To meme or not to meme

To an evolutionary biologist a meme is a behaviour, idea or action that is passed from one person to another within a culture.  It’s the evolution of ideas through the spread, replication and adaptation of words. They are infective and viral and compete for your attention.

The internet meme stays pretty true to this and they are a great viral addition to the modern marketing toolkit. Your meme can be a word meme, video meme, photo/image meme, animal advice meme or something dreamt up in a marketing moment of magic. Make it familiar, topical, shareable, succinct and funny and sit back and watch it go viral.

So let’s take a look at memes that have worked , some meme creation platforms and then decide where to best position your meme for maximum effect.

Memes that work

With your brand in mind think carefully before you leap on board the meme train. Memes are fun and can be adapted to fit virtually every brand but may, and do replicate, and turn the tides of public opinion against you. What ideas do you think will resonate with your clients and their demographic? Overt marketing is a big no-no, remember that a meme is fun and interactive and think through the consequences of using culturally insensitive images or words. They could come back to bite you. Bill Cosby posted a picture of himself in 2014 inviting people to meme him and boy did they.

successmeme

Social media success is within your reach…

Baby Sammy’s fist clench denoting ‘success’ or ‘frustration’ started life as an image taken by his mother and was uploaded to Flickr and Getty Images. Since then it has snowballed and captured the imagination with success memes going viral in their thousands. Virgin Mobile paid an undisclosed sum to licence the image for advertisements and it was even used by the Whitehouse for an immigration campaign. Sammy Griner maybe the most recognised baby on the internet… after North West . This meme also significantly raised money through crowdfunding for Justin Griner (Sammy’s father) when he needed a kidney transplant in 2015.

shrek

Poor Shrek will never escape the swamp

There were some great meme campaigns last year including the “Straight Outta … “meme generator which promoted the film “Straight Outta Compton” boosting ticket sales at the box office. Try it yourself here http://www.straightouttasomewhere.com/ . The great thing about this campaign is the ease with which anyone can participate and share their meme. The public loved it creating hilarious memes,  and no animal, politician or cartoon character was safe.

Meme Generators

There are plenty of meme generators to help you in your quest including the following:-

  • imgflip. Has a stock or established images which you can caption however there is also the option to upload your own images.
  • Dubsmash app can be downloaded and will allow users to create well known movie scenes and video lip synch to their favourite songs.
  • Meme Generator was the first online meme generator and will allow you to caption popular characters and animals like ‘grumpy cat’ and will also allow you to upload your own images and meme those or invite others to so.
  • QuickMeme

There are always more meme generators popping up on the internet so keep an eye out and do let me know if you have a favourite app or generator. If you don’t think you can summon up the right sense of humour then have a browse through KnowyourMeme and exercise your inner comedian.

Get your Meme Seen!

Now that you had created your meme and discussed its role in your marketing campaign where are you going to put it?

  • Reddit is the number one place to post your meme on the internet, look for the right subreddit and submit your meme. If it does make it to the front page then you will get a dofollow backlink. It is also a great place to have a look what is trending and in a few weeks you will see the memes trending on more conventional social media sites like Facebook. You could hijack and get on board a trending topic like the impeachment of Brasilian President Dilma Roussef before others or just use it to test out the virality of your created meme. If your meme is popular it will be adapted and go viral quickly.
  • Tumblr . This is a hybrid of social media and a blogging platform. If your content and images are liked then you can benefits from reblogs which do give backlinks. With 10 million users and rising this is the platform not to ignore, especially for great content writers.
  • Your meme can be shared, liked and commented on, driving traffic to your Facebook page and increasing your followers. Whether they are your target market is a question you should have a think about when creating your meme.
  • Supported by appropriate hashtags your meme could be picked up by influential retweeters in your region and further. Just search for the popular hashtag #firstworldproblems and you will see how effectively this hastag has gone memetastic.
  • StumbleUpon .A great place to submit your memes with millions of users it will definitely drive traffic to your website but again be aware they may not all be your target market and have a plan in placeto market additionally or gain subscribers on the landing page so visitors may turn into customers or brand advocates. The added advantage is that backlinks can be produced.
  • No handy backlinks on this site but plenty of users and a perfect fit for meme humour.

Hopefully you are not ready to produce your memes.  Just remember your sense of humour.

ISM’s next Social Media Marketing Course is running  from 26th to 28th April in Dubai. Please get in touch through [email protected] if you want to learn more .

Mona Lisa

Is your business as compelling as the Mona Lisa? Do you have an audience for your product?

Market research is the backbone of every company if it wants to maintain and grow profitability. Yet many companies ignore their market research, or don’t do any at all. However, whether you’re selling a new insurance product, or want to set up an art gallery in Bastakiya, research is the key ingredient to success.

At its core, market research is all about finding out what people love and hate about your company. If you’re founding a new business, your market research is aimed at finding out whether people actually want what you are planning to sell.

Market research gives isn’t just an exercise, it can have a powerful impact on your business, helping you make difficult decisions because you are armed with the knowledge to back up your arguments.

For those who’ve never done any market research the humble questionnaire is still considered a highly effective way to learn about your customers. There are many online tools to help you set up a detailed set of questions to help you better understand how your company is perceived by the people who buy your products.

Be honest with your questions though. Give people the opportunity to rate your business. Ask them what they like and don’t like. Where they feel there is room for improvement.What’s the best thing you’ve ever done, and the worst. Ask how your products impact on their lives. How long they’ve been a customer, and most importantly what they feel you can do to make improvements that will make their lives better.

The questionnaire is also a great way to find out what customers feel about your competition. Are they doing a better job than you? Is there something you are doing much better than they are? By asking the questions you can improve your position in the market.

You may not like all the answers you see, but you may find that the negative feedback you receive on a particular product is also being seen in the annual sales figures for that product. And if people have left comments on why they don’t like it, you can make a more informed decision on the future of that particular line in your business.

Conversely, lots of love for a particular product may give you the confidence to put more marketing budget into promoting it beyond your current customer base.

Market research doesn’t have to be something you actively go out and do. One of the most amazingly truthful, and free, market research tools is customer feedback.  This can come through social media (Twitter and Facebook are great for finding out what people are saying about your brand), emails, letters, and recorded telephone calls.

Where some companies go wrong with this type of market research is that they embrace the good and ignore the bad. But they shouldn’t. Negative feedback is a fantastic opportunity to see what customers really don’t like about your products, services, or business. The comments are usually honest – although you should have a system in place to sift out the trolls. By reading what customers are saying you can develop ways to make improvements, or even set about designing a new product that serves their needs better.

To get the most out of market research, you have to be tough enough to read the answers and do something about it. Don’t leave it languishing on your hard drive – face up to the challenges it provokes.

So you’ve decided it’s time to start your email marketing campaign to your Dubai or Gulf database… but before you begin there are some simple ways of making it truly effective.

When to send

People are busy and your email has to hit their inbox at a time when they are in a receptive mood. There has been a lot of research done into when this golden time is and generally, midweek is a great time for business emails.

If you are selling to the consumer, then the rules change slightly. Some companies choose a blanket approach such as one a day, usually sent in the middle of the night so as to be one of the first emails seen in the morning. However, this can be highly annoying and many people just unsubscribe if you send too often.

UAE flag

Are you planning to launch a National Day product ?

When tying your marketing campaign into a national holiday or event, then a couple of days beforehand is a good time to send – especially if you an e-commerce company hoping to sell more products on the back of the holiday. It gives people time to have the goods delivered before the day itself.

Subject heading

It’s really important to get this right, because if you get it wrong it’ll be deleted straight away. Remember that people are busy and no matter how great your offer or interesting your newsletter, if the header doesn’t grab them within two seconds, your email marketing effort is toast.

Words like ‘free’, ‘limited offer’, ‘sale ends today’, do grab attention and are worth using if you are doing a push in a tight time frame. For those who are sending out monthly newsletters, then you need to remember what your target audience is likely to respond to. Try to think like a journalist – what is the most attention-grabbing nugget in your newsletter? When you know what it is, put it in the subject header.

What’s in the Body?

You may have heard that email marketing is dead, but that isn’t true. What is dead is the old style of sending out long, text heavy emails that nobody has the time or the inclination to wade through. You have to break up your emails, put in images and make it look attractive, as well as having interesting articles, news, and special offers.

Give people a taste of what you are offering and then place a link in there for them to click on. You can take them to your website for the special offer, or a more detailed blog.

Who’s clicking through?

So you’ve managed to get people to open the email and click on the most important link – what now? Are you tracking how people behave when they read your email? If you aren’t analysing your email click through rates, you are missing some essential business information.

There are many different types of software out there to track what people are doing with your emails. One of the most popular by far is Mail Chimp. This gives you the power to know who is opening your emails, and whether they are clicking on any links in that email.

This type of knowledge makes your email marketing much more targeted. By analysing how people respond to one email, you can adjust your next one, refining all the time to make the most of this simple marketing tool.

Being a great salesperson means remembering that some of your best sales don’t come from new clients, but from established ones. They’re the ones who have already bought into your product before and they are more likely to buy into it again.

It pays dividends to keep in touch !

Keep in touch

In the race to get new business it’s easy to forget old contacts and business customers. But a really good salesperson knows not to do that. Keep track of when you meet clients and what they are doing. If there is a conference coming up, that’s the perfect time to get in touch with old clients and see if they are going. If they are, arrange to meet up. Talking in a social setting is a more relaxed way to remind your old customers that your business is still there for them

Cross-sell

When talking to customers keep your ear open for opportunities to cross sell products. Depending on the setting, you may want to set up another, more business orientated meeting to discuss what else you company has that will help the customer.

Analyse your customer base

The vast majority of your business will come from a small number of clients. Sitting down and identifying those clients is essential. Knowing which clients order more of your product or service, than any other, means you can specifically target them first when offering a new product.

Plan

As in everything, planning is the key ingredient to being successful. Give yourself some time to sit down and go through what you want to achieve in the next 12-month period. You can break this down into how to leverage the relationships you have with current customers and what you can do to create new customers. Using the information you’ve gathered from looking at the most lucrative customers, you’ll know how to offer them a better service. You may also see how that relationship developed from a cold start to being profitable. Once you know how it was done once, you can look at ways of replicating it with another potential customer.

Perfect your presentation

It’s pointless trying to shy away from it – every salesperson has to a sales pitch or presentation at some point. Which is why you need to make it as perfect as possible. Remember a sales presentation is your chance to show customers and potential customers how your product will add real benefit to their business. Don’t go overboard with words like ‘exciting’, ‘wonderful’, ‘innovative’. Instead focus on why you think it’s all these things. Remember to always show the benefits of your products and how they will make life better for your customer. This approach is more valid, and the customer can identify more easily with it.

Stretch yourself

If you have mastered the art of keeping in touch with old customers, you may well feel quite comfortable without having to go out and find new business. But, as the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Don’t rely on a small number of customers to keep you business going. Calling a new lead can be daunting, but done right it will produce new business – you never know, one of those may well become the best customer you’ve ever had.

Being a successful sales person in Dubai is no different from a sales role in London, New York or Mumbai. You have to have work on your current customer list and take the time to find new customers periodically.

It’s an easy trap to fall into, staying within your comfort zone. Easy it may be, but to market to your Dubai customers effectively, sticking to old formulas could be stopping you bringing in new business, or making more out of the relationships you already have.

Talking is good, Listening is better

The major mistakes in B2B marketing isn’t just a Dubai issue, it is a problem that spans the globe. Companies know their products inside out, but don’t know their customer’s business as well. Knowing your product is important, but not knowing what your customer’s business is, means you don’t know how your product will really help them.

Listening to them, researching their markets fully, means you can see your own products through their eyes. This is when you really start to appreciate why your product is the solution they need. And if you find it isn’t, you can start developing better products to meet their needs more effectively.

Articulate your Value Proposition

Having listened to your customer, you now know what they want. Do you know how to sell that back to them with your product? You’re not just selling this idea to them; you are selling it to their customers as well. Put together a sharp message that shows how you are not only selling something they need, but also something their customer needs, and you are showing you care about their supply chain.

If you can show how the end customer benefits, you are well on your way to selling the idea to your customer.

Death by PowerPoint

Favoured by the smallest one-man band to the biggest global leaders in business, PowerPoint is a great tool for selling a new product. But more often than not, the customer isn’t engaged by your presentation.

Creating a PowerPoint that sells means paring down what’s on screen to the absolute takeaway information. Think about the images, do they really sell your product? Are they the same pictures you’ve been using for years? Don’t just have the product on its own, show it in use. Look hard at the text, how many bullet points do you need?

destination london game

Destination London was rejected in Dragons den due to a poor presentation but has gone on to be a bestseller spawning spin offs.

Your presentation is there to inspire, you are putting on a show. Don’t leave the writing of the presentation to the salesman. Get the best writer you have, or can afford to bring in, to write it.

Harness the Power of the Web

Discover more about a company and how they tick by using the web. Not only can you find out about their business from their website, looking up individuals on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, will give you a more rounded idea about who they are. Understanding people is the first step in creating a better working relationship.

On the flip side, the web is the place to get your products out into the public eye. Use social media to build a buzz about your products and services. Choose wisely before you start: you wouldn’t advertise your accountancy services at a rock concert, so consider every social media vehicle as carefully.

There is no excuse for coasting along with old marketing habits. Think of the internet as a tool. Not only can you find out more about your customers, reach out to them in new and exciting ways, your Dubai marketing team can find the latest trends in marketing and implement them on your home turf.

Despite local differences in etiquette, it doesn’t matter if  you want to improve your sales skills in Dubai, London, or Singapore there are four main elements that will improve your sales technique.

1. Be the Adult in the Room

The successful salesperson knows that when they sit down to talk to a client about a product or service, they are the expert in the room on that product or service.

Your customer may have researched you and called you into a meeting, they may know a lot about the different kinds of products available in your industry, but essentially it is you, the company salesperson who knows most about your company’s offering. And if you don’t, you shouldn’t be in the meeting in the first place.

By understanding that you are the most knowledgeable person on your service, you can talk with confidence and be able to show why it’s the right fit for the customer.

2. You are there to sell a product, not make a friend

Getting too close and personal with people in business is not what makes a great salesperson. That doesn’t mean you are have to be cold and impersonal, it means you have to remember the difference between making a friend and making a sale.

3. Ditch the Ego

Johnny Bravo

An over-sized ego could land you in hot water!

Too much bravado, over-confidence or excessive ostentation from you will be off-putting to potential customers. When you walk into a meeting there will be plenty of egos in there already, you don’t need to add yours to the mix. By turning down the volume on you the salesperson, you allow your product or service to get a greater slice of the attention, so it becomes the star of the show.

That doesn’t mean you forget the first point of being the adult in the room: you know your product and you know how it will benefit the customer.

4. Question, then Listen and Watch

One of the big mistakes a salesperson can make is to do all the talking. Firstly, many people think they’ve told you everything about themselves or their business, but every successful salesperson knows that very often the customer hasn’t told the whole story. By asking questions you learn a lot more about what the company needs from your product.

You may think that you have a good idea of how the company can use your products, but by asking the right questions and listening to their answers, by the end of the conversation you will learn what they really need.

Not only does listening to what people say, and watching their body language, give you a better understanding of how you can help that company with your services, it also shows that you have a real interest in their business. That interest will earn you, the salesperson, more respect from the room, and as a consequence you’ve just added a level of respect for your product.

To learn more about how you can really improve your sales technique, the Institute of Sales and Marketing offer professional level courses for successful sales skills in Dubai. Find out more and book a place today https://www.ismdubai.com/

 

 

Sources:

https://www.ismdubai.com

http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/06/the_seven_personality_traits_o.html

In part 2 of  the Buyer’s Perspective , Bill looks at some more key areas that a buyer may raise questions about – from whether your company aims are aligned to theirs to whether you  are able to establish the quality of your product. As a salesperson it is critical to understand their perspective before offering solutions.

4. Shared strategic aims

It is important to identify the supplier’s core business area(s), and whether the buyer’s requirement coincides with it. This will affect how important the contract would be to the supplier if they were to be successful. Consider the organisation’s strategic aims and those of the supplier, how they fit together and the areas where work is required to reconcile them.

Buyer's persperctive

Bill trains by raising questions and challenging you to find solutions through collaboration and simulated exercises

5. Culture

The compatibility between the business cultures of the customer and the supplier will be a key factor in determining the strength of the relationship and therefore the achievement of shared strategic aims.

6. Organisation and management

How does the supplier manage its own business? What tools does it use for quality management, financial management, performance management, contract management, risk management, change management etc?

7. Quality management

Does the supplier have a suitable quality management system and appropriate quality records? Does the organisation have a suitable quality policy and effective quality organisation? Is the supplier’s quality organisation and quality management system of a suitable standard, with demonstrable evidence of continuous service quality improvements in line with customer expectations?

8. Project and programme management

Can the supplier demonstrate experience and expertise in Project Management and/or Programme Management? How will the supplier interface with the project’s programme and project management procedures?

9. Proposed supplier organisation and project staffing

When the supplier’s capability to meet the buyer’s requirements has been established it will then be necessary to consider the organisation and resources the supplier intends to use to manage their responsibilities under any contract that may be awarded. Does the organisational structure of the supplier (or the supply chain they are proposing) enable them to meet the requirement, fulfil expectations of quality, and build a strong working relationship?

10.Technical understanding

Does the supplier’s proposal demonstrate full understanding of the requirement in all respects, or at least to the level you would expect pre-contract award? Does the supplier demonstrate full technical understanding of their own proposed solution?

11. Proposed management processes

Does the supplier’s proposal demonstrate their management expertise in processes relevant to the buyer’s requirements? Are the support systems that are in place adequate for the proposed arrangement? Does the supplier’s proposal have a suitable process for controlling changes in requirements?

The final key areas will be discussed next week in this comprehensive series on the Buyer’s perspective. Of course as Bill pointed out in Part 1 not all of these will be applicable during a given sales process , however they are food for thought along the journey to becoming a successful consultative seller.

Stop sign

Stop and think about who is writing your copy!

Look back ten years ago in Dubai, and indeed across the world, and the role of a digital copywriter barely existed. Commercial use of the Internet was in its infancy and most companies employed their traditional copywriters with little consideration of how the new medium would change their role.

Today, however, there is a distinct line to be drawn between a traditional print copywriter and a digital copywriter. Obviously, there are cross over skills: such as the ability to write clear, concise, engaging copy. But without a deep understanding of the mechanics of writing for the web, the copy will fail to attract attention and so your business will fail to convert visitors into customers.

Whether your company is in Dubai, New York or Beijing, the skills you need from a digital copywriter will be the same. Here are the top five:

1.     Keywords and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Despite the global reach of the internet, you need to talk to you potential client and customer base locally, so your copywriter needs to know how to create content for your website that includes keywords that search engines will pick up. For example, when a person in downtown Dubai searches for a Dubai locksmith, you need those two words on your website. Very importantly, a good digital copywriter will be able to include keywords in a way that doesn’t make the copy read like complete gibberish!

2.     Call to Action As website design has become increasingly sophisticated, so have the methods used to attract the attention of visitors to websites. Without an effective call to action button on a web page, a potential customer will not understand how to navigate and will go to another site. Now while a good designer will already know where on the page to place the call to action buttons, it is the job of the digital copywriter to choose from the myriad of tried and test phrases to appeal directly to your target audience.

3.     Site Map Now, this is one that many traditional copywriters may not even be aware exists. The Site Map is the designers crumb trail to how a website is constructed. The digital copywriter also needs to know how a site map works to create the content in a cohesive fashion.

4.     Content Strategy This goes hand-in-hand with the Site Map. Without a strong understanding of how a visitor is guided through the website, a digital copywriter cannot construct an effective content strategy that encourages visitors to the site to get to the ‘buy’, ‘download’, ‘sign-up’ page. And once they’ve been drawn to those pages, good copy will put them in the mood to take action.

 5.     Schedules and Updates  Once your website has been created it cannot stay exactly the same forever. Without new content, visitors to your website will dwindle and it will slowly disappear from the search engine radar. Keeping on top of your content means your site stays fresh not only for seo but, and this is often forgotten in the race to be number one on Google, for your customers and clients. Fresh and interesting content will not only retain your old customers, it’ll attract new ones.

 

Crazy ads dubai

No help needed in copywriting here I am sold!

A website will give you global reach but as a Dubai based company, what you need from your digital copywriter is the ability to create a brilliant content strategy that markets your products and services to your local audience.

Many of the traditional roles of Human Resources are becoming automated or ‘self-serviced ‘and as this happens many HR managers in Dubai are seeing a shift in their roles from administrative to a more strategic one. Successful companies recognise that HR professionals have a very relevant role to play in today’s knowledge economy as stewards of a business’s most important asset- their human potential. The best HR talent in the region will (if they already aren’t) be positioning themselves as talent evaluators/analysers, performance coaches and linking their departments firmly to organisational strategy. Challenges in today’s fast paced market mean that companies have to innovate and respond quickly to change in order to be sustainable. Building employee competence, to achieve organisational objectives is a mainstay of competitive advantage and HR has a primary role in championing the fulfilment of a company’s human assets.

No longer reactive to staff issues they must proactively make sure they understand the links between employee motivation and organisational performance. A key factor in employee motivation is development of talent through informal and formal training, providing opportunities for cross-training in other roles, challenging employees with new responsibilities and creating a culture of learning within the organisation. While ensuring that there is access and funding to  industry specific training and soft skills, 21st century imperatives in training such as building creativity and technological skills cannot be ignored. Mentoring, coaching or team teaching are possible in-house solutions.HR is also responsible for ensuring this training is followed up with opportunities to practice and that it is quantitatively evaluated for effectiveness. Although the choice of training is aligned to company strategy, employees that can select their own developmental direction embrace the opportunity to become self-managers and are  more engaged, active learners – an asset for any company.

Leadership? What is it? To help me with this question I am summarising a great report this week…so you don’t have to.

Bill Gates

Transformational leaders can cause change in individuals and social systems

Identifying the qualities that make a “great leader” and using these to appoint or promote is still a widely used approach despite the inconsistency of traits appearing across the board. Some of the traits identified consistently however include charisma, intelligence, emotional control and application to task as well as social skills and group task supportiveness. Traits like honesty and integrity are difficult to measure and later theories centred on behavioural aspects focusing on relationships and performance. McGregor’s Theory Y managers had a participative approach to leadership believing that commitment to objectives would empower a workforce to seek responsibility and be ultimately self-directing whilst the Theory X managers used an autocratic style directing and controlling passive workers who lacked self- control. The contingency model of leadership holds that there is no best way to lead and different situations will call for different styles e.g. in a routine environment the leadership may be much more directive whilst in a dynamic environment a more flexible approach is called for. The leader’s situational control is influenced by leader-member relations, task structure and the perceived amount of power the leader feels they have to direct, reward or punish. It suggests that leadership style should be directed to the area where it is most suited in a company. A relationship orientated leader would fare well for example in customer service and a task orientated leader in sales management.

Blanchard suggested that leadership styles are dependent on the developmental level of the subordinate and can be directive, coaching, supporting or delegating.Tannebaum and Schmidt’s leadership continuum recognises that leadership behaviour can vary from autocratic through persuasive and consultative to democratic. Formal organisations such an education establishments seldom are democratic and subordinates experience low participation in decision making. Again the use of the telling or autocratic style would be contingent on situation…it would be ideal in an emergency. Adair‘s action centred leadership holds that a leader has to manage three aspects: task, individual and teams. Servant leadership (e.g. religious institutions) emphasises the need to serve rather than lead, it encourages trust, collaboration, listening to followers priorities and using power in an ethical way. Leaders also have a role in following others by asking questions instead of giving answers, contributing to the work of others, helping people find collaborators so they are not the central go to person and making sure goals are common. The leaders that can chose the path of following realise that only the individual or team has the capacity to do the task and that they may not hold all the judgement or know how.

A more holistic leadership style is team leadership which builds on diversity, talent and develops colleagues… a more participative and flexible approach that lends itself to  innovation and problem solving- key in today’s changing global economy. The solo leader has become an outmoded concept and leaders that interfere, dictate, seeks to mould and need admirers may not survive long or sustain a business model. Transformational leadership has the purpose of inspiring others to strive, builds momentum, seeks perspective from others and considers that all individuals have differing needs. It asks people to put aside their own needs for group/organisational/social benefit and  is concerned with individual development and building respect for values.

If you want to read more, the paper I have summarised can be accessed from the reference hyperlink. Leadership is a much studied, hot subject and one that deserves meaningful thought in organisations. What’s your leadership style?

References

Bolden, R., Gosling, J., Maturano, A., & Dennison. (2003). A review of leadership theory and competency frameworks. Retrieved November 4th, 2011, from http://centres.exeter.ac.uk/cls/documents/mgmt_standards.pdf

In the October Issue of the Harvard Business Review magazine Zenger, Folkman and Edinger (2011) describe a path for executives to take to enhance their leadership strengths using a cross-training approach. Leadership key competencies were paired with competency companions and when these companions were addressed the strength became more distinct to the employer pushing executives closer to the tipping point they needed for promotion into a leadership role. They argue that a single extraordinary strength can elevate you from the bottom third of leaders whilst two distinct strengths will put you in the top third of candidates.

In the cross-training approach strengths should be identified and selection of strength to focus on quantitatively made. This is based on your skills, the importance of that strength to the organisation and the passion you feel for it (do you actively and happily seek knowledge in this area outside your defined job role?). A complimentary behaviour to strengthen is then chosen to work on. Their example executive’s selected personal strength was ‘inspires and motivates others’, a recognised leadership quality. From a list of competency companions which included ‘develops others’ and ‘nurtures innovation’, he chooses to work on ‘communicates powerfully and broadly’. This skill was also important to his organisation and if he successfully masters it could emphasise his strength, namely ‘to inspire and motivate others’.

Queen Rania

21st Century leaders must be inspirational

Whilst leaders should leverage their strengths it also behoves them to recognise and eliminate their weaknesses. Leaders that do not recognise their weaknesses are often dictatorial and egotistic, the type of leader that rules by authority and rank instead of knowledge, integrity,influence or charisma. Are you scrutinising your leadership skills and working on them?

“Leadership is not magnetic personality — that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people’ — that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” –Peter F. Drucker

References

Zenger, J.H., Folkman, J.R., & Edinger, S.K. (2011, October). Making Yourself Indispensable. Harvard Business Review Magazine. Retrieved 4th October, 2011 from http://hbr.org/2011/10/making-yourself-indispensable/ar/4

From its inception in 2005 when Lapitsky and Kim uploaded the first video ”Me at the Zoo”, You Tube has become the world’s most popular online video community with over 3 billion videos viewed each day.

It is a hub for communities and individuals to distribute original content to connect, enlighten and stimulate a global audience. It has a more diverse demographic than you might think with 20% of its viewers over the age of 55, it really is reaching out across all age groups.

It is proving to be a fertile ground for advertisers with producers of online videos making money as You Tube partners or individuals.  The largest advertising companies in the world are running campaigns on You Tube and display ads have increased 10 fold or more in the last year.

Whether you want to entertain, inform or persuade is a decision that will affect how much popular appeal your video has but your decision should be weighted by what your target audience wants or needs to know and appreciate how they prefer to find their information.

Susan Boyle

Viral marketing sensation!

For viral marketing you only have to look at the “Susan Boyle” effect. The UK advert Channel posted a video of her singing on ‘Britain’s got Talent’ which to date has had 75,681,181 views not accounting for  the myriads of video placements found associated with Susan Boyle, other performances, comments and interviews. What was incredible about this from a marketing perspective was the speed at which the video sharing occurred. Were you one of this millions that viewed or shared the video? I know I did.

So how should you approach You Tube as a company wishing to promote itself and what are the benefits of using it?

Approach

  • Identify your viewers and what they want, make it helpful and informative. Aim to become a trusted expert in your field.
  • Consider becoming a You Tube partner. This will help you become featured on their homepage.
  • Create your own channel and grow your viewer base which you can use to email about events or promotions.
  • Consider product placement in You Tube videos.
  • Be consistent with your message and publish engaging content on a frequent basis that has relevance for your audience.
  • Use YouTube tags so users can easily find you.Recognise that this is part of an overall marketing strategy , plan accordingly.
  • Realise that it is an opportunity to reach consumers who are searching for information about a brand or related products and services. This is even more relevant now given that Google owns YouTube.

Benefits

  • It can help increase your site visibility since videos can leap to the head of Google’s search engine.
  • It is a powerful direct marketing tool, when considered as part of the marketing mix.
  • YouTube tags help users easily find you.
  • You Tube now makes it easy to share video socially.
  • More than 500 tweets per minute contain a You Tube link. There are vibrant communities and specialist groups communicating and sharing.
  • Helps humanise your brand. Home Depot and Wholefoods are two examples.
  • It’s a bandwidth saver option for your website’s streaming content though your website links should highlight its availability if you choose this option.

Above all, what all You Tube business users need to realise is that it is a discriminating intelligent community .Whatever your meme or interest, open access content is providing us all with insight, entertainment or breaking news whether it be the recipe for the perfect Mayonnaise, watching Maradona attack an Al Wasl fan or learning how to use WordPress Blog. With Kuwait, Saudi and the UAE amongst the top global You Tube users video marketing cannot be neglected as part of the marketing mix.

If you want to learn more about how your company can leverage Social Media Marketing as part of their marketing mix, ISM are running their Social Media Marketing course in October.

This is my favourite Summer video,let’s hope Wii gave them some free goodies..

burj khalifa

AR 'at the top'!

On the hunt for more Augmented Reality (AR) in Dubai, I have recently come across a few more examples. The first is to be found at the tallest structure in Dubai, the Burj Khalifa.  On the 124th floor viewers can use a telescope to view a live stream of Dubai. If a location of interest within the field of view is selected then additional information will appear on a screen. At the moment this is limited to tourist attractions. Panadol , also ran an AR campaign to launch their new packaging in Mall of the Emirates (Talk Partnership).

Mapping projection is more prevalent in the region with examples of the Fanta Chase and the recent unveiling of Green Line metro in Dubai. Nabil Moutran,  the Regional Director from Ogilvy One explained that  the  reason AR hasn’t yet been strongly  picked up in this market as in other regions , is simply due to the fact that the new world of digitalisation from a marketing perspective is still being explored. He expects rapid growth to come in digital marketing as a whole. However, he emphasised that Ogilvy One, whilst constantly   looking for new technologies and methods to engage with consumers, considers the creative idea as central to brand marketing. If the idea then allows Ogilvy One to explore new tech such as AR, then it is proposed.

“We believe in innovation, but our focus remains on developing strong ideas.”

A strong and effective marketing idea is vital to the successful promotion of products or services and at the moment AR may not be the best delivery medium. Marketing ideas should be responsive to changes in the local markets and be able to adapt to local tastes and preferences.  However, if marketing firms in the region are not developing their digital marketing /AR expertise and looking towards the future then this may be a lost opportunity to become market leaders in technophilic Dubai.

Thanks to Roland for some AR spotting and Nabil Moutran from Ogilvy One ( responsible for Fanta Chase). An enthusiast at the top, Burj Khalifa.

As a non-finance manager or executive are you completely lost when it comes to understanding financial jargon? Well if you replied “Yes” then you belong to the majority according to the Harvard Business Review. It   revealed that only 38% of executives could pass a basic financial literacy test and many of them couldn’t define ‘free cash flow” (Berman & Knight, 2009).

See if you can answer these three questions they asked ..they are not as easy as they might appear and  only a mere 26% got question 2 right!

[QUIZZIN 1]

Finance may not be a large part of your role but it is very important in today’s challenging marketplace for all managers, executives and small business owners to have a firm grasp of the fundamentals. Successful managers must be able to communicate effectively with those who get things done and those controlling the financial aspects of the organisation.  To succeed as a non financial manager, knowledge of basic financial principles (balance sheet, profit/loss account and cash flow) as well as the budgeting process is critical. You have to understand that the  decisions you make in running your department or business will affect your organisation’s financial performance and you are likely to be held accountable for this. If you want to move to senior management then it is almost certain that you will need to have a working knowledge of financial management to help budgeting, increase profits through recognition of financial drivers/ loss makers and determine financial viability of projects.  It also enables you to make sense of those financial statements about your organisation’s operating costs and financial control.

The challenge is that a large number of us perceive finance as boring, irrelevant to our roles and difficult, but we all know that cash needs to be managed effectively in order to meet present and future demands . It might even help  ensure that your role will be  not become redundant due to “tighter financial controls” proposed by the accountants you perhaps walk swiftly past. Warren Buffett said ‘There are really only three kinds of people in the world: those who can count and those who can’t. Which one are you?”

Could you go up against the Dragons with your financial knowledge?

References

Berman, K., & Knight, J. (2009, October). Are your people financially literate? Harvard Business Review. Retrieved September 15, 2011, from http://hbr.org/2009/10/are-your-people-financially-literate/ar/1

Larry Crowne

Are you up for going back to school?

Training is important and can potentially be life changing. Just ask Tom Hanks character Larry Crowne in the film of the same title. There are very real benefits to training:-

  • Staff learn new skills
  • Increases motivation, retention, confidence and job satisfaction
  • Staff refresh skills and keep up to date with new information
  • Can improve ‘soft skills ‘ such as leadership and communication
  • Customers benefit from better service
  • A comprehensive professional development strategy helps recruit top candidates
  • Increases efficiency, time management and productivity
  • Public courses also allow them to network and hear best practice from their own and  other sectors

As a return on investment (ROI) ongoing training has an impact on productivity and consequently bottom line. In Dubai many companies understand the value of training and their training departments work hard to present options that meet their specific needs. For a better ROI they need to source training providers that:-

  • Meet their employee and organisational needs.
  • Have courses that cover the skills required (take time to read course objectives).
  • Can customize their training and apply it to their industry.
  • Can provide the training when you need it.
  • Demonstrate good value.
  • Offer ongoing support.
  • Have a good market reputation.
  • Have quality trainers experienced in the local Gulf market.
  • Can help identify the ‘skills gap’ your employees might have. Do you know what they don’t know?

One of the major objections to training “I don’t have time” is actually indicative of the need for training. If well supported by management, training initiatives would not be the cause of employees breaking out in a rash thinking about all the work they are missing whilst on a training course. The importance of scheduling training in advance is a solution to this and most providers will have a yearly training calendar at least for their public courses and would only be too delighted to meet to discuss tailored programs.  Booking in advance can also give employees the time they need to plan/arrange/delegate while they are in the training room.   Most employees will want to engage in further training, especially if they are able to gain approval for courses they wish to attend.

Michelle Lewis-Smith the lead training adviser for ISM training recognizes this as a common objection she receives and added,

I can honestly say that getting my clients to attend their 2nd course with ISM is a matter of ‘when can I register’ rather than ‘I don’t have time’. It’s always great to see our clients progression in their career too, over the years you slowly watch their job title change from Sales Executive to Sales Manager to Sales Director to General Manager etc….. These are people that are not afraid to admit that they need a little help/guidance in their development and of course these people act on it rather than worry about it.

Now whilst that may be banging our own drum,  it is true that the individuals that engage in lifelong learning do have an outlook that can keep pace and adapt to the many changes we all experience in our workplace . The staff that know the value of investing time in training will be amongst the most innovative, motivational , able employees with strong performance records and increased company loyalty.

The big question is how to keep your business sustainable and marginalizing the impact training can provide is terminal. If you aren’t constantly developing your own or your staff’s skills you can bet that your competitors are.