The “Yes” Moment, Now What?

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Photo by Alexandre Dulaunoy at Flickr CC

Every once in a while, someone comes along and “discovers” you, while you are busy on your daily routine. You can barely blink rapidly, trying to absorb what’s going on. You are challenged to decide whether to keep walking the path you are walking, or make a sudden change. A million questions pop into your head. Your current path is comfortable, it has slowly grown and given you recognition. And although it may not be a high impact path [at the moment], you can’t help but to regard it with a certain cheer.

However, the possibility of something new, of perhaps taking a great leap into the future, starts tickling your throat. Fear or excitement of those described possibilities can either freeze you into place, or make you decide to change your path [at least for the time being]. If and when you decide to change, one of two outcomes will take place: you either start slow but steadily in a defined direction (best case scenario), or you start second guessing your former decision. You are hesitant on whether there’s still time to turn back, or keep walking a path that is hazy, unclear, and fuzzy.

This second scenario comes around more often than the first one in human nature. In the early 21st century, us humans are still incapable of foreseeing the future. We can at best make an educated guess or prediction. Though probabilities are higher in some instances than in others, truth be told is that no one knows the real outcome of things beforehand. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what keeps us with a tiny bit of fear at all times.

But how to NOT let the fear dominate our lives and makes us fight or flee on site? We can only trust ourselves into having made the right decision. Into putting our best effort into the equation. But… what if things go wrong? What if you made a wrong turn back there, when deciding between staying at your secure, comfortable path and “leaping” into the future? The what-ifs in life that slowly drill a hole into our minds.

The Least Dangerous Solution

Set clear goals for yourself. As long as your mind and eyes are focused on what needs to be done in the future, all efforts will come in naturally. If what you want to achieve, or what others want you to achieve, are clear cut or measurable, then life becomes more focused. You can stop wondering around, second guessing your decisions.

Of course, this does not guarantee 100% success, but it does lessen fear, and make your actions more definite and calculated. Emotions boil down to measurable actions.

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Value vs The Illusion of Value

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Photo by Mark Hunter on Creative Commons

What is the real difference between actual value and the illusion of value? How can you tell the difference when you are an unsuspecting customer who is looking to outsource a service or product? This is a very common dilemma, especially in a creative economy. The truth is, I have seen countless times in which service or product providers will promise a unicorn to their clients. What’s worse, clients end up paying a premium for a horse with a fancy horn glued to its head. Sound familiar?

This is not a post meant to pass judgement on either service providers or customers. This is a post dedicated to make you wonder why is it that [a great number of] service providers fall short when it comes to promise AND deliver real value, and why customers fail to perceive it.

I am a great fan of the now oldie-but-goodie series “Friends”. I remember this one particular episode in which Joey- played by Matt Le Blanc- includes French as one of his spoken languages in his résumé. He is quickly asked to audition for a role that is spoken in French 100% of the time. He then panics, and asks Phoebe – played by Lisa Kudrow- to help him learn just enough French before his big audition. Phoebe asks, “well, why do you include French in your résumé if you don’t speak a word of it?”. Joey is fast to respond, “you always include everything in your résumé; even if you don’t know how to do it. If it gets you the part, then you’ll have time to learn and deliver”, or something along those lines.

So many companies and service providers do this on a daily basis. In my personal experience (at least in the software and online marketing industries), I’ve seen sales teams promise wonders to their clients, and then go back to the company and say “well, the client wants this one unicorn, you see? Can we make it happen in 3 months time?”. It is then when engineers, marketers, and other team members roll their eyes and pray for a miracle.

General opinion may say that sales teams want to get to their quotas, and they want a juicy commission at the end of the day. However, let’s not underestimate (or sub-estimate) sales. After all, how in the world would they know just how far they can go on promising something? And that’s what brings me to a very powerful question: where’s the communication channel between sales and the rest of the company? Who is playing deaf and just wants to push their own agenda? Have we all stopped and think about how we are ALL actually a single team? I’m not saying that everyone is out for their own benefit, I’m saying that no one has stopped to really answer the question.

Sales teams need to get to know their product or service thoroughly. They need to sit down with others in their company and really learn their stuff. Just how much can the product or service do? What can it do and what can’t it do? How long does it take for the company to deliver on any given promise? How can you make a boundary clear enough so that you can create reasonable expectations for your customers? How can you really inform your customer about actual value and not just an illusion waiting to be busted?

As for the customers, since you are hiring an external firm to deliver a product or service that is not in fact your core value, how can you possibly know if what the firm is promising is real value? It may be easier to notice the value in tangible goods than in intangible ones. The best you can do as a customer is to do your homework and due diligence before compromising.

It’s amazing how sometimes we can fool ourselves thinking that we can deliver something based on our existing knowledge. Being humble enough to know that limitations exist give way to actual learning. And in the long run, as a provider, you’ll be able to deliver real value, and not just an illusion. What do you think?

 

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Growth Hacking

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Growth-Hacker

Growth-Hacker

The name might sound a bit off to you, or may be you are already familiar with the term. But really, if you are an entrepreneur or work at a startup-like environment, then you should know what a growth hacker is. A growth hacker is the person responsible for your user/market growth using online marketing techniques like funnelling and SEM. Let me put that in simple words for you. This person will be responsible for you having more customers, ergo (in theory) more revenue.

The naming and title might be subject to debate. You might conclude that a growth hacker wouldn’t be that much different from an online marketer. You would be right. It would be like calling a software developer a software engineer. Although there might be a few grey areas that correspond exclusively to a certain title, responsibilities are similar. So, why come up with a new name?

Simple. A growth hacker is really only focused on growth for your company. Period. An online marketer might take on a few other tasks like social media strategy, or online strategy design. Of course, this is only my conclusion after my own experience and research. What do you think? Feel free to comment below!

 

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No Shave November

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no-shave-november

no-shave-november, picture by web2carz.com

Yes, it’s that time of year. But why exactly does this “tradition” exist? There are many rumours that explain why No-Shave November or “Movember” was originated. Some people go back to quote Aristotle, when he recommended apprentices to grow their beards out in order to imitate the wisdom of their elders and teachers. Others say it’s more of an Industrial Revolution fashion.

But, let’s skip over to present day. For over a decade now, since 1999 to be exact, Movember has been a health awareness movement. Just like us women have October to remind us to check up on ourselves and prevent woman related issues, men have November. Although perhaps a lot less noticed. Quite a few number of people believe it’s just a male college student fad, but it as you can see, it has a deeper meaning.

Other brands have taken up the concept for their marketing campaigns, such as Old Spice. Yes, after all, marketing trends like these can relate to users and clients, and can state a point much louder than anyone else.

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Guiding your Customer’s Investment

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customer - photo by www.examiner.com

customer – photo by www.examiner.com

When a customer is hiring you to perform a service for him or her, one out of two things is definite. The client hiring you needs your expertise but doesn’t have it, or because they would rather pay than going through the hassle themselves. That’s the value of paying for a service. What’s the down side? If the customer is hiring you for a skill or piece of knowledge they don’t possess, then there’s great chance they will have bad judgement if the time comes for them to make a decision. Why? Fear of the unknown.

Your customer is investing in you and the service you are providing. That means, money is coming out of their pockets. The will be vigilant, and in some cases, even a bit frightened, especially if their investment involves something they hardly understand. For example, a brick and mortar traditional family business knows they need to evolve and adjust to the modern technology era. For a long time now, their “marketing” efforts have been based on simple things like newspaper ads, magazine spreads and the like. However, they have noticed that they get less and less customers every day. They know they need to evolve, but they don’t know how to.

Finally, they decide to hire an agency or a consultant to bring their brand into the new era. By now, if you are a marketing agency or consultant, this case may sound a little too familiar. Anyway, the customer comes in, and has too many questions regarding the new strategy. What’s more, they think that being on the internet, should be several times cheaper than traditional advertising. Surely you know where this will end.

How do you avoid a frightened customer then to sabotage your efforts into delivering true value? You guide them step by step. Think of it as that teacher you used to have in school. That one that was very very patient with those students that didn’t quite get it the first time, the second time or event the third time. The last thing you or your customer need is for you to explote on them or be rude to them. You’ll just scare the fish away.

Be clear on how their investment is being allocated and how will it achieve your customer goals, even if it means holding their hand the whole way. A trusting customer will always come back for more.

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Are you an Entrepreneur? Improve your Productivity

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As an entrepreneur, you have to wear [too] many hats in your startup in order to get things done. When you’re starting out, you need to cover all the basic areas to get your business to launch properly, and keep things going. However, you have to become a bit of an octopus in order to get things done. Your disadvantages? You’re probably bootstrapping and you don’t have a large staff that can take care of everything. It’s just you, and your co-founder (if you have one or more).

So how can you achieve something that is supposed to be done by a team of 10 people at least? Not to mention that each one of these people have experience in different areas like marketing, finance, legal, sales, and more. So here are your two challenges: increase productivity and cover all of your business’ basic areas.

It sounds like you need to sacrifice a bit of your personal life (and even biological needs) in order to get things done. It also sounds like you should have and MBA to cover a business’ basic needs. It doesn’t have to be that way though.

Although it sounds a lot easier that it actually is, this is how you accomplish your challenges: you keep neatly organised, and you educate yourself CONSTANTLY. Discipline really needs to be your ally here. You also need to be realistic and give yourself a pat on the back once a while. All that pressure also needs a little self esteem.

At this point, you might have already set short, mid and long term goals for yourself and your company. If you haven’t, please do so. Afterwards, every day write a task list of what you need to accomplish. Stick to post its. If your task list is larger than a regular square post it can handle, then you need to go back an re-arrange your tasks.

Keep educating yourself. If you have a great inheritance or access to a giant amount of money, then you wouldn’t be having this problem in the first place. But since most of us don’t, then you have to stick to your resources. Getting an MBA can be done through student loans, yes. But! Beware of how long it will take you to repay that loan. Is is financially viable? Is filling your life with that much stress worth it? If the answers to these questions are “yes”, then by all means, get an MBA. If not, then educate yourself!

There is an interminable amount of books on virtually ANY subject on Earth. You have access to that vast collection. Exploit it! The Book called “The Personal MBA” by Josh Kaufman is the inspiration to this very statement. The man has achieved wonders under this principles, and I seriously doubt he’s the only one.

What do you think? Mission Impossible or possible?

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Keeping it Personal

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Personal Marketing

Personal Marketing

Ever heard about personal marketing? It may sound cheap, or something that only people with an agenda would do. But, really; stop and think about it. What’s really so wrong with personal marketing? After all, great ideas can be used for evil AND for good. It’s not the idea, but the person that executes the idea who make it either one.

Now, let’s get a bit technical. Every leader is a leader not so much because of his or her ideas, but how they come across to their followers. If their followers can seemingly trust this person, and look up to him or her, then, whatever they’re pitching, will go about a lot smoother.

Establish a real connection with another person, and a relationship is created. This really is the key for anyone with a mission. And though it might sound corny, with great power, comes great responsibility.

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iPhone 5c, Confusing Apple Fans?

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iPhone 5c - Photo by Geek.com

iPhone 5c – Photo by Geek.com

For the first time ever (and no, it’s not a phrase I’m trying to imitate by Tim Cook or Steve Jobs), Apple has released two iPhones. The down part? 50% of that decision is a little bit too confusing for the die-hard Apple fan (and some of the other mortals as well).

On the one hand, we have the sleek, new processor equipped, elegant iPhone 5s. Coming in three different colors, people seem to be falling for the 21st Century Gold Rush. After only a couple of days after its release, the Gold iPhone 5s ran out of stock. The other two models, gray and silver, not falling far behind from its Golden sibling. A true win for Apple.

On the other hand, the plastic, colorful (border lining doctor’s-waiting-room-toy-phone) iPhone 5c has confused many users and Apple fans. First off, Apple killed the iPhone 5, an aluminium “resistant”, sleek phone, and tried to replace it with a plastic surrogate. Whether it was Tim Cook’s intention or not, the fact is that users and fans are labeling this iPhone as a phony; a wanna-be’s consolation prize. Despite Cook’s recent statement about the iPhone 5c not being an entry-level phone, people are eyeing the plastic phone as a downfall for the brand.

In an effort to recover market penetration, Apple has managed to confuse its market. Nevertheless, this quarter, Apple has had record breaking iPhone sales (thank you very much iPhone 5s for saving the day). Will Cook and Apple recognise their slip and pull the iPhone 5c from the market? They pulled the iPhone 5, so why not this one? What’s your take on it? Feel free to comment below.

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How to Make Your Brand Go Viral

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I wish I could tell you there’s an equation, a mathematical certainty, on which marketers could base their strategies in order for their brand to go viral. Neuromarketing is the only science that could explain this at a scientific level, but an exact formula? Not to my knowledge.

Nevertheless, there are certain procedures that we can replicate that can make your brand go truly viral. Before we analyze these cases, keep in mind virality is really about people sharing information with their peers based on their emotions. Yes, their emotions. Either they saw something [an article, a video, a picture, a meme, etc] that scared them, made them laugh, something they truly are passionate about or something that stroke a fiber within. That’s why P&G’s Olympics Mother commercial was SO viral. Just take a look yourself.

 

So here are a few pointers on how to make things go viral, and your brand along with it:

  • Make it short and to the point. If it’s a video, make sure it’s 2 minutes long tops. Unless it’s a short or a movie, in which case, there’s a whole ‘nother article that should be written about it.
  • Appeal to emotion. Scare them, make them laugh, make them love each other, touch their fibers.
  • Deliver a meaningful message. Whether it’s a joke or something serious, your message has to be clear cut and to the point.
  • Make it shareable. How is someone supposed to share that piece of information if you don’t enable them to or even call them out to action? People may like what they see, but they also need a little direction. Explicitly tell them what you want to do: “Share this story”

These are simple rules that cut to the chase, still, in the end, is the public who decides.

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Technological Fusion

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Now and Then

Now and Then

Our lifestyles have changed so vastly in the last decades, this kind of growth had never before been recorded in human history. Think about it. Back in the 1980s you had a Polaroid Camera, a Walkman, a large TV Box, a Beta or VHS video recorder, a stereo, a hard copy of a map, a phone, and other items separate from each other. In your mind, you would have to be in a very particular situation to even think about relating them with one another. Today, all of these items and so many more are packed tightly in the palm of your hand.

It doesn’t stop at an iPhone. Your car is completely different as well. I’m not just pointing a finger at Tesla and its innovative, gorgeous cars, but more to the point, the accessories that come along with your car. Auto designers around the world need to be ahead of the curve when it comes to trends. Not only in technology, but in behaviors, fashion and other aspects. Who would have thought that in budget-friendly car models you could hook up your iPhone and deliver voice commands at will? You can watch TV, play a DVD, even have coat hangers on the back of your seat.

Of course most of the features I’m mentioning are of course not new to you or to me. However, it is important to point them out, since we’re now looking at the dawn of a whole new technological fusion. Things like “The Connected Car Concept” are not only prototypes you’ll see at fancy car shows around the globe.

Things like our behavior and lifestyle have changed so, that we spend most of the day sitting around in our cars, waiting for traffic to wind down. Since we already spend so much time in our vehicles, it is only logical that we can control other aspects of our lives from it, instead of just wasting our productive time stuck in traffic.

Smart homes are also increasingly filling out the market. If they aren’t built from the ground up with these technologies in place, owners are increasingly purchasing gadgets and other smart systems for their homes. This would be amazing for work-from-home entrepreneurs or employees. No matter what room you’re in, you can keep track of your chores, tasks and goals.

Work out sessions are embedded in our very lifestyle as well. Pets, traveling, leisure, shopping, and every other aspect of our life is now being conglomerated in ways that everything seems to be seamlessly connected. It is no longer a Hollywood Blockbuster, it’s our simple reality.

 

 

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