The ironic crux of marketing: differentiation and distinctiveness

One of the hardest things to understand in marketing is the difference between differentiation (how different you are) and distinctiveness (how recognizable you are) — and which one is most important. It’s also where marketing’s biggest irony lies. There are plenty of guru’s like Simon Sinek who say people don’t buy what you sell, but […]

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GoEast Mandarin’s marketing and the impact of the corona virus in China

(Original interview in Dutch with MarketingTribune.) In conversation with MarketingTribune about our marketing and the impact of the corona crisis in China. What exactly does GoEast Mandarin do? GoEast Mandarin offers Chinese language lessons to foreigners in many variants: daily and business Mandarin, private and group lessons, from beginner to advanced. This from two campuses […]

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HSK Standard Course books review

(This is a review of HSK Standard Coursebooks, HSK1 to HSK4上, both the workbooks and textbooks. I’m now making my way through the HSK4下 ones.) The structure is extremely clever, and full of composite words that are useful for later when combined (the Mandarin language is full of composite words). The difficulty doesn’t really increase […]

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Xenocide review

I can separate the work of an artist and her/his art, so I don’t let Orson Scott Card’s homophobic comments bother me too much. Yet reading this book for a second time reveals the conversation uncle that he is; writing passages about chastity, marriage, passing on genes. And all his female characters are overly emotional: […]

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Heem

Here’s a Dutch word. Heem. Similar to home, referring to the town or country you grew up in. Your dad’s music, the books your mom used to read to you. The trees under which you played, the streets and bridges you cycled on, your native language — the place you come to hide, the place […]

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Teaching marketing and doing marketing

To teach marketing, and at the same time work in marketing, is something I’ve struggled with. In my marketing classes at SIVA (上海视觉艺术学院), everything I tell is simple, structured, and proven: Step A, B, C — a tidy, bullet-point reality. But when I look at what I do at my full-time job at GoEast, I’m […]

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Chinese exams

Today, while millions of students take their life-deciding college entrance exam (gaokao), I got my own experience of tests in China. The driving theory exam is provided to foreigners in English, but the absurd logic and translations are verbatim from the source material — so it’s a near requirement to memorise the specific answers to […]

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HSK4上 finished!

18 months and 200 class hours ago I remember other students carrying HSK4 and HSK5 books, and I never imagined that I could once be at that level as well. But here’s to HSK4上 finished! I think the trick for me (as someone who was always bad with languages and started learning Mandarin with low […]

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Tuning out

Here’s just a reminder that media are entirely funded by clicks, and that outrage and fear are most profitable. Many outlets simply list all the horrible things happening in the world or horrible things that could happen. And any time we calm down, the media will need to get more extreme: more dividing, more fearful. […]

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Fake pagodas

A younger more cynical me would have said it’s all fake. But these recently-built pagodas and temples are just as much part of today’s Chinese culture as the old ones are. No need to lament the original ones, now often gone. These new ones (all over China) find their way in the background of selfies […]

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