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51: Sir, Step Away From That Instagram Review.


The title is supposed to be read in the tone of a policeman telling a suspicious person to stop whatever he's doing. Sir, step away and put your hands up!

OK, on to the good stuff.

Instagram posts can be bought. You're familiar with the practice, right?

Celebrities or influencers who have a gazillion followers (or any significant number) can monetize their audience by accepting 'Instagram review' requests. They can be paid up to RM2,000 for each post.


What's the alternative?

This is different from brand endorsements. With endorsements, the celebrity or influencer will be given the actual product.

They get to use it themselves and tell us what they think of it (honest or biased, we don't know). But there's a sense of effort and involvement.

When we see that they promote it because they enjoy it, we perceive something of the brand's personality. We feel that it's a legitimate product worthy of their attention. (If it's good for them, it must be good for us) It's like their star factor is rubbing off of the product.

But with 'Instagram reviews', there's often NO involvement whatsoever. The celebrity/influencer asks you to provide a photo AND the caption. They post it and that's that. It's pure advertising and their Instagram is the TV.


Should you pay for Instagram reviews?

I'm not saying this won't bring you good results. You'll probably get a few hundred followers from that 'review'. Maybe make a significant number of sales. But those are good SHORT-TERM results.

Consider the message that you're really sending. The followers know you paid to be advertised in that Instagram. So did many others. What makes you special?

Your offers? Low prices? Sale, sale and more sale? How many sale parties do you have to throw to keep them interested?

If you have sale parties and give discounts ALL the time, you become known as the discount brand. Customers won't want to pay full price anymore.

You can't be a premium brand if you pay for 'Instagram reviews'. You just can't. What's a premium brand that you like? For me, it's Moleskine. I'm a stationery nut.

Moleskine would NEVER pay for an Instagram review. It's famous now, so it doesn't have to. But can you imagine it doing that? No, amirite? It's just not proper for its image (and pricepoint).

If you want to charge premium prices, step away from the Instagram review.

P.S. So what's the alternative? I'll discuss that in the upcoming article (Monday, 29th Feb). Swing by the website in the AM to read it!



11: Why Are We Talking So Much About Quality?


I've been saying the word "quality" so often these days.

  • Use quality ingredients/materials.
  • Be seen as a quality brand.
  • Give out quality information.
  • Cultivate quality relationships with quality customers.

I know that you know quality is good. I also know that you know why. But I'll just lay out the reasons so that we can both think more on the topic. 


Quality has to be seen to be believed.

If you invest in your customers, you win. And that means investing in branding.

It sounds a bit odd that by investing in branding, you're investing in your customers. Why spend more money on something the customers can't actually use?

Why can't we just take the money we allocated for branding and use it to make the products better instead?

Quality of your actual products is not enough to convince people to buy. Customers have to see this quality even before they ever buy something. How do they do that? Through branding and marketing!

Customers can "see" and judge the quality of your products from your branding. The branding makes them think, "This looks good. I want to try this!"

If customers can't "see" the quality, you will be OVERLOOKED. Customers WILL judge a product by its branding.

But many people don't get this. They don't acknowledge branding and/or marketing as a way to create a good reputation with customers. They see it as something unnecessary / exaggerated / dishonest. They don't spend the necessary time and money to cultivate a brand that can be seen as high quality.


Branding is how you can attract more customers and scale up your business.

I'm not by any stretch implying that the majority of business owners are stingy humans who refuse to care about their customers. NOPE. I know that that's incredibly untrue.

I believe that most business owners actually channel their profits back into their own products. They use quality materials or ingredients and are very generous with their portions.

That's why they cut back on other expenses (i.e. branding). It shows you how passionate they are about their own products. They believe in word-of-mouth marketing.

But I also believe that most business owners want their business to be BIGGER. MORE WELL-KNOWN.

Bigger than their friends and friends of friends. Bigger than just relatives and friends of relatives. We're talking about being able to attract strangers as customers. Getting customers from all over the world.

If you want to sell to a friend of a friend, that mutual friend can put a good word in. Praise your product to the person.

But it's not possible when you're selling to strangers. These people have to be convinced without having a mutual friend recommend you.

Your branding is what speaks to them. Strangers have to feel that your brand is a great brand just by looking at it. Strangers don't have


Branding is only dishonest when it doesn't match people's expectations.

Exaggerated / dishonest marketing happens when customer don't get what they paid for. The actual value (in the product) is much lower than the perceived value (brand materials). This is bad.

Without branding, you'll find it hard to get customers interested in your products in the first place. If the customers think your products don't have any value, they won't buy.  

That's why I say that branding = investing in your customers. If you honestly and passionately believe that your product or service is good, you owe it to your customers to present it in the best light possible. And you owe it to yourself to grab the best chance of succeeding.