January 2013

There are more than one colleague and entrepreneur who is engaged in the field of foreign 


direct investment (FDI).  Some are doing this on behalf of and as representatives for location partners, others are doing it on a free lance basis.  In just about every case the entry point proposition focuses on the venue and not on facilitation of a dialog about why a company is looking to spread their wings and take flight into another global region.

Before a company even comes close to seeking location options they is often months, and sometimes even years, of deliberation of growth and expansion plans.  What makes strategy development more of an art than as a science is the real-time volatility of the marketplace.  Factors of,

  • Domestic market penetration, saturation, opportunities and pressures,
  • Emerging market opportunities, challenges and prophecy,
  • Barriers in formation,
  • Mechanics of transitioning, staffing upstarts and get acquainted with local customs,
  • Awareness of global risks of not only the prospective target nation, but within region and culture, and
  • Internal capacity to not only make the move but to sustain it in the long term

must be taken into in-depth  pragmatic and open consideration.  Hidden agenda’s, biases, misunderstanding, inadequate/inaccurate analytic information and unsound/unrealistic expectations must all be thrown on the table.  Over the course of my working life I have been privileged to be a part of such discussions.  Sometimes I served as the idea man, other times the sounding board but in each and every case I had to act with purposeful focus on the business goals (not just on the mechanics).

Strategic planning and its subsequent implementation must be personally unselfish, and corporately selfish (meaning its all about business… if done correctly it will be personally rewarding.   To reach this point we must realize some of the quite common pitfalls that others have failed to miss,

  • too much personal benefit at stake,
  • over reliance on bad analytics, analytics tainted to make the business case and going only on gut instinct (its okay to have instinct but don’t allow it to run wild on its own without multi-point validation),
  • lousy planning,
  • failing to understand and fully immerse in every element of the strategic development process,
  • forcing the strategy to become static in a dynamically changing world (lots of reasons but the most common one is the result of set budgetary aspects for projections and implementation/transition, etc.), and
  • relying too heavily on a “follow others” position.  This pertains to location, collaborations, big name expediters, etc.  In just about every case we were chosen not because of our size but because of two elements; discreet confidential protocol and ability to deliver guidance that minimize/acknowledge all the risks involved.  This included such companies that provided pure service, manufacturers and even transportation/logistic enterprises.

In short, FDI is an essential and important part of supporting a corporate strategy.  A workable and effective strategy then can exploit and make the use of FDI in a positive way.

One simple undergarment, engineered for customer ‘comfort’ satisfaction and crowd appeal is a common day occurrence.  It has helped millions to enhance their appearance and self-esteem.  The history of the bra dates back much farther than the 20th Century to the Minoan civilization of the 14th Century BC.  Its intended use was for modesty reasons but later it became an instrument of comfort.  Today the modern day undergarment services a large population and has utility, value and a multitude of engineering feats that overcomes the challenges of gravity, movement and modesty.

ImageI decided to introduce this topic, not from some perverse fascination with women’s undergarments but because marketing is allot like the Wonderbra.  It,

  1. Is smartly crafted to put a situation into the best light human possible,
  2. Resists market movement and if properly exercised can endure the test of time,
  3. Is made up of a number of components, each have a specific purpose and role, and
  4. To the observer it puts forth a pleasing image.

The question really is whether this utilitarian item, the Wonderbra or Marketing, is being truthful?  Is it putting forth a persona that is a bit misleading or is it simply trying to set the base case image possible?   I guess its up to each of us to decide for ourselves.  It can’t go untested unless we are willing to accept the possible realities.  Truth in marketing is important, glorified words and smartly crafted positioning can only lead to disappointment.