Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Why Ignoring Social Media Completely Isn't a Good Idea

Every so often I meet someone who doesn't like social media. There is nothing wrong with that. But then sometimes people go further than that and decide that they will not use social media at all. For most people this is a bad idea for several reasons, mostly related to search engines. Any presence on a web site will show up on a Google search eventually, but for most people the highest ranking sites that they will be on are usually social media sites, making these critically important.

Until about ten years ago a private person -- then the norm -- could have no presence on the world wide web and this would not be a problem. People using search engines would not be specially surprised if they searched for a person and found nothing. But today this doesn't happen. Having a digital footprint has become more common than not so a lack of presence is interpreted differently. Even worse: the rise of content scrapers and fake profiles have undermined the option of opting out of the world wide web and social media. And the shift towards online presence being the norm means that a missing presence creates uncertainty.

Content Scraper Profiles: At one time if you didn't create any online profiles yourself then a Google search would not find any. This no longer happens because of the rise of bottom feeding content scraper sites that gather information from publicly available data, email lists and other sources to generate profiles in your name. Most people never see these profiles because Google ranks them at the very bottom, beyond the last search page you would normally look at. When someone has created no genuine profiles these scraped profiles rise to the top. What this means is that like it or not you will have some sort of online profile, but if you didn't make it yourself the ones that appear will be out of date, inaccurate and irrelevant. For example, just from the email address robert.pickles@acme.com a content scraper could recover first name, last name, name of employer, their contact details from the domain records and much more.

Fake Profiles for Scams/jokes:  Another risk of not having a real profile online is that scammers and jokers might fill the void with their own fake profiles. If I search for someone and see two profiles I will try to find out which is real. If I find just one I am more likely to believe it. Scammers sometimes set up fake LinkedIn profiles for people who don't have one. They use these profiles to get the trust of others and gain access to private information. Jokers might also be tempted to fill the gap with a joke profile. In the absence of a real profile it is harder to tell which are real and which not.

Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt: The other reason why not having an online presence is a bad idea is that it creates fear, uncertainty and doubt. If a potential employer discovers that someone has no online presence this could mean that they are a very private person. But it could also mean that they have poor computer skills or are out of touch. This absence of any information creates some doubt in the mind of other people and means that people with no presence will always have a disadvantage when compared with people who do have a presence.

There is one simple and certain countermeasure for all of these risks and that is to create at least a basic profile on LinkedIn and Facebook. You don't need to be an active user but at least keep your basic profile information and photo up to date. Creating a few other profiles on top social sites helps to protect your reputation in other ways but this is at least a good start.


Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about reputation management, digital marketing, social media and other communication topics contact Andrew Hennigan on 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81 or by email at speaker@andrewhennigan.com


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Blue Ocean Branding: The Norwegian Airlines Case

Looking up into the sky recently I could just see an airliner starting its descent towards Arlanda airport. It was too far away to see it clearly or recognize the aircraft type, but it obviously belonged to Norwegian Airlines. Why? Because in a world where airliners are either painted a uniform color or with horizontal stripes, it is the only airline I know of that chose a radically different paint scheme that is instantly recognizable.

This is effectively a "blue ocean" approach to branding and it can be very effective. Most brands try to look somewhat like existing brands in the same space. Wine bottles, for example, don't need to be labelled "wine" because that is generally obvious from the shape of the bottle and the style of the label. In much the same way other products try to not distance themselves from rivals, so that customers can tell what the product is without looking very closely.

But there have been many cases where a highly distinctive product has brought advantages. One of the classic cases is the Volkswagen Beetle, a vehicle so distinctive that it has been instantly recognizable from any distance. Back in the 1960s Doyle Dane Bernbach's classic print campaign "A Volkswagen obviously" played on this theme with copy mischievously explaining that you could recognize a VW under snow because was the one that started, when in fact the famous outline was still plainly visible.


Another classic case of a distinctive brand style is the legendary Toblerone. Many rivals are rectangular, some are round but none copy the triangular package design used by Toblerone. There is a reason for this. The company is famous for aggressively defending its intellectual property and while many rivals have tried to copy the packaging none have succeeded in beating Toblerone's intellectual property team.


A blue ocean branding strategy like this is more challenging than a me too approach, but this is certainly one way to differentiate a product. Nobody can confuse a Beetle with another car, nobody will confuse a Toblerone with a rival and even from a distance any Norwegian Airlines plane is instantly recognizable.


Lectures, Workshops, Coaching & Writing

For lectures, interactive workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing on branding and other communication topics contact the author Andrew Hennigan at speaker@andrewhennigan.com or call 0033 6 79 61 42 81 or 0046 730 894 475.


Friday, April 29, 2016

How to Memorize a Speech Effectively

To deliver an effective talk, speech or presentation by far the best way is to memorize the content and not read from a written script. This is because reading a script makes it impossible for the speaker to connect to the audience with eye contact, making the delivery flat and ineffective. It also makes the speaker superfluous, because if someone is just reading a script they may as well just give the script to the audience and let them read it in their own time.

But how exactly do you memorize a script? There are many different methods but this is the approach I use and the one that I use to teach other people in workshops and coaching.

Most important of all you should not try to memorize and entire script and deliver it exactly a written. Unless you are a talented actor reading a script written by a talented writer it will always sound stiff and heartless. People can recognize very easily when you are effectively playing back a recorded announcement because the rhythm is usually wrong and the emphasis is rarely where it should be. A recital like this will have less impact and instead of inspiring people you might bore them. Memorizing the exact wording also has the disadvantage that if you have a temporary blackout it is hard to recover.

What works most effectively is to write a complete script and read it out loud a few times, correcting anything that doesn't sound natural.  Once this script is ready read it through a few more times to learn the ideas and some phrases then reduce the script to a list of key words and phrases. Group these phrases into sections and then highlight the first key phrase of each section. All of these key phrases should fit onto a single page of paper.
Start to learn the content by speaking out loud with the help of the key phrase list. Each key phrase should be enough to remind you of the point you planned to make but each time it will come with different words, but always from the heart. Because it comes from conscious thought it will have all the right emphasis and intonation, making it sound stronger and more persuasive.
Gradually transition from using the key phrase list all the time to looking when you forget what is next and finally try to deliver the entire speech without looking once at the notes.  Make a special effort to memorize the sequence of the sections because this is what will help you to recover if you are distracted for a moment. The order will quickly become familiar, just like the order of songs in an album are easy to remember unless you always listen in shuffle mode.
If you have trouble remembering the order of the ideas you should revise the structure of the speech and cut the less essential parts. A well structured speech is easier to remember, to deliver and to understand. 
When you are able to deliver the speech without looking at your notes you are ready to go. Always keep a copy of your key phrase list in your pocket just in case of blackouts.  Some people also leave a copy on the table next to the laptop, so that when they need to check what is next they can "forget" they have a clicker and use the down button on the laptop instead, sneaking a peek at the list.

During the performance you can also put the key phrases in the speaker notes and display those on a monitor at the edge of the stage, but only look at that when you need it. Memorizing always makes the speech more persuasive and prompts should be only for when you get stuck.


Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For workshops and one-to-one coaching about speaking and influencing you can contact Andrew Hennigan by phone on 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81 or by email at speaker@andrewhennigan.com.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Monetizing Impatience: the DeepArt Case

In my digital marketing courses one of the most popular topics is always the case studies showing the many ways in which a startup can monetize a product or service. Now I have a new case to add to my collection: the Deep Art painting tool site.

Created by five researchers at the the University of Tübingen in Germany, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland and the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium, Deep Art is a neural network based tool that takes any photo plus a style sample image then creates a painting based on the photo in the style of the sample.

My first attempt -- a self portrait in the style of Edvard Munch, was better than I expected but hardly a great success. The second attempt was more satisfying, reworking the same profile photo in the style of a Roman mosaic.

Two samples of the work of DeepArt's robot artists: one based on a Roman mosaic -- a DeepArt standard style -- and the other based on a self-portrait of Edvard Munch.

There are just two samples in the first test because the waiting time for free images is measured in days. And this is where DeepArt becomes more interesting. After uploading images you can monitor the status of the neural rendering process on a page of the website. Last time I tried the wait time for free images was around 8000 minutes -- that's about a week of real time. Just underneath the estimated time, though, is a button to reduce that time to 15 minutes for a fee of €1.99.

Monetizing impatience: reduce the render time from thousands of minutes to 15 minutes for a small fee.

So DeepArt is monetizing the otherwise free app by taking advantage of our natural impatience to see the result, a technique often used in theme parks where customers paying the standard fee stand in line for an hour while other people who pay extra walk straight to the front of the line. The downside of this approach from the consumers' point of view is that there is no incentive to speed up the render time. In fact there is a positive disincentive to speed up the process beyond the point where people give up.

But DeepArt has other monetizing plans, too. Free images are just 500x500 pixel which is just big enough for a test and to make an original profile picture for Facebook. Larger images, big enough for printing and framing, are available for a fee. A simple high-definition download is 19€, a poster with a watermark is 69€ and a gallery print with no watermark is €299. Eventually rival web sites will compete with DeepArt, forcing the prices down, but meantime the creators of the site are applying for a patent so they might be able to generate revenue through that, too.

Building amazing apps, products and services is a challenge, but finding effective ways to monetize innovations is often much more difficult, especially in the online world where people have grown up with freemium models and are reluctant to pay for basic service. DeepArt looks like they found an answer to this problem -- provided that the wait for 500x500 images doesn't get much worse. 


Lectures, Workshops, Coaching & Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about digital marketing and other communication topics contact Andrew Hennigan by email at speaker@andrewhennigan.com or by phone on 0033 6 79 61 42 81 or 0046 730 894 475.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Making Effective New Connections Online

Growing your network with people you have only met online is very useful because it gives you access to people you might never meet face to face. Since it is available 24 hours a day it also allows you to do some useful networking during downtime slots while you are waiting to board a plane, in the back of a taxi or just waiting for a conference call to start.

You could just send and accept random connections, but to build fruitful relationships online you will have to take a different approach. There are many ways to approach this problem but here are three practical methods.

Engage in Online Interactions. One simple way to start to build a relationships online is to engage in interactions with other people in online spaces like discussion forums, professional groups and in comment threads where like-minded people meet to discuss their business. Finding the right groups can be a challenge. On LinkedIn alone there are thousands of groups. Some are overloaded with spam and some are completely inactive but there are a few that are well moderated and have a the critical mass of active users who can engage with other users. You will have to try many groups to find the right one, but once you have found it you have already made progress because the active users in good groups are more likely to want to engage with you and to become valued members of your network. Once you have identified a suitable group first follow the discussions without contributing until you have understood the etiquette of the group and also to avoid restarting a discussion that has just finished. When you think you understand the tone of the group and the unwritten rules of engagement you can start to join in the conversation. Be helpful, polite and respectful. Never waste time and be extremely cautious with anything that could look spammy, so dial down the self promotion until you are sure it will be acceptable. By engaging with other users in this way you will build a solid reputation in the forum and soon make some interesting connections.

Develop Your Inbound Marketing. At the same time it can be useful to work on developing a robust online footprint so that like-minded people can find you with a Google search or the built-in search tools on networking sites. This is important because sometimes people are actively searching for interesting new people to connect with. If you come up in Google searches people are more likely to become aware you exist and perhaps try to engage you in conversation themselves. You should have clear and well-maintained profiles on at least Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn plus any specific sites that are relevant for your business.

Monitor Social Media for Leads. Check sometimes on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn from time to time to see if anyone is looking for someone like you. For articles I am writing and lectures I am preparing I sometimes tweet a question. Sometimes a complete stranger will respond because they are interested and after some conversation they usually become good connections. Right now there might be someone who is searching for someone exactly like you. Scanning social sites from time to time might uncover one of these leads. Every day there is someone tweeting that that they would like to get to know someone just like you. Every day there is probably someone posting on Facebook that they are looking for someone with your skills to help on a pro-bono project. Every day on LinkedIn there is someone searching for someone with your expertise to ask advice. Don't miss these opportunities.

There are many other opportunities to make good connections entirely online. All you have to do is go to places where you meet new people, build trust with these people and then make sure that they understand what you do. There are also many online opportunities to identify face-to-face events that will help you to find good connections but that is a story for another post.



Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing.

Andrew Hennigan designs and delivers lectures, interactive workshops and one-to-one coaching for networking, influencing and other communication topics. For more information call 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81 or email speaker@andrewhennigan.com

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

How to Tell if Your Speaking is Effective

Most of the time people ask me how to become a good, great or awesome speaker. But you can be a technically excellent speaker and still be ineffective. So what's the difference?

The difference is that effective speaking has to result in some change. It could be that this change is inside the heads of the audience -- maybe the goal was to raise awareness of something. Sometimes the goal is to change the behavior of people, maybe convincing them to buy a new product, adopt a new technology or simply do something in a new way.

How can you tell if your speaking is effective? In real world speaking situations sometimes the change is very obvious and no special metrics are needed. If you are trying to convince your colleagues to use less email and you notice a clear change in the email volume after the meeting you have probably been effective. Or if you are trying to convince the management of your company to support a new project and they agree just after your presentation then your speaking was certainly effective.

But how do you measure effectiveness while you are still learning to become an effective speaker and how do you measure the effectiveness of presentations you are still developing? One very simple method I have used in speaking workshops is to ask someone in the audience to explain to the speaker the main points of the speech they have just heard. Very often the first time you try this the result will be disappointing, but this is an essential step in developing more powerful speaking skills. You need to understand that it is more difficult than most people expect to communicate messages and you need to learn how to test ideas so that you can refine them.

Another method that is even more helpful is to try your speech or presentation on a test audience -- this could be fellow speaking students in a workshop, a group of colleagues or members of some professional group you belong to.  After the test run give everyone in the audience a piece of paper and ask them to write in bullet points the key messages that they can recall. 

In most cases the results of these tests will be disappointing, but they help to identify weaknesses in the content and the delivery. If people are missing important points these need to be emphasized more, and if people are misunderstanding key points they need to be explained in a different way. Ideally you should repeat the test with a revised version of the talk but with a new test listener or audience. After the first revision you will already notice an improvement. With every cycle of testing the speech will usually get better. It will never be perfect but you should at least be able to ensure that everyone in the audience knows what your main message was supposed to be.

This assumes that you know yourself what the main message was supposed to be. One of the simplest ways to make speaking more effective is to start by defining a very clear idea of what this main message is supposed to be. To deliver an effective speech or presentation it is not enough to master the techniques of delivery, you also need to define and structure the content effectively. A clearly defined and structured speech might take more time to design, but it is easier to learn, easier to deliver and much more effective.

But to achieve any kind of change the speech or presentation itself is only part of the story. Effective influencing begins long before a formal presentation of your message and involves lobbying all of the stakeholders, evangelizing your ideas, identifying problems and addressing them, but all of this is something for another post. 


Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about effective speaking, influencing and other communication topics you can contact Andrew Hennigan by email at speaker@andrewhennigan.com or by phone at 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81.


Friday, April 8, 2016

Why Choosing Brand Names is so Risky

When George Mason University rebranded their law school to honor former supreme court justice Antonin Scalia they were perhaps too hasty. As soon as the Antonin Scalia School of Law was announced social media users were quick to point out what the university had apparently not noticed: that the two most obvious acronyms were ASSLAW and ASSOL. The rebranded school was quickly re-rebranded Antonin Scalia Law School, which becomes a much more acceptable ASLS, though I suspect rival schools will continue to call them "Asslaw" for a long time.

George Mason University is certainly not the first to make this mistake, though it is strange that they did not recognize the problem in their own language. Many other organizations are initially oblivious to the problem, as when the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China initially used the acronym CACC but wisely changed it to COMAC when informed by speakers of romance languages of the unfortunate association of the first idea.

Very often it is not the acronym that causes problems but the name itself. The now defunct search engine Cuil made the branding mistake of choosing a name nobody could pronounce, but in addition it had the added downside of sounding too much like "cul" to French speakers. Occasionally the problem is a combination of acronyms and the way they are pronounced in other languages, as when the acronym APT was dropped because to French readers it sounded too much like "a pété".

Most of the time unfortunate brands are simply the result of the name having an unsuspected meaning in other languages. Swedish furnishing store Granit used to have a lamp called Prick -- the word just means "dot" in Swedish -- and IKEA, a company I suspect does this on purpose, offered a box called "Nobb". Many of these could have been identified simply by looking in a dictionary, though the pronunciation and slang usage make this complicated. Sometimes, too, the problem lies in a combination of elements, like when Unilever introduced a new version of their Nogger brand ice cream that was black and, for the short time it was on the market, was called "Nogger Black".

Probably the only safe way to filter candidate brand names is to ask people familiar with all of the languages and culture of target markets to review ideas, making sure that you check also with younger people who might be familiar with emergent slang and older people who might have a better memory of history. Do this before you announce a new brand and spare yourself some embarassment.


Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing on branding and other communication topics you can contact Andrew Hennigan by email at speaker@andrewhennigan.com or by phone at 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81.