Roadmap for the Remaining 2009

by Eric Tsai

twitter01I started using Twitter about 2 weeks ago after relaunching in the blog format.  To my surprise, I received some great feedbacks and questions on my Twitter content.

I got on twitter mainly to use it as my own repository for links I enjoy reading and sharing.  The content I tend to focus on are design, marketing, branding, technology, business and entrepreneurship.  Those were the evolution of my career and after been through them I wanted to use designdamage as the platform to share my knowledge and experiences.

With that said, here are the topics I intend to cover for the remaining of the year:



– design principals: information architect, usabilities, ux, ix
– types of design: product, solution, service, web, etc
– design resources
– art and design


– brand development
– messaging and positioning
– marketing tools: seo, social marketing, channel marketing
– b2c vs b2b


– startups and entrepreneurship
– management, execution, strategies
– business development, partnerships
– sales and marketing

The idea of the roadmap is to provide a path to the areas of my expertise.  I will be sharing via my experiences and provide resources for those interested in learning more. I encourage you to subscribe to my blog or Twitt follow me on Twitter thanks!

Keep It Real, Perceived Value Matters

by Eric Tsai

As economy continues to deteriorate, brands across the board continues to suffer from retail to wholesale. Confirmed by today’s weaker than expected retail sales data “purchases fell 1.1 percent, with declines from car dealers to electronics stores and restaurants,” according to Bloomberg. Nobody is immune in this economy, not even Google or Apple.

Whether you own your own business or run the marketing department, it’s time to do a reality check.  Consumers and businesses alike are pulling back, looking hard and close at their spending habits while corporations reevaluate costs and business relationships. What was offered previously may no longer be perceived with the same value, perceptions change not to mention value itself is highly subjective.

During times like this, perceived value evolves rapidly, the demand for ‘needs’ are greater than ‘wants.’

You must deliver beyond being essential and unique, you need to provide optimal value of doing business with your brand.  You must have an edge and knowing your perceived value to your customers will be more relevant now than ever.

You have to know what your customers think of you rather than what you believe what they know.  If there is a disconnect between perception and reality, it will shift your value regardless of what you believe is the truth.  We were all shocked to find out the Bear Stern collapse, the AIG failure, and GM bankruptcy.  Why? Because we “thought” one way and the reality blows the other.


Know Where you Stand

First, you must identify both the positives and negatives of your business.  Then start building a strategy to fill in the missing pieces to eliminate negatives while adding positives.  The bigger overall picture is the one that matters the most, stick with your strengths and address your weaknesses. For example, if you’re the best person to develop your product, then perhaps you should focus on product development and create a plan to bring on sales and marketing resources to help you grow demand.  If you’re the salesperson for your company but lack resources in marketing then you should work on getting help with marketing to align with your sales pitch and overall messages.

Nobody is going to be good in everything, but one can certainly be good in a few things, why not stick to what you’re great at so you can bring the most value to your business.  In addition, people are usually happier doing things they are good at so be realistic will pay off at the end with a more sustainable path in building business value.  When you’re able to position your perceived value higher in the stack, you will find your business value elevate at the same time.  You will be able to forge a stronger relationship with your customers as a touchable, personable company – a real brand.



Deliver Value that People Understand

The idea of ‘keep it real’ is to stack up the values you offer by meeting the needs of your customer then deliver differentiation punch, and make sure they get it. It does you no good if your customers can not understand how much value they are getting, then you’ll be perceived as average at best.  Make sure your message is clear and easy to understand with as little resistance as possible, leading them to a path of high perceived value.

Value changes over time, even if you start at the lower level of the stack you can still get to the top, but you must know where you stand from the perspective of your customers and competitors.  In the current recession what matters the most are necessities then discretion, so a solid value foundation will allow you to compete at a higher level.  Once you’re able to compete at a high level you will become an investment and a strategic asset to your customers. That’s as close as you’ll get in making the sales.

Left Business, Right Marketing

by Eric Tsai

Dan Schawbel’s interview with Laura Ries reminded me of my own constant struggle between left and right brain. It’s true that left is more logical and analytical and right is visual and holistic.

left-and-right-brainI started out my career as a right brainer, always after creating visuals, communication designs, photography and art. I never thought I could fit or do well in a corporate environment until I was promoted to be part of a executive management team years ago.

During that time, I rapidly evolved into an extreme left brainer knowing I had to deliver the numbers and create value for the company.  Naturally, I empowered my team and even hired people to fill in my design duties so I can focus on leading the team. That was the first time I sat on the other side of the meeting table facing my design team, I was perceived as the corporate man.

Ultimately my experience as part of the management team and as part of the marketing/design team helped my left and right brain to communicate with each other. The product design were well received by the sales force and marketing campaigns were seamlessly integrated with the corporate objectives.  Sales were up and the company was growing with more successful products.

I’ve learned over the years the importance of communication in any environment. Not everyone will be able to communicate effectively, but one should focus on consistency and the right delivering methods for the optimal outcome.

Consistency is what comes to mind when the thought of a brand, a name or even a sound evokes. The delivering method is the vehicle in which the message can be effectively communicated to the maximum number of audience at any given moment.  It is what comes to mind when you hear Coke Cola, is it the red and white logo or the sizzling sound of bubbles? How about McDonald’s? Smell the fries or hear the “I’m loving it” music?  Can you sign Expedia dot com?  How about those annoying infomercials from HeadOn ‘apply directly to forehead‘ to that guy selling ShamWow or Slap Chop?

Whether you like it or not they made some kind of impression.