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Authors

Ira Koretsky
(click for all of Ira's posts)
Duane Bailey
(click for all of Duane's posts)
Guest Bloggers
(click for all of our posts from guest authors)

 

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The content we produce – spoken and written words, PowerPoint decks, images, videos, memes, charts, infographics, etc. – tells a story about the importance of establishing a relationship between us and our target audience. The story we tell should be a compelling one that accelerates our success at driving sales and revenue.

After all, we're all selling something and our goal is top-line growth.

An effective content marketing strategy, then, should be laser-focused on the needs of your target audience – identifying those needs, aligning with them and providing evidence that what you're selling can address those needs in a unique and measurable way.

Focusing on the needs of your target audience is especially important when developing marketing collateral for vertical markets. The companies who do this well instinctively tap into the knowledge and experiences of industry experts – people with a history of success in the field, industry analysts and consultants, influential academics and even students who are pursuing a college major or conducting research in the field.

Understanding the industry you're selling to, and how your customers (i.e., decision-makers) are measured and compensated, are the keys to developing content that is relevant to your target audience and providing them with a compelling call to action. In my experience, people tend to buy when one of three opportunities arise: they have a problem, they see a problem coming or they see a chance to shine.

A content marketer's job is to develop the story that shows potential buyers how you and your brand are best positioned to address these opportunities.

 

For more on the intersection of sales and marketing, please see:
Why Every Marketer Should Have Sales Experience
The Purpose of Marketing Collateral Is to Drive Sales
The Role of Marketing Is to Drive Sales

personalize linkedin profile

A few days ago I received this form-letter LinkedIn invite (see picture below).

I'm sure you get these...while sometimes fun to read, they have a variety of "bad" characteristics, some more than others. And to me, they really hurt your credibility. And always end up being deleted.

At The Chief Storyteller®, we often find if there is one error, there are at least three more errors.

The "Hi Ellen" greeting is what first caught my attention. Second, where was the personalization and more specifically, the relevance to me? What does "mutually benefit from connecting" mean?

Here is a list of the most common "bad" characteristics we see.

- Lacks personalization - overall, obviously a form-letter
- Lacks personalization - greeting - absence of a name (e.g., "Hello,")
- Generic subject line / irrelevant subject line
- Typos - misspelling, poor punctuation, poor grammar, bad word choice
- Lengthy - sentences and/or letter
- Poor organization of points and supporting points
- Lacks a strong and relevant call-to-action
- Inappropriate greeting and closings
- Far-fetched claims / chest-thumping
- Wrong names used (like this example) / misspelled names

For this invitation-to-connect form letter there are 5 bad characteristics:
- Lacks personalization - overall, obviously a form-letter
- Generic subject line / irrelevant subject line
- Unspecific body copy / irrelevant body copy
- Lacks a strong and relevant call-to-action
- Wrong names used

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Body Language Non Verbal Communications

We laugh, we wince, and we empathize…sometimes.

We all receive the emails and telephone calls from non-native English speakers. It’s easy to tell the legitimate from the fake.

I received the email pictured below a few days ago from Flora Lawrence, her self-titled "non de plume." Flora is from India and the way the email is written gives me considerable pause.

As such, this is more of an extreme example of what not to do. This tip of the week is for the legitimate professionals and organizations doing business in countries with different languages.

Since Flora’s first email subject line was “Premium website design,” I deleted it while on my personal computer. Her second email, “Re: Premium website design,” I read because I was on my mobile phone and pressed the arrow for next email.

What caught my eye was the first line, “Have you got a chance to overlook my earlier email…” Ignoring the “got” error, “overlook” made me wince and laugh—I absolutely overlooked your first email.

It doesn’t matter what the language is, you have to translate and localize your materials.

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Speaking of localize, here is an example. As I was getting my haircut yesterday, I noticed the bottle in front of me. I read “light styling gel” and then saw the two smaller text lines in French and Spanish. Since I’m a decent conversationalist in Spanish, I gravitated to the message line, “gel un terminado suave.” To me, terminado means end or completed. In context, I knew I had to be wrong here as mine was a literal translation.

I then asked two women at the salon whom I knew were native Spanish speakers. For about three minutes they quickly discussed the word choice. Both agreed “un gel estilo suave” is a better choice. For the curious, in Google Translate “gel un terminado suave” means “over a soft gel” and “un gel estilo suave” means “style soft gel.” Now to me, the crux of this messaging conundrum is whether soft in Spanish is the same as light in English?

By the way, “Xie Xie” is Chinese for thank you.

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Body Language Non Verbal Communications

Imagine you are delivering your standard 60-minute presentation. Your audience will understand most of what you say quickly, appreciate your humor (hopefully...), assume your body language is coordinated with your talking points, recognize the use of appropriate colors for the points (e.g., red is a problem area while green is a positive area), and more.

Not always true with international audiences.

When speaking internationally, successfully engaging your audiences becomes more complex. You have to account for differences in greetings, customs, traditions, hand gestures, colors, and more. One common custom is to thank a variety of people – the host, guests, dignitaries, etc.–before you begin your talk. This could be as long as five minutes…not a big deal in a 60-minute presentation…a huge deal if you are speaking for 15 minutes.

With you words, you are leaving nuances, metaphors, sayings, body language, interpretation, etc. in the hands of your translator. Additionally, English is a “shorter” language. Many other languages require more words to say the same thing.

Ira Koretsky, our CEO, ALWAYS spends a few minutes with the translator beforehand, reviewing the purpose of the presentation, high-level ideas, and words/concepts not likely common (e.g., elevator speech, executive story, business story, and networking). He also asks for the words/phrases in the native language so that he may use them in his presentation.

As a result, we suggest reducing your content at least 30% and perhaps as much as 50%.

Items to consider:

- Synchronization: With a simultaneous translator, your audience will be at least 15 seconds behind you in comprehension and timing in your program. If you have complex ideas, perhaps 30 seconds. It takes a little getting used to.
- Language: There are numerous examples of poorly translated words from one language to another that are embarrassing. Check before you go or change your words.
- Examples: Instead of giving one example, we suggest giving two or three examples to illustrate your point.

Body Language Non Verbal Communications

Do you think about what you say when talking? Of course you do. Do you think about your voice and your body language as well? Few people do. When you speak, you are using your words, voice, and body. For most people, the blending of these components comes natural.

What doesn’t come natural is how to purposefully use each of these three separately and together to heighten drama, improve rapport, emphasize points, and a lot more…

Going forward, I’d like to encourage you to think differently and think deliberately about how you use your words, voice, and body. For this tip, let’s focus on body language and how to build suspense.

Next time you are going to share a story or experience with a known moment of suspense, use your body deliberately rather than naturally. Complement your words and voice to heighten the dramatic moment.

At a high level, you are looking to add intensity to your words with your body. Adding intensity makes your story more interesting and memorable.

Experiment, mix, and test to find the ones that work best for you and your story.

1)  Posture:  Stand straight up and really stiffen your body like a wood board. Perhaps even clench your jaw

2)  Make a Fist:  Squeeze your hands and make them into fists

3)  Eyes:  Open them wide, really wide and at the same time, slightly move your head and
shoulders backward

4) Arms:  Make exaggerated arm motions while stopping “abruptly,” almost as if your arm was momentarily like a robot

5)  Watch other speakers and presenters. Watch how how the speaker uses his/her body. Would you do the same thing?  What would you do differently? Free resources include TED, TEDx, University Business Schools (e.g., Harvard, Wharton, and Stanford), Company Speaker Series (Google and LinkedIn),  Political Speeches, and more.

6)  Blend:  As you become comfortable using the above techniques, deliberately alternate and blend these suspense techniques together.

Body Language Non Verbal Communications

While working with a client, I discovered something quite amazing and funny. Here’s what happened (short story version)…

My engagement was to help Ed (name changed) and his executive team to improve their influence and thought leadership. One of the easy fixes was to update their much-to-casual photos. In turn, the photos would be posted to touch points like their website, LinkedIn®, Twitter, blog, etc. I encouraged Ed to hire a professional photographer.

My next meeting with Ed was focused on his LinkedIn profile. I went to the website and downloaded his new photo, which looked the first picture below (I posed for this picture to protect confidentiality).

After downloading, I opened the picture in Photoshop to crop and post to LinkedIn®. I then laughed and laughed loudly. I now saw Ed’s entire original photo. Business on top and party on the bottom with his casual blue jeans and somethings in the background that should not have been there. A thought then popped into my head …was this true for everyone? Yes, all six executive bio pages.

What the designer did was take the quick approach by simply changing the HTML code to display a certain part of the image. The designer did not think the situation through as to the possibility a visitor would download the picture. And Ed went the route of asking one of his employees who was an aspiring photographer to take the pictures.

The moral of this story is…validate your visuals -- photographs for the web, visuals for presentations, pictures for Instagram, preview photos for social media sites, and the list goes on.

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Body Language Non Verbal Communications

Cultural differences are sometimes easy to see, understand, and adopt. Others, not to easy.

If you are traveling to another country or interacting with an audience with different cultural backgrounds, be sensitive to language, humor, traditions, and taboos.

For this tip of the week, let’s focus on hand gestures. There are many nuanced and obvious hand gesture differences. Research the country thoroughly to avoid embarrassment as well as the potential for your audience to focus on the "wrong" things rather than your message and you.

Purchase books, ask your local embassy for advice, and use your network to meet/talk with people who grew up in the respective country.

Here are two illustrative examples with answers immediately below.

 

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Did you see the new change from LinkedIn on messaging group members?

While in a specific Groups, you'll see this subheading to the right of your screen, "Changes for messaging group members."  Underneath this subheading it reads, "We've updated the rules for messaging the Out of Network members in your Groups to prevent abuse. To read more about how we've improved Groups, visit our Help Center."

At a high-level, the new policy means you may only message a maximum of 15 people outside of your connected network per month across all of your groups.

Here's the text from the policy change:

Communicating with a Fellow Group Member
How do I send a message to a group member and allow them to contact me?
Last Reviewed: 06/18/2015

You can send a message to a group member without being connected, and adjust your Member Message settings from within the group. However, there are limits:

1.  You can send 15 free 1:1 group messages to fellow group members each month. This limit is set for all the groups you belong to and not for each group individually. If you go over the limit, you'll see an error message until the next month begins.

- Unsent messages don't carry over to the next month. This limit includes messages sent directly from a group, to your 1st degree connections.
- Only the original message is counted towards the limit. Any back-and-forth replies from either party won’t count towards the 15 message allotment.
- If you need to send more messages for recruiting, promoting, or connecting with members outside your network, we offer many alternatives. Please check out our Premium accounts or Recruiter product options which include InMail messages and recruiting tools to make the most of LinkedIn.

2.  You have to be a member of a group for at least 4 days.

3.  You have to be a member of LinkedIn for at least 30 days in order to send messages to fellow group members.

 

To send a free message directly to a group member:

* From the member list
- Move your cursor over Interests at the top of your homepage and select Groups.
- Click the group's name.
- Click the number of members in the group near the top right.
- Click the Send message link under the member's name. This link will appear only if the member's settings allow them to be contacted by other group members.
- Your inbox will appear.
- Create your message and click Send Message.

* Privately reply to a discussion someone posted
- Click the Dropdown icon next to the discussion.
- Click Reply privately.
- Your inbox will appear.
- Create your message and click Send Message.

 

If you're an owner, manager or moderator of a group, you can also message members from the Manage tab under Participants.

Managers have the same limits as members, but owners/managers also have access to templated/automated messages under the Manage tab to explain why a member was declined from joining a group.

Owners can use these templates to control automated messages that are triggered by a 'Request to join' or 'Decline' action. Learn more about managing message templates for your group. Learn about adjusting your Group Member Messages settings.

If you've ever been to a live show at Radio City Music Hall, a performance on Broadway or an improv performance at a local comedy club, you've undoubtedly seen the different ways performers use their stage presence to connect with their audiences.

Great performers are masters at making each and every audience member feel special and appreciated. They do this by reading their audience – watching, listening and taking their cues from the feedback they receive. Some acknowledge the audience members for coming out to see them, interact with them by asking questions or simply thanking them for their applause. Others work the stage, using movement and gestures to engage their audience. All of this is possible because the performers are spending time on stage before live audiences.

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Like great performers, brands that offer extraordinary customer experiences are masters at making each and every customer feel special and appreciated. I recently attended a customer experience forum in New York City where one of the recurring themes was the importance of talking with customers.

Focus groups and surveys are two common market research tools that are used to understand customer needs, preferences and motivations. However, they often fall short as predictors of customer behavior since participants and respondents do not always follow through on their stated intentions. As one presenter explained, the only way to really know what your customers are thinking is to spend time talking with them.

In short, spending time with your customers and talking with them is like performing before a live audience – not watching a scripted performance from behind a two-way mirror. Executives from the best brands are not afraid to engage customers (and their employees, for that matter) in an interactive setting and, as a result, will often uncover innovative ways to differentiate their brands with a superior customer experience.

 

For more insights on customer experience, please see:
Customer Experience: This Is What It's All About
How One Brand Is Growing Sales In a Weak Economy
• Apple's Genius Bar: Where the Extraordinary Happens

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A few weeks ago, Ira presented a half-day “Executive Storytelling” program to nearly 70 social change leaders from more than 50 countries.

They were the Fellows from the Atlas Corps’ Class 18 “Welcome Week.” One of Ira’s big take-aways was Find the Right Balance. Here is his summary from his blog post.

“Many of the Fellows were tackling sensitive culture, justice, and historical issues. Some of the issues were heart breaking and would bring tears to your eyes hearing some of the stories. I encouraged the Fellows to share these stories while keeping in mind that tugging on someone's heart to inspire them to be part of the solution, you must find the right balance of emotion and benefit.

In general, people do not want to be overwhelmed with an emotional appeal. They want a reasoned set of arguments with clear benefits. Weave your emotional appeal just enough so that your audience truly understands what is at stake. Empathy over sympathy.”

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We couldn’t agree more…“We eat with our eyes first” is a common phrase from Master Chefs around the world. That is why so many restaurants spend time and money perfecting the presentation of your meal. Think of how much you are impressed when everything entices your senses, perhaps even all of your senses.

The smell from the freshly baked bread, the visual beauty of how everything is laid out on your plate, the sizzle of your fajitas, the texture of the moist cupcake, and of course, the expected taste tingling your brain to hurry up and eat already.

In the two study's below, Charles Spence, PhD, Professor of Experimental Psychology, was a co-author. He wrote, "People's perception is typically dominated by what their eyes see."

So, when it comes to your presentations, what can we learn from this age-old practice when it comes to your slides/visuals such as pictures, charts, and graphs?

Spend as much time as you can to ensure your visuals pass The 3-Second Test. Within three seconds, will your audience completely understand and appreciate what you are “trying” to communicate?

This means your slide has these three aspects well covered:
- Readable:  fonts and graphical elements (boxes, circles, pull quotes, etc.) are easy to read
- Understandable:  easy to understand with one key message
- Appealing:  use colors to their maximum advantage and limit them to three colors with graphs and charts; use pictures where you can with minimal text

Next time you are reviewing or designing a slide, ask yourself, “Do I want to know more?”


Studies:
1. “Assessing the Influence of the Color of the Plate on the Perception of a Complex Food in a Restaurant Setting” by Betina Piqueras-Fiszman, Agnes Giboreau, and Charles Spence, Flavor Journal

2. “The Influence of the Color of the Cup on Consumers’ Perception of a Hot Beverage” by Betina Piqueras-Fiszman and Charles Spence; August 23, 2012, Journal of Sensory Studies

 

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When it comes to presentations, humor is often a controversial subject. Most speaking experts suggest avoiding humor. The undeniable fact is worldwide, people love to laugh. So…why can’t we include humor?

We suggest YOU DO. In fact, we strongly suggest USING humor in your presentations.

The likely question on your mind is “how do I use humor?” or the less flattering, “I’m not funny. There’s no way I’m using humor.”

Change your mindset. Start small.

Here are some suggested sources that come directly from your personal experiences, which are the best way to tell humorous stories:

a) Family experiences. Stories about both immediate and extended families
b) Personal experiences. Travel stories are universal. Everyone laughs at bad travel experiences
c) Humorous quotes. In your favorite search engine, type, "funny quotes" (without the quotation marks)

            Example:  "Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please."  (Mark Twain)

Whenever possible, test your use of humor on friends, colleagues, and in presentation practice sessions. When you say something funny, wait a few seconds for the audience to “get it” – that is the pausing part.

 

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[Imagine you hear Walt Disney’s “It’s a small world after all” playing in the background] Everyday, we are meeting people from around the world. We are building relationships through email, telephone, Skype, Conferences, Webinars, and so forth.

One of the most important aspects of great relationship building is being appreciative of culture and traditions. Part of this appreciation is the diligent effort to learn a person’s name and how to pronounce it.

With Google Translate, it is super simple. 

1.  Visit Google Translate
2.  Copy and paste the person’s name into either field box
3.  Select from 90+ languages from the drop down arrow (see blue arrows)
4.  Press the “sound icon” (see the orange arrows)
5.  Listen to the pronunciation as many times as you need

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Note:  Thank you to Brandy Schantz from Synergy Home Sales for this terrific suggestion.

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In describing Atlas Corps, Scott Beale, Founder and CEO, shares that Atlas Corps is "an international network of the world's best non profit leaders and social change organizations.  We bring leaders from around the world to serve in the U.S. to learn skills and share their perspectives. And then go back home to create a global network of the world's best social change professionals."

I met Scott about a year ago through a program hosted by CRDF Global and my good friend Natalia Pipia.  We talked briefly and then over the course of about a month outlined a communications program to be offered to the next class of Atlas Corps' Fellows.

Today, I had a the honor of spending a half-day with nearly 70 very passionate social change professionals from more than 50 countries (see picture below). My program was "Executive Storytelling: How to Use Stories to Engage, Persuade, and Inspire."

Two big take-aways:

- Passion opens the door to opportunities. Scalability opens the door to investment. Several of the Fellows are doing great things in their respective countries. They were looking for local partners and investors to help them expand outreach. Someone asked a question sparking a lively discussion of passion and scability. I emphasized investors around the world will always be more receptive to an idea that scales, whether it be for social good or for economic gain.

- Find the right balance. Many of the Fellows were tackling sensitive culture, justice, and historical issues.  Some of the issues were heart-breaking and would bring tears to your eyes hearing some of the stories. I encouraged the fellows to share these stories while keeping in mind that tugging on someone's heart to inspire them to be part of the solution, you must find the right balance of emotion and benefit. In general, people do not want to be overwhelmed with an emotional appeal. They want a reasoned set of arguments with clear benefits. Weave your emotional appeal just enough so that your audience truly understands what is at stake. Empathy over sympathy.

I really enjoyed spending time with the Atlas Corps' Class 18 Fellows. And I sincerely look forward to staying in touch and helping them continue to make a (big) difference in the world.

The next day, Scott posted this very nice recommendation/testimonial. 

Ira did a fantastic job with this public speaking and storytelling workshop to the Atlas Corps Fellows. He engaged a diverse and professional audience of nearly 70 leaders from over 50 different countries and after a four-day training on Marketing and Communication skills, Ira was the favorite presenter for the majority of the Fellows. He is fantastic!

 

With its fantastic history of excellence, Atlas Corps has built a world wide reputation, drawing thousands of applications each year (apply here). What it needs most are host organizations (contact Atlas Corps here). Host organizations receive a variety of benefits. If interested visit the website or email me.

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The Fellows sat at tables of six to eight. On some of the tables I saw name tents with each Fellow's name in a variety of languages. I didn't think of asking them to translate my name until my program was nearly over. I did manage a few...languages and countries of origin are labeled on the next photograph.

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I did manage a few...languages and countries of origin are labeled. Too bad I wasn't able to do more...next time!

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About a week ago I was on LinkedIn.  In the “Whose Viewed Your Profile,” LinkedIn is always making suggestions for groups. This time the Harvard Business Review group was displayed.  I clicked on the [Join] button and was promptly "rejected." Just kidding. The group already had a million members and was full. LinkedIn was sorry, the screen message said.

Not to be deterred, for the next several days, when I would remember, I would click on the [Join] button. I would just sigh and resign myself to be rejected. It now was a matter of "when" I told myself.

After a few days of trying, I was accepted. I didn’t think anything of it.

About an hour later, my friend and colleague Dave (his LinkedIn Profile) sent me a screen shot of the LinkedIn update of me being the 1,000,000 member of the HBR group. His email was “1 in a 1,000,000.” I laughed out loud…quite loudly.

What are you doing to connect with your LinkedIn networks?

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Yesterday while meeting with a client and reviewing his LinkedIn profile, we were talking about how he can demonstrate his skills and, past performance. And how to do so with recommendations, which he only had two. While we were strategizing on a plan to request tailored recommendations, he asked, "Do you know how to send these recommendations easily?" I smiled and said, "yes I do."

I thought to share how as this week's tip.

One of the best reasons to use this LinkedIn hack is for job seekers, recruiters, and HR teams to easily view a candidate's recommendations for his/her ENTIRE profile with one click rather than having to search a person's profile, job-by-job.

A not-so-obvious reason is for organizations to demonstrate excellent customer service, past performance, etc. to prospective customers, partners, etc. Organizations should link to team member profiles with the representative recommendations.

Here's how:

1) Log-in to your LinkedIn profile
2) Click on the [Profile] menu option, top left of your screen, close to the blue LinkedIn logo
3) Scroll down to your summary information. This is the box with your picture, name, professional headline, etc.
4) Look at the bottom left of your summary box for a gray LinkedIn logo and a URL (see orange arrow below). This is your public profile URL.

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5) Copy your public profile URL, paste it into your browswer, then add #recommendations at the very end. Press and you'll see just your recommendations for all of your employement history. This is how the URL would look to view my recommendations.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/thechiefstoryteller#recommendations


Note:  If your LinkedIn profile is outside the United States, delete the country letters from your profile URL.

If you have any trouble email me.

 

Source:  I found the original article here (Showcase Imagery) and simplified it above for you.

 

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During a facilitation session to develop a new mission statement for a non-profit client, several of the executive team members encouraged the group to use “strive.”

We politely pointed out strive is a wishy-washy word, and should not be used.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary states the definition of strive as “to try very hard to do or achieve something.” The implication is you achieve your goal. In reality, you may or may not.

In business, like Yoda from Star Wars aptly said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

Avoid wishy-washy words such as strive, hope, surely, chiefly, usually, going to, often, sort of, possibly, and many more.

Words like these reduce your effectiveness when communicating with your stakeholders.

I was on Twitter recently when I stumbled upon a tweet by the Mother Nature Network on laughter. It contained a link to an article on the results of a recent study by Sophie Scott, a neuroscientist at University College London and part-time stand-up comedian.

She concluded from her study that people don't just laugh at things they think are funny. They also laugh to show positive feelings of likability, agreement and commonality toward others. In her words, "laughter is an index of the strength of a relationship."

I once worked for a senior executive who almost never laughed. Within weeks of her hire, the culture of the entire office changed. It went from a collegial, "we're all in this together," results-oriented atmosphere to a self-centered, fear and intimidation, activity-focused environment. Morale took a nose-dive and sales and marketing results soon followed.

Without exception, every successful sales and marketing organization I've ever been a part of has been led by a "Chief Happiness Officer." These are people who, in spite of their formal titles or official roles, manage to keep the rest of us from taking ourselves too seriously. They know that employees who like each other will focus more on achieving quantifiable wins for the team than on useless activities designed to promote their own self-interests. They know strong personal relationships bring out the best in everyone and allow the team to achieve more.

Take a moment to look around your office. Does your organization have a Chief Happiness Officer?

 

For more on the impact leaders have on organizational culture, please see:
How Important Is Your Internal Customer Experience?
Wise and Selfless Leadership Is No Fairy Tale
How You Treat Your Employees Matters
Your Employees Play a Leading Role In Shaping Great Brands
What Story Is Your Organizational Culture Telling?

I receive more cold calls each week than I can count. Phone calls, voice messages, emails, Twitter DMs, LinkedIn messages and sponsored Facebook posts.

I've witnessed no shortage of creative approaches. Early morning or late afternoon phone calls, intriguing email subject lines and targeted social media messages are among the many tactics eager salespeople have used to lure me into a conversation. And, yet, I return very few of the cold calls I receive.

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If you want me to answer, inspire me.

Give me a reason to return the call. Show me you've done your homework and you truly understand my or my organization's needs. Offer me a solution to a problem or challenge I may be facing. You might even inspire me enough to answer your cold call.

 

For more on effective selling techniques, please see:
Selling Beyond Price
If You're Selling, Are You Showing or Telling?
• If You're in Sales, Tell Me Something I Don't Know

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Elmer Wheeler said, “Your first 10 words are more important than your next 10,000. In fact, if your first 10 words aren't the right words, you won't have a chance to use the next 10,000.”

Wheeler is one of the fathers of sales. Perhaps you know him from the famous phrase, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak,” which he coined in the 1940s?

Starting your presentation is one of the most important parts to a successful speaker and audience experience. The beginning sets the tone. The beginning puts your audience into a frame of mind. And the beginning sets up the expectations for what’s to come.

Your beginning should be well thought-out and rehearsed. It should grab them in the first 10 seconds. A great quote works very well. Everyone loves a great quote as it has a lot of meaning shared in just a few words.

Whether you realize it or not, the quotes you use are a reflection of who you are and how you think. As such, only use quotes that have had a profound impact on your thinking. Now when you share the quote with your audience, share a little story about how you discovered the quote and its impact on your life. Your audience will “feel” the authenticity in your story and better appreciate the quote’s message.

Here are a few sites to find great quotes:

- BrainyQuote
- World of Quotes
- Quoteland

A 2014 U.S. Harris Poll conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder found that 43% of hiring managers use social media to screen potential hires.

Among the top three reasons causing employers to eliminate candidates from consideration were the following types of posts by job candidates:
  • Provocative or inappropriate photographs or information – 46%
  • Information about them drinking or using drugs – 41%
  • Bad-mouthing their previous company or fellow employees – 36%

If these kinds of posts can derail a career, imagine the impact they can have on a client relationship. Social networking sites can also help to establish whether a salesperson is a good fit with a client's organizational culture, is professional and can be trusted. Inappropriate posts like the ones mentioned above can create the opposite impression and quickly sabotage an otherwise healthy business relationship. Salespeople should avoid posting comments on their social networks that portray themselves or their customers in an unprofessional or less than positive light.

When it comes to social media, including an "opinions are mine" disclaimer on your profile may not be enough to keep hiring managers and clients from forming negative impressions about a potential candidate or salesperson.

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Have you ever thought that someone else or some other organization has copied your website?  Using your LinkedIn profile picture? Incorporated your amazing graphic into their website?

It happens...

TinEye and Google Images are free sites that scour the Internet in just a few seconds showing you where your image or photo is being used. You can then determine if it is legitimate or if legal steps need to be taken. This is commonly called "Reverse Image Search."

At a minimum, search for uses of your profile pictures and key images/graphics important to your brand identity.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day

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Happy St. Patrick's Day to all my Irish friends around the world...And to everyone, as today you are Irish (smile).

I look forward to St. Paddy's Day as it is always festive. You look for your best green to wear (today I wore my green tie and shamrock lapel pin). And people seem to be friendlier.

It also is a day that starts with an always grand breakfast event hosted by the Northern Ireland Bureau.  Having done some workshop programs in Belfast, Northern Ireland, NI holds a special place in my experiences. 

I included a few pictures from today's breakfast as well as a few from my trip to Belfast.

Norman Houston, Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau, welcomes everyone. Every year the Northern Ireland Bureau sponsors a St. Patrick's Day breakfast. Invest NI and Visit Ireland help celebrate St Patrick's Day in style. I had the honor and pleasure of conducting several workshop sessions in Belfast, Northern Ireland. John from Invest NI was kind enough to invite me a few years back and I've been enjoying it every since. The entire NI team of Norman, Stewart, Lorraine, Tracy, Bronagh, and Christopher deserve a big round of applause. @ni_bureau #StPatricksDay

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Dr. Malcolm McKibbin, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service shares important information on economic, cultural, tourism, and political activities and issues in Northern Ireland.

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This is my third breakfast with the NI Bureau. Here I am with Norman Houston, Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau. (great storyteller by the way)

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In front of the big welcome sign...

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Here's a little "Throwback Tuesday." I had the honor and pleasure of speaking in Northern Ireland several years ago. Here I am on my first night drinking a fantastic pint of Guinness. My program was with CO3, Chief Officers Third Sector (http://www.co3.bz/). Majella, Jackie, Tracey, Rachel, Tony from CO3 and Liz and Nick all made my experience one I will treasure for my lifetime.

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Here's another "Throwback Tuesday" picture from my trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland with the team at CO3, Chief Officers Third Sector (http://www.co3.bz/). 

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For Your Information:  Not sure if you have to be an active user of Microsoft Outlook Social Connector to have seen this...LinkedIn is no longer supporting the connector plugin to Microsoft. The email below is really quite vague.

I thought it was a great tool...

Here's the text of the email:

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Hi Ira,

As an active user of LinkedIn for Microsoft Outlook Social Connector, we wanted to make sure we let you know that on March 9, we will no longer support LinkedIn for Microsoft Outlook Social Connector in Outlook 2003, 2007, and 2010.

This means that LinkedIn information about your email contacts will not be visible in those Outlook versions. Our team is working with Microsoft to build even more powerful tools to help you stay connected with your professional world.

Until then you can get similar capabilities with the “LinkedIn for Outlook” app for Outlook 2013 from the Office Store.

Have questions? Visit our Help Center for more information..

Thanks, The LinkedIn Team 

 

I've yet to take my first ride in an Uber car. I've heard so many great things about the crowd-sourced car company from my high schooler and the interactive agency I work with, I feel like I'm missing out on something special.

I wasn't surprised when I recently read in a customer loyalty news publication that Uber had recently partnered with Starwood Hotels and Resorts in an effort to improve the hotel brand's guest experience and customer loyalty program. Through the new partnership, members of Starwood Preference Guest (SPG), the hotel's popular loyalty program, will now be able to earn extra points by booking an Uber ride to any destination.

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At their most basic level, partnerships like these are a form of cross-selling, where customers are offered related items to enhance their experience with a brand. Cross-selling offers companies like Uber and Starwood a number of benefits, including increased customer exposure to higher margin services and increased loyalty through the suggestion of complementary items of perceived value. This partnership is a brilliant example.

A truly innovative idea rooted in a basic marketing principle – now that's worth tweeting... and blogging about.

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Expand your network by attending an event of your choice this week. For this event, your goal is to meet one new connection--partner or colleague—not a prospect.

This experience is geared toward expanding your network by building relationships. Each new person you bring into your network has his or her own network of people—likely several hundred. Instead of “qualifying,” get to know people. Think of it more as a Saturday afternoon party. Perhaps even offer some assistance in the form of referrals, suggestions, and introductions?

The true genius of networking is “who knows you.” With today’s world of LinkedIn, it becomes, “who is connected to you.” The power of relationships lay with the person on the other end of the connection.

As a result, a referral from this new business friend comes with a tremendous amount of relationship capital with his/her network. And the same when it comes to your introductions into your network.

 

I remember when voice mail was introduced in the mid-80's. I was working for AT&T and, during a visit to the Bell Labs facility in Holmdel, NJ, I recall being awestruck by the presence of the AT&T Model 2500 answering machines on each desk. These machines were, at the time, top of the line models and allowed users to record their own personalized greetings.

At the time, my sales office had a receptionist who would take messages from incoming callers while we were out. The messages were very brief – something akin to "while you were out, Theresa P. called."

Years later, while managing a customer care center for AT&T, I got my own voice mailbox. I could record my own greeting, assuring callers they had reached the right number. Callers could now leave me longer and more detailed messages. Early on, many would zero-out, preferring to speak to my administrative assistant instead.

During much of my professional selling career, voice mail became the preferred medium for communication between my customers and me. Voice mail was ubiquitous and people became more comfortable with it. My personalized greetings were updated each day and I promised to return calls within two hours. Messages were rich in verbal content and were often longer than I would have liked. I used to keep a spiral note pad, where I would methodically write down each voice message I received (along with the time and date).

At some point during the last 5 years or so, voice mail has become irrelevant – at least for me. I no longer record daily greetings, I'm lucky if I get more than two messages per day and I haven't kept a spiral notepad in years. The preferred communication medium is now email, and the standards that once applied to voice mail now govern my email interactions (e.g., personalized email signatures, out-of-office greetings and my own personal commitment to returning emails within two hours). And when I want to communicate with someone, I'll send an email or a text.

Voice mail once played a pivotal role in shaping how others perceived our personal and corporate brands. Not anymore, I'm afraid. After all, when was the last time you left a voice message for someone?

I've always believed sales is not a spectator sport. It truly is a team sport and it requires the active participation and support of everyone across the organization, including: marketing, sales support, information technology, legal, operations, services, finance, accounts receivable and customer care.

One of the characteristics of an established sales culture in any organization is the alignment of these functional areas around "One Team, One Goal." Typically, this goal involves top line growth – in revenues, profits, earnings per share, etc. Sales provides the leadership that fuels the achievement of the organization's growth objectives. The other functional areas work in harmony with, and in support of, the sales team.

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Organizations who lack a sales culture are typically ones that struggle to achieve their growth targets. The functional areas I've mentioned above function as silos. Functional goals are disparate and rarely aligned. Sales (and all too often customers) are wrongly viewed as impediments to the achievement of departmental goals and there is little or no teamwork, both within and across functional areas.

Being a salesperson is one of the most challenging jobs in any organization. Salespeople are not only accountable for achieving their own growth targets; they are responsible for driving organizational results and improved shareholder returns. And, as I've shown in the whiteboard diagram above, they are accountable for directing the resources required to achieve those results.

How strong is the sales culture in your organization?

 

For more on the impact of organizational culture, please see:
The Building Blocks of a Successful Sales Growth Strategy
How Business Process Improvement Impacts Customer Experience
• The Purpose of Marketing Is to Drive Sales

Does your brand have a social media policy? If so, does it include guidance for how employees should respond to unplanned tweets?

A social media policy provides employees with a set of guidelines for communicating online about your brand. While many social media policies include pre-approved responses to anticipated tweets and require employees to submit their posts for review prior to posting, there are times when a little spontaneity is appropriate.

Unplanned tweets – positive or negative – present brands with an unexpected opportunity to interact and engage with customers in a personal way. Conversations between two people are difficult to predict and even harder to script in advance. Designating someone in advance who communicates well and trusting him or her to use good judgment when responding to unplanned tweets are ways to encourage genuine conversations and deeper relationships with your customers.alt

 

In my experience, one brand that does an exceptional job of responding to unplanned tweets is Lifetime Fitness. I visit my Lifetime club on a regular basis and frequently tweet about my experiences while I am there. Almost always, as in the example above, I'll hear back from the brand (@lifetimefitness) within minutes of posting my tweet. In some instances, they'll even share my post with others by retweeting it.

While social media can be an opportunity for your employees to help build your brand, there is also an inherent risk that an inappropriate post or comment could inadvertently damage your brand's reputation. An effective social media policy can help achieve an acceptable balance between the opportunity social media presents and the risk that accompanies it, with the right mix of guidance, planning and trust.

altTwitter recently announced the addition of a feature that allows users to send group direct messages (DMs) to up to 20 people. Direct messages are private messages sent from one Twitter user to other Twitter users who follow you. Direct messages can now be used for one-on-one private conversations or between groups of users.

While you can only invite users who follow you to a group, the followers you add to your group DM don't need to be following each other to be in on the conversation. Within a group DM, users can share text, tweets, pics and emojis. The current release does not include video sharing capability.

Twitter users like you and me now have the ability to hold ongoing private conversations with a select group of people. I've had situations where a group of my followers retweeted one of my tweets and a subsequent conversation about its content ensued among us. Brands and other savvy Twitter users might now use the group DM feature to target specific groups of followers or advocates with content tailored to their interests.

For more insights on Twitter conversations, please see:
You Are What You Tweet
#ICYMI: Now There's an App for Understanding Hashtags on Twitter
My #FirstTweet

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