Monday, December 23, 2013

May love abound in your life these Christmas and throughout the New Year!

When I was choosing the image for this post, the first images I initially chose  were all the typical Christmas images: the tree with ornaments, glasses of champagne for the toast, an image of Santa Claus, and the like.

But suddenly, in my search, I came across this one, which has nothing to do with the others, but it really says what my best wish is for you, for me and for all of us: May love abound in your life these Christmas and throughout the New Year!

Why love?

Because I've found that if there is love in our lives all things work wonderfully well, with plenty smiles, illusions, hope, kindness, there are plenty of good thoughts... Good vibes as people say around here!

And if these things abound in our personal lives, they will surely abound in our businesses as well, and in our companies, our work and, therefore, things will go much better, despite the crisis, politicians and all those things which everyday, push to steal joy, peace, tranquility and harmony from us.

When love abounds, there is no much room for selfishness, and that's a good thing!

Therefore I conclude this year, as always, thanking you for being there, reading my posts, allowing me to share with you the things that I think, feel and live, and letting me know your opinions and experiences too by commenting.

And after thanking you, my wish for you is this one: That during these Holiday and throughout the New Year 2014, love abounds in your life, my life, and our lives!

Surely if love abounds, there is less room for selfishness and that, maybe, can even help us become better leaders.... And that is not a bad place to start the New Year from!

¡Merry Christmas and
Happy New Year 2014!

Your friend and fellow adventure
Joel J. Pinto

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Do you know why you're doing what you're doing in social media?

"If everybody is special, then nobody is":
Three articles have inspired me to write this post. My dear friends, Reyes Ramon and her post "Got engagement?" published in desmárcateya’s blog, one by Maine Beristain titled "Brand tales to remember" (both these posts in Spanish, no translation available, sorry), and an article published by Pam Moore on Social Media Today, a really phenomenal one, entitled "Why: The most important question in social business", which really nailed it.

As I always do, all links will be included at the end of this post, so you can go deeper into the content I want to share with you today.

A while ago, I wrote an article on this blog entitled "Who follows who in social media?" in which I made a reference to the unbelievable competition that exists today in social media to capture our respective audiences’ attention and how social conversations were focusing on products and companies, instead of focusing on people.

Hundreds of thousands of companies have embarked on the development of promotional and content strategies to attract the attention of their followers and engage their fans with the brand, to try and establish with them a dynamic and mutually beneficial relationship, and finally turn that relationship into positive results for both: the audience has needs to be resolved, companies have products to be sold.

Who is then the focus on the conversation between your company and your audience in social media?

And the question is still alive: Who follows who in social media?

The most common thing to see happening in social media, is a continuous flow of promotional messages that burst into our inboxes asking us to like someone’s page in Facebook without giving us a specific reason, or to follow a Twitter account to “supposedly” have access to more, interesting things, and so on. If we put it simple: messages that are selling us something, whether with or without intention.

Everyone seems to have the solution to our business’ problems, all of them supposedly have an amazing story to tell, every product has the best price, the best conditions, the most innovative things. Did you ever watch “The Incredibles”? If you remember Syndrome, the antithesis of Mr. Incredible in Pixar’s movie, said: "If everyone is super, then nobody is".

And nothing more certain than that because, in an environment where almost all business offer the same thing, who is really special?

If you honestly check the content you share with your audience through your social media accounts, and you get to realize you are continually talking about your products and how good they are, or about the new things you're bringing into the store, or inviting people to follow you without giving them a compelling reason, without adding real value to their lives, or not helping them solve their needs, it is then time to ask the question:

Why are you doing what you are doing in social networks?

You must not forget that social media is based on people, and evolves about their conversations and the relationships that establish between them and how they use those relationships to find solutions to specific problems.

What do you think about people who flood your timeline with promotional messages? How do you feel? What about those who preach for quality over quantity, and repeatedly publish the same content several times every day? What do you think about those who beg you to "like" their Facebook pages but never again follow up with you?

Surely you dislike them as much as I do, but aren’t you doing the same?

What reason are you giving your followers and fans to share the content they receive from you on social networks? Are you connecting with their world and their needs, or just want them to share whatever content you post only to gain more visibility for your business?

Social networking should not become another channel for your business to add "noise" to your "followers’ life", and every time I write the word "followers", the same question comes back to my mind "who should really be following who in social networks?".

The search for a common and intimate space with your audience.

Quite the opposite: social networks should serve to create an intimate space with your customers, a common area where their interests, questions, concerns and needs match the value proposition your company develops.

For more clarity, let me explain: What intimate area do you think a running shoes brand can develop with their audience? At what point can both their interests meet and develop a space for mutual benefit?

Let’s do a little exercise and think about the person who buys a running shoe: Could he or she be interested, for instance, in learning about ways to improve their performance in the race? or what about learning how to avoid knee injuries? or maybe they are interested in knowing which are the best dietary supplements to take while preparing for a competition, or perhaps it will be of tremendous value for them to learn that, if they decrease by 30 minutes the duration of each training session, and train more times within the week, they will increase their overall performance in about 25%.

Have I helped you realize what it means to create a common place, an intimate space with your audience?

It is in this unique space where you will find content interesting enough to give your followers and fans enough reasons to connect with your company and share the content you deliver through social channels.

It is in this space where you will really begin to solve their problems and will start positioning your brand as a leader within its industry or business, where you will be making your audience fall in love with your brand and its proposal, and building it as a memorable one as well, one to be remembered forever.

Keep in mind that if you are helping your customers and your audience achieve their goals, you will be achieving your goals at the same time. It all goes together. Don’t stop at getting people to "Like" your Facebook page or increase your followers count on Twitter. That's important, but definitely is not everything.

Focus instead on really connecting with them, inspiring them, helping them solve real life problems. Aim to influence the way they think and genuinely look to win their heart.

The pulse of social media is the people. People like you and me.

Are you feeding the heartbeat of your audience or you're just taking it all for yourself, without giving anything in return?

Have been my inspiration to write this post:
¿Tienes "Engagement"? written by Reyes Ramón
"Brand stories to be remembered" by Maine Beristain
Why: The Most Important Question in Social Business by Pam Moore

Related post in this blog:
Who follows who in social media

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How Not to Become a Prisoner of Hope

Imprisoned by your own hope?
What does being a "prisoner of hope" mean?

Have you ever been a "prisoner of hope"?

All new and starting businesses are characterized by many special things, including among them optimism and good will of its founders, and the hope that, with a lot of hard work and dedication, things will eventually work out, implemented actions will bring in positive results and business will become profitable.

And this wealth of optimism is a fantastic tool, and is absolutely necessary to get up every day with enough energy to address all the multiple actions required to put the ball in motion and keep it rolling for as long as possible.

It's definitely good to be an optimistic and hopeful person.

Of course it is, but like with all things in life, extremes are never good and maintaining an exaggerated optimism based on feeding the "hope" that all things will work out well for your business, is not a healthy attitude and can generate quite unpleasant consequences.

When you become a "prisoner" of hope?

Experts say that to be "prisoner" of something is to be deprived of freedom. Plainly and briefly: You are in a prison and can’t get out.

You can name this prison the way you want: prejudices, beliefs, false expectations, poor information, not having proper training, lack of experience, and even there comes a time when one's own hope that things will work out well, becomes our own confinement.

But the question you must be asking yourself at this point is: When hope stops being truly hoping and becomes confinement? When does it cease being positive and becomes something negative?

When hope becomes a veil covering your eyes and preventing you from recognizing what's in front of them.

When you deny the evidence that proves your business’ promotional actions are not performing as they were supposed to, therefore not being as successful as you expected them to be.

It's at that moment that, either by your own or someone else’ will, you become its prisoner.

When you hold on to something that is not working, or simply, when you hold on to your own hopes just because you need to keep them alive, you then strive to keep on doing things that are not making neither any sense nor good to your business.

How can you realize that you have been trapped by hope?

Situations can vary significantly and occur on very different environments. Here I am going to share with you those imprisoning situations I have lived myself or that I have witnessed how it has happened to other entrepreneurs, like yourself.

  • You have a client who has already signed with you a huge contract and yet, after many unsuccessful attempts on your side, it hasn’t moved any further and you haven’t been able to bring him from decision to action.
  • You have prospects who tell you "I can’t buy from you this month, but I for sure will next month, absolutely" and they have repeated the same thing to you over the last few months and yet, you continue to visit them as regularly and with the same enthusiasm as you did before.
  • Your business is not recovering and sales are not going up, despite you have followed and implemented all possible actions recommended by experts on different fields. You should face it: It might not have been the right moment!
  • You hold on to newspapers, reading them daily and regularly, hoping you’ll find on its pages an indication that things will soon improve, that government will implement a law that will favor your industry, that tax rate will be reduced, and so forth.

What’s the worst thing that happens when you become prisoner of hope?

That you are surely going to deny it!

Yes. that’s the key problem: When someone approaches to tell you that you've been imprisoned by hope, you’ll immediately come forward with fifty different excuses, all of them too delicately good, but in any case just useful to help you justify things that you're doing.

And if you don’t open your eyes, you’ll stay happily there, on your own prison.

In the same way an alcoholic person finds it difficult to recognize it has a problem, when you are a prisoner of hope, it’s truly hard for you to recognize you're immersed in that situation, just because by doing so you’ll be losing your hope that “all things will work out well”, and that you don’t want to happen. You don’t want to recognize there is no reason for you to do what you’re doing.

We have been educated under the premise "losing hope is the last thing you do" and it might probably be different on a personal level (although I'm not completely sure) but in regards to your business, your company and its development and growth, there is nothing worse than keeping it stucked into this belief.

How do you stop being a prisoner of hope?

Recognize you’ve been trapped: Like with all things in life and business, the first step is to have an open mind and be willing to accept that you're stuck in a vicious circle from which you cannot come out.
That is the first and most important thing you’ve got to do. Once you've realized you are holding on to actions that are not taking your company to where you wanted to take it from the beginning, you've won half the battle.
Evaluate all possible options available to you: Almost all problems in life and business have a solution, no matter how difficult or expensive it might be, every problem has a solution. Otherwise we wouldn’t be even talking about this.
Choose the most viable option for your specific situation and implement it, making all decisions you have to make: Once you evaluate your options and know which one is more appropriate for the particular situation of your business, it’s simply about taking action and moving forward.

Remember though decisions without actions are just really nice thoughts that lead you nowhere.

For example , if it’s about that nephew of your brother you hired for an administrative position six months ago, who still can’t find a way to do his job properly but you hold on to the hope he’ll do just fine soon and that the only thing he needs is a bit more of time. What options do you have?

  • You can help him acquire supplementary training in his specific duties and establish a timetable for him to start doing his job effectively.
  • You can talk to him, for the umpteenth time, to help him recognize the thing he needs to improve on, and then give him another chance to see if, hopefully this time, all things go as you expect them to.
  • You can let him go at once and hire another person, better qualified for the position.

You evaluate the options you have available and choose the one that is best suited to your company’s particular situation at the time.

The moment you make the decision to do something about it, you stop being a prisoner of hope.

As I told you at the beginning of this post: positive attitude and keeping a strong hope that things will turn out good for your business is always very valuable and it greatly helps you accomplish many things.

Until it no longer does. Keep it always in mind while managing your business.

Image credit: kharlamova / 123RF Stock Photo

Related post in this blog:
The Hardest Business Decision You Will Ever Make: When to Stop and Change Direction.