Effective Communications

Fix Error Messages Or Make Them Work For You

Error messages may run havoc on your customer engagement strategy whether you are running an ecommerce site or launching online promotions. You can lose leads and sales easily if you do not account for them. You can also try to improve your site performance or promotions’ numbers if you plan for the event of errors in advance. Or you can find ways to make them work for you by closely watching their occurrence and customer behavior that follows. 

There are 3 approaches that you can take to alleviate error message/sale loss ratio for your business:

1) Make user-induced error messages based on business rules clear and self-explanatory. Even if your audience is tech savvy and mostly has a high percentage of engineering degrees, error messages stating “Generic Error 407. Must be 77888888″ can puzzle anyone. Try to explain the reason of this message in a human language and communicate it succinctly. In all events, “Your account information and password do not match our records. Please do…[whatever you want them to do]..” sounds better than a numeric code that only a math genius in “Numbers” TV show can solve. Sometimes, I think those error messages were hastily cut and pasted by programming folks versus a UI/UX professional.  No offense to either, but the saved costs on making sure your error messages are clear in your application or on your site – are basically passed to future sales onto the customer base. 

Also, consider the context in which your customers will be incurring them: their attention span, possible stage of buying process, etc. One example of this error type, is an online shopper filling out a shipping address and payment information to only find out the error at the end after submitting the ” erroneous form” and having to retype all info again. I know I would give up at that point. Thus, construct your forms and functional errors accordingly – by making them appear inline with the filling out process, or adding interactive elements when possible. Linda Bustos, has a great post on inline validation within the shopping carts. Luke Wroblewski shared his insights on the same topic on his blog and even published a book.

2) Save the sale by tracking to who your errors were exposed to and follow up with compensation. You might not only save a customer, but delight him/her with a special attention that is capable to turn them into your product/brand evangelists. This happened to me a month ago. DSW ran an online promotion “Get Lucky. Participate in a draw of XYZ and win 50% off your next purchase by visiting this promo page.”  With sheer excitement, my mouse rushed to click on the link and the error message occurred “Site is unavailable” to my utter discouragement and quickly vanishing anticipation to make a purchase. But! DSW email marketing folks appeared to have planned for this contingency. After 2 days, I got a follow up email stating” Our apologies and $10 off. How lucky can you get if the site is down?” I was pleasantly surprised as a customer! My clicking the promo was acknowledged, my shopping decision was saved as if it were in a real store. I was happy to continue shopping at DSW and share the story with my friends. So, follow the DSW example of using web analytics to track your potential errors, especially if you know the limitations of your systems. Bravo, DSW!

3) Collect free feedback from the unpredicted error messages or 404, 500 types. Sometimes, it is what it is and you might not know all possible scenarios when your site or application starts “misbehaving”. Instead of simply accepting this reality, try to add a feedback link or box to the generic error page and your customers might feel compelled to share what happened. That way you will start discovering the reasons and causes of those mishaps. You will also make your customers feel listened to, heard and valued.  And, of course, you will actually gain something from those error messages. They will pay you with feedback! 

“Mistakes, obviously, show us what needs improving. Without mistakes, how would we know what we had to work on?” -Peter McWilliams.  So, do not fret if you find a few in your current app. Look at the ways to make them work for you and be the one with “an unequalled gift…of squeezing big mistakes into small opportunities,” Henry James.

A Marketer Tribute to Online Videos

If you are constrained with time and resources, but need to create a compelling piece of marketing collateral that serves its purpose naturally, instantly and with ease of engagement, what would you choose – a one page guide, a white paper, a site or a video? My recent observations on the effectiveness of marketing content pushed out to the masses, (or seeded towards, be those targeted or not), compel me to pay a tribute, or to confess in love, as you will, to online videos that meet all our secret marketing needs!

Why videos? Well, let’s see.  If we start with 5 common sense reasons why online videos are effective in engaging your target viewer, we will find:

1) Ease of use – it is so easy to view a video versus to read an article – so much less effort and attention needed to decipher the message.

2) Entertaining factor – for long, we have been primed to be entertained by TV ads, movies, TV programs, etc. that it becomes a second nature to get into that state of expecting a show worth of our attention.  No wonder why all the mentioned media strive to entertain us first to utilize that captivated attention.  Hence, when it comes to video content, we are more likely to engage into viewership on the premise of the anticipated “show”.

3) Message interpretation accuracy – “even though visual communication is a less direct way of communicating, most people rely on this form of communication and wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world! Visual communication adds another layer of information in our communication with each other, and perhaps that is why we cherish our vision so much.” Numerous studies, books, articles emphasize the importance of body language or visual memory in communications. The referenced article by Debbie Jensen explains why visual memory precedes all others – a simple reflex or function of our mind to organize information beyond one point – the law of continuation. So if we see the message, we are better off comprehending it.

4) Longer life in audience memory – people remember better in pictures than words. How many times you recalled something faster because it had an association with the name of your home town or some other event? How many times you were able to achieve something because you visualized it? You simply gave a command to execute the vision to your mind. Imagine what it can do for your call to action – it can be easily presented in action to your audience.  In other words, videos are visualized messages that you can more effectively plant into your customers’ memories!

5) Wide range of channels to place those wonderful “communication machines” for free – isn’t that something? Usually, you do not need to worry about media placement costs, run of time and on and on…the key “details” that rank up your marketing spend when it comes to TV ads, or product placements.  Plus, a myriad of “audience-heavy” user-generated sites from YouTube to MySpace provides you with various options on where to seed your videos.  So, go and use them…wisely!

On the other hand, if we browse the latest industry trends on online video usage, we will support the above 5 reasons with the following facts:

1) Overall, the average US online video viewer watched 327 minutes of video in March, nearly 5.5 hours - according to emarketer, online video ad spending in the US will pass the $1 billion mark in 2011. Go and capture your audience right there, right now, when it browses YouTube or its online newspaper sites.  A good video marketing strategy can produce stellar results for your brand!

2) In total, 138 million Americans – approximately three in four US Internet users – viewed online video – according to comScore. And that was measured in November 2007 – imagine what it is now (or conservatively stay within the same data point) and use it to support your marketing web strategy rationale to invest in video production.

3) Private studies show that awareness and purchase intent grow significantly as a result of online video views – according to AdAge author Kevin Nalty. Though, there is no reference to study results, the statement makes sense even from the personal shopping experience – yes, I will more than likely buy an item that I saw in action in a video.  Moreover, if that video was shared by my respected Facebook friend, I am to invest more thought into the buying process.

So, are you convinced to produce some “kick-ass” videos? Your marketing strategy might get a well-deserved lift!

Presentation Matters! The Top Information Design Principles That You Need To Know

Communication is a vital skill that we developed and enhanced beyond the level that our counterparts in the animal world can currently rely on. However, we are still evolving and the amount of information we share rises every day. We are being trained or forced to perceive lots of complex information that we are to digest and to move on to the next batch.  So, it is almost critical to learn how to present yourself well, how to communicate your message effectively and how to make your information-based products  the ultimate delights for your customers.

The information you sell (be it a report or a dashboard of some sort) must be “pretty”, in other words, it should be quite visually appealing and well organized to make a difference for your users.  There is a fine line between the simplicity, enough information and information overload that you might want to test with your users.

“The danger of clutter – especially on a visual screen – is that it causes confusion that affects how well we perform tasks. To that end, visual clutter is a challenge for fighter pilots picking out a target, for people seeking important information in a user interface, and for web site and map designers, among others.” (MIT news).

To our luck, there is a whole discipline devoted to this question – Information Design that have to be a must read topic (and it is) for web application developers and product managers.  I find it very useful as well as a marketer and communicator.  In fact, anyone can benefit from this extra knowledge, or information to reduce the information overload we impose on our audiences.  According to Rune Pettersson, “Information Design is a multi-disciplinary, multi-dimensional, and worldwide consideration. It is not possible to develop a number of firm message design rules telling the information designer exactly how to best design a message and develop information materials. However, based on research it is possible to formulate several ID-principles and then develop a number of guidelines for the design of effective and efficient messages and information materials.”- International Institute for Information Design  So what are those top 10 or 16 ID-principles that we should keep in mind while engaging in product design or testing a product or participating in a beta?  You can actually find 150 ID-guidelines for 16 designs principles in Rune’s research, “It Depends“:

  1. Define the problem (Find what the user wants to achieve)

  2. Provide structure (Develop a clear structure, minimize the number of levels, show the  hierarchy graphically)

  3. Provide clarity (Go through the details: fonts, pictures, layouts, color, symbols, maps and make the all work in unison) – that’s where the pretty piece comes in!

  4. Provide simplicity (Check the readability of all items above)

  5. Provide emphasis (Use contrast and exaggeration or interactive elements to bring attention)

  6. Provide unity (Be consistent in your terminology, typography, layout and style) – make the information fluid!

  7. Consider information access (Use standards, internationally accepted, provide support for important context)

  8. Consider information costs (This one relates more to graphic design of web sites and implies production costs)

  9. Consider information ethics (Refers to considering copyright, media guidelines and image manipulation)

  10. Secure quality (Implies establishing the review cycles and ease of use for your reviewers to follow. If we apply that to a finished product, it can consider an organized storage or archives system).

  11. Strive for harmony ( I love this one – finding balance within the visual presentation of information)

  12. Follow aesthetic proportion (Implies finding the receiver’s aesthetic proportions, finding balance between the decorative use of color and cognitive importance)

  13. Facilitate attention (Refers to the mastery of bringing attention through text, layout, and colors)

  14. Facilitate perception (Here you must use your knowledge on perceptions of color, text, shapes, layout to make your message come through the way you want it to be)

  15. Facilitate mental processing (Utilize examples in text, provide realistic time for your audience to get the information, be consistent)

  16. Facilitate memory (Consists of presenting a limited number of information elements at the same time, with close connection of text and illustrations) – This is where the context is the key!

In addition, the information must be within the context, relevant and simple to produce actions you desire. Others call it the ability to provide a clear line of sight to show a complete picture. Others advise to present information in 3 blocks on one page to make it more meaningful and easily comprehensive. No pun intended, but there is so much information already about information design that helps simplify the information -that makes one’s head spin.  For example, there is even a comprehensive book of papers in IA (Information Architecture) or ID that one can immerse into to become an expert that can solve such problems in a matter if minutes.

While getting myself more into the subject, I found a good guide to make my quest for answers even easier and not so “overloaded” – I recommend to add ‘The Visual Display of Quantitative Information” by Edward Tufte to your library.

 

 

Top Five Ads That Deliver the Message and Entertain Greatly

The key to a good ad is to reach the right audience at the right medium at the right time and deliver the right message with an emotional impact. Entertainment is omnipotent element of advertising that makes it a joy to produce it. Here are the top five favs that I am noticing these days:

1) Career Builder presents a common feeling that office folks experience these days in the corporate America, the ad speaks to the point, makes you laugh and connects to audience’s experience. I think – it is money well spent.

2) Cadbery creates a fun suspense with an always working gorrilla image! Who does not relate to those creatures? We all do. Remember the last time you visited the ZOO and its apes’ section – You always watch them closely, they watch you and the more you watch – the more you see your own reflection! I do. Loved this passionate drummer.

3) Herbal Essence skillfully involves reality and paradox in a fun enjoyable twist.

4) Jack Links Jerky’s campaign “Messing with the Sasquatch” deserves a place in the best ad humor panel. Some of the epizods are a bit crude, some are irresistably funny. My favorite is the one with the fire: loved the stone – it made a Sasquatch a here in my eyes!

5) Geico Caveman pieces are also the best. Always, hits the spot.

What’s in the Name? Naming New Products and Re-branding

Coming up with a new product name, creating new packaging and staying loyal to the master brand could be quite a challenge, especially when multiple stakeholders are involved. So, what helps us go through this creative process? What can we already apply for our benefit that was tested and lived through? – Provided that we look at every product launch as a truly unique experience (which it is), here are some nuggets from my research to share on the subject:

I. The branding signals beyond the name
II. The necessity to change names and logos when strategies change
III. The beauty of the unique names

Firstly, Allen Adamson in his book “BrandSimple: How the Best Brands Keep it Simple and Succeed” points out the concept of bringing brand signals beyond the name. In other words, there should be some sort of a unique customer experience that reinforces your product name and transfers its meaning even further: instant perceptions of a product experience. This information can be of great value when you are to change the name of the service, product or even a corporate name. He calls these experiences – “power signals”. Examples of those signals could be:

1. People behind the brand – like FedEx employees delivering “reliability”. Before its expansion into the global markets, the brand had a name of “Federal Express”. It served well for a while till the company moved into a broader service scope both functionally and geographically. Federal Express became too limiting and not succinct in expressing the brand power and did not allow “capitalizing on what became a positive fact of life. “FedEx became a ubiquitous term everyone used for an overnight delivery. In 1996, FedEx was formally adopted as a brand name which followed the logo change as well. Moreover, FedEx is a fast, confident and super-efficient brand, so its employees! You have to deliver on the promise you have in your brand name –already!

2. Exclusive product placement –like Gatorade, can be another power signal. Its placement into the football game –“dunking of the winning coach” – almost became a very recognizable association. The trick though not just in the right placement at the right media and the right place – it truly evolves around the authenticity of the product benefit – it is created for the athletes and it does improve performance. So, it just makes sense to be endorsed in the football game placements.

3. The speed at which the brand is recognized – the power of the icon, can be very effective to communicate your meaning. KFC managed to get the attention of folks speeding at the interstate by using its recognizable icons. Originally, it used to be fully spelled out as Kentucky Fried Chicken with a pretty sizable image of Colonel Sanders. When the brand team had a re-design challenge, they first shortened the name to KFC AND increased the speed of service. Then, they reduced the size of the image to the postage stamp. What happened later is very interesting: customers perceived the change in the name (shortened version) as sensible, but interpreted the loss of sizable image as the indicator that the meal is no longer home-cooked quality. They wanted the image back. Colonel’s face was equal to Micky Mouse ears – highly recognizable.

4. The power of the first impression or a first mover – Genworth – (a spin off of the GE) – can be effective. The company utilized the parent cache of the GE brand and solved the challenge of getting to the market fast by differentiating itself through the parent company heritage (excellent management and credibility), leaving the GE in the name and by coming up with the “generation- worth-assets” meaning – Genworth.

5. Advertising – could rule? Couldn’t it? Yes, it could. The U.S. Department of Transportation had a success campaign “Friends Don’t Tell Friends Drive Drunk” utilizing the four fundamental principles of effective advertising: grab a viewer’s attention, communicate to the right audience, persuade and stimulate the action and be effective overtime to build the recognition. This was a vivid example of that.

6. WOM – Word of Mouth – was utilized by Blackberry to develop a community and a cult movement of Type A personalities: people who make things happen in the professional world. The functionality this communication tool provided directly appealed to the emotional need of those professionals to stay in touch –always! If your product integrates well into your customers’ lifestyle – you might use this power signal very effectively. Just launch a community campaign, make it interactive and integrative of the customer experience with the product.

7. PR – used by Dove – capitalizing on the simple benefit and an authentic statement (providing soap which consists of ¼ of a cleansing cream). Testimonials became the strongest part of the branding campaign: there was evidence to its claim to make women beautiful every day. However, the most effective research fact the company used is expanding the definition of beauty for its customers – that made more women feel beautiful! It showed variations of beauty in its ads further on, thus increasing the 2 % of confidence to potential 10%! Brilliant!

8. Experience, as was implied before in the previous items, can be quite differentiating: Ann Taylor maximized the retail space to provide a unique experience to the professional busy women: it always provided high quality, high coordination items – thus appealing to a broader demographic. It is like a friend who will always give you a sound advice on clothing! If you go there next time, pay attention to the fact how well the retail space is designed to make it a fast and efficient shopping experience when a busy woman can run there at lunch and have a perfect outfit in 15 mins due to its consistent layout.
Sephora did the same by redefining the experience of make up shopping by brining it to customers for play!

Secondly, Joan Schneider in her book “New Product Launch: 10 Proven Strategies” shares her extensive expertise and experience with the new product launch strategies. This is a great guide to the topic with solid cases. The ones, I particularly liked referred to Compaq and British Petroleum. The former used to be a 1000-dollar mini computer brand that expanded into other markets. It had a perfect name for its initial products, but failed to see the need for image change when it brought other products through acquisition. The old brand (name, logo, etc) did not coexist well with the new strategies, thus bringing confusion. Eventually, Compaq was bought by HP.

British Petroleum on the other hand, had a success story when the need for re-branding occurred. It already moved strategically into global markets and it did expand on the energy offerings beyond oil. Leveraging the brand cache of BP (initial letters) and integrating the “beyond petroleum” strategy, BP had an effective repositioning. Perhaps, it is a synergy between the senior management support and true marketers.

To the third point, Seth Godin proposes to use the strategy of making the names up as opposing to turn to the benefit-description techniques. He points out that the unique name not only moves you forward in the differentiation game, but also develop its secondary meaning in a short period of time –initially internally and later externally. “The entire point of “secondary meaning” is that the first meaning doesn’t matter at all (especially since you picked a name with no meaning to begin with). Over time, a surprisingly short time, your unique word, especially if it sounds right, will soon be the one and only word.”

And this is just a tiny glimpse into the magic of brand perceptions world! A combination of art, psychology and common business sense!

Summing it up:

1) It is imperative for you to understand that bold moves pay off if you set them right with solid strategic planning.

2) It is important to look at the entire initiative as a “gestalt” or a “whole” integrative movement (like in a chess game): where all your communication pieces are in play: logo, product name, brand cache, and power signals embedded in the product experience. This allows you to choose a wining strategy based on the wealth of available product launch and re-branding knowledge that is still highly focused on your unique brand case.

Three Useful Models for Web Copywriting

Three Useful Models for Web Copywriting

Writing a web copy? It has been a while since you did any highly visible writing? Or do you simply wish to refresh your copywriting skills and use those for quality check review of your contracted writers? Maria Veloso, a 27-year expert in copywriting and direct marketing, shares her experience in the book “Web Copy That Sells”- a highly recommended reference that is worth taking a place in your marketing library. Here are three useful models to shape up and sharpen the web writing skills:

I. Conceptual Web Copy Blueprint
II. Five Guidelines to Make Your Copy Sell
III. Priceless Techniques to Use While Constructing Web Copy

So, you have a vision for your site and you think that you have the content necessary to deploy for the copy. Well, the truth is that your content is not your web copy. All the information that you compiled while talking to various groups within your company is just information. You still have a job to translate it into a “sellable” web copy – a copy that delivers – empathizes with your customers, persuades them and generates sales. Thus, the initial step for you as a writer would be to step into the shoes of your audience and get their perspective on the user experience that they would have while visiting your site. What would they do and what path would you lead them to? The five key questions to answer while going through this exercise is:

1. What is the Problem?
(Diagnose the problem or pain point for your audience. Sometimes, they do not even know that they have a problem – educate them.)
2. Why Hasn’t the Problem Been Solved?
(Check the history of the solutions that failed or succeeded).
3. What is Possible?
(Use “possibility thinking” and paint a picture for your audience of what is possible for them to do and enjoy while the problem is solved (by your service/product.))
4. What is Different Now?
(Explain how your product can help them and what is different about it.)
5. What Should I Do Now?
(State clearly what you want your prospects to do.)

This is your conceptual blueprint!
What do you do to make your copy live and actionable? Sprinkle your blueprint with the basic design and psychology guidelines:

1. Inject Emotion
2. Add Bullet Points, Bonuses, Guarantee and Close
3. Add Credibility-Building Elements
4. Add Psychological Devices
5. Replace Rational Words with Emotional

This is your five guidelines to follow while writing the copy!

What are the priceless techniques to keep for reference in the process of writing the copy?

• Use AIDA Principle (Capture audience’s attention, get its interest, build desire and induce action).
• State The Unique Selling Proposition (competitive advantage of your product).
• Make the Impression in the First Paragraph
• Write the Offer You Cannot Refuse
• Use Testimonials: “It Can Happen to You”
• Use Your Headline to Sell
• Introduce the Price Through (Daily-Cost Technique and Minor-Purchase Technique)
• Keep On Selling: Craft The Order Form Thoroughly
• Infuse Your Copy with a Money-Back Guarantee: Make a Deal
• Plan the Close For Potential Sale
– Provide a Free Gift
– Use a Time Limit Offer Technique
– Use a Limited Supply Technique
• Spell Out Your Call To Action
• Use an Opt-In Mechanism
• Use Attention-Grabbing Words
• Avoid Jargon and Corporate Speak
• Use Multiple Pricing/Benefits Offers

This is a good checklist to have while crafting the copy.

Another good source of short articles on effective web copy is available at excess voice site.
The third source for web copy intelligence that I would recommend to subscribe to for weekly updates – is Brian Clark’ blog – Copyblogger.

What are your best sources, tips and examples of effective copywriting?

Why This BluFly Ad is Different from Others

Using sex appeal in ads always works and we all see it for various products. Clothes advertisers always have that reference. However, I think this ad captivates not only with a catchy episode, but a nice closure – copy ” a new way to change your clothes”. Every time when advertising can actually make a difference and change consumer behavior is when its persuasive power is exercised. The last sentence is strong enough in context and in the way it appeals to modern women. It works well and I would say, nurtures the self esteem of any woman. It makes us think…yes..why not use blufly.com? Why not get new clothes like that every day? It made me go and check the site and actually browse through some items. I wish they deliver clothes like pizza = fast, not within 1-2 business days but in a few hours. Hmmm, maybe in 2010…if so, imagine that you can have your favorite styles that always work and you order as you travel. But this is all dreams for now!

Thought-Provoking Video That Is Worth Your Time Watching

While enjoying my Sunday morning, I stumbled upon this capivating video by Carl Fisch brought to my attention by Mike Arrington on CrunchNotes. Very dramatic production: the background music add the urgency sense to the content shared. I find it very exciting and inspiring! It alsmost wakes you up a bit and allowes your imagination get activated again. I want to see all the “predictions” happen. There were no images in the video presentation, but the idea was communicated so well as it induces emotion and action (conversations about it and sharing the actual content). Very powerful. Stepping back into today, including a video into a somewhat dry business presentation might create a great effect…

How To Communicate the Idea To Inspire Action and To Actually Have Things Done

Teamwork, group projects and things that need to be done moved me to revisit the basics of how to get some action out of group communication process. I found a very useful framework of natural planning techniques from David Allen’s book (Getting Things Done) that I would like to share. It is a 5 phase process:

1) Purpose – never hurts to ask the question “why we are doing it”, helps to focus, define sucess, align resources, motivate and expand options.

2) Principles – “a great way to think of principles is to complete the following sentence” – “I would give others totally free rein to do that as long as ….” , thus they provide guidelines on the packaging or points of reference.

3) Vision (Outcome)…how would success would look like, feel like, sound? I really liked the qoute ” You often need to make it up in your mind before you can make it happen in your life”, very powerful and I know I can do that!

4) Organizing – get all the ideas OUT OF YOUR HEAD – in front of your eyes – thus patterns and relationships emerge from the “invisible world”! Sort those out by components, sequences and priorities.

5) Action – Next Steps. Clarify what can be done today, who should be doing what, what you will be waiting for.

The idea is to walk your team through this process and the project should be implemented with ease or at least save time in the preparation stage. The trick is to walk yourself through the same process first, utilizing “the outside your head tracking system”. The work of the “communicator” is never done!

The Power Of The Story

I had a chance to listen to the speech of Scott McCain, the author of the book “What Your Customers Really Want”.  Very engaging speaker. He expressed a great point that I wanted to share. We all hear about the elevator speech and short story that we need to tell our customers (I even blogged on it here). However, we sometimes forget about the “High Concept” of the story structure. If we think of our business story as a movie we are going to shoot, it makes it easier to construct a powerful piece. Just 3 simple things can help us communicate better with our audience and thus be more successful in our demand generation efforts:

Act One: Introduce the characters and the conflict.
Act Two: Tell about the various ways those characters try to solve the above-mentioned conflict.
Act Three: Provide the heroic resolution.

The three basic steps that can help us create a compelling story are good to keep in mind. Just imagine, you are shooting a new blockbuster movie about your product/service/program. What would you do, how the plot will unwide?

The more I learn, the more simplified versions of the same concepts I value!

Missed Oscar’s Night Ads? Catch up with the NYT Article

I am catching up on the Oscar night, watching E!, doing research and simply catching up on the Google Reader that simply serves a role of a TiVo for me. No matter if I got busy with the offline = real life, I can always catch stuff later. The most enjoyable item was the article from NYT on the ads shown on Oscar’s night. Go and feed your great ads cravings, especially when the presentation is so appropriate, in Oscar’s style! And of course, cannot get enough of Fergie’s song! Turn it on every morning to start a day with a smile!

One Minute Business Plan Pitches That I Got A Chance To Observe at Angel Oregon

Today, I got a chance to attend a session of one-minute pitches at the Angel Oregon 2007, hosted by Oregon Entreprenuers Network. Very interesting crowd! It was very educational to see how a number of presenters compete for the attention. The idea is to communicate how your product is going to solve pressing needs and how it will return your investment in spades.  At the same time,  the secondary thought would be to be able to infuse your own enthusiasm into angels’ hearts. Some presenters used visual aids, some used strong openings, some dressed up in costumes. I must say that being original helps, at the same time, you have to make 3 major points why your company deserves an investment. Some folks approached it by starting with a problem (using voice pitch and intonation to stress the urgency) and weaved into their product that resolves it. Some painted imaginative pictures of a perfect future their product can create. I think I only remember those just because they involved emotion and engaged one’s mind as opposing to the majority that “gunned” their 1 minute spill. Another interesting element is how visual aids are used: only a few, perhaps 4 out of 20 (random number based on observation) utilized this opportunity. Cards with numbers, posters and product samples showed up today. I really liked the idea of cards with $ numbers or market size estimates (all crucial info) that can engage angel’s attention.  Finally, the most important part is being a strong speaker: being able to express the idea with confidence, clarity and passion.

Ads that Make a Difference

With the whole Super Bowl fever, which is a greatest time to see all the good work of advertisers, I went to old videos and some of them were funny, some were histerical, and some were truly thought – provoking and awakening. One of those was “Children see. Children do.” Very true, even though I do not have my own kids yet, it made me pause and think. All of us do not choose our parents, but we can choose what kind of parents we can be for our children. Seeing this type of ad is a good exercise to be able to understand other people around us.

  • Studying on Monday Night and Checking YouTube from Business Law Instructor’s Reference

    Monday night and my mind is spinning again. Sunday yoga effect is no longer working and I am thinking about all the things I want to do in life. I have 20 windows open on my laptop, multitasking, planning, thinking, communicating and trying to joggle 10 + things at once.  Since the beginning of the 2007, I have been rethinking my entire life and directions I want to go.  I had a few roadblocks I faced, but those were necessary for the new beginnings. Today, in my Business Law class, an instructor recommended to view Steve Job’s commencement speech. I did take a mental note, but it is funny the way it all played out. Tonight, I again was feverishly thinking about all the people I need to see this week, all the things I want to accomplish, all the ideas I need to realize before it is too late. I never could understand that feeling about “jumping before the cart”… I tend to think 2-5 years ahead and worry about it now in the present…perhaps being a prematurely born child gives it some history as my Mom says…” You always wanted to experience life earlier and if you want something you want it now”… I always feel that if I do not do this (any idea I have at the moment) now, the opportunity will be gone tomorrow and I would not have time to pay attention to it as new things come up that compete for my time…. My thoughts brought me again to a very disturbing state and I took a break from my readings and checked the referenced video. Hearing Steve Job’s speech brought peace and affirmation that it is ok to feel this way I described above. Connecting the dots does happen backwards, and one should keep plugging in in making a difference…chasing the dream…searching and not compromising both in work and love….”stay hungry and stay foolish”… Keep looking; don’t settle…I subscribe to those words… If you feel the same today, view this speech and get your heart aligned…we are not the 1st and we can make it!

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