Communication: a Secret Weapon or an Achilles’ Heel? You Choose!

A couple of months ago I wrote about Active Listening – Ever thought about: why do we have two ears but only one mouth? – and the importance of doing it when communicating. Now, I want to focus on the messageand how communication can be a competitive advantage to you, and your companyI am sick and tired of assisting people pretending to be leaders, and failing to truly communicate! Communication is the process of conveying a message, and a lot of people are still failing to be honest, transparent, and respect their audiences. The word we are living in today it is so different from the one we were living in just a couple of years ago that a lot of people have not realized yet that a lot has changed. To start with, the technological advancements with the Internet and World Wide Web have just democratized the information and make each one of us owner of her own search for news! The era where newspapers and television were the solo places where to find facts on what was happening in the world is dead. Nowadays, one is free and able to find the information one wants without intermediaries or third parties. It is easier now to investigate for something when it does not smell right. So, I keep asking myself, Who can some people dare to lie and bullshit others in the 21st century? Not a Leader, I suppose! A real Leader must be able to well communicate with her audience, meaning that she should be able to listen (actively), and communicate with transparency and honesty, not with lies!

In my point of view, Leaders should start by respecting their audiences otherwise they will lose the trust of others, becoming poorer and sometimes even losing their most powerful “weapon“, their credibility! And this works also for companies. One can learn a bunch of rules on communication courses, though, if the message it is not honest, clear and transparent, everything will be at stake and your audience will end up feeling cheated. Respect your audience means being a Leader, and a Leader will always treat her audience respectfully!

Lesson learned, when communicating be truthful, honest, transparent and clear. You will gain your audience’s respect and trust! As you know, your credibility, image and brand are important aspects of being competitive. Thereupon, being acknowledged as respectful and trustworthy will give you some edge when facing your competition, and work as a real competitive advantage toward them!

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The Art Of Brainstorming In The 21st century!

What I like more in the social media and all these internet and web stuff is the easiness of sharing, connecting and commenting on each others’ ideas. Social Media is doing its job and helping people getting more into sharing, communicating, and building up on others’ ideas. People is becoming more open to exercise their own creativity and innovatory abilities. People like to share and comment on other’s work, obviously that this is much easier today than it was a couple of years ago, nevertheless, this social change brought by the advancement in technology is boosting the whole phenomenon. Commenting, sharing and building up on other’s ideas is for me the basis of Brainstorming! Online or Offline, Brainstorming is a powerful tool and in my point of view, a competitive advantage for those doing it. Brainstorming has become a tool to generate a higher level of innovation and boost creativity. Honestly speaking I am a huge fun of brainstorms! I know that sometimes one ends up with a bunch of people trying to brainstorm and nothing happens. Though, the right question here is the Why! Why is it not working?

For several different reasons like, wrong people or place, or more important, wrong leader. So, another key question is, How can you take fully advantage of its amazing potential? For starters, Brainstorming only works if people is doing it in fully awareness of what it is at stake and able to speak freely. Meaning, only if you have a strong team spirit, a motivated team and you rewards their participation and willingness to share you will be able to profit from it. However, not having the “right” leader in charge of stirring, coordinating and conducting the whole meeting it is also a common and the most important mistakes! Even for brainstorms you need some order and rules, and nothing better to do that than having someone capable of leading the whole discussion. If you want to have a good, efficient, and fruitful brainstorming you must appoint a Leader to be in charge.

Another key question again, What kind of traits must be present in a Brainstorm Leader? In my point of view, first of all you will need someone with a good sense of what a Shaper and an Evaluator are. A Shaper will challenge people, be dynamic, provide the drive and courage to overcome obstacles and take some action. On the other side as an Evaluator, she will be sober, strategic, logical and more important she will see all the options and keep track on the good ones. And on top of everything, you will need someone who has a good sense of humor, a sharp common sense, an ability to stir ideas in order to think outside the box, a good moderator and communicator. Someone who knows how to ignite innovation and creativity, motivates people to build up on others ideas and suggestions, and more important someone who does not judge or inhibit people to take risks or share their opinions!

If Brainstorming can be seen as a competitive advantage, and I believe it can, companies must pay more attention to it and have better leaders to manage it. I have seen amazing brainstorm sessions where solutions are found, new ideas brought in to the table and a boost in creativity and innovation accomplished! If companies must innovate and be creative nothing better than start using social media to do it but also never forget to do it offline, in-house with your company’s employees. You will be surprised with what you end up with, an amazing set of creative and innovatory ideas.

Tip: Include brainstorming in your weekly tasks, do it at least once a week and you will see the changes after a couple of months! Your company will be much more open to new ideas, creating and innovating more, and your team will be more motivated and productive than ever.

Do not hesitate in contacting us if you want some more tips on Brainstorming or Share tips with us!

Similar Posts: Words for Starters, How much time would you like to invest innovating and creating?Don’t worry, Be creative!Being just a click away!Decisions: a headache or an opportunity?Vision, Strategy and Implementation! How About People?

Is there such thing as too much social media?

No, I do not think so! Although I don’t believe in the idea of too much social media, I believe in wrong, uneven, unadjusted, and bad implemented solutions and strategies. What can bring the sense of failure or overwhelming. If one does not have a strong will, a reason to do it, and a good understanding of what Social Media is about, than one should STOP,LISTEN and TRY first!

In my point of view, a verdict of “too much” social media can happen for several reasons, being the most deadly: lack of real motivation and reason to do it! When someone is asked about the whys of investing in a Social Media Strategy and replies, “because everybody is doing it, so I am also doing it”! Something is really Wrong! If you are going for a Social Media Strategy you must be willing to do it because you can see the value in it. You must also be prepared for a totally different reality and open-minded. Social Media is about trial and error, there is no scientific method or secret recipes. Forget the almighty ROI as it use to be! You will have to reinvent you KPIs and go for a strong SEO strategy! You don’t know what SEO means? Well, start studying the key concepts and tools for social media otherwise you’ll be just spoiling money. More to that and also very deadly, If you are defining your online strategy by adapting and sometimes even copying what you have been doing offline on the traditional channels you are already DEAD! You need to be fully and really committed to the experience, try and more than everything don’t be afraid of losing control or fail!  You’ll gain a lot, it is really a one life-time experience!

For those who are skeptic or want a more structured approach, please find here some steps to be done before going blindly on Social Media.

  1. Understand what is in for you, and be open minded to new things. Start by enumerate the reasons why you’re doing it! You should find the following two reasons among your list: “I believe I can connect better with my audience and add value to them”, and next to that “I believe I can increase the value added to my overall business, and that I am building a more competitive and future oriented business”.
  2. Assess your Audience (clients or future clients) through an extensive diagnosis and only after that go for a social media strategy. Accordingly to the Audience you identified as yours, define goals and the strategy to achieve them.
  3. When defining the strategy, choices must be made: plans, channels, approaches and actions. Choices that must be aligned with: the targeted audience, its behaviours and consuming preferences; overall mission and business strategy; defined goals (marketing and PR) and available resources.
  4. Align Audience>Mission/Business Strategy>Goals and never forget to incorporate the company’s culture and uniqueness when translating all the elements into a marketing strategy, only that way it will succeed. Ah, don’t forget to align online with offline strategies, use their synergies to boost your business and make it more future oriented!

Social Media is all about trying it! If you want to do it is because you foresee something positive about it and you will fully commit to its success! If you are not sure about it, you will fail for the wrong reasons!

Go and try it!

Do you want variety or is it too much choice?

Today I want to share something different with you, I went to the supermarket to buy cookies and guess what? It took me 30 minutes to choose a pack of cookie.  In the end I was tired and fade up with shopping! When looking at the cookies’ layout I felt overwhelmed. There were more than hundreds, there were thousands of varieties. I start in the layout’s very beginning and after twenty plus meters of layouts full of different cookies – chocolate, with small pieces of almond, red fruits, special recipe with butter …- I haven’t chosen yet. Why do not we have a place where we can have recommendations, top 10, news, cheapest, more expensive or even reviews? Ah, it is true I am offline I can feel the flavor but not read reviews or the top 10. I introduce you the Brick-and-mortar’s dilemma, they want to have more but in their case more is less, less capacity of making sense out of hundreds if not even thousands of one same product’s varieties – different brands, characteristics, flavors or recipes – and a headache to manage shelf space and inventory.

Digitally speaking, one can figure out how to choose and which variety to buy in a couple of minutes. Why? Because one can easily go for stats with reviews, best ranked, top 10, news…. filtering what one wants. Sometimes one can cheat, choosing online but buying offline. Some chains have both an off and online presence. Isn’t it cool? Well, it is more than cool, it is a revolution. The Internet and web brought new potential and shaped consumers opinions and interests in a new and different way. Like I mention in Being just a click away! With a click we can buy a pack of cookies or lead a brand to “bankruptcy” with a negative opinion that is transformed in a buzz effect reaching millions of people and the entire globe. It is powerful, isn’t it?

Amazon.com and eBay are two good examples of e-commerce , reviews and ranking gained a new signification with these two examples. Communities were created around them, specialists or regular people, are ranking and reviewing thousands of products every single day and “helping” customers choosing. One cannot conceive a world without influencers (people who give their opinions and make reviews on products), they help buying and choosing, they give us tips but they can also misleading us. Are they truly helping us? If you have a good sample of different people ranking, giving their opinions and sharing info then one can say that they are helping us, otherwise it can be speculative and manipulative.

Be careful one reading a review! Try to read a representative sample.

Online retailers have the whole supply tagged and filtered helping consumers buying and choosing but also pushing products to consumers. When one enters one of this sites and after a while the site generates some suggestions based on your clicks. WOW! Yep and it is not new. Digital and, besides everything mentioned before, can generate suggestions based on one clicks. A kind of basic artificial intelligence that learn with you suggesting more of what you have been interested in for the last visits. They have literally the demand in their engines they can do what a normal retailer cannot, they can influence you with suggestions tailor-made for you along your visit to the site. This is the amazing potential of digital commerce, with a log in you can do even more. The Long Tail (concept well spread due to Chris Anderson Book with the same name) phenomenon is amazing and scary at the same time. People’s buying routines and habits changed at light speed bringing a new reality a reality where an offline presence it is not enough anymore, a reality where supermarkets and chains are a bit lost not knowing what to do (going online, not going online, reshape product range…). But and on top of that online retailers can also record all the clicks and time spend with a product and replicate them through elaborated and complex algorithms suggesting other similar products to you.

Algorithm is an effective method for solving a problem expressed as a finite sequence of instructions. Algorithms are used for calculation, data processing and many other fields. Wikipedia

A revolution of social habits that highly affected not only the demand but also the supply it started with a new and powerful communication channel internet and a place the web. It is amazing what you can do in digital commerce and with new technologies and IT tools.

I want variety supplied with a filter included! What will be the brick-and-mortar traditional chains? Sticking to the head of the tail, the blockbusters, and forget the tail? Is still the 80/20 rule applicable? ( 80% of the revenue coming from 20% of the products) Not sure of that!

One more aspect to be analyzed and that have a high impact in the way people interact and buy. A crucial aspect if you are a marketer, wanting to understand its audience and the best way to reach them: a more efficient, with a higher rate of satisfaction and loyalty way! Here we go again, the audience always the audience! A new way of commercializing products and services with a powerful technology supporting and enhancing it. However, all the strategies must cope with your audience choices and interests.

Ah have a look at my previous post Do you want to build a successful marketing strategy? Pay attention to the “triangle”!

Do you want variety or is it too much choice?

I entered the supermarket to buy cookies and guess what? It took me 30 minutes to choose a pack of cookie. In the en I was tired! When looking at the cookies’ layout I felt overwhelmed. There were more than hundreds, there were thousands of varieties. I start in the layout’s very beginning and after twenty plus meters of layouts full of different cookies – chocolate, with small pieces of almond, red fruits, special recipe with butter …- I haven’t chosen yet. Why do not we have a place where we can have recommendations, top 10, news, cheapest, more expensive or even reviews? Ah, it is true I am offline I can feel the flavor but not read reviews or the top 10. I introduce you the Brick-and-mortar’s dilemma, they want to have more but in their case more is less, less capacity of making sense out of hundreds if not even thousands of one same product’s varieties – different brands, characteristics, flavors or recipes – and a headache to manage shelf space and inventory.

Digitally speaking, one can figure out how to choose and which variety to buy in a couple of minutes. Why? Because one can easily go for stats with reviews, best ranked, top 10, news…. filtering what one wants. Sometimes one can cheat, choosing online but buying offline. Some chains have both an off and online presence. Isn’t it cool? Well, it is more than cool, it is a revolution. The Internet and web brought new potential and shaped consumers opinions and interests in a new and different way. Like I mention in Being just a click away! With a click we can buy a pack of cookies or lead a brand to “bankruptcy” with a negative opinion that is transformed in a buzz effect reaching millions of people and the entire globe. It is powerful, isn’t it?

Amazon.com and eBay are two good examples of eCommerce , reviews and ranking gained a new signification with these two examples. Communities were created around them, specialists or regular people, are ranking and reviewing thousands of products every single day and “helping” customers choosing. One cannot conceive a world without influencers (people who give their opinions and make reviews on products), they help buying and choosing, they give us tips but they can also misleading us. Are they truly helping us? If you have a good sample of different people ranking, giving their opinions and sharing info then one can say that they are helping us, otherwise it can be speculative and manipulative.

Be careful one reading a review! Try to read a representative sample.

Online retailers have the whole supply tagged and filtered helping consumers buying and choosing but also pushing products to consumers. When one enters one of this sites and after a while the site generates some suggestions based on your clicks. WOW! Yep and it is not new. Digital and, besides everything mentioned before, can generate suggestions based on one clicks. A kind of basic artificial intelligence that learn with you suggesting more of what you have been interested in for the last visits. They have literally the demand in their engines they can do what a normal retailer cannot, they can influence you with suggestions tailor made for you along your visit to the site. This is the amazing potential of digital commerce, with a log in you can do even more. The Long Tail (concept well spread due to Chris Anderson Book with the same name) phenomenon is amazing and scary at the same time. People’s buying routines and habits changed at light speed bringing a new reality a reality where an offline presence it is not enough anymore, a reality where supermarkets and chains are a bit lost not knowing what to do (going online, not going online, reshape product range…). But and on top of that online retailers can also record all the clicks and time spend with a product and replicate them through elaborated and complex algorisms suggesting other similar products to you.

Algorism is the technique of performing basic arithmetic by writing numbers in place value form and applying a set of memorized rules and facts to the digits”. In Wikipedia

A revolution of social habits that highly affected not only the demand but also the supply it started with a new and powerful communication channel internet and a place the web. It is amazing what you can do in digital commerce and with new technologies and IT tools.

I want variety supplied with a filter included! What will be the brick-and-mortar traditional chains? Sticking to the head of the tail, the blockbusters, and forget the tail? Is still the 80/20 rule applicable? ( 80% of the revenue coming from 20% of the products) Not sure of that!

One more aspect to be analyzed and that have a high impact in the way people interact and buy. A crucial aspect if you are a marketer, wanting to understand its audience and the best way to reach them: a more efficient, with a higher rate of satisfaction and loyalty way! Here we go again, the audience always the audience! A new way of commercializing products and services with a powerful technology supporting and enhancing it. However, all the strategies must cope with your audience choices and interests.

Ah have a look at my previous post Do you want to build a successful marketing strategy? Pay attention to the “triangle”!

We are all “amateurs”, aren’t we?

A while ago, I realized that you do not need to be a professional anymore to be able to share your insights and contribute with your knowledge to a pool of content. The World Wide Web enhanced people to become an “amateur” (meaning here someone who does not make a living out of that subject) sharing ideas and collaborating on something bigger than his or her own backyard and garage experiences. What motivated me to write this post were the amazing posts that I have been reading lately and that were written by these so called “amateurs”. I must say that they were amazingly clever, sharing insights and content in an openness that one was not prepared to enjoy for free! I should say that probably the best posts that I have ever read were written by “amateurs”.

What is an “amateur”? For this matter, an “amateur” is someone who produces content out of his or her own expertise gained through a “second life”, a non-professional life, a hobby. Well, if I have to make a bio of them, I should say that they are passionate people, people who like to share what they love most. They spend almost all of their free time investigating, gathering info and data, analyzing and writing about it. The content that they produce is to be shared with their peers (people with the same passion, most of them are not professionals also) to be farther discussed, developed and improved.

Why? Why do they do what they do? In my point of view, for three main reasons. First, for recognition, they want to be recognized as experts in a subject where they are not professionals. Yes, I know, it is a bit cumbersome to understand at first hand! Well, they want to be recognized as “experts” by their peers and readers (virtual readers). Second, for improvement and help on mastering their “art”. If someone out there on the World Wide Web can help with new ideas for them that is great. Last but not least, to brand and to help marketing themselves and their by-product(s). Their expertise can be leveraged in the market and help achieving a better positioning.

Nevertheless the why (I believe is mostly to achieve recognition), this is the twenty first century novelty, at least for the beginning. Everybody can upload or download whatever they want for free, for a fee or just for the cost price of producing it. Not only the content that has a big and well identified demand will be published, the niche stuff can also be shared and read by whoever who wants it. Democratization of content for readers and producers will help humanity evolving in a more diversified way. Ah, by the way the reach is also amazing everybody with an internet connection can easily reach it through the World Wide Web.

The Great Digital World! Where everything is only a click away!