Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Uncontrollable Relationship: Virality and The Emotional Impact.

This week I want to share with you a very nice experience I lived with my coworkers last week, and I say nice, because it gave me a very positive feeling, which came to confirm (again) a post I published some time ago, which was titled "Viral Begins With An Emotional Impact"

And to cut to the chase, I included a link to the video that led to this very special experience. It corresponds to the new McDonald's campaign the company is launching in Spain. A spectacular piece (from my personal perspective). Here you have it and let's comment it after you see it.

The same message, two completely different reactions.

As I mentioned to you, when I saw the video for the first time I brought tears of emotion and joy, because it made me think a lot about Juan Vicente, my late father, and my two kids, Daniel Alejandro and Gabriel David.

In any case, I shared it on all my social profiles and, that same afternoon when I first saw it, I wanted to show it to my officemates, Ramiro and Santiago, convinced that they'd feel as good as I felt when I saw it, and how I feel every time I see it since then.

But what happened next was a very interesting lesson for me.

Ramiro, who has a young child, was deeply touched, he shed some tears and, as the video progressed, he kept saying: "¡Wow!", "¡¡What a strong piece!!". Obviously he had been impacted in a positive way, as it happened to me, and the emotions the video was creating on him were very difficult to hide.

However, to Santiago, the issue was very different: When he saw the first few seconds of the video, he turned around and left the room, and did not want to watch it. At least, not that day. He simply turned and walked away, visibly touched as well, but in a completely different way.

In my case and Ramiro's, the video had an impact on our emotions as parents, we could see ourselves reflected on the video, living life with our children and going through the different stages we all known, with their corresponding challenges and satisfactions.

In the case of Santiago, (my partner Ramiro explained it to me) the video touched a completely different set of emotions, because Santiago lost his father when he was still very young, and he has had to stand up to life only with his mother and siblings ever since, therefore, the message on the video was falling into a zone of strong and perhaps painful memories and emotions.

Ramiro and I share the video with our friends and in our circles. Santiago did not. The reason was obvious: The way the video impacted on him was very different.

That is why I can't believe it when people assure they can creat "viral" content.

I'm sure you can create high quality content with an extraordinary creativity and a message that can generate a profound impact and cause strong emotions on people. Of that I have no doubt, but how that message affects its recipient is a perfectly  personal decision and will depend, as in the case I described above, on what exists in each person's life.

Think for a moment when the person receives the message: The set of images, sounds, text, and music is interpreted by its brain and, based on that interpretation, it develops a particular response, neither you nor anyone else can control (perhaps predict) but not control, much less manipulate such response in any way.

It is at that very moment when you lose control of the message's effect of the message will cause, and is the beauty of it all: Your greatest effort should focus on developing a unique content and broadcast by all means possible and appropriate.

The rest is up to your audience. What a wonderful challenge!

And to end this post, I do share with you here another video, which is one that also navigates on a shady area: Some people find it abusive, some other like it. What do you think?

Related post in this blog:
Viral begins with an Emotional Impact.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Education For Everybody: Collective Knowledge.

Formación para todos.
People always say that "troubled waters, fishermen gain" and it has become even more apparent nowadays.

Today, I would like to talk with you about one little thing, and it’s about the array of training offerings we are receiving daily through different media outlets.

Regardless of our own feelings and criticism about these deals, some of which are more opportunistic than others, with nearly 5 million unemployed people in the country, the temptation must be too strong for some companies to miss out on the opportunity to make strong promises on their advertising, such as "you’ll get a job for sure", or "join the one professional sector with the lowest unemployment rate", and things like that.

"That’s simply advertising", some people would say.

What is crystal clear is that, day after day, more people start looking for - or need to start looking for- acquiring new skills and be trained on new professional areas, to increase their chances to land a new job or simply to keep themselves updated.

Some of these people have the money to pay for a master's degree or take online courses, but many others - the majority I would say- are not so lucky.

Going beyond paid training courses. 

The availability of training offer is wide and varied: They go from training sessions, to forums, seminars, and a whole lot of alternatives, all aimed at providing you with the knowledge you are looking for on a specific task.

However, I don’t want to talk to you about these courses today. Not this time.

Today I want us to talk about training to which you can have access to via the Internet. It’s not a secret the Internet has become, since a very long time, in a huge library through which you can put your hands on a vast universe of information which we call "collective knowledge": An infinitely large universe to which you can have access simply through a computer (laptop, mobile, tablet, smartphone or however you want to name it), an Internet connection and a bit of willpower.

An infinite universe that gathers millions of authors and collaborators.

Can you imagine having the opportunity to receive information on any imaginable topic? Give it a try! Search on Google (or your search engine of choice) the professional area in which you are interested. If I write, for instance, "training in marketing", I get back the insignificant amount of 6,890,000 results. Nearly 7 million listings!

Let’s be negative and think that only 0.001% (and note that we are being super negative) of all these results are worth it. What do we get? We're still talking about 689 opportunities!

And I'm not including here the information you can have access through paid ads neither video tutorials you can watch in YouTube, or Slideshare presentations, among other platforms. There are a lot of opportunities, if not infinite, which sounds like a lot. The one thing you need is the willingness to learn!

How can you apply this in real life?

Since the goal of this post isn’t only to tell you the story but to show you how you can apply it to your own life, I'll share with you the way I have done it, which will therefore be more useful to you and easy to put to work for you.

  • Choose the topic of your interest and about which you want to further your education, whether it's for personal or professional reasons. It can be anything, from self defense to marketing techniques for your business. 
  • In the search engine of your choice, enter the topic you chose and carefully review each of the results that come up. Maybe you’ll have to invest a couple of hours on this, but it will well worth it. Or not? Look in particular for the following: 
    • Books which can usually be downloaded as PDF or bought by small amounts of money. In particular, I do follow the "For Dummies" series of books which, even though are supposedly designed for dummies, are usually very well written and allow you to build very deep foundations in most subjects. 
    • Websites offering free online lessons. 
    • Blogs, forums and discussion groups. 
    • Tutorials. 
    • Webinars. 
  • Search on YouTube: and find videos and tutorials related to the subject of your choice, check what is available, mark as "Favorite" those you like the best and those which you feel will provide you with the most relevant information. 
  • You can also add to all the information above Slideshare presentations. Many authors, in exchange for visibility and increased authority, share their experience with others by publishing extremely interesting material.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, it's just a matter of willpower. Internet provides you with a huge wealth of information, some very good, some other not so much, as it happens with all things.

What you have to keep in mind at all times is that all that information is available to you "just by clicking your mouse button."

Are you ready to jump into the “collective knowledge” wagon? 

Related posts in this blog:
Why do we need continuous professional education? 
Popularity and Influence in Social Networks: You Choose What Works and What Doesn’t.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sales Strategies: Your Client Is Not A Fool! Neither Should You.

Your Client Is Not A Fool!
Although it seems that I'm parodying an advertising campaign from a company we’re all familiar with, I'm not. I really wonder: When will come the day in which companies understand the world has changed, that consumers do not behave the same way they did before, that they've learned a few things and are not fools anymore?

Some time ago, I received a call from a representative of a company I had the opportunity to do business with recently. During the first minutes of our conversation, he was devoted to praising me, saying I had been one of their best pupils, that the company was very happy with my performance, and so forth.

And in fact, he managed to make me feel really good, with my ego bloated, (you would have felt the same way, I’m sure), until he began to tell me that the company had given me a "scholarship" to take another course with them, which was priced € 1.800, but since I "was a special person," and had earned a scholarship, they gave me a 50% discount and I only had to pay €900. Sounded really simple!

OMG! You have to be really out of your mind to continue to use, in the XXI century, sales strategies as such, and even pushing your client to give you an immediate response, or otherwise losing their “special” offer!

The really funny thing came next, since I decided to share the story with some friends who have done business with the same company, just to find out they all said they had received the same offer through the phone. 

What do you think? What can we learn from this story?

This little real life story, as some people say, allows us to draw some interesting conclusions which you can apply to your selling strategies, and if you can think of anything else, you’re most welcome to share it here. Let’s start then:

  • If you make a personal offer, make sure it’s really personal and not something everyone else can enjoy. If you tell your customer the offer is exclusively for him, make sure it is like that, because he will surely appreciate it and will allow you to strengthen your relationship with him.
  • Always think your clients can be connected: Don’t make the mistake to believe that "no one will ever know you’re lying to your customers", because maybe you've got that wrong. Look at the case I mentioned. In just a couple of hours, talking with my colleagues, we all came to realize the exclusive offer phone call was a hoax.
  • Don’t get used to building your sales presentations on lies: This should be obvious, but it looks like we have to bring it back again, and again because we tend to forget it. In this case, all the initial conversation I had with the company’s representative, was based on a lie. The company hadn’t chosen me for anything, they weren’t even happy with my performance and I wasn’t a special student for them. How do you think I feel now as a customer? Will I do business with them again? Not likely.
  • Remember that above all, is about your company’s reputation: Are you willing to put so much at stake just to close one sale? Are you in such a hurry to close the deal, that you put all your eggs on every phone call you make?

They say that "confidence is as fragile as a crystal glass .. once broken, there is no turning back ..", and in this case it's basically the same: An error in your company’s selling strategy, can simply destroy all relationships you have built with your customers, just like that. Is it really worth it?

Don’t ever take your client for a fool, or think they are never going to find out you're trying to cheat on them, it’s a gamble in which you are risking out a lot.

Are you really willing to go that far?

Related article: Corporate Reputation And Sales Reps’ Responsibility.