against posting anything on Bangladesh politics. This is because we have talked too much about it and have done little. This is also because there are people who keep on talking about it and talk better than I do, so they should do the honours. However the recent deterioration (or developments for some) in the country's socio-political scenario has raised serious concerns amongst all, I am no exception, but I would try to stick to the blog's publishing principles here by brushing past the topic and look at it from a business perspective for Bangladesh Corporate. Sounds mean does it? Well that's the way we all are behaving now.
We all have talked about BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) and KPO (Knowledge Process Outsourcing) and how Bangladesh can have a larger pie of the cake which India, Phillippines, China have been eating happily. But have we ever thought of the new talk in the town...PPO? It seems to be the need of time now....PPO (Political Process Outsourcing) that is. A recent poll held in this blog indicated that majority of the poll participants think that 'foreign managers are genuinely better' so most of the MNCs in Bangladesh have foreign CEOs leading the fleets. I wonder if there is any learning Bangladesh Corporate can impart to the country's political arena. Anthropologists know better if Bengalis ever had the history of self rule or not, or whether they always had been extremely good subjects, ruled by non-Bengali rulers...even Sirajuddoula, Bakhtiar Khalji...whosoever ruled this land were non-Bengalis. It seems to have become crystal clear that we in Bangladesh cannot rule ourselves. We will always be having complaints about anybody (any fellow Bangladeshi) who would be ruling us. Given the chaotic situation at hand, PPO steps in as the last resort.
I wonder as most of the Bangladesh based MNCs have foreigners at the helm and they are performing so well in Bangladesh, should we publish an international tender/RFP (Request For Proposal) for governing us? We can publish it to the leading international dailies of the world, our non-resident Bangladeshis can also play a part in this process of choosing non-Bangladeshi leaders who would lead us to prosperity. If we behave well and prosper under non Bangladeshi managers in MNCs in Bangladesh...who knows we might also behave well and prosper too if under outsourced leadership. Atleast that way the blame game and the restiveness would be pacified and we can think about trust, development and industry, rather than party, power and politics.
Honestly, the talk above is an extreme sign of frustation regarding the present situation which is seriously harming the businesses of Bangladesh, not to mention the general people.

Making business journalism work for growth

Mamun Rashid writes in Daily Star

Every city or region in the world, no matter how small, teems with interesting business and economic stories that affect the daily lives and pocketbooks of readers and viewers. Yet this news area is often neglected by reporters and editors who tend to concentrate on stories revolving around government, politics and other official institutions. Many journalists might secretly think that business and economics are boring, full of complicated terms and confusing numbers. Journalists can find a gold mine of good stories in business if they know where to look and how to use what they find. In addition, because these stories are so often overlooked, they provide a good way for weekly or small daily newspapers and other media outlets to beat the competition by presenting those stories first.

Headline is important

In many ways, a business and economic story is no different from any other. It must be accurate, thorough, well-researched, balanced and fair and contain multiple sources of information. In business stories, though, some forward looking statement, future prospects of an industry or a company, numbers and specific data are critically important. A story about banking/multinational company's performance over a certain period can reveal a lot of information about foreign banks or the multinationals and their investment curve if the news is properly depicted. The trend of capital increase each year also discloses the company's long-term commitment, hence giving a message to the general readers or the potential investors about the future economic prospects of a country. Even taking views from important people like the regulators or the industry leaders can also make the news more informative and interesting and augment more private sector investment.A business reporter must never hesitate to ask questions about money and spending and to dig for the answers if they're not readily available. Another difference is the angle (approach) that a business reporter takes on a subject. For example, when writing about a new housing development subsidised by the government, the general assignment reporter may be primarily interested in how tenants for the apartments will be selected, how much they will pay in rent and about political and neighborhood support and opposition for the project. But the business reporter may also want to know which contractors have been awarded the construction bids for the project; how much each contract is worth; how many employees will be hired in the construction phase and then later to manage the project; where the capital (money) comes from to fund the project; and how that money will be repaid. Every story, of course, could contain all of these elements. It is the details about numbers and money that often are missing in media stories, and that's where the opportunity comes for those who are interested in pursuing the business angles and take lead.

Reliable sources are essential

A variety of knowledgeable sources are needed for almost all business stories. In most cases, reporters should start at the top and try to interview the key decision-makers. When writing about a company, for example, try to interview the top business executives. It's the top business people who can best describe the firm's business strategy and often they are the only ones who can release certain important information. Reporters who establish themselves as accurate, reliable and fair professionals can win the confidence of top business leaders and will get better stories because of it.The “numbers” people in an organization the chief accountant, chief financial officer or treasurer are other invaluable resources because they can often help explain confusing budgets and other financial statements. In the interests of accuracy and thoroughness, they may be quite willing to cooperate. Business reporters must make every effort to meet and know business leaders in the community and to cultivate the contacts they make in the process of reporting stories. These sources can provide background, tips on developing news stories and perspective on business and economic trends.The people and the corporate culture at organizations: Journalists sometimes think that they have no opportunity to write about people stories because it may not be directly linked to a business report. But doing so they often miss out the important fact that the people working for the company and the corporate culture, affects every business everywhere, and a company always banks on its talents to the same extent as it banks on its customers. Writing about people stories, innovations and trends in business and or corporate culture often tells you how ethically a company is running its business and may also prove invaluable to many readers.

Business Stories

Highlighting the booming or buoyant sectors in an economy is the key to strengthen the country's economy and facilitate growth. Business stories can come from anywhere, but an organised division of subject areas can help reporters and editors ensure that they're keeping an eye on the entire picture. For instance, if we consider. Banking and finance: Banks often are the largest and sometimes the most influential institutions in a community. Readers and viewers should be kept informed about the status of these banks: writing about trends and changes in banking, finance and lending are of utmost interest to readers and viewers. Bankers, while required to maintain confidence about individual clients, can also be good sources of information about other events in the business community, since they usually have a wide circle of acquaintances and knowledge about the local situation.Retail: Every area has myriad retail businesses of all sizes and shapes. These basic businesses drive the local economy's engine. Their success or failure is always a story, and may also tell a lot about how the local economy and local residents are doing. Trend stories those that focus on changes in strategy, types of retail businesses, competition or pricing issues are the foundation of good retail reporting, especially when the reporter is the first to report on a new trend. Hospitality and tourism: In developing countries or regions, tourism is often seen as a potential savior for the economy. Attracting paying visitors can indeed have a big payoff, in terms of attracting revenue, creating jobs and producing taxes. However, business reporters must look critically at such efforts. Merely announcing an effort to attract tourists or tout the advantages of local sites is not enough. These are just a few of the potential areas for local business stories. Others include agriculture, manufacturing, sports and advertising/media, to name just a few.

Avoid the press release

The good business reporter never has to learn about a news story from a press release or press conference. Instead, the reporter strives to be the first with the news, gleaned through regular contracts with a wide variety of sources in the business community. By the time a press release is issued or a press conference is held, the reporter is just one of a pack covering a story. In cases where the public announcement of a new venture or major change is the reporter's first clue about a news story, it is still essential to use multiple sources, to look for competitors and rivals and to look for the labor angle to provide a comprehensive, balanced story that goes well beyond the single-source story.

Global Element to Business Stories

No matter where in the world you live and report, there are multinational corporations, government policies and international treaties that affect you, your community and your readers. The key is finding the information that brings a broader worldview to local business writing, and puts it in a global perspective. It is a mistake to assume that readers in a small city or rural place are not interested in, say, global trade or international agreements. They just need to understand why they care and what, exactly affect them in their daily lives. It is the job of the business writer to tell them, to figure out how to bring these policies, news and information home to the local level and make it understandable to all levels of readers. There are a number of resources and Web sites at your fingertips to help you find a global angle, and this backgrounder is designed to help you find them.

It might be business, but it's still journalism

Being an economics reporter means being a good writer, a good communicator, not just someone who is knowledgeable about the subject matter. So if you want to do what you're doing better, don't spend all your spare time studying heavy economics textbooks - read a good novel instead. Being a good communicator also means we have to be expert journalists, not experts in finance or economics. And we have to keep doing what all journalists do, expertly judging things with the same instincts - Is it new? Is it big? Is it different? Is it interesting? Is it entertaining, even? And why does it matter?And we should approach the information we are given with the same caution and concern: Where did it come from? Does the source of the information have an interest in seeing the story presented in a particular way? Who else can I talk to so that I can confirm that the information is accurate, fair and balanced? Have I spoken to everyone involved in the story, or at least enough people to get a fair cross-section of opinion? Have I asked experts (since I am not the expert) what they think about it? Have I got some good quotes? What is my lead going to be?Creating the wow factor: An economic reporter should always think of creating a `wow' factor in his piece that will lead to an information bank for the readers. You might have been given some information to start with, but you build the rest of it yourself. You begin by asking yourself - or your news editor or colleagues all the questions you can think of that might make the story better, more interesting and easier to understand for your readers. And if there is something you don't understand, don't just put it in your story and hope for the best. Take command of the story and build it from a variety of sources, not just the one that issued the press release or held the press conference.The ultimate aim for any business or economic reporter is to add value for the readers and make journalism work for growth.

The writer is a columnist. This article is the excerpt of a working paper.

A very timely and useful piece of writing by Mr. Rashid. I assume that corporate blogging is a small tiny step towards informal business journalism in Bangladesh. Call it citizen journalism, call it corporate journalism or whatever, but the fact remains that established media has some limitations about what to print about corporates and what not to. Business journalism, thus, is limited to reporting news only, but what about the views and news that eventually make the news that readers read? Why an example of an employee maltreatment will not be a business news too? Its true that if the content remains unedited, unvalidated, unchecked, anybody can defame a target corporate with malicious intents, nevertheless, an equilbrium is always reached where false information is rectified by others in the process.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Show me what to show off, where to show off

Of the many things I lack knowledge, cars are one of them. I drive because I need mobility and protection from rain, sun, wind, dust when I travel. My interest and knowledge do not go beyond the steering wheel or beneath the seats. I know the names of a few popular car brands and I can choose a car based on its shape and color, I am too ignorant to know more about its configuration. However when I saw a red colored, two-doored sports car at Gulshan-2 this evening, I knew for sure that that was a wonder on the roads...or was it really? I kept on thinking about it while I rickshawed towards Banani.

Exhibitionism is human nature...or is it really? If you do know please shed some light on it. But I think some of us (or all?) like to show off....starting from good-looking spouse/partners, toned biceps, deep cleavages and curves, face and fashionable expensive clothes, watches, cell phones, houses and ofcourse cars for that matter. Our spoilticians (Politicians in Bangladesh context, new word in Benglish, will apply to add it in and misleaders didn't demonstrate us well enough on how to show off something which is our public pride and country, cricket team, culture, heritage etc. So the thirst to show off is quenched by showing off private parts, properties, Pajeros, Prados, Porches...belonging to (mostly) dads and self.

Nevertheless this neverending desire to grab limelight by means of four wheels is getting squeezed by the day. Firstly thanks to the mindless, haphazard urban expansion of the capital, the traffic congestion these days do not allow anymore sports cars to even reach an optimum speed to create some noise and draw some attention. Secondly thanks to the folks at ACC, many four-wheel magics are magically vanished from the roads and kept in garages, under cover or left abandoned in city streets. The fact still remains that the we are young and restless. I need to show that I have a Ferrari or a BMW or a Jag in town, so you better ponder with wonder and watch me whoosh away in the split of an eye and....holy s**t! These stupid rickshaws and traffic jams...They bloody don't let me even move an inch these days in Dhaka...this city is horrible! Even the merrier days of driving fast cars in the airport road or at Ashulia are coming to an end because...we have too many cars now. Not that the middleclass can afford to buy luxury cars, but thanks to an increased credit offerings, car loans from banks, we are only years away from choking to traffic death. Amidst this alarming chaos, it has become nearly impossible and insulting to drive a Jag or a BMW or a Hammer which is able to drive only a few hundred meters from home and then get stuck in traffic jams. Worse still, its even more insulting to climb the speed the car deserves and is designed for, when I am overtaken by cheeky rickshaws plying all around my road queen! So it goes without saying that showing off a car in Dhaka has become very difficult.

Thanks to Bashundhara Group for building Bashundara City, one of the very few shopping malls in South Asia to have facilitated P2P (peer to peer) show off, scanning and staring, scaring, a rare place where people show things, and where people stand and see things. Some ofcourse do shop, eat and watch movies, but most of them ogle, check, scrutinize and when own turn comes, let others do the experiment on themselves. Since we have a real scarcity of places to unwind our assets (physical, material) we are behaving sometimes over the board. This is not healthy in the long run I believe. Couple of months ago I met a senior sales person from Volvo Motors who was lamenting the decreasing sales trend of luxury cars. He was saying that "even if people do buy the cars they import, there is hardly any place left where they can drive it, God knows what lies ahead for the automobile industry". Given these circumstances, I wonder how our car dealers, importers, traders are spinning their strategy web. Its very unlikely that Navana Motors or Ryan Motors will help ease traffic congestions, will help government buddies and bodies do realistic urban planning (no more magnetic trains to Chittagong please) and/or build roads and flyovers in and around Dhaka. So what will they do? How can they facilitate, like Bashundhara Group, creating places like Bashundhara City, where our young and restless can strike a race...between 'my friend's dad's car and my dad's car...which is mine now'. Go-carting at Ashulia is too small and too artificial...we need some real adrenaline action to show off in the streets of woo the bemused ones outside the car...until ofcourse any tragic road accident or ACC do us apart (from the road). I have shown off enough, I sign off now.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bangladesh needs plan to introduce 3G mobile tech

FE Report

Bangladesh needs plan, to join the revolution of information and communication technology (ICT), for introducing third generation (3G) mobile technology in the country. The implementation of the 3G, besides reducing the cost of doing business, can help develop the entire scenario of the rural economy for more growth of GDP. "The 3G mobile technologies are capable of transferring voice, data and video to subscribers' mobile sets at a lower cost than 2G mobile technologies," Karl-Henrick Sundstron, executive vice president and chief financial officer (CFO) of Ericsson told journalists at a press conference. He further said they were working with the BTRC to provide broadband connectivity for 3G trials in rural Bangladesh.

Arun Banshal, managing director, Taimur Rahman, director for strategy and marketing, Mustak Hossain, head of media relations and regulatory affairs, of LM Ericsson Bangladesh Ltd, were present among others at the press conference at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in the city Thursday. Ericsson, a leading Swedish telecom equipment and services company will continue to support the country's information and communication technology (ICT) with its cutting edge technology. "We are committed to continue our support to the mobile operators of Bangladesh for developing skills in telecommunications by bringing cutting edge technology, Karl-Henrick Sundstron. Ericsson, which has over 40 per cent global market share in GSM technology, thinks that the timely initiative of the regulatory body in the country can help introducing cost effective technology. Sundstron, however, stressed the need for a new mindset to face the challenges that hurdle the proper utilization of the mobile technology, which is currently largely voice centric.

Answering a question, Sundstron said Bangladesh, during the first quarter of the current year, has become one of its top ten markets. In Feb 2006, Ericsson announced the establishment of a full-fledged company in Bangladesh, reaffirming its long-term commitment towards the development of the country and the growth of its telecommunications sector. The company has so far employed 870 mostly locally recruited persons in its Bangladesh office, he said adding that about 3500 people are indirectly involved with the company. Referring to the corporate social responsibility (CSR), Sundstron said: "Ericsson extended cooperation to the flood victims and our support for skill development of the Bangladeshis in the latest technology will continue. Leading mobile and telephone operators of the country including GrameenPhone, AKTEL, BTTB and Warid Telecom have awarded Ericsson the prime integrator contract to plan, design and integrate an in-building solution. Besides, Telenor, the parent company of Grameenphone (GP), has awarded a contract to Ericsson to expand its GSM/EDGE network and upgrade it.

Good. Very good.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Everyone should READ!

Sorry, as I am posting this article here on the "Bangladesh Corporate Blogs". But what I believe is, everyone should read this:

"My mom only had one eye. I hated her... she was such an embarrassment. My mom ran a small shop at a flea market. She collected little weeds and such to sell... anything for the money we needed she was such an embarrassment. There was this one day during elementary school.

I remember that it was field day, and my mom came. I was so embarrassed. How could she do this to me? I threw her a hateful look and ran out. The next day at school..."Your mom only has one eye?!" and they taunted me.

I wished that my mom would just disappear from this world so I said to my mom, "Mom, why don't you have the other eye?! You're only going to make me a laughingstock. Why don't you just die?" My mom did not respond. I guess I felt a little bad, but at the same time, it felt good to think that I had said what I'd wanted to say all this time.

Maybe it was because my mom hadn't punished me, but I didn't think that I had hurt her feelings very badly.

That night...I woke up, and went to the kitchen to get a glass of water. My mom was crying there, so quietly, as if she was afraid that she might wake me. I took a look at her, and then turned away. Because of the thing I had said to her earlier, there was something pinching at me in the corner of my heart. Even so, I hated my mother who was crying out of her one eye. So I told myself that I would grow up and become successful, because I hated my one-eyed mom and our desperate poverty.

Then I studied really hard. I left my mother and came to Seoul and studied, and got accepted in the Seoul University with all the confidence I had. Then, I got married. I bought a house of my own. Then I had kids, too. Now I'm living happily as a successful man. I like it here because it's a place that doesn't remind me of my mom.

This happiness was getting bigger and bigger, when someone unexpected came to see me "What?! Who's this?!" ...It was my mother...Still with her one eye. It felt as if the whole sky was falling apart on me. My little girl ran away, scared of my mom's eye.

And I asked her, "Who are you? I don't know you!!!" as if I tried to make that real. I screamed at her "How dare you come to my house and scare my daughter! GET OUT OF HERE! NOW!!!" And to this, my mother quietly answered, "oh, I'm so sorry. I may have gotten the wrong address," and she disappeared. Thank good ness... she doesn't recognize me. I was quite relieved. I told myself that I wasn't going to care, or think about this for the rest of my life.

Then a wave of relief came upon day, a letter regarding a school reunion came to my house. I lied to my wife saying that I was going on a business trip. After the reunion, I went down to the old shack, that I used to call a house...just out of curiosity there, I found my mother fallen on the cold ground. But I did not shed a single tear. She had a piece of paper in her hand.... it was a letter to me.

She wrote:
My son...
I think my life has been long enough now. And... I won't visit Seoul anymore... but would it be too much to ask if I wanted you to come visit me once in a while? I miss you so much. And I was so glad when I heard you were coming for the reunion. But I decided not to go to the school.... For you... I'm sorry that I only have one eye, and I was an embarrassment for you.

You see, when you were very little, you got into an accident, and lost your eye. As a mother, I couldn't stand watching you having to grow up with only one eye... so I gave you mine...I was so proud of my son that was seeing a whole new world for me, in my place, with that eye. I was never upset at you for anything you did. The couple times that you were angry with me. I thought to myself, 'it's because he loves me.' I miss the times when you were still young around me.

I miss you so much. I love you. You mean the world to me. My world shattered!!!

Then I cried for the person who lived for me... My Mother"

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Flying high with our khaslots

Couple of weeks ago I went out of the country. After an agonizing 8-hour delayed flight by GMG, I reached the hotel all exhausted and worn out. Eager to settle down and freshen up, as soon as I reached my room I opened up my luggage and voila! To my shock and irritation, there popped up a deshi-mosha...yes I realized that I have successfully exported inside my luggage a Bangladeshi branded mosquito to a foreign land. Some become very cautious practitioners of health and hygiene when abroad, perhaps due to changed, improved surroundings and I was no exception. I overcame my fatigue instantly and started hankering after the possible dengue-carrier with clapped attempts to eliminate it once and for order to achieve a good night's sleep. However my manual efforts went down the drain which consequently compelled me to ask for professional help which arrived in 5 minutes and sprayed the 'terror threat' to solemn rest...much to my relief.

Very much like the dengue-carrier deshi mosha which was made history on foreign soil by me, I wish I could eliminate some baaje khaslots of our deshi-air carriers when they travel to and from foreign soil. Its a pity that much like the way I was only able to clap or spray the mosquito to death, my efforts to change the khaslots of our airlines are limited to complaining to their staff and ofcourse to writing this post only. On that particular date, the flight was supposed to take off at 0940 hours. I woke up early in the morning to report at ZIA 2 hours before the ETD only to discover that GMG will be flying 4 hours late at 1340! Thanks they atleast stuck some hurriedly prepared printouts at the check-in counters. I started my first ever wait for a flight in a deshi airport. Much like sleeping in a bench in a park, I experienced sleeping in orange-colored seats at ZIA, thanks to GMG and thanks to BanglaLink too, for letting me sleep in ZIA. The security checks were done around 1300 hours when we were informed by a nervous GMG staff that the flight will now be at 1430 hours! Without giving any opportunity for crowd furore, he disappeared in no time. Yet again, I witnessed how patient my countrymates are, they atleast know how to behave in an airport. They held on to their nerves and kept their frustrations within themselves, consoling each other that there is no point in complaining...and above all..who to complain to? Rather just wait and hope for the best......much like we behave regarding our rotten politics too. Finally to put an end to our patience and gentlemen(women)ship, the airship landed, we got on board, got greeted by worn out air hostesses and placed ourselves in the respective seats only to realize that we are now from pan to fire. The interior of the aircraft was boiling hot and the crew informed us that when on ground, it will be hot, when in air, it will be cold....we were amazed with the simple clarification and thought ourselves to be silly to have asked for silly services. I also never got the chance to actually settle when I discovered that my tray was broken and there was a fossil of a cockroach trapped in the window too! Yet another day for a passenger in a Bangladeshi airline huh?

Biman has taken its B(e)imanis to such an extent that its always a good idea to have a Jibon Bima before flying with Biman. So came GMG as a savior of our air travel experience. They too, seem to have adopted the khaslots of Biman very meticulously. After Biman, GMG added its name in the race of flight delays, horrible service and its a dream of every ATC not to see the names of these airlines in their charts. Interestingly, GMG has also started following the mantra of 'ektu to late hobei'...and they have successfully started convincing passengers and counterparts alike that its natural and normal for a Bangladeshi airliner to be late...and its OK if the service is not what they promised....because...who cares...we are used to it anyways! Biman's failure gave a chance to GMG to prove its promises, they could not. Monopoly got into their head and we are held captive now. Voila came United Airways and we all are rushing to it now...only time will tell when United Airways will pick up the khaslots of Biman and GMG and will make our flying experiences forgettable and dangerous and unhygienic too.

The Bangla word for habit is obbhash....but khaslot is such a slang that has a rare synonym in English, if it does please share it here. The point is that, our airliners have sacrificed their good habits (bhalo obbhash) long ago and they have picked up NOT the bad habits exactly but some khaslots which are irritating, troublesome and uncurable in a peculiar manner. They kinda stink, stare and sting you in a way much like the deshi-mosha which was doing the same to me. I achieved to wipe the mosha off, but our airlines keep flying high with their khaslots.....happily intact.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Doing the right thing vs. doing the job

Doing the job
A customer comes to you ( you being a customer service representative) and says he has a problem with your product. You hear his problem and tell him back that since the warranty policy does not cover the fault of the product, you can do nothing about it. Then you say “Sorry” with smile ( No matter what, SMILE…thats what Customer Service trainers would say). Of course.

Doing the right thing
A customer comes to you and says he has a problem with your product. You acknowledge first that its definitely your fault, not the customers. And you do everything within and outside your power to fix the problem.

The second scenario is what customer service is all about. The first one however, is what we experience day in day out.

This is a perfect example of how “Not my job” and “Just doing my job” mentality is hurting the company. No matter where you are and what you do, always do the right thing. Never just do your job.
Shahriar Amin is a full time brand enthusiast who is the creator of the first brand blog in Bangladesh ( where he disburses brand related knowledge for Bangladeshi students and businesses

Time to get flooded...with money!

Heidelberg Cement has appeared to be a soldier fighting the evils of recent floods in Bangladesh. Yesterday they published a front page advertisement in Daily Star saying that 'for every pack of their cement we buy, 1 taka from it will go to the aid of flood victims of Bangladesh'. Amazing example of charity isn't it? The company has never forgotten the misery of the flood-hit people of Bangladesh, their hearts bleed to see the plight of rural Bangladesh in despair. At the same time, the cement manufacturer never overlooks another opportunity to squeeze out money of our pockets at the cost of the flood victims, their business acumen is worthy of praise, they have clearly shown how to take opportunity of circumstances and increase sales figure. So I buy 100 packs of your cement say at 100 taka and you will pay 10 taka to the flood victims and I will go home happy thinking that I have made my minutest but morally significant contribution to help the flood affected countrymates. But hang on hang on hang on....where does the rest 90 taka go? Oh...pardon me for explicitly mentioning that it will go to your pocket, after all its your business, so its taken for granted that you will make money, no matter it floods or cyclones or fire, as long as you are safe and sniff out money, you will dig out money. Thanks.

In a world of 'cause and effects' we at Bangladesh get bothered about the effects, we do talk about the causes once in a while but we, till now, never have managed to do something definitive about the root causes of the 'most of the time miserable' effects that follow consequently. Floods in Bangladesh are a predictable natural calamity, we all know it. But until and unless we are hit by it, our homes...sorry their homes are washed away by it and we stand in front of epidemics and human disasters, we don't seem to take any proactive measures against it. A word of wisdom is to be able to distinguish between what is controllable by us and what is not. To what extent we can prevent floods from happening in Bangladesh? Geographically speaking, being the largest delta of the world does come with a heavy price. We live in a land which is the mouth of many mighty rivers...rivers which are the lifelines of any human establishments. Now we cannot change we don't. But many a times the lifelines that flow through our country are grabbed by the throat by highlanders...leaving us grasping for water...leading to droughts. And when we don't want any more fluid, the highlanders let loose all gates and we have floods in our pants. Now this is man made and we can change this....politically. But we could not..thanks to our politician babas and babes. Pigs, prostitutes, politicians all start with a P. Pigs are unconsciously dirty by nature, many prostitutes unwillingly trade fleshy entertainment due to circumstances, but politicians have the unique ability to consciously show characteristics of both from time to time. Poverty, pollution, prime ministers, presidents, political parties, prices etc. all start with a painful P, beyond the 4Ps of product marketing and 7Ps of service marketing, we in Bangladesh need to devise N number of Ps to tackle the evil Ps eating up Bangladesh.

Prevention is also better than cure. When we know that we are going to have floods every year, why don't we take measures to prevent it? Why don't companies like Heidelberg Cement make use of their cements to build dams and embankments before the disaster strikes? Will they accuse the government and their bribe-ridden bureaucratic processes even to accomplish a CSR? Well its always easy to blame the government but the business-motived actions of the corporates during times of calamities do not make them look like saints sent from heaven to ease away our misery. I am sure in the coming days you might see the event management firms of Bangladesh making best use of the 'event' (floods) when they will arrange charity concerts, fashion shows, dinner etc......just to aid the poor and flooded of Bangladesh. The rich and the affluent will sway away with the tunes of Ayub Bachchu or Atif Aslam in the concerts in Radisson or Regency and will keep praying that floods don't reach their mansions in Gulshan, Baridhara, Dhanmondi or Banani. I wonder why these mushrooming event management firms don't arrange awareness, health safety events in villages, other city centers when there is no flood. Where is their sense of charity when our grounds are dry? No wonder they wait for the right moment to come, the floods...when they can apply emotional advertising to raise funds, give a portion to the flood victims, take lots of good photos, publish them in the national dailies and go home...flooded!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

খোলা চিঠি

সকালের ভারি বর্ষন বুঝতে দেয়নি যে, আগামির দিনগুলো এরকম অশ্রুসিক্ত হবে। আকাশের কান্না আজ নেমে এসেছে মানুসের মাঝে। কালো মেঘে ঢাকা মলিন আকাশ আর নেই। কিন্তু সেখানে আছে মলিন মুখের হাহাকার। আমরা সূর্যের আলোর নিচের মানুষগুলো যখন নানা কাজে ব্যস্ত ঠিক তখনই আলোবন্ঞিত ওপাশের মানুষেরা জীবন বাঁচানোর যুদ্ধে লিপ্ত। তাদের পাশে আমাদের কেউবা হয়তো দাড়িয়েছে কিংবা কেউ তাদের কথা ভাবছে। কিন্তু এখনো যে অনেক কাজ বাকি রয়েছে। এগিয়ে যেতে হবে কাধে কাধ রেখে।

সামনের বন্ধুর পথে কেউবা আমরা পথযাত্রী কেউবা আমরা পথদিশারী আবার কেউ নিজের কাজে কাজি। আমরা যে মানুষ আর মানুষ মানেই যে "সৃষ্টির শ্রেষ্ঠ" এটাকি আমাদের মনে আছে? মনে থাকুক বা না-ই থাকুক এখন সময় এসেছে এটা প্রমান করার। এগিয়ে যেতে হবে সবাইকে। কেউবা খালি হাতে এগিয়ে যাব আবার কেউবা ভরা হাতে এগিয়ে যাব। কিন্তু যেতেই হবে এগিয়ে।

রাত ১২:১৪ বাজে, ঘুম আসছেনা, কি হবে ঘুমিয়ে? ওইদিকে যে লাখো মানুষের ঘুম নেই! নেই কোনো খাবার, নেই কোনো আশ্রয়। এগুলো কি আমাদের ভাবায় না? আজ আমরা শিক্ষিত। অবশ্যই শিক্ষা আমাদের সামনের দিকে এগিয়ে যাবার পথ দেখায়। পিছনের সবাইকে ফেলে শুধুইকি সামনে এগিয়ে গেলে চলবে? এ যে বড় স্বার্থপরতা হয়ে যায়।

গতকাল যে শিশু ভুমিষ্ট হলো, ওর কি কোনো দোষ আছে? ও কেনো আজ মায়ের কান্না ভরা চোখদুখানি দেখছে? আর বেচারী মা, কি-ই বা করবে; ঘরে নাই যে একমুঠো চাল। বেঁচে থেকে কি হবে এটাই যে সেই অশ্রুসিক্ত মায়ের ভাবনা। ছোট্ট শিশুটি কি এই নিষ্ঠুরতার কিছু বোঝে?

পানি, চারিদিকে শুধুই পানি। না এটা কোনো মহাসাগর নয়। এটা পৃথিবীর বুকে লাল-সবুজে আঁকা বাংলার হাজারো এলাকার দৃশ্য। এত পানি, কিন্তু একটুও খাবার পানি নেই। তৃষ্ণনায় বুকটা ফেটে গেলেও কিছু করার নেই। আজ যে সবকিছু অবরুদ্ধ।

মাঝে মাঝে আলসেমি করে অফিসে যাওয়া হয়না। পরে শুধু বললেই হবে যে অসুস্থ ছিলাম। কাজ হয়ে যায়। আবার একটু জ্বর জ্বর ভাব হলে ইউনিভার্সিতে না গেলেও চলে। কিন্তু এখানে যে হাজারো মানুষ কতো অসুখে ভুখছে, তাদেরতো অফিস/ইউনিভার্সি ফাঁকি দিতে হবে না, তবুও কেন তারা আজ অসুস্থ? ঘরে নেই টাকা, আসেপাসে নেই ঔষধ। তবুও যে হাতছানি দিয়ে বেঁচে থাকার ইচ্ছেটা তাদের ডাকছে।

আজ আমাদের, যারা আলোকিত পৃথিবীতে আছি এবং যাদের পদতলে রয়েছে শক্ত মাটি,তাদের অবশ্যই এগিয়ে আসতে হবে। বাড়িয়ে দিতে হবে সাহায্যে দুটি হাত। বাঁচিয়ে লাখো প্রাণ। আসুন সবাই মিলে আজ আমরা কিছু করে দেখাই। আমাদের যে কিছু করতেই হবে।

If you face any problem to see “Bangla Fonts” then you can download it from here. And then just copy the font into your “font directory” of your control panel.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

SOS - Aiming to raise a fund for flood affected people in Bangladesh

The floods that have devastated swathes of the country are God's judgment on the immorality and greed of modern society. This is a strong and definite judgment because the world has been arrogant in going its own way and we are reaping the consequences of our moral degradation, as well as the environmental damage that we have caused. People no longer see natural disasters as an act of God. However, we are now reaping what we have sown. If we live in a profligate way then there are going to be consequences. We have a responsibility in this and God is exposing us to the truth of what we have done. WE ARE TO HELP THEM.

Please join "
SOS - Aiming to raise a fund for flood affected people in Bangladesh" at: to help the nation. Together we can make a BIG difference.

Feel free to ask any question (that you may have) at: 

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Marlboro Friday and the longevity of branding

There was a moment in history, when there was a huge roar that Branding was dead. This moment in history is known as “Marlboro Friday”. As per Wikipaedia,

“Marlboro Friday happened on April 2, 1993 when Philip Morris announced a 20% price cut to their Marlboro cigarettes to fight back against the bargain brand competitors who were increasingly eating into their market share. As a result, Philip Morris’s stock took a major dive, along with the share value of other household brands including Heinz, Coca Cola and RJR Nabisco Fortune magazine deemed it “the day the Marlboro Man fell off his horse”

Investors interpreted the price slash as an admission of defeat from the Marlboro brand, that Philip Morris could no longer justify its higher price tag and now had to compete with generic brands. Since the Marlboro Man was an image that stood since 1954, it was considered one of the biggest marketing icons. Investors reasoned that to see the Marlboro icon give into a price war, the marketing itself must be ineffective. As a result of plummeting stock value in major American brands, 1993 marked a slight decrease in U.S. ad expenditures. Companies began investing in promotions rather than advertising. In 1983 in the U.S, the average expenditure on marketing was 70% advertising and 20% on promotions, by 1993 it had made a complete turn around, to 70% on promotions and 20% on advertising.

It was the only decrease to occur since 1970. At the time, this event was regarded as signifying “the death of a brand” and the advent of a “value-minded” consumer generation who pay more attention to the real value of products and not the brand names. This view soon proved to be incorrect, with the rest of the decade’s economy being dominated by brands and driven by high-budget marketing campaigns.”
And that more or less laid to rest any doubt over the future of branding internationally. But due to ignorance, most of our local businesses think they can survive in the branding era without branding. We might need the arrival of one such “Marlboro Friday” to put an end to this branding debate once and for all.
Shahriar Amin is a full time brand enthusiast who is the creator of the first brand blog in Bangladesh ( where he disburses brand related knowledge for Bangladeshi students and businesses

Friday, August 3, 2007

Are you in Facebook?

It seems the world has suddenly booked itself a date at Faceboook! A few years ago the buzz word for the buzzing people trying to gather a few networks and love interests in Dhaka was "whats your asl?" Now, its "Are you in Facebook?".
For all the ignorant people on this side of Brahmaputra, social networking sites like Facebook is here in Bangladesh and its here to stay.

Your long lost friends, relations living abroad, common interest group members from african nations - all available in one place called facebook. Its where you show your face and get booked for popularity! If you think facebook is a global phenomenon with limited or no influence in Bangladesh, think again. With millions Bangladeshi members - Facebook in Bangladesh is the biggest tech lifestyle trend to emerge for a long time.

And like all smart trend watchers, Brand Managers should lick their fingers with this new found gold mine of an opportunity. The smartest brand decision of the year for them might be to use “Facebook” as a media to reach to 12-35 target group. After all, an average youth is more likely to spend more time in Facebook than in front of a local TV channel. If so, which one makes sense as a media - TV or Facebook?

The tricky part is how to use it. After all, direct advertisements are not allowed (yet) in facebook nor can local business afford it. So an effective way can be to form a forum or group around your product / brand and invite people to join. For example - the Brand Manager of Nescafe can form a forum called “Getting Jazzy in Dhaka” and it can be a forum for all young executives who are jazz music lovers. The Brand Manager can be the admin and all the members can be the target recipient. Through carefully crafted messages, forum postings, games, applications etc. the essence and message of Nescafe brand can be delivered to very loyal group of people. Thus this can be a brand experience extended.

This is just a raw example, but i am sure the brand managers will be smart enough to recognize the opportunity.
Shahriar Amin is a full time brand enthusiast who is the creator of the first brand blog in Bangladesh ( where he disburses brand related knowledge for Bangladeshi students and businesses

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Where are the Brave Hearts?

I have been reading these comments on this Indian Educationist's experience at of the leading private university of this country.We all know how he was treated there during his teaching tenure through his letter to the former Prime-Minister of our country. We will not be knowing ever whether he got back his money and receive justice but i'm sure if he would have read this blog he would been happy to know that people finally started raising their voice against the misdeeds of the AIUB's top management.I also feel that the chances of his reading this blog is very less as the treatment he got from AIUB is unforgetable.

The motive behind writing this is to wake up those faculties who also have received similar treatment from AIUB.Do we want to make suffer more and more people like Dr. Sudhi Dey?Do we wish to give a high designation(the VC belongs to Philippines) to one foreigner who dn't deserve to be there at all and treat badly another foreigner(Dr.sudhi Dey)?Are we so poor at representing our country in the global arena of education?

So my dear friends who were associated with AIUB as a faculty or student please join this battlefield as its the high time to demand for your RIGHT! Unless there is demand,there won't be any supply.....i reckon!